The modern emphasis on self-awareness seems to have taken our psychological development about as far as it can for now; further progress requires the pendulum to swing towards attending to our interrelatedness, toward Self-awareness. The two most active and influential sociopolitical worldviews of our time, conservatism and progressivism, are both demonstrably collective in orientation.
Culture & Politics
Populism has acquired a negative reputation, and this is especially true now with the presidency of Donald Trump, but many other political leaders have used extraverted sensation tactics and policies to rally the cause of the common man. This is true not only of Andrew Jackson—in whom extraverted sensation (Se) seems to be dominant—but also of Lyndon B. Johnson and Theodore Roosevelt.
Often extraverted sensing leaders are considered more authentic than other types. Trump’s supporters viewed him as trustworthy (“honest,” “outside of the political corruption,” and “not a liar”) while they viewed Clinton as untrustworthy (“belongs behind bars,” “cannot be trusted,” and “nothing but lies”). Even Clinton’s own supporters expressed concern about her trustworthiness.
Individuation calls us to fight the dragon head-on. The struggles of relationship—whether with another person or within a culture—are opportunities. We can flee and seek a quick-fix, taking what my husband calls “tequila shot” flights to numb the discomfort until the next situation arises. Or we can remain within the oyster shell and endure the uncomfortable rubbing.
Igniting the spark of opposites produced during conflict can provide an opportunity for holding the tensions between the one-sided attitudes. The process requires confronting and embracing the forces of unconscious qualities, along with holding the tension and uniting of opposing forces, in order for the full expression of an individual’s potential to be revealed.
The alien invasion can then be viewed as a necessary fragmentation of the psyche, occurring when the ego is too rigidly identified with the dominant function. The crisis brings renewal by breaking apart the ego identity so that the previously unrealized functions can be differentiated and integrated, thereby transforming the conscious attitude.
Military intelligence is a personality-centric career field because of its reliance on the subjective factor, which tends to creep into every intelligence assessment regardless of how analytically rigorous it attempts to be. To help reduce bias, intelligence professionals have developed brainstorming analytic techniques so that an analytical cell can offset individual biases.
For intuitives, change can be a thrilling undertaking. A preference for sensing, by contrast, tends to be associated with a step-by-step process to change that is anchored in what is known, as well as what is necessary and practical. If acculturation is viewed as a process of change, intuitive individuals possess a greater propensity for reconciling different cultural identities.
Like the water that surrounds their country, the Greeks are very fluid and go with the flow. They are passionate and capable. However, their heroic use of extraverted sensing has contributed to the current economic crisis. The Greek hero must ease his extraverted sensing grip and use puer extraverted thinking energy to build analytical and efficient systems.
Individuation is attractive as a therapeutic goal, but adaptation, even to a self that analytic work has brought into focus, can continue to be a challenge. I have come to feel that one of my jobs as a therapist is to help the person working with me develop an attitude that can negotiate culture comfortably— one adequate to bridge the gulf between irreducibly individual self and continuously demanding world.