[Religious Types 4] Shadows Explored, Part I

18 04 2012

[Previous Post in the Series]

To understand the importance of the shadow functions to our experiences, we must understand that the influence a function has upon us is not directly related to the conscious attention we direct toward it. Functions which we pay little attention to can still have a great influence upon us, for the very reason that we do not pay attention to them.

They continue to operate even without us attending to them, providing us with ideas about the state of our world, and these ideas can seem more compelling by virtue of not having been worked over consciously. Emphasis must be placed on the seem in that last phrase–they may be quite mediocre conceptions of what is actually going on but seem otherwise.

This can be one reason we consciously continue to marginalize the faculties even as we become aware of them–the force with which they present themselves to our conscious mind can make them feel threatening and dangerous.

While they can present under the threat of madness, which is exactly the sort of fear confronted by both Jung and Dick in their private records, in most cases they do not reach this degree of intensity. The anger we didn’t know we felt, the visceral and inexplicable distrust of a person, or a sudden insight into a problem, are also common vehicles through which the shadow functions manifest.

Our experience with these shadow functions rarely encourages us to face them head on. More often, we attempt to paste over the seeming inadequacies revealed by falling back on our conscious strengths or developing new conscious strategies for avoiding that which triggers a shadow response.

However, no matter how much we adjust, we cannot entirely avoid a confrontation with our shadow functions and the reason for this is very simple: they are of a piece with our cognitive functions, forming the alternative to the mode of them that we exploit for our daily lives. Since the different modes of a function are inexorably linked, so too are we, as individuals and agents, linked to the shadow functions from which that agency and individuality was taken.

I have so far approached the question of type by following the path of its genesis in the person and I want to continue that approach, focusing now on the way that process generates the shadow functions and gives each their particular character.

I focus on the way the conscious functions determine the shadow functions here, but the reader will need to keep in mind this is a deliberate over-emphasis, to throw into stark relief the way our conscious attitudes shape our unconscious ones. To gesture back to the previous post, I am favoring destiny over fate. I’ll moderate that with future discussions.

The shadow of the primary function is extraordinarily difficult to see and appreciate. As we identify our agency and individuality most intensely with our primary function, so, too, do we identify the shadow function as the most dangerous. The Cognitive Processes website describes this shadow function as defensive and entrenching, but I would argue this confuses our resistance to the primary function’s shadow with the shadow itself.

When we employ our primary function, we tend to posit that what we understand to be the case through our favored mode as holding firmly for both modes. If introverted, we expect the world around us to mirror the way we conceive of it internally. If extroverted, we expect our sense of our self to mirror the world we create with our actions. Since they inevitably don’t, we react with a prickly withdrawal from the reality of that divergence and attempt to convince ourselves that our inside and outside match.

While we may not acknowledge it, to ourselves or to others, our reason for doing this is very clear. Because we identify so fully with our primary function and its products, we see in the acceptance of it’s shadow function’s insights the very negation of who we are. To the extent that we are able to soften this defensiveness, though, we gain a clearer sense of the unity of self and world without losing our sense of their difference. We become more realistic regarding our inability to overcome that difference.

The process of the secondary, supporting, function’s shadow is similar to that defining the primary function’s shadow, except it operates in reverse. Since the secondary function develops to compensate for the mode of experience our primary function avoids, the shadow function that emerges with its development operates in the same mode as the primary function. Put simply, if we are introverts, the shadow of the secondary function is the introversion of our relationship to the world; if we are extroverts, this shadow is the extroversion of our relationship to our inner experience.

It often manifests with the same rigidity as the primary’s shadow, as if the inner and outer will be identical without difference. If this shadow function is introverted, it will tend to appear as the demand for conformity with the extroverted environment. If extroverted, it will appear as a demand to fall into line with their self-image.

This function’s manifestation is closely tied to the quality of its function. If the shadow function has a judging quality (thinking or feeling), it will manifest as a sense of right or wrong (in the logical or moral sense, respectively). If the function has a perceiving quality (intuition or sensation), it will manifest as a sense of concord or discord (in a conceptual or situational sense, respectively).

Regardless of its manifestation, as tied to our secondary function, we don’t often identify as directly with its contents. As such, it is more likely to be experienced as the demands of other people, of a situation, as the voice of conscience or doubt. When it appears in harmony with our primary function, it is often quite pleasing indeed. The introvert feels their internal sense of themselves to be in harmony with, or justified by, the world  and the extrovert feels their actions and behavior to be in accord with, or follow from, their idea of who they are.

To the extent that we are able to become conscious of this function in operation, the immediate demand gives way to sense of responsibility over time. We become more adept at making compromises between our sense of who we are and the demands of the situations, without abandoning either.

To shift gears slightly for the sake of summary, we could rightly say that the primary function’s shadow faces us with an ontological dilemma (the differentiation of self from world), while the secondary function’s shadow faces us with an ethical, or deontological, one (the navigation of what we think ought to be an what is, of what we feel we must do and what we are capable of doing). While these two parallel each other, they are quite distinct. Moreover, while there is a genetic dependence of the ethical upon the ontological, of the secondary function upon the primary, in experience we may navigate these dilemmas in different temporal order within our lives (either before the other, or both in complex tandem).

The next post will hopefully be a comparably short discussion of the shadow processes in relation to the tertiary and inferior functions. Since I have spent some time already discussing this, it should just be a matter of clarifying the dynamics proper to them.

[Next Post in the Series: Shadow Explored, Part II]

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