Saturday, May 30, 2020

The sacred flame

Sacred Heart (Mexico)
[Image from StardustPrintShop (Etsy)]

At this point it becomes easier to understand why Jung always required of analysts that they should ultimately work the most on continuing to make progress in their own individuation. In doing so, they take their analysands along with them on their journey, without trying to influence them directly (which would be an abuse of power). In an early letter, Jung even goes so far as to say that the therapist should only analyze the pathological aspect of the patient’s psyche. This is because intellectual understanding is destructive. Understanding (Latin comprehendere), after all, means “taking hold of,” “grasping,” and this corresponds to an exercise of power. When the patients being and destiny are at stake, one should relate to his unique mystery with wordless respect. As Jung said, “we must understand the divine in us, but not in another in so far as he is capable of getting on and understanding on his own.” Our dreamer, as we will recall, was apprehensive about his encounter with patients. His dream points him back to working on himself
~ Marie-Louise von Franz, Psychotherapy

I thought about the secrets I had stored up inside my body. How many times I’ve crawled out my bedroom window to get in a car. The unstoppable fire between my legs. A fire not his. I thought about vodka. Nearly drowning. By the time he sat me on the couch to tell me I was his, I was miles away from daughter. A black suitcase making shape and story in my dreams. I felt like there was a muscle between us. The muscle was my sexuality. Not his.
~ Lidia Yuknavitch, The Chronology of Water

Welcome the madnesses, the stalemates, the gordian knots. Even though it's hard and painful, welcome these burdens. What you see as the Great Enemy who is trying to ruin all of your carefully laid plans is really your severe and demanding Guardian Angel, providing obstacles that will train your spiritual body into something strong and beautiful. Our madnesses are the Self trying to incarnate in us, God trying to come into the world.

The shaman is always a wounded healer. Those who can go into their own madness and come out of it whole are the only ones who are able to carry the weight of the Self into life. This is the important thing; your weakness is your strength. What is weak in outer, subjective reality is the yoke that links you with the Self. It is your way to bring the Self, or as much of it as you are able, into the world.

To understand boorishly and without care is to do violence to the soul. That desire in us - to know, to control, to make safe - diminishes that which is sacred into a “nothing but.” It turns what is glorious and beautiful and terrible into bland meaninglessness. Hindu’s greet each other with palm to palm, bowing as the God in them acknowledges the God in you. When we, or someone else, is experiencing madness, we put our hands together wordlessly, reverently, bow to this holy presence that is trying to come into the world. It’s not the places where we’re strong that matter, but where we are embarrassing, unpleasant, and inconvenient.

What is needed is a reverent attitude toward life, toward ourselves as well as others, toward all of existence. An open-hearted and open-minded attitude, an attitude of sympathy and compassion when we're in the thick of the struggle. Not everything needs to be known, or judged.... measured, or fit into “it's place.” Reverence stops us from harming ourselves and each other with our drive to put everything into safe little boxes. The thing in us which is bigger than the universe cannot be fit into a small, neat little box. By freeing our hearts and our minds we remember the Sacred that lives in and through us all.

The thing in us which is ours is ours. The thing in others which is theirs is theirs. We can - and should - clash and disagree, fight and struggle. But, at the same time, we must most of all always recognize and honor the Sacred that is laboring to birth itself into the world.

Monday, May 18, 2020

MBTI: Working with the MBTI Pt. 1 - Rebirth

Starry Night (Vincent van Gogh)
[Image from ArcGIS StoryMaps]

I can only gaze with wonder and awe at the depths and heights of our psychic nature. Its non-spatial universe conceals an untold abundance of images which have accumulated over millions of years of living development and become fixed in the organism. My consciousness is like an eye that penetrates to the most distant spaces, yet it is the psychic non-ego that fills them with non-spatial images. And these images are not pale shadows, but tremendously powerful psychic factors.

The most we may be able to do is misunderstand them, but we can never rob them of their power by denying them. Beside this picture, I would place the spectacle of the starry heavens at night, for the only equivalent of the universe within is the universe without; and just as I reach this world through the medium of the body, so I reach that world through the medium of the psyche.

~ C.G. Jung, (from Edward Hoffman's The Wisdom of Carl Jung)

I'm going to start by telling you something about me; in my profile I talk about how I've basically spent my entire life studying psychology, and there's a very good reason for this. It's because I was looking for a way to fix myself. I had a difficult childhood, was bounced from home to home and family member to family member. Though I didn't realize it (because I'm an INTP and don't really have access to my feelings) I never understood how much this wounded me until I was already well into adulthood, but I suffered. Between that and being an introvert in an extroverted culture that looks down on introversion (this was before being an introvert became trendy with the popularity Susan Cain's book Quiet) I felt that there was something fundamentally wrong with me and was desperate to fix it.

“Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering”
― Carl Gustav Jung

I tried everything: individual therapy, group therapy, inner child work, affirmations, subliminal learning, neuro linguistic programming, and many more, too many to remember. I delved into Jung's work back in the 90's though it didn't “take” then. I had to wait until around 10 years ago for me to really get into it. By this time I had given up on psychology being able to do anything beyond very surface, psychological band-aids. No matter how many times you look in the mirror and tell yourself how awesome you are, you know the truth. You can't cognitive-behavioral-therapy your way out of what you know. So I gave up trying to fix myself and decided to become a librarian.

And then Jung re-entered my life and... I changed. For the very first time, something worked! It didn't work the way I had planned or wished (it never does) but I could feel it, I could see it. Other people could see it! Because the thing that was missing was the depth. The only way you can fix a problem is to go where the problem actually exists, and psychological problems, the serious ones that affect the entirety of one's life, are rooted in the depths one's psyche, or mind. Therefore, the only way to fix them is to go into the depths of the psyche, that is, the unconscious.

Into the ultraviolet

Reptiles (MC Escher)

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
― Jung

The problems we have in our lives are just symptoms of issues in the unconscious, the deep layer underlying our conscious self, our “I.” If I fall in love with a terrible person and my friends tell me he's terrible, and give reasons why and then I'm like “Oh, he's a douche! I'm going to break up with him!” that's a problem on the level of consciousness and can be solved on that level. If, however, I refuse to listen and insist that he really does love me even though he's physically and emotionally abusive, then that's probably a problem that originates in the unconscious. The only real way to solve a problem is to go where it is. The unconscious is where our most tenacious personal problems exist, the only way to truly solve them is to work with it.

The inner, subjective world and the outer, objective one are mirrors of each other. Just as there are lands and peoples, an entire universe, in our outer reality so too are there lands, peoples, planets, and worlds within. It's a strange, magical reality, a true mirror to the rational, logical reality of the daylight world of consciousness but it's no less real, and no less powerful. We have people and things in our outer, objective reality that we need to deal with. In that situation, we need to work on the outer level. However, we also have people and things - that is, complexes and archetypes - in our inner, subjective reality that we also need to deal with. We use our conscious mind to deal with outer reality. We need to go into our personal unconscious to deal with inner reality.

Everything you do here, all of the houses, everything, was fantasy to begin with, and fantasy has a proper reality. That is not to be forgotten; fantasy is not nothing. It is, of course, not a tangible object, but it is a fact, nevertheless. It is a manifestation of something, and that is a reality.
― Jung

Jung compared these two worlds - outer, objective reality and inner, subjective reality - to the two poles of the light spectrum, the infrared and ultraviolet ends of the spectrum. At the infrared end is the body; instincts, physiological symptoms, physical perceptions; the “real world” expressions of the archetype. At the opposite end is spirit; ideas, dreams, fantasies, religious imagery, complexes; the psychological, ultraviolet end of the human psyche.

For example, the Mother archetype can come to us physically, through an outer person, or the urge to nurture, or maybe a constant hunger. If a person has Mother hunger and she keeps trying to stuff it down with food, or find some person to provide the mothering she missed, this is an attempt to work with the archetype on the infrared side, the side of instinct and physical reality. The ultraviolet side of the archetype would be dream figures, an inner image of the Mother, or the feeling of love, or a lack of it; the complex. A complex is an aggregation of feelings, thoughts, images, and expectations around the nucleus of an archetype; it's our personal, individual psychic expression of it. This is the end we need to work at.

We have to work on psychological problems on the symbolic level, that’s the level you need to be at in order to make deep, lasting changes. If we work on things on the conscious level, the infrared level, we just keep repeating them over and over, never changing or growing out of them. This is because we need to become conscious; those contents of the unconscious that are pushing upwards need to be brought into the light. Unless we deal with the problem on the symbolic level we don’t increase consciousness. Compulsions, obsessions, even physical problems like illnesses or even accidents, are our unconscious attempts to try to solve these inner problems but unless we increase consciousness we will never change. However, if we do manage to do so we can, and will, change. Not by getting rid of the problem but by growing out of it; in comparison to our new, larger personality what was once a huge, looming dragon becomes a tiny little gecko. The Self wants to help us, wants to increase consciousness in us, and through us the world. That’s exactly why we get problems. Our problems are the Self's gift to us to help us grow, to become more and more whole. These problems are the catalyst that allows us to bring more of who we really actually are into the world.
The realization and assimilation of instinct never takes place at the red end, i.e., by absorption into the instinctual sphere, but only through integration of the image which signifies and at the same time evokes the instinct, although in a form quite different from the one we meet on the biological level.

Psychologically the archetype as an image of instinct is a spiritual goal toward which the whole nature of man strives; it is the sea to which all rivers wend their way, the prize which the hero wrests from the fight with the dragon.
- Jung, “On the Nature of the Psyche”

This process isn’t about becoming spiritual. It isn’t even about becoming a better person, though that’s not an uncommon result. Spirituality isn’t a prize that once you get it everything is perfect and you are perfect and you live in a permanent state of nirvana. Spirituality is about learning to recognize the sacred that already always surrounds us. Spirituality is just learning to see the soul of the world, a soul that also lives in us. We are imperfect, as the world is imperfect. Learning to swim with the currents of life, to let them flow into you and back out into the world, to do so cleanly and with awareness, regardless of our circumstances, that is spirituality.

The thing to remember is; everything is spiritual practice. You don’t have to make it spiritual, it already is. And the harder the thing is, the more it challenges you, the better. It is literally like working out; the harder it is, the more consistently you do it, the stronger you get. You have resistance to going to the gym - who doesn’t? - that’s spiritual practice. You find yourself in a situation where you can get a huge benefit if you cheat? Spiritual practice. You need to develop one of your scary cognitive functions, huge spiritual practice.

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.
― The Gospel of Thomas

This process isn't about becoming a perfect human being with no flaws or failures. It's about how owning every part of ourselves leads us to wholeness, to integration of all of our orphan parts. Even now sometimes I feel like the lowest, worst person. I have so many flaws; I’m lazy, unreliable. Struggle to relate emotionally to others. Sometimes I feel like the biggest failure on the planet, that I've disappointed myself and everyone around me. And yet.... I’ve also been graced with moments of such joy, and such connection - a sacred joy, and joyful connection - brief as they may have been. We don't become “better” people, we learn how to better become who we truly are. Jung said that “the privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” It is only by becoming who we truly are that we open ourselves up to connection with the sacred source of life.

We hold tightly onto nothing; not power, not honor, not adulation, not wealth, not even love. We hold these things gently, like a small, delicate bird. Maybe the bird lands in our open hands. Maybe it doesn’t. The point isn’t having the bird, it’s being present, regardless of what birds may fly to us. It’s experiencing our lives fully. And that includes the ugliness… especially our own ugliness. By experiencing all that life is, by accepting all that we are and that others are, we clear away everything that was blinding us to this world soul. The dark side of God wants to be known as much as the Light but it’s a very difficult and dangerous task. If we don’t do it right destruction could result. But, if we don’t even try then that possible result will become a certainty, both for ourselves and the world. The light needs the dark. They are two sides of the same golden coin.

The greatest and most important problems of life are all in a certain sense insoluble. They can never be solved, but only outgrown. This ‘outgrowing’, as I formerly called it, on further experience was seen to consist in a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest arose on the person’s horizon, and through this widening of view, the insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not solved logically in its own terms, but faded out when confronted with a new and stronger life-tendency.
-  Jung

Everyday spirituality

Gallery (MC Escher)

If we can stay with the tension of opposites long enough — sustain it, be true to it — we can sometimes become vessels within which the divine opposites come together and give birth to a new reality.
 Marie-Louise von Franz

Spirituality isn’t weird, or special, or superpowered. It is average, ordinary, everyday… but the thing is, the “average, ordinary, everyday” is special, and sacred. Spirituality is about seeing the sacred in life. It’s as if most of us can only see a small, black and white image of reality. Those who have had their eyes opened see everything in technicolor… More, they see, feel, smell, and taste reality. They’re finally able to experience reality as it is. Mosts of us are living in Plato’s cave, sitting there trapped, able only to watch the world on a small, crappy old black and white television. But when we're finally able to free ourselves, though, we can go out into the real world and experience it’s ordinary, everyday magic.

This isn’t to say that paranormal events can’t happen; synchronicities remind us that the world is alive. But it’s not something that we should rely on. It’s a gift, not something we should, or even could, trap, enslave, and put to work for us. To use the unconscious in such a way is as shameful and loathsome as it is to use another person. Nature is not here for our use but to manifest the beautiful and terrible glory of God… as is the unconscious, as are we ourselves. To use it for such an ignoble and grotesque purpose as to puff up our insignificant egos is disgusting, and the very definition of sin. And it’s why we’re all in the situation we're in today, with humanity on the brink of self-annihilation.

Faith, hope, love, and insight are the highest achievements of human effort. They are found - given - by experience. But what will he do when he sees only too clearly why his patient is ill; when he sees that it arises from his having no love, but only sexuality; no faith, because he is afraid to grope in the dark; no hope, because he is disillusioned by the world and by life; and no understanding, because he has failed to read the meaning of his own existence?

The drive of egotism is, at it's root, a holy desire. Every time we want to be the best, most loved, richest, most popular, or successful, or whatever, what we're really searching for is the Self. This is the golden prize, the heavenly kingdom, that is the goal of every myth and fairy tale. But, because we refuse to accept our legitimate suffering, to do the hard work necessary to redeem our own portion of the sacred, that holy desire turns into something foul and capable only of bringing unnecessary suffering and destruction. Sensation’s divine gift is faith, trust, assurance. For intuition it's hope, aspiration, direction. Feeling's gift is love, connection, cherishing. And thinking, at it's highest level, gives us insight, wisdom, and vision. Peace, hope, love, and wisdom; these are our birthrights. But we will only bring these into the world if we are willing to do our work, and suffer our legitimate suffering, the suffering which belongs to us and is ours.

“A complex can be really overcome only if it is lived out to the full. In other words, if we are to develop further, we have to draw to us and drink down to the very dregs what, because of our complexes, we have held at a distance.”
― Jung

Spirituality isn’t easy. God isn’t a big daddy in the sky who makes everything nice for you if you’re a good little girl. It’s hard. Jesus called on us to follow him, to do as he did. He chose to let himself be crucified. We, too, face the same moral choice; we, too, must allow ourselves to be crucified, must suffer being hung up, pulled in opposite directions, to hang there and hang there and hang there. Suffering is a natural, normal part of life, not something to be avoided. Unnecessary suffering should be avoided but necessary suffering - suffering which is yours, which belongs to you - requires that it be lived out, drunk down to the dregs, in order for you to fulfill the task you were born for.

Trials are a way of making us worthy; making us strong enough, skilled enough, clever enough to succeed at our goal. Each trial teaches us something, makes us stronger, strong enough to overcome the next trial, which prepares us for the one after. The struggle is hard, it’s painful. Whatever the thing in your life is that you least want to do, that is probably the one thing you should do. When difficult, traumatic experiences come to us, accept them for what they are: opportunities to bring you closer to the purpose that you alone can serve.

What about suffering in late life? As Eddinger points out suffering in any age can be understood by the ego as the attempts of the Self to incarnate. The way it feels to the ego when we’re suffering is unpleasant but it’s often simply God trying to incarnate. It means this process trying to occur from below so to speak, because the ego doesn’t know the intention of the Self. If the ego knew the intention of the Self it wouldn’t hurt so much. Jung writes about this; he says as we extend our consciousness into the unconscious we contact spheres of a not yet transformed God, so as the ego in later life brings this material up and thinks about it and articulates it, that helps to transform the Self or helps to transform the as yet unconscious God, or aspects of the Self.
 - Lionel Corbett

It is hard to accept: the fire has to burn the fire, one just has to burn in the emotion till the fire dies down and becomes balanced. That is something which unfortunately cannot be evaded. The burning of the fire, of the emotion, cannot be tricked out of one’s system; there is no recipe for getting rid of it, it has to be endured. The fire has to burn until the last unclean element has been consumed, which is what all alchemical texts say in different variations and we have not found any other way either. It cannot be hindered but only suffered till what is mortal or corruptible, or, as our text says so beautifully, till the corruptible humidity, the unconsciousness, has been burnt up. That is the meaning, it is the acceptance of suffering.”
- Marie-Louise von Franz

Everything is part of spiritual practice. The MBTI gives us an idea of what it is precisely that we as individuals need to do, what’s the crap that we’re personally avoiding. Maybe our spiritual practice is enduring the awkwardness and humiliation social interactions, as is my case. Yours will be unique to you and your type. Whatever it is, we need to do it and do it and do it, and cook ourselves in all those negative emotions. As we do so we cook out the bad water, the unconsciousness of the Unconscious, leaving behind only pure, clean, nourishing water.
The best definition of wisdom actually, which at first I thought was the most naive definition, is the definition of Meister Eckhart, but it’s the hardest of all to achieve. His definition is that wisdom consists in doing the next thing you have to do, doing it with your whole heart, and finding delight in doing it. I find that’s probably the most profound definition but the hardest, because usually what you have to do next is some crap that you don’t want to have to do. So that’s very hard to get to. But if you do get to it, then it has a certain meaning that we’ll perhaps come to.
- Lionel Corbett


Hand with Reflecting Sphere (MC Escher)

One of the major difficulties that we have is the ego thinks that ego knows how the individual ought to be. But we are not who we think we are. It’s very important for us to let go of our ego ideas of who we think we are and not have too fixed a smaller self-concept because we need to discover more how the Self thinks the ego ought to be. So the function of old age is the culmination of this lifelong process of clarification, what Freud and Scott Maxwell calls “discovering your essence,” and making conscious all your disparate parts of yourself with the aid of ego consciousness, or, as Jung says, helping the creator to become conscious of his creation. Or developing the ego into a model of the Self, which it really is, or as he quotes Silesius: “I am God’s child and son and He is mine.” That’s what that means psychologically. The Self that’s present at birth can become more conscious of itself throughout life. Then psychological development and spiritual development are absolutely synonymous, only the words are different, but the process is the same.
- Lionel Corbett, “Jungian Views on Aging”

Question: Why do we humans live for so long? This has always been the case; among hunter-gatherers, barring accidents or illnesses, people generally lived to around age 85. We can assume that our hunter-gathering ancestors were the same. But why would this be so? Nothing exists in nature that doesn’t serve a purpose. Like tails on humans or feet on whales, if a thing doesn’t serve the animal it evolves out of existence. So why do women live nearly half of their lives unable to give birth anymore? Why do men live so many years after their ability to out-compete all those strong, young men wanes? If the tasks of youth and adulthood are work and family, what does it mean that we live so many years, decades even, after continuing these tasks is feasible? What are the tasks of this final stage of life?

Our first task of the second half of life is to develop the parts of ourselves that we were never really able to, being so busy living our lives. In the first half of life we develop our stronger, easier functions. This happens naturally; that which you are good at gives you pleasure, and brings rewards, so you keep using it. This continuous use develops these functions to higher and higher levels of proficiency. Those functions that are weak, difficult, and awkward to use are avoided, becoming more and more anemic and atrophied. But these unused parts of ourselves eventually press for recognition; that which has been kept in the darkness longs for the light.

Like a person who only exercises the right side of their body, something starts pushing us to work on the left. Those functions we’ve worked on for so many years start to bore us, like reading the same book, or playing the same video game for decades. We start itching to stretch ourselves beyond that which has become stale and overly familiar. Previously avoided parts of us become wondrous, exciting new lands for us to explore.

The fruits of biological life are children, but the fruit of psychological life, especially in late life, is meaning.What old people have to do is make meaning and make culture, make new ideas, not compete with the young. They have a different responsibility, and their fecundity is a spiritual fecundity and the production of new meaning.
― Lionel Corbett

Our second task is finding meaning. Because we have complexes we repeat certain things over and over again. By looking back over our lives, with all it’s ups and downs and round and rounds, certain themes begin to emerge. We start seeing the connections between what happened to us, and the great myths being played out through us. This process needs to be approached with seriousness and courage because it can be very dangerous to the individual’s psychological well being. At first our memories are disjointed, our lives seem meaningless and absurd. We feel shame and grief at the discrepancy between the promise of youth and what we actually managed to accomplish. We can’t find the connections between events.

When unsuccessful it can lead to mordancy, regret, stagnation, even despair. But when successful it leads to acceptance, and allows for further development. By looking back over our lives we learn what our nature really is. And here’s the thing; if we don’t undertake this difficult and harrowing task it will still lead to bitterness, emptiness, and despair. You can’t actually avoid it, not without paying an even greater price. These are the bitter, ill-tempered aged; moody and dejected, fixated on all that they've lost. Jung wrote that life’s natural upward movement in the first half of life keeps us optimistic and generally moving forward. But, in the second half, unless we have contact with the sacred the slow ebbing away of vitality leaves us stranded in a sour, barren old age.

“Tears, sorrow, and disappointment are bitter, but wisdom is the comforter in all psychic suffering. Indeed, bitterness and wisdom form a pair of alternatives: where there is bitterness wisdom is lacking, and where wisdom is there can be no bitterness.”
— Jung

Contact with the Self is essential, especially in later life. Without it we become bitter and full of self-pity. When we have a relationship with the Self we transcend the personal while, at the same time, becoming genuinely individual. It gives us a different view of death; death now has a positive value as it’s understood to be a rebirth, not an end. We begin living in sacred, eternal time - kairos - while at the same time we live even more fully in everyday, chronological time. The mundane and the divine are united within us.

At the end of every stage of life we are required to give something up, so that we might attain something new. Just as an infant needs give up the bottle and diaper to become a toddler, we need to let go of that which cannot be, which is no longer good for us. In this way we are able focus on that which we can and should be. Our elder years, from approximately 65 to 85, are as long as childhood. This time wouldn’t exist if it didn’t serve an important purpose; the development of spiritual meaning, a spiritual life. The spiritual gifts of peace, hope, love, and wisdom, which are only attained after our long battle with the formidable dragon of our fears.

The purpose of our maturation is to enable the Godhead to rejuvenate, if we could only understand that. When we are born God is old; when we grow old, God becomes young; and when we die, God experiences rebirth. And this goes on and on, but not in the sense that the Godhead is feeding on us, but the whole thing is rather a natural process which is not yet too well understood. It is absolutely essential that, particularly in old age, we do not lose or have lost our connectedness with the Godhead for otherwise we not only deprive God of our share in His rejuvenation, but may actually disturb the cosmic ecology which, in turn, affects us. Ideally, so the voice says, we gain wisdom as we grow older, but only few people do. To accumulate knowledge per se is not all that important; what is important is that we are connected with the Godhead or the Divine, and let it live within us, even though it is also outside of us. Belief in a cosmic Supreme Being or Power constellates the inner child and thus furthers the divine rejuvenation process. If we ignore the divine element, it sinks into itself and ceases to be conscious of itself. As we grow older we often lose the child, and as we lose the child we are apt to simultaneously sever our ties to the divine. There was also some indication that the birth and the death process are actually the same except that as little children we seem to be contained in the Divine element, whilst in old age we are apparently expected to be a container for the Divine element.
- Lionel Corbett, “Jungian Views on Aging”

There is an archetype of the divine child in us, as there is an inner archetype of the wise elder. The Child is unconscious totality, the totality before consciousness; Jung’s 200 million year old man. The Elder recapitulates this totality but at a higher level, as the Elder has regained this totality after bringing the various parts of the psyche into consciousness. This consciousness is the fruit of a lifetime of differentiations and reunifications, constantly enlarging the personality by bring more of the as yet unreconstructed parts of the Self into the light of consciousness.

Before the existence of ego there is no consciousness; despite it’s many shortcoming there can be no consciousness without ego. By going through this process, it’s the ego that allows the Self to constantly get born. Our purpose is to give birth to God, as God gave birth to us. If we do everything right, when we die God is reborn. The Self gives birth to ego in childhood, then ego, in it's turn, gives birth to the Self in elderhood.

“For the alchemist the one primarily in need of redemption is not man, but the deity who is lost and sleeping in matter. Only as a secondary consideration does he hope that some benefit may accrue to himself from the transformed substance as the panacea, the medicina catholica, just as it may to the imperfect bodies, the base or 'sick' metals, etc. His attention is not directed to his own salvation through God's grace, but to the liberation of God from the darkness of matter.
― Jung

Increasing consciousness redeems the God that lives within us. We must bring Them into the world, no matter how difficult and painful it might be, thereby also redeeming the God that lives in the world. Individuation is the goal; it is incarnation on the one hand, and differentiation on the other. It's rebirth, both of oneself and of God. New images continually rise up from the unconscious as revelation. Through these images new consciousness is possible, and this new consciousness is what makes this whole process take place. What does that mean for you? What is the flower waiting deep in your soul to bloom into the light? What is the unreconstructed part of God that you are being asked to give birth to? This is reunification of divine unity, the re-establishment of Totality. The rebirth, not only of ourselves but also of God.

The losses of old age, which seem very painful, actually enhance our own differentiation. As Jane Will writes, we have to take back our projections from the world. We project onto the world the way we think it is. When all those things die off those projections have to be taken back, and we see things the way they really are. We have to find what was lost on the outside, symbolically, on the inside. That’s the idea of finding the whole world in the microcosm, or, as the Gospel of St. Thomas also says; whoever finds himself is superior to the world.
- Lionel Corbett, “Jungian Views on Aging”


Jungian Views on Aging
The Self
The flower of humanity


Marie-Louise von Franz, Alchemy
Marie-Louise von Franz, “The Hidden Source of Self-Knowledge,” Dreams
CG Jung (from John Beebe's Energies and Patterns in Psychological Type)

A huge debt is owed to analyst Lionel Corbett. His talk “Jungian Views on Aging” (from the Jungianthology Podcast) forms the basis of the final section. I doubt this would have been written, or at least it would have taken me a long time to figure out, without it. We stand on the shoulders of giants, and hopefully provide a platform from which future generations can surpass us.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

MBTI: How to type

[Image from]

This is the most important, but often one of the more difficult, things to do. Unless you know your actual type nothing else you try to do with the MBTI will work because it won’t be for you. It’s not easy; if this is new to you there’s a lot to learn. Even for someone like me, an INTP who loves figuring things out, it’s taken years. Luckily for you, though, I’ve done a lot of the work... but none of that will matter unless you do your part. Figuring out your type isn't easy, but most things that are worthwhile aren't.

If you still want easy though you can always take a free test. There are plenty of MBTI tests online - I've linked some of the better ones below - but there are problems. The main one is that many, if not most, of these tests were created by people who explicitly reject Jung and his ideas because they're trying to make the MBTI more acceptable to the scientific community. But when you cut the MBTI off from it's roots all you're left with is a cheap personality quiz that isn't much better than the “Which Harry Potter character are you” type quizzes your cousin loves to post on FaceBook.

When you cut the Jungian foundation off the MBTI what you're left with is a trait sorter. But there's a serious problem with this; the same trait can be caused by many different things. For example, many different shapes can cast the same shadow, but to know anything about the shape itself you need to know more than just the shadow. Knowing the volume and surface area will allow you to figure out the shape, with a little bit of work. In a similar way, knowing the functions and the function roles will give you the information you need to figure out your psychological “shape.” For this reason, even if you do decide to just take the test it's still necessary to confirm your results by making sure that the functions and roles of that type are actually your functions and roles.

[Original image from Commack School District, concept from Linda Berens [1]]

The biggest problem with trait based tests, in my opinion, is that people of different levels of psychological health exhibit very different, even opposite, traits. For example, unhealthy INFPs can be unproductive, pessimistic complainers... but healthy INFPs are self-reliant, committed, dedicated, and effective forces for good. In other words, they start looking like their antipodal type, in their case a really chill ESTJ. So, this person who exhibits the traits of both a healthy INFP and a healthy ESTJ, are they an INFP? Or an ESTJ?

The only way you can really tell is by looking at the cognitive functions and the core complexes; no matter how healthy they are an INFP is always going to be confident about being in their INFP, and nervous about being in their ESTJ, and vice versa. Why is this even important though? Because the INFPs path to growth is completely different from every other type, even their sister type the ENFP; their weak spot is completely different, their area of hypocrisy that they need to work on is completely different, everything is different. Each type is unique.

So what's your type?
“Science, when it’s done the way it’s supposed to be, simply means learning about reality and changing it by investigating it, accumulating evidence by interacting with reality, identifying the patterns in reality, and then moving to change it on that basis. That’s all science is! Not something more mysterious or frightening.”
- Bob Avakian [2]

When trying to figure out your own psychology it’s vital that you look at what you actually do, not what you think you is the “right” answer, or what you wish you were like. Everyone wants to think well of themselves! It's totally natural! It's really hard to have the level of self-awareness that's required; and even if you are totally honest, you can't know about things you don't know. There's going to be new stuff here, things you never thought about until someone else tells you. This is why it might be beneficial to have someone who knows you well (and will be honest with you) as a sounding board. It's almost always easier to see others clearly than it is to see yourself, you have less at stake.

The best way to type yourself and others, and to understand them when you do type them, is to have a solid Jungian foundation. This means the functions, the function roles, and the core complexes. Not only will you type yourself and others accurately, you will be able to take what you have learned and help yourself, and maybe even others, grow and develop. Once you come to understand your type, your strengths, your weaknesses, you will be able to figure out what it is that you need to do.

Jung always insisted that what he was doing was science. I'm not sure exactly what he meant by it, but to me this simply means; is it true or not? Is this something that actually exists? That's all that this process is; what are your observations? What's the pattern? Does the pattern hold when you test it? How can I apply this pattern to the world? What further things do I learn when I do so? What you are going to be doing here is exactly this. It's not something to be nervous about, it's just something we humans have been doing for as long as we've been human.

If you'd like some help with the process I will, at some time in the (near!) future, be offering coaching. I'd like to get certified first (to give you Te types something you can trust). And of course I need to complete this series on the fundamentals of the MBTI as well. But once I do I will be offering coaching for those who are interested.

The process

[Image from Sarah & Bendrix]

  1. What's your house? Which attitude of each root function is in your consciousness? Ni or Ne? Ti or Te? Si or Se? Fi or Fe?
  2. What are your strongest and weakest functions? Which of the root functions (intuition, thinking, sensation, or feeling) are your strongest? Which two are your weakest? This will tell you which side of the house you're on (e.g. INFP/ENFP or ISTJ/ESTJ in Rowan).
  3. What type are you? After narrowing it down to two sister types, look at which cognitive function is in which function role.
  4. Confirm that this is actually your type.

What's your house?

The first step is to figure out which of the psychological functions are in your consciousness; this is what a house is, the types that share the same four conscious functions. For each pair of branch functions - Si/Se, Ni/Ne, Fi/Fe, and Ti/Te - one of them will be in your conscious and the other in your unconscious. Read the descriptions of the functions. Choose the ones that seem better, more correct, more accurate, more true; and which one seems off the mark, not really that important or just not as important as the other.

Some roles - the hero/ine and especially the anima/us - will be obvious. The mirroring nemesis and the daimon functions feel wrong, especially the nemesis. The daimon can feel wrong, or it can feel like it simply doesn't matter. The parent and the child, however, tend to be less clear than the hero/ine and anima/us, especially the parent. When looking at the parent and child functions it might be better to look the mirroring critic and trickster functions as they're generally more obvious. The critic and trickster functions are in one's unconscious however, so the other function is the one that's in your consciousness (e.g. if your critic is Ni and your trickster is Se, then the two conscious functions will be Ne and Si.)

Make sure the functions are in their proper function axes (plural of axis). Each branch function (Si, Te, etc.) is always connected with it's antipodal (opposite) function; opposite judging or perceiving, and opposite attitude. If you have introverted sensation, you must also have extroverted intuition. Intuition is the opposite perceiving function as sensation, and extroversion is the opposite attitude as introversion. The same holds for the two judging functions, feeling and thinking.

A useful way to think of the function axes is if the judging and perceiving functions were 2 seesaws. Let's use the perceiving axis as an example; if one side of the seesaw (sensation) is down then the other side (intuition) will be up, and vice versa. If one side is introverted then the other will be extroverted. The same holds for the judging functions (thinking and feeling). This will always be the case and is why you can use it as a test; is one side of the axis is introverted and the other extroverted?

If one half of the axis (Si) is in your consciousness then the opposite end (Ne) will be as well. The two ends are attached to each other. So if you don't have Si and Ne, if you have Si and Ni instead, then one of them is wrong and is actually in your unconscious. Same with the other axis. In that case go back and look at the functions again. If you're still unsure just pick the one that seems best and continue on but keep the other function in mind. When you get to the stage of looking at the function roles, see which one fits better. Examining the functions in their roles will confirm (or not) your choice.

These are the four function axes:

Once you have your functions and function axes you know your house. Read the description of the house. Does this sound like you? Note any feelings that come up, whether of affirmation or rejection and what specifically it is that you're affirming or rejecting. If you need to go back because you were unable to confirm your type this will give you an idea of what to look for. And even if you get your type right the first time, knowing these things about yourself will help you better understand yourself, and what direction you may need to look when working on yourself.

Function axes and houses

The cognitive functions
The houses
House Ash
House Yew
House Oak
House Rowan

Example: Mr. X

Mr. X is interested in figuring out his MBTI type. He's read the posts on the psychological functions and the function roles and he has an idea of what his hero and anima functions are because he immediately felt that Te was very important to him. He reads over the descriptions of the functions again. Again, Te is is a very strong “yes” for him; he really despises wasting time trying to figure every little thing out (Ti), it's much more important to him to just get stuff done. He looks at the opposite root function of thinking, which is feeling. If Te is in his consciousness then Fi should as well. This means he should reject Fi's mirror, Fe. He skims the description of Fe and sure enough, it's a strong “no” from him; he couldn't give a flying flip what others think of him. However, the thought that he might be a bad, immoral person (Fi) makes him want to run away. This means that Fi probably is in his consciousness (in the role of his anima), while Fe's probably in his unconscious as his daimon.

Next he turns to the two other functions, sensation and intuition. He's not so sure of them. He cares about looking nice and having a pleasant physical environment (Se) and about being conscientious and careful (Si). Same with intuition; he actually has a fun-loving side (Ne) though few people would believe it. And he thinks he knows what he wants (Ni). Everyone knows what they want, right??

Since he's stuck, he thinks about which of the four functions could be his critic; where is he the harshest and most judgmental? He looks over the descriptions of the four branch functions and decides that it's probably Se; there's nothing he hates more than seeing someone wearing sloppy, dirty clothing, or obviously not taking care of themselves. He takes the time needed to make sure he looks professional and presentable, why can't everyone else???? People should stop being so lazy!! So Se is probably his critic function. That means that Ni should be his trickster. He thinks back; he does have a really hard time making up his mind about things he wants, something his close friends have teased him about on more than one occasion. He decides that this seems right to him.

Since his critic is Se and his trickster is Ni, two roles that are in his unconscious, their mirror opposites, Si and Ne, should be in his conscious. As he's already decided that Te and Fi are in his conscious that means that his house is Rowan (Te/Fi and Si/Ne axes).

[Image from Dark Horse Comics]

What are your strongest and weakest functions? 

Which two root functions (sensation or intuition? thinking or feeling?) are you strong at, and which two are you weak at? You will have one strong judging function, and one weaker one, the same for perceiving. The weaker two functions are generally very easy - glaringly easy - to spot. Especially the inferior anima/us function, which is always painful and intimidating even when integrated. The child function is weak but you don't really care, but the anima/us function is our place of shame and deep pain. It's pretty hard to miss.

Doing this will tell you which “side” of the house you're on. Each house has a split where two types are good at the same two functions, and the other two are good at the other two functions. In House Ash, for instance, the split is between sensation/feeling (ESFJ and ISFJ) and intuition/thinking (ENTP and INTP). In the example from earlier ("is the person in question an INFP or an ESTJ?"), this will tell you which one you are since the two types are on opposite ends of House Rowan. If you have absolutely no idea, though, it will at least narrow it down to the two sister types (e.g. INFP/ENFP). Below are the splits within each of the houses:

Sensation/Feeling is ISFJ & ESFJ
Intuition/Thinking is ENTP & INTP

Sensation/Feeling is ESFP & ISFP
Intuition/Thinking is INTJ & ENTJ

Sensation/Thinking is ESTP & ISTP
Intuition/Feeling is INFJ & ENFJ

Sensation/Thinking is ISTJ & ESTJ
Intuition/Feeling is ENFP & INFP

This will also help with any confusion you may have had in the previous step; if you're not really sure which branch function is your parent and which is your child, the parent will be one of the two stronger functions and the child will be one of the two weaker functions.

Example: Mr. X

Mr. X looks at the four root functions; sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking. He knows that he's confident in his thinking, and that he's extremely lacking in confidence in his feeling. Of the two perceiving functions, he decides that, while he really enjoys his little adventures traveling the world and driving his muscle cars (Ne), he's actually much better at being careful, thoughtful, and contentious (Si), though he sometimes pays less attention to this part of life than he probably should. He has a tendency to charge ahead without taking the time necessary to think things through carefully. But he feels more confident in this area of his life, so his stronger functions are probably thinking and sensation, and his weaker ones are intuition and feeling. This means he's either an ESTJ or an ISTJ.

What type are you? 

After narrowing it down to two sister types, compare the roles of the functions for the types. The easiest ones to spot are the anima/us and trickster; it's very hard to hide those. After those two roles the heroine, nemesis, critic, child, parent, and daimon are the easiest to figure out, in approximately this order. All you really need are two or three function roles, once you have them you can figure where everything else falls, but the rest of the roles should corroborate your type.

In the example of INFP/ENFP, an INFP will have Te animus and Se trickster, while ENFPs have Si animus and Ti trickster. This means that if you really worry that you are ineffective and will die without having done anything good or important, and you tend to struggle with physical reality (tripping, running into things, stuff like that) you're probably an INFP. But if you struggle with the everyday grind - the boring, daily drudgery - and you worry that you're kind of dumb, or others have told you that you're a real airhead, you're probably an ENFP (this isn't to say that ENFPs are dumb, far from it, but that they don't have logic in their thinking, it's aaaalll about effectiveness; in other words, “truth is just a concept, everyone has their own 'truth,' what matters is whether or not you get stuff done.”) The child function can also be very useful; do you really enjoy farting around, doing a whole lotta nothing? You probably have Si child, making you an INFP. Or do you prefer to be active, specifically do you really enjoy organizing things, and maximizing efficiency (Te)? In that case, you're probably an ENFP.

MBTI types and functions

This is the stage where, if we struggled to figure out our conscious functions in the first step, we confirm or reject our choices in that step. The parent in particular can be a bit of a challenge as its often the function that we actively run away from having to use. This is a sign of psychological immaturity; many, probably most, people try to do an “end run around” the uncomfortable parent function. However, we usually glory in wielding our critic function, beating others over the head with it like a cudgel. The difficulty comes from differentiating the critic from the parent. In my experience, the parent & critic, more than the other three relationships (hero/ine & nemesis, child & trickster, and anima/us & daimon), appear to be fused. In all four relationships the unconscious role seems to act through the conscious role, but none more so than the critic.

If you're still struggling another option is to triangulate the parent by looking at the critic, child, and trickster functions, which are usually much more obvious. The trickster is one of the first functions you want to look at. If you think you know which one is the trickster, look at it's mirror function (Se if your trickster is Si, Te if your trickster is Ti, etc.) Does this sound like the child to you? Do you feel that it's something you're not that good at but you really enjoy doing, especially when you want to relax and feel good? In the posts linked to below, “The function roles” are descriptions of the roles, while the post “Functions + roles” are brief sketches of each cognitive function in the 8 different roles.

One very important thing to keep in mind: just because you think something is important doesn't make it your dominant (hero/ine) function. I think being a good person, and kind to others, is the most important thing in the world but that doesn't make me an Fe type. What it means is that I've integrated my Fe animus function. A similar thing happens with the parent function sometimes; when I was first trying to figure out my own type I wasn't sure if if my heroine was thinking or intuition. I knew that they were my two strongest functions, and that sensation and feeling were my two weakest, but not which one was which. The clincher was the animus; while I knew I was bad at sensation and was kind of embarrassed sometimes I was absolutely terrified of making a social faux pas, and absolutely devastated when I invariably did so.

As we move around the circle of our personality we integrate the functions, and as we integrate the various functions we live that function with all it's strengths and weaknesses. As we move into each of the complexes we think and feel like the type of that complex. But this doesn't change our fundamental personality; our strengths and weaknesses, our areas of hypocrisy, where we love to nurture and where we want to be nurtured. It doesn't change our spiritual task. In order for us to fulfill our purposes as human beings - to bloom into the astonishing, unique flower that we were meant to be - we need to know what our actual path is.

The function roles
Functions + roles
Integrating the four functions

Example: Mr. X

Mr. X already thinks he knows his type - ESTJ - because it's pretty clear to him that of his two strongest functions, Te and Si, Te is the strongest. He knows this because of how easy it was for him to identify Te and Fi as his hero and anima functions; Fi is definitely his anima function, he has no doubt. And the description of Te describes him... to a "T" (lol). This would naturally make him either an ESTJ or an ENTJ, the two types that have dominant Te. He's in House Rowan, though, so that should make him an ESTJ. He needs to look at the rest of the functions in their roles to confirm this.

He reads over the descriptions of the functions + roles: parent Si, child Ne, nemesis Ti, critic Se, trickster Ni, and daimon Fe. The critic, nemesis, and trickster functions ring true for him. He's not so sure about the daimon though but that's not surprising as it's very hard role to see in ourselves. That fact in and of itself validates putting Fe in the daimon role. The type that has Te hero, Fi anima, Si parent, and Ne child is ESTJ. Now he needs to confirm that that's actually his type (step 4, the next step). He reads the description of his type, including the core complexes of his sodality. After reading this he decides that his choice is correct, he is an ESTJ.

Confirm that this is actually your type

Go and read the description of the type. Look at the core complexes for the type; one thing to remember with types is that we can “live” in any of our core complexes. You can have a very INFP INFP, or you can have an INFP who lives in their ESTJ a lot. They still have their core INFP ego but they are extremely practical and concerned with security. This is actually a quite common. In fact, I'd say that most people of average or even low-average psychological maturity usually integrate their P2 anima/us complex by mid-life, sometimes even earlier. If someone lives in a core complex other than their P1 ego this will make it more difficult to type them simply based on their personality traits. This is why it's so important to look at the functions.

So look at the functions and the core complexes for the type you think you are. Does this sound like you? Do other people think this sounds like you? If it doesn't go back and see where you might have gone wrong. Even when you get things wrong, though, it's not a waste. If you're atypical of your type, why might that be? Is there something you need to work on? Or is this showing an area of health in your psyche? Every piece of information is valuable, everything tells you something. If it does sound like you... CONGRATULATIONS! You can now get to work. 😀

The core complexes

One final thing: the MBTI's four letter code

I wasn't sure where to put this, but this post seems the most logical. What do the four letter of the MBTI types mean? This is actually something that I didn't understand for years, lol. It seems pretty obvious; the first letter is whether the person is introverted or extroverted. The second letter is whether sensation or intuition are stronger. The third letter tells you whether thinking or feeling are stronger (remember two of the root functions will be stronger - one judging and one perceiving - and the other two will be weaker.)  It's the last one that's confusing, the J or the P. What does “being a judger or perceiver” actually mean?

There's a lot of stuff in the MBTI-sphere about the difference between “judgers and perceivers;” judgers are organized on the outside and disorganized on the inside, while perceivers are more organized on the inside, and disorganized on the outside. Judgers tend to easily lose track of their thoughts and have a hard time finding an idea again if they've been distracted. Perceivers, on the other hand, are able to find things quickly in their minds, as if they had an mental filing cabinet. On the outside, however, it's the judgers who have everything neat and tidy, with “a place for everything and everything in it's place,” while perceivers are generally more casual and indifferent.

But what makes a “J-type” a J? Or a P-type a P? For example, ISTP's have introverted thinking - a judging function - as their dominant function. Why aren't they ISTJs?? Same with ISTJs, their dominant function is a perceiving function, introverted sensation. In fact, it's the same for all introverted types; if a type is introverted the P or J at the end of their type doesn't refer to their dominant function. What's going on here???

Let's start with something easy; ESTP, an extroverted type:

E:   Dominant extroversion
ST: Their dominant perceiving function is sensation, dominant judging is thinking
P:   Of the two dominant functions - sensation and thinking - sensation, the perceiving function,
      is extroverted

So, in an ESTP extroverted sensation is the dominant (hero/ine); introverted thinking is the secondary function (parent); the tertiary function is the opposite judging function, feeling (the child); and the last function, opposite the hero/ine, is introverted intuition (anima/us).

How about ESTJ, the other extroverted type with dominant sensing and thinking?:

E:   Dominant extroversion
ST: Their dominant perceiving function is sensation, dominant judging is thinking
J:   Of the two dominant functions - sensation and thinking - thinking, the judging function,
      is extroverted

In an ESTJ extroverted thinking, the judging function, is the dominant (hero/ine); introverted sensation is the secondary function (parent); the tertiary function is intuition (the child), and the last function is introverted feeling (anima/us).

As you can see extroverted types are pretty straightforward. The problem is the introverted types. The thing you have to remember is that the final letter doesn't refer to the the hero/ine function. The final letter indicates which of the two dominant functions is extroverted. Let's take a look at the ESTPs sister type, the ISTP.

I:    Dominant introversion
ST: Their dominant perceiving function is sensation, dominant judging is thinking... just like the
P:   Of the two dominant functions - sensation and thinking - sensation, the perceiving function,
      is extroverted... also just like the ESTP

As you can see, the ISTP is very similar to ESTP; both have dominant extroverted sensation and introverted thinking. But which of the two functions is the hero/ine? The introverted function; (“I.”) That means that introverted thinking is the dominant (hero/ine); extroverted sensation is the secondary function (parent); the tertiary function is intuition (the child), and the last function is extroverted feeling (anima/us).

It was John Betts excellent podcast on Jungian psychology that finally clarified things for me. He describes the hero/ine function as the captain of a ship, and the secondary parent function as the captain's first mate. In an extrovert the captain is very friendly and outgoing; she's extroverted. She spends most of her time mingling with people, maybe even invites you to her table for dinner. If you need to talk with her for some reason she meets with you directly. This is why what you see in an extroverted person is exactly what they are; you see their dominant function. In the case of the ESTP, you meet her dominant extroverted sensation.

An introverted person is different; with them, you never directly meet the captain. The captain, the dominant heroine function, is introverted. Therefore, whenever she needs to interact with the passengers she always sends out her first mate to run interference for her. In the ISTP this would also be extroverted sensation. However, Se is the ISTP's secondary function, their parent function. It's not really who they are, it's not their ego. When you interact with an introvert you aren't seeing who the person actually is as their hero/ine function is turned inwards. This can make introverted types seem a bit more awkward than extroverted types as what you're really dealing with is their second strongest function.

This is the reasoning behind the MBTI's naming convention. Although its confusing initially it's actually a more accurate way of referring to the types as it clearly shows the connection between the sister types (ESTP/ISTP, ESTJ/ISTJ, etc.) The two are very similar and can look very similar to an outside observer, especially if they've done some maturing and have integrated their parent function.

Antonia Dodge, “What is a 'Judger,' and What is a 'Perceiver?'” (Personality Hacker)
John Betts, “Type1,” “Type2,” and “Type3” (The Jung Podcast, episodes 11, 12, & 13)
     John gives the metaphor of the hero/ine as a captain in “Type3” (ep. 13)

So now you should know your type! Figuring out one's type is often a long, complex process, with many challenges. However, as it's crucial to get your type right it's a necessary and worthwhile endeavor. The absolute best way is to study the fundamentals of the theory, fundamentals that come from some really brilliant, deep thinkers, like John Beebe and CG Jung. In fact, the process of figuring out one's type is itself one of the very best ways to learn the MBTI.

Allow this to be an amazing learning experience, one where you not only explore this fascinating, important area of the human mind and soul, but also to learn about yourself, as well as those who are important to you. Let this be something that makes you a better, more complete person.


The Cognitive Functions
The Function Roles
Functions + roles
The Houses
The Core Complexes
Working with the MBTI
My MBTI story


IDR Labs
Personality Hacker

Other resources

CS Joseph (YouTube)
Michael Pierce, Function Axes playlist (YouTube)
Michael Pierce, The Sixteen Types playlist (YouTube)
Michael Pierce, The Types Revisited (YouTube)
Or go to the Resources page for more


1. Linda Berens, The Sixteen Personality Types (Telos Publications, 1999)
2. Bob Avakian, “Science and the New Communism, Prisons and COVID-19” (YouTube)

Friday, March 13, 2020

MBTI: The Sodalities

Poor Shaun (from the film Shaun of the Dead)
[Image from ScreenRant]

Sodalities, along with the houses, are another way of organizing the types, one with enormous potential for growth. The word is used by social anthropologists to refer to “a non-kin group organized for a specific purpose (economic, cultural, or other), and frequently spanning villages or towns”. It’s commonly used in the Christian church to refer to groups of individuals working towards the same goal, whether spiritual devotion or good works. Where the Houses are one’s “family” or kin (the four types that share the same conscious functions, e.g. Te, etc.), the Sodalities are our “jobs,” or where we do the work of psychological growth. They are the four groups consisting of the four types that share the same complexes (e.g. INTP, ESFJ, ENTJ, ISFP). Each type in the sodality all share the same four complexes, just in different positions, just like how each of the types shares the same 8 functions, just in different function roles.

This is going to be a fairly technical and abstract article; it’s purpose is to provide an understanding of the structure of the sodalities, where they come from, why they are important, things like that. If this isn’t something that interests you that’s fine, I'm going to do a later post on the practical applications of the core complexes and how to use them. You may, however, want to go down to the section where I give an example using a movie to show how the complexes work within a sodality (“Example: Shaun of the Dead”).

Functional vs. dynamic relationships

Functional relationships refer to relations between types that share structural similarities, as in the houses for example (i.e., all four types share the same functions). An example of a functional relationship is Mirror Types. Types with mirror relationships have opposite heroine functions, e.g. thinking vs. feeling, but share the same attitude, e.g. Ti and Fi. In addition, they share the same parent and child functions. INTPs and INFPs have Ti and Fi as their dominant functions respectively, but both share Ne parent and Si child. Their similarities – dominant introverted judging, and their shared Ne/Si “arms” – make them similar in many ways. For example, both INTPs and INFPs have Se trickster, which makes them prone to run into things and generally struggle with physical reality.

Dynamic relationships, on the other hand, may or may not share functions but, more importantly, relations between these types drive conflict and growth. An example of a dynamic relationship is Attraction Types. These types do actually have the same four functions but in the reverse order of each other. Another name for these is “antipodal types” as they are opposite each other on the MBTI. When immature or unhealthy we tend to reject this type, but people of normal or better psychological development usually find this antipodal type to be very attractive. If all goes well, we usually manage to integrate this type naturally and fairly easily. An example are INTPs and ESFJs.

Other examples of dynamic relationships are antagonism types (e.g. INTP and ENTJ), and secret types (e.g. INTP and ISFP). These are the three kinds of relationships that we have with the other members of our sodality, which is why they can be so problematic… but also so powerful as catalysts for change and growth.

North-west Sodality

ENTJs and ISFPs have a relation of attraction. They aspire to the qualities of their antipodal opposite even though it scares them and they know they can never be really good at it. The same goes for ESFJs and INTPs. In the core complexes this would be the P1/P2 relationship.

ESFJs and ISFPs have a relationship of antagonism. Even though they are actually pretty good at the qualities of the other they don’t value them and have an aversion to using them. The same goes for INTPs and ENTJs. This is the P1/P3 relationship.

ENTJs and ESFJs have a relationship of secrecy. This is their blind spot, the thing in themselves that they’re not aware of. Normally it only comes out when the individual is pushed to their limit, especially if the inferior (animus) function has been attacked. In this case it manifests itself in the worst, most brutal way, threatening to burn down the world. But if you manage to integrate it, the other type is their deepest truth. The same goes for INTPs and ISFPs. This is the P1/P4 relationship.

The structure of a sodality

A sodality is made up of two pairs of antipodes (diametrical opposites) that mirror each other. In the example of the NW sodality:
  • INTP and ESFJ are antipodes (opposites), as are ENTJ and ISFP. The two antipodal/attraction types have the same functions but in reverse order. 
  • INTP and ENTJ mirror each other, as do ESFJ and ISFP. That is, while they have the same root functions in the same order (e.g. thinking → intuition → sensation → feeling in the ENTJ and INTP), the attitudes of each function are polar opposites (e.g. Te vs. Ti). 
The different attitudes (introversion or extroversion) of these mirroring types make them pretty antagonistic to the values of the other; the other attitude feels wrong and unimportant, missing the point so to speak. This is the nature of the nemesis function. Even the antipodal function (e.g. Te vs. Fi) – a function that feels alien and scary to us – is more comprehensible. We don’t understand why anyone would want to do the nemesis function… but, as it’s a rejected part of us, it’s a thing that we actually need.

A sodality can be thought of, at its deepest level, as one person with four faces. We have ourselves (P1), the antipode or opposite of ourselves (P2), our antagonistic mirror image (P3), and the antipode of that mirror image (P4).

The ego and the antipode (P2) are reversed versions of each other, and the ego and the antagonist (P3) are mirror images of each other. Taken together, this makes one person with an internal opposite (P2), both of whom have a mirror image (P3 and P4). These four sides of the person make up one sodality.

Sodalities and Houses

This section goes further into the structure of the sodalities and how they relate to the houses. It’s not really necessary to understand the sodalities, and it’s even more abstract than the rest of this post and this is a pretty abstract post to begin with. If you’re not interested exploring the deep structure of the MBTI I suggest you skip down to the next section where I give an example of what a sodality looks like in action.

The houses, as we know, are groups of the types that share the same functions. The houses are Ash, Oak, Yew, and Rowan.

If you look at the conscious functions of the four houses you can see that two pairs – Ash & Oak, and Yew & Rowan – complete each other, the two pairs forming what is basically a full, complete set of functions. For example, the conscious functions of House Yew are Se/Ni and Fe/Ti. If you add Rowan's Si/Ne and Fi/Te you get a full set of functions: Se, Si, Ni, Ne, Fe, Fi, Ti, and Te. Ash & Oak belong to the West side and Yew & Rowan are the East.

These sides can be further divided into the four sodalities, groups which share the same core complexes; the North-west, South-west, North-east, and South-east sodalities. This naming convention - North, South, East, & West - doesn't actually mean anything, it's just the best I could come up with as I can't find a good, meaningful symbol system for the four sodalities. So, cardinal directions it is, unless and until someone can come up with something better!

The North-west Sodality is made up of ESFJ, INTP, ISFP, and ENTJ.

The South-west Sodality is made up of ISFJ, ENTP, ESFP, and INTJ.

The North-east Sodality is made up of ESTP, INFJ, ISTJ, and ENFP.

The South-east Sodality is made up of ISTP, ENFJ, ESTJ, and INFP.

I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the connections between the members of each of the sodalities are but it's really hard, not surprisingly. When you start uniting so many different things that have been split apart it's really hard to find what specifically unites these disparate parts. But this is a tentative theory:

Two of the sodalities – the NW and SE sodalities – appear to be initiating, while other two – the SW and NE sodalities – appear to be receiving. That is, the NW and SE sodalities want something while the SW and NE sodalities decide whether or not that thing is going to exist. When I had this revelation this is what I wrote:
NW is Yang, SW is Yin. ENTJ, ESFJ, INTP, ISFP are initiating; they do what they want. SW is receiving; they respond to what others want. They support or reject it. NW has to win SW over in order to do anything. The same with the SW and NW. The Western side desires something true, for the world to work well (Ti).

In the East, the SOUTH-east side is Yang, and the NE is Yin; SE wants something, NE responds to what they want. In the case of the East, however, the desire is moral, a desire to change the world for good. SW needs to convince NW that their desires are truly moral and good (Fi).
Yang is active and initiating; yin is receiving and supporting. Yang comes up with the idea, Yin decides whether or not that idea is going to become a reality. Yang tends to be more proactive, while Yin tends to be more reactive. What I mainly see in the Yang sodalities (NW & SE) is a strong sense of wanting. Let's look at the NW (ESFJ, ENTJ, ISFP, INTP); all four of these types are actually very goal oriented, even the normally easygoing INTP (an INTP who's focused on something is totally consumed by it.) All four are absolutely driven when they've become possessed by a goal. The Yin sodalities, on the other have, give a strong feeling of judgment. The types in the SW (ISFJ, INTJ, ESFP, and ENTP) generally seem to examine other people's goals and decide whether or not they're worthy of support, after which they work for these goals or not, or even actively resist them.

In the East the situation is similar, but where the West is interested in finding the truth – even the ISFP's search is for truth, the truth found in true beauty – the East seems to be searching for moral truth, that which is truly moral. What should we do as a society? Rather than searching for that which is true, the East searches for that which is correct, like Buddhism's Eightfold Path (right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right samadhi.) The types in SE say “THIS IS CORRECT!” while those in the NE ask themselves if it is, indeed, correct. If they agree they support it, and take it upon themselves to live this path and promote it. Even the INFJ, which on the surface seems to be a source of morality, is actually the receiver; INFJs absorb the morality of those they surround themselves with. They need the morality of others in order to truly be moral, not simply moralistic.

This probably has something to do with the fact that the primary contradiction of the NW and SE sodalities (Yang) is between the two judging functions, while the primary contradiction of the SW and NE sodalities (Yin) is perceiving. The types of the Yang sodalities have thinking and feeling as their “spine.” This is the term John Beebe coined to refer to the main axis of a type, the line that runs from hero/ine to anima/us (the axis connecting the parent and child is called the “arms”). In the Yin sodalities, however, the spine goes from intuition to sensation. The main task of Yang is to unite heart and mind, to express the will of the Universe. The main task of Yin is to unite the spirit with the body, the soul of God with the world, to manifest the Universe's will. Yin is the fire of the engine, Yang is the spark that sets it off. I believe this leads the types of the NW and SE sodalities to want to act on the world, while the SW and NE sodalities decide whether or not they're going to accept what the world brings them.

This isn't to say that types in the Yin sodalities never initiate, or that Yang sodalities never receive, just that generally the NW and SE sodalities seem driven by their desires, while the SW and NE sodalities seem to generally judge, support and take on, or reject others' desires. Or that types in the East never think, or those in the West never feel. This is a high level, bird's eye view of the types' overall orientation to life. Also, this is a verrrrrrrrry preliminary theory. A lot more work is going to be needed to prove or disprove it.

Finally, if we overlay the houses back on the diagram it looks like this:

This is the deep structure of the MBTI, and the relations between the various types of the MBTI. There are further structural relationships that I won’t go into here (and more I’m sure that I haven’t figured out yet). The types aren’t just random collections of personality traits. They aren't even just the functions that make up their type. They have a deep connection with the other types of the MBTI, mirroring and opposing each other, clashing and combining, seemingly full of chaos but with a deep, underlying order.

Example: Shaun of the Dead

Shaun's and Yvonne's groups

Shaun of the Dead is a horror comedy about a bumbling, aimless electronics salesman trying to keep his family and friends alive during a zombie outbreak. Shaun is your unheroic anti-hero, very much like Homer Simpson in his ability to mess up his life. The characters are:

One of the great things about works of fiction – movies, TV shows, books, what have you – is that the characters are, if the story has any “juice” to it at all, often representations of various sides of the writer’s personality, or at least various sides of a personality maybe not necessarily the writer's. Characters in fiction are, with few exceptions, far more simple and less internally contradictory than real, actual people. And that’s what makes the stories so satisfying; watching how these various “personalities” interact with each other, and hopefully come to a positive resolution, resonates with something in us. In the same way that dream figures are parts of the dreamer, the various characters are essentially parts of one total person.

In this movie Shaun has several conflicting relationships. There’s his relationship with his two roommates: Pete, who is the adult of the house, who has a real job and a car that he drives to his very responsible and adult job every day; and his good-for-nothing, video game playing, weed smoking best friend Ed. The two men are two sides of the protagonist’s personality: the serious, hard-working grown-up and the lackadaisical, fun loving shlubby Peter Pan.

As Shaun’s still kind of stuck in boyhood his relationship with his anima is also not quite worked out either. In one scene he forgets it’s his and Liz’s anniversary and ends up giving his long-suffering girlfriend the bouquet he’d actually bought for his mother (Liz sees the card of course and this is the final straw where she finally breaks up with him.)

This kind of doubling occurs when the unconscious is trying to differentiate – to separate out psychological contents – to see what they really are in order to unite them on a higher level. This is essentially the process of psychological growth. It is, in fact, the exact process going on within the sodalities of the MBTI. Growth for Shaun might look something like this:

As he leaves his immature, childish anima in the form of his mother for a mature anima (Liz) this allows him to grow into his mature, adult self, one that’s capable of taking care of things; in other words, to “become a man.”

We separate out the parts from the undifferentiated whole, and then spend the rest of our lives trying to unite them on a higher level, but without losing the differentiation we worked so hard for. It’s through this process of differentiation and reunification that progress is made, both personally in our own lives but also for society as a whole. When an individual succeeds in this they bring all of society with them, and the more people who succeed at it, the stronger, and further, the societal advance is.

The two main couples of the sodality are Shaun and Liz, and his old friend and former fellow DJ Yvonne and her boyfriend Declan. In the movie the two groups meet as they’re both trying to find the best place to survive the zombie apocalypse. Our group, of course, has probably made a terrible choice, being the Simpson’s-like inept boneheads that they are. The two groups run into each other going in opposite directions and, when they part, there’s a wonderful scene where you see that the two groups are literal mirrors of each other.

[“Stock Character Scene - Shaun of the Dead,” posted by beepboopfukcyou (YouTube)]

The two couples – Shaun & Liz, and Yvonne & Declan – form a sodality that looks like the image below: Shaun as the protagonist, Liz as his anima, Yvonne his shadow anima, and Declan, Yvonne’s boyfriend, as Shaun’s shadow ego. Let’s look at the North-west sodality in this example.

Shaun is the INTP, his antipodal/attraction is ESFJ, his antagonist is ENTJ, and his secret ego is ISFP.

He (P1) has a relation of attraction with Liz (P2). Yvonne (P3) is the antagonistic, shadow anima that shows him up. Declan (P4) is his quiet (and probably superior) other self.

So this is how the sodalities are structured, and how each complex relates to each other within the sodality. Watch the movie if you want to find out how everything works out – it’s really great so you should definitely check it out!

This was a fairly esoteric article. I really did try to make all of this make sense and I hope I achieved that goal. This post is more focused on the structure of the sodalities. In the later ones I’ll go more into how to work with the core complexes of the sodality.

Below is a chart of all the sodalities and their types. Clicking on the image will make it larger.


The Cognitive Functions
The Function Roles
The Houses
The Core Complexes
How to type
Working with the MBTI
My MBTI story

Other resources

CS Joseph, “Who are the INFJs?”(YouTube)