Every Individual Is an Exception to the Rule

Carl Jung? James L. McAllister Jr.? Malcolm Gladwell? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The following postulate embodies a flexible outlook on life:

There is an exception to every rule.

The famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung promulgated an even stronger adage about people:

Every individual is an exception to the rule.

Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1925 a collection of papers under the title “Problems of Personality” was published to honor the prominent psychologist Morton Prince. The collection included Carl G. Jung’s article “Psychological Types”. His typology was based on a distinction between extraverted and introverted attitudes. He also distinguished between four fundamental functions: sensation, thinking, feeling, and intuition. The psychological types corresponded to combinations, e.g., “introverted sensation”, “extraverted intuition”, and “introverted feeling”. Yet, Jung realized it was difficult to impose a rigidly defined typology onto complex human beings. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

As a rule only careful observation and a weighing of the evidence permits a sure classification. Clear and simple though the fundamental principle of the two opposing attitudes may be, nevertheless their concrete reality is complicated and obscure, for every individual is an exception to the rule. Therefore, one can never give a description of a type, no matter how complete, which applies to more than one individual despite the fact that thousands might, in a certain sense, be strikingly described thereby. Conformity is one side of a man, uniqueness is the other.

The article excerpted above was based on a presentation Jung made at the International Congress of Education held in Territet, Switzerland in 1923. Jung was discussing and outlining his 1921 German book titled “Psychologische Typen”. The English title of the book and the article title were both “Psychological Types”.

It would be natural to assume that the quotation appeared in the famous 1921 book, but it did not. The quotation appeared in neither the German nor the English translation of the 1921 book. Instead, the quotation appeared in the 1925 article based on the 1923 lecture. The situation is somewhat confusing because the book and article used the same title “Psychologische Typen” (in English “Psychological Types”).

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Every Individual Is an Exception to the Rule


  1. 1925, Problems of Personality: Studies Presented to Dr. Morton Prince Pioneer in American Psychopathology, Series: International Library of Psychology Philosophy and Scientific Method, Psychological Types by C. G. Jung (Paper read at the International Congress of Education), Start Page 289, Quote Page 295, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Company, London. (Verified with scans)