THE FOUR FUNCTIONS
We are sure you did rather well in making the notions of introversion and extraversion your own. They are so fundamental and express themselves in so many ways that usually when someone calls our attention to them we say, "Yes, we understand them and see them in ourselves and in the people around us."
No doubt, Jung was rather pleased with his initial work on introversion and extraversion, but as the years went by and his experience grew, he realized that these basic attitudes couldn't account for everything he was seeing. He eventually discovered that there were actually four kinds of introversion and four kinds of extraversion, and this is what he means by the four functions of thinking and feeling, sensation and intuition. Each one of these functions can be either introverted or extraverted. They are the colors, if you will, in which both introversion and extraversion can come in.
Let's look at the functions of thinking and feeling that Jung linked together as two ways of coming to a judgment. Thinking is easy for us to grasp. It is what we mean by logical, discursive, analytical thought. A leads to B, which in turn leads to C. We marshal our reasons and come to a decision. Thinking is the way we decide whether something is true or false.
Feeling, the way Jung understood it, is a bit more difficult to grasp. It doesn't mean emotion, but rather a way of making a judgment that is just as valid a way as thinking is. But if thinking proceeds by way of the head, feeling uses the heart. If thinking breaks things down into their components and then reassembles them, feeling is more holistic. If thinking prides itself on its objectivity, feeling needs a sense of rapport. And finally, if thinking leads to truth and falsity, feeling allows us to judge whether something is good or bad for us. Jung insists that both thinking and feeling are equally valid ways of making judgments, and each of us possesses both of these functions, but one is usually stronger than the other.
Tyra: My feeling function is stronger than my thinking function. There is a kind of "interior scale" inside me which I use to determine whether I like something or I don't. I take a person or a situation inside, and weigh it on that scale, and that scale consists of many past experiences which I somehow compare with the present one. But it is all a very holistic thing and it is the personal in a situation that attracts me.
Jim usually spends his mornings studying and writing his latest book, and often at lunch he tells me one of his latest theories. But if it remains pure theory I have a hard time grasping it. What I want is a concrete example or story, something that will make it personal to me and will engage my feelings so that through my feelings I can gain a better understanding of what he is saying.
Let's look at some more examples. You will notice in these examples that women use feeling more than thinking, and men use thinking more than feeling. This seems to be a general rule, though each of us has both functions and what function we use most has nothing to do with the question of intelligence.
Woman: Once I was offered two jobs at the same time. It was an enviable thing. It came to a reasoned decision based on salary, benefits, and so forth to take a certain job even though my gut level told me I wanted to take the other job, and it was not the right decision. There have been other times in my life when I have ignored my gut level and gone with the reasoning, and it is almost always the wrong decision, so I am learning to respect that gut level feeling more.
Man: Whenever I return from a trip the first thing I do when I get back is get the mail, and before I can go to bed I will systematically go through all my mail and messages, I will line them all up and prioritize what has to be dealt with for reentry. I do the same thing with the community. There are seven of us. I believe in a lot of long-range planning for the year, and most of the people in the community are people who, from my prejudiced point of view, have no concept of order.
Tyra: I had created a rough draft of a video some people wanted me to do for them, and Jim and I were reviewing it with them to decide which shots should stay, where improvements could be made, etc. Viewing it with us were two men and a woman. I took down notes on what they said, but afterwards the woman came up to me privately and complained that whenever the men made a suggestion, there was no comment, but when she made a suggestion the two men would turn to her and try to talk her out of it, as though her opinion wasn't as worthwhile as theirs, and her feelings were hurt.
Suppose a couple wants to buy a house. The husband may think of the house in terms of its price, closeness to work, maintenance and so forth, while his wife might consider the purchase in terms of how she might feel when friends and relatives come over and how the house will look during next year's Thanksgiving dinner. Or let's imagine a husband comes home from work and his wife, who has a well developed feeling function, wants him to sit down and share what he has been doing, and give her a chance to do the same. Often her feelings are hurt because he says, "Hi, honey," and then continues on to his den or TV or newspaper, removing himself from the scene in terms of his feeling function. For his part, he might have used up all his feeling energy on the job relating to people, and is in no mood to immediately begin relating to his wife. Or he might, in fact, be baffled by the kind of intimacy she seems to be demanding. He knows how to do things and discuss things, but when she wants him just to be with her, he can't comprehend what she means.
Now it is your turn. What predominates in you, thinking or feeling? Try the following quiz.
Thinking - Feeling Quiz
1. Decide whether you use your thinking or your feeling more.
2. Come up with at least one story that illustrates your decision.
3. Decide whether your spouse is stronger in thinking or feeling. Come up with a story that illustrates that decision.
4. Do you agree with each other? If not, you have discovered an important point to discuss.
5. Try to decide whether the people around you are stronger in their thinking or their feeling function. What about your children, or parents, or coworkers?
Sensation and Intuition
Just as there are two equally valid ways to arrive at a judgment, Jung saw that there were two ways of perception: sensation and intuition. Sensation is easy to grasp. It means perception by means of our various senses. It means contact with people and things by way of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. Sensation is in touch with the here and now in all its rich detail.
In contrast, intuition means the perception of possibilities. If sensation is oriented to the present, intuition revels in the future. When sensation is in a room, it glories in all the shades of color, and the styles of decoration it finds there, while intuition immediately looks for the nearest window in order to float out of it and search out hidden possibilities in the future. If someone with a strong function of sensation sees a bowl of oranges, he or she notices the number of oranges and their precise shade of color, and might handle them and smell them, and even perceive what kind of bowl they are in. When intuition predominates, however, the sight of the oranges triggers off a whole chain of associations. Wouldn't it be nice to live in Florida where I could have orange trees in my backyard, or couldn't I start an orange juice business and then branch out to serving out other tropical fruits and then have to travel the world in search of these exotic fruits, etc., etc.?
Tyra: A friend of mine has a very strong sensation function. For her Christmas tree she had carefully collected special ornaments, a few each year, and when she put them on her tree she would reminisce because each ornament reminded her of a whole part of her life. She had picked them out because of their originality, and when Christmas was over she would carefully wrap each one in tissue paper until the next year. For myself, if I put a couple of strings of lights on the tree, and a few ordinary ornaments, that is enough for me and I don't give it any more thought. But that is because intuition is my stronger function and the object itself doesn't have an intrinsic attraction for me.
Jim: My aunt used to be the head nurse of the emergency room at a big hospital. One Saturday night she let us watch her work. A young man was brought in unconscious, accompanied by a terrified friend. It looked like drug overdose, but the young man's companion refused to tell her what he had taken. She looked him straight in the eye and said," Look! If you don't tell me right now what he was taking, he is going to die." So he told her, and she immediately went into action. She had complete control over the sensating details, and she knew exactly what to do about the situation.
Tyra: Jim's intuitive function is very strong, and when he picks up a book and starts studying, he has left us all behind and is busy exploring the solar system, intricate philosophical discussions, or is travelling in exotic places. When I want his attention I have learned to say, "Jim..." and then wait 10 seconds, 20 seconds, until finally he realizes that he has been called, and he says, "What, dear?" This saves me from having to repeat myself three or four times. It is only after he has emerged from whatever world he is inhabiting that I can communicate with him.
My son also has this problem. He has a strong intuitive function and usually has 17 plans a day. When I used to tell him to get three things for me from our root cellar a few hundred yards down the hill, he would come back with only one or two of them. Why? Because while he was down there he saw something and started to play with it, or he was dreaming and picturing himself on a dangerous trek, etc-, etc., and the three things got lost in the excitement of his imagination.
Man: My boss is much more intuitive than I am. I am more sensation oriented. I am kind of "let's sell the products we have now, that we can deliver now, that we can get the highest profit margins on now and make the most money for us now." He says, "No, I think you should spend some of your efforts on these other products that we have that are more in the future, something we may want to be doing several years from now, that may not have the profit levels now but will be well worth doing later." That's the kind of conflict we have, and maybe that's why he owns the company!
Jim: That's an excellent example because you don't want an intuitive type in day-to-day management because he or she gets tired of details. You need someone who loves details, someone who will keep up the routines and for whom details are new to them each day. For the intuitive type details are old five minutes after they first see them. And that can be a disaster.
Woman: I think I am an intuitive type, but by vocation I am a stay-at-home mom, and I have to perceive by sensation because the kids are constantly pulling me into the present. One of the frustrating things for me is that at the end of the day I have nothing to show for my day because I have been tuning in to everything they say. I would like to dream and plan and read, and look at the bigger picture, and the reality of it is that I am forced to be perceiving by sensation and focusing on whatever the kids bring to me for the moment.
Jim: I have met women who seemed to me to be very intuitive women, but when they dealt with their kids they felt they had to adopt a model of child rearing that was more sensating. But there are other ways to be present to your kids than in a sensating way. You can, for example, say to them that you know of some exciting things to do - things both of you would enjoy and bring them along with you.
Man: I took a trip several years ago with two of my classmates, one of whom is very much like myself, and another is very, very different. We were going to go for ten days and take a 1,000 mile ride. We had projected where we would go, the amount of mileage each day, and where we would stay. Everything was going very nicely for the first day until we came to a lake. We had to be at our destination by such-and-such a time in order to have dinner, etc., etc., and our other classmate suddenly said, "The water looks great. Let's go take a canoe trip." Well, we were in the middle of nowhere, there were no canoes around, but that didn't phase him because he remembered we had passed a town about a half hour back and he was sure we would find a canoe there. This is the kind of dialogue we got into. You may imagine that after ten days we have never gone out on a trip together again.
Man: When my wife and I went on our honeymoon I was supposed to make all the arrangements for it. However, all I knew was where we were going, and I took care of no details whatsoever. Needless to say, the tension in our marriage started very, very early.
Now it is your turn again. Which is stronger in you, intuition or sensation? Perhaps this quiz will help you decide.
Intuition - Sensation Quiz
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