Archive for the ‘inferior function’ tag
I went back two months into my archives to find this photo which I took in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Why this particular photo? I guess, it was the first to catch my eye. There is no “plan” as far as today’s post is concerned. For a while, I didn’t even know if I would write a post. Today is a sunny day with the temperature finally climbing into a very comfortable range which lead to a long walk in the early afternoon. The morning was spent trying to keep up on the tragedies that are unfolding all around the world with the earthquake and tsunami in Japan heading the list. With all of this happening, I just couldn’t seem to find the “will” to write as I usually do. However, now in the late afternoon, I find that the words are beginning to come. Trusting to instinct, I have decided that I will post today. In a way the photo sort of helps explain how it feels to be coming out of a tunnel and looking at the sunshine promised in the distance.
The unrest in Northern Africa, the conflict in Afghanistan, the tensions in so many places and the unsettled planet making its own set of statements through earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and storms. It makes me think of how one is often left feeling powerless when the inner storms begin their assaults that are chaotic. When the psyche decides enough is enough, one is shocked by eruptions of the unconscious.
I turned to Jung’s works for some words that might make a difference in feeling less “at sea” with all that is going on. Strangely enough, I found something in volume 11 in a an essay on the concept of “quaternity” that seemed to fit with what I am experiencing/feeling. I have often written about typology, about the two rational functions and the two irrational functions with the dominant function being opposed by an inferior function. In the essay, Jung looks at the role of the inferior function in a way that helps me understand a bit more.
“Three of the four orienting functions are available to consciousness. This is confirmed by the psychological experience that a rational type, for instance, whose superior function is thinking, has at his disposal one or two possible auxiliary functions of an irrational nature, namely sensation (the “fonction dy réel”) and intuition (perception via the unconscious). His inferior function will be feeling (valuation), which remains in a retarded state and is contaminated with the unconscious. It refuses to come along with the others and often goes wildly off on its own. This peculiar dissociation is, it seems, a product of civilization, and it denotes a freeing of consciousness from any excessive attachment to the “spirit of gravity.” (Jung, CW 11, par. 245)
The missing fourth function erupts and does its own thing, unchecked by the superior function that is blind to the inferior function. Why do I think this is relevant? I think back to how other cultures, and animals have been in tune with the planet and seemed to “know” in advance the approach of events such as earthquakes. Such events take us by surprise and seem to come out of nowhere. But, our inferior function lost in the sea of unconsciousness to our purposes is not really lost. All really isn’t in a state of chaos.
It takes a lot of patience with ourselves as we do the work of rediscovery of the inferior function, trusting that the dark and unknown regions are not really just a personal version of a chaotic and dark hell. There is light in this darkness as well. And as in this photo, we can learn to navigate into and out of the shadow and feel less of a victim.
These men are busy trying to move these incredibly long PVC pipes which are being placed underground, under the sidewalks and streets in our district. It is curious watching the men use muscle power to do the work when we are so used to everything being done using machines back in Canada. When more than one set of hands set to a task, the task becomes lighter and easier. The same can be said of non-physical tasks.
Each of us has four functions upon which we can, and do, draw upon to help us navigate. In the past few posts I have tried to give an idea of what these functions are like and how they are ordered in terms of the psyche’s preferences. What to say here, next, became an issue as it has been such a long time since I had “measured” my preferences. I read a number of essays that “jarred” my thoughts and caused me to delve a little deeper into the topic for myself, not for the blog post. I came across this document, “The Five Levels of the Four Jungian Functions,” by John Fudjack and Patricia Dinkelaker (1995) which sent me scrambling. In the article, I couldn’t find a model which had Intuition as the primary function, Feeling as the auxiliary function and sensing as the inferior function. My first response was to dismiss the article as not being very valid. But then, I became curious as to perhaps a mistaken assumption on my part. I wondered whether or not I had been as honest as I should have been when “testing” in the past.
So, I set out to take another look at what order “preferences” would reveal by going to HumanMetrics, an on-line site where one can get a quick peek at their “type.” The test is basically the MBTI and includes a Judging/Perception component as part of the Type Indicator Was I surprised with the result (which I have below), which is significantly different from all such tests in the past where I typed as INFP:
A trip to the Tarcoles River which is shown above, was made specifically to go crocodile hunting with the camera. And, as you can tell, I did manage to achieve my objective. At the end of the morning I had probably seen about thirty different crocodiles of varying sizes. This fellow was seen near the end of the journey on the river. This guy’s protective covering and fearsome teeth suggest that he is one tough customer. In a way, this is exactly the same idea with our “persona,” the face of “self” that we present to the world.
Without a persona, we are simply too vulnerable. We regularly cover up our inferiorities with a persona, since we do not like our weaknesses to be seen. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book One, 2008, p. 75
What lies beneath the persona is a curious thing. Of course, we know what we are protecting, what we are disguising when we take on a persona. For example, the persona I wore while being a principal of a school was different from the persona I would wear as a minor hockey coach years ago. Each mask was crafted for a particular purpose with a different intended audience. The “self” that consciously directs the traffic of these masks is the ego. However, there is also an unconscious level of self that comes to the theatre of persona, the “shadow” is also doing what it needs to do.
Generally speaking, the shadow is less civilized, more primitive, cares little for social propriety. What is of value to the persona is anathema to the shadow, and vice versa. Hence the shadow and the persona function in a compensatory way: the brighter the light, the darker the shadow. The more one identifies with the persona – which is in effect is to deny that one has a shadow – the more trouble one will have with the unacknowledged areas of the personality. (ibid)
This is good stuff to know. There is no doubt that living as though one was fully persona, living the natural attitude and our dominant functions works well and we are rewarded well in life doing so. Yet, at some point, because the shadow, the opposite attitude and the inferior functions will want out of the prison in which we have confined them. When this happens, we can consider this to be a happy breakdown as it finally convinces us, through pain, to acknowledge all the denied aspects of self, both consciously and unconsciously denied. This is the gift of a midlife crisis.