Monday, May 5, 2014

Judging, Perceiving and the Functions

There's a misconception that the judging and perceiving preferences are irrelevant because of the “cognitive” functions (Jung actually presents us with a theory of the unconscious). This stems from a fundamental lack of knowledge of Jung's work, the early interpretations of it and the reception of it in the Myers-Briggs community. In this post, I will argue that the current function model is not only closer to the Myers-Briggs than Jung, but is in fact no more than an extension of the functions as conceptualized in the Myers-Briggs theory. I will further argue that since judging and perceiving preferences refer to which extraverted function one uses, there ought not be a disconnect between typing via the preferences or the functions except in borderline cases.

1. For years before the Myers-Briggs, most Jungians did not think the auxiliary was in the opposite attitude from the dominant.

2.Isabel Myers and Katharine Cook Briggs were aware of the functions and in fact Myers talks about them in Gifts Differing.

3.They needed a way, however, to determine a whole type with the MBTI. Taking a few lines from a passage in PT, they took Jung to mean that the auxiliary would be a complementary function in the opposite attitude from the dominant. In other words, If you were INFJ, you would have Introverted Intuition and Extraverted Feeling. This was quite possibly their most controversial move. It took awhile for Jungians to warm up to the idea that the auxiliary would not be in the same attitude (i.e. that an Introverted Intuitive with auxiliary Feeling would not have Introverted Feeling).

4. They then used J/P to distinguish the more conscious extraverted function. i.e. J/P is how you act in the outer world and many J/P questions are written to reflect that distinction.

5. However, if you look at the more conscious extraverted functions of the type, you see they match up with J/P relatively well. For example, an INFP has auxiliary Extraverted Intuition, which if you’ve read and understood Jung, you know that it has a lot of the attributes normally associated with a perceiving preference. With an INTJ, the extraverted function is Extraverted Thinking, which even a cursory understanding of the function shows that this has a significant overlap with the judging preference.

6. You therefore can’t say that the functions render J/P obsolete for two reasons:

(a)If you assume, for example, that ISTP uses auxiliary Extraverted Sensing, you are using the Myers-Briggs system of stacking the functions…which the judging/perceiving distinction is meant to indicate.

(b) As the more conscious Extraverted function is reflective of the J/P distinction, you need to ask yourself what you actually gain by saying J/P is irrelevant. Since the system of function stacking you're employing is the same one being used by the Myers-Briggs and since J/P refers to which Extraverted function one uses, a blanket rejection only muddies the waters, resulting in confusion and mistyping. In other words, whether you go by the preferences or the functions, an INTP still has an Extraverted Perceiving function and still acts in a spontaneous, exploratory way in the outer world. Whether you determine you're INTJ by the preferences or the functions, you still have an Extraverted Judging function and act in a judging way in the outer world. Except in the case of someone that's very close on J/P, there shouldn't be a major difference whether you go by the preferences or the functions.

For example, suppose you test as INTP with a very clear score on P. You conclude by the function model that you’re actually an INTJ. Have you stopped to ask yourself why, if you use Extraverted Thinking, a function which is extremely structured and systematic (see Haas and Hunziker) in trying to make the outer world as logical and coherent as possible, you endorsed so many of the perceiving options on the inventory? Obviously, the person is either having a disconnect in her self-knowledge or she's just stretching to make a type fit.

7. As a final note, bear in mind that the Myers-Briggs theory still retains the compatibility model with regards to functions and J/P. So, when people claim that they are uncovering a lesser known but more accurate interpretation of Jung, they're mistaken. Allow me to reiterate: the eight-function model being employed in the so-called "cognitive" functions system is closer to the MBTI theory than it is to early interpretations of Jung. The exact same function model you're using is employed regularly by MBTI trainers and practitioners. If you take the MBTI Step II, you will see a ranking of your function order (four function model) on your report. Naomi Quenk has written extensively about the inferior function and the MBTI. Indeed, she suggests that if a client (e.g. with a slight preference clarity result) absolutely can’t decide between J and P, that you have them determine which function they like to use the least. So, if you absolutely cannot figure out if you’re INFJ or INFP, you should determine which you prefer less: Thinking or Sensing.

And with that, I’m going to refill my coffee…

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