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Question of the Day I


Question of the Day I

Katherine W. Hirsh, October 3, 2010

Dali, Ghost of Vermeer“Thus, just as it seems incomprehensible to the introvert that the object should always be the decisive factor, it remains an enigma to the extravert how a subjective standpoint can be superior to the objective situation. He inevitably comes to the conclusion that the introvert is either a conceited egoist or a crack-brained bigot.”
C. G. Jung, Psychological Types, Para 625, p. 377

The beauty of type is that it replaces the assumption that people with styles that are different from our own are “crack-brained bigots” with an understanding that there are multiple healthy and normal ways of being.

Taking this point of view toward Extraversion and Introversion allows us to value both talking and listening, to appreciate the need for both action and reflection, and to see the genius in the leader who claims the spotlight and in the one who toils behind the scenes.

Moreover, it is crucial that each of us works to balance our own natural preference through active engagement of its opposite. What if Isabel Myers had stayed in her introverted comfort zone and stopped developing her ideas when she found a favorable audience at home?

A direct challenge to the Jungian understanding of personality differences arose during the current revision of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). If the proposed revisions had been accepted, Introversion would have been considered one of six traits on which a diagnosis of personality disorder can be made. Rather than being viewed as the natural expression of an innate preference, Introversion would have come to be seen as a sign of psychopathology.*

Where in your own life have you seen efforts to pathologize, punish or otherwise stigmatize particular ways of being, including personality preferences? How have you actively sought to counter these efforts? How do you think a group, team, society or culture loses out when it defines one way of being as “right” and another, perhaps its opposite, as “wrong?”

* Editors’ Note: In response to objections raised by a number of professional associations, including the Association for Psychological Type International and the Council of North American Societies of Jungian Analysts, the “Personality Disorders Task Force” decided in early August not to use the label “Introversion” in the DSM as one of the traits that indicate possible psychopathology.


Katherine W. Hirsh

Katherine W. Hirsh

Katherine W. Hirsh, DPhil Experimental Psychology, is co-founder with Elizabeth Hirsh of HirshWorks, LLC, a source of information and inspiration for all things type related. As a writer, facilitator and consultant, Katherine is devoted to working with clients worldwide to improve individual, group, team and organizational performance, increase employee engagement and foster personal and professional development.

Katherine has been entranced by psychological type for over thirty years. She currently lives in Hamburg, Germany and works globally, consulting with clients locally, nationally, and internationally to improve performance in leadership, team work and decision making in order to promote individual growth and increase personal and professional satisfaction.

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Comments (14)

Hi Mark

I think I got it now. There are 4 cognitive functions, with either attitude. So the thinking function is really just one cognitive function but the ego decides to either focus its energy towards inside or outside.

It does make sense, ist like INTJ and INTP are bout rationals with there NT but picking up different information from the opposite source (external or internal) but really using the same function, hence both still becomes rational.

Thank you 🙂

Here’s where we start tripping over our own terminology traditions. Jung, of course, identified four “functions”—Sensation, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling—and described them as being engaged in either of two “attitudes” (AKA “orientations”)—introversion of extraversion. So technically there are only four “functions.”

Jung never gave a label to the eight ‘things’ you get with the functions being used in their E or I orientation—Se, Si, Ne, Ni, Te, Ti, Fe, and Fi—probably because he didn’t consider them to be psychic units unto themselves. But it’s certainly convenient to talk as if they are. Dick Thompson proposed “function-attitudes,” and I think it was Linda Berens who first suggested “cognitive functions.” Leona Haas and I used “mental processes” throughout Building Blocks of Personality Type, hoping that the term would catch on and resolve the confusion. I continue to hear all three terms used regularly. The most popular seems to be “function-attitude;” ;ut it’s kind of a long label, so people often shorten “function-attitude” to just “function”—hence the confusion. Whenever you hear the term “function,” you need to ask yourself whether they are literally talking about one of the four functions or using short-hand for one of the eight function-attitudes. It’s certainly inconvenient; but usually you can tell from their context.


Would this mean that we have 8 cognitive functions that is unique to themselves.
Or 4 cognitive function but with different attitude, that makes up 8?

Thank you Carol.

I’m not sure these are two ‘sides’ of the same coin, but rather two ‘directions.’ Jung says, “Without differentiation direction is impossible, since a direction of a function towards a goal depends on the elimination of anything irrelevant. Fusion with the irrelevant precludes direction; only a differentiated function is capable of being directed.” Then he also says that Te and Ti are “incessantly at war” which certainly suggests that these should not be considered the same coin but really are two orthogonal mental processes.

– Carol

Great article. Just wondered is the cognitive function, such as Fe and Fi to different coins, or is it the same coins with to different sides? Would be nice to know 🙂

Thank you.

In the church where I worked for many years, we went on a “head hunt” for the other type when we realized we were two INFJs and an INTJ. It was a matter of realizing that we had to be able to relate to the whole parish, all the ESFs out there and ESTs, whose perception and needs might be so different. It worked, but I must add that it made for some more prolonged and complicated staff meetings.

I live in Scotland in the UK and I have noticed the strong position Ne holds in our culture. All through history Scots have shown a particular skill and reverence for Ne activities eg. inventors, poets, entrepreneurs, explorers. In my opinion, this a result of Scotland being a very small nation with the large and aggresive neighbour England, which is more Te, and so the key to survival in this hostile diplomatic environment lay in the ability of Scots to find creative, new solutions to hostilities as brute force simply was not an option against such a behemoth.
Even as part of the union scots manipulated bureaucracy, politics and, in the case of Robert Burns, the hearts and minds of the people to ensure Scotland got fair treatment under a government that was always attempting to pull the union relationship into a kind of apartheid discrimanating toward the Celtic nations. In short, using the power of words in new ways to aquire influence without the full realisation of the far more physically powerful entity. Even today Scots polititions still play this game with the British government to insure decent rights for the people.

I use extraverted feeling which is in my auxiliary function for INFJ. It only becomes ineffective when I let it go overboard and I’m caring for someone more than myself. Interesting question to think about in terms of how I would prefer to be taken care of. I would have naturally answered this with Fe, but upon reflection, I think I prefer Si. I like to hear how someone else has handled a situation in the past and what worked for them. What symptoms did they have? What solutions did they try that worked or not? I also like practical, down-to-earth advice and common sense solutions.

Sometimes with Fe, I don’t like the feeling of people feeling sorry for me. Really interesting questions that I will pay more attention to in the future.

I tend to use extraverted thinking, my 2nd/auxiliary function, most when caring for others. I also use extraverted sensing (4th/inferior) and introverted sensing (8th) to help the Te evaluate the symptoms and signs, in order to do what I think needs to be done. I find this works well with physical ailments, but when nurturing of emotions is also required, I fall short. I usually recognize this and do my best to use extraverted feeling (my 7th function), as well, although not always long enough or well enough. I always wish I had more knowledge of disease filed away in order to make better decisions.

I prefer Te or Ti when someone is caring for me. Extraverted feeling in others, especially when I don’t feel well, can sometimes irritate me, although I’m always aware that it comes from the best of intentions.

The trained, expected type within corporate America may well be ESTJ – as I can confirm from intensive training in US professional services firms. Evaluations were based on precisely the logical, evidence-based, outgoing, completer-finisher behaviour that would flow naturally from ESTJ types. Therefore, people will appear to be this way in order to get on and succeed. (As a different type, I managed but burnt out after 10 years.)My concern would be that many people are unhappy within such an expected culture, and so the leadership of our nations and corporations needs to embrace other types. We have seen hints of this from Obama and Cameron, which I applaud. The new technology generation are much more P oriented and this now seems to be the expected type within teenage peer groups – frequent changes of plan and no agreed decisions until the last possible moment! Will they cope in the workplace?

Western culture cannot be seen as an entity. I think that the US, the UK and several other Western countries could be described as ESTJ. Sweden, where I live, is more of an F culture.(Consensus is valued, avoidance of conflicts is typical etcetera.) This fits in well with Geert Hofstede´s finding that the Swedish culture is strong on the feminine dimension whereas e g the US and the UK are stronger on the masculine dimension.

I lived in Brazil for 22 years and I started my journey with Jungian theory while living there. Although I have not done widespread application in Brazil, I was really surprised at how many ENFPs I seemed to come up with. It could be that since I worked with many pastors that this could explain part of the oversampling, however in my work among Brazilians I find the culture to be more perception oriented rather than judging. Extroverted Intuition is really common in meetings which I found entertaining since I am an INFP! If there are any Brazilians reading this please feel free to prove me wrong.
As far as the United States is concerned I would agree with the SJ at least. Our culture seems to be over achieving. In general closure is much more important than what I observed in Brazil. Our high demand for productivity seems to have pushed us to be more sensing/detail oriented. I wonder if we will see a shift in this as the next “video” generation begins to spread its wings more.

This is a fascinating question! I think there is a natural tendency at both the individual and the organizational level to consider one’s own preferred type to be the “optimal” or “best” type and to dismiss or even demonize others.

This is a great question I always teach people in our seminars on type that valuing and appreciating different types for most of us has been “an acquired taste.”

I compare it to my childhood when I was raised in Texas eating school lunch box slices of tasteless cheese and loving it and trading those sandwiches on the playground. The first time I tasted bleu (blue) cheese I thought it was poison and spit it out. Over the years it’s become my favorite cheese.

Equally as an ENTJ I thought that I was the standard of how a human being ought to be and was shocked that so few people agreed. These experiences began my journey of a lifetime to understand other types and to find out that they are not only valuable, but they save my bacon every day doing things I can’t.

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