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MOTM February 2014
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Discussion Starter #1
I was thinking today that there's not a lot of information about inferior functions. There's tons to read about how dominant and auxillary functions work (sometimes even together!), but the last two are generally ignored. The main reason they're brought up is to illustrate how a type acts when "unhealthy," but that's not the whole picture.

So my question is how do the eight inferior (and tertiary, if you're so inclined) functions influence a person? Whether healthy or unhealthy, developed or not. I'd be particularly interested in the perceiving functions such as Ne or Se, but also the judgement ones.

Just for a refresher, here's a function list!
ESTJ: Te-Si-Ne-Fi.
ISTJ: Si-Te-Fi-Ne.
ISFJ: Si-Fe-Ti-Ne.
ESFJ: Fe-Si-Ne-Ti.

ESFP: Se-Fi-Te-Ni.
ISFP: Fi-Se-Ni-Te.
ISTP: Ti-Se-Ni-Fe.
ESTP: Se-Ti-Fe-Ni.

ENTP: Ne-Ti-Fe-Si.
INTP: Ti-Ne-Si-Fe.
INTJ: Ni-Te-Fi-Se.
ENTJ: Te-Ni-Se-Fi.

ENFJ: Fe-Ni-Se-Ti.
INFJ: Ni-Fe-Ti-Se.
INFP: Fi-Ne-Si-Te.
ENFP: Ne-Fi-Te-Si.

Subterranean Homesick Alien
11,928 Posts
The only time people may not be able to relate to their inferior function (when healthy) is when looking at types who use it as a dominant function. I think that Si comes out in ENxPs when they connect things to each other...perhaps when they relate things from some time in the past to something in the present. You do have to have some base to jump off from, and for Ne-users, I think that's where inferior Si comes into play.

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Inferior Fe (IxTPs) - The Form of the Inferior - ITPs
Inferior Fi (ExTJs) - The Form of the Inferior - ETJs
Inferior Te (IxFPs) - The Form of the Inferior - IFPs
Inferior Ti (ExFJs) - The Form of the Inferior - EFJs
Inferior Se (INxJs) - The Form of the Inferior - INJs
Inferior Si (ENxPs) - The Form of the Inferior - ENPs
Inferior Ne (ISxJs) - The Form of the Inferior - ISJs
Inferior Ni (ESxPs) - The Form of the Inferior - ESPs

Inferior Si as taken from this website
"Si provides information about the fixed and stable, the facts / constancies of the universe. At it's best, it provides such information as a firm basis for proceeding forward into the world. Where Si occupies the inferior position (as it does for those with dominant Ne), it is strongly tainted with unconscious contents. In these cases, Si may manifest as negative/malevolent images of eternal tendencies in people and situations that will not change. Such tendencies may well be present, but inferior Si sees the part as the whole. Inferior Si is also linked to feelings of nostalgia, overwhelmingly vivid internal imagery and a selective recall of facts and memories that are highly emotionally charged."

Inferior Ni:
"As an Inferior Function, Ni typically leads ESPs to either self-doubt or claim to a mystic vision--to see themselves as an oracle of transcendent truth, bypassing the need for finding things out through observation, reasoning, and putting ideas to a test."

Inferior Se:
" As an inferior function, Se often leads INJs in either (or both) of two directions: to shun everything of a bodily nature as corrupt and animal (e.g. Immanuel Kant), or to crave "letting loose" and table-dancing or delivering some serious violence. In the grip of the inferior function, they try to make others feel weak by displays of physical power (or trying to get others to compare themselves with physically powerful people), but usually end up only making themselves feel like helpless bugs. "See how POWERFUL I am? See my ANIMAL MAGNETISM?" Some get into guns or karate, taking an off-kilter delight in fantasies of getting into a confrontation with someone and surprising the hell out of them with the damage they can do (see Taxi Driver). Some idolize jazz musicians as people who are completely in touch with their animal selves, able to "let go". Some join academic cliques where the object is to make other people feel unpopular by snubbing them for not being up on the latest intellectual fashions--a sort of faux popularity contest, where the wider social standards are reversed and the most unintelligible gibberish gets the most attention. Some use esoteric jazz or modern art to make a twisted marriage of Ni and Se: "It might sound like an incoherent mish-mash of notes to you, but that only shows that you lack the finer discernment of the really cool people." A different way, perhaps the genuine reunification with the inferior function, is to find an unconditional pleasure in "the now" and a peaceful, live-and-let-live philosophy--enjoying each moment, "being present" no matter what comes.
Less dramatic, more recreational (and more common) forms of tertiary and inferior Se include athletics and engaging in physically dangerous activities, like auto racing and bungee jumping--providing the participants visceral proof that they have power over the physical world. Or simply enjoying these activities in a pure way, for the thrills they offer, no differently than an SP."

Inferior Ti:
"As an Inferior Function, Ti typically causes EFJs to aspire to behavioural standards that aren't defined by typical social norms. EFJs with low confidence may reject or even demonize Ti, preferring to instead go along with the observable expectations that others place on them. Because it is so adverse to the standpoint of Extraverted Feeling, Ti may sometimes seem too cold or emotionally detached, and thus EFJs might avoid it out of fear of losing their sense of self in the community. EFJs who can accept an introverted stance will realize that things don't have to be determined by what can be observed, and that they don't always have to agree with others just to get along; they can introduce their own ideas, think with their own minds, and determine how the world works through their own subjective perceptions."

Inferior Fi:
"As an Inferior Function, Fi typically leads ETJs to acts of self-destructive hedonism, creation of opera-like drama in their lives and the lives of those around them, obsession with "integrity" (like going down with the ship), instant and irresponsible abandonment of anything they don't like (the opposite of going down with the ship), and bizarre solitary acts of atonement for the harms they've done to others. Sometimes inferior-Fi leads ETJs to preach and even practice a sort of hyper-selfishness, e.g. Ayn Rand and the Landmark Forum. "I'm doing fine, so why should I give a damn about you?" (Very different from highly developed Fi, which leads you to see all people as connected and the highest joy of life as the experience of that connection.)
Tertiary and inferior Fi also sometimes lead TJs to view large numbers of people as "troglodytes": soulless or stupid creatures whose rotten situations in life derive only from their own intrinsic rottenness-of-soul. To take a comic example, Lex Luthor's lamentation in Superman, "Why is the world's greatest criminal genius surrounded by nincompoops?"
Perhaps the most typical manifestation of tertiary and inferior Fi is an attitude of psychologizing other people: a sort of pseudo-empathy in which one explains other people's behavior in terms of pitiful needs and psychological flaws that anyone would be ashamed to have. "Notice the defensiveness. He clings desperately to his ideas. Such weakness." (Nearly all psychological theories offer plenty of ammo for psychologizing, including Lenore Thomson's ideas.) Where developed Fi leads you to find something in your own soul in terms of which to truly understand someone else and see things their way, tertiary and inferior Fi typically lead you to find something in your own soul that you despise, in terms of which you can "explain" them and justify putting them down."

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Thanks, Vel, that's super interesting. Unfortunately I identify way more with the EFJ grip experience than the INJ grip experience, so you have me questioning my bloomin' type again :crazy:

393 Posts
I can't recommend Lectures on Jung's Typology enough for this. The first lecture is on this very subject and goes into detail about how each function looks when it's inferior.

A very brief summary is as follows:

  • The inferior function is often associated with an emotional response. It's a touchy subject that you learn to avoid.
  • When you must use it, it happens very slowly.
  • Society has no tolerance for weakness in our inferior function, and thus we hide our weakness in it with scripts. For instance, since Fe is my inferior function I say "please", "thank you", etc. The moment I have to actually use Fe, I freeze up.
  • The primary function won't let it go far. For instance, my approach to understanding peoples' feelings is through psychology: a very structured and scientific approach to it.
Lastly, you can't really develop it (at least not in the sense that you can easily use it consciously)*. The key is to make a sort of pact with it. In the book, von Franz tells a story about her father buying a horse. Her father was a small man, and the horse was so large the military wouldn't use it because it was dangerous. If that horse threw him, it could cause serious injury or death. So her father made a pact with it: "I won't whip you if you don't throw me".

That's how you have to deal with the inferior function: tell it what you want and then let it come out and help you in its own way. If you try to tame it, it's going to ignore you and take you off in whatever direction it wants to or it's going to throw you.

*Functianalyst will disagree on this one, I know.
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