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Carl Jung: The 2 Attitudes (Extroversion and Introversion) and The 4 Psychological Functions

Carl Gustav Jung (1875 - 1961) was a pioneer in the field of analytical psychology.  In 1921 Jung published 'Psychological Types', a work that has profound meaning especially regarding this mystical card science.  In his book, Jung proposed that people are oriented towards one of 2 opposing attitudes, being either focused towards the outer physical world of objects, or focused towards the inner psychic world.  These are the two basic types.   Once the personal attitude was established, Jung noticed that there were 4 functional ways that a person adapts and orients himself in order to make sense of reality.  The 4 suits are symbols that represent these 4 functions. Spade
Sensation
 Diamond Feeling  —  |  —  Thinking Club
Intuition
Heart

The 2 Attitudes (Extroversion and Introversion)

The extraverted attitude is one where decisions are made primarily due to objective conditions and demands rather than due to subjective opinions.  Consciousness looks outward since the extravert expects outer concerns to be of utmost importance, sometimes in opposition to subjective suggestions that may arise.  When the extraversion is extreme, the inner subjective nature will become severely repressed. Consequently, the ever-expanding outer fascination will at some point overwhelm the consciousness process, allowing a response from the subjective unconscious perspective to bubble up (such as a 'slip of the tongue').

The introverted attitude works in the opposite direction, where the inward movement of psychic energy provides the most influence over the the perception.  Outer events will merely trigger an inner, reflective response, which then dominates the consciousness.

The 4 Psychological Functions

Due to the complexities of the work compiled by Jung regarding the psychological functions, a formal discussion will not be attempted here.  Rather, we will simplify the discussion by taking the most rudimentary aspects of the work and forming a set of general-purpose rules that can be used individually, or combined to form deeper meaning.  To me, Jung's most profound observation was discovery of the unconscious.  My understanding is that the unconscious makes up half of our life experience, where we operate in a habitual or automatic manner.  The other half of the time our conscious is hard at work making decisions, planning, etc.  In reflection of this, the 4 functions are broken down into two groups.

  • Sensing and Intuiting are the Perceptive Functions.  Through these functions information is apprehended in advance of the consciousness, thereby providing access to our unconscious predispositions.
  • Thinking and Feeling are the Judgment Functions.  These functions are shaped by and give meaning to our perceptions, thereby providing the avenue for our conscious unfoldment.

As you can see from the diagram at the top right, these two sets of functions work independant of each other.  However, the functions that make up each set are integrally connected.  For instance, sensation and intuition represent the extremes of a bridge called perception.  Likewise, feeling and thinking represent the extremes of a bridge called judgment.  The functions at the endpoints of each bridge are opposed to each other.  Being opposed as they are, when one function is dominant the opposite function will generally be repressed.  For example, a dominant thinking type will often find little value in the feelings, even their own.  It is only when we venture away from the endpoints, towards the middle, where a deeper understanding of the personality becomes awakened.

The primary function is the one that is most dominant in a person, and as stated above the opposing function would be the most repressed, or the least understood.  This primary function will naturally be one-sided, given the nature of the bridges described here.  Jung recognized that, and deduced that—as a means to maintain equilibrium—the individual would also operate through one of the functions of the other bridge.  This he called an auxiliary function, one which can have only secondary importance—being subservient to the demands of the primary.

The Transcendent Function

The transcendent function represents a merging of the conscious and the unconscious.  From my understanding, the transcendent function is facilitated by the releasing of that which is repressed due to the workings of the primary and auxiliary functions.  Gravitating towards the center of each bridge represents the path of transcencence, and along the way the repressed functions will become integrated.  However, this happens at a price.  To look eye-to-eye with a repressed function, the dominant or auxiliary function must be willing to allow it's opposition to have a voice, or to be important.  This can only happen from a conscious decision to look at the repressed functions in a way that gives them validity.  Once the decision has been made, the work can begin.  But since the subordinant functions are generally repressed due to unconscious habits, we need a starting point from which to approach the work.  Given that these unconscious habits may not always represent a persons actual conviction, the art of listening would seem to be the best starting point. 

An interesting awareness emerges once the practice of listening becomes prominant.  One of the great mysteries to me is that when I have a repressed function, I will generally attract someone who has that as a primary function.  This provides an environment where I can now communicate with my repressed self, through the art of listening to this other person.  However, the by-product of this faculty of listening is that now I become challenged when a repressed faculty speaks, whereas before I would have simply dismissed it and payed no attention.  To cope with these challenges, I have come to discover 2 remedies, which essentially reflect each other.  These remedies are Forgiveness and Acceptance, either of which will release the pent-up anxiety that had built up around that which was repressed.