[Religious Types 7] Shadow Constitution

21 04 2012

[Previous Post in the Series]

For the next post or two, I want to think carefully about the way in which the shadow functions guide and determine the way we develop our conscious functions, our destiny. This should help us see more clearly how important a sense of limitation is to the development of our capacities, but it also directs us toward seeing ourselves more fully as part of the world around us. Understanding how external limitations have determined us, we also begin to grasp how our sense of self and agency is a product of the external world, too.

I will need to offer a few terminological clarifications before proceeding. I most often use the term ‘external’ to describe the way in which extroverts relate to their environment more than their interior process. However, as I proceed to talk about the shadow, these terms will become increasingly problematic.

This ambiguity seems inescapable–we develop a sense of inside and outside through introversion and extroversion of functions, but these functions are only relatively introverted and extroverted. Whether extrovert or introvert, our conscious functions are fundamentally about our own sense of agency and self. As we begin to examine the shadow functions on their own terms, we realize just how relative those distinctions are. In distinctions to both conscious introversion and extroversion, there is an unconscious/shadow/semiconscious distinction between our self and the world. Relative to that more encompassing distinction, all of the conscious functions are introverted.

It makes some sense, too, to say that the shadow functions are then comparably extroverted, but this needs to be qualified very carefully. They are directed toward an external reality in such a way that makes them alien to the notion of agency that underpins the introvert-extrovert distinction. The shadow functions are not the external itself, but the partial and limited understanding we have of it through these functions.

The shadow functions are heavily determined by external content. It is less that they are directed toward the external, than that they have been overrun by it. The faculties are ours, but we do not have hold of them like we have hold of our conscious functions. The external content fills them up, animating them much like our hand animates a sock puppet.

Seen in this light, our primary function is the first point at which we were able to throw up resistance to the intrusion of the external world on our psyche (though even that phrasing is rough and approximate; prior to the resistance the inner and outer are not firmly differentiated). The primary function emerges between its own shadow and that of the shadow of the (not-yet-existing) inferior function. Between the double action of the external on those shadow functions, the primary function develops. The primary function is a withdrawal from its own shadow, an introverted or extroverted approach that it cannot master, and a withdrawal from the contrasting function of its quality.

The way in which we come to rely upon that function, returning to it again and again, has much to do with the intensity of those first victories. In developing the primary function, we at affirm order over chaos, much like the famed little boy of Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle (Fort-Da). By that token, though, we face some of the same limitations.

That sense of order comes at the cost of being disconnected from that which might conflict with it, with emphasis on the might conflict. Just like the Fort-Da boy, the fear of conflict exceeds the reality of what would conflict. The primary function is overused and over-asserted, the lapses being ignored in favor of the safety its application brings. Thankfully, unlike the Fort-Da, our functions are powerful and flexible, so that their limitations are not crippling, just obscuring.

The secondary function develops much like the primary, in the midst of external pressures. However, these pressures are not as raw or overwhelming as those that confronted the primary function. In fact, the pressures that define the secondary function are in large part created by the overuse of the primary function. As we overuse it, we act in ways that are inappropriate to a situation, which leads to unexpected results, which foster further ill-suited reactions. Since our primary function is most suited to dealing with one mode (introverted-extroverted) of things, it will produce the biggest mess by applying itself to the other mode (i.e., the defensive character that accompanies the primary function).

These manifest through the deceiving function. That function, neglected by conscious attention, is the first to be animated by the external material created by the primary function’s overuse. Because it deals with material in the primary function’s weak spot, it will operate in the mode contrary to the primary function’s. The function will also manifest in a different quality (perceiving-judging) than that of the primary function because of the primary function’s own genesis. The primary function won’t appeal to the other function of its quality because it is engaged in a struggle to resist it.

The exact function through which this material manifests is hard to predict, as intermingled in capacity and opportunity as the primary function. I imagine that once this shadow function has been seen to carry this material, it suffers from a deliberate underdevelopment and dis-identification. Because the material it brings to conscious attention is threatening and unattractive to it, we withdraw from it.

As that process begins, the secondary function develops as a counter to the deceiving function’s perceived threat. The secondary function will need to operate in the same mode and quality as the deceiving function in order to meet it on its own ground, though it will necessarily develop the contrasting function of that quality. The secondary function thus develops as something of a stopgap measure, acquiring depth and maturity only as we mature and begin to take grater control of our lives.

The shadow of the secondary function is the least prominent when we consider the genesis of the functions from the perspective of fate. It manifests last, alongside the maturation of the secondary function, a minor chord through which the inconsistencies produced by the secondary function’s actions are registered. It acts toward the secondary function as the deceiving function toward the primary function. However, as we have much less invested in the secondary function’s operation, it manifests as a sense of criticism or concern.

The development of the tertiary and inferior functions appear here less as the simple extension of the primary and secondary function, but as a deliberate bolstering of them against the material manifesting through their corresponding shadow functions. They are not simply the result of growth, but more or less conscious efforts to take back ground from the shadow functions that determined our conscious ones. With the willful development of our tertiary and inferior functions we become more fully ourselves, finding ways in which we can creatively respond to our environment rather than remaining perpetually on the defensive.

[Next Post in the Series: Living Shadow]

[As an aside, it is worth noting that the system of fate and destiny, of cognition and dissonance, applies to a lot complex organization, from fish to government. However, few systems, if any, have the degree of reflexivity that characterizes the human individual, which is why I would be hesitant to talk about applying a type to an organization.]

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