We develop ego consciousness when we differentiate a function and express it according to our Introverted or Extraverted preference. If it’s brought under control of our conscious will, we develop consistency characteristic of a psychological type. The first step in type development involves wrestling with the compensating info provided by an auxiliary function that is opposite in both attitude and orientation. For Introverts, the auxiliary offers an extraverted orientation. If the dominant is a judging function (T or F), the auxiliary offers a perceptual orientation (S or N). A feeling of being stuck tells us we need this compensation.
Often we resist using our auxiliary to modify the dominant because it forces us to wrestle with: How do I stay true to myself and also honor my relationships with others? We may try to avoid this conflict by seeing it as a problem others are causing. Blaming others may cause us to get stuck in the dominant. Taking responsibility leads to developing our auxiliary and managing the inevitable tensions. This tension is the source of creativity and psychological development.
I give an example from my personal experience, such as my initial response to an upsetting email. Sometimes my selective Fi filter distorts the sender’s meaning. After sleeping on it, I’m often surprised by my initial reaction and see alternative interpretations or facts that I’d overlooked. I encourage participants to discuss a time when they received conflicting info from their dominant and auxiliary.
When we respond to psychological conflict defensively, we empower the tertiary function, which then further distorts our understanding by insisting that the conflict is not our fault. Our flight or fight strategy is justified. Each type has characteristic defense strategies that protect the accustomed sense of identity and prevent the experience of inner conflict.
When used in conjunction with our dominant and auxiliary, the tertiary function doesn't offer rationalizations or strategies of defense. It grounds the aims of our stronger functions by introducing us to our genuine limitations--of time, ability, and opportunity, which must be taken into account as we set our goals and make our decisions (Thomson, 1998, p. 112). We gain a sense of humor, irony, paradox, and ambiguity.
While the tertiary function can bring a childlike renewal, it can also undermine conscious intentions. While the auxiliary can enable us to parent ourselves, many parent others more than themselves. John Beebe (2003) cautions that these are ongoing psychological tasks. We must monitor to ensure that we’re not preaching to others what we need to do for ourselves.
We are usually most sensitive to, and embarrassed by, our least preferred function. A strong dominant function can override its opposite (S vs N; T vs F), but unconscious compensation will eventually exact a toll: characteristic strengths are lost when we overdo the dominant. Fs make harsh judgments; Ts have emotional outbursts; Ss experience doom and gloom; and Ns become obsessed with irrelevant details. (See polarity maps for the downside of overdoing each function.) In Beside Ourselves: Our Hidden Personality in Everyday Life, Naomi Quenk describes the characteristic triggers and pitfalls for each type as well as the healthy adaptation that can result from these inevitable episodes.
While projections are another predictable stumbling block to type development, they can also play a positive role. By projecting unconscious psychic contents onto people in the outer world, we can see our shadow, the choices we rejected as ‘not me.’ In order to establish an ego identity, we had to choose. In the second half of life, however, the ego can relate to these split off parts instead of projecting them onto others, expecting them to carry our burden. It’s a slow, painful process that requires us to recognize our own weaknesses and vulnerabilities, to let go of our accustomed ego identity so that deeper aspects of the psyche have access to conscious awareness.
We develop through taking responsibility for reconciling our own psychological conflict, instead of blaming, defending, or projecting.
For more on Type Development, see Dear Lenore: Type Questions, Quandaries, and Queries
Page 6, Presenting Type Dynamically >>>