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)

Show Me a Sane Man and I Will Cure Him

Carl Jung? Sigmund Freud? Guy Bellamy? Jolande Jacobi? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: As part of a book project I have been tracking down quotations credited to the famed psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung. One of the most interesting was:

Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.

The best citation I have found appeared in a newspaper article in 1975. The words were attributed to Jung, but this date is fourteen years after his death. So I am handing this task off to you, if you chose to accept it. This is a somewhat extreme statement with a humorous edge; hence, it probably did not appear in a monograph or journal article.

Quote Investigator: There is evidence that Jung made a remark of this type. The English author Vincent Brome has written a large number of biographies including some about individuals in Sigmund Freud’s circle. In 1978 he published a volume about Jung that included information from an interview with Jolande Jacobi, a long-time assistant to the psychiatrist. Jung died in 1961, and the interview was conducted in 1963 according to Brome. Here is an excerpt describing Jung from the biography together with a footnote [JJCJ]:

It was the explosive person who said one day to his wife, ‘If I get another perfectly normal adult malingering as a sick patient I’ll have him certified!’ And to George Beckwith, his American friend, ‘I’m sometimes driven to the conclusion that boring people need treatment more urgently than mad people.’ Witty on some occasions, he commented to one of his assistants, ‘Show me a sane person and I’ll cure him for you.’ [Footnote 1]

[Footnote 1 for Chapter 23] Jolande Jacobi, author’s interview, 24 Nov 1963.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Show Me a Sane Man and I Will Cure Him

Creative Minds Are Rarely Tidy

Carl Gustav Jung? John William Gardner? A Wise Man? My Friend’s Pillow? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: I run a daily email quote list, and I try to do a quick Google search to see if I’ve got the correct attribution.  I came across your site and thank you for the help. Here is a stumper for you:

Creative minds are rarely tidy.

This maxim is credited to Carl Gustav Jung and several other individuals. Sometimes the attribution is Anonymous. Any ideas?

Quote Investigator: There is another common version of this saying that has been put into circulation more recently:

Creative minds are seldom tidy.

QI believes that the most likely creator of the initial maxim was John William Gardner who was once the President of the Carnegie Corporation and was the founder of the prominent advocacy organization Common Cause. He also helmed the Health, Education, and Welfare department during the presidency of Lyndon Johnson.

In 1964 Gardner published “Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society,” and he used the adage without crediting anyone else (boldface added) [CTJG]:

It has been said that there is a stage in the life of a society (or organization or movement) in which the innovators and creative minds flower and a stage in which the connoisseurs and critics flower. Is it true that the heights of connoisseurship are achieved on the road to decadence? It is a highly debatable point, but not to be dismissed out of hand. Creative minds are rarely tidy.

Gardner also included in his book a version of the maxim that applied to larger groupings such as organizations instead of individuals [CTJG]. Both of these variants have been cited by later authors (boldface added):

Extremes of pluralism can lead to utter confusion. But creative organizations or societies are rarely tidy. Some tolerance for inconsistencies, for profusion of purposes and strategies, and for conflict is the price of freedom and vitality.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Creative Minds Are Rarely Tidy