"We know that three of the four functions of consciousness can become differentiated, i.e., conscious, while the other remains connected with the matrix, the unconscious, and is known as the 'inferior' function. It is the Achilles' heel of even the most heroic consciousness…." Carl Jung, 1959
Time for another personality post! I've been reading more about inferior functions and how stress is expressed in each type. So I thought I'd share!
If you need a refresher, read the Basics of Type Theory first. If you already know your type, you can determine your hierarchy of functions there.
Balance has a unique meaning in type theory. At first glance, you may think that a balanced personality is one that has developed equal competence in all functions. This would result in no clear preferences. Essentially, you would be typeless. But that's not how the human brain develops and functions.
Balance means we develop our inferior function (the 4th function) sufficiently to keep our dominant function from becoming overbearing, over-expressed, and running amok. It's healthy to develop the inferior function to achieve this balance. But no matter how balanced we are, or how skilled we are at using that inferior function, it can also cause trouble, because it remains our least comfortable, least controlled function.
What kind of trouble? Know how you can act out of character when under stress, feeling tired, or ill? When you have a day when you don't recognize yourself? In type theory it's called "being in the grip." And in type terms, it is the eruption of your inferior function. When we are in the grip of our inferior function we experience tunnel vision (become too focused or narrow-minded), lose our sense of humor, and make "all-or-none" statements.
Each inferior function has different triggers or stressors that lead to a grip experience, behaviors that characterize the grip experience, and ways to return to equilibrium. Because of their make up, INFJs and INTJs can be especially stressed when they are forced to focus on details, to face unexpected events, or to be more extraverted. Their inferior function, extraverted sensing (Se), unconsciously comes forward. Their "grip experience" causes them to focus obsessively on external data, to overindulge in sensual pleasure, or to take an adversarial attitude toward the external world. To return to equilibrium, they may need time alone to recharge, to lighten their normal schedule, or to be free from others giving advice or suggestions.
So, as an INFJ (and I can attest to the truth of this) I can get stressed when plans change at the last minute, causing me to pick a fight with Jason, which resolves only after I've had some alone time. :) Or, after spending all day shopping with my extraverted mother-in-law, I just need to sit and eat chocolate, and put off the laundry and vacuuming until the next day (yeah-- that sounds right!)
If you want to know your inferior function, triggers, form of the grip experience, and how to get back to equilibrium, tell me your type in the comments. Let's see how accurate this theory is!
I also want to wish all those who celebrate it, HAPPY EASTER!
Hope your holiday is hopping! (Follow the little ones, they know where the best eggs are!)
(back to part 7)