Everyone wants to know their superior function when they think about their personality.
But did you know that you can actually “learn more” by understanding your inferior functions than your superior functions?
Thinking about your superior functions is like “looking at the stage of your life from the audience’s seat.
(You see the scene as it is supposed to be.)
On the other hand, thinking about inferior functions is like “looking at mysteries of your life from behind the scenes.
(You will see things that even you didn’t realize.)
From now on, I will post a series of articles on the inferior function.
These articles will provide a more comprehensive explanation of the inferior function than any articles on other sites.
I am writing this series based on the original Typology of Jungian Psychology.
Therefore, there are parts where the views differ from those of the MBTI.
Let’s Review the Basics of Jung’s Typology
Two Psychological Attitudes
Jungian psychology considers “two (psychological) attitudes” and “four functions” when considering human personality.
The “two (psychological) attitudes” are extroversion and introversion.
However, the extrovert and the introvert in psychology are entirely different concepts from ” cheerful” or ” gloomy” personalities.
Simply put, an extrovert is a personality type that directs interests outward, and an introvert is a personality type that directs them inward.
Whether you conform your standards of thinking to the world or your criteria is a problem.
Extroverts are always concerned with “What do other people think?” and try to match themselves to the people around them as much as possible.
Introverts could be better at adopting the world’s way of thinking and always behaving according to their thoughts.
(I will discuss the introvert and the extrovert again in a later article.)
Four Basic Personality Functions
The four (personality) functions are thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition.
The four functions can be divided into two sets as follows
Thinking ←→ Feeling
The following is a figure of the four functions.
As shown in the figure above, thinking and feeling have opposite characteristics, and sensation and intuition have opposite ones.
Everyone has all four functions (to varying degrees).
When considering superior and inferior functions, we generally view them in terms of two psychological attitudes and four personality functions.
However, this article will consider using only four functions.
Superior and Inferior Functions Become Apparent With Growth
Human beings are born from the realm of the unconscious.
Think about whether or not you were conscious when you were a newborn.
As a baby, you were probably unconscious.
You may have had four functions――thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition as a baby.
But those remained immersed in the swamp of unconsciousness.
As a person grows, the four personality functions gradually emerge from the “swamp of the unconscious” and ascend into the “space of consciousness.”
However, not all four functions emerge entirely into the space of consciousness.
Although it varies depending on the person, at least one personality function cannot emerge from the swamp of unconsciousness.
In other words, at least one function will remain in the realm of unconsciousness for the rest of one’s life.
(In the figure above, the feeling function remains in the realm of unconsciousness.)
The first function to rise from the swamp of unconsciousness to the space of consciousness during this childhood becomes a superior function.
On the other hand, the function that has failed to rise to the conscious space even after childhood is an inferior function.
The inferior function has never become conscious and has not grown much since childhood.
In other words, the inferior function is the part of a person’s personality that remains childish even after adulthood.
(We will discuss the meaning of the inferior function in more detail in the following article)
It Is Difficult to Know Your Superior and Inferior Functions
Please look again at the first figure of the four functions.
If thinking is the superior function, then feeling, on the opposite side, is the inferior function.
That means if a function is superior, the opposite one is inferior.
Therefore, sensation and intuition are never inferior functions when thinking is superior.
By the way, the difference between superior and inferior functions gradually becomes apparent from childhood.
Generally, the difference between superior and inferior functions becomes distinguishable to those around them shortly before they enter kindergarten.
For example, one child is drawing pictures of aliens he has never seen before.
Another child is copying a flower or something placed in the classroom.
In this case, the former is an intuitive type of child, and the latter is a sensation type of child.
But the fact is that it is difficult for you to know your superior and inferior functions, even after you become an adult.
(That’s why many people love taking personality tests, isn’t that?)
However, some children already know their superior functions as strong points during elementary school.
Such children start studying that area from childhood and plan for the future.
They are “early starters in their endeavors” and are more likely to become very successful adults.
On the other hand, as will be discussed in more detail in a later article, some people misinterpret their inferior functions as superior functions and continue or are “forced” to make misguided efforts since childhood.
In these cases, it can ruin their lives.
Therefore, it is essential to know your inferior function and to correct the direction of your life.
Functions That Are neither Superior nor Inferior
Functions that are neither superior nor inferior functions are auxiliary functions.
Look again at the previous illustration.
Thinking is a superior function, and feeling is an inferior function, but the remaining sensation and intuition are auxiliary functions.
However, both sensation and intuition do not necessarily function appropriately as auxiliary functions.
The level of development of the auxiliary functions varies depending on the person.
Some people use only one of the two as an auxiliary function.
Or there are people for whom both are close to inferior functions, i.e., only the superior function has developed independently.
Some say, “I don’t know whether I have stronger sensation or intuition…
In such cases, the person is probably a thinking or feeling type by nature, and sensation and intuition are auxiliary functions.
However, since both are at a level of development where there is “not much difference,” it is thought that the person is “not sure which one is stronger.
We plan to continue this inferior function course for a while, so please check back regularly.
I have referred mainly to the following books in writing this series
“Psychological Types” by C.G. Jung
“Lectures on Jung’s Typology” by Marie-Louise von Franz, “The Inferior Function”