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Differentiation of Functions

August 31, 2012

With type preference, we have one ego, with a dominant orientation, and four functions; only one of which has become dominant. (And another one will become “auxiliary”)

The process of the first function “developing” was called by Jung, differentiation. The way we in practice describe the “preferred” functions (the first two), and even the third and sometimes fourth, is technically a form of “differentiation”. However, Jung actually applied differentiation primarily to the dominant function. The other functions remain in a state called “undifferentiated“, where they can come into consciousness when linked to the ego structure set up in relation to the dominant function, or remain tied to the emotions. This will be described as we go along.

A function is differentiated when we place greater value on those choices where emotion and reason are in synch.
When we use a function that is destined to become differentiated, we feel an emotional investment in what we’re doing, and we feel in control of our emotional life, so we keep on doing it. We tend to be more stimulated by the function. It then appears to “develop” or get “stronger”, and behaviors associated with it will increase. But the real motivation is deeper than just the behaviors, which often become focused on in descriptions and discussions.

As for the other functions, the whole concept of function preference is based on acceptance vs. rejection. What the ego accepts as a sense of meaning becomes apart of the consciousness, and what it rejects or suppresses remains unconscious.
“Whatever we habitually put aside to make our willful conscious choices will inevitably make its alliance with the unconscious — emotions we don’t want to feel, desires we don’t recognize…” (Lenore Thomson, Personality Pathways)
Another way of putting it is that the unconscious area takes form when the ego’s bright light of awareness is focused on one part of reality, plunging the rest into darkness.
This is a dynamic of equilibrium Jung called “enantiodromia“.

So the ego chooses its dominant orientation; the inner world of thoughts and emotions, or the outer world of people and action, to receive its main interpretation of situations through. It also chooses its dominant function (S, N, T or F), as its interpretation in that chosen orientation.
The other orientation and the other functions are initially suppressed. The person is capable of engaging in behavior associated with the other functions, but as distinct senses of meaning by which we have an emotional investment, the functions remain "undifferentiated". They simply remain tied to the emotional responses to life, as mobilized by the dominant function.

In other words, for the type preferring concrete tangible data, any intangible conceptualizations or inferences from this data implied will simply support the emotional investment the person has in that concrete data. For the person preferring abstract, conceptual data, the concrete reality he sees before him will simply be used to support the inferring process. For the person who prefers technical criteria for decisions, any humane “value” he places on them will support his Thinking, rather than being a differentiated “Feeling” process. And for the person who prefers humane considerations, and logical, technical conclusions will support the humane endeavor somehow. What determines the true “preference” is not the “function” you might see him “using” at any given time, but rather the ultimate perspective it is supporting.

The opposite functional perspective is always implicit in a situation, because when we look at it through a function and orientation, we are in essence dividing the situation that in complete form consists of both tangible and conceptual, and technical and humane aspects, in which we both add ourselves to an object and subtract from it subjectively.

So if I pick out of a situation the technical elements I subjectively subtract from, then the humane elements I would have to objectively add myself to are implicit, in having basically been differentiated or set apart.

Type theorist Lenore Thomson has compared this state to embryonic cells, which have not yet taken on their specific functions in the developing body (they start out all the same, yet some will become brain cells, others, skin cells, etc.). A differentiated cell focuses on that task, and then the information offered by other genes is blocked biochemically, and only genes that permit the cell to perform its task remain active. (Personality Type: An Owner’s Manual, p.86). The functions in that state are not even differentiated from each other. They are not really separate entities waiting for us to “develop” skills associated with them, as we have often made them out to be. The symbols and images generated by the psyche will reflect admixtures of these functional products.

So the entire key to this whole thing is that when you choose one function, the perspective of the other is rejected or suppressed, and when you choose one orientation to use a function in, the other orientation is rejected or suppressed for its use as well.


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