A little Jungian typology can go a long way

One of the things I really appreciate about Gordon’s account of the Necronomicon is that it allows us to posit a unity to it that exceeds its otherwise disparate manifestations, that we can think of it as “a spaceship crashing to earth and flinging pieces over time and space.” That concept of a spiritual message manifesting across disparate points is useful and sits well with some of my own ideas on how the eternal and temporal interact. Here I am going to suggest that we ought to apply this to Jungian typology.

(I suspect you could apply to it to Jungian psychology more generally, with the critical caveat that one of the problems with Jung is that he too quickly falls back on psychology and philology or, to use a Gordonism again, fails to dig a deep enough well.)

If you take some time to read Jung’s typology, you’ll realize soon enough that it is a bit lacking. While there is something vital and alive in it, it becomes increasingly useful as it passes through the hands of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers. From there, you get to really useful models like this one I’m linking here.

I think it really starts to take off when you integrate it with spiritualism more broadly. For one, it helps fill out George Yeats’s sense that as a medium she was more than just a blank slate, that a part of the process rested in her own capacities, temperamental, spiritual, and intellectual.

From a spiritualist perspective, your MBTI type describes a map of how your consciousness most readily channels and integrates spiritual messages. Obviously, as we witness with the system’s broad popularity, this isn’t all it is capable of doing. Given the context in which Jung developed his typological theory (during his intense visionary period), I am willing to suggest that this might be its primary or intended purpose.

Once you get launched into the temporal world, you find yourself equipped with a handy-dandy psyche that basically serves as a communications and sensor array for that temporal vehicle. Jung’s typology provides a basic guidebook for that.

A black and white picture of Nichell Nichols as Uhura on the set of the original Star Trek.
Be Uhura, own that array.

It’s worth taking some tests and figuring out how you fall out along the MBTI type map. Don’t stop with that, though. Read around it, examine yourself. These tests are not perfect and the discussion around typology is often shallow. You are the one flying this crazy thing, so my advice is to trust the basic system underlying the types and to trust yourself.

I can provide a few suggestions for starters. Once you know your type, the key word is optimization. Think about that array and get a sense for how each function can best be used. Sometimes, yes, you have to jigger the system and make it do what it wasn’t quite built to do; knowing how it is supposed to work will help you there, too, though.

Let me list some basic strategies for that. These are broad and schematic; I’m thinking I might zoom in on specifics in future posts. (I’ll be using this site’s terms for clarity.)

Determine which of your primary functions are introverted and which are extroverted.

Extroverted functions are where you will be making contact with your fellow travelers. These are your broadcast frequencies as well as your primary tools for receiving information for what is going on in the material or temporal world. Remember that this world isn’t divorced from spiritual concerns even if it sometimes intersects with them at odd angles.

Whether you want to share your own spiritual insight or share in someone else’s, your extroverted functions will be primary. Contra the old chestnut about the one who looks without sleeping while the one who looks within awaking, awaking depends upon the external as much or more than upon the internal. Otherwise, why bother with the whole living business?

Spiritualist work favors the introverted functions. Mediumship depends upon the medium’s ability to manipulate their spiritual (introverted) faculties. Unless the medium depends upon full possession (a situation I will set aside for this discussion), mediums must make extensive use of their introverted functions. Spirits become present to them in a way quite akin to how people become present to our extroverted functions. The more sharply the medium is able to use these functions, the better able they are to work through spirit contact. Knowledge of these functions also helps the medium to identify their own blind spots.

Even if you are not engaging in developed mediumship, you will benefit from a clearer sense of how your introverted functions structure your responses to the subtle world.

Take a look at your dominant function.

This will be the function that you most identify with, often so deeply that it structures your experience invisibly. While you can think of your primary functions as the control panel, your dominant function defines the layout and mode of interface for that panel.

Generally, your dominant function is strong enough that even its unconscious manifestation, the opposing function, (i.e., it’s introverted expression if you are an extrovert, or vice versa) tends to be influenced by your identification with it. For example, if you are an Introverted Intuitive, your Extroverted Intuition will tend to manifest as comforting fantasies about the direction of your life, i.e., as fantasies explicitly addressing your conscious self.

While it is important to process through the information you receive through mediumship using your dominant function (that’s where you are usually at your best!), you need to be attentive to the interference of your opposing function. While it will superficially resemble the expression of your dominant function, what it expresses is more likely to be self-serving material that masquerades as spiritual input. It is precisely its agreeableness to our way of processing that makes it problematic.

My advice here is to expect the spiritual input you receive through your own mediumship to be opaque to your normal way of thinking. If you don’t have to work to appreciate it, you are more likely to be heading into sock-puppet territory. That leads us to:

Get to know how the rest of your shadow functions operate.

Spirits will have the easiest time accessing the functions to which you are least consciously attached. While your opposing function is often tightly under your dominant functions influence, the remaining three are much less so.

This DOESN’T mean that every product of your shadow functions is the result of a spiritual contact or that any spiritual contact that manifests through them is necessarily a contact that should be cultivated. Quite the opposite, you ought to treat the products of these functions like you would advice–listen to it, appreciate where it seems to be coming from, and then make a decision based on your own moral and intellectual compass.

One of the advantages of spiritualist work is that you learn to treat ideas and desires more objectively. Rather than treat them as necessarily ‘belonging’ to you, you treat them as sharply or crudely put recommendations that you need to reflect upon. The more jarring and unsettling the message, the more intensely you should scrutinize it.

Which brings me to my final suggestion for this post:

Cultivate all of your primary functions.

Each of them has an intimate connection with its corresponding shadow function. They arise from a common capacity even as they direct that capacity differently. As such, when you explore the messages of your shadow functions with their corresponding conscious function, you can elaborate upon them without having to translate them into an entirely different register.

The primary function also serves as a valuable counterpoint to the shadow function. If your shadow function of Introverted Feeling threatens to overwhelm you, your primary function of Extroverted Feeling can help you anchor yourself in the stable world of human relations.

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One thought on “A little Jungian typology can go a long way

  1. Pingback: Toward an Account of Faeries | Disrupt & Repair

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