Intuitive Typology

A significant contribution by Jung (1971/1976) was through his discussion of intuition in the context of the personality. For the purposes of this study, investigating typology will provide insight into the manifestation of the intuitive function when it is both dominant and inferior in the personality style. This study proposes that in recovery, the intuitive function comes back into balance, or begins to be consciously recognized in decision making processes.

The psychological types theory considered the personality through four primary psychic functions: sensing, thinking, feeling and intuiting. The individual uses these functions to process inner and outer events. Through sensing, the environment is perceived on subtle and obvious levels; thinking translates what is being perceived; and feeling determines the reaction to the object (Jung, 1936/1981, p. 123, [CW 8, para. 257]). The intuitive function assesses the potential of objects (p. 123, [CW 8, para. 257]).

Jung (1971/1976) split the four types into two continuums. The thinking function opposes the feeling function, and the sensing function opposes intuitive function. Individuals tend to favor processing through one mode over the other, which creates a dominant and inferior function. For example one can have a dominant sensing function and inferior intuitive function. The four types are classified under the larger category of extraversion or introversion. The extravert focuses more on the external world for stimulus and information, while the introvert relies on the internal world and subjective influences. Depending on the style, extravert or introvert, the focus of the intuitive information gleaned is different in nature. Jung reviewed each category extensively. Of relevance to this study is the exploration of both the extraverted and introverted intuitive, as well as characteristics of the individual with a dominant or inferior intuitive function. Again Jung, through the typology theory, was examining a binary relationship (Cambray, 2009). For the purposes of this study the binary relationship between the sensate and intuitive functions is important. As the following exploration will indicate, when the intuitive function is out of balance the sensate function compensates with compulsive and dissociative behaviors. Hypothetically, this may be a contributing factor to addictive disorders. (The sensate function is accessed for pleasure or release, rather than directed to hard work.)

Even in sporadic expression, intuition’s characteristic of relaying unexpected knowledge from unconscious regions can lead to confusion and questions like where did this come from? What is it exactly, and should it be taken seriously? Considered as a strong personality trait, having a strong intuitive function relaying unexpected and confusing information can be disconcerting and anxiety producing. For someone who does not recognize intuitive knowledge it can lead to repression or misplaced faith in the function. As surprising and mysterious as the knowledge may be, Jung (1948/1981b) reiterated intuition to be “one of the most basic functions of the psyche, namely, perception of the possibilities inherent in a situation” (p. 141, [CW 8, para. 292]). Because it informs of potential it is the function that aids all the others.

It stands in the compensatory relationship to sensation and, like it, is the matrix out of which thinking and feeling develop as rational functions. Although intuition is an irrational function, many intuitions can afterwards be broken down into their component elements and their origins thus brought into harmony with the laws of reason. (Jung, 1971/1976, p. 454 [CW 6, para. 772])

The qualities of apprehension and sensing possibilities generate a conscious attitude of “expectancy” (Jung, 1971/1976, p. 366 [CW 6, para. 610]). The experience of having access to mysterious knowledge that provides insight can lead to pressure to generate more insight. Unfortunately, in most cases, intuition does not function well under demand and pressure.

Because intuition is in the main an unconscious process, its nature is very difficult to grasp. The intuitive function is represented in consciousness by an attitude of expectancy, by vision and penetration; but only from the subsequent result can it be established how much of what was “seen” was actually in the object, and how much was “read into” it. Just as sensation . . . is not a mere reactive process of no further significance for the object, but an activity that seizes and shapes its object, so intuition is not mere perception, or vision, but an active, creative process that puts into the object just as much as it takes out. (p. 366 [CW 6, para. 610])

When psychically integrated rather than repressed, the intuitive function transmits information other functions cannot access, leading to innovation and creativity. To reiterate, the intuitive function often requires interpretation like dream material and must be discerned from other functions (Jung, 1971/1976, p. 366 [CW 6, para. 611]). “If intuition is to function properly, sensation must to a large extent be suppressed. By sensation I mean in this instance the simple and immediate sense-impression understood as a clearly defined physiological and psychic datum” (Jung, 1971/1976, pp. 366-367 [CW 6, para. 611]). From a clinical perspective, when someone with a dominant intuitive function is asked to describe where the knowledge came from often it is traced back to sensations because the intuitive knowledge is unconscious whereas the sensate function is consciously perceived. Jung described these sensations as “starting points for his perceptions” chosen through unconscious leanings (pp. 366-367 [CW 6, para. 611]). Because the intuitive function is unconscious, the default response is to categorize the data through the body and subtle senses.

He selects them by unconscious predilection. It is not the strongest sensation, in the physiological sense, that is accorded the chief value, but any sensation who’s value is enhanced by the intuitive’s unconscious attitude. In this way it may eventually come to acquire the chief value, and to his conscious mind it appears to be pure sensation. But actually it is not so. (p. 367 [CW 6, para. 611])

Von Franz (1971) wrote of the tendency to mistake or merge the intuitive function with the sensate function, as seen in mythological writing: “In mythology, intuition is very often represented by the nose. One says: “I smell a rat,” that is, my intuition tells me that there is something wrong. I don’t know quite what, but I can smell it!” (von Franz, 1971, p. 30). The obstacle of the “conscious sense function” (Jung, 1971/1976, p. 366 [CW 6, para. 611]) is not the first obstruction one might expect, for example, the thinking function might be expected to be more of a nuisance the sensate function. In examination, both can convolute the intuitive function. “Sensation is a hindrance to clear, unbiased, naive perception; its intrusive sensory stimuli direct attention to the physical surface, to the very things round and beyond which intuition tries to peer” (pp. 366-367 [CW 6, para. 611]). The sensation function distracts intuition because it prevents drifting away from the body sensations, while the thinking function can override the vagueness of intuition.

Intuition needs to look at things from afar or vaguely in order to function, so as to get a certain hunch from the unconscious, to half shut the eyes and not look at the facts too closely. If one looks at things too precisely, the focus is on the facts, and then the hunch cannot come through. That is why intuitives tend to be unpunctual and vague. (von Franz, 1971, p. 31)

To integrate the intuitive function requires attenuated discernment and patience. The intuitive function may not provide all of the details, or be so subtle it actually cannot be distinguished. When the intuitive function is well integrated it can lead to great innovation, and well-developed unconscious perception.

It (intuition) seeks to discover what possibilities the objective situation holds in store; hence, as a subordinate function (i.e. when not in the position of priority), it is the auxiliary that automatically comes into play when no other function can find a way out of a hopelessly blocked situation. (Jung, 1971/1976, p. 367 [CW 6, para. 612])

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Cary Dakin PhD, MFT

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