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.
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.Originally Posted by PhotoGeek
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.Originally Posted by PhotoGeek
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.Originally Posted by PhotoGeek
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.
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.Originally Posted by PhotoGeek
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.