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  1. #1
    Freshman Member simulatedworld's Avatar
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    Default On the never-ending shadow function debate

    It's my contention, as some of you may know, that shadow functions are far less influential than most popular theories today like to claim. (I used to say that they never show up at all, but I have since revised my theory and now believe that they do show up on occasion, but that it is quite unusual because truly experiencing a shadow perspective firsthand requires us to temporarily block out our normal perspectives, which is extremely hard to do.)

    I think the problem here is that since we all have so little direct experience with the shadow functions, it's almost impossible to accurately identify them or to know when we are really experiencing their influence firsthand.


    Here is a piece of a correspondence I had on this issue with an ENTP on personalitycafe recently, which I feel sums up my position well:

    Think of each function as a pair of glasses, each with a different colored tint. If you've never actually seen the world through red glasses, then you don't really "know" what red is or what seeing through red glasses does to your perspective.

    You can look at things that people tell you are red, but since your vision is tinted a different color you won't really get a clear picture of what red is--it'll always be biased by the color of your natural perspective.

    So you form an idea in your head of what "red" is, but since everything you see is colored green by your preferred perspective, your idea of red will also be colored green. You may even learn to look at things from the perspective of your green-tinted idea of red, but you'll never really know firsthand what red is because you can't turn off your green-tinted perspective in the first place.

    In reality, shadow functions represent value systems that conflict quite heavily with our preferred perspectives, to the point that we cannot ever truly understand them firsthand and can only get occasional glimpses of them during the rare moments that we're able to block out the ever-pervasive influence of our preferred functional attitudes.

    You have a preferred attitude for each of your four functions S/N/F/T, and the opposing attitude so heavily contradicts everything about the worldview created by the ones you prefer that regular, routine use of shadow functions would result in tremendous cognitive dissonance and a lack of sense of personal identity.

    In short, shadows are simply not compatible with your preferred perspective, and that's why your consciousness suppresses them. You don't use them routinely and they are not equal in strength or proficiency to any of your four preferred attitudes.

    You might respond, "But I know what red is! I've seen it with my own eyes!" But the problem is that, as long as your perspective is invariably green-tinted, you'll never really be able to see red for what it really is. It's always going to be obscured by the green tint your dominant perspective puts on everything--and that's why nailing down shadow functions is so difficult. We have so little (if any) direct experience with them that it's nearly impossible to identify them in ourselves.


    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoGeek
    Well, I was trying to provide a semi-concrete example to illustrate my point. You took it literally, which it wasn't the way it was meant to be taken. But in any case, I listed them in the order I perceive myself to be conscious in them. So it's all relative, and not accurate at all, I realize. But again, just trying to illustrate her theory with a concrete(ish) example.
    I would argue that your self-perception of the presence of shadow perspectives in your cognition is biased by the fact that you have no basis for comparison. As I said above, you think you're experiencing shadow perspectives because you've never (or rather, extremely rarely at best) truly experienced them firsthand and thus don't have any reliable way of identifying them.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoGeek
    No, actually. I read Thomson's book, and identified (in varying degrees) with the attitudes/mindsets of the functions she presented. She barely covers skill sets at all. I don't get into those mindsets all the time, but they are definitely there competing for my attention. Again, I was just kind of ordering them to illustrate a point, so taking them literally wasn't the point. I realize I should have put some kind of disclaimer to keep people like you from picking things apart, but it's too late now.
    You've listed several shadow functions as equal to or higher in your cognitive hierarchy than some of your four standard functions. This cannot be the case because it would generate too much cognitive dissonance and prevent you from having a consistent sense of identity.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoGeek
    See, here is where I disagree with you. The attitudes directly opposed to the mindset provided by our dominant functions are the tertiary and inferior functions. What is the exact opposite of the Ne mindset? It's Si. And Ti? It'f Fe. It makes more sense to me that our tertiary and inferior functions would be much more foreign to us than the others. Ne and Ni are related, Ti and Te are related, Se and Ne are related, Ti and Fi are related, and Fe and Fi are related. Moreso than Ne and Si, and Ti and Fe (and all the other opposing functions) anyway. So if we are heavily into the mindset of our first function (say, Ne), then the Si attitude is going to seem WAY wrong. You'll be more antagonistic towards Si mindsets than any of the others, since it is so polar opposite of the function-attitude that rules. She isn't saying that it is our least used function (far from it), only that it is our least conscious.
    Ne and Si seem like contradictory mindsets upon first glance, but in fact they are not. They are two pieces of the same process. Once you develop fully as an individual, they do not contradict each other but rather compliment each other. Since they are dealing in different arenas (one extroverted perception and the other introverted perception) and with different content (one sensory/concrete and the other abstract/contextual) they do not need to clash.

    When we are young we have difficulty understanding the tertiary and inferior functions because we have not yet learned to use those types of cognition at all. I'll use ENTP as an example since we both seem to identify with that type:

    A young ENTP doesn't understand how to use Je or Pi at all. He tries to do everything with Pe and Ji, and thus Fe and Si seem alien and absurd. He has not yet realized that Je and Pi have any value whatsoever. Fe and Si contradict his worldview at this point because he hasn't yet grasped that any form of Je/Pi can make any sense at all.

    As he gets older, he begins to incorporate Je and Pi slowly, and his naturally preferred ways of conceptualizing these processes are Fe and Si. He does not routinely incorporate the shadow functions because they really do contradict his four regular perspectives.

    The problem with the shadows here is that they contradict our preferred methods of conceptualizing Pe, Ji, Je and Pi. The tertiary is simply the other half of our auxiliary perspective, while the inferior is simply the other half of our dominant perspective. The idea that they contradict each other is illusory, based on an incomplete self-understanding and limited development. This is why, as we grow older, the types that share only our first letter (or no letters at all) magically start to seem far wiser and more insightful than they used to--we are growing into complete people.

    So we can think of the types of terms of four groups:
    NeFeTiSi = SFJs and NTPs
    NeTeFiSi = STJs and NFPs
    NiFeTiSe = STPs and NFJs
    NiTeFiSe = SFPs and NTJs

    As we grow and develop, these groups become increasingly similar to each other. The type that, in youth, seemed like your complete antithesis, suddenly seems much more more similar to you than you'd ever imagined, because we begin to understand how to integrate our less natural tertiary and inferior perspectives and become balanced individuals.

    As a kid I hated everything Fe represented. I tried to perform all judgment via Ti, because I did not see any value at all in extroverted judgment. Now, as I grow into adulthood, I understand that Ji is not a suitable tool for all situations and that Je is sometimes necessary--and the way Je naturally makes sense to me is via Fe.

    When we introduce shadows into the equation, we are throwing in perspectives that imply worldviews which completely contradict the way we conceptualize everything about ourselves and reality. Fe and Si seem to contradict our preferred Ne and Ti at first, but as we grow up we discover that they don't really.

    But as for Fi, Se, Ni and Te? They don't fit. There simply isn't room for them and that's why the ego suppresses them. They promote a worldview that is fundamentally incompatible with our four primary functions, and so they'll only come out on rare occasions during moments of profound perceptual shift.

    We cannot access them without temporarily blocking out the influence of our primary functions, which is incredibly difficult to do, and does not happen very often.

    To suggest that Ni is just as influential on your perspective as an ENTP as Ti is absurd because Ni so heavily clashes with everything Ne and Si tell you about the nature of yourself and your relationship to reality. If you truly understand what Ni actually means, you will realize that it cannot coexist with Ne or Si, and this is why the ego must suppress either NiSe or SiNe the vast majority of the time--having easy and routine access to both simply creates too much cognitive dissonance for the human mind to accept.


    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoGeek
    Agree with your logic, but I'm still with Lenore on this one--the tertiary and inferior are more "shadow-like" than the shadows presented by the other theories. But, I'd like to continue researching and dig really deeply into the brain to maybe make some more sense of this. I'm not really opposed or completely convinced of either of these theories, and I think there will be a lot of new breakthroughs in the future (hopefully in my lifetime!).
    Good attitude, but the tertiary and inferior are not nearly as alien as Lenore and many authors make them out to be. They simply require time to develop and integrate into our approach with the two preferred perspectives.

    It's like we have four slots for cognitive processes--one for Pe, one for Ji, one for Je and one for Pi. When we're young we don't even realize that the lower two exist yet, so any form of them will seem absurd. When we grow up we discover uses for the lower two, but we don't magically grow four more.

    It's the shadows that really drive our preferred functions up the wall, not the tertiary and inferior. The tertiary and inferior are natural, normal parts of our development that will grow in as we get older and experience more of life.

    They seem incompatible at first because as PeJi types, it takes us a while to grow up enough to even recognize that JePi is a viable approach at all. Once we do, however, we settle into use of all four types of cognition (Pe, Ji, Je and Pi)--and we find a way of conceptualizing each one that makes sense to our worldview.

    But introduce shadows and now we have a big contradiction because we already have a preferred way of handling each of the four types of cognition, and each shadow function contradicts at least one of those ingrained outlooks...this is why shadows cannot coexist.
    If you could be anything you want, I bet you'd be disappointed--am I right?

  2. #2
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    You can look at things that people tell you are red, but since your vision is tinted a different color you won't really get a clear picture of what red is--it'll always be biased by the color of your natural perspective.
    This is why you can never clearly type others who see life through different lenses, even by what they say. You can refer to the definition of "red", or the definition of a particular function, but until you actually experience red, you can't tell whether the person you're examining is seeing it.

    I'll probably get back to this thread later, but in the mean time... Waffles!

  3. #3
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mystic Tater View Post
    This is why you can never clearly type others who see life through different lenses. You can refer to the definition of "red", or the definition of a particular function, but until you actually experience red, you can't tell whether the person you're examining is seeing it.
    Pretty much. As soon as you acquire a naural frame of reference, it colors your view of everything. This is pretty basic thinking, especially in postmodern style thought.

    I guess "red," though, is still a shifting term. I mean, even the person claiming to see "red" really doesn't know if their view conforms to some universal shade of "red" if such a shade even exist; their "red" can at best be assumed to be merely their own personal baseline of "red."
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  4. #4
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    Good read, now we are getting somewhere.

    To describe the shadow function better Ill give you an example/anecdote from a book on communication and Jung theory.

    The author goes to a shop with some older women on an greek island and they try to describe the shop owner beforehand. And hes clearly extroverted and feeling dominant. So they go into the shop and find some clothes for one of the women there. So while shes trying on some clothes he asks the others "how long have you known this woman?" And some say "2 years" others "5 years" and others "10 years". So he intervene and says "No, no I mean did you know her 30 years back. Then she must have been a beautiful woman" And they ofcourse starts going at him for that comment.

    As the author says this is when inferior functions (Thinking in this case) takes over in our communication style and contaminates the communication.

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slowriot View Post
    As the author says this is when inferior functions (Thinking in this case) takes over in our communication style and contaminates the communication.
    Well, in regards to that example:
    Who determines what the "pure" form of the communication is?

    Specifically, what about this approach:
    Why should the women in this case become the baseline?
    He initiated the conversation.
    Isn't it his conversation, and they are the ones who contaminated it by taking his comments in a way he did not intend?

    While perspectives are perspectives, I see communication as a negotiation of perspectives, and unless the context is clearly defined up front (as to the purpose of the conversation), there has to be a negotiation, with compromise on both sides, in order to exchange ideas.

    And one way to permit oneself to compromise is to retain an awareness of the limits of one's own perspective and thus possess some degree of humility and sense that other view has something to offer, idealistically.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    I've never been "fully" shadow to the point where I forgot myself. Harsher "Te" moments happen spontaneously.. and whether my intent was positive or not, I'm so aware of my comfort zone that it sometimes gives out midway if I'm being critical or fighting about something. Or something could make me laugh, and it'd all be cool again too. It's thrown people off before because I'll scoot right into a friendlier attitude - but I suppose that's because it's what I really want. And if I delivered some message with Te, it's a little embarassing and uncharacteristic, but maybe it's for the better. I never like staying that way though (and I wouldn't know how to do it maturely).

    Other than that, I might turn it on in a quieter, defensive way.. where I'm just alert. I think this has nothing to do with Te though really. I'm just being realistic. I mean, c'mon.. I'm a grown man in my 30's.. I've learned what I can and can not do so it's not like I'm so afraid of conflict or criticizing that I start going into convulsions or something. Maybe if I was 4 yr old, but... I'm not.

  7. #7
    Freshman Member simulatedworld's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KDude View Post
    I've never been "fully" shadow to the point where I forgot myself. Harsher "Te" moments happen spontaneously.. and whether my intent was positive or not, I'm so aware of my comfort zone that it sometimes gives out midway if I'm being critical or fighting about something. Or something could make me laugh, and it'd all be cool again too. It's thrown people off before because I'll scoot right into a friendlier attitude - but I suppose that's because it's what I really want. And if I delivered some message with Te, it's a little embarassing and uncharacteristic, but maybe it's for the better. I never like staying that way though (and I wouldn't know how to do it maturely).

    Other than that, I might turn it on in a quieter, defensive way.. where I'm just alert. I think this has nothing to do with Te though really. I'm just being realistic. I mean, c'mon.. I'm a grown man in 30's.. I've learned what I can and can not do so it's not like I'm so afraid of conflict or criticizing that I start going into convulsions or something Maybe if I was 4 yr old, but... I'm not.
    Te is not a shadow function for you. Shadow functions are the four functions that are not in your typical four function hierarchy.

    If you are an FP or TJ type, Te is a regular function for you, not a shadow one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mystic Tater View Post
    This is why you can never clearly type others who see life through different lenses, even by what they say. You can refer to the definition of "red", or the definition of a particular function, but until you actually experience red, you can't tell whether the person you're examining is seeing it.

    I'll probably get back to this thread later, but in the mean time... Waffles!
    You are correct--we cannot have absolute certainty about the types of others because we are always biased by our own perspectives. Then again, we also can't be 100% certain that any of the people we interact with a daily basis even exist, but we make an educated guess that they do and behave as if they do for the sake of practicality.

    This is why we use induction to make educated guesses. We accept a margin of error because refusing to use any information without 100% certainty is totally impractical. If we refused to ever interact with any other people because we cannot be 100% certain they exist, we wouldn't get very far in life.
    If you could be anything you want, I bet you'd be disappointed--am I right?

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    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    Ah.. I always thought the shadow started with Te in INFP/ISFP. (Te -> Si/Ni -> Se/Ne -> Fi). No?

  9. #9
    Freshman Member simulatedworld's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KDude View Post
    Ah.. I always thought the shadow started with Te in INFP/ISFP. (Te -> Si/Ni -> Se/Ne -> Fi). No?
    Well, different authors have used the term differently. In some texts "shadow" refers to the inferior function, but most people these days seem to use it to refer to the "other four" functions that aren't part of your standard order.

    So for INFP (Fi Ne Si Te), the shadow functions would be Ti Se Ni Fe. ISTP is INFP's shadow.

    And for ISFP (Fi Se Ni Te), the shadow functions would be Ti Ne Si Fe. INTP is ISFP's shadow.

    Hope this helps.

    P.S.,

    I haven't read that many of your posts but fwiw you strike me as an SFP.
    If you could be anything you want, I bet you'd be disappointed--am I right?

  10. #10
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    I should translate some of what he says about inferior functions or use of inferior functions in communication. (its in danish)

    But the idea behind the example is not who initiated the communication, but rather the communication method he chose to use. If he had been thinking straight he would never have started using his inferior function as his communication method.

    The author comes to the conclusion that many of the things we say that we didnt mean or fell out of our character is done from our inferior functions. He talks about misconceptions, when we go into an affective mode when we feel hurt, bodily reactions, when nuances disappear and as I described above contamination of the 1st function.

    About misconceptions Jung said it like this:

    "Positive aswell as negative events can bring up the inferior opposite function to the surface. Once that has happened, we become vulnerable. Feelings of vulnerability is the symptom of a continuing feeling of inferiority. Therefore the psychological basis for disputes and misconception is given, not just disputes and misconceptions between two humans, but also disputes within ourselves. The inferior functions being is namely characterized by autonomy, it is independent, it comes over us, it fascinates and binds us, so we are no longer masters of ourselves and no longer can diferenciate what is us and what is others."

    About affective reactions happens when we get hurt, angry and so on. Then there is a big chance that the inferior functions take over and we become overly emotional. Another example of affective reactions could be the extraverted sensing and thinking type thats energetic and passionately talks about outer objective practical things but once they have to talk about themselves they get almost depressive, sad and lacking the energy they had just a minute ago.

    About nuances its pretty simple. Its once we start to use absolutes in our communication. Like "all they talk about all evening was sex" eventhough it might only had been for 10 minutes.

    About bodily functions:

    Like the intuition type that one day have to take a look at his own way life because his girlfriend pressures him into it, feels the legs tremble under him. And he have to use his sensing function.

    Or when I try to comfort others and have to use Fe or Fi it gets really uncomfortable for me and my heart starts to race. (Not always but in certain situations) Thats when we have to rely on our inferior functions in day to day life.

    We all have the ability to use certain aspects of all functions, like the thinker type thats really affectionate towards his grandkids or his dogs but otherwise has a very primitive feeling function. Or the intuitive type thats really good with clothes and fashion but as the above have no sense of sensing other than that.


    Edit: Sorry I just got excited to express my views on inferior functions in a thread that have nothing to do with it. Thats silly of me.

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