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Introduction

Intro

A note on nomenclature

Intuition as a psychological function is traditionally abbreviated as N (so as not to confuse it with Introversion). When it is the dominant function, it is abbreviated as "N-Dom." Adults who use Intuition as their "dominant" (preferred) psychological function are called "N-Doms" or "Intuitives." And because I'm associating Intuition with a developmental stage, specifically infancy, I will eventually refer to the infancy/Intuition developmental stage as "the N level."

N level: The basics

In my preface on developmental levels, I suggested that Intuition (the N level) has some similarities with how people experience the world in infancy. These similarities manifest as unconscious thought using unity & association (non-differentiation).

 

Adults who use Intuition as their "dominant" (preferred) psychological function (N-Doms) let associations and connections bubble up from the unconscious and use them to build spiderwebs of associations and juxtapositions as a means of brainstorming.

 

Everyone has the capacity to use Intuition; but N-Doms tend to use it as their preferred way of interacting with the world.

N level in a nutshell

(These ideas will be explained in the following essays.)

Main theme: Unconscious; unity and association

Main motif: Participation mystique and sense of the numinous

Cultural level: From animism up to fertility religions

Parent representatives: Great Mother versus Antagonist

Ego representatives: Son-lover versus Struggler

Ego main dichotomy: Immersion versus Distancing

Centroversion: Interdependence and secure attachment style

Reconstructing the Thought Processes of an Infant

Infant

I am suggesting that Intuition (N) has some similarities with how people experience the world in infancy. Naturally, it's difficult to know how an infant experiences the world; but by knowing the architecture of the human brain psychologists can anticipate many of the cognitive processes of infants. 

 

Erich Neumann was a student of Carl Jung and has been praised as Jung's most brilliant disciple. Neumann suggested that if the human brain has an innate architecture, then human culture as a whole should exhibit that architecture as well. To put it another way, our brain architecture tends to operate at both the "personal" level and the "transpersonal" level: Our developmental stages are experienced in our own individual lives (the personal level) and also become reflected in our culture, our myths, our religions, etc. (the transpersonal level).

Most psychologists honor this principle to one degree or another. Freud and Jung both analyzed myth and religion and showed how they exhibit elements in common with the psychology of individuals. 

 

In 1949, Erich Neumann wrote The Origins and History of Consciousness demonstrating in detail how much mankind's earliest cultures and religions have in common with the thought processes of infants and children. In other words, according to Neumann mankind's early religions (progressing from animism & totemism to early fertility religions to patriarchal polytheism, etc.) follow the same developmental arc and display the same psychological markers as cognitive development in children (progressing from infancy to childhood to adolescence, etc.).

 

Carl Jung reviewed Neumann's book before publication and wrote a very enthusiastic forward to the book. Jung said that Neumann represented a "second generation" of psychologists who are in a position to pull together the work of the earlier pioneers of psychology "and give a coherent account of the whole field of study, whose full extent the pioneer can only survey at the end of his life's work. This difficult and meritorious task the author has performed with outstanding success."[1]

~Posted October 19, 2023

Uroboric Environment

Uroboric

The uroboric environment

In The Origins and History of Consciousness, Erich Neumann describes the world of a newborn. There is no awareness of oneself. The ego emerges from sleep, experiences the world for a few minutes, and then sinks back into oblivion again. Neumann writes, "Small, feeble, and much given to sleep, i.e., for the most part unconscious, he swims about in his instincts like an animal. Enfolded and upborne by great Mother Nature, rocked in her arms, he is delivered over to her for good or ill. Nothing is himself; everything is world. The world shelters and nourishes him, while he scarcely wills and acts at all. Doing nothing, lying inert in the unconscious, merely being there in the inexhaustible twilit world, all needs effortlessly supplied by the great nourisher--such is that early beatific state."[1]

This is the state of paradise, of oneness with the universe. Early cultures used circles or eggs to symbolize the universe. Another common symbol was the uroboros: The snake in the form of a circle eating its own tail. Neumann refers to the stage of the newborn as the "uroboric environment," that is, a time when the newborn is unable to distinguish itself from the universe around it. 

 

The uroboric environment = unity

The early uroboric environment is a period of non-differentiation. The newborn is receiving stimuli from a variety of sources: Its own body, the nurturing mother, the bedding and linen, early dreams, etc. But the newborn isn't able to separate out and process those inputs; it's all a jumble. The newborn doesn't yet have a system for storing and representing the world.[2] The newborn simply registers and absorbs perceptions exactly as they arrive.[3]

 

The newborn feels a sense of unity and oneness with the world around it. From this comes the creation myths of the primitive cultures: Stories of paradise and oneness with gods.[4] As Neumann says in The Fear of the Feminine: "In the original psychic situation a fusion or, better, a non-separation of the ego and the unconscious prevails. [...] To a certain extent the child is still unborn and contained in the maternal uroboros. [...] Initially the unconscious appears as the good mother--that is, the child's primal relationship to her carries a positive accent, for the dependent, infantile ego is protected and nourished by the maternal unconscious."[5]

Participation mystique at the cultural (transpersonal) level

Neumann suggests that there was a similar stage in the cultural evolution of mankind itself, when early man lived at the edge of consciousness in a state that Neumann calls "participation mystique": A feeling of immersion directly in the environment around himself. Neumann says, "There was no clear dividing line between man and the animals, man and man, man and the world."[6] Everything overlapped much as in dreams.

 

Neumann writes, "Everything inside was outside, that is to say, all his ideas came to him from outside, as commands from a spirit or magician or 'medicine bird.' But also, everything outside was inside. Between the hunted animal and the will of the hunter there existed a magical, mystical rapport, just as it existed between the healing of the wound and the weapon that made it. [...] In man's original world picture, world unity was unimpaired. The uroboros was alive in everything. Everything was pregnant with meaning, or could at least become so."[7] "Universal participation, exteriorization of psychic contents, and the presence of highly charged emotional components combine to produce, in the pleromatic phase, an undifferentiated feeling of oneness which unites the world, the group, and man in an almost bodily way."[8] (p. 284)

Participation mystique: Projection

Jung says that participation mystique occurs through projection: Early man is in the uroboric state, doesn't see a difference between the internal and external, and associates his inner emotions with outer processes. "Primitive man is not much interested in objective explanations of the obvious, but he has an imperative need--or rather, his unconscious psyche has an irresistible urge--to assimilate all outer sense experiences to inner, psychic events [...] The sun in its course must represent the fate of a god or hero who, in the last analysis, dwells nowhere except in the soul of man. All the mythologized processes of nature [...] are symbolic expressions of the inner, unconscious drama of the psyche which becomes accessible to man's consciousness by way of projection—that is, mirrored in the events of nature."[9]

 

Participation mystique: Animism & totemism

Jung suggests that early religions are similarly a form of projection of one's internal thoughts out into the world. He suggests that one of the earliest forms of religion is animism. As Neumann describes it, animism "endows trees with indwelling spirits, idols with divinity, holy places with wonder-working powers, or human beings with magical gifts."[10]

 

Early man lives immersed in nature; nature provides food, health, injury, and death; early man also blames nature for his moods and emotions. The internal is external, and vice versa. Neumann notes a similar kind of fusion of self with the world in the practice of totemism, "which regards a certain animal as an ancestor, a friend, or some kind of powerful and providential being." It's an "identity" relation and a source of "early man's magical view of the world."[11]

For a little deeper dive on this subject, see the following supplemental essay:

Link to supplemental essay: Mithraism as an Example of Nature Worship

Participation mystique: Ritual sacrifice

In his book The Great Mother, Neumann suggests that a further consequence of immersion in nature is ritual sacrifice. If everything is connected, then to act within nature is to disturb nature; and nature requires amends of man. "Thus the concept of sacrifice is a basic symbol in the life of early man. Because the unity of life is the central phenomenon of the situation of psychic origination, every disturbance of this unity—the felling of a tree, the killing or eating of an animal, and so on—must be compensated by a ritual offering, a sacrifice. For early man all growth and development depend on man’s sacrifices and ritual activity, precisely because man’s living bond with the world and the human group is projected upon nature as a whole."[12]

The numinous

A related phenomenon is "a sense of the numinous." Dictionaries define a numinous experience as mysterious or awe-inspiring, giving rise to an arousing spiritual, transcendental, or religious emotion. 

 

As I said above, newborns and very young infants receive information and sensations from the world around them in a jumble and are unable to categorize them and process them. Nonetheless, the infant learns to associate particularly important inputs--food sources, familiar faces--with pleasure or pain. The infant isn't processing those particular impressions so much as simply registering that some inputs stand out from the rest via the process of association.

 

The process of associating individual stimuli with importance or meaning continues to function automatically in people throughout their lives. Particularly powerful, old, and deep-seated associations can gain a sort of "transcendental" feeling as described above. Like participation mystique, the numinous is actually a type of projection. There is nothing actually in the stimulus itself that provokes a sense of the numinous; rather, the feeling comes from the individual perceiving the stimuli and his personal associations with the stimulus.

 

Neumann likens the numinous to religious possession and describes how the latter works in early societies: "Because primitive man projects his unconscious contents into the world and its objects, these appear to him as drenched in symbolism and charged with mana, and his interest is thereby focused upon the world. [...T]he symbol, as an object animated by projection, fascinates, and, to the extent that it 'grips' and 'stirs' him, sets his libido in motion and with it the whole man."[13] Carl Jung suggested that the deepest and strongest associations are those that connect with archetypes to provide additional force.

 

To sum up: Participation mystique tends to pertain to an environment, world view, or general sense of continuity; whereas the numinous tends to be inspired by specific stimuli or experiences that trigger a burst of awe and inspiration. But they are both the result of projection and personal associations and can operate in tandem.

~Posted October 19, 2023

Description of Intuition

System 1 versus System 2 thinking

In the previous section I said that cognitive processes at the N level (the infancy/Intuition developmental stage) are jumbled and relatively nonsensical. The uroboric environment of the newborn is a world of unconsciousness and unity with the Great Mother, which equates to participation mystique and a sense of the numinous.

Question: So how do the cognitive processes of infants (or early humanity on the edges of consciousness) relate to the thought processes of modern Western adults?

Answer: All the cognitive processes that I've discussed with respect to the infant (unity & connectedness, projection, participation mystique, etc.) are not limited to the cognitive processes of infants. In fact, these cognitive processes are alive and well in the thought process of every modern Western adult. They are the processes of so-called "right-hemisphere thinking."

The modern adult brain is split into two very different modes of thinking: 

  1. The right hemisphere handles our unconscious, preconscious, and simple or repetitive conscious processes. It comprises the limbic system, and it includes the hippocampus and the amygdala. It is emotional, impulsive, and intuitive. It works on the basis of associative memory (in other words, connectedness/non-differentiation). It "continually constructs a coherent interpretation of what is going on in our world at any instant," and it consists of automatic and often unconscious processes.[1]

  2. The left hemisphere handles upper-level conscious processes and rationality. It comprises the higher cortical units, such as the neocortex and prefrontal cortex. It is controlled, slower, more deliberative, more logical. It is the center for language and rational thought. It is also the center for executive functions, such as attention and focus, planning, decision making, etc.

 

I should note that "right versus left hemisphere" is technically a misnomer. The two different ways of thinking actually utilize a variety of organs located all over the brain; and the two sides are switched in something like 5% of the population. In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman prefers to call the two sides "System 1 thinking versus System 2 thinking." So I will use that terminology. Thus, here is the takeaway:

  1. System 1: Right hemisphere; Unconscious, preconscious, and simple or repetitive conscious thinking

  2. System 2: Left hemisphere; Advanced consciousness and rationality

The two halves of the brain work together in the following manner: 

  1. System 1 (unconscious, preconscious, and simple consciousness) is our "autopilot" for dealing with mundane, repetitive tasks such as driving, simple mathematics, game play, etc., in other words, things that we do so often and repetitively that they "come naturally" to us. It is also our area for quick ideas and snap judgments when dealing with the unknown. It's our "gut instinct" when we have to make a snap decision under time pressures. System 1 runs pretty much all the time on autopilot and doesn't require a whole lot of energy or tire us out. But the unconscious is the seat of the emotions, and System 1 can sometimes be emotional and unreliable.

  2. System 2 (focus and rationality) is basically our "executive functions." It is our area for focusing and analyzing and making difficult decisions and maintaining self-control under stress. But it moves slowly and deliberately and it burns lots of energy and tires us out when we have to use it for long periods of time. So it turns on and off: It turns on periodically for more difficult tasks requiring close focus and attention, and then turns off when close attention is no longer needed or when we tire and can no longer keep up the effort required for System 2 use. System 2 also monitors our behavior and the world around us for surprises and unknowns and turns itself on when it detects an error about to be made.

The point about energy use is an important one:

  1. System 1 is an auto-function that requires little or no energy. It's always racing along in the background at full speed, and it never tires or takes a break.

  2. By comparison, System 2 is a massive energy hog. It turns on when we sense that focus and attention are required, and as we use it it burns down energy quickly. Once it becomes depleted, it shuts down. Once it becomes depleted, we feel exhausted, burnt out, spent. We find it difficult to focus on anything.

In other words, low-energy System 1 is "on" at all times for routine tasks. Meanwhile System 2 is much more costly and tiring, and by default System 2 remains "off" unless specifically triggered by anomalies in the outside world: Fear of the unknown, worry that we might be about to make a mistake, a need to focus and analyze something closely, etc. In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman emphasizes that we use System 2 sparingly, "Constantly questioning our own thinking would be impossibly tedious, and System 2 is much too slow and inefficient to serve as a substitute for System 1 in making routine decisions. The best we can do is a compromise: learn to recognize situations in which mistakes are likely and try harder to avoid significant mistakes when the stakes are high."[2]

 

System 1 is adequate for most routine tasks during the day. Hypothetically it's possible to live one's entire life on System 1, cruising through life on autopilot, unreflective and uncurious, sticking to the known and the familiar, and reacting to events rather than initiating. (For comparison, overactive System 2 would consist of excessive use of executive functions resulting in compulsive regimentation of one's world: lots of planning, second-guessing, proactivity, inability to live in the moment, etc.)

 

Nonetheless, most people use both Systems: In a typical day we use System 1 for repetitive tasks, and meanwhile some anomalies pop up and/or we engage in intellectual activities that require System 2 focus and attention. White-collar workers may make their living by engaging in "intellectual labor," in other words System 2 analysis and focus. 

 

By the end of the day, System 2 is usually exhausted and receding into the background; as night approaches, the critical and rational functions of the logical System 2 tire and begin to shut down. But System 1 keeps racing along at full speed. At such times we can notice System 1 roaming further afield and engaging in what Jung calls "fantasy-thinking."

 

If we relax enough, we slip into a half-dream world. In Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung says, "At this point thinking in verbal form ceases, image piles on image, feeling on feeling, and there is an ever-increasing tendency to shuffle things about and arrange them not as they are in reality but as one would like them to be. Naturally enough, the stuff of this thinking which shies away from reality can only be the past with its thousand-and-one memory images. Common speech calls this kind of thinking 'dreaming.'"[3]

If we lose consciousness altogether and fall asleep, we enter the dream world and learn just how chaotic System 1 can become when System 2 isn't able to monitor and correct it. Jung said that the contents of the unconscious are jumbled together to the point that they are "mutually contaminated." Hence the nonsensical nature of dreams, where the most illogical developments and connections feel perfectly natural in the process of the dream itself:

 

"The contents of the unconscious, unlike conscious contents, are mutually contaminated to such a degree that they cannot be distinguished from one another and can therefore easily take one another's place, as can be seen most clearly in dreams. The indistinguishableness of its contents gives one the impression that everything is connected with everything else and therefore, despite their multifarious modes of manifestation, that they are at bottom a unity."[4]

Once we are dreaming, we're essentially back in a state of participation mystique. Left to its own devices, System 1 takes us back to that infantile world of random association, where everything is connected to everything else. Infants live entirely in System 1. The higher cortical units required for System 2 thinking are mostly undeveloped in infants. 

 

To sum up: System 1 corresponds to the cognitive processes of the earliest stages of human evolution or infancy. Furthermore, as modern adults, we too experience world of System 1 thinking when we tire, System 2 shuts down, and we drift into the world of daydreaming, fantasy, and dreams. When System 2 shuts down, System 1 increasingly pulls us down into the realm of the unconscious--the twilight world of infancy and early humankind.

System 1 = Associative Mechanism

I previously described the world of the newborn as a mix of stimuli from a variety of sources: "But the newborn isn't able to separate out and process those inputs; it's all a jumble. The newborn doesn't yet have a system for storing and representing the world. The newborn simply registers and absorbs perceptions exactly as they arrive."

 

Nonetheless, a newborn reacts to the world and learns. Living in a state of borderline consciousness at best (System 1), the infant's main learning tool is association. Just as a cat or dog can be taught that some behaviors trigger rewards or punishments, the newborn learns to associate some inputs with discomfort (such as the sensation of hunger) and some with pleasure (such as the approach of a breast).

In Thinking, Fast & Slow, Kahneman describes how the Associative Mechanism works in System 1. Kahneman notes that System 1 is able to "represent the structure of our world by various types of associative links in a vast network of various types of ideas." He notes that this is an automatic process and largely outside our control.

 

Kahneman writes, "The main function of System 1 is to maintain and update a model of your personal world, which represents what is normal in it. The model is constructed by associations that link ideas of circumstances, events, actions, and outcomes that co-occur with some regularity, either at the same time or within a relatively short interval. As these links are formed and strengthened, the pattern of associated ideas comes to represent the structure of events in your life, and it determines your interpretation of the present as well as your expectations of the future."[5]

Basically, the Associative Mechanism of System 1 drives the unity & connectedness viewpoint of infants, that is, that sense of participation mystique and a sense of the numinous. When System 2 shuts down in adults (or simply doesn't exist, as in the case of newborns), the world becomes a jumble of sense impressions and memories that are intertwined and "mutually contaminated." At this point, the Associative Mechanism kicks in and starts looking for patterns and draws associations, often following the paths of emotional charges associated with memories of events. 

 

This is why psychoanalysis uses "free association" techniques to divine the meaning of dreams: In order to understand our dreams, we need to shut down the logical processes of System 2, replicate as far as possible the mental processes of System 1, and follow the associative links making up dreams in order to find out how and why certain memories came to be linked together.

 

The takeaway: System 1 Associative Mechanism + N-level unconsciousness & unity -> participation mystique + a sense of the numinous

Definition of Intuition

Carl Jung suggested that there are 4 basic psychological functions: Intuition, Sensing, Feeling, and Thinking. He also said that people tend to prefer one of those functions to serve as their dominant psychological function, in other words, for routine and automated interpretation of the world around us. 

 

Intuition interprets the world by drawing up associations from inside, that is, from the unconscious. It's as though the N-Dom perceives the outer world and the inner world as a single whole. Thus stimuli in the world around the N-Dom trigger unconscious associations and lead the N-Dom to juxtapose and brainstorm new ideas. Thus the N-Dom's focus is on his inner world and the process of free-associating ideas that bubble up from inside in order to synthesize new ideas and concepts for application in the outside world.

It's similar to free association as described in the previous section: Shut down the logical processes of System 2, replicate as far as possible the mental processes of System 1, and follow the associative links. The N-Dom's focus is on his inner world and the process of free-associating ideas that bubble up from inside in order to synthesize new ideas and concepts for application in the outside world. N-Doms may find at times that completed thought processes jump out at them, seemingly from nowhere.

 

In short, I'm suggesting that Intuition draws upon the same cognitive processes that drive participation mystique and a sense of the numinous in newborns and early culture.

Given that Intuition reflects a developmental stage, all normal adults have utilized the Associative Mechanism underlying Intuition as part of the infantile uroboric environment and can use it in a pinch as adults; but N-Doms tend to use it as their preferred way of interacting with the world on a regular basis: Letting associations and connections bubble up from the unconscious and building spiderwebs of associations for purposes of brainstorming.

Main themes of Intuition

Adult Intuition shares a lot of characteristics with the processes I described above in regard to the newborn and early man. In particular I want to point out three main themes: 1) Use of the unconscious; 2) Unity and connectedness (participation mystique and a sense of the numinous); and 3) A lack of critical thinking.

1) Intuition = Use of the unconscious

Perhaps the most salient characteristic of Intuition is its routine use of the unconscious.

 

In The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Carl Jung talks about the structure and rules of the unconscious. In passing, he mentions the psychological function of Intuition, "which is chiefly dependent on unconscious processes of a very complex nature. Because of this peculiarity, I have defined intuition as 'perception via the unconscious.'"[6]

 

In Psychological Types, Jung says that Intuition is "the function of unconscious perception" and is "in the main an unconscious process."[7]

2) Intuition = Unity and connectedness (participation mystique and a sense of the numinous)

I mentioned in the section on the uroboric environment that the world of the infant and early man is characterized by an Associative Mechanism linking thoughts together. In the adult N-Dom, this results in unity & connectedness (participation mystique and a sense of the numinous) of perceptions, "mutual contamination" of the unconscious contents, and a focus on brainstorming, that is, a "big picture" point of view. 

 

Infants aren't able to differentiate and sort things into categories. The world comes at them in a jumble of inputs, and perceptions remain jumbled in their minds. Similarly, the adult N-Dom's focus isn't on specific things or people themselves, but rather on how those things and people fit into a larger context. N-Doms use the Associative Mechanism to juxtapose seemingly unrelated thoughts and make far-flung connections, as though building spiderwebs of thought. As a result, Intuition is very stream-of-consciousness and often abstract, even philosophical.

 

The Wikipedia entry "Free association" explains that association "works by intuitive leaps and linkages which may lead to new personal insights and meanings"[8]. N-Doms may look for a theme or thread that flows through multiple ideas or disciplines or even through all of life in general. Hence N-Doms are constantly looking for an "overview": N-Doms need such a view in order to find connecting themes. Just as the uroboric environment was a union of perceptions resulting in participation mystique and sense of the numinous, N-Dom thinking may lend the world a sense of connectedness and inevitability or an undifferentiated feeling of oneness which unites the universe, the collective, and the individual.

3) Intuition = A lack of critical thinking

The Jungian psychological function of Intuition is related to the personality trait of "Openness to experience" as measured by the Big Five personality system (see the Wikipedia article "Myers–Briggs Type Indicator").[9] In turn, the Wikipedia entry "Openness to experience" states that high levels of Openness have a downside, such as being prone to "cognitive distortions, lack of insight and impulsivity. Problems related to high openness that can cause issues with social or professional functioning are excessive fantasizing, peculiar thinking, diffuse identity, unstable goals, and nonconformity with the demands of the society."[10]

These are failings that occur when System 1 is given preference over System 2. Kahneman spells out some routine drawbacks to using unconscious processes as one's primary mode of operating in the world. For example, System 1 uses the Associative Mechanism to jump to conclusions. Kahneman notes that "Jumping to conclusions is efficient if the conclusions are likely to be correct and the costs of an occasional mistake acceptable, and if the jump saves much time and effort. Jumping to conclusions is risky when the situation is unfamiliar, the stakes are high, and there is no time to collect more information. These are the circumstances in which intuitive errors are probable."[11]

Another problem is confirmation bias: "System 1 is gullible and biased to believe [...] The confirmatory bias of System 1 favors uncritical acceptance of suggestions and exaggeration of the likelihood of extreme and improbable events."[12]

And so on. The more System 1 operates in the absence of System 2, the more the N-Dom is pulled down into the realm of fantasy, dreams, and jumbled reality.

Once again: By itself, Intuition doesn't differentiate, categorize, and analyze. Intuition is a System 1 process, and the Intuition process is simply about finding associations, that is, figuring out how things fit together. However, that's not to say that adult N-Doms are unable to analyze. All adults have gone through all the developmental stages and as a result have access to the full panoply of psychological functions. As adults, N-Doms have access to System 2 executive functions.

But Intuition by itself is a very targeted function with a focus on finding associations between seemingly unrelated thoughts. And if N-Doms don't work to develop System 2 functions alongside their Intuition, they may be particularly weak at differentiating, categorizing, and analyzing.

Conclusion

Processing of sensory inputs occurs in the "right hemisphere" (System 1), which is ruled by an "Associative mechanism" that takes the jumbled sensory inputs and merges them together into a dream-like world of fantastic and far-reaching unities.

 

The adult-level psychological function of Intuition uses much the same mechanism: It occurs in the unconscious and is ruled by association. Thus for purposes of comparison:

  • System 1 thinking = Associative mechanism = unity & connectedness = participation mystique and a sense of the numinous

  • Intuition = Big picture view, possibilities, brainstorming, intuitive leaps, stream-of-consciousness, abstract

 

To finish up, I want to reiterate the following from the Preface on Developmental Levels:

One might ask: If Intuition develops in infancy, does that mean adult N-Doms think like infants? Answer: No. Adult N-Doms are using an adult version of an early "function level." Adult N-Doms achieve the cognitive sophistication of full adulthood with experience in all four function levels; but it suits them to give preference to an early level (the Intuition-based function level) and ratchet that upward to adult competency with help from the System 2 executive functions and the other three function levels as needed.

 

I'll spell out the difference between Ne and Ni in a following section. But first, I need to return to the world of the newborn and early mankind to see how that split (extraverted versus introverted) develops.

~Posted October 19, 2023

Intuition

The Great Mother Versus the Father at the N level

GM

Introduction

In previous sections I described how cognitive processes at the N level infancy/Intuition developmental stage (N level) are jumbled and relatively nonsensical. The infant is barely able to distinguish itself as a separate entity from the uroboros.

 

However, as the infant grows it begins to go through a process of "separation-individuation," which causes it to register itself as separate from the uroboros. As the infantile ego registers itself as a separate entity, it registers the uroboros as the "Great Mother," and the infant begins to feel increasing distance from and hostility toward the Great Mother.

Separation-individuation

Infants begin a process of individuation from the mother, in other words, they begin to register that they exist separately from the mother. Freudian psychology puts this development in the first (oral) stage, thus birth to 1 year. According to the Wikipedia article "Psychosexual Development": "[T]he infantile ego is forming during the oral stage; two factors contribute to its formation: (i) in developing a body image, they are discrete from the external world, e.g. the child understands pain when it is applied to their body, thus identifying the physical boundaries between body and environment; (ii) experiencing delayed gratification leads to understanding that specific behaviors satisfy some needs, e.g. crying gratifies certain needs."[1]

As Erich Neumann describes it, "[T]he ego begins to distinguish itself from the uroboros. This means the end of that beatific uroboric state of autarchy, perfection, and absolute self-sufficiency."[2] This infantile stage is sometimes called "separation-individuation" to distinguish it from a separate process of psychological individuation at midlife.

Uroboric environment as negative

Initially the wakening ego is easily tired and mostly passive. It is receptive, but receptivity is fatiguing. Lapsing back into the unconsciousness of sleep is welcomed. But instinct increasingly pushes the ego to struggle toward consciousness, that is, toward differentiating himself from the uroboric environment around it. The uroboros is vast, and the ego is a small vulnerable portion within it. The ego fades in and out of consciousness with no choice in the matter.

 

Sleep becomes a pleasure/pain experience. With the start of separation-individuation, the infantile ego is disoriented and the pleasure/pain components tend to be mashed together. The infantile ego can't tell what is inner, what is outer, and what is projection.[3] As the ego dissolves back into unconsciousness, Neumann speaks of this as a pleasure/pain experience. The ego, to the extent that it exists at all, fights dissolution into the unconscious; but at the same time, it identifies with the uroboros and so finds the experience pleasurable in that sense. Later on, this experience of the ego will turn into masochism, which in turn is projected as sadism on the part of the consuming uroboros.[4]

The ego begins to register sleeping and waking as daily cycles of death and rebirth. As the ego's sense of self gets stronger, it equates itself with consciousness and life, and it equates the mother/uroboros with unconsciousness and death. Carl Jung says, "[T]here once existed a state of original psychic distress, namely unconsciousness. Hence in all probability the "irrational” fear which primitive man has of the dark even today."[5]

Emergence of the Great Mother

As the ego increasingly registers itself as a separate entity, the world encompassing the ego (food, sleep, the nurturing person) comes to be registered by the ego as "the Great Mother." The Great Mother is registered as all-powerful and all-consuming.

Prior to separation-individuation, sleep (dissolution into uroboric unconsciousness) was bliss. But as separation-individuation progresses, the ego is starting to have fits and moments of consciousness, and interactions with the Great Mother increasingly feel negative.[6]

 

Neumann says that during this transition stage where the ego starts registering itself as separate from the uroboros, "the maternal uroboros overshadows it like a dark and tragic fate. Feelings of transitoriness and mortality, impotence, and isolation, now color the ego's picture of the uroboros." In the beginning, the ego was weak and sleep was bliss. Now, surrender to unconsciousness and the uroboros "becomes more difficult and is accomplished with increasing repugnance as the demands of its own independent existence grow more insistent. For the dawning light of consciousness, the maternal uroboros turns to darkness and night."[7]

Unconsciousness as negative

Why does the unconscious have this kind of power? Carl Jung writes, "Historically as well as individually, our consciousness has developed out of the darkness and somnolence of primordial unconsciousness. [...] The unconscious is the mother of consciousness. [...] [O]ne can see in every child how hesitantly and slowly its ego-consciousness evolves out of a fragmentary consciousness lasting for single moments only, and how these islands gradually emerge from the total darkness of mere instinctuality. Consciousness grows out of an unconscious psyche which is older than it, and which goes on functioning together with it or even in spite of it. [...] [T]he ego was born out of it into consciousness and turns its back on the unconscious, seeking to shut it out as much as possible."[8]

 

In his book Psychology and Religion, Carl Jung describes consciousness as a small island in the middle of a boundless ocean of unconsciousness. Jung describes the power of the unconscious "to limit and threaten consciousness."[9]

In comparison to the mother figure, the primitive ego with its newly wakening consciousness feels small, impotent, tiny, defenseless. Consciousness is still in-and-out, and it remains on the edge of an abyss of unconsciousness that always threatens to swallow it.[10]

 

Erich Neumann notes: "For the ego and the male, the female is synonymous with the unconscious and the nonego, hence with darkness, nothingness, the void, the bottomless pit. [...] Mother, womb, pit, and hell are all identical." We fear "the dissolution of the ego in the unconscious." [11]

 

Thus, the emergence of consciousness is registered by infants as a struggle against the Great Mother. Erich Neumann says that infants of both sexes experience the Great Mother as a negative influence: "For in so far as the woman participates in this development of consciousness, she too has a symbolically male consciousness and may experience the unconscious as “negatively feminine."[12]

Back-projection

Naturally, much of this symbolism is the result of "backwards projection" of adult symbolism onto the hazy, twilight world of the infant. At the separation-individuation stage the ego is still largely unconscious and unable to process the myriad incoming perceptions; everything is still a jumble. But meaning gets attached to that twilight world after the fact (during childhood and adulthood), and the concept of the mother/feminine/womb becomes associated with sleep/unconsciousness/death, and so on.

 

Erich Neumann also notes that the negative side of the Great Mother doesn't arise as the result of any concrete aspect of the mother-child relationship. "The negative side of the elementary character originates rather in inner experience, and the anguish, horror, and fear of danger that the Archetypal Feminine signifies cannot be derived from any actual and evident attributes of woman."[13]

Bivalence of the Great Mother: The Good Mother versus the Terrible Mother

Awareness of the existence of the Great Mother leads to a growing sense that she sometimes represents nurture and and at other times she represents pain and withholding. Thus, from the Great Mother arises a "bivalence" of sorts: the Good Mother versus the Terrible Mother. In The Origins and History of Consciousness Erich Neumann says: "Detachment from the uroboros means being born and descending into the lower world of reality, full of dangers and discomforts. The nascent ego becomes aware of pleasure-pain qualities, and from them it experiences its own pleasure and pain. Consequently the world becomes ambivalent."[14]

Neumann continues: At the cultural level, this shows up in myth and religion as a "waking ego of humanity" dealing with a divided mother figure: "The wicked, devouring mother and the good mother lavishing affection are two sides of the great uroboric Mother Goddess who reigns over this psychic stage."

  • The Good Mother is represented by "fullness and abundance; the dispenser of life and happiness, the nutrient earth, the cornucopia of the fruitful womb. She is mankind's instinctive experience of the world's depth and beauty, of the goodness and graciousness of Mother Nature who daily fulfills the promise of redemption and resurrection, of new life and new birth."

  • The Terrible Mother shows up as "the bloodstained goddess of death, plague, famine, flood, and the force of instinct, or as the sweetness that lures to destruction."[15]

 

In his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell spells out the attributes of the Terrible Mother. To paraphrase:

  • The absent, unattainable mother, against whom aggressive fantasies are directed, and from whom a counter-aggression is feared; 

  • The hampering, forbidding, punishing mother; 

  • The mother who would hold to herself and suffocate the growing child, who is trying to push away

  • The desired but forbidden mother (Oedipus complex) whose presence is a lure to dangerous desire (castration complex).[16]

"Terrible Mother" symbolism appears as monsters: "The symbolism of the Terrible Mother draws its imagoes predominantly from the “inside”; that is to say, the negative elementary character of the Feminine expresses itself in fantastic and chimerical images that do not originate in the outside world. The reason for this is that the Terrible Female is a symbol for the unconscious. And the dark side of the Terrible Mother takes the form of monsters." [17]

This infantile vulnerability of the ego gets reflected in the vulnerability of early man, who is immersed in participation mystique of nature: "Early man's feeling is necessarily one of constant endangerment." Neumann says that the ego experiences:

  1. The "daemonism of the external world, with its sickness and death, famines and floods, droughts and earthquakes."

  2. The inner world: "The terrors of a world ruled by the irrationality of chance and mitigated by no knowledge of the laws of causality are made even more sinister by the spirits of the dead, by demons and gods, witches and magicians."

  3. The combination of the first two leads to a third woe based in the ego itself: emotionality. "Invisible workings emanate from all these beings, and the reality of these all-pervading effluences shows itself in fears, emotional outbursts, orgiastic frenzies, and psychic epidemics; seasonal bouts of lust, murderous impulses, visions, dreams, and hallucinations."[18]

Similarly, the infantile ego is stuck "confronting every event as though it were a devastating innovation, and exposed to every whim of the world and man. In him, too, there dwells this primitive dread which comes from an outside world contaminated with the inside and made mysterious by projection. [...] The supremacy of the world of objects and the world of the unconscious is an experience that has to be accepted. For this reason, fear is a normal phenomenon in the psychology of the child." Neumann goes on to relate this fear to the cultural world of man: "But at the same time, this fear provides a transpersonal stimulus for growth, giving rise to the evolution of culture, art, science, etc. Thus, such fear shouldn't be reduced to the personal, trying to banish it that way."[19]

The Great Mother goddesses

Erich Neumann continues to emphasize the hostility of the ego to the Great Mother. The Great Mother is the source of unconsciousness and death; but she also provides nurturance and libido (mental energy) for continued consciousness. The ego and the Great Mother increasingly find themselves in a mutually vampiric relationship: "Ego consciousness has, as the last-born, to fight for its position and secure it against the assaults of the Great Mother within and the World Mother without. Finally it has to extend its own territory in a long and bitter struggle. [...] The devouring side of the uroboros is experienced as the tendency of the unconscious to destroy consciousness. This is identical with the basic fact that ego consciousness has to wrest libido from the unconscious for its own existence, for, unless it does so, its specific achievement falls back into the unconscious, in other words is 'devoured.'"[20]

How does the Great Mother appear to the newly individuated ego? Recall what I said earlier about the world of the newborn as a mix of inputs: But the newborn isn't able to separate out and process those inputs; it's all a jumble. The newborn doesn't yet have a system for storing and representing the world. The newborn simply registers and absorbs perceptions exactly as they arrive.

 

Neumann says that the ego sees the Great Mother as a monolithic archetype composed of multiple aspects, all intermingled and ever in flux: Good mother, Terrible mother, helpful sister, demanding harridan, etc. "Originally the archetype acted upon the ego en masse, in all the undifferentiated profusion of its paradoxical nature. This is the chief reason why the ego is overwhelmed, and consciousness disoriented, by the archetype, whose emergence from the depths is always new, different, unexpected, and terrifyingly vivid."[21]

Expressed at the cultural level, early man projects an amorphous Great Mother out into the world and finds that "an anonymous and amorphous primal deity is inconceivably frightful; it is stupendous and unapproachable, incomprehensible and impossible to manipulate. The ego experiences its formlessness as something inhuman and hostile, if indeed it ever tackles the impossible task of experiencing it. So we often find an inhuman god at the beginning in the form of a beast, or some horrid anomaly and monster of miscegenation. These hideous creatures are expressions of the ego’s inability to experience the featurelessness of the primal deity."[22]

 

One is reminded of Lovecraft's "elder gods" or of horror writers who portray nature itself as malevolent and vengeful.

 

When the ego finally begins to assign concrete characteristics to the Great Mother, they are often a jumble of female, male, and even animal characteristics. The infantile ego is conscious of the world around it: Mother, father, pets, farm animals, bugs, etc. But it has no ability to process sensual inputs and tends to jumble everything together.

This shows up at the cultural level in the early myths of female monsters. Neumann says, "In the early phase of consciousness, the numinosity of the archetype consequently exceeds man's power of representation, so much so that at first no form can be given to it. And when later the primordial archetype takes form in the imagination of man, its representations are often monstrous and inhuman. This is the phase of the chimerical creatures composed of different animals or of animal and man—the griffins, sphinxes, harpies, for example—and also of such monstrosities as phallic and bearded mothers. It is only when consciousness learns to look at phenomena from a certain distance, to react more subtly, to differentiate and distinguish, that the mixture of symbols prevailing in the primordial archetype separates into the groups of symbols characteristic of a single archetype or of a group of related archetypes; in short, that they became recognizable."[23]

 

Neumann notes that the father doesn't show up at this stage. At the stage of the maternal uroboros, "there is as yet no paternal progenitor other than the son himself. The reign of the maternal uroboros is characterized by the fact that the 'masculine' features, later attributed to the father, are still integral parts of the uroboric nature of the Great Mother." Hence masculine attributes are attributed to females, as in the case of such creatures as Weird Sisters, hags, and witches.[24]

 

Neumann says that Great Mother figures may be endowed with phallic protruding tongues, boar companions, and the use of snakes as skirts or girdles or hair. "Thus the terrible aspect of the Feminine always includes the uroboric snake woman, the woman with the phallus, the unity of childbearing and begetting, of life and death." By way of example, Neumann cites traditional descriptions of the mythical female Gorgon named Medusa, who was endowed with venomous snakes in place of hair: "The Gorgon is endowed with every male attribute: the snake, the tooth, the boar’s tusks, the outthrust tongue, and sometimes even with a beard."[25]

 

With time, the ego begins to recognize that the Great Mother is attended by a companion with phallic attributes, for example, she is accompanied by dangerous animals such as boars, wild dogs, or snakes. Across time, there may occur a "splitting" of the Great Mother into a benevolent Good Mother and evil companion. For example, "it is no longer the Great Mother who is the killer, but a hostile animal, for instance, a boar or a bear, with the lamenting figure of the good mother ranged alongside."[26]

The Great Mother as fertility goddess

In an earlier essay I noted that Jung and Neumann considered animism and totemism to be the earliest form of religion. At the religious level, the Great Mother starts showing up in the early religions as a fertility goddess.

 

The life of a newborn is a series of cycles: Waking and sleeping, and eating and excreting. One fades into the other, creating the sense of a never-ending round of life. At the cultural level, early man experiences nature turning back on itself in cycles: Cycles of day and night, cycles of the seasons, cycles of the moon and sun.

 

Furthermore, life and death are experienced as a cycle. The ego wakes and sleeps; nature dies in the autumn and is reborn anew in the spring. In the world of the individuating ego or the early man, connectedness and unity are the rule. Life and death are opposites, but they flow into each other. They aren't separate; they are just different portions of the same eternal cycle.

 

The fertility religions were mostly prehistoric (prior to 2500 BCE). They included themes like blood sacrifices, feasts and orgies incorporating eating the god (or a substitute for the god), which symbolized the crops blooming anew and promised resurrection or eternal life. Such rituals marked the phases of the crop-growing season and included earth and vegetation symbolism.

 

The Great Mother eventually came to preside over these cycles in the form of the early fertility goddesses. Joseph Campbell initially describes the positive side of the "Universal Mother": "The mythological figure of the Universal Mother imputes to the cosmos the feminine attributes of the first, nourishing and protecting presence." But he then goes on to speak of her negative side: "She is also the death of everything that dies. The whole round of existence is accomplished within her sway, from birth, through adolescence, maturity, and senescence, to the grave. She is the womb and the tomb: the sow that eats her farrow. Thus she unites the 'good' and the 'bad,' exhibiting the two modes of the remembered mother, not as personal only, but as universal."[27]

In the section on the uroboric environment, I mentioned that a consequence of participation mystique (immersion in nature) is ritual sacrifice: If everything is connected, then to act within nature is to disturb nature; and nature requires amends of man. Erich Neumann describes the human sacrifices of the Aztecs as fertility rites. In the spring, the Aztecs sacrificed thousands of prisoners for the purpose of pouring their blood into the soil. Blood was associated with menstruation and fertility, and the spilling of blood was seen as a ritual to jump-start the springtime renewal of the surrounding nature and win the favor of the Great Mother nature goddess.[28]

 

Again, the fertility religions were mostly prehistoric. With the later appearance of the patriarchal "sky god" religions, such as the polytheistic Greek and Roman gods or monotheistic Judaism, most of the early Great Mother fertility goddesses were simply written out of history and forgotten. Nonetheless portraits of some of the old Great Mother goddesses were preserved into modern times. Wikipedia describes the Hindu goddess Kali as "the goddess of ultimate power, time, destruction and change." In her book Sexual Personae, Camille Paglia says, "The femaleness of fertility religions is always double-edged. The Indian nature-goddess Kali is creator and destroyer, granting boons with one set of arms while cutting throats with the other. She is the lady ringed with skulls."[29]

In Sexual Personae, Camille Paglia ridicules the benevolent "earth mother" goddess images conceived by modern feminists and reiterates that the original Great Mother goddesses were much more powerful and destructive than commonly conceived today: "The mother goddess gives life but takes it away. Lucretius says, 'The universal mother is also the common grave.' She is morally ambivalent, violent as well as benevolent. The sanitized pacifist goddess promoted by feminism is wishful thinking. From prehistory to the end of the Roman empire, the Great Mother never lost her barbarism. She is the ever-changing face of chthonian nature, now savage, now smiling. [...] The portrayal of the Virgin Mary as kind and nurturing is a later invention, a product of Apollonian Christianity."[30]

For a little deeper dive on this subject, see the following supplemental essay:

Link to supplemental essay: The Terrible Mother

The Antagonist

As I noted above, the father doesn't initially show up in the uroboric environment. The father is rather a negligible presence in the earliest life of most infants; the mother is the primary influence. If the father (or male influence in general) is represented at all, he shows up as phallic accessories on the Great Mother or as a dangerous animal companion.

 

But as the infant grows and begins to register his environment better, Neumann says that the ego registers a destructive masculine side of the Great Mother as increasingly distinct. "It is her murderous satellites, with whom are connected the destructive elements stone and iron, who carry out the sacrifice of the adolescent son." At the cultural level, it can start with a boar, then later as a masculine warrior companion of the Great Mother or as a priest who performs a castration.[31]

 

Neumann says that this new entity is an angry maternal uncle or castrating priest who serves as companion to an otherwise benevolent Good Mother figure; he is the "destructive instrument of the matriarchate, as its henchman."[32] Neumann calls this new figure "the Antagonist." Neumann even describes a pagan version of Hell where the devil is a male figure who exists in a female underworld and serves as a destroying companion.[33]

 

But throughout the N level, the Great Mother remains the dominant force and the center of the infant's attention. At best, the Antagonist is just an accessory to or extension of the Great Mother.

~Posted October 19, 2023

Son-Lover Versus Struggler

SLvsStruggler

Introduction

In the previous section I described how the infant begins to go through the process of separation-individuation, which causes it to register itself as separate from the Great Mother. As the infantile ego registers itself as a separate entity, the infant begins to feel increasing distance from and hostility toward the Great Mother.

I will describe two stages of separation-individuation:  

  • An early stage (the stage of the Son-lover) where the infant is still relatively merged with or "immersed" in the Great Mother; and

  • a later stage (the stage of the Struggler) where the infant increasingly registers himself as separate from the Great Mother and "distances" himself from her accordingly. 

Afterward I will try to show how the Son-lover and Struggler operate in a manner similar to extraverted Intuition and introverted Intuition.

Note: The following sections are written from the point of view of a male ego interacting with the Great Mother. In this, I'm following the work of Neumann and Jung. But as I discussed in the previous section, infants of both sexes interact with the Great Mother in much the same fashion throughout the N level.

 

Infantile sexuality

Freud said that infants show evidence of unfocused pleasure/libidinal drives, a state that he called "polymorphous perversity." The Wikipedia article entitled "Polymorphous perversity" says that "The objects and modes of pleasurable satisfaction are multifarious, directed at every object that might provide pleasure. [...] Lacking knowledge that certain modes of gratification are forbidden, the polymorphously perverse child seeks gratification wherever it occurs. In the earliest phase, the oral phase, the child forms a libidinal bond with the mother via the inherent pleasure gained from suckling at the breast."[1]

But if pleasurable experiences are perceived as sexual, then unpleasant experiences are registered as deprivation of sexual excitement, in other words castration. That includes unconsciousness and sleep: Recall that the Great Mother is registered as a hovering, threatening entity who both gives birth and kills. To fall under the sway of the Great Mother is to live one's life in a state of alternating matriarchal incest (pleasure) and matriarchal castration (frustration and pain). This is effectively another way of viewing the infant's world as an ongoing alternation between the Good Mother and the Terrible Mother.

Naturally, assigning the idea of sexual and castration symbology onto the infantile mentality represents back-projection (see the previous section). But young infants have very little happening in their world aside from sleeping, eating, and registering things as either pleasure/sex or pain/castration. Freud emphasized the importance of sexuality in infantile and early childhood psychosexual development, and the Jungians agreed.

 

There was disagreement, however, on exactly how and why the infant begins to register castration anxiety. Freud pointed at Oedipal fears and the influence of the father in particular. The Wikipedia article on "Castration anxiety" says, "According to Freud, when the infantile male becomes aware of differences between male and female genitalia he assumes that the female's penis has been removed and becomes anxious that his penis will be cut off by his rival, the father figure, as punishment for desiring the mother figure."[2] But Neumann says that the "Antagonist" father figure is only a minor player in the world of the infant, often merely appearing as an attack animal or companion dutifully carrying out the bloody will of the Great Mother. So according to Neumann, at this early stage fear of castration results from the infant's interaction with the Great Mother herself, that is, from the ego's sexual attraction to the Good Mother and the ego's fear of retribution from the Terrible Mother. 

 

Neumann finds support for these ideas in the prehistoric fertility religions; he uses the interaction between the fertility goddess and the symbol of the "Son-lover" to illustrate the ego's relation to the Great Mother:

The Son-lover

Neumann defines the Son-lover as follows: "This early stage of conscious-unconscious relations is reflected in the mythology of the Mother Goddess and her connection with the son-lover. The Attis, Adonis, Tammuz, and Osiris figures in the Near Eastern cultures are not merely born of a mother; on the contrary, this aspect is altogether eclipsed by the fact that they are their mother's lovers: they are loved, slain, buried, and bewailed by her, and are then reborn through her. The figure of the son-lover follows on the stage of embryo and child. By differentiating himself from the unconscious and reaffirming his masculine otherness, he very nearly becomes the partner of the maternal unconscious; he is her lover as well as her son. But he is not yet strong enough to cope with her, he succumbs to her in death and is devoured. The mother-beloved turns into the terrible Death Goddess. She is still playing cat-and-mouse with him, and she overshadows even his rebirth."[3]

Neumann goes on to talk about the Son-lover's role as "phallic consort" of the Great Mother. The Son-lover plays out a cycle of birth, death, and then rebirth, which the Great Mother presides over in her role as fertility goddess. As I said in a previous section, Life and death are opposites, but they flow into each other. They aren't separate; they are just different portions of the same eternal cycle.

 

Neumann says, "The young men whom the Mother selects for her lovers may impregnate her, they may even be fertility gods, but the fact remains that they are only phallic consorts of the Great Mother, drones serving the queen bee, who are killed off as soon as they have performed their duty of fecundation."[4]

 

Since the son is temporary and the Mother is permanent, the son basically just exists as a bearer of the phallus so that the Mother can breed the next generation of sons: "Man becomes her plaything, the goat is her mount, the phallus her constant companion." In mythology, such consorts often show up in the form of dwarfs, to show their subordinate status. The phallic nature of the Son-lover consorts shows up in numerous representations of goddesses with snakes. (This is the source of the snake eating its tail as the symbol of the uroboros.) "The attendant serpent--apart from its numinous nature--is likewise a symbol of the fertilizing phallus. That is why the Great Mother is so often connected with snakes. Not only in Creto-Mycenaean culture and its Greek offshoots, but as far back as Egypt, Phoenicia, and Babylon and similarly in the Bible story of Paradise, the snake is the companion of woman." Neumann goes on to note that the symbol of fertility goddess and snake eventually gets humanized into "the human Madonna with the human child."[5]

In fertility religions, the phallic youths also become associated with vegetation. That is, they are fertility deities, but also "as something sprung up from the earth, they are the vegetation itself. Their existence makes the earth fruitful, but as soon as they have reached maturity they must be killed, mown down, and harvested." Thus the imagery of the Great Mother with the ear of corn, another phallic image: "The Great Mother with the ear of corn, her corn son, is an archetype whose power extends as far as the mysteries of Eleusis, the Christian Madonna, and the wheaten Host in which the wheaten body of the son is eaten. The youths who belong to the Great Mother are gods of spring who must be put to death in order to be lamented by the Great Mother and reborn."[6]

 

The boy is vegetation and renewable, therefore every boy born in the spring is the same boy: "[E]very beloved the same, the one beloved." Meantime, the Goddess exists eternally and is unattached to any single bearer of the phallus; the phallus is anonymous to her.[7]

 

Neumann talks about early fertility rites: There were orgiastic feasts which celebrated young boys and their phalluses, culminating in the castration, ritual killing, and dismemberment of those same youths.[8]

 

In his role as phallic symbol, the Son-lover was deemed to be both victim and willing participant in such rites. He was so identified with his phallus that he accepted the fate that came with it, as long as it gave him access to the Great Mother. In terms of the infantile ego, this would be the ego that is so enamored of the Good Mother's nurture and nourishment that it willingly accepts the "death" of unconsciousness that accompanies her. As I said in a previous section, The ego, to the extent that it exists at all, fights dissolution into the unconscious; but at the same time, it identifies with the uroboros and so finds the experience pleasurable in that sense. Later on, this experience of the ego will turn into masochism, which in turn is projected as sadism on the part of the consuming uroboros. Thus, the Son-lover actively offers up his ego to the unconscious and embraces martyrdom and sacrifice.

In her book Sexual Personae, Camille Paglia suggests that this unconscious attitude resurfaces in sadistic female imagery such as the femme fatale, the "toothed vagina" (vagina dentata), and "women's latent vampirism." Paglia describes sex as a sadomasochistic transaction at the unconscious level: "For the male, every act of intercourse is a return to the mother and a capitulation to her. For men, sex is a struggle for identity. In sex, the male is consumed and released again by the toothed power that bore him, the female dragon of nature." [9]

 

Paglia says that man fears his own unconscious feminine; in contrast woman embraces paganism in the form of her own unconscious masculine as portrayed by female monsters: The Gorgon Medusa, Sphinx, Furies, Harpies, Sirens, Circe, Scylla and Charybdis, and so on.[10] Paglia says, "Masculinity flows from the Great Mother as an aspect of herself and is recalled and cancelled by her at will. Her son is a servant of her cult. There is no going beyond her. Motherhood blankets existence."[11]

 

Or as Neumann says: "The emotional, passionate nature of the female in wild abandon is a terrible thing for man and his consciousness. The dangerous side of woman's lasciviousness, although suppressed, misunderstood, and minimized in patriarchal times, was still a living experience in earlier ages."[12]

 

Neumann goes on to say that the ministers and priests of the prehistoric fertility goddess were eunuchs: "They have sacrificed the thing that is for her the most important--the phallus. [...] The castration threat makes its appearance with the Great Mother and is deadly. For her, loving, dying, and being emasculated are the same thing. Only the priests, at least in later times, escape being put to death because, by castrating themselves, they have voluntarily submitted to a symbolical death for her sake."[13] Neumann says that this tradition comes down to modern times in the form of robes worn by priests and the shaving of the heads of some types of monks. These started out as demonstrations of effeminacy,  eunuch status, and devotion to the fertility goddess. He notes that eunuch priests were also sacred prostitutes.[14]

Transition from the Son-lover to the Struggler

As I said at the beginning of this section: I will describe two stages of separation-individuation:  

  • An early stage (the stage of the Son-lover) where the infant is still relatively merged with or "immersed" in the Great Mother; and

  • A later stage (the stage of the Struggler) where the infant increasingly registers himself as separate from the Great Mother and "distances" himself from her accordingly.

As separation-individuation proceeds, a new phase of ego development occurs: The Son-lover makes the transition to the Struggler. As the infant's ego increasingly focuses on the "Terrible Mother" aspect of the Great Mother, the child begins to test limits, actively oppose the wishes of the Great Mother, and throw tantrums. Of course, for a very young child it's effectively impossible to have any real freedom; the child still requires nurture. Thus, the Great Mother still imposes her cycles of castration and sleep on the ego. But a new relationship arises.

 

This new relationship is reflected in the cultural mythology by stories such as the Narcissus myth: The handsome Greek youth Narcissus spurns the love of the nymph Echo, and he is condemned by the gods to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool and die by suicide (drowning or starvation). Neumann sees the hallmarks of the Struggler in this myth: A boy fleeing a goddess and paying with his life for his rebellion.

 

The image of the boy falling in love with his own reflection gives rise to the term "narcissism," usually considered a character flaw. But Neumann notes that narcissism is a healthy stage in the process of late-stage separation-individuation: It's appropriate for the child to turn his gaze away from the Great Mother and instead seek to know himself. Neumann notes: "The tendency of an ego consciousness that is becoming aware of itself [...] to see itself as in a mirror is a necessary and essential feature at this stage. Self-formation and self-realization begin in earnest when human consciousness develops into self-consciousness."[15]

Neumann mentions a couple more myths that concern boys in flight from a punishing goddess, among them the story of Hippolytus: Hippolytus is a hunter and sportsman who is disgusted by sex and marriage. As a result he worships Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, and ignores Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Aphrodite takes issue with this attitude on the part of Hippolytus and initiates a series of events culminating in the death of Hippolytus. Neumann says that this story emphasizes the role of chastity as a way to turn inward and self-reflect.[16]

 

Neumann says, "The youth struggling for self-consciousness now begins, in so far as he is an individual, to have a personal fate, and for him the Great Mother becomes the deadly and unfaithful mother. She selects one young man after another to love and destroy. In this way she becomes 'the harlot.'"[17]

 

In other words, previously the Son-lover was an active and enthusiastic participant in the sadomasochistic rites of the Great Mother; in contrast, the later Struggler is the very much the opposite: He resorts to chastity and flight in a bid to strengthen his independence. However, the end result is the same either way: Castration and death. The Great Mother is simply too powerful at this stage. At best, the Struggler can only take comfort in the idea that he at least tried to determine his own fate.

 

But in determining his own fate, the Struggler becomes complicit in his destiny. Flight turns into self-castration and suicide. Neumann says that the Struggler's fear of the Terrible Mother "expresses itself in various forms of flight and resistance. The primary expression of flight, which is still completely under the dominance of the Great Mother, is self-castration and suicide [...]. Here the attitude of defiance, the refusal to love, leads, nevertheless, to the very thing the Terrible Mother wants, namely, the offering of the phallus, though the offering is made in a negative sense. The youths who flee in terror and madness from the demands of the Great Mother betray, in the act of self-castration, their abiding fixation to the central symbol of the Great Mother cult, the phallus; and this they offer up to her albeit in their consciousness and a protesting ego."[18]

 

In mythology, the fleeing Strugglers often commit suicide (for example, Narcissus). Neumann says that this infantile image of "self-destruction, self-mutilation, and suicide" stays with us unconsciously. He says that later in life Strugglers may play the archetypal "struggling and reluctant lover" who is prone to falling into a suicidal mindset in the course of a turbulent courtship.[19]

Son-lover versus Struggler as dichotomy

The Son-lover and the Struggler are both phases in the separation-individuation process; the Son-lover appears earlier when the ego is weak, and the Struggler appears later as the ego grows strong enough to start opposing the Great Mother. The Son-lover is the babe in arms; the Struggler is the toddler at 1-2 years old who is starting to throw tantrums.

The opposition of the two phases is worth noting. Dichotomies are pairs of related opposites. The opposition of the Son-lover versus the Struggler suggests that they comprise a dichotomy. For example, consider the two through the lens of their level of engagement with the Great Mother. As I said above, the Son-lover is an active and enthusiastic participant in the sadomasochistic rites of the Great Mother as fertility goddess; in contrast, the Struggler resorts to chastity and flight in a bid to strengthen his independence. One could say that the Son-lover is immersed in the world of the Great Mother while the Struggler distances himself from the Great Mother.

 

Carl Jung labelled the opposition of certain psychological phenomena as "enantiodromia," which he described as "the emergence of the unconscious opposite in the course of time."[20] It is similar to the principles of equilibrium or homeostasis. Life can't be maintained for very long under extreme circumstances. If we run too far to one extreme in our life, at some point we will have to reverse course and run in the opposite direction. In some ways we all live life as though on a pendulum, bouncing from one side to the other. 

 

In a sense, the Son-lover's earlier immersion in the world of the Great Mother creates a need for the later distancing of the Struggler from the Great Mother as separation-individuation proceeds. A lifetime of immersion is unsustainable; the growing ego increasingly needs distance if it is to develop into an independent entity.

 

Thus we can talk about a dichotomy of the Son-lover versus Struggler at the stage of the infant and early culture:

 

Son-lover: The Son-lover is an earlier stage of separation-individuation where the ego recognizes itself as a separate entity but is too weak to oppose the Great Mother. So he embraces the cycle of consciousness and unconsciousness (expressed in early culture as a birth-and-death cycle imposed by a powerful fertility goddess), willingly plays the role of "phallic consort" to the Great Mother, and actively offers up his ego to the unconscious and embraces castration and sacrifice.

 

Versus:

Struggler: The Struggler is a later stage of separation-individuation where the ego identifies with consciousness and independence; it associates unconsciousness with the Terrible Mother, a "death goddess" hovering over it, and actively fights (unsuccessfully) unconsciousness and castration. The Struggler is exemplified by the myth of Narcissus fleeing the Terrible Mother and falling in love instead with his own image in the pool: The Struggler turns his focus away from the Great Mother and instead seeks to know himself in the interests of separation-individuation.

Once again, this colorful imagery is due to back-projection. The infant doesn't originally perceive the world in the form of fertility goddesses and "phallic consorts," nor does the average mother do anything concrete in the rearing of her infant to earn the sobriquet of "Terrible Mother." But the infant does live in a world of vulnerability, fear, powerful parent figures, and equally powerful personal emotions and tantrums. As the individual grows up, ancient fears and rages become associated unconsciously with images of powerful goddesses and their consorts, or flight from a punishing monster; and early society projects these images outward into the world and acts them out as the fertility rites of early culture.

Given the similarities of fertility religions around the world, the associations that humans draw from their infantile experiences appear to be very similar. It provides evidence for the existence of archetypal images and associations; see the Supplemental essay entitled "Weak Instincts as Brain Architecture" in the Preface chapter for more on that subject.

 

Immersion-versus-Distancing dichotomy

Based on the dichotomy of the Son-lover versus Struggler, it's also possible to extrapolate "proxy dichotomies" for the purpose of highlighting certain features of the interplay between the Son-lover and Struggler.

 

For example, I suggested one such "proxy dichotomy" just a few paragraphs above: I said, One could say that the Son-lover is immersed in the world of the Great Mother while the struggler distances himself from the Great Mother.

 

Thus, I'm suggesting an Immersion-versus-Distancing dichotomy for the purpose of highlighting that particular facet of opposition characterized by the Son-lover and Struggler:

 

Immersion: The Son-lover  is enmeshed with the Great Mother to the point of being immersed in her fertility cycles, rites, and rituals. The Son-lover can't imagine an existence separate from the Great Mother and willingly accepts his role as her "phallic consort," leading ultimately to matriarchal castration and death.

 

Versus:

 

Distancing: The mythological model for the Struggler is Narcissus: He seeks to turn away from the Great Mother and distance himself from her. Ultimately the Struggler's fate is the same as the Son-lover's: Castration and death at the hands of the Terrible Mother. But his quest for distancing and independence is a sign of his greater progress toward separation-individuation, and will eventually lead to the development of the hero who fights against monsters (to be described at the next developmental level, that is, Sensing).

The Immersion-versus-Distancing dichotomy is similar to the difference between an Anxious attachment style versus an Avoidant attachment style, albeit adapted to the infantile Son-lover and Struggler. See the article "Attachment in adults" in Wikipedia for more on that subject.

 

Instinctuality-versus-Asceticism dichotomy

Another proxy for the dichotomy of the Son-lover versus Struggler might be an Instinctuality-versus-Asceticism dichotomy, where:

  • Instinctuality equates more or less to hedonism or gluttony; versus

  • Asceticism equates more or less to flight and renunciation. 

 

Thus:

 

Instinctuality: The Son-lover stage of development corresponds to Freud's "oral stage" with its focus gratification via the mouth and food: Infants derive pleasure from feeding at the mother's breast, as well as from thumb-sucking and exploring their environment by inserting objects in their mouth. Eating is the infant's main way of receiving pleasure, and infants are generally gluttons. Similarly, Neumann says that early culture demonstrates a focus on food and digestion, such as early myths of gods eating their children and vice versa, sacrifices of food offered to gods to keep them from eating their creation, the cannibalism implicit in the sacrament of the Host, etc.[21]

 

For example, the pantheon of the Greek gods were initially born to the Titans Cronus and Rhea. Fearful that his children would one day overthrow him, Cronus ate each of the gods as they were born. But Zeus was saved, and he overthrew Cronus and freed the other gods, thereafter serving as king over them. Another food-oriented symbol appears in the Old Testament where man's fall from paradise is due to the consumption of forbidden food.

 

I have also noted, above, that infants experience pleasure as sexual; the infant's simple pleasure circuitry doesn't distinguish between types of pleasure. Hence, Adam's consumption of the apple in Eden is often interpreted as symbolism for man's first knowledge of the sexual act. It suggests an earlier, pre-patriarchal version of the creation myth whereby Adam is a Son-lover indulging a sin of gross instinctuality against a Great Mother figure, which brings punishment and death upon all mankind.

 

Versus:

 

Asceticism: As I suggested above, the myth of Narcissus is the model for the Struggler. Contrary to the example of the Son-lover who willingly plays the role of "phallic consort" in the sexual rites of the fertility religions, the Struggler flees the Great Mother and embraces renunciation and chastity even at the cost of his life. From the chastity of Narcissus, it's only a short jump to the embrace of asceticism in early culture.

Erich Neumann suggested the model of the Son-lover versus the Struggler in his 1949 book The Origins and History of Consciousness. Carl Jung was pleased with the idea; subsequently, in his own Symbols of Transformation Jung suggested a variation on the Struggler which he called the Wanderer. He noted the popularity of such legends as the Wandering Jew or the crew of the Flying Dutchman. Jung suggested that both the sexual Son-lover and the chaste Wanderer are both driven by fear of incest with the Great Mother: Where the Son-lover accepts death and/or castration in expiation for fulfillment of his incestuous desires, the Wanderer flees the mother and avoids the sin of incest by embracing sacrificial measures such as abstinence and denial. Jung says, "The heroes are usually wanderers, and wandering is a symbol of longings of the restless urge which never finds its object, of nostalgia for the lost mother."[22]

 

Elsewhere, Jung talks at length about the ascetic/monastic trend in early Christianity embraced by the "Desert Fathers." Christianity was increasingly permitted in the Roman Empire and then fully legalized in 313 AD. But it co-existed in Rome with nature-worship and mystery religions with strong sexual and orgiastic elements, in other words, Son-lover religions in effect. These sexual mystery religions threatened to swallow up Christianity; in response, Christian hermit monks started fleeing to the Egyptian desert to embrace a life of asceticism and renunciation. These Christian "Strugglers" and "Wanderers" became so numerous that entire "cities" of Christian hermits arose in the desert. They eventually became the model for the Christian monastic tradition.

 

In effect, sexuality gives rise to its own opposite: Asceticism. 

Son-lover versus Struggler as archetypal myths and stories

One could refer to the stories of the Son-lover and Struggler as "archetypal myths." In the Preface on developmental levels at the start of this website, I argued that Humans are born with a mental architecture already genetically programmed into their brain, much in the same way that animals are born with instincts genetically programmed into their brains. Infants have roughly the same limited experience and perception of life everywhere in the world, and the stories of the Son-lover and Struggler could represent fairly universal themes and serve as "templates" underlying various folk tales, myths, and artistic creations.

 

Thus:

 

Son-lover myths: I mentioned above that Son-lover myths were fairly common in early pagan fertility religions: The Attis, Adonis, Tammuz, and Osiris figures in the Near Eastern cultures are not merely born of a mother; on the contrary, this aspect is altogether eclipsed by the fact that they are their mother's lovers: they are loved, slain, buried, and bewailed by her, and are then reborn through her.

 

The Greek myth of Oedipus is usually more familiar to modern readers than the myths mentioned above: Abandoned as a newborn and raised in a foreign land, Oedipus never knew his true parents. As a young adventurer, he encounters his father in battle but doesn't recognize him and kills him. He subsequently wins a kingdom when he bests the Sphinx, a female monster, in a contest. But the kingdom that he has won is ruled by his widowed mother, Jocasta, and when he claims the kingdom he unknowingly weds his mother and has children by her. The crime of incest by Oedipus and Jocasta causes the gods to send a plague upon the kingdom, and to address the plague Oedipus must delve into his origins. When he learns that he has committed incest, Oedipus blinds himself.

Thus all the elements of the Son-lover myth are present: Oedipus is immersed in the environment of the deadly Great Mother. The Great Mother is fragmented into her various aspects and represented in those aspects by the female Sphinx, Jocasta, and the goddesses known as the Furies who hover over Oedipus and his family and determine their fates. And blinding is often interpreted as a symbolic form of castration. (Fragmentation into aspects is a common psychological mechanism; I will be discussing fragmentation of the Great Mother in the material on Sensing.) The power of the Oedipus myth is well-known to any student of psychology; Freud made it the cornerstone of childhood sexuality, and both Neumann and Jung recognized in it the myth of the Son-lover.

 

And tragedy and horror as genres probably draw from the Son-lover archetype: In both genres, fate demands a tribute, often a human sacrifice, before balance can be restored and Nature can be placated. The endings seem manifestly unfair, but somehow the genres remain satisfying to audiences across the ages; probably because the story structure is so archetypal and thus familiar.

One can even speak of a genre of modern literature where male heroes live in the shadow of powerful female figures, that is, under the baleful and threatening eye of the Great Mother in a manner of speaking. For example, "The World According to Garp," by John Irving (published 1976) and "Portnoy's Complaint" (published 1967). Son-lover figures generally don't come to good ends; the hero of the first book is murdered by a feminist activist, and the hero of the second ends up in therapy for impotence.

 

Versus: 

 

Struggler myths and stories: I mentioned above that Neumann's primary model for the portrait of the Struggler is the myth of Narcissus: Spurning the love of a goddess, Narcissus is condemned by the gods to die alone and abandoned, turned in upon himself and in love with only his own reflection. Carl Jung later amends this archetype somewhat to include the portrait of Wanderers such as the Wandering Jew or the crew of the Flying Dutchman.

 

The Wanderer in particular is a recurrent motif in children's fairy tales such as "The Ugly Duckling": Individuation results in a duckling who looks different from the rest, and the duckling is cast out from its family and must wander the world to find kindred spirits. In other tales, children are punished and then ostracized by their step-families and must fight for survival in a dark forest against a monster or a witch.

 

Modern literature and art similarly represent Struggler or Wanderer stereotypes, ranging from rugged individualists who spurn society and roam the wilderness trying to "find themselves" (shades of Narcissus), to monastics, ascetics, drifters, and nomads who follow some spiritual path of their own. For an example of world-class literature on this theme, read Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf about a middle-aged man who has become suicidal after spending his life as a Wanderer, a "wolf of the steppes," unable to fit in with society.

Female Intuitives: Maiden versus Muse

Concerning the Son-lover versus Struggler, I said above that the material so far has been written from the point of view of a male ego interacting with the parents; in this, I'm following the work of Neumann and Jung. But in The Fear of the Feminine Erich Neumann says that there is no basic difference in development between boys and girls at the N level. Both go through separation-individuation and live in the shadow of the Great Mother in the same manner. "In regard to the primal relationship to the mother, i.e., the first phase of childhood, the same conditions hold true for both the boy and the girl."[23]

 

Nonetheless, I would like to propose a female equivalent for the Son-lover versus Struggler: I call it the Maiden versus the Muse. In various writings Jung and Neumann provided a couple descriptions of female profiles that seem very similar to the Son-lover and Struggler. Jung and Neumann didn't relate them to Son-lover and Struggler or to any particular cognitive function. But I thought I would summarize them here for comparison.

 

The Maiden: In The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious Carl Jung proposes an N-level archetype that he repeatedly encounters in his practice in the dreams and fantasies of patients. It's an variation on the myth of Persephone and Demeter that reflects the N level. In it, Demeter represents a cruel Great Mother goddess who torments her daughter Persephone. Like the Son-lover, Persephone exists at the whim and command of the punishing Great Mother figure and never seems to make it out of childhood. 

 

An Antagonist figure in the person of the god Hades carries off Persephone to the underworld and rapes her. This follows the pattern of the ancient custom of the "marriage of death" dating back to the old fertility religions, as described by Erich Neumann in Amor and Psyche. "Seen from the standpoint of the matriarchal world, every marriage is a rape of Kore, the virginal bloom, by Hades, the ravishing, earthly aspect of the hostile male, From this point of view every marriage is an exposure on the mountain's summit in mortal loneliness, and a waiting for the male monster, to whom the bride is surrendered. The veiling of the bride is always the veiling of the mystery, and marriage as the marriage of death is a central archetype of the feminine mysteries. In the profound experience of the feminine, the marriage of doom recounted in innumerable myths and tales, the maiden sacrificed to a monster, dragon, wizard, or evil spirit, is also a hieros gamos.* The character of rape that the event assumes for womanhood expresses the projection-typical of the matriarchal phase-of the hostile element upon the man."[24]

* "Divine marriage." See the entry "Hieros gamos" in Wikipedia.

 

Eventually Hades returns Persephone to Demeter, but thereafter Persephone is fated to spend six months of each year with Demeter and the other six months ruling the underworld with Hades. In other words Persephone eternally cycles through life and death (a symbolic murder and resurrection under the baleful eye of the Great Mother) like the Son-lover. 

 

All in all, this archetype of the Maiden seems to revolve around N-level sadomasochism, which was a hallmark of the Son-lover as well.

For a little deeper dive on this subject, see the following supplemental essay:

Link to supplemental essay: The Maiden

 

The Muse: In The Fear of the Feminine Erich Neumann describes a stage in the development of female consciousness where, like the Struggler, the daughter undergoes separation-individuation and flees the Great Mother. But like the Maiden, the Muse never manages to escape; she falls into the clutches of the Antagonist acting as companion to the Great Mother. This entrapment by the Antagonist elevates the daughter out of the sexual realm of the Great Mother and into a higher spiritual realm: It's a father-daughter bond where the daughter serves as the "muse" of the Antagonist.

 

However, this captivity keeps the daughter at the stage of a child and becomes a prison for her. Furthermore, the daughter remains in the orbit of the Great Mother: The punishing Terrible Mother figure is still lurking in the background, haunting and tormenting the daughter. Neumann says that the daughter's estrangement from the Great Mother leaves the daughter alienated from her own earthly, feminine side. Neumann says that to grow to full maturity the daughter needs a positive bond to the Great Mother; without such a bond, the daughter remains an undeveloped child. 

 

As a result, like the Struggler, the Muse distances herself from the Great Mother and yet never really escapes. She becomes a prisoner of the Antagonist and at the same time a child and a Wanderer, unable to find her way back to an identity of her own. And as Muse to the Antagonist she plays an influential role in the world, but she does so from a "distanced" perspective: She interacts with the world at second hand, through the agency of the father figure who holds her captive.

 

For a little deeper dive on this subject, see the following supplemental essay:

Link to supplemental essay: The Muse

Adult Intuitives: Care versus Autonomy

The dichotomies listed thus far are described mainly in the context of relations between the infantile ego and the mother or their reflection in the myths of early societies. The overall paradigm is as follows: The infant is in thrall to the Great Mother, and there is a vast power imbalance between the two. The infant deals with this power imbalance by either focusing on the nurture aspect (the Son-lover acts as faithful consort) or focusing on the separation-individuation aspect (the Struggler flees the Terrible Mother).

In adulthood, on the other hand, it seems that N-level dichotomies tend to gel into one particular broad dichotomous "prism" through which N-Doms may see life: Care versus Autonomy. Adult N-Doms appear to retain their sense of a power imbalance--a world divided into "the powerful versus the powerless"--and react to it in one of two ways:

  • A Care-focused ethic that emphasizes nurture and support for the vulnerable and dispossessed; or

  • An Autonomy-focused ethic that emphasizes freedom, self-development, and the overthrow of bullies and oppressors.

 

The Care-versus-Autonomy dichotomy bears a number of resemblances to the Immersion-versus-Distancing dichotomy demonstrated by the N-level Son-lover and Struggler.

Care: I have previously described the infantile (or mythical) Son-lover as the ego that is so enamored of the Good Mother's nurture and nourishment that it willingly accepts the "death" of unconsciousness that accompanies her. In adulthood the Son-lover may retain a sense of life as a system of power imbalances and personal vulnerability and project that view onto the world around him. Thus he tends to see others as needing care and nurture and he himself assumes the role of caregiver; or in some cases he may see himself as overwhelmed by powerful and malevolent forces and assume the role of victim. 

In the Ne-Dom's personal life, a focus on Care may result in an emphasis on immersion in the form of participation in community and collectivism. This is a throwback to participation mystique and a sense of the numinous, which lends the world a sense of connectedness and oneness. Care-focused adults (male or female) define themselves in the context of human relationships and in terms of their ability to care; they value empathy and the need to experience other's needs or feelings as one's own. Cooperation and service to others will be preferred over competition and personal achievement.

Alternatively, in the realm of philosophy and politics the Care outlook can result in a focus on inequality and the fate of the poor and dispossessed. The Care-focused adult views life from the angle of vulnerability. He or she may enthusiastically adopt social and political causes such as ethical treatment of animals, help for refugees, support for the poor, assistance for wounded veterans, etc. Care-focused N-Doms may view government as a beneficial force protecting the vulnerable from rapacious corporations or powerful elites.

When taken to excess, however, a focus on Care can be self-destructive. Excessive immersion in the form of self-sacrifice to the community may result in feelings of martyrdom or victimhood; society's endless demands on the individual can seem punitive and overwhelming. "Excessive immersion" leads to a sort of regression to the negative aspects of the Son-lover and the Maiden: The community serves as the devouring Great Mother, and the Care-focused individual lives in thrall to the community to his or her own detriment.

Autonomy: I have previously described the Struggler as identifying with separation-individuation, consciousness and independence; it associates unconsciousness with the Terrible Mother, a "death goddess" hovering over it, and actively fights (unsuccessfully) unconsciousness and castration. Like the Son-lover, in adulthood the Struggler may retain a sense of life as a system of power imbalances and personal vulnerability. But where the Son-lover projects a vision of victims in need of nurturance and care, the Struggler sees others as immersed in oppression and seeks to teach them autonomy and freedom: For example, freedom from substance abuse and other self-destructive attachments, freedom from a right-wing capitalist system that exploits workers, freedom from a left-wing government that robs workers of their hard-earned pay via punitive tax rates and tries to turn everyone into helpless wards of the state, and so on.

 

In the Ni-Dom's personal life, a focus on Autonomy may result in an emphasis on distancing in the form of self-sufficiency, independence, competitiveness, and achievement. Autonomy-focused adults (male or female) define themselves in the context of morality predicated on a legalistic understanding of fairness. Equality is achieved through a rigorous search for mathematical impartiality, not empathy and feelings. The workplace and its emphasis on metrics, production, and predictability feels safer than relationships, which are unpredictable and fraught with entrapment and betrayal.

 

Alternatively, in the realm of philosophy and politics the Autonomy-focused individual will often utilize social hierarchies and legal structures as a way to limit government and ensure personal rights, maximize freedom, and legitimize competition as values that benefit society. The Autonomy outlook is often associated with political libertarians or conservatives who embrace "Don't Tread on Me" rhetoric. But a focus on Autonomy can also be at the core of liberal social justice and anti-capitalist movements; virtually any kind of government or economic system can be viewed as political oppression from which a populace or a minority group needs freeing. Viewed through the Autonomy lens, governments of all stripes are often seen as an oppressor. In the eyes of the freedom-fighter, just about anything can become an infringement on freedom.

When taken to excess, however, a focus on Autonomy can be self-destructive. Excessive distancing in the form of self-sufficiency may result in feelings of selfishness and lack of connection to the community; without community to provide context and meaning, Autonomy can turn into a lack of purpose, cynicism, and self-centeredness. "Excessive distancing" leads to a sort of regression to the negative aspects of the Struggler/Wanderer and the Muse: The community serves as the devouring Great Mother, and the Autonomy-focused individual tries to flee from the community to his or her own detriment.

Care versus Autonomy: Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has written extensively about "moral foundations theory," which identifies six innate moral foundations that cultures use to develop and justify their various moralities. Haidt considers these moral foundations intuitive in the sense that they are genetically imprinted on the human mind as weak instincts and are present at birth. (See my supplemental essay on "Weak instincts" as brain architecture for more on this subject.)

 

In The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, Haidt describes two moral foundations similar to the Care versus Autonomy dichotomy:

  • A "Care/Harm" foundation or moral value that focuses on compassion for the vulnerable stemming from early attachments between mother and infant;[25] and 

  • A "Liberty/Oppression" foundation or moral value that focuses on egalitarianism and opposition to bullies.[26]

 

Haidt doesn't relate his moral foundations to Jung's psychological functions or pair up the foundations as dichotomies; he is mainly interested in exploring the extent to which they are represented in political differences between people and parties. But it is certainly tempting to see these particular two moral foundations as an outgrowth of the dichotomy of the Son-lover versus Struggler, with their shared emphasis on N-level power imbalances. (For a broader description of Haidt's moral foundations, see my essay Reconciling Politics, Religion, and Morality.)

 

Similarly, the feminist psychologist Carol Gilligan writes at length about a dichotomy reflecting Care versus Autonomy in her book In a Different Voice. She doesn't make any claims about the origin or nature of the dichotomy; she simply observes it as a difference in gender roles: Women tend toward Care-focused values, and men tend toward Autonomy-focused values. I haven't addressed gender roles in this chapter because gender isn't a factor at the stage of the N-level infant. But gender differences become a major factor in the next chapter (at the Sensing level), and I will discuss Carol Gilligan and the Care-versus-Autonomy dichotomy again at that time. For now I'm just pointing out how Gilligan's Care-versus-Autonomy dichotomy reflects the values at the foundation of the Son-lover-versus-Struggler dichotomy.

Conclusion

To sum up: 

Son-lover

  • "Phallic consort"

  • Immersion, instinctuality, gluttony

  • The Son-lover actively offers up his ego to the Great Mother and embraces martyrdom and sacrifice.

  • Focus on Care

Struggler/Wanderer

  • Narcissus and chastity

  • Distancing/asceticism/flight

  • The Struggler is hostile to the Great Mother and (unsuccessfully) fights castration

  • Focus on Autonomy

~Posted October 19, 2023

CvsA

Extraverted Intuition Versus Introverted Intuition

NeVsNi

Introduction

In the previous section I described two stages of separation-individuation:  The Son-lover who is still relatively "immersed" in the Great Mother; and the Struggler who increasingly registers himself as separate from the Great Mother and "distances" himself from her accordingly. 

 

In this section I will try to demonstrate similarities between the dichotomy of the Son-lover versus Struggler and the dichotomy of extraverted Intuition (Ne) versus introverted Intuition (Ni).

Definition of extraversion versus introversion

Most people are familiar with the idea of extraversion versus introversion as general personality traits, that is, unrelated to cognitive functions. In the article "Extraversion and Introversion," Wikipedia defines those terms as follows: "Extraversion tends to be manifested in outgoing, talkative, energetic behavior, whereas introversion is manifested in more reflective and reserved behavior. [...] Extraversion and introversion are typically viewed as a single continuum, so to be higher in one necessitates being lower in the other."

 

To spell it out a bit more:

"Extraversion is the state of primarily obtaining gratification from outside oneself. Extraverts tend to enjoy human interactions and to be enthusiastic, talkative, assertive, and gregarious. Extraverts are energized and thrive off being around other people. They take pleasure in activities that involve large social gatherings, such as parties, community activities, public demonstrations, and business or political groups. They also tend to work well in groups. An extraverted person is likely to enjoy time spent with people and find less reward in time spent alone. They tend to be energized when around other people, and they are more prone to boredom when they are by themselves."

 

"Introversion is the state of primarily obtaining gratification from one's own mental life. Introverts are typically perceived as more reserved or reflective. [...] Introverts often take pleasure in solitary activities such as reading, writing, or meditating. An introvert is likely to enjoy time spent alone and find less reward in time spent with large groups of people. Introverts are easily overwhelmed by too much stimulation from social gatherings and engagement, introversion having even been defined by some in terms of a preference for a quiet, more minimally stimulating external environment..."[1] [my bolding]

Anthony Storr was a Jungian psychologist and popularizer of Jung in the 1970s and 1980s and wrote a classic summary of Jung's work entitled The Essential Jung. He also wrote books based on  research from his own psychology practice. In his book Solitude: A Return to the Self, he suggested that:

  • Extraversion is associated with attentiveness to one's surroundings for self-esteem purposes. With their focus on the outside world, extraverts tend to ignore or repress their inner world. Extraverts are "compliant": They are attentive to the needs and priorities of the outer world. This can lead to a "depressive" nature: Overly attentive to the needs of others, extraverts can become overwhelmed by the needs of others while simultaneously neglecting their own needs, resulting in burnout and depression.

  • Introversion goes in the opposite direction. Storr suggested that introversion is associated with an avoidant attachment style and results in a "withdrawn" style whereby introverts are distrustful of the outer world and favor their inner world. This can lead to a nonreactive or "schizoid" nature: Trusting more in their personal inner world than in the outer world around them, introverts can withdraw and detach from the world so much that they end up adrift and increasingly find life meaningless and unfulfilling.

Storr presents all this as a general hypothesis or a general trend; he doesn't insist that everyone follows the same model. But his overall point is that both extraversion and introversion can be taken to such an extreme that they become maladaptive. Jung raised the same points and warned repeatedly against too much "one-sidedness" in attitude, saying that it results in neurosis. I'll talk more about "one-sidedness" in the next section.

For a little deeper dive on this subject, see the following supplemental essay:

Link to supplemental essay: Extraversion Versus Introversion

Definition of Ne versus Ni

Carl Jung was the first to exhaustively define and describe the dichotomy of extraversion versus introversion. He himself didn't view extraversion and introversion as stand-alone personality traits; instead he believed that the two attitudes (extraversion and introversion) express themselves through an individual's dominant psychological function. Thus:

  • People with Intuition as their dominant psychological function (N-Doms) are divided into users of extraverted Intuition (Ne-Doms) and users of introverted Intuition (Ni-Doms);

  • People with Sensing as their dominant psychological function (S-Doms) are divided into users of extraverted Sensing (Se-Doms) and users of introverted Sensing (Si-Doms);

  • People with Feeling as their dominant psychological function (F-Doms) are divided into users of extraverted Feeling (Fe-Doms) and users of introverted Feeling (Fi-Doms); and

  • People with Thinking as their dominant psychological function (T-Doms) are divided into users of extraverted Thinking (Te-Doms) and users of introverted Thinking (Ti-Doms)

 

A note on terminology for Ne versus Ni

Jung referred to Intuition as a "psychological function"; when he split the function into extraverted and introverted variants, he called them "psychological types." Thus:

  • Extraverted Intuition is traditionally abbreviated as "Ne." When it is the dominant function, it is abbreviated as "Ne-Dom." People who use extraverted Intuition as their dominant (preferred) psychological type are called "Ne-Doms" or "extraverted Intuitives"; and 

  • Introverted Intuition is traditionally abbreviated as "Ni." When it is the dominant function, it is abbreviated as "Ni-Dom." Adults who use introverted Intuition as their dominant (preferred) psychological type are called "Ni-Doms" or "introverted Intuitives."

 

When extraversion and introversion are expressed through Intuition as the dominant function, they exhibit certain additional characteristics unique to the N level:

Extraverted Intuition as a dominant function (Ne-Dom) generates possibilities for direct utilization of objects in the world around itself. Extraverted Intuition plays with the raw material provided by the world around it, stringing it all together into plots, conspiracies, intimations of love or hate, etc. Ne-Doms see everything in the world around themselves as connected (in an associative sense), so it's natural for Ne-Doms to be sensitive to small changes in a relationship or social setting; Ne-Doms are the most likely type to be "psychics" and readers of other people, and can actually be pretty good at it. But they can overdo it. As I said elsewhere, Hypothetically it's possible to live one's entire life on System 1, cruising through life on autopilot, unreflective and uncurious, sticking to the known and the familiar. Ne-Dom is non-analytical by nature, and if over-indulged (in other words in the absence of System 2 executive functions) it can create secret societies, conspiracies, plots, etc. out of thin air.

    

Introverted Intuition as a dominant function (Ni-Dom) takes inspiration from the world around itself and then contemplates the abstract thoughts and images that arise from within by way of response. Introverted Intuition likes seizing upon interesting thoughts and ideas that seem to have some internal similarity and stringing them together. It plays with favorite ideas and associations over time, eventually creating vast spiderwebs of favorite "idea complexes." Big thinkers by nature, Ni-Doms can string together vast associative spiderwebs that encompass all of history, trying to find some common thread or theme. But again, being non-analytical, this kind of thinking can go astray. Absent System 2, Ni-Doms can create entire disciplines or even whole religions out of thin air, simply by "shoehorning" all kinds of crazy associations into a favorite "spiderweb."

Similarities between Ne versus Ni and the dichotomy of the Son-lover versus Struggler

In the previous section I suggested that Erich Neumann's dichotomy of the Son-lover versus Struggler can be explained by a proxy Immersion-versus-Distancing dichotomy. In the following material I will try to demonstrate that Ne relates to the cognitive processes of the Son-lover by showing that Ne reflects an "Immersion" mindset; likewise, I will try to demonstrate that Ni relates to the cognitive processes of the Struggler by showing that Ni reflects a "Distancing" mindset.

 

To summarize: 

  • Ne-Doms practice "immersion" in the sense of associating and merging themselves with objects in the world around them, that is, by projecting themselves into the objects and vice versa.

  • Ni-Doms practice "distancing" in the sense of staying remote from objects in the world around them; they note the internal associations within their own mind inspired by objects in the world around them and they study those internal associations rather than the objects themselves.

 

Given that these cognitive processes reflect developmental stages, all normal adults have experienced them as part of infantile separation-individuation and can use Ne and Ni in a pinch; but N-Doms tend to use one or the other as their preferred way of interacting with the world on a regular basis, immersing in the outside world or distancing from the outside world as appropriate and deriving associations for purposes of brainstorming.

As for use of System 1 versus System 2: As adults, N-Doms have access to the executive functions of System 2; however, Intuition is largely dependent on System 1 for its proper functioning. So:

  • Ne-Doms will generally use System 1 in conjunction with their preferred extraverted Intuition in the outside world; they save System 2 for their inner world, which tends to be less familiar territory for them and thus require more focus on their part.

  • Ni-Doms will generally use System 1 in conjunction with their preferred introverted Intuition for purposes of internal associations; whereas they use System 2 to regiment the outside world around them and keep it at bay while they engage in contemplation of their inner world.

Extraverted Intuition (Ne-Dom) = Immersion

As described above, I will try to demonstrate that Ne relates to the cognitive processes of the Son-lover by showing that Ne reflects an "Immersion" mindset. Naturally, the cognitive processes of an adult Ne-Dom seem far-removed from the colorful world of the Son-lover as described in humankind's earliest mythology. As I have described elsewhere, most of that "colorful world" is the result of back-projection which is no longer in play in adult thinking (other than perhaps buried deep in the unconscious). 

 

Still, the "Immersion" mindset seems to be common to both early mythology and the cognitive processes of modern Ne-Doms.

 

I said above that Ne-Doms practice "immersion" in the sense of associating and merging themselves with objects in the world around them, that is, by projecting themselves into the objects. 

 

To spell it out more:

In his book Psychological Types, Carl Jung says that Ne is directed toward objects in the outside world, but at the same time Intuition is "in the main an unconscious function." Projection serves as the bridge between external objects and internal associations. In other words, the Ne-Dom notices objects in the outside world, calls up internal associations, and projects those internal associations onto the outside object. As Jung says, "only from the subsequent result can it be established how much of what was 'seen' was actually in the object, and how much was 'read into' it." Thus, extraverted Intuition is "an active, creative process that puts into the object just as much as it takes out."[2]

 

What is the goal of this process? For Ne, Jung stresses the idea of possibilities. He says that Ne-Doms try to "apprehend the widest range of possibilities, since only through envisioning possibilities is intuition fully satisfied. It seeks to discover what possibilities the objective situation holds in store; [...] When [Ne] is the dominant function, every ordinary situation in life seems like a locked room which intuition has to open. It is constantly seeking fresh outlets and new possibilities in external life."[3]

As I said above, Intuition doesn't focus on differentiating and categorizing things but rather on association, that is, figuring out how those things fit into a larger context. So Ne-Doms tend to rush from perception to perception. Jung says, "For a time objects appear to have an exaggerated value, if they should serve to bring about a solution, a deliverance, or lead to the discovery of a new possibility. Yet no sooner have they served their purpose as stepping-stones or bridges than they lose their value altogether and are discarded as burdensome appendages. [...] Because he is always seeking out new possibilities, stable conditions suffocate him. He seizes on new objects or situations with great intensity, sometimes with extraordinary enthusiasm, only to abandon them cold-bloodedly, without any compunctions and apparently without remembering them, as soon as their range is known and no further developments can be divined."[4]

 

To sum up: With Ne-Dom there is a sense of immersion in life, a rush from one input or perception to the next to apprehend the widest range of possibilities. Just as infants explore the world around them with their mouths to determine food from non-food, the Ne-Dom practices a type of "intellectual gluttony," trying to intake as many stimuli as possible in order to comprehend and maximize life's possibilities in the external world.

 

Ne-Dom "immersion" may manifest itself in a rushed, effusive style of communication. Ne-Doms often wish to communicate to others the urgency and enchantment of their observations, resulting in an impression that they steamroll listeners with breathless outbursts of enthusiastic chatter.

That's not to say that adult Ne-Doms are necessarily like hyperactive children. All adults have gone through all the developmental stages and as a result have access to the full range of psychological functions. Ne-Doms can employ other psychological functions to assist them in converting external possibilities into productive activity. 

 

But when taken to the extreme, Ne-Dom "intellectual gluttony" can spin out of control. Again, Intuition by itself doesn't differentiate, categorize, or analyze. The Intuition process is simply about finding associations, that is, figuring out how things fit together. If it is over-indulged (in other words in the absence of System 2 executive functions), there may be a lack of critical thinking. Because the associations come from the unconscious, Ne-Doms may not realize how much of themselves (their unconscious sides, their repressed desires) they are personally projecting into those thoughts. They may interpret their ideas as "revelations" from the outside. Jung notes that it's easy for extreme Ne-Doms to fall prey to "intense projections" such as "sexual suspicions, financial hazards, forebodings of illness, etc." They may "fall victim to neurotic compulsions in the form of over-subtle ratiocinations, hair-splitting dialectics, and a compulsive tie to the sensation aroused by the object [...,] compulsive hypochondriacal ideas, phobias, and every imaginable kind of absurd bodily sensation."[5]

In short, immersion in the external flotsam and jetsam of life without differentiation or analysis can lead to a profusion of possibilities without an end goal. Like a detective examining a crime scene with a profusion of contradictory clues, the Ne-Dom can find himself wasting a lot of time and energy on false leads.

The Ne-Dom's immersion in the world around himself also accords with a focus on Care as described in the last section. Immersion in the external world results in participation mystique in the world of the society around him. This can result in the kinds of "intense projections" described above: Perceptions of a world of power imbalances and personal vulnerability. The result is a focus on Care for others and empathy for the vulnerable and dispossessed, or in some cases it can lead to a victim mentality and a sense of being overwhelmed by powerful and malevolent forces.

 

Introverted Intuition (Ni-Dom) = Distancing

In this section I will try to demonstrate that Ni relates to the cognitive processes of the Struggler by showing that Ni reflects a "distancing" mindset; in other words, the "distancing" mindset seems to be common to both early mythology and the cognitive processes of modern Ni-Doms.

 

I said above that Ni-Doms practice "distancing" in the sense of staying remote from objects in the world around them; they note the internal associations inspired by objects in the external world around them and they contemplate those internal associations rather than the external objects themselves.

 

To spell it out more:

As described above, Intuition largely takes place in the unconscious. Jung says that Ni-Doms direct their attention toward objects in their personal inner world, which are effectively "the contents of the unconscious." In other words, the Ni-Dom notices objects in the outside world, calls up internal associations (Jung calls them "images"), and then focuses on those internal associations for purposes of contemplation. Thus, the Ni-Dom's inspiration originates with external objects, but the real fascination for Ni-Doms is "what the external object has released within him."[6]

 

Hence, there is a sense of "distancing". When studying a problem in the outside world, Ni-Doms appear to back away from the subject and study it through the prism of their internal associations, as though through a microscope or a telescope.

 

The goal of the Ni-Dom is to seek the larger meaning behind the objects in the outside world. To this end, the Ni-Dom calls up internal "images," juxtaposes them, and spins vast spiderwebs of associations and idea complexes to find hidden meaning. Big thinkers by nature, Ni-Doms may try to string together vast associative spiderwebs that encompass all of history, trying to find some common thread or theme or philosophy or "flow."

 

As was the case with Ne-Doms, associations come from the unconscious and Ni-Doms may not realize how much of themselves (their unconscious sides, their repressed desires) they are personally introjecting into those thoughts. Jung notes that Ni-Doms don't equate those images to themselves. Just as the Ne-Dom dashes from possibility to possibility (as described in the previous section), "so the introverted Intuitive moves from image to image, chasing after every possibility in the teeming womb of the unconscious, without establishing any connection between them and himself."[7]

The Ni-Dom doesn't associate himself with objects in the outside world or even necessarily with the "images" that arise inside himself. Intuition is just a process that happens to him, and he may imagine himself standing outside that process, unaffected by it. Thus the Ni-user can become something of a "brain in a jar," perceiving the world through his internal lens but not relating any of it to himself. This is where the "distancing" aspect becomes most pronounced. The Ni-Dom is like the Struggler Narcissus falling in love with his reflection in a pond: He contemplates himself without recognizing his own image in the reflection.

 

That's not to say that adult Ni-Doms are passive or inert. All adults have gone through all the developmental stages and as a result have access to the full panoply of psychological functions. Ni-Doms can employ other psychological functions to assist them in realizing an internal vision in the outside world. 

 

However, Ni by itself is non-analytical; and if Ni is over-indulged (in other words in the absence of System 2 executive functions) Ni-Doms may regard their Intuition as fate or revelation rather than mere personal associations. They may employ scorched-earth tactics to achieve their ends; that is, their focus on materializing their internal vision may cause them to sweep all other external considerations aside.

 

Jung says that if an Ni-Dom becomes overly involved with his internal images, he becomes unintelligible to the rest of the world and turns into a prophet in the wilderness. This is reminiscent of the "Wanderer" archetype proposed elsewhere by Jung. Jung says that Ni-Doms show up in two types: 1) the mystical dreamer & seer; or 2) the artist and the crank. As Ni-Dom becomes more extreme, it "often results in an extraordinary aloofness of the individual from tangible reality." If he is an artist, his art is strange, whimsical, sublime, etc. If he is not an artist, he is "a misunderstood genius, a great man 'gone wrong,' a sort of wise simpleton, a figure for 'psychological' novels."[8]

Ni "distancing" may show up as an abbreviated or oblique style of communication. Ni-Doms may tend toward elliptical or evasive utterances, figuring that "a word to the wise" should be sufficient to get their message across. But such cryptic utterances may simply leave their audience scratching their heads.

The Ni-Dom's habit of distancing himself from the world also accords with a focus on Autonomy as described in the last section. If the Ni-Dom perceives the social environment as bullying and suffocating him, he will tend to emphasize self-sufficiency, independence, competitiveness, and achievement. But he does this by diving into his own head instead of accepting guidance from the society around him, resulting in a class of Ni-Doms who are dreamers and cranks, or in some cases visionaries and fighters for freedom. If they become too isolated from the world around them, Ni-Doms can be plagued by a lack of purpose, irrelevance, and cynicism.

Conclusion

To sum up:

 

Extraverted Intuition (Ne) = Projection and external possibilities

Similar to Son-lover

Theme: Immersion in the external world leads to a focus on Care for others and to empathy for the vulnerable and dispossessed

 

Introverted Intuition (Ni) = Contemplation and internal images

Similar to Struggler/Wanderer

Theme: Distancing oneself from the external world leads to a focus on Autonomy for oneself and to a desire for self-sufficiency, independence, competitiveness, and achievement.

Disclaimer: Obviously these are not hard-and-fast personality portraits of Ne-Doms and Ni-Doms. These are more just loose associations of traits that seem to align with the main dichotomy of Immersion versus Distancing.

~Posted October 19, 2023

One-sidedness and Centroversion

Centroversion

Dichotomies: "Toggling" between healthy positions

Mainstream psychologists in the early 1900s assumed that there was one optimally healthy way to be, and that any deviation from that standard represented a lesser or greater degree of neuroticism depending on the degree of the deviation. Thus, when comparing extraversion (the quality of being habitually gregarious and social) to introversion (the quality of being habitually quiet and introspective), it was assumed that extraversion was healthy and that introversion was less healthy or maladaptive.

 

However, Carl Jung came to realize that introversion was healthy as well, and that extraversion and introversion together form a "dichotomy," that is, a duality of healthy opposites. From there, Jung derived a view of psychology based on dichotomies, in other words, pairs of complementary but opposite personality traits. 

To a great extent, these pairs are mutually exclusive: To focus on and hone one skill necessarily means ignoring or repressing an opposite skill. Taking the example of the global dichotomy of extraversion versus introversion: The extravert focuses on the outer world around him and largely ignores his inner world as a distraction, whereas the introvert focuses on his personal inner world and largely ignores the outer world as a distraction.

Each of the four cognitive functions (Intuition, Sensing, Feeling, and Thinking) has an extraverted side and an introverted side: For example, N-Doms are divided into Ne-Doms and Ni-Doms. As we grow up we develop a preference for a Dominant function in either its extraverted or its introverted form (in other words, N-Doms become either Ne-Doms or Ni-Doms), and the side that is not chosen is increasingly ignored or repressed and becomes a so-called "shadow function."

In other words N-Doms become either extraverted Ne-Doms or introverted Ni-Doms; and extraverted Ne-Doms repress their introverted Ni side while introverted Ni-Doms repress their extraverted Ne side.

 

But we still have access to our shadow functions to some degree. We still have both sides of the extraversion-versus-introversion dichotomy inside us, and we do in fact often "toggle" back and forth between them:

  • The healthy extravert occasionally gets burnt out from being at the beck and call of the community and decides that he needs some downtime and introspection in order to figure out his own needs and priorities; and

  • The healthy introvert occasionally gets burnt out from too much introspection, solitude, and navel-gazing and decides that he needs to get out and interact with society in order to get some new input and viewpoints on life.

 

So we can create a two-position continuum or spectrum for extraversion versus introversion showing that we have a preference for one side or the other but tend to toggle between them at times:

 

Extraversion <--> Introversion

 

This represents the healthy norm for all people.

Unhealthy one-sidedness

However, Jung says that as we get older we increasingly become a victim of our own success. We get better and better at our Dominant function and rely less and less on our "shadow functions." Why do we do that? Because we get in a rut and go with what works. The more successful we are in the workplace, in our relationships, and in life in general, the more we're going to stick to a winning formula. The extravert becomes more extraverted on a permanent basis, and the introvert becomes more introverted on a permanent basis. But in doing so, we make ourselves increasingly one-sided.

 

Again, to focus on and hone one skill necessarily means ignoring or repressing an opposite skill. As I said in the previous section, Wikipedia says that "Extraversion and introversion are typically viewed as a single continuum, so to be higher in one necessitates being lower in the other." Our use of functions becomes more and more lopsided: Our lives increasingly become all Dominant function and little or no shadow function.

 

This is the origin of problems like mid-life crises. It's why life can be fun and challenging for years and even decades, and then slowly turn hollow and empty even though we aren't doing anything differently. Jung says that in such cases we have simply gotten too good at what we do, leading to one-sided thinking. 

 

From this, we can create a four-position spectrum showing that we tend to toggle between healthy extraversion and healthy introversion in our youth but move toward greater one-sidedness as we age:

 

One-sided extraversion <-- Healthy extraversion <--> Healthy introversion --> One-sided introversion

 

To sum it up: We have a natural tendency toward increased one-sidedness as we approach middle age. To avoid this, we need to shake things up occasionally, get out of our comfort zone, and seek out the kind of change that will force us to develop forgotten functions.

 

One-sidedness can also crop up temporarily in youth due to stress, inability to master a developmental stage, or other developmental problems. I described this kind of situation above in the section entitled "Extraverted Intuition Versus Introverted Intuition." I referred to Anthony Storr's ideas on extraversion and introversion as follows:

  • Extraversion [...] can lead to a "depressive" nature: Overly attentive to the needs of others, extraverts can become overwhelmed by the needs of others while simultaneously neglecting their own needs, resulting in burnout and depression.

  • Introversion [...] can lead to a nonreactive or "schizoid" nature: Trusting more in their personal inner world than in the outer world around them, introverts can withdraw and detach from the world so much that they end up adrift and increasingly find life meaningless and unfulfilling.

 

In other words, "one-sidedness" is a synonym for "depressive" in the case of extraverts and for "schizoid" in the case of introverts. From this, we can create a four-position spectrum demonstrating the unhealthiness of one-sidedness:

 

Depressive extraversion <-- Healthy extraversion <--> Healthy introversion --> Schizoid introversion

 

In the section above entitled "Extraverted Intuition versus introverted Intuition," I also associated introversion with "compliance" and extraversion with "withdrawal." Taking those ideas to the extreme, one could also label the four-position spectrum as follows:

 

One-sided over-compliance <-- Healthy extraversion <--> Healthy introversion --> One-sided disengagement

 

Of the four positions:

  • The two positions in the middle are "natural" for most people, are healthy for the most part, and usually involve some degree of "toggling" between the two positions.

  • The extremes (over-compliance and disengagement) are one-sided and unhealthy. When we are at the unhealthy extremes we are unable to access our shadow functions to engage in healthy "toggling." We get "stuck" at the extremes.

 

In a sense, one-sidedness is equivalent to the concept of "bivalence." In the section entitled "The Great Mother Versus the Father at the N level," I said: Awareness of the existence of the Great Mother leads to a growing sense that she sometimes represents nurture and and at other times she represents pain and withholding. Thus, from the Great Mother arises a "bivalence" of sorts: the Good Mother versus the Terrible Mother.

 

In other words, one-sidedness represents a predicament where something healthy becomes so extreme that it turns into something that will kill you. Thus:

  • When taken to the extreme, healthy extraversion turns into excessive attentiveness to the needs of others to the point of burn-out and depression; and

  • When taken to the extreme, healthy introversion turns into excessive isolation from the world to the point of loss of meaning and purpose.

People who are "stuck" in one-sidedness tend to be stressed, overly rigid, and defensive. People who are "stuck" out on the unhealthy extremes demonstrate an inability to compromise, either to their own detriment or to the detriment of others. In particular, one-sidedness shows up at times of distress and conflict, which test one's ability to make compromises and seek balance with others under changing conditions.

 

People can find themselves "stuck" in a state of stressed one-sidedness on a temporary basis (such as when dealing with a stressful short-term problem that resolves itself quickly) or for long periods of time (such as when forced to work long-term under high-stress conditions).

 

One-sidedness: Care versus Autonomy

The Ne-versus-Ni dichotomy operates in the same manner. We can create a four-position spectrum demonstrating the unhealthiness of one-sidedness:

 

One-sided Ne <-- Healthy Ne <--> Healthy Ni --> One-sided Ni

 

Of the four positions:

  • The two positions in the middle are "natural" for N-Doms, are healthy for the most part, and usually involve some degree of "toggling" between the two positions.

  • The extremes (representing one-sidedness) are unhealthy. When N-Doms are at the unhealthy extremes they are unable to access shadow functions to engage in healthy "toggling." They get "stuck" at the extremes.

 

Take the example of the "Care-versus-Autonomy" dichotomy. In the section above entitled "Son-lover Versus Struggler" I said that Care versus Autonomy represents a variation on the basic Ne-versus-Ni dichotomy. I said that N-Doms tend to fall into two camps reflecting Ne versus Ni:

  • Ne Care: A focus on Care may result in an emphasis on immersion in the form of participation in community and collectivism.

  • Ni Autonomy: A focus on Autonomy may result in an emphasis on distancing in the form of self-sufficiency, independence, competitiveness, and achievement.

 

Thus we can derive a two-position spectrum representing the healthy versions of each:

 

Healthy Ne Care <--> Healthy Ni Autonomy

 

I also described the negatives of each side when taken to excess:

  • Ne Care: Excessive immersion in the form of self-sacrifice to the community may result in feelings of martyrdom or victimhood; society's endless demands on the individual can seem punitive and overwhelming.

  • Ni Autonomy: Excessive distancing in the form of self-sufficiency may result in feelings of selfishness and lack of connection to the community; without community to provide context and meaning, Autonomy can turn into a lack of purpose, cynicism, and self-centeredness.

 

Based on this, we can construct a four-position spectrum for Care versus Autonomy as follows:

 

One-sided Ne Care <-- Healthy Ne Care <--> Healthy Ni Autonomy --> One-sided Ni Autonomy

 

Then, incorporating the extremes as representing unhealthiness:

 

Unhealthy self-sacrifice <-- Healthy Care <--> Healthy Autonomy --> Unhealthy self-centeredness

 

As was the case for the extraversion-versus-introversion spectrum, the two positions in the middle are "natural" and healthy for most people; and the two extremes are one-sided and unhealthy.

Compensatory and daemonic functions

Why do we get "stuck" in one-sidedness? The "sticky" and troublesome nature of one-sidedness springs from the make-up of dichotomies. 

 

As I said above: As we grow up we develop a preference for a Dominant function in either its extraverted or its introverted form (in other words, N-Doms become either Ne-Doms or Ni-Doms), and the side that is not chosen is increasingly ignored or repressed and becomes a so-called "shadow function." In the case of N-Doms, it looks like the following:

  • If N-Doms prefer to use Ne as their Dominant function, then Ni tends to sink into the unconscious and become a "shadow function";

  • If N-Doms prefer to use Ni as their Dominant function, then Ne tends to sink into the unconscious and become a "shadow function."

 

But the unconscious function doesn't just disappear. Shadow functions tend to re-emerge and haunt us as a "compensatory" psychological mechanism: We claim one philosophy or outlook or direction in life, but we simultaneously "leak" in a passive-aggressive manner a few "compensatory" outlooks from our repressed side, which fulfill basic needs in our life but which we really don't want to claim or admit to. This passive-aggressive "leakage" shows up in our bad habits, petty rip-offs, hypocrisies, flakiness, Freudian slips, addictions, fears, anxieties, and so on. And we all understand deep down that this is how things work: No one is perfect, as they say.

 

More dramatically, a repressed function may become a little too repressed, and reappear as something that Carl Jung calls "the daemonic." (The word "daemonic" comes from the Greek word daimon, meaning "belonging or pertaining to a spirit of lesser divinity"; from that we get the Christian word "demonic.") The daemonic tends to reappear in the form of neuroses, obsessions, panic attacks, voices out of nowhere, or some other debilitating problem.

 

This is because the two sides of any dichotomy (such as Ne and Ni) are at war, each contending for the limited amount of total mental energy ("libido") at their disposal. Across time, our Dominant (conscious) attitude or function tends to draw more and more energy away from the shadow (unconscious) function. If our life becomes extremely one-sided, the shadow function may sink down into the deep recesses of our id, where it taps into energy from our rawest, oldest, most infantile emotions and reappears in daemonic form.

 

In other words, repressed functions gain energy from repression into the unconscious and pop back up like beachballs held underwater. But when they pop up, they re-emerge in daemonic form and they trip us up and confuse us. Daemonic functions are frightening: The more they are repressed, the more they become the material of nightmares, dread, and chaos. They show up as fears, cravings, and weaknesses that we frankly don't want to admit to or even recognize as our own. So we try to repress them even further, worsening the problem even more. In the end, we get so lopsided in our thinking, and the daemonic functions become such huge obstacles, that crises occur in our life and we become neurotic.

 

This is related to the concept of "enantiodromia," which I mentioned in the section entitled "Son-lover Versus Struggler." In Psychological Types Carl Jung says, "I use the term enantiodromia for the emergence of the unconscious opposite in the course of time. This characteristic phenomenon practically always occurs when an extreme, one-sided tendency dominates conscious life; in time an equally powerful counterposition is built up, which first inhibits the conscious performance and subsequently breaks through the conscious control."[1]

 

Or to put it another way: In her book Sexual Personae Camille Paglia says, "Freud's unconscious is a daemonic realm. In the day we are social creatures, but at night we descend to the dream world where nature reigns, where there is no law but sex, cruelty, and metamorphosis. Day itself is invaded by daemonic night."[2]

 

In essence, the daemonic nature of shadow functions becomes a big part of the reason we tend to get "stuck" in one-sidedness: If our non-Dominant functions tend to emerge from our unconscious in the form of daemonic fears, then we are going to flee from them, try to repress them, and stick to the comfort zone of our Dominant function. In other words, daemonic functions are not only a by-product of one-sidedness, but they also reinforce that same tendency to one-sidedness and cause us to get "stuck" there.

 

The daemonic as the cure for one-sidedness

Daemonic functions terrify us and reinforce our tendency to one-sidedness; at the same time, however, they also represent the "fix" for one-sidedness. Daemonic functions demonstrate the pathway by which we exit one-sidedness and find our way back toward the healthy middle area of the four-position spectrum.

 

At times of crisis it doesn't do us any good to stay in our comfort zone and cower from our fears. To get out of one-sidedness we need to face our daemonic fears and "lean in" on them. This is the source of Jung's admonitions to explore one's Shadow and learn from it in order to develop and grow. 

 

Leaning in on the daemonic basically reverses the process of bivalence: If something terrifies us and has the capacity to destroy us, then it also has the capacity to teach us and sustain us. The destroying Terrible Mother can turn into the nurturing Good Mother if we face her down and learn the lessons she can teach us. In turn, recognizing the bivalence of our daemonic fears helps us to get "unstuck": It helps us to escape our own bivalence resulting from our current one-sidedness and find our way back to balance in the middle.

The nature of bivalence is such that good and evil become two sides of the same coin. This is true for both our own onesidedness and also the daemonic fears that arise in response: That which nurtures us turns into that which kills us and vice versa, depending on our perspective of them.

 

The daemonic of extraversion versus introversion

I previously set up a four-position spectrum for extraversion versus introversion in the following manner:

 

One-sided Over-compliance <-- Healthy extraversion <--> Healthy introversion --> One-sided Disengagement

 

The unhealthy one-sided extremes of both extraversion and introversion (Over-compliance and Disengagement) are likely to generate a daemonic from the opposite function based on the process of enantiodromia, as described above. In other words:

  • One-sided Over-compliance generates daemonic introversion; in order to escape one-sidedness the one-sided Over-compliant extrovert must lean in on daemonic introversion and learn the lessons that it can teach him.

  • One-sided Disengagement generates daemonic extraversion; in order to escape one-sidedness the one-sided Disengaged introvert must lean in on the daemonic extraversion and learn the lessons that it can teach him.

 

Here is how that process works out in greater detail, breaking them down separately:

 

When extraverts get "stuck" in one-sidedness, the following happens:

  • Extraversion turns one-sided: Within reasonable limits, extraversion is normal and healthy; a focus on community and the needs of others builds empathy and strengthens bonds. But taken to unhealthy extremes (when extraversion is taken to the point of one-sided Over-compliance), attentiveness to the needs of others can turn into endless involvement in other people's dramas and overextending oneself to take care of the needs of others, leading to burn-out and depression. 

  • Introversion turns daemonic: Normal introversion is represented by attention to one's own needs and desires welling up from inside. In contrast, daemonic introversion appears when one-sided Over-compliant extraverts start fearing their own needs and desires. Addressing their personal needs threatens to distract them from their perceived duty to serve others, so they see their personal needs as shameful or selfish and they worry that the community will judge them poorly if they take time to withdraw a bit and address their own needs. 

  • Escaping one-sided Over-compliance: Getting "unstuck" from one-sidedness means embracing the fact that extraverts also have personal needs and desires of their own. They need to take time to address them even if it means turning away from the community for a while; it means saying "no" to excessive demands of the community that threaten to drain them down to the point of burnout.

 

When introverts get "stuck" in one-sidedness, the following happens:

  • Introversion turns one-sided: Within reasonable limits, introversion is normal and healthy; a focus on introspection brings peace and self-knowledge. But taken to unhealthy extremes (when introversion is taken to the point of one-sided Disengagement), withdrawal from the world can turn into isolation and alienation from society by hiding away and walling oneself off from the community, leading to empty navel-gazing and loss of meaning and purpose.

  • Extraversion turns daemonic: Normal extraversion is represented by the enjoyment of social interactions. In contrast, daemonic extraversion appears when one-sided Disengaged introverts start regarding even the simplest social interactions as intimidating, ominous, or full of potential to result in personal embarrassment or harm. Solitude is the one-sided Disengaged introvert's comfort zone, but if they spend too long there even the simplest social interactions come to represent a dislocation and hardship. Comfort zones tend to shrink with time; the lives of one-sided Disengaged introverts become increasingly restricted by the fear of contact with other humans.

  • Escaping one-sided Disengagement: Getting "unstuck" from one-sidedness means embracing the fact that "no man is an island." Everyone desires to be at least competent enough to leave the house, run a few errands in society, and maybe exchange social pleasantries and small talk without looking like a startled rabbit. But that requires one-sided Disengaged introverts to lean in on their fears, move out of their comfort zone, and tackle some social situations. 

 

The daemonic of Care versus Autonomy

Above, I said that Care versus Autonomy represents a proxy for Ne versus Ni and I generated a four-position spectrum as follows:

 

One-sided Ne Self-sacrifice <-- Healthy Ne Care <--> Healthy Ni Autonomy --> One-sided Ni Self-centeredness

 

As was the case for the extraversion-versus-introversion spectrum, the two positions in the middle are "natural" and healthy for N-Doms; and the two extremes (Self-sacrifice and Self-centeredness) are one-sided and unhealthy.

 

The one-sided extremes of both self-sacrificing Ne and self-centered Ni are likely to generate a daemonic from the opposite function based on the process of enantiodromia, as described above. In other words:

  • One-sided Ne Self-sacrifice generates daemonic Ni Autonomy; in order to escape one-sidedness the one-sided Self-sacrificing Ne-Dom must lean in on the daemonic and learn the lessons that it can teach him.

  • One-sided Ni Self-centeredness generates daemonic Ne Care; in order to escape one-sidedness the one-sided Self-centered Ni-Dom must lean in on the daemonic and learn the lessons that it can teach him.

 

Here is how that process works out in greater detail, breaking them down separately:

 

When Care-focused Ne-Doms get "stuck" in one-sidedness, the following happens:

  • Ne Care turns one-sided: Within reasonable limits, a focus on Ne Care is normal and healthy; immersion of the care-focused individual in family or community strengthens both the individual and the community. But taken to unhealthy extremes (when Care is taken to the point of one-sided Ne Self-sacrifice), immersion in family or community can turn into an obligation to care for others to the detriment of one's own needs. Care can turn into Self-sacrifice driven by a need for approval from others. One-sided Self-sacrificing Ne-Doms may find that they can't afford to disagree with others for fear of causing offense and incurring disapproval, and they ignore and repress their inner feelings to the point of burnout, hopelessness and helplessness. Care becomes a mere obligation or even a type of martyrdom, a giving to others without taking for oneself.

  • Ni Autonomy turns daemonic: Normal Ni Autonomy is represented by self-sufficiency and the satisfaction of one's own needs, which sometimes requires saying "no" to family and community. In contrast, daemonic Ni Autonomy appears when one-sided Self-sacrificing Ne-Doms repress their own personal needs to the point where such needs can seem foreign and dangerous. To stand up for themselves or to achieve success seems selfish and likely to put them at odds with family and community; such things raise the specter of conflict with and abandonment by the family and community. One-sided Self-sacrificing Ne-Doms come to see personal achievement, competition, and assertiveness as isolating and fraught with pitfalls.

  • Escaping one-sided Ne Self-sacrifice: Getting "unstuck" from one-sidedness means embracing the fact that Ne-Doms have personal needs of their own. Caring for others needs to be balanced with a degree of self-care as well. Care-givers are a community resource; as such, one-sided Self-sacrificing Ne-Doms need to "lean in" on their daemonic fears and learn to pace themselves, take some downtime, say "no" occasionally, and address their own needs if they are wish to play a care-giving role over the long-term.

 

When Autonomy-focused Ni-Doms get "stuck" in one-sidedness, the following happens:

  • Ni Autonomy turns one-sided: Within reasonable limits, a focus on Ni Autonomy is normal and healthy; self-sufficiency, competition, and achievement are necessary for self-actualization and achievement of one's maximum potential. But taken to unhealthy extremes (when Autonomy is taken to the point of one-sided Ni Self-centeredness), a focus on Autonomy can mean distancing oneself from family and community and even competing with them for resources. One-sided Self-centered Ni-Doms may believe that their identity is achieved through work, and that family and community are only valid insofar as they further work-related goals; and if family and community get in the way of such goals, they need to be jettisoned. One-sided Self-centered Ni-Doms come to believe that self-esteem is achieved by investing in one's own abilities rather than relationships; reward comes from personal accomplishments rather than acceptance of others. Work becomes its own reward.

  • Ne Care turns daemonic: Normal Ne Care is represented by family and community ties and one's own personal need for relationships. In contrast, daemonic Ne Care appears when one-sided Self-centered Ni-Doms repress their relationship needs to the point where such needs seem foreign and dangerous. One-sided Self-centered Ni-Doms believe that freedom and equality are achieved through a rigorous search for mathematical impartiality; by comparison, empathy and feelings can feel dangerously diffuse, relativistic, and slippery. Relationships can seem unpredictable and fraught with entrapment and betrayal; one-sided Self-centered Ni-Doms may register relationships as unhealthy "enmeshment," clinging, and neediness. As a result, one-sided Self-centered Ni-Doms may isolate themselves unnecessarily in order to retain maximum freedom of action.

  • Escaping one-sided Ni Self-centeredness: Getting "unstuck" from one-sidedness means embracing the fact that Ni-Doms have a need for relationships like anyone else. Community and relationships aren't just an anchor weighing people down; there is honor and achievement in being a "family man" and pillar of the community. Family and community can also be a support and a way to leverage one's own potential. One-sided Self-centered Ni-Doms need to "lean in" on their daemonic fears and understand that the development of relationship skills is also a legitimate and necessary arena for achievement and personal success.

 

For more on this subject, see the Supplemental essay:

Link to supplemental essay: One-sidedness and the Daemonic

Centroversion

I have already mentioned two ways to interact with four-position dichotomy spectrums:

  • "Toggling" between the two middle healthy positions; and

  • Leaning in on the daemonic in order to escape from one-sidedness.

 

In essence these are both devices for seeking a center position between the two opposites of any given dichotomy. Jung considered the center position to be difficult to maintain for very long. He said that you get there briefly during such things as creative spells; you only really achieve it on a permanent basis upon attaining a state of complete "individuation" at mid-life or later. But in his book The Origins and History of Consciousness Erich Neumann argued that people achieve that central point fairly often on a normal basis, and he named the center position "centroversion." Jung wrote the forward for The Origins and History of Consciousness and endorsed the book enthusiastically, so I'll adopt Neumann's convention.

 

Centroversion is the mid-point between the two sides of a dichotomy where we are accessing two cognitive functions at the same time. When an extraverted function is conscious its introverted opposite is automatically unconscious, and vice versa. So centroversion means building a bridge between conscious and unconscious and sharing mental energy (libido) between both sides together.

 

To spell it out using the example of Ne versus Ni: In Ne-Doms, Ne is conscious and Ni is unconscious (and vice versa for Ni-Doms). Centroversion at the N level consists of accessing both Ne and Ni simultaneously, in other words, accessing the conscious and unconscious at the same time.

 

An analysis of the following two dichotomies (Collectivism-versus-Individualism, and Care-versus-Autonomy) should illustrate how centroversion is achieved.

 

Finding Centroversion in between Collectivism and Individualism

In The Development of Personality, Carl Jung talked about Collectivism versus Individualism as a "proxy" for extraversion versus introversion in adult human society. He said that neither Collectivism nor Individualism is, by itself, a preferable state of affairs. By themselves, they have a tendency to become one-sided and thus unhealthy. Instead, the "middle way" (centroversion) between the two extremes represents the healthiest option.

 

Taking each position on the spectrum separately:

 

Collectivism taken to the extreme of unhealthy one-sidedness: Extraverts tend toward collectivism and interaction with the community. But taken to the extreme, collectivism and convention are obstacles to self-actualization: The "over-compliant" extravert tends to fall into lockstep with the crowd and lose his individuality. Concerning social convention and collectivism, Jung said, "It is a stopgap and not an ideal, either in the moral or in the religious sense, for submission to it always means renouncing one’s wholeness and running away from the final consequences of one’s own being. [...] How could anyone but a god counterbalance the dead weight of humanity in the mass, with its everlasting convention and habit?"[3]

 

Jung said that if an individual wants to self-actualize and reach their full potential, it entails "the conscious and unavoidable segregation of the single individual from the undifferentiated and unconscious herd. This means isolation, and there is no more comforting word for it."[4]

Individualism taken to the extreme of unhealthy one-sidedness: On the other hand, Jung also said that self-actualization doesn't mean becoming a loner and an "individualist." Introverts tend toward individualism. But taken to the extreme, individualism is an obstacle to self-actualization as well: The "disengaged" introvert tends to embrace the narcissism of navel-gazing and lose himself in the pursuit of irrelevancies. In Jung's opinion, excessive individualism and rebellion are just as bad as excessive collectivism. He said, "But individualism is not and never has been a natural development; it is nothing but an unnatural usurpation, a freakish, impertinent pose that proves its hollowness by crumpling up before the least obstacle. What we have in mind is something very different."[5]

Centroversion: Instead, Jung said that the self-actualized person must remain a part of society: "In the first place he is part of the people as a whole, and is as much at the mercy of the power that moves the whole as anybody else. The only thing that distinguishes him from all the others is his vocation."[6]

 

To sum it up: Both society and the self-actualized individual are best served when the self-actualized individual separates himself enough from society enough to think for himself but also remains connected enough to society to enjoy the support and benefits that society provides and benefit society in turn with his new ideas and input. So ultimately the self-actualized person has to find a balance between collectivism and individualism, that is, between the two extremes of becoming such a social butterfly that he loses himself in society versus becoming a total loner.

 

Again: One-sided extremes of either collectivism or individualism are harmful, both to the individual and to society at large. That's why neither introversion nor extraversion is the answer by itself. The answer is in the middle (centroversion), that is, in finding a "middle way" between the two.

 

From this, we can create a five-position spectrum for extraversion versus introversion incorporating centroversion:

 

One-sided over-compliance <-- Healthy extraversion <-- Centroversion --> Healthy introversion --> One-sided disengagement

 

Finding Centroversion in between Care and Autonomy

Naturally, the same principles apply to the Care-versus-Autonomy dichotomy. Thus, taking each side separately:

 

Care-focused Ne-Doms start from a position of healthy Ne Care, but they have a tendency to fall into the habit of one-sided Self-sacrifice. As I said above, Care-focused adults (male or female) define themselves in the context of human relationships and in terms of their ability to care; they value empathy and the need to experience other's needs or feelings as one's own. [...] However, excessive immersion in the form of self-sacrifice to the community may lead to feelings of martyrdom or victimhood; society's endless demands on the individual can seem punitive and overwhelming.

 

Centroversion for the Care-focused Ne-Dom: True centroversion entails finding a center position between Care and Autonomy. In the case of Care-focused individuals, that means retaining a sense of responsibility to community and family, but also rejecting ideas of one-sided self-sacrifice. Relationships are important, but they have to be worked out in a spirit of interdependence and a balance between the needs of community/family and one's own needs. In fact, Care-focused individuals need to "lean in" on their daemonic fears and understand that conflict, negotiation, and advocacy for one's own needs are a normal part of relationships.

 

Autonomy-focused Ni-Doms start from a position of healthy Ni Autonomy, but they have a tendency to fall into the habit of one-sided Self-centeredness. As I said above, Autonomy-focused adults (male or female) define themselves in the context of morality predicated on a legalistic understanding of fairness. [...] However, excessive distancing in the form of self-sufficiency may lead to feelings of selfishness and lack of connection to the community; without community to provide context and meaning, Autonomy can turn into a lack of purpose, cynicism, and self-centeredness.

Centroversion for the Autonomy-focused Ni-Dom: True centroversion entails finding a center position between Care and Autonomy. In the case of Autonomy-focused individuals, this means retaining a respect for self-sufficiency and achievement, but also recognizing that relationships provide context and meaning in life. Also, there are long periods in our lives when we need the assistance of others (in childhood, in sickness, in old age); and there are sectors of society who need assistance (the disabled, the poor, the vulnerable). Assistance is secured through relationships, empathy, and the Care foundation. Equality and meritocracy aren't enough by themselves; "Pull yourself up by your bootstraps" isn't always the answer. There needs to be some courtesy, and some willingness to help others and accept help in return. Much personal satisfaction is achieved by being a part of a family and a pillar of society, and by learning such relationship skills as conflict resolution, good communications, emotional intimacy without fear of becoming enmeshed, etc.

 

Based on this, we can construct a five-position spectrum for Care versus Autonomy incorporating "healthy interdependence," representing a balanced and fair interaction between community and individual, as the centroverted position:

 

One-sided Ne Self-sacrifice <-- Healthy Ne Care <-- Interdependence --> Healthy Ni Autonomy --> One-sided Ni Self-centeredness

 

Centroversion as applied to the Immersion-versus-Distancing dichotomy

On a related note: In the Intuition chapter in the section entitled "Son-Lover Versus Struggler," I said: The Immersion-versus-Distancing dichotomy is similar to the difference between an Anxious attachment style versus an Avoidant attachment style, albeit adapted to the infantile Son-lover and Struggler.

 

Attachment theory also provides for a "centroverted" variant that avoids the shortcomings of the two extremes of Anxiousness and Avoidance: The Secure attachment style. It charts a middle way between the two extremes by seeking healthy attachment while also respecting healthy independence. See the article "Attachment in adults" in Wikipedia for more on that subject.

 

For more on the subject of Centroversion

I will be developing these themes (one-sidedness, the daemonic, and centroversion) at greater length in the next chapter on Sensing. Also, see the Supplemental essay on the subject of Centroversion:

Link to supplemental essay: Centroversion

~Posted January 12, 2024

References

Endnotes

Reconstructing the thought processes of an infant

[1] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), p. xiii.

Uroboric environment

[1] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), p. 15.

[2] Ibid., p. 294.

[3] Ibid., p. 304.

[4] Ibid., pp. 114-115.

[5] Erich Neumann, The Fear of the Feminine, and Other Essays on Feminine Psychology (Essays of Erich Neumann, Vol 4), trans. Matthews, Doughty, Rolfe, and Cullingworth, Bollingen Series LXI, 4, (Princeton University Press, 1994), p. 4.

[6] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), p. 108.

[7] Ibid., pp. 105-106.

[8] Ibid., p. 284.

[9] C.G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 9, part 1), trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XX (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1959), p. 6, par. 7.

[10] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), pp. 267-268.

[11] Ibid., p. 268.

[12] Erich Neumann, The Great Mother, an Analysis of the Archetype, trans. R. Manheim, with a forward by M. Liebscher, Bollingen Series XLVII (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1955), p. 279.

[13] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), p.68.

Description of Intuition

[1] Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011), p. 13.

[2] Ibid., p. 28.

[3] C.G. Jung, Symbols of Transformation (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 5), trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XX (Princeton University Press, 1956), pp. 17-18, par. 19.

[4] Anthony Storr, The Essential Jung (Princeton University Press, 1983), p. 291; excerpted from C.G. Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 6), par. 660.

[5] Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011), p. 71.

[6] C.G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 9, part 1), trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XX (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1959), p. 282, par. 504.

[7] C.G. Jung, Psychological Types (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 6), trans. H.G. Baynes, rev. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XX (Princeton University Press, 1971, First Princeton/Bollingen Paperback printing, 1976), p. 366, par. 610.

[8] Free association (psychology). (2023, July 26). In Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_association_(psychology)

[9] Myers–Briggs Type Indicator. (2023, July 14). In Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers–Briggs_Type_Indicator#Correlations_with_other_instruments

[10] Openness to experience. (2023, May 25). In Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Openness_to_experience

[11] Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011), p. 79.

[12] Ibid., p. 81.

The Great Mother Versus the Father at the N level

[1] Psychosexual development. (2023, July 28). In Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychosexual_development#Oral_stage

[2] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), p. 33.

[3] Ibid., p. 41.

[4] Ibid., p. 277.

[5] C.G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 9, part 1), trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XX (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1959), p. 169, par. 288.

[6] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), p. 305.

[7] Ibid., p. 45.

[8] C.G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 9, part 1), trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XX (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1959), pp. 280-281, pars. 500-503.

[9] Anthony Storr, The Essential Jung (Princeton University Press, 1983), pp. 243-244; excerpted from C.G. Jung, Psychology and Religion (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 11), par. 141.

[10] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), p. 40.

[11] Ibid., pp. 157-158.

[12] Erich Neumann, The Great Mother, an Analysis of the Archetype, trans. R. Manheim, with a forward by M. Liebscher, Bollingen Series XLVII (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1955), p. 148

[13] Ibid., p. 147

[14] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), p. 39.

​[15] Ibid., pp. 39-40.

[16] Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Bollingen Series XVII (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1949), pp. 92-94.

[17] Erich Neumann, The Great Mother, an Analysis of the Archetype, trans. R. Manheim, with a forward by M. Liebscher, Bollingen Series XLVII (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1955), p. 148

[18] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), p. 40.

[19] Ibid., p. 41.

[20] Ibid., p. 299.

[21] Ibid., p. 322.

[22] Ibid., p. 325.

[23] Erich Neumann, The Great Mother, an Analysis of the Archetype, trans. R. Manheim, with a forward by M. Liebscher, Bollingen Series XLVII (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1955), pp. 12-13.

[24] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), p. 95.

[25] Erich Neumann, The Great Mother, an Analysis of the Archetype, trans. R. Manheim, with a forward by M. Liebscher, Bollingen Series XLVII (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1955), p. 170.

[26] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), p. 94.

[27] Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Bollingen Series XVII (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1949), pp. 94-95.

[28] Erich Neumann, The Great Mother, an Analysis of the Archetype, trans. R. Manheim, with a forward by M. Liebscher, Bollingen Series XLVII (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1955), p. 189-194.

[29] Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae, Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (First Vintage Books Edition, 1991), p. 8.

[30] Ibid., p. 43.

[31] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), p. 179.

[32] Ibid., p. 186.

[33] Erich Neumann, The Great Mother, an Analysis of the Archetype, trans. R. Manheim, with a forward by M. Liebscher, Bollingen Series XLVII (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1955), p. 171.

Son-lover versus Struggler

[1] Polymorphous perversity. (2023, March 29). In Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polymorphous_perversity

[2] Castration anxiety. (2023, July 11). In Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castration_anxiety

[3] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), pp. 46-47.

[4] Ibid., p. 48.

[5] Ibid., pp. 48-49.

[6] Ibid., pp. 49-50.

[7] Ibid., pp. 52-53.

[8] Ibid., p. 51.

[9] Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae, Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (First Vintage Books Edition, 1991), pp 13-14.

[10] Ibid., pp. 47-52.

[11] Ibid., p. 53.

[12] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), pp. 57-58.

[13] Ibid., p. 53.

[14] Ibid., p. 59.

[15] Ibid., p. 89.

[16] Ibid., p. 92.

[17] Ibid., p. 94.

[18] Ibid., pp. 88-89.

[19] Ibid., p. 96.

[20] C.G. Jung, Psychological Types (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 6), trans. H.G. Baynes, rev. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XX (Princeton University Press, 1971, First Princeton/Bollingen Paperback printing, 1976), p. 426, par. 709.

[21] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), pp. 27-30.

[22] C.G. Jung, Symbols of Transformation (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 5), trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XX (Princeton University Press, 1956), pp. 204-205, par. 299.

[23] Erich Neumann, The Fear of the Feminine, and Other Essays on Feminine Psychology (Essays of Erich Neumann, Vol 4), trans. Matthews, Doughty, Rolfe, and Cullingworth, Bollingen Series LXI, 4, (Princeton University Press, 1994), p. 265.

[24] Erich Neumann, Amor and Psyche: The Psychic Development of the Feminine, trans. R. Manheim, Bollingen Series LIV (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1956), p. 62.

[25] Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (Vintage Books, 2012, First Vintage Books Edition, 2013), pp. 153-158.

[26] Ibid., pp. 197-205.

Extraverted Intuition Versus Introverted Intuition

[1] Extraversion and Introversion. (2023, July 30). In Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraversion_and_introversion

[2] C.G. Jung, Psychological Types (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 6), trans. H.G. Baynes, rev. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XX (Princeton University Press, 1971, First Princeton/Bollingen Paperback printing, 1976), p. 366, par. 610.

[3] Ibid., p. 367, par. 612.

[4] Ibid., p. 367-368, par. 612-613.

[5] Ibid., p. 370, par. 615.

[6] Ibid., p. 399, par. 656.

[7] Ibid., p. 400, par. 658.

[8] Ibid., p. 401, par. 661.

One-sidedness and Centroversion

[1] C.G. Jung, Psychological Types (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 6), trans. H.G. Baynes, rev. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XX (Princeton University Press, 1971, First Princeton/Bollingen Paperback printing, 1976), p. 426, par. 709.

[2] Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae, Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (First Vintage Books Edition, 1991), p. 4.

[3] Anthony Storr, The Essential Jung (Princeton University Press, 1983), pp. 198-199; excerpted from C.G. Jung, The Development of Personality (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 17), pars. 284-323.

[4] Ibid., p. 197.

[5] Ibid., p. 196-197.

[6] Ibid., p. 202.

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