Friday, December 16, 2011

I'm not a Thinking type!

Or not primarily, at least, which is a shocker for me as I always thought I was.

I've been reading another Marie-Louise von Franz book (surprise surprise) and am currently reading about the inferior function. My interest in Jung's personality types was piqued so I went exploring around teh interwebs where I made a startling discovery: I'm not actually a Thinking type, as I always thought I was! I'm an Intuitive!!

Von Franz, among others, talks about how one's inferior function is the one that you have the most difficulty with. One key indicator was the things that took you longer to do than normal.
[T]he inferior function is generally slow in contrast to the superior function... [I]f an intuitive fills out a tax form, he needs a week where other people would take a day. He simply cannot do it, or if he does it accurately, he takes forever.

... Assimilating it, and even letting the inferior function come up, takes a great amount of time. If a feeling type wants to think, he will sit eight hours to write two pages - if as much as that. If a thinking type wants to realize his feeling, he has to meditate for hours until he feels what he feels... If you ask a thinking type what he feels, generally he will shoot a lot of conventional answers at you, but when you ask him what he really feels, he is absolutely stunned and says he does not know! If you leave him stewing for a long time, he will slowly realize what he really feels. The same is true for sensation when it is the inferior function, which is why, when intuitives begin to work on their inferior sensation, they get tremendously stiff and overly pedantic, and they have to be extraordinarily accurate in a terribly slow way. This cannot be helped; it is a stage which cannot be skipped.
(von Franz, Psychotherapy, pp. 41-42)

It reminded me of F and his difficulty writing, how it takes him days and days to write what takes me an hour to do. Based on the assumption that I was a Thinking type I tried to wrap my head around my having difficulty feeling... which I don't too much, actually. Not to that that extent. However, I do have serious difficulty with getting day-to-day things done; things like refinancing my apartment, which I find so overwhelming I usually just become paralyzed and can't even think about it.

And it actually makes more sense for a Persephone to have Intuition as her dominant function. Actually, it has a lot of parallels with my discovery that I'm a Persephone and not a Hecate; it wasn't until I took the Goddess Power quiz that I figured out that I was a Persephone. Then, after thinking about it a while, I realized that yes, I'm a Persephone. I guess I've developed my auxiliary function of Thinking so much that, like my Hecate subarchetype, it became difficult for me to see my actual main function!

This also helps in trying to figure out other people's dominant, auxiliary and inferior functions; even if an auxiliary function is very highly developed (which, if my acquaintances are any indication, appears to be quite common) you can always figure out someone's inferior function by looking at what takes a bloody long time for them to do.

Another interesting point von Franz makes about the inferior function is that it's the area in which you feel most alive.
Another difficulty in defining one's own or other people's type is that if people have already reached the stage of being bored with their main function, they very often assure you with absolute sincerity that they belong to the type opposite what they really are. The extravert swears that he is deeply introverted, and vice versa... [W]hen one is trying to find one's type, one must never ask, "What matters to me most?" but rather "What do I habitually do most?" An extravert can be constantly extraverting but will assure you, and will mean it, that he is deeply introverted and only concerned with the inner world. That is not a deception, it is how he feels, for he knows that although it may be for only a minute a day, in that minute in which he introverts he is close to himself; there he is real.
(von Franz, Psychotherapy, p. 33)

This reminds me of how, sometimes, when I can really get into it, cleaning can become a peaceful Zen activity where time expands, becomes Kairos time. And it also explains how it's when I'm in the stream of life that I feel the most anxious... as well as the most alive. As an introvert it's when I'm extraverting that life is sharp and lively. And why I can squeeze so much emotional juice out of a tiny bit of social interaction.

Now what I want to do is practice being in the Sensation function, although Jung and von Franz suggest going a meandering route through the other two functions before taking on the inferior function. It might also explain why I have a fascination with physical activities, like my cycling, or like sewing and cooking; it could be the subconscious's way of developing my inferior Sensation function.

Link: Benet Hill Monastery's page about the inferior function

Related post: Jung's four functions ("personality types")


  1. Holy hotdamn LIGHTBULB moment!!!

    I am PARALYZED by mundane things that everyone else seems to do with ease eg. taxes (indeed). I just... can't. Finances? Oh HELL no. I'm just going to go lie down for a while and maybe it will all go away...

    But I absolutely see myself as the Queen - or at least, Princess - of Swords. It's why I chose my blog name. I even worship Hekate! :)

    I've never considered that my absolute compulsive thinking-learning-discovering-assimilating approach to life could be INtuitive, rather than regular-every-day-tyoe thinking. It would definitely explain a lot.

    Every time I read a post here, I have to add another book to my wishlist. Stop it. ;)

  2. Ha ha you figured out my nefarious plot, to have EVERYONE read all of Marie-Louise von Franz's books :D Seriously, she's become one of my favorite thinkers, she's so amazingly clear and deep.

    Finding out about the types and the inferior functions has been revolutionary. Like learning about the archetypes, it's clarified so much both about myself and others. We just had our Christmas dinner and it was like really seeing them for the first time. They still annoyed the daylights out of me (it's *really* hard being the only introvert in a family of extroverts, and really *painful* being the only intuitive/thinker in a family of feeling and sensation types) but it's becoming clear that it's not a personality flaw, either on their side or mine. It's just the way we are.

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