MOTM June 2010
Triggering A Shadow Episode
There has been a great deal of new discussion about the shadow functions. I have been aware of the theory for some time, but continued to question how one triggers a shadow type experience. It has been only my thought until now that there must be a connection to our inferior function that causes one to appear more like their shadow type. I just ran across an article by Beebe that confirms this.
However in discussing this briefly with someone else, I think it’s important to discern a difference between a shadow type and what Naomi Quenck refers to as out “In the Grip” type. These are two different theories based on two differing schools of thought.
Quenck (a MBTI enthusiasts and author of the Step II assessment) theorizes that we use four functions and will go into a grip episode using our inferior function. As a result Quenck purports that in-the-grip we take on an appearance of our opposite type:
Hence as an example, the type under Quenck’s system would show ENTJ behaving like an ISFP, ESFJ like an INTP, ESTP like INFJ, ENFP like ISTJ and so on.
In turn John Beebe says:
This makes it quite clear that the shadow types are different than Quenck’s in-the-grip types. Beebe’s shadow types will be (Note: the scale below can also be reversed):By ‘shadow’, I mean having the same function but the opposite attitude. So, for example, when the superior function is introverted feeling, its shadow is extraverted feeling, the inferior function is extraverted thinking, and the shadow of the inferior function is introverted thinking.
Type (Spine)/Type (Shadow)
Thus the type in question continues to use the same function order as, what Beebe refers to as their spine (i.e. ESTJ uses TSNF), but with differing attitudes. In this case ESTJ will behave like ISTP, ENFJ like INFP, ENTP like INTJ, ESFP like ISFJ. This makes more sense allowing the function order to remain in tact.
This was always clear to me, however what has been my continued question is what triggers me to appear like an ESTJ. As I stated it seems clear the connection must be with the inferior function. This is noted in Beebe’s article here that explains:
This is what I have been waiting to read from Beebe, of how we trigger episodes of experiencing the shadow type. Like INTPs, ISTPs have a Fe episode that causes them to appear as an under developed version of their extraverted cousins ENTJ and ESTJ respectively.The inferior function, in contrast, is a perpetual source of shame for most people. Acknowledging and accepting this shame with a measure of humility is a first, necessary step towards knowing oneself, finding integrity, and beginning to make a meaningful connection to the unconscious.
But because the inferior function is usually so poorly developed, especially in a young person, to be forced to use it can be an agony, and even calls forth a yelp of complaint, a cry that is often high-pitched in a man, full-throated in a woman. This sonic quality gives us a glimpse into the contrasexual nature of the archetype carrying the inferior function: the defensive, hysterical, helpless, irritated, bird-like whining in a man is the voice of the Anima under pressure, while in a woman the growl of an animal cornered, embittered and at the end of its rope, can emerge from the pressed Animus.
Despite its burden of shame, the inferior function, with its connection to soul or spirit, is also a place of great idealism in the psyche. The higher cause or mission that seizes our energy is often associated with this area of the psyche where we are ourselves rather weak and inept.
Thus, a person whose superior function is introverted thinking will often put a very high value on the goal of everyone in a group getting along together, although this person may lack any of the feeling skills to facilitate such an outcome. Conversely, an introverted feeling type may be drawn to champion the most abstruse strains of philosophy, even as he or she has to struggle to follow the more intricate twists of thinking.
The person who cares most passionately about the quality and safety of food may have superior introverted intuition and thus inferior extraverted sensation, while the person with superior introverted sensation may be the most concerned to maintain the quality of the future, for instance by acting now to reduce global warming, an extraverted intuitive precaution.