Monday, August 23, 2010

Abstract and Concrete Judgment

So, today I'm going to explain the differences between abstract and concrete judgment. Judging, as you may recall, for Jung refers to some sort of discriminating faculty. It is an overall approach to any situation in which one makes judgments. So, for example, if you take a bite of food and make a disgusted face, that's a feeling judgment, since an evaluation has been made. If you read an article in the newspaper and dispassionately reach a conclusion about what occurred, that is a judgment using thinking. These are things we all do, from the most trivial instance to the most major decision. However, some people are more oriented towards making judgments. Those are people whose dominant function is thinking or feeling. This is further refined by the nature of the judgments. If it is habitually more evaluative, then the person is a feeling type. If, however, one habitually brackets off their own values and pre-suppositions to reach a conclusion, the person is a thinking type. People for whom judgment is a secondary process are irrational types, which means rather than having a rational criteria (evaluation vs conclusion) through which to organize and make determinations about what they encounter, they focus on experiencing it, either in terms of a present-oriented faculty focused on the five senses, or a future oriented faculty focused on either inner or outer possibilities. These people tend to need to learn to develop their judgment, lest they be at the whim of their experiences. For the purposes of this post, I'll be talking about the rational functions (thinking and feeling) and only referring to the irrational functions (intuition and sensing) insofar as they refer to whether a judging faculty is abstract or concrete.

When a function is differentiated, it is abstract. That is, it is differentiated and operating in a way that is independent from other functions, where it is highly refined and efficient, able to work smoothly and separate irrelevant components from its key activities. Consider it analogous to writing an essay for an exam: when you write your essay in a manner that is clear, comprehensive, contains all the necessary details, but doesn't have any irrelevant points or "borrow" from unrelated themes, you can usually be sure that your professor will give you an "A." However, as your grasp of the material slips, more irrelevant details slip in, your topic gets combined with other topics, you may try to "shotgun" by incorporating anything that can be brought up into conscious recollection in the hopes that something hits. Well, an abstract function is like that "A" essay. By contrast, when a function operates in a concrete manner, it tends to combine with other functions. It "pads" its activity with tendencies from other functions in an effort to try to get the job done.

Concrete Feeling:

Concrete feeling tends to be caught up in the sensuous. When feeling is triggered, it is most commonly experienced as something that happens outside the self. For example, pulling off the road to see cliffs over the ocean and suddenly hit out of nowhere with this wave of emotion would be an example of concrete feeling. Another would be to watch a very moving play and have the experience of catharsis: one is overcome by emotion, tears come to their eyes, feeling is vulnerable, and the experience leaves a profound impact on the person. The sensuous experience of sitting on a rooftop in Malta, sipping a fine wine and eating a good dinner, warmed with all kinds of good feeling, would also be an example.

You may notice a similar thread in all of the above examples: the feeling experience is coupled with emotion and is involved in something sensory. Crying, for example, is a physiological response, which Jung is very clear on as being unrelated to feeling as a differentiated function. When feeling is well differentiated, the feeling values operate smoothly, and in a manner that is separate from emotional reactions.

Additionally, feeling precedes the encounters with the world when differentiated. The values selected or drawn upon are firmly in place and they precede the experience of the outer stimuli. The outer stimuli is therefore subordinated to the judging faculty, and it is only then that it is determined whether the experience is to be accepted or rejected. However, when feeling is concrete, it doesn't operate so efficiently. Rather than the value being in place and the world being judged in that way, these sensory phenomena (apprehension of something beautiful in nature, the satisfaction of a good meal) take on a sudden, mystical power that overpowers the person and fills them with emotion. When this happens, one can conclude that the feeling function most likely does not predominate and is not differentiated, as it is too bound up with sensory experiences.

Concrete feeling can be quite emotional, and can at times deteriorate into mere moodiness, which is different from the mood of the feeling type.

Abstract Feeling

Abstract feeling, on the other hand, is more efficient. Relying on a pre-existing criteria based on religious, moral, aesthetic and intellectual sentiment, it is able to operate smoothly without an emotional response. This isn't to say that the feeling type is never emotional--anyone can be--but the emotions are not tied up with the evaluations. So, for example, the same play as mentioned before will be first evaluated in terms of how it accords with the values and insofar as it is consistent with those values, it is determined to be good or bad. Remember, values means something much broader than the colloquial definition: if my value is that a "good play" follows the formula presented in Aristotle's Poetics, and I then judge the play on those grounds, that would mean judging it in accordance with my values. A rational (but not logical) determination is then made. Similarly, if nature is valued by the person, then these things may be concluded to be good, and then accepted by the individual, but if some other pre-set criteria intervenes (such as determining nature to be something that takes the person away from all the refinement and culture she enjoys, and not in accord with her values) the person may conclude she would rather be in Paris and express dissatisfaction with the current environment.

This brings me to an important point. Jung says that abstract feeling covers religious, moral, intellectual and aesthetic sentiments. Now, there is nothing to say what form these take. They will follow a rational pattern for the individual, so, if the feeling type has a value, their analysis will conform to that value. For example, suppose I hold the value that art should in some way express something of the human condition. My aesthetic experience will be predicated on the art doing this. If I go to MoMA and see an exhibit of inflatable chairs, not only will I be left cold, but I will determine this to be bad art. However, that doesn't mean that my values will remain static. It might be that I, at 39, have values that exclude the inflatable chair. Perhaps at 19, though, due to other intersecting beliefs or the values of my social group, I thought the idea of inflatable chairs as art was deeply profound (thankfully, that was never the case) I might have made a different determination then. That doesn't mean it isn't rational: an evaluative principle can change over time, as things touch upon these abstract ideas and impress upon them the need for certain values to be modified, altered or adapted.

Religious conversions often are of this character. I don't mean the sort of deathbed religious conversion often found among extraverted thinking types with inferior introverted feeling, but rather when some sort of crisis of faith or social value leads one from one religion to another. Religious values can be of any sort: Christian, Muslim, Pagan, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. Even atheism, when infused with all sorts of evaluations about the worth of Christianity, behavior of the Catholic church, and not based solely on the logical arguments, falls under the domain of the feeling function. One example would be the person who is raised as a Christian but, when away at college, discovers Zen Buddhism, and where they once made judgments based on a thing's congruence with Christian values, they now have Buddhist values as their means of making determinations. Now, in our contemporary society, the feeling function gets a bad rap for its religious inclinations: words such as "fanaticism" and "dogmatism" get bandied about. However, that sort of extreme reaction tends to be more the domain of inferior feeling, which has not learned how to "handle" its faith experience, and gets so bound up in emotions it feels compelled to then force it upon others. When operating well, it simply is a system through which one can evaluate where the person stands in relation to the things it encounters.

Feeling function, when abstract, elevates above moodiness and becomes a sort of "mood" a general tone or "vibe" of a place, epoch, or society. Rather than being personal and self-absorbed in its moodiness (as is the case with concrete) it taps into something which has a more universal quality.

Concrete Thinking:

Concrete thinking, just like concrete feeling, has a relative inefficiency to it and tends to be bound up in sensation. When concrete thinking is connected to sensation, it becomes slavish to facts. One example of this slavish thinking: the Psychology major who likes to quote statistics, without being able to say anything critical or insightful about the research in question. Another example would be the academic that over-relies on quoted material, while being reticent to declare one's own position or interpretation.

More concrete numerical operations would fall into this category as well. Jung was rather critical of the idea that mathematics could be considered part of logic, and in his essays he says that while it makes use of logic and that it is a separate faculty altogether. In The Gifted Child, he states,

While I am on this subject I must not omit to point out that very erroneous views used to be held at one time concerning the gift for mathematics. It was believed that the capacity for logical and abstract thought was, so to speak, incarnate in mathematics and that this was therefore the best discipline if one wanted to think logically. But the mathematical gift, like the musical gift to which it is biologically related, is identical neither with logic nor with intellect, although it makes use of them just as all philosophy and science do. One can be musical without possessing a scrap of intellect, and in the same way astounding feats of calculation can be performed by imbeciles. Mathematical sense can be inculcated as little as can musical sense, for it is a specific sense. (239)

Higher mathematics is akin to musical ability, though at the lower levels I would assert that it falls under the domain of concrete thinking due to its reliance on sensation. It becomes like the mathematics of the accountant: precise, detail-oriented, a numerical "fact" of sorts that is neither related to the abstract thinking in logic nor the kind of gift or talent required in higher mathematics.

Abstract Thinking:
Perhaps it's because this is the easiest for me to understand, but it doesn't seem like there's much to say on the matter. Like the negative theologian who defines God by what he is not, my explanation of what abstract thinking is not seems to illuminate what it would be to the point where I think I'd just be (over)stating the obvious here. Still, I'll say a few words on in in the event that it isn't as obvious as I think it is.

Abstract thinking, of course, is going to be efficient, focused thinking which doesn't get caught up in extraneous details. At the risk of being too self-referential, consider the following analogy: at the start of this summer, I decided I wanted to figure out what the key features of Jung's system of psychological types were. I read Psychological Types, and some key sections I read over more than a few times. I also read Von Franz and Hillman. Where things seemed baffling or contradictory, I looked at some of Jung's other works (ranging from dreams and archetypes to educational methods) to get a picture of his overall project. From there, I parsed out what the key features were and wrote various notes and drew various diagrams to get to the essence of the system. Well, that's pretty much what abstract thinking does: it takes the wealth of information and logically organizes it, slicing out what is unnecessary to form categories and draw conclusions.

Now, abstract thinking doesn't mean that someone who has differentiated thinking necessarily creates great intellectual works. There may be variabilities in terms of ability which are distinct from the role it plays in the personality. Just as a person can be highly intelligent but simply have some other function hold dominance, a person can have thinking more differentiated than the other functions but not utilize it to its fullest capability for whatever reason (background, opportunity, life choice etc). What indicates abstract thinking is that the person predominantly has this efficient use and habitually employs it when making judgments.

In Conclusion: So, you have what should be a fairly detailed picture of what each of the two judging functions look like when either abstract or concrete. The examples I gave should be taken as exemplar situations. The effects of concrete thinking and feeling may be much more subtle than is depicted here. Since there are degrees of development of the functions, the placement will influence how clearly concrete or abstract a function is. A very differentiated dominant function will look fairly abstract, similarly the inferior function will tend to be quite obviously concrete, but the middle functions may be less obvious, and may even have traits, to varying degrees, of both the abstract and concrete aspects of that function.

This is my last week before the semester starts. I may try to get a couple more posts in, if I'm feeling inspired. Or I might get my last bit of leisure reading in. I'll probably be writing more sporadically after that, since I'm going to be crazy busy this term.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Attitude of the Auxiliaries

Whee, I just got a new MacBook. What better way to break it in than to blog about an idea that's been mulling around in my head?

Okay, I've done a ton of reading by Jungian analysts about the auxiliary. Just as I've done in some of my previous entries, I want to start off by talking about some of the ways this has been interpreted in the MBTI theory, then what some of the more traditional Jungian interpretations are. After I do that, I'll toss my own ideas into the mix.

The MBTI states that there is a dominant function, an auxiliary, tertiary and inferior function. The theory states that the dominant function is in the opposite attitude of the dominant. It also states that there is a "tertiary" (i.e. the third function). Some (but not all) MBTI theorists suggest that the tertiary is in the same attitude of the dominant function. This doesn't really make a lot of sense to me, since each function is buried in a deeper layer of unconscious, with the dominant the only fully conscious function. Since Jung's system is divided along I/E lines, if the third function were in the same attitude as the dominant, that would mean it was more accessible than the auxiliary. However, if it's more accessible than the auxiliary, then it wouldn't be the third function. By definition, "more unconscious" means less accessible to consciousness. It should be noted that not all MBTI writers hold to this position, and I've seen some get out of the muddle by simply not specifying which attitude the third is in.

Many Jungians don't use the phrase "tertiary." Rather, they refer to an auxiliary and a third function. In some cases, they say "auxiliaries" meaning the second and third function. Where there is some dispute nowadays is in whether the auxiliary is in the same or opposite attitude as the dominant. Those who say it's in the opposite attitude hold that both auxiliaries and the inferior are in the same attitude. Those who say it's in the same attitude hold that the dominant and both auxiliaries are in the same attitude with the inferior in the opposing attitude. So, for example, someone that held to what I'm going to call the "Opposite Attitude Thesis" (OAT) would say that if you were an introverted feeling type with auxiliary sensing, you'd be like this: introverted feeling-extraverted sensing-extraverted intuition-extraverted thinking. Under the "Same Attitude Thesis" (SAT) the person would be as follows: introverted feeling-introverted sensing-introverted intuition-extraverted thinking.

The conflict over this arises out of differing interpretations of one puzzling phrase in Jung's Psychological Types:

For all the types met with in practice, the rule holds good that besides the conscious, primary function there is a relatively unconscious, auxiliary function which is in every respect different from the nature of the primary function.

So, one might interpret this as saying that, if it's different in every respect, if you're an introverted type, the auxiliary would be extraverted. However, a paragraph above, there is another passage which complicates matters:

Experience shows that the secondary function is always one whose nature is different from, though not antagonistic to, the primary function.

Now, Jung goes on to talk about it in terms of functions. So, if you were in favor of the OAT, you could argue he's only talking about the functions, not the attitudes. However, if you take that position, you have to bite the bullet and say that, in the next paragraph, he's only talking about the functions when he says "different in every respect" as well. The proponent of SAT could additionally argue that since Jung thought the greatest difference was between the introverted and extraverted attitudes, that having a supporting function in the opposing attitude would be antagonistic to the dominant and therefore could not be an auxiliary.

In this article, Andi Lothian explains how, for the longest time, it was nearly blasphemous to suggest that the auxiliary could be in an opposing attitude. While Marie-Louise von Franz doesn't specify an attitude for the auxiliaries, her frequent use of "inferior" to describe both the fourth function and the opposing attitude suggests she held that view as well. She states,

This barbaric quality of the inferior function which is mixed up with the other attitudinal type is one of the great practical problems and constitutes the great split of the human personality, for not only has one to switch from one function to another, but with the fourth function one definitely has to switch to the other attitudinal type, and then one risks (or even cannot avoid) being temporarily possessed by the opposite attitude and thereby become barbaric and unadapted.
(Psychotherapy, pg 121)

Obviously if (a)one has to work through the auxiliaries before getting to the inferior and assimilating it and (b) the difficulty of assimilating the inferior function is due in part to having to switch to the opposing attitude, then the other two functions would need to be in the same attitude as the dominant...if they weren't, then one wouldn't have to switch when they got to the inferior, they would have already done this.

Now, some people like Spoto advocate the OAT approach, although he also allows for an "aberrant type" which can be in the same attitude of the dominant. However creative Spoto's idea may be, this may be a bit too loose, and runs contrary to Jung's intent. Under Spoto's aberrant type, you would have a personality that was more comfortable with ambiguity, and may be more emotionally volatile. Unfortunately, he allows for any possible auxiliary, so thinking could have feeling as an auxiliary or sensing accompanied by intuition . The problem is this pretty much would unravel the whole cornerstone of Jung's system: not only does he (many times) explain how the opposing type always represses the expression of the other, but he considers the greatest challenge to be assimilating of the inferior function. However, if a person could have extraverted thinking with auxiliary feeling, then what would the inferior function even be? This seems to remove it entirely. A more probable explanation seems to be that the people who seem to use both are really caught in the throes of a dominant/inferior split, where the inferior was cropping to the surface so much that it seemed more well defined in the personality. The emotional volatility that Spoto recognized would then be better attributed to the touchiness of the inferior function erupting on a frequent basis.

As is no doubt obvious, I'm more persuaded by SAT. However, Andi Lothian makes a compelling suggestion: that we could expand it to a total of 32 types, allowing for the auxiliary to follow either the SAT or OAT pattern. I would guess that people who are better described by OAT might rely more exclusively on the dominant function or take longer to integrate the auxiliary, since they have to make an attitudinal jump. You could think of it as something similar to the enneagram theory, with wings and instincts. Just as there are Social 4w5s , Sexual 4w3s etc, there are NiFis and NiFes, etc. I think the hierarchy of type would go something like this:

8 functions--> so basic qualities and same core issues for people of the same function. e.g. all introverted thinking types have to wrangle with inferior extraverted feeling.
Function + auxiliary-->A distinction is made in how the function is fueled, for example thinking fueling philosophical speculation in introverted intuition with thinking versus fueling artistic vision with feeling.
Function+auxiliary+attitude-->the attitude the auxiliary is in determines how it is expressed. So, as the auxiliary differentiates, how it is expressed is determined through which attitude is dominant.

I do think you need to stick to the traditional auxiliary function breakdown (e.g. rational type with irrational auxiliary and vice versa), otherwise it just becomes an attempt to account for everything to the point of losing its value as a construct and a psychological tool...but allowing for either attitude as subtypes gives enough flexibility to incorporate both theories. I would say, the important thing is to stay consistent: if you're an introverted sensing type and determine yourself to have extraverted feeling, then your thinking has to be extraverted too. No attitudinal leapfrogging, please.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Jungian Functions and the Fine Arts

So, I'm acutely aware of summer rapidly approaching its end. In just over two weeks, my teaching appointment for the semester begins, and a week after that, I'll be teaching two undergraduate philosophy classes, as well as taking two graduate text seminars. I have a few ideas I've been tossing around, so hopefully I get them all done. Once the semester starts, my posting may slow down again. I'll probably focus on my personal(ish) blog when the time allows. (When being the operative term.)

In the meantime, here's something quick(ish) that I've been tossing around for awhile.

There are certain associations people make about Jung's types and the arts. One of the myths I've seen most frequently is that artistic production belongs to the realm of the feeling types. In actuality, all of the types have some contribution to the arts, but the different functions have different areas of mastery.

Jung is quite clear in Psychological Types that intuition represents artistic inspiration. This is the sort of "aha!" that comes in, where one has a sudden inspiration or idea. This makes no claim to the ability. The person could be a tormented genius like Blake, or they could be that guy who sits around in a cafe, writing really bad poetry that everyone secretly wishes he won't ask them to read. There is something very unstructured about this. It is pure inspiration, what the ancient Greeks often referred to as divine madness. If you would like to get an idea of what this looks like, go read Plato's Ion on this website. It's one of Plato's shorter dialogues, and the section on divine inspiration gives you a good idea of this process.

Sensing: Sensing is the function most associated with artistic production. It's the sensing type who can do really detailed, realistic drawings, paintings and sculptures. In contrast to intuition, which has inspiration but can often lack technique, sensing types are skilled with technique, but may have trouble with the risk taking and imaginative leaps that the intuitive type is so comfortable with. As you can imagine, both are essential to artistic creation, and either in the extreme could result in artistic failure: the intuitive type fails on account of being pure idea with no way of communicating it, while the sensing type fails by doing technically proficient works that are nonetheless uninspired. This exemplifies the need for both types to become integrated with the inferior function. When the sensing type becomes more integrated, she's able to be more courageous in her work, while the intuitive type who engages her inferior sensing is able to finally master the technique necessary to make her inner vision comprehensible to others.

Thinking: Thinking is what gets us theory. In the extraverted thinking type, this lends itself (as von Franz points out) to the art historian who situates the work of art in a movement. It's extraverted thinking that determines what sort of art is thought to belong in a museum, what school it belongs to and what year a certain work was likely created. By contrast, introverted thinking type asks questions about what a work of art is, what sort of criteria we ought to have to determine both what qualifies as a work of art and how one ought to conclude whether or not a work of art is "good." The introverted thinking type might, for example, look at The Museum of Bad Art's website, and say, "Well, wait a minute, what sort of criteria are you using to determine 'bad art?' What do you mean by 'bad,' for that matter, what do you mean by 'art?'"

Feeling: The feeling function would most properly belong to the MOBA site referenced above. The feeling type rules neither artistic production nor artistic inspiration, but rather rules the judgments made about art. This is not the same as an intellectual process used to determine how art relates to a concept or to the data, but rather, a pre-set criteria through which the art is deemed good or bad. For the extraverted feeling type, this will refer to social norms. How art fits the current standard will be the criteria. For example, the extraverted feeling type might look at the latest trends in the art world as shown by a magazine like Art Forum and, when viewing a work of art, determines whether or not it ought to be viewed in a respectable museum. The introverted feeling type's aesthetic judgment will be keen as well, but will be based on some sort of internal criteria which is hard to articulate, and will simply be experienced as a moving experience. Edvard Munch's The Scream is deemed a beautiful work of art because it is very moving, the person relates to it or because they had some sort of aesthetic experience while viewing it that is difficult to articulate and even harder to pin down.

Again, both of these are rather one-sided. The philosopher of art who has never had an aesthetic experience won't be able to say anything meaningful about the work itself. She may try to concoct a logical proof for determining a work of art's worth, which, to the feeling type, will seem to miss the point entirely. By contrast, the feeling type without considering either the history of the work or the philosophical questions behind it gets reduced to the "I don't know a lot about art but I know what I like" stereotype. She may seem at best to subordinate the work to her own pre-existing expectations and at worst will only mimic the views of others. Each function has to engage with its opposite to really have any sort of insight into the artwork.

From here, you can piece together the likely approaches from the combining of the dominant and auxiliary. Remember that the dominant will be the most prominent. The auxiliary serves the aims of the dominant only loosely and until deliberate efforts or circumstances push the auxiliary to fully differentiate, it will usually be more toned down. (Some people, though, have both so well developed that it can be hard to determine which their dominant function really is.) This probably shouldn't be used to type others, since Jung considered that to be not only difficult but contrary to the system's intent. (Most Jungian analysts suggest he would have been against the use of personality inventories too, and that the only way to really learn your type is to live with the system for a long time. Not to say you can't use them if you find them helpful, but even MBTI practitioners urge just using it as a starting point and that ultimately you, not the test, are the best judge of your type.)

However, where the aesthetic approaches may be helpful is in getting a deeper understanding of what each of the functions does. In that sense, it can help with self-typing. Also, as so much of Jung's system was developed through examining the type problem in philosophy, literature and the arts, I believe the approach to aesthetic issues to be yet another useful avenue in finding one's own type. Examining one's approach to the arts in light of this may reveal important information about the self which can then be used as a starting point for further self-exploration.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Importance of Active Imagination

Okay, I usually do a lot of speculative, theoretical stuff and/or critique in this blog, however, I thought I'd share some of my work with active imagination.

The problem of the inferior function, Jung thought, was a tough one. In most cases, not even the auxiliary fully came into its own, but rather worked in only a slightly differentiated way to aid in the aims of the dominant function. If a person really worked at it, and most likely had the help of a skilled psychoanalyst (though von Franz does say at one point that certain people may be self-aware and honest enough to do it on their own)then they could conceivably work through the functions. This would mean living fully as the dominant, then the auxiliary, then the third, then finally, hopefully, integrating the inferior function. It was only when the dominant and the inferior were integrated that a person could become whole. Otherwise, they'd remain in a very split, one-sided state.

The importance of integrating the inferior function can't be overemphasized. von Franz thought that not only was it necessary in order for the personality to become integrated, but it was a social responsibility as well. She described the inferior function as where "the devil comes in" and so while it may start in the individual, if left unchecked, it would grow into social ills. She believed, for example, that Nazi Germany was able to happen because of people's inferior function. Hitler, she explained, could read a crowd well and knew how to play on the inner demons of the unconscious. The inferior function isn't just something we're not good at, it's something that is incredibly intense, something which not only houses secret passions but secret terrors as well, and when those things aren't recognized and integrated,can be manipulated in horribly destructive ways.

Still, Jung grew skeptical about most people doing this, and at one point suggested that for most people, it could really only be tackled through active imagination. Von Franz describes typical creative activities for all of the types except for the feeling types. Thinking types can work through their inferior function through painting or dancing, intuitive types through clay and sensing types through creative writing. So, I figured this would be a nice starting point for myself. Now, I enjoy painting, I'm a fairly skilled character writer, but true to von Franz's description, clay has long since tended to be the bane of my existence. So, I decided, while looking at some dalek figurines that we picked up in England, to do a little bit of working with clay. (I looked at an actual object since typically my imagination is given very free rein when I'm doing artwork, so I thought working from observation would be more suitable to my aims.) Here's what I came up with. Now, if this doesn't exemplify one's inferior sensing, I don't know what does:

My Clay Dalek

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dreams and the Inferior Function

In my last post, I mentioned that one way to determine your dominant function was through looking at the appearance of your inferior function in dreams. Fortunately for me, I've kept detailed records of my dreams for years. Through my handwritten diaries, a dream app on iphone and posts when I used to regularly maintain a livejournal account, my records of my dreams go back several years. This morning, I was going through some to see what I came up with. I thought, to illustrate my point in the last post, it might be helpful to describe and interpret a few of them here.

First, there are a few things to look for when examining if a dream refers to an inferior function. Obviously not everything in a dream will indicate the inferior function, but generally, really base, primitive expressions of that function will indicate the inferior function. So, inferior sensing usually is symbolized by some sort of really materialistic or hedonistic person, really cold or authoritarian figures indicate inferior thinking, inferior intuition is indicated by really flighty but "strange" characters (such as gypsies, fortune tellers, artists, but usually in a way that connotes being unreliable, unrealistic and a bit dangerous) while inferior feeling may be indicated by a character that exhibits unpleasant feeling values, such as fanaticism, excessive conformity or excessive sentimentality.

However, these figures will be most significant when associated with other dream imagery that indicates the inferior function. Generally, the inferior function is represented by anyone on the fringes of society, such as homeless people or (especially from someone whose economic situation and/or background is middle class or above) working class. It can also be indicated by people on the fringes of society, such as drug dealers, prostitutes, runaways, etc. This is because the inferior function is what is most deeply buried in the unconscious, and so there is an archetypal connection with social hierarchies. At the same time, since the inferior function is also experienced as strange and fascinating (both fascinating and impenetrable) exotic cultures indicate it as well, as I've mentioned. Another indicator of inferior function is anything that deals with fours: so, if you dream about yourself, along with three other people, especially if these people are of a different gender, then the person who is least familiar will represent the inferior function. This is because the inferior function is represented by the anima in a man and animus in a woman. (Sometimes the inferior function can be the same gender, but since it's hard to distinguish between when someone of one's own gender is a personification of one's self and when they're the inferior function, I would only interpret it that way if there is some other inferior function symbol, such as a prostitute in the dream of a woman, or a male wino in a man's dream, etc.)

OK. So, onto my dream.

Now, I had both the luck and misfortune of having an entanglement with someone of my inferior function a couple of years ago. Jung states that a person ought to develop close bonds with those with their inferior function, as each will help the other work through the issues. In my experience, though, this can only happen if both people are very aware of Jung's system, are very emotionally aware and, quite frankly, I would advise against it unless both are going through some form of psychoanalysis. The reason for this is that the inferior function is where people tend to be the touchiest. Now, relationships with someone of your opposing attitude and same function are, as I mentioned, difficult as well, and in some ways, the hardest to understand. The reason for this is that they have the same inferior function in the opposite attitude, so they also trigger it, and worse, the same stimuli will generally trigger it. For example, my husband is an extraverted intuitive and I'm an introverted intuitive (in case you were wondering after my last post ;)). Our worst fights have generally been when we're travelling, especially travelling abroad. It took me a long time to figure out why this was, and it was only until I really delved into Jung that it became clear. The reason is that we're both having to deal with sensing stuff, but we're coming at it from completely different angles, so we're both touchy, we're both a little bit dysfunctional with it, and so unless we're really cautious, it can become explosive. However, and this is where I depart from Jung a bit--in most circumstances, we're both comfortably intuiting, and so on a day to day basis, that doesn't come up. However, when you get an extraverted sensing type and make them deal in a serious way with an introverted intuitive, then it's constant. Their default way of doing things, the most frequently used and developed part of themselves, is where you're touchiest, where you feel kind of inferior, it's exciting, but just coming near it fills you with a sense of incompetence. So, at least from my observation, these types of interactions--whether from a friend, family member or co-worker--just trigger all kinds of gunk.

However, after it all reached critical mass, I had a number of dreams that really exemplified my inferior sensing, and for that reason I think it was useful. For example:

I dreamed I was in Battlestar Galactica (a sequel to the series, actually) and all of these cities had sprung up. My husband's job was in very high demand (he does IT security stuff)and so we were very well off. We lived in a very upscale loft, which had a Starbucks in it. Since I hate Starbucks on account of it being just bad, corporate coffee, it wasn't much use to me, though. I had all of these fancy dresses, some of which were nice, but some of which were just tacky. However, then a large number of peasants started banging on the door. I opened it, and they all tried to charge in, begging me for food and coffee. There were so many of them, that I knew I couldn't possibly help them all. I tried to shut the door, but I really had to push to get it shut, then bolted it with one of those wheel-locks you see on vaults. They still pleaded for help, but I knew if I tried to help all of them, I'd wind up as a peasant, too.

"Peasants" are classic inferior function symbolism. This is especially interesting, since this was several months before I read Von Franz's work, so I didn't know this at the time. The concept of the "peasant" is a fairly archaic term, most people don't usually think of the poor as peasants anymore, but I really did describe them this way when I wrote down the dream. There was a lot of really crass materialism in the dream, which is indicative of the inferior function. Also, the peasants asking for food and coffee shows an association between the inferior function (peasants) and basic sensory stuff (food and coffee).

Sometimes, though, the same gender can indicate the inferior function. For example, I once dreamed that my apartment was turned into a bar, and the main bar area was in my bedroom. There was a woman at the bar, who was a complete wino...I mean, straight out of the movie Barfly sort of wino. She was sloppy and obnoxious. However, no matter what I did, I couldn't get her to leave. As one's home often represents the functions, with the main part of the house representing the dominant function, and the basement as the inferior function, having a character representative of the inferior function indicates the sudden awareness that the inferior function is in some way "taking over" the main part of the personality.

The most interesting are the ones where there is a four-fold theme, such as this one:

I was going to a nightclub. It was one of those elite, you-have-to-be-on-the-list nightclubs. My husband was with me. We were told we weren't on the list. We wanted to dispute this, so we convinced the doorman to let us in and talk to the manager. When we did, an authority figure that I know IRL was standing next to him. As I tried to talk, everything went black and I couldn't see. I was nervous, couldn't negotiate or read anyone's reactions.

What's significant isn't just that these are three figures, but that we make four, with the other three being the opposite gender. Jungian analysts such as Spoto talk about the remaining three functions all being in the opposing attitude from the dominant, and Jung specifically mentions this when talking about introverted thinking. So, what you have is a dominant function as me, with the other three in varying degrees of unconscious: my husband as someone I'm quite familiar with would be my immediate auxiliary, the authority figure being someone I know, but only in a professional capacity would represent the third function, while the nightclub owner is a complete stranger to me, and is the only one that doesn't actually exist in reality. That everything goes black when I try to talk to them is significant, too: darkness indicates the impenetrability and inscrutability of the more unconscious functions. The club itself is very extraverted sensing. Extraverted sensing types can be quite cultured and refined, but they can also be man/woman about town sorts, enjoying all sorts of material and hedonistic pleasures, and in many cases are the sorts of people more inclined to keep the vast majority of their relationships on a superficial level. This fits the nightclub environment: it was very posh, very elite, one could easily get the most top shelf liquors, but it's not exactly the sort of place one goes for deep conversation. The nightclub owner was reflective of this as well, as someone very well dressed, very "money." Most importantly though, is the fact I couldn't get in. This is how one often experiences their inferior function.

There's a lot more, but you get the idea. Anyhow, I wanted to post these because I thought that showing by example might help people who are otherwise not acquainted with interpreting their dreams get a headstart on the process. As for me, I think I'm going to make dinner, then maybe mess around with clay to sort of work out some of this inferior function stuff.