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Attitude and Function Types

Attitude Types

From The Portable Jung

Attitude types distinguish the direction of the individual’s interest, or of the movement of the libido. Attitude types are a screening process that reorients the energy associated with objective material.

There are in nature two fundamentally different modes of adaptation which ensure the continued existence of the living organism. The one consists of a high rate of fertility, with low powers of defense, and with short duration of life for the single individual; the other consists of equipping the individual with numerous means of self preservation plus a low fertility rate. This biological difference, it seems to me, is not merely analogous to, but the actual foundation of, our two psychological modes of adaptation.

It is sufficient to note that the peculiar nature of extroverts constantly urges them to expend and propagate themselves in every way, while the tendency of introverts is to defend themselves against all demands from outside, to conserve their energy by withdrawing it from objects, thereby consolidating their own position.


The introvert’s attitude is an abstracting one; they are always intent on withdrawing libido from the object as though they had to prevent the object from gaining power over them. Introverts interpose a subjective view between the perception of the object and their own actions, which prevents the action from assuming a character that fits the objective situation. Introverts select subjective determinates as the decisive ones. The object is therefore oriented by the factor in perception and cognition which responds to the sense stimulus in accordance which the individual’s subjective disposition.

If the introverted ego has usurped the claims of the subject, then this naturally produces, by way of compensation, an unconscious reinforcement of the influence of the object. As a result of the ego’s unadapted relationship to the object (for a desire to dominate it is not adaptation) a compensatory relationship arises in the unconscious which makes itself felt as an absolute and irrepressible tie to the object. The more the ego struggles to preserve its independence, freedom from obligation, and superiority, the more it becomes enslaved to the objective data.


Extroverts have a positive reaction to the object. They affirm its importance to such an extent that their subjective attitude is constantly related to and oriented by the object. The object can never have enough valve for them and its importance must always be increased. The actions of extroverts are recognizably related to external conditions. They are not merely reactive to environmental stimuli, they have a character that is always adaptive to the actual circumstances, and they find sufficient play within the limits of the objective situation. No serious effort is made to transcend these bounds. It is the same with their interests: objective happenings have an almost inexhaustible fascination, so that ordinarily they never look for anything else. The danger is extroverts’ get sucked into objects and completely loose themselves in them. Whether psychological or physical, the resultant functional disorders have a compensatory value, as they force them into an involuntary self-restraint.

It is only to be expected that the psychic compensation of the extroverted attitude will lay special weight on the subjective factor, and that we shall find a markedly egocentric tendency in the unconscious. The attitude of the unconscious as an effective compliment to the conscious extroverted attitude has a definitely introverted character. It concentrates the libido on the subjective factor, that is, on all those needs and demands that are stifled or repressed by the conscious attitude.

Function Types

From Understanding Jung, Understanding Yourself

Function types are due to the fact that individuals adapt and orient themselves chiefly by means of their most differentiated function. Function types are also a screening process, but this reorientation is more concerned with the way we receive, process and transmit objective material.


Intuition is fundamentally concerned with time. It is the function that tells us of future possibilities. It is the proverbial hunch and the function that informs us about the atmosphere that surrounds an experience or event. It is sometimes seen, an quite correctly so, as unconscious perception, as opposed to conscious perception, which is of course the function type of sensation. Intuition is an irrational function because the insights that are arrived at intuitively can not be based on any type of progressive process. It is neither developmental nor conclusive, it simply is, therefore there is no rational or progression to the insight. Intuition is also feminine because it is attributed to Wisdom, the feminine side of the divine and it is less definite when compared to the definiteness of its masculine counterpart sensation.


This is the function or mode of action by which we realize that something actually exist in the present moment of time. It is totally confined to the present and is definite in its assessment. It is perception through our senses. Sensation tells us that something is. It does not tell us what something is, and it does not tell us any other things about it. Sensation, like its natural opposite intuition, is irrational. Like intuition, it simply is. There are neither developmental nor progressive dynamics involved. The event happens totally in the present and I realize that something is present to my senses. Sensate is a sound, a taste, an object with no definition other than it is. It is masculine because it established the object in the earthly realm and it much more definite that intuition. It is opposite to intuition since it only functions in the present, and intuition only functions in the future.


Thinking is the function that tells us what things are. It adds a concept or label to the experience of the sensate function. Thinking is associated with perception and gives meaning and understanding to the object. Thinking is rational function because there is a progression to is development. It does not exist simply because it is, we actually create it through a progression of associated perception and assessment. Thinking seeks connections between things. It apprehends the world by thought, that is by logical inference and cognition. It does not pass judgement, it simply perceives, collects, and concludes. Thinking is a masculine function because as ideology, it is associated with the head and the world of the masculine.


Feeling is not emotion, it has to do with values. It tells you whether an object or idea is acceptable or agreeable to you. It assists you through a progressive process in determining the value of the object. Because it is determined by a progression, as is thinking, it is rational in its nature. It evaluates and judges and weighs the relative worth of things for you. The feeling function is feminine since it is felt by the heart which is associated with the feminine. It is the critical function that assists you in determining your path in life or a particular situation since it tells you what is really important to you. It sits in opposition to thinking because one cannot purely perceive and determine importance at the same time. Although these are opposites, it is important not to allow them to become oppositional to each other in the individual personality, for this leads to the classic head heart debates which stagnate process.

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