Interview With Jeannette Sullivan
“Dancing with Goliath: Jungian Typology and Conflict”
October 21, 2012
The Center for Jungian Studies of South Florida (CJSSF) offers a special event on “Dancing with Goliath: Jungian Typology and Conflict.” This lecture will take place on Saturday, October 24, 2015 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at The Duncan Center, Delray Beach, FL.
Jeannette Sullivan, M.A., M.Ed., is certified in Myers- Briggs Type Indicator® training and is obtaining the Master Practitioner status. She is a Professor at Palm Beach State College in Leadership Development, First Year Experience, and Personal Development. She has presented classes and workshops in the community including the Duncan Center, the Township of Palm Beach, Florida Atlantic University, St. Thomas University, the Association for Psychological Type International, and various conferences. She is completing a doctorate in Higher Educational Leadership and Research Methodology at Florida Atlantic University, and specializes in topics of type, career development, leadership, and happiness. She is the recipient of the 2015-2016 Stewart Distinguished Teaching Award from Palm Beach State College.
CJSSF: You are a longtime member of our board of directors for the Center for Jungian Studies as well as a Meyers-Briggs trainer. Which came first, your interest in typology and the Meyers-Briggs or your interest in Jung?
SULLIVAN: Personality theory was interesting long before I pursued studies in Jungian psychology. I come from a large family of ten and as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with the differences between my own family members. When I found out there was such a field as personality, I was immediately drawn to it. I studied the Big Five Personality Factor theory and attended seminars on the Enneagram in California, New Mexico, and Arizona. But when I found Jung, and then the MBTI, I fell in love.
I didn’t know I was interested in Jung – not at first. But I was interested in everything Jung was about – comparative religions, synchronicity, transpersonal experiences, and, of course, personality. In the 90’s I studied the ancient Huna tradition in Hawaii. I also studied there with Susan Gregg, a Toltec Nagual, protégé of Don Miguel Ruiz and master of the transpersonal realm.
Upon my leaving Hawaii for Scottsdale, Susan recommended, as a parting note, to investigate Transpersonal Psychology. I only knew one person in my new home. It was perhaps a synchronous event that his wife attended The Institute for Transpersonal Psychology. I went to this unique university in Palo Alto to study this rich field, but not until coming to Florida did I seek certification in MBTI. I’ve been teaching and periodically training personality for about ten years.
CJSSF: Tell us about your unusual title, “Dancing with Goliath”. How is the story of David and Goliath a metaphor for the effects of typology in conflict?
SULLIVAN: You know the expression “it takes two to tango”? A conflict can seem very much like a dance, a whirlwind, a feeling of ensnaring another, or of being caught in another’s embrace. Its trajectory can be circular, sometimes traversing the same piece of the dance floor over and over. An issue that looms large (as Goliath), like in many conflict negotiations, is real or perceived power imbalance. The source of the real power, however, may come as a surprise.
The story of David and Goliath is emblematic of the struggle of the weak against the strong, of the oppressed against the powerful, of speaking truth to power. This retelling of the story, however, represents the folly of misperception, which is a core issue in conflict. The weak are not always weak and the strong not always what they appear to be.
CJSSF: Is the application of typology theory to conflict original to you or have you developed it based on other work?
SULLIVAN: The concept of applying typology to conflict is hardly original to me; type has been applied to almost every aspect of human life from learning styles to sex to money and spending. Conflict is a realm in which type can be a very helpful lens with which to comprehend and respond to others. Our nature is to fight or flee – and to defend. Stopping this automatic response and providing a more considered one takes some training and discipline.
CJSSF Interviewer: Teresa Oster, M.S., LCSW, Board Member