Every person has four personality functions: thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition.
One of these functions is the superior function, and the function with the opposite nature is the inferior function.
Why is there always a superior function and an inferior function?
In this article, I will answer this question.
One Function Develops Faster and Becomes the Superior Function
People are still weak at the age of four or five.
We have no physical strength, no experience, and no money.
At an early age, all we have are four personality functions (though their functions are still in their infancy): thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition.
But it is not yet possible for us to master all four functions as soon as we are born, and it is inefficient to try to develop them simultaneously.
Therefore, we develop one function that has potential.
If, for example, the thinking function is superior, we will always rely on it to survive.
Then only the thinking function will develop more and more, and eventually, it will get a position as the superior function.
One Function Can Be Superior Thanks to an Inferior Function
See the figure for the 4 personality functions again.
As you can see in the figure above, thinking and feeling are opposite in nature, and feeling and intuition are opposite in nature.
For example, if thinking is the superior function, feeling is always the inferior function.
And vice versa.
If the sensation is the superior function, intuition is the inferior function.
And vice versa.
It is okay to have a superior function.
But why should the opposite function be an inferior function?
Can’t it just be the “normal” function?
It is easier to understand this question if we consider air conditioners and heaters in a house.
For example, during the winter, when you use the heater, you must turn off the air conditioner.
Conversely, during the summer, you turn on air conditioners and turn off the heaters.
When you use one, you stop the other because you use one more efficiently.
Personality functions are similar to the above.
This is because the thinking and feeling functions are opposites in personality, and both cannot be turned on at the same time.
Therefore, the thinking type can use its thinking function efficiently by switching off its feeling function.
So it comes down to this.
If you want to use the superior function efficiently, you should leave the opposite function in an inferior state.
Inferior Functions Are Created by Repression
To heat a room efficiently, all you have to do is switch off your air conditioner.
Similarly, to make the superior function work efficiently, do you think it is enough to switch off the opposite function?
In the case of the human mind, however, the operation is more complicated.
As an example, consider the following sentence.
I love him but restrained my feelings and pointed out his faults.
This “restraining one’s feeling” means switching off the feeling function.
But this is temporary, so it is easy to do.
However, “having a thinking type of personality” means “turning off the feeling function for the rest of your life.
However, it takes a great deal of effort to keep one of your personality functions switched off for the rest of your life.
This is because the human personality function has a great deal of energy, whether thinking, feeling, sensation, or intuition.
It is more complicated than turning off a heater or air conditioner.
So how can we turn off one personality function for an extended period?
We unconsciously repress one personality function by force.
By doing so, we keep it in a state of the inferior function.
This “repressing one personality function by force” is literally called repression.
Too Much Repression of Inferior Functions Causes Problems
As I mentioned in a previous article, the superior function is a function people use “consciously.”
So it works in the realm of consciousness.
Conversely, the inferior function is repressed in the realm of unconsciousness.
It is troublesome always to keep consciously repressing the inferior function.
That is why we leave that troublesome task to unconsciousness.
People tend to do what they like.
Only some people would want to do what they do not like voluntarily.
The same is true when people use their personality functions.
For example, a thinking type will try to live by using only the thinking function, which is the superior function.
However, there is one problem.
It is fine as long as thinking types use their thinking function moderately.
But if they use their thinking functions more and more, they have to repress more and more of their feeling functions accordingly.
Thus the repressed feeling, the inferior function, becomes stronger and stronger in unconsciousness.
Eventually, the feeling begins to assert itself, even though it is in the realm of unconsciousness.
Imagine a thinking type of person who is overworked and gets irritated.
In this case, feeling, the inferior function, is increasingly repressed, as opposed to thinking, the superior function, which is overworked.
Because the feeling comes out, everyone around the person knows that the person is irritated.
However, the person is often not “conscious” of their mental state because the irritation is in “the realm of unconsciousness” as an inferior function.
The Key Is the Balance Between Superior and Inferior Functions
Earlier I mentioned that leaving the inferior function as inferior allows you to use your superior function more efficiently.
Since this is so important, I will explain more.
The inferior function is indeed repressed.
But at the same time, you can also say that they dare to become inferior functions so that the opposite can develops as a superior function.
Such a harmonious balance between superior and inferior functions is called compensation in Jungian psychology.
Usually, compensation means to compensate for a loss or weakness with another.
In that sense, it is common to say that the superior function compensates for the inferior function.
But Jung (as he states in “Psychological Types”) uses the term “compensation” in a much broader sense.
In particular, in describing personality functions, he says that the inferior function serves as compensation for the superior function.
As long as the superior function is moderately “superior,” the inferior function does not cause serious problems.
This situation is compensation for a good balance between the two.
However, if you try to use your superior function more, you must correspondingly repress the inferior function more.
This excessive repression of the inferior function worsens the balance of compensation, which can cause mental health problems for the person.
I will discuss this in more detail again in a later article.