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  1. #1
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    The Shadow - Seeds Of Our Downfall

    From time to time, I've read about the "shadow", more commonly referred to our dark side. It is said that for many a successful person, their downfall can be traced to their shadow. The purpose of this thread is to explore the topic of the Shadow. First - what is it and why we care?

    Jung said the shadow "personifies everything that [one] refuses to acknowledge about himself and yet is always thrusting itself upon him." I have seen the shadow described in several ways including:

    The Bag We Pull Behind Us - There are a number of things relating to our character or history that we try to repress because it is painful or makes us feel inadequate. In this case, the shadow is compared to the "bag we pull behind us" of all the things we don't want to acknowledge about ourselves. The longer life goes, the more full the bag gets, potentially to the point where we can't pull it anymore. This is related to the concept of "projection" where we quickly identify negative qualities in others that we ourselves possess but are not willing to admit.

    The Shadow Functions - The four functions which oppose the functions in our type. For example, if an INTPs function order is: Ti, Ne, Si, and Fe. The shadow functions are correspondingly Te, Ni, Se, and Fi. How these functions manifest themselves in people is unclear or inconsistent in current literature. Lenore Thompson refers to them as "double agents" and "crows nest" functions.

    Eruptions Of The Inferior - In Naomi Quenk's book, "Beside Ourselves," she describes the concept of the eruption of the inferior. During an eruption of the inferior, a person acts like an extremely poor version of their opposite type. During one of these episodes for example, a stressed INTJ behaves like a childish and horrific example of an ESFP. These episodes can be fleeting or in some cases go on for longer periods of time. It is a situation where we are "not ourselves", regress and become childish and after a time come back to equilibrium.

    These are the descriptions I've seen but I'm not an expert. I'm hoping that with the collective knowledge and wisdom of the people on this forum that we can have a discussion that helps to provide some clarity on this confusing topic. What are your perspectives on this?

    - What is the shadow?
    - Why is important?
    - Why do we care about this as individuals?
    Last edited by highlander; 06-23-2010 at 05:55 PM.

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  2. #2
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    I just came across this in Wikipedia. It's a little confusing/convoluted.

    Shadow (psychology) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    hmmm... some interesting ideas to process... I'll get back to this with some thinking...
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  5. #5
    Filthy Apes! Kalach's Avatar
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    Re the shadow...

    given a developmental model where as the years go by conscious processing is increasingly enriched by more and more content from the lower function levels, the shadow is something we slowly come to terms with. But in the meantime...

    The concept of differentiation is interesting here. When normal cognitive processing consistently fails to provide adequate compromises for handling some ongoing stress, we apparently look further and further down the function order for answers. When dreaming and logic fails, INTJs start appealing to emo. And when emo fails, they try physical solutions. But to actually do this directly and overtly for more than a matter of few seconds requires some ongoing situation or condition that is uncomfortable and inimical enough that the person retreats from their normal mode of functioning. And that kind of retreat is deeply unsettling and is consciously avoided for most of your life! People don't do shadow lives unless under such consistent and inescapable pressure that they can't be what they understand as themselves anymore. But what do you turn to if the unconsciousness is undifferentiated? How does an INTJ "know" to resort to in-the-moment force rather than say, extroverting intuition? And how is it that other people routinely can see the shadow in you that you don't see in yourself?

    (Well, that last question has an obvious answer: your identity is tied to your conscious processing, but what you actually do and display includes the unconscious processing... but what is unconscious processing? A question for another day perhaps.)

    So anyway there's that, but there's another interesting thing associated with tertiary functions: how people react in the presence of the opposite of their tertiary function. For example, an INTJ in an Fe environment.

    I think people can resort to tertiary and inferior functions and move into the grip of that shadow. And in normal times when they would prefer to have nothing to do with that side of themselves, they'll see signs of it in other people and either be fascinated or repelled, depending on how secure and satisfied they were with their upper level functioning.

    But for opposite functions, particularly experience with functions that oppose their tertiary, I don't know what happens there. Probably people attempt to view those opposites as defective versions of their own functions--in word they have lots in common, but in form and function, they're opposed and unrecognisable.

    Depends, I guess, on how flexible one takes functions to be. If it's easy to swap orientations, why should there be a concept of a shadow at all? And what is the unconscious?
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  6. #6
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalach View Post
    Re the shadow...

    given a developmental model where as the years go by conscious processing is increasingly enriched by more and more content from the lower function levels, the shadow is something we slowly come to terms with. But in the meantime...
    Paraphrasing - so you are saying that over time, we gradually develop greater visibility and exposure to the lower level functions and because of that, we gradually come to terms with this "dark side" of our personality. Is that right?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalach View Post
    The concept of differentiation is interesting here. When normal cognitive processing consistently fails to provide adequate compromises for handling some ongoing stress, we apparently look further and further down the function order for answers. When dreaming (Ni) and logic (Te) fails, INTJs start appealing to emo (Fi). And when emo fails, they try physical solutions (Se).
    Are the items I bolded what you mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalach View Post
    But to actually do this directly and overtly for more than a matter of few seconds requires some ongoing situation or condition that is uncomfortable and inimical enough that the person retreats from their normal mode of functioning. And that kind of retreat is deeply unsettling and is consciously avoided for most of your life! People don't do shadow lives unless under such consistent and inescapable pressure that they can't be what they understand as themselves anymore. But what do you turn to if the unconsciousness is undifferentiated? How does an INTJ "know" to resort to in-the-moment force rather than say, extroverting intuition? And how is it that other people routinely can see the shadow in you that you don't see in yourself?
    Can you say more? This is pretty interesting. For example, what do you mean "resort to an in-the-moment force rather than say, extraverting intuition"?

    I must admit that some of this baffles me when it comes down to functions. For example, as an INTJ, I'm somewhat comfortable with Ne and Ti which are shadow functions though I may never have as much natural ability as someone who leads with those. Se feels much more "shadowy" to me (my inferior).

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalach View Post
    (Well, that last question has an obvious answer: your identity is tied to your conscious processing, but what you actually do and display includes the unconscious processing... but what is unconscious processing? A question for another day perhaps.)

    So anyway there's that, but there's another interesting thing associated with tertiary functions: how people react in the presence of the opposite of their tertiary function. For example, an INTJ in an Fe environment.

    I think people can resort to tertiary and inferior functions and move into the grip of that shadow. And in normal times when they would prefer to have nothing to do with that side of themselves, they'll see signs of it in other people and either be fascinated or repelled, depending on how secure and satisfied they were with their upper level functioning.

    But for opposite functions, particularly experience with functions that oppose their tertiary, I don't know what happens there. Probably people attempt to view those opposites as defective versions of their own functions--in word they have lots in common, but in form and function, they're opposed and unrecognisable.

    Depends, I guess, on how flexible one takes functions to be. If it's easy to swap orientations, why should there be a concept of a shadow at all? And what is the unconscious?
    These are pretty interesting points. I have definitely observed the things in the first bolded paragraph. For example - some serious relationship problems between ISTJs and ENFPs (repelled). I also think the attraction of opposites is quite prevalent in romantic relationships, especially when people are younger (fascinated).

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  7. #7
    Senior Member InsatiableCuriosity's Avatar
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    This is a very interesting discussion in which I would very much like to participate. At the moment however I am brain dead, and expect to continue to be so until I have submitted all student results mid next week and completed the course I am undertaking at the same time.

    I will in the meantime however be following the thread with great interest and hopefully it won't be derailed to triviality beforehand.
    "Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible."
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  8. #8
    likes this gromit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orobas View Post
    Actually I also had an off topic question.

    My INTJ kid looked up at me today and said: "Is this a sign?" referring to the grill on his toy truck.

    I said "No, that is the grill. It is used to..."
    "IT'S A SIGN!!!" he yelled.
    I looked at him oddly recalling he does this fairly often.

    He will ask a question in which he already knows what he thinks the answer is.
    When you answer the question he argues and tells you why that isnt really true.

    Now, I have great amounts of respect and adore both highlander and Z, but I recognized this same pattern in both of them. You guys will start threads as questions, but really already have a pretty concrete answer. Then when others give you input, it feels as though they get dismissed a touch.

    I am not being critical, just confused by the best way to provide data. If an INTJ already knows the answer and cant be swayed, why do they ask the question? If I understand this, it helps me understand how much new information to provide, or if my time is better spent doing other stuff.
    Well some of the time I have a fairly good idea of the answer in my mind before I even ask the question, but I ask anyway because other people's reasoning can highlight weaknesses or holes in my understanding of the situation (or reinforce my understanding of the situation). Perhaps more of a subtle tweaking than anything I could necessarily articulate.

    I am not an INTJ though...
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  9. #9
    Supreme High Commander Andy's Avatar
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    As it happens, I don't consider the shadow functions to be always bad, in the same way that I don't regard the conscious functions as always being good. It's a very alluring picture, the idea that we might be carrying around Mr. Hyde inside us all, some dark, shadowy figure we can blame all our wrong doing on, but I don't think the truth is that simple.

    First of all, I think that the shadow and concious functions are linked to each other in terms of use and development. The 8th place function is the stongest of the most developed of the shadow functions and the 5th the least. That is to say, both introvered percieving functions develop together, as do both extroverted judging functions and so on.

    This creates a U-shape in terms of development, with the weakest functions in the middle. Thus the functions we have the best use of are 1,2, 7 and 8. Functions 3 - 6 are the ones most likely to give us trouble when they opperate.

    The shadow functions tend to have a somewhat "impersonal feel" to them, I think, especially number 7, the trickster function. When the shadow functions operate, they don't feel as intrinsic to who we are. An ITJ has trickster Fe for example, and many of us find ourselves projecting an image what we want other to see, or just allowing other people to see what they want in use, then agreeing with them afterwards because it makes then happy or less bothersome, while remaining detected from it all underneath.

    Similarly, we will use Si, but only in the persuit of our Ni goals. It's a way of thinking we can utilise successfully, but it doesn't motivate us like Ni does.

    Of the bothersome functions, 3 and 6 tend to have an inhibiting character about them, when they misfire. In an INTJ both Fi and Ti can undermine confidance. Misfiring Fi causes us to question our motivations and what we really want. Critical Ti sits there and punches holes in our idea, causing us to doubt our ideas. When they work correctly, Fi becomes a source of strength and Ti acts a double check on our ideas.

    In an extrovert, the tertiary can provoke rash actions - it inhibits thinking about the problem too deeply. An extroverted critical functions keeps telling the person that things are being done wrong, becoming the voice of doom as it neighsays everything. An ETPs critical Te, for instance, will happily poke the user into telling everybody around them that they are weak and incompetant, the government isn't being run right and so on, while not lifting a finger to actually do something about these observations. When they are working correctly, the 3rd functions provides a new way or getting things done in the world, and the 6th remains the person that there are certain things that have to be done, even if they aren't much fun.

    THe 5thand 6th functions tend to be distracting when they fail. THe opposing function will tend to lead us blind allies. For example, while an INTJ is trying to put some long term Ni plan together, 5th place Ne will be suggesting all the other things we could be doing. If followed, it creates a situation in which the INTJ has a half a dozen unfinished projects, which is something that they find unsatisfying.

  10. #10
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalach View Post
    How does an INTJ "know" to resort to in-the-moment force rather than say, extroverting intuition?
    My guess is that Ne is too close to Ni and maybe they are not even as clearly separate as the theory tries to make them. So the mind instinctively feels that NEITHER is working and thus goes for something completely different to change it up, out of desperation.

    Why do INTPs drop into Si instead of Te, for example? Well, some INTPs DO move into Te -- if they were raised in environments that taught them Te strategies. But typically (and maybe here's another answer to your question), we move toward a function that is aimed in the same direction as our primary because that's the sort of thing that is comfortable to us in a situation that is becoming uncomfortable. So an INTP might normally use Ne to engage the world while thinking strategically about the options Ne instigates... but if it's not working, the inclination is to withdraw, conserve energy, retreat to a position of certainty (Si). It's a bunker position. An extrovert's tertiary would be extroverted, which is fine to the extrovert because s/he instictively extroverts anyway -- it's the most comfortable flow of energy.

    The tertiary thus shares (1) energy flow and (2) creates a new J/P pairing with the primary, so it's still a more stable position if the Primary + secondary pairing does not work.

    Retreat to the inferior is less a retreat and more like a blowout. It doesn't pair with the primary, it supplants it as the same J/P style of function. And the size of the blowout does hinge a great deal of how much the inferior has been repressed/avoided over the years. Someone who is comfortable with their inferior doesn't really have a blowout; if they're stressed and the primary isn't working, they can switch consciously to the inferior and use its approach to ungum things.
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