The Psychological Types Unraveled

In the article on shadow integration, we explored Carl Jung’s model of the psyche and I introduced you to psychodynamics. If you were paying attention, here’s the moment of the truth, you’ll remember that I said that the most important concept in Jungian Psychology is attitude. This is basically how a person is wired, their basic tendencies, and patterns of behavior, how one tends to interpret, filter, and react to the world. You can also add someone’s beliefs, political views, philosophy of life, habits, and everything they’ve learned from their personal story. The sum of these different components forms someone’s conscious attitude.

(If you haven’t read the mentioned article, it’s important to do it so you can fully enjoy this guide – The Psychodynamics of Shadow Integration).

However, behind all of these individual tendencies, Jung discovered a system that’s common to everyone – The psychological types, the foundation of someone’s conscious attitude. Personally, I consider this method the ultimate compass for our psychological development. It can give us immense clarity about how to harmonize our strengths and weaknesses, and invaluable insights to navigate our relationships. Before I jump into it, I wanna be very clear that pure types don’t exist, we’ll be exploring basic patterns and tendencies and people will fall on a spectrum:

“Naturally, they [psychological types] never occur, in reality, in their pure form,but always and only with individual variations derived from the principle that governs its appearance, similar to the crystals, which generally, are variants of the same system” (C. G. Jung – V8 – §221).

Lastly, you might have encountered several tests on the internet claiming to reveal your typology, but let me tell you that every time I see that I can hear Carl Jung rolling in his grave. Since he isn’t alive to protest, I’ll try to explain why these tests are a scam. The first thing is that typology isn’t something static, it evolves and changes as we mature psychologically, it’s not something deterministic or characterological, this is not bad astrology. We’ve established that pure types don’t exist, so trying to fit someone into a fixed category is just completely ignoring someone’s individuality.

Furthermore, a test would never be able to capture the complexity of the psychodynamics involved. People seldom have an objective perspective about themselves, and more often than not, they give answers that have nothing to do with their true personalities, the unconscious and the inferior function are constantly interjecting. As aforementioned, what’s possible is to delineate a few basic tendencies, knowing that people will express them in a myriad of ways. That said, it’s time to explore these basic patterns.

Introversion and Extraversion

The first component of the psychological types is introversion and extraversion:

“[…] a habitual attitude in which one of the mechanisms will predominate, without, however, being able to completely suppress the other, as this is a necessary part of psychic activity. That is why there cannot be a pure type in the sense of having only one of the mechanisms […] A typical attitude always and only means the relative predominance of one of the mechanisms” (C. G. Jung – V6 – §6).

The first thing we have to understand about introversion and extraversion is that this isn’t static, it’s fluid, there isn’t someone 100% introverted or extraverted all of the time. What we have is the relative predominance of one of the mechanisms. You know when someone says that they’re generally introverted but extremely extroverted with people they know more intimately? That’s why.

Also, we might experience certain periods in our lives where one of the mechanics is more prevalent than the other. This doesn’t make you an “ambivert”, as there’s no such thing, this is just another lack of understanding of psychodynamics. Being an introvert or extravert is a way of relating to and understanding the world, and the biggest difference lies in the relationship with objects.

“ […] In the extravert, the libido habitually flows consciously toward the object, but there is also an unconscious secret counteraction back toward the subject. For the extravert the hidden move toward the subject is usually an unconscious factor. In the case of the introvert, the opposite occurs, for he feels as if an object would constantly overwhelm him, so that he has to continually retire from it, for everything is falling upon him, he is constantly overwhelmed by impressions, but he is unaware that he is secretly borrowing, or lending, psychic energy to the object through his own unconscious extraversion” (Marie Von Franz – Psychotherapy – p. 27).

Now, we’re gonna explore both tendencies more in-depth.


“Now, when orientation by the object predominates in such a way that decisions and actions are determined not by subjective views but by objective conditions, we speak of an extraverted attitude” (C. G. Jung – V6 – §563).

Extraverts have their attention directed to the external world and other people. They tend to be heavily influenced and shaped by their environment, culture, and the opinion of others. To the point that if they were to be born in a different culture their personalities would easily be molded by it. For that reason, they tend to be socially adapted and have a collective way of thinking and behaving. They see the world as something empty, so they “lend” their souls to animate external objects, they think and feel outside themselves – in the objects.

As they’re constantly seeking to affect and being affected, they find themselves in the changeable and tend to be more flexible and malleable. For that same reason, they lack inner conviction and have difficulty perceiving their own individuality. To the point that they can completely lose their sense of self in the objects and their environment. Most of them have a deep fear of being alone, there’s no solid core to sustain their position, as they can change their minds and emotional states at any given moment if they’re affected by something external.


“Although the introverted consciousness is naturally aware of external conditions, it selects the subjective determinants as the decisive ones” (C. G. Jung – V6 – §621).

Introverts have their attention directed to their inner world. Although they’re obviously aware of external conditions, their environment, and their culture, their ego and subjective opinion have a higher value. They’re constantly filtering the external reality interposed by their subjectivity, and they seek to shield themselves from the world and control it, instead of being absorbed by it like extraverts. 

They seek to be constant, and that’s why they tend to be more rigid and inflexible, and tend to guide themselves from a firm set of conscious or unconscious rules. This is an attempt to control the outcome and protect themselves from affects and the influence of other people and their environment. In extreme cases, there’s a constant worry about the future and agoraphobia. As a result, they tend to be socially awkward and even find socializing draining. However, they tend to have a rich inner life, conviction, and a sense of uniqueness. However, they need to be cautious to not turn this into empty individualism, and ego-centrism, disregarding the outside world and constructing a shallow antagonistic character, because they secretly think they’re better than everyone.

The Four Functions

The second layer of the psychological types is the four functions:

“Consciousness is primarily an organ of orientation in a world of outer and inner facts. First and foremost, it establishes the fact that something is there. I call this faculty sensation. By this I do not mean the specific activity of any one of the senses, but perception in general. Another faculty interprets what is perceived; this I call thinking. By means of this function, the object perceived is assimilated and its transformation into a psychic content proceeds much further than in mere sensation. A third faculty establishes the value of the object. This function of evaluation I call feeling. The pain-pleasure reaction of feeling marks the highest degree of subjectivation of the object. Feeling brings subject and object into such a close relationship that the subject must choose between acceptance and rejection” (C. G. Jung – V8 – §256).

“These three functions would be quite sufficient for orientation if the object in question were isolated in space and time. But, in space, every object is in endless connection with a multiplicity of other objects; and, in time, the object represents merely a transition from a former state to a succeeding one. Most of the spatial relationships and temporal changes are unavoidably unconscious at the moment of orientation, and yet, in order to determine the meaning of an object, space-time relationships are necessary. It is the fourth faculty of consciousness, intuition, which makes possible, at least approximately, the determination of space-time relationships. This is a function of perception which includes subliminal factors, that is, the possible relationship to objects not appearing in the field of vision, and the possible changes, past and future, about which the object gives no clue. Intuition is an immediate awareness of relationships that could not be established by the other three functions at the moment of orientation” (C. G. Jung – V8 – §257).

As we’ve seen, the four functions make two pairs of opposites, and in order for one of them to work properly the other has to be suppressed:

  • Thinking and feeling.
  • Intuition and sensation.

We tend to be guided by only one of these four functions, which is called the main function. Jung says that “When a function habitually predominates, a typical attitude is produced. According to the nature of the differentiated function, there will be constellations of contents that create a corresponding attitude. There is thus a typical thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuitive attitude” (C.G Jung – V6 – §691). In that way, we’ll have people guided by each one of these functions, thinking types, feeling types, intuitive types, and sensation types.

Now, let’s explore the four functions individually.

Thinking Function

Thinking is very logical, rational, and processual. It tells us what a thing is and adds concepts and ideas, through a process of comparison. It has the tendency to be very detached, neutral, and cold. It sees everything with equal value.

Feeling Function

Feeling is the function that tells us the worth and value of something and that’s why it’s contrary to thinking. It places judgments if you like or dislike something if it’s acceptable or not. It adds “color”, nuances, and adjectives to the objects. The feeling function is deeply personal and tends to create relationships with things. It gives you the ability to perceive the emotional atmosphere and understand your own feelings and of others. It’s the main function used in connecting with other people and relationships.

Here, we have to make an important distinction, the feeling function isn’t the same as having emotions or affects. Jung says that “The differences would be this: feeling has no physical or tangible physiological manifestations, while emotion (affects) is characterized by an altered physiological condition” (C. G. Jung – V18.1 – §46). Therefore, when you experience a deep overwhelming emotion you’re not “in” your feeling function, you’re simply having an affect. The feeling function is the conscious experience of an emotion and it’s subject to the conscious will.

Sensation Function

Sensation is the function of reality and provides the perception of the physical stimulus, both externally and internally. It’s the awareness of everything we can perceive with the five senses. It’s very detail oriented, grounded in reality, and in the present moment.

Intuition Function

Intuition is the closest function to the unconscious and that’s why it has a metaphorical and symbolic language. It’s contrary to sensation because it’s future-oriented, it sees the potential of things and what they can become. The Intuition function sees things as a finished whole, instead of small details. It tends to present itself in images and metaphors to the conscious mind, or a certain hunch or gut feeling.

The Four Functions Applied

Now, let’s apply everything we’ve learned so far in a simple example. Let’s say you’re talking with someone, a person with a thinking tendency will pay attention to the words, their logical sequence, and if things make sense from a rational standpoint. A person guided by their feelings will be able to perceive through the words and apprehend the emotional atmosphere and true intentions behind what’s being said. Now, a person guided by sensation will pay attention to their subtle gestures, their clothes, tone of voice, and micro-expressions, and this will give them the information they need. Lastly, a person guided by intuition might have a certain hunch or gut feeling about the person and immediately know if they can be good friends or not. They can also perceive specific images in their minds while they’re interacting that contain crucial information.

The 8 Psychological Types

Finally, If we pair the extraverted and introverted tendencies with one of the four functions we get the eight psychological types. Each one of the types has its peculiarities and you can find more about them in the last chapter of volume 6 of the Collected Works.

  • Extraverted or Introverted Thinking Type.
  • Extraverted or Introverted Feeling Type.
  • Extraverted or Introverted Sensation Type.
  • Extraverted or Introverted Intuition Type.

The Inferior Function

The inferior function “Is the ever-bleeding wound of the conscious personality, but through it the unconscious can always come in and so enlarge consciousness and bring forth new experience. As long as you have not developed your other functions, your auxiliary functions, they too will be open doors, so in a person who has only developed one superior function, the two auxiliary functions will operate in the same way and will appear in personifications of the shadow, animus, and anima. It is only when you have succeeded in developing three functions, in locking three of your inner doors, that the problem of the fourth door still remains, for that is the one which is apparently not meant to be locked. There one has to succumb, one has to suffer defeat, in order to develop further(Marie Von Franz – Psychotherapy  – p. 99).

The problem of the inferior function is incredibly complex and is one of the main secrets of the individuation process. Theoretically, Carl Jung established that the development of the personality revolves around the four functions. First, we should develop our main function, then we should develop one auxiliary function, as a third step, we should develop the opposite of the auxiliary function, and finally touch the inferior function. In my case, being an introverted intuitive type, I should develop my intuition, then thinking or feeling as an auxiliary one, in my case is thinking. As a third step, I should develop feeling, and finally touch on my inferior sensation. I know this is wildly abstract but as a methodology it’s incredibly helpful in the therapeutic setting.

Turning things a bit more practical, let’s remember that everything that’s incompatible with our conscious attitude will form our shadow, and when we’re guided by one of the functions, the opposite one will invariably be repressed and remain unconscious, becoming our inferior function. So if you’re guided by thinking, your inferior function will be feeling, and vice-versa, if you’re guided by intuition, your inferior function will be sensation, and vice-versa. The same thing is valid for introversion and extraversion. In this light, one of the main components of our shadow is our inferior function, and its expression tends to be very slow and awkward, it appears and disappears at its own will, and frequently arises explosively and uncontrollably. In the book “Psychotherapy”, Marie Von Franz also brings an extremely interesting point saying that the inferior function is usually projected on the body. Lastly, she summarizes everything with one simple question: “What is hell for you?” The answer might lead you straight to your inferior function.

But as with everything in Jungian Psychology, the inferior function has a paradoxical nature, because it contains the inner gold and the seeds to enlarge our personality. It’s when we’re engaging with the inferior function that we find the most joy and sense of wholeness. It’s the source of our creativity and inspiration and it contains the exact parts we need to access in order to solve our inner and outer conflicts and further our individuation journey. Lastly, Jung says that the technical term for the animus and anima is the inferior function, however, we tend to find them personified, making the animus and anima the empirical observation of the inferior function. Lastly, I’ll give you a brief overview of the inferior function of each one of the types.

Thinking Type with Inferior Feeling

A thinking type will have an inferior feeling and tend to have a very childish relationship with their emotions, especially in relationships. Their judgments are usually black and white, and they can become touchy-feely, moody, or extremely harsh and cold.

Feeling Type With Inferior Thinking

A feeling type will have inferior thinking and will tend to have a hard time seeing things from a detached perspective and making judgments from a logical and detached standpoint. There’s a tendency of having very negative, tyrannical, obsessive, and compulsive thoughts, about themselves and others. They can even have a hard time learning things like philosophy and everything that’s more conceptual and theoretically abstract. Conceiving a cosmovision also tends to be very difficult.

Sensation Type With Inferior Intuition

A sensation type will have inferior intuition and will have the tendency to fear everything that’s more abstract, their inner fantasies, and deeply fear the future. They can’t see past what’s in front of them and considering potentials is very hard. They can even develop very morbid and weird fantasies, as well as obsessive behaviors.

Intuitive Type With Inferior Sensation

An intuitive type will have inferior sensation and will have the tendency to live in fantasy land and be detached from reality. They can be wrapped in future possibilities and never materialize anything in the now. They have difficulty connecting with their own bodies, their five senses, and paying attention to details, which can also lead to addictions, phobias, and hypochondria, as a compensation.

In conclusion, we’ll have a main function which is the main guide of our conscious attitude and we can also develop an auxiliary function, both will be introverted or extroverted, according to our tendencies. For instance, I’m an introvert with intuition as a main function and thinking as an auxiliary function. Therefore extraverted sensation is my inferior function and extraverted feeling is also felt as a weak spot.

Distorted Types

If you can’t relate to any of this, perhaps you’re just not aware of your own tendencies or you’re a distorted type. This is very common and happens when someone couldn’t develop their main function properly. For instance, picture a feeling/ intuitive type with a strong creative and artistic personality, but he was raised by a family of engineers and dry intellectuals that suppressed any display of emotion, affection, spontaneity, or creativity. As a result this person never developed their main capacity and had to try to adapt to a function that’s their weak spot. This will generate all sorts of issues and the solution lies in going back and developing your original main function.

Read Next: Demystifying The Animus and Anima

Rafael Krüger – Jungian Therapist

Start your journey with Katabasis – The Shadow Integration Manual

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