The Shadow

Inferior function. The least differentiated of the four psychological functions. (Compare primary function.)

The inferior function is practically identical with the dark side of the human personality.[“Concerning Rebirth,” CW 9i, par. 222.]  The dark side of the human personality is called The Shadow.

In Jung’s model of typology, the inferior or fourth function is opposite to the superior or primary function. Whether it operates in an introverted or extraverted way, it behaves like an autonomous complex; its activation is marked by affect and it resists integration.

The inferior function secretly and mischievously influences the superior function most of all, just as the latter represses the former most strongly.[“The Phenomenology of the Spirit in Fairytales,” ibid., par. 431.]Positive as well as negative occurrences can constellate the inferior counter-function. When this happens, sensitiveness appears. Sensi-tiveness is a sure sign of of the presence of inferiority. This provides the psychological basis for discord and misunderstanding, not only as between two people, but also in ourselves. The essence of the inferior function is autonomy: it is independent, it attacks, it fascinates and so spins us about that we are no longer masters of ourselves and can no longer rightly distinguish between ourselves and others[“The Problem of the Attitude-Type,” CW 7, par. 85.]

The inferior function is always of the same nature, rational or irrational, as the primary function: when thinking is most developed, the other rational function, feeling, is inferior; if sensation is dominant, then intuition, the other irrational function, is the fourth function, and so on. This accords with general experience: the thinker is tripped up by feeling values; the practical sensation type gets into a rut, blind to the possibilities seen by intuition; the feeling type is deaf to logical thinking; and the intuitive, at home in the inner world, runs afoul of concrete reality.

One may be aware of the perceptions or judgments associated with the inferior function, but these are generally over-ridden by the superior function. Thinking types, for example, do not give their feelings much weight. Sensation types have intuitions, but they are not motivated by them. Similarly, feeling types brush away disturbing thoughts and intuitives ignore what is right in front of them.

Although the inferior function may be conscious as a phenomenon its true significance nevertheless remains unrecognized. It behaves like many repressed or insufficiently appreciated contents, which are partly conscious and partly unconscious . . . . Thus in normal cases the inferior function remains conscious, at least in its effects; but in a neurosis it sinks wholly or in part into the unconscious. [“Definitions,” CW 6, par. 764.]

To the extent that a person functions too one-sidedly, the inferior function becomes correspondingly primitive and troublesome. The overly dominant primary function takes energy away from the inferior function, which falls into the unconscious. There it is prone to be activated in an unnatural way, giving rise to infantile desires and other symptoms of imbalance. This is the situation in neurosis.

In order to extricate the inferior function from the unconscious by analysis, the unconscious fantasy formations that have now been activated must be brought to the surface. The conscious realization of these fantasies brings the inferior function to consciousness and makes further development possible.[Ibid., par. 764.]

When it becomes desirable or necessary to develop the inferior function, this can only happen gradually.

I have frequently observed how an analyst, confronted with a terrific thinking type, for instance, will do his utmost to develop the feeling function directly out of the unconscious. Such an attempt is foredoomed to failure, because it involves too great a violation of the conscious standpoint. Should the violation nevertheless be successful, a really compulsive dependence of the patient on the analyst ensues, a transference that can only be brutally terminated, because, having been left without a standpoint, the patient has made his standpoint the analyst. . . . [Therefore] in order to cushion the impact of the unconscious, an irrational type needs a stronger development of the rational auxiliary function present in consciousness [and vice versa].[“General Description of the Types,” ibid., par. 670.]

Attempts to assimilate the inferior function are usually accompanied by a deterioration in the primary function. The thinking type can’t write an essay, the sensation type gets lost and forgets appointments, the intuitive loses touch with possibilities, and the feeling type can’t decide what something’s worth.

And yet it is necessary for the development of character that we should allow the other side, the inferior function, to find expression. We cannot in the long run allow one part of our personality to be cared for symbiotically by another; for the moment when we might have need of the other function may come at any time and find us unprepared. [“The Problem of the Attitude-Type,” CW 7, par. 86.]

Inflation. A state of mind characterized by an exaggerated sense of self-importance, often compensated by feelings of inferiority. (See also mana-personality and negative inflation.)
Inflation, whether positive or negative, is a symptom of psychological possession, indicating the need to assimilate unconscious complexes or disidentify from the self.

An inflated consciousness is always egocentric and conscious of nothing but its own existence. It is incapable of learning from the past, incapable of understanding contemporary events, and incapable of drawing right conclusions about the future. It is hypnotized by itself and therefore cannot be argued with. It inevitably dooms itself to calamities that must strike it dead. Paradoxically enough, inflation is a regression of consciousness into unconsciousness. This always happens when consciousness takes too many unconscious contents upon itself and loses the faculty of discrimination, the sine qua non of all consciousness.[“Epilogue,” CW 12, par. 563.][Inflation] should not be interpreted as . . . conscious self-aggrandizement. Such is far from being the rule. In general we are not directly conscious of this condition at all, but can at best infer its existence indirectly from the symptoms. These include the reactions of our immediate environment. Inflation magnifies the blind spot in the eye.[The Self,” CW 9ii, par. 44.]

Instinct. An involuntary drive toward certain activities. (See also archetype and archetypal image.)

All psychic processes whose energies are not under conscious control are instinctive.[Definitions,” CW 6, par. 765.]Instincts in their original strength can render social adaptation almost impossible.[“The Transcendent Function,” CW 8, par. 161.]

Instinct is not an isolated thing, nor can it be isolated in practice. It always brings in its train archetypal contents of a spiritual nature, which are at once its foundation and its limitation. In other words, an instinct is always and inevitably coupled with something like a philosophy of life, however archaic, unclear, and hazy this may be. Instinct stimulates thought, and if a man does not think of his own free will, then you get compulsive thinking, for the two poles of the psyche, the physiological and the mental, are indissolubly connected. [“Psychotherapy and a Philosophy of Life,” CW 16, par. 185.]

Psychic processes which ordinarily are consciously controlled can become instinctive when imbued with unconscious energy. This is liable to occur when the level of consciousness is low, due to fatigue, intoxication, depression, etc. Conversely, instincts can be modified according to the extent that they are civilized and under con-scious control, a process Jung called psychization.

An instinct which has undergone too much psychization can take its revenge in the form of an autonomous complex. This is one of the chief causes of neurosis.[“Psychological Factors in Human Behaviour,” CW 8, par. 255.]Too much of the animal distorts the civilized man, too much civilization makes sick animals.[The Eros Theory,” CW 7, par. 32.]

Jung identified five prominent groups of instinctive factors: creativity, reflection, activity, sexuality and hunger. Hunger is a primary instinct of self-preservation, perhaps the most fundamental of all drives. Sexuality is a close second, particularly prone to psychization, which makes it possible to divert its purely biological energy into other channels. The urge to activity manifests in travel, love of change, restlessness and play. Under reflection, Jung included the religious urge and the search for meaning. Creativity was for Jung in a class by itself. His descriptions of it refer specifically to the impulse to create art.

Though we cannot classify it with a high degree of accuracy, the creative instinct is something that deserves special mention. I do not know if “instinct” is the correct word. We use the term “creative instinct” because this factor behaves at least dynamically, like an instinct. Like instinct it is compulsive, but it is not common, and it is not a fixed and invariably inherited organization. Therefore I prefer to designate the creative impulse as a psychic factor similar in nature to instinct, having indeed a very close connection with the instincts, but without being identical with any one of them. Its connections with sexuality are a much discussed problem and, furthermore, it has much in common with the drive to activity and the reflective instinct. But it can also suppress them, or make them serve it to the point of the self-destruction of the individual. Creation is as much destruction as construction.[“Psychological Factors in Human Behaviour,” CW 8, par. 245.]

Jung also believed that true creativity could only be enhanced by the analytic process.

Creative power is mightier than its possessor. If it is not so, then it is a feeble thing, and given favourable conditions will nourish an endearing talent, but no more. If, on the other hand, it is a neurosis, it often takes only a word or a look for the illusion to go up in smoke. . . . Disease has never yet fostered creative work; on the contrary, it is the most formidable obstacle to creation. No breaking down of repressions can ever destroy true creativeness, just as no analysis can ever exhaust the unconscious.[Analytical Psychology and Education,” CW 17, par. 206.]

Instinct and archetype are a pair of opposites, inextricably linked and therefore often difficult to tell apart.

Psychic processes seem to be balances of energy flowing between spirit and instinct, though the question of whether a process is to be described as spiritual or as instinctual remains shrouded in darkness. Such evaluation or interpretation depends entirely upon the standpoint or state of the conscious mind.[On the Nature of the Psyche,” CW 8, par. 407.]

When consciousness become overspiritualized, straying too far from its instinctual foundation, self-regulating processes within the psyche become active in an attempt to correct the balance. This is often signaled in dreams by animal symbols, particularly snakes.

The snake is the representative of the world of instinct, especially of those vital processes which are psychologically the least accessible of all. Snake dreams always indicate a discrepancy between the attitude of the conscious mind and instinct, the snake being a personification of the threatening aspect of that conflict.[The Sacrifice,” CW 5, par. 615.]

Introjection. A process of assimilation of object to subject, the opposite of projection.

Introjection is a process of extraversion, since assimilation to the object requires empathy and an investment of the object with libido. A passive and an active introjection may be distinguished: transference phenomena in the treatment of the neuroses belong to the former category, and, in general, all cases where the object exercises a compelling influence on the subject, while empathy as a process of adaptation belongs to the latter category.[Definitions,” CW 6, par. 768.]

Introspection. A process of reflection that focuses on personal reactions, behavior patterns and attitudes. (See also meditation.)

The difference between introspection and introversion is that the latter refers to the direction in which energy naturally moves, while the former refers to self-examination. Neither introverts nor those with a well-developed thinking function have a monopoly on introspection.

Author: Katherine Brittain

Writer/Cultural Anthropologist

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