[Religious Types 5] Shadow Explored, Part II

19 04 2012

[Previous Post in the Series]

The tertiary and inferior functions’ development becomes possible only in light of the agency that the emergence of the primary and secondary functions make possible. They are experienced as both genetically and temporally dependent upon those dominant functions. Theoretically, if life did not provide us with occasion and motivation, we would never need to work deeply with the tertiary and inferior functions. This obviously colors colors our sense of their respective shadows.

Even though the tertiary function is more determined in its emergence than the primary and secondary functions, its exercise is not; it appears as contingent and optional. Also, because it operates in tandem with our primary function, when we do choose to exert ourselves through it, it supports our most basic sense of self.

The tertiary’s shadow function operates in the domain of our secondary mode, though, so we pay significantly less attention to it. The freedom of use found in the tertiary function is replaced by detachment from the secondary function. Its products include fantasies and wishful thinking, clouds in the sky and hallucinations. When we are inattentive to it, we risk taking these products seriously, behaving as if the experiences it provide are real. In our most conscious engagement with it, we notice this detachment and accept the inevitable absurdity of them, using it as an occasion to play and imagine freely.

In contrast, we experience the inferior function as just that, inferior. Since it both (1) operates in our secondary domain’s mode and (2) under the same quality (perceiving vs. judging) as our primary mode, it is distant from our immediate personal concerns. As such, we are less likely to try and develop this mode deeply; not only do we have limited attention to put into its development, but it also doesn’t appeal to us on a visceral level.

As we get older, if we do deepen our relationship to it, we do so by bringing to bear all of our conscious functions upon the process. We explore the function, but cross-check it with our other functions. While not necessarily dramatic, the integrated operation of our faculties in common can feel very full, engaged, and steadying.

It’s shadow, on the other hand, operates in the same mode of primary function and also under the same quality. It appears as familiar and alien, exotic in an attention grabbing way. To call it devilish is fairly accurate, since it shows us our usual world from a different perspective. Because it is already a shadow function, identification with it seems like an escape from the anxieties and challenges of maintaining our primary function in the face of the primary function’s shadow.

That promise is amplified by the simplicity of the shadow’s productions, which are a mirror of the simplicity of our inferior function’s underdevelopment. When we act on it, though, we put aside our primary function in favor of a less-developed function, and so act in more impulsive and short-sighted ways, i.e. in ways more likely to complicate our lives and turn self-destructive. When we engage with conscious of this, it can provide a valuable counterpoint to our entrenched habits of approaching and understanding the world.

( Some Jungians also identify this as the type proper to the anima or animus, seeing in the oppositely gendered other self the image of proximity and difference proper this final shadow function. I would take care on this point, since I suspect the gendered manifestation is less determined than the function itself. I will probably talk more about this later.)

[Next Post in the Series: From the perspective of fate]




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