As Jung mentioned, the inferior function is the most “infantile and archaic” part of your personality.
It’s not easy for you to consciously and skillfully use your inferior function, and I will explain why.
- Difficult to Use Inferior Functions Helpfully
- What Happens When You Try to Use the Inferior Function?
- Summary of This Article
Difficult to Use Inferior Functions Helpfully
The concept of the inferior function is key to understanding typology in Jungian psychology.
Previously, I did not have a deep understanding of inferior functions.
However, I read a psychologist’s book and learned the importance of the inferior function.
That psychologist is Marie-Louise von Franz, whom I introduced in the first article of this series.
She was born in Germany and moved with her family to Switzerland, where Jung lived as a child.
She met Jung by chance when she was still in her teens and spent nearly 30 years with Jung as his student and collaborator until his death.
Thus, she is very familiar with Jung’s personality and thoughts.
Among her writings, I have repeatedly read “The Inferior Function” in “Lectures on Jung’s Typology.”
I used to be influenced by the MBTI and had the following misconception.
“People can use their inferior functions in a useful way.”
However, reflecting on my life, I had to question the logic of the MBTI.
It was then that I read the book above by ML von Franz.
This book made me realize that I was right.
At the same time, it helped me understand why my attempts to overcome my inferior function were unsuccessful.
Furthermore, I also gained insight into how I should live my life in the future.
I am writing this series to share the wisdom I gained from her book.
What Happens When You Try to Use the Inferior Function?
Let’s get back on track.
The question is: “Can we consciously and skillfully use our inferior functions?”
This question can be answered as follows.
Even inferior functions can be used consciously to some extent.
However, if you try to consciously use your inferior function, your speaking and behavior will immediately become awkward and unnatural.
Below, I describe it clearly for each type.
I have exaggerated a little to make it easier to grasp the characteristics of each.
If Thinking Types Try to Use Their Feeling Functions…
For example, if you are a feeling type, you will naturally express how you feel sad and sympathize with the bereaved family members when you meet them at the funeral.
However, if you are a thinking type, you will be so nervous from that morning, wondering what you should say to the bereaved family.
And in the end, you will probably use a standard phrase from a “list of funeral etiquette” you found on the Internet.
And as per the etiquette manual, you will awkwardly say “I am sorry for your loss” or some other memorized phrase in front of the bereaved family.
That sounds like a bad actor’s performance.
Also, after much deliberation on how to express their feelings to the person they love, thinking types often end up settling on the classic method of sending a bouquet of roses.
If Feeling Types Try to Use Their Thinking Functions…
If someone asks the thinking types, “Tell me how you feel,” they will answer what they think is right.
In other words, they will respond with an “opinion,” not a “feeling.
Conversely, if someone asks feeling types, ” Tell me your opinion,” they will answer what they like.
But even these feeling types have situations in which they must make logical statements.
At such times, the feeling type thinks a little in their mind, “Is there anything I can talk about?
Then, remembering something a professor said on TV the other day, they speak as it is, or remembering something in a book they recently read, they speak it out as it is.
In such cases, they are not at all aware that they are simply repeating the opinions of others.
On the contrary, they believe it is an opinion they have just come up with.
Moreover, they do not realize their logic is broken because they are just forcibly piecing together other people’s opinions.
If thinking types were there, they would listen to that story while thinking, “Even a cow or a horse would say such a mediocre opinion…”
If Intuitive Types Try to Use Their Sensation Functions…
Comparatively speaking, many intuitive types are not good at working steadily to earn money.
So, intuitive types who do not know how to make money may think as follows.
“Yes, what I lack is a sense of economics!”
Then they immediately purchase a book on Keynesian economics on the Internet.
Some may want to advise them,
“No, you can’t make money that way!”.
But intuitive types tend to start with understanding the big picture and leave the action for later.
And they are happy to imagine themselves becoming millionaires in their minds.
In general, the intuitive type is not superior to the sensation type when it comes to the five senses.
For example, suppose there are two wine glasses on the table, one containing fine wine and the other wine sold at a discount in a supermarket.
Then, the sensation and intuition types play a game in which they compare drinking both glasses of wine and guess which wine is the higher quality.
In this case, the sensation type would try to give the correct answer using physical senses such as smell, taste, and sight.
On the other hand, the intuitive type would try to choose based on intuitive criteria such as “Which wine makes me feel happier when I drink it?
Naturally, this game ends in defeat for the intuitive type, but intuitive types will repeat similar mistakes many times in their lives.
That is, they think they are using sensation but actually use their intuition, and they do not realize the fact.
If Sensation Types Try to Use Their Intuitive Functions…
If sensation types become obsessed with religion to “improve their spirituality,” they will cause great trouble for those around them.
Since sensation types lack intuition and imagination, they can not fully understand the spiritual world, like religion, with their mind.
Yet, for some reason, sensation types are often interested in religion, even though they do not seem to be the most religious.
The reason for this (though they are unaware of it) is that material effort alone seems to be limited, and they want to fulfill their greater desires with the help of God.
The way these sensation types approach religion is still based on material and sensory things.
For example, they like attending fancy religious events that stimulate their senses.
Naturally, their relatives and friends will be invited to such events.
They often buy a lot of religious goods.
They decorate their rooms religiously, choose religious fashions, and change their hairstyles religiously.
Simply put, the religious spirit of the sensation type requires something tangible.
They also need the reward of worldly gain.
Whenever sensation types try to approach intuitive fields, not just religion, they end up having to pass through a material or physical filter.
So their intuitive function will never be fully awakened.
Summary of This Article
You can use your inferior functions if you try to use them consciously.
But it isn’t easy to use it well.
It only exposes your clumsy side.
So you end up using it in a style that brings you closer to your superior function.
In other words, you will deal with difficult things in a way that you are good at and try to get through the moment.
However, the eyes of those around you will often see that you are doing something misguided.
By the way, you may be thinking the following.
If we evolve the inferior function, can’t we bring it up to the level of the auxiliary function or even the superior function?
I will discuss the above issues in my next article.