Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings

Approximately 12-15 percent of the general population are introverted feelers (IF), a temperament type that is subjective and, according to Jung, “continually seeking an image which has no existence in reality, but which it has seen in a kind of vision. It glides unheedingly over all objects that do not fit in with its aim. It strives after inner intensity, for which the objects serve at most as a stimulus” (Psychological Types, para. 638).

The depth of this feeling can only be guessed–it can never be clearly grasped. It makes people silent and difficult of access; it shrinks back like a violet from the brute nature of the object in order to fill the depths of the subject. It comes out with negative judgments or assumes an air of profound indifference as a means of defence. The primordial images are, of course, just as much ideas as feelings. Fundamental ideas, ideas like God, freedom, and immortality, are just as much feeling values as they are significant ideas. Everything, therefore, that we have said about introverted thinking is equally true of introverted feeling, only here everything is felt while there it was thought. But the very fact that thoughts can generally be expressed more intelligibly than feelings demands a more than ordinary descriptive or artistic ability before the real wealth of this feeling can be even approximately presented or communicated to the world. If subjective thinking can be understood only with difficulty because of its unrelatedness, this is true in even higher degree of subjective feeling. In order to communicate with others, it has to find an external form not only acceptable to itself, but capable of arousing a parallel feeling in them.

Thanks to the relatively great inner (as well as outer) uniformity of human beings, it is actually possible to do this, though the form acceptable to feeling is extraordinarily difficult to find so long as it is still mainly oriented to the fathomless store of primordial images. If, however, feeling is falsified by an egocentric attitude, it at once becomes unsympathetic, because it is then concerned mainly with the ego. It inevitably creates the impression of sentimental self-love, of trying to make itself interesting, and even of morbid self-admiration.

Just as the subjectivized consciousness of the introverted thinker, striving after abstraction to the nth degree, only succeeds in intentisfying a thought process that is in itself empty, the intensification of egocentric feeling only leads to inane transports of feeling for their own sake. This is the mystical, ecstatic stage which opens the way for the extraverted functions that feeling has repressed. Just as introverted thinking is counterbalanced by a primitive feeling, to which objects attach themselves with magical force, introverted feeling is counterbalanced by a primitive thinking, whose concretism and slavery to facts surpass all bounds. Feeling progressively emancipates itself from the object and creates for itself a freedom of action and conscience that is purely subjective, and may even renounce all traditional values. But so much the more does unconscious thinking fall a victim to the power of objective reality.

Jung continues to discuss the introverted feeling type (IF) by stating that this type is often silent, inaccessible, hard to understand, hides behind a childish or banal mask, and is inclined to melancholy. In fact, as many as 65-85% of people diagnosed with major depressive episode are introverted feelers. Introverted Feelers value peace and harmony above almost anything else; strong emotions are struck down “with murderous coldness” or nearly paralyze the IF. In women, especially, introverted feeling tends to come off as cold because the strong feeling component is introjected rather than sent outward by projection onto others. In pathological introverted feelers, there is a tendency to overpower or coerce others to get one’s way, “in the form of a domineering influence often difficult to define” (para. 642). Introverted feeling women tend to attract extraverted men, for their power touches the unconscious in the man.

The Extraverted Feeler

In contrast to the introverted feeler (IF) is the extraverted feeler (EF). The extraverted feeler is just as full of feeling and emotion as the introvert, but often only knows what she feels once it is projected onto an object–or another person. The unconscious (or simply immature) EF only finds something “beautiful” or “good” because others say it is so, which reminds me of the wickedly funny movie Untitled, in which trash and neurotic behavior become art simply because artists and gallery owners agree that it is, in fact, art. According to Jung, “a painting, for instance, is called ‘beautiful’ because a painting hung in a drawing room and bearing a well-known signature is generally assumed to be beautiful, or because to call it ‘hideous’ would presumably offend the family of its fortunate possessor, or because the visitor wants to create a pleasant feeling atmosphere, for which purpose everything must be felt as agreeable” (para. 595).

The music, art, cinema, automotive and fashion industries (and even many churches) owe their existence and success to Extraverted Feelers, who as a flock (or mob, whichever applies) lend feeling-based values to whatever places they frequent or labels they buy. As soon as the object “gains ascendancy,” though, and a person assimilates the object, it loses its charm and power; the EF must move on. This accounts for why some people must buy a new car every few years, must obey the dictates of fashion, are never satisfied with their hair, need new furniture or homes, another spouse, a better set of friends, a neighborhood that props up their sense of self. They can’t settle down because they are not whole within themselves. At their worst and most neurotic, they are nearly entirely object oriented, driven by everything outside themselves. Being needed, used, and then discarded by a narcissistic extraverted feeler is the stuff on which country music and Shakespearean tragedies are built. It is often, I think, what contributes in large part to the terrible problem of child neglect and abuse we have in this country. The EF gone wild is a dreadful sight, for she must infect everyone closest to her with her venom. Because the problem is always “out there,” she is difficult if not impossible to woo to health and wholeness. Like Kali, she eats her young.

The average EF, meaning the ones who are unconscious and therefore abound, seem self-absorbed even in the middle of a crowd. They “do” relationships rather than have them, rarely (if ever) asking how you’re doing, and never waiting for the answer, much less listening to it or understanding it. Though they need other people and are, it might be said, born to serve, as long as they are more unconscious than not, they are incapable of understanding others. Since “without understanding, love is an impossible thing,” in spite of their extraversion, neurotic EF’s may be among the most experientially lonely people on the planet, for they cannot truly love others and offer no real personality receptive of love (Thich Nhat Hanh, True Love).

According to Jung, the wonky EF makes others feel suspicious; we can sense their lack of genuineness, their shallowness. They “no longer make that agreeable and refreshing impression which invariably accompanies genuine feeling; instead, one suspects a pose, or that the person is acting” (Jung, para. 596). Though what he says “may satisfy aesthetic expectations, [. . .] it does not speak to the heart” (ibid.). They fail to inspire regardless of the medium of expression.

At their best, extraverted feelers make the world go ’round. They are born to be teachers, healers, pastors, cheerleaders, and good friends. These, like every other temperament type, they cannot be or do faithfully or in the service to God and their deepest selves unless they become self actualized. Becoming whole always means achieving balance, holding opposites in a perfect tension by transcending them altogether. How this is done when one’s very personality urges one to go wide, not deep, and out, not in–well, that’s the challenge, isn’t it?

The introverted feeler has less of a problem attaching to objects and people, but a larger problem of ruthlessly dissecting herself, ruminating on past and current hurts and slights, trying to save the world one dog or child at a time, and failing–and then masterfully digging herself into a melancholy, Eeyorish pit.

6 responses to “Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings”

  1. Alan Avatar


    How do you set fire to your hands?

    Tom Spotley ? WHEN!?

    Your thoughts on the idea of hosting a millenium barn dance at the Yeovil aerodrome, with Jet from gladiators. Properly policed, MUST NOT, i repeat MUST NOT turn into an all night rave.

    Should i sack lynn for being unloy-Disloyal (Also call Bill Oddie)

    What do you think of the following outfit?

    Ice white shoes, Ice white socks with double navy cadette stripes, Pair of shorts, T-Shirt with twin Chevron action flash and a pink sweater tossed over the shoulders.

    A look that says “I’m in Paris and I don’t care.

    (Th-th-thats the eiffel tower.)

  2. Alan Avatar

    I have got a few supplementary questions to ask you after reading your article.

    Who invented the skip?

    What happens if you just eat crisps?

    What will we look like in a billion years time?

    What happens if you feed beef burgers to swans?

    What do you think of the pedestrianisation of norwich city centre?

    How do you make pigs smoke?

    Is your favourite beatles album “the best of the beatles” ?

    Is james bond going to die?

    Can i have a second series?

    Would you like to smell my cheese?

    Can i intrest you in a copy of bouncing back?

    Can i have twelve bottles of windscreen washer fluid please?

    Can i have three lady boys please?


  3. Mary Jane Hurley Brant Avatar

    Dear Eve,

    I want to thank you for inspiring me over the last several months to dig deep and also to make my site more beautiful! http://www.mjhb.net/?p=52 I still have trouble with some formatting technology but I’m getting there. (I hope you don’t mind me mentioning that sometimes when I try my link on your site – When Every Day Matters – it doesn’t go anywhere.) Probably just a little thing your computer person has to tweak.

    What you also don’t know about me is that I painted long before I wrote – my dreams, some technical, some still life (when is life ever still?) Painting helped me feel happier, more free, more delighted. Hey, I better get back to it! Point being I think that’s why the visual beauty of your site engaged me so quickly. It was an invitation to create once again.

    Peace be with you during this sacred season, Sister Eve. Peace be with your husband, your children and your angel in heaven. Our children watch and protect us from the other side now; I believe that with all my heart and I hope that you do, too.

    With compassion,
    Mary Jane

    1. Eve Avatar

      Mary Jane, I will fix that link in a moment; it appears that using http://www.mjhb.net/ will take a person straight to your “About MJ” page. Perhaps you need a “top page” that’s static or something along that line, unless your “About” page is what you intend to use on top.

      At any rate, thank you for your lovely good wishes; I wish the same to you during this holiday season.

  4. deb Avatar

    I’m an IF and probably come across as cold and aloof at times, when in fact the opposite is true. My feelings are so big, so overwhelming that I close the door to protect others and myself from my tsunami of emotion. That’s probably why I use humor so much, to hide in full view of everyone. People are often surprised when I tell them I have battled depression for thirty some odd years.

    I had a dream a few months ago. I was being forced to have sex with a giant and I was terrified the act of sexual intercourse with this giant would kill me. Turns out the giant was very tender and the reason he was so big, to protect himself from feeling too much.

    So I’m learning now, at the tender age of 47, how to feel without being overwhelmed by emotion, how to let them pass through me and flow, instead of becoming stuck.

  5. monicajane Avatar

    I need to read this again to really absorb it, but I’m actually an XF so I related to both…not sure how to use the info…being that I have the X…

    I should take the Myers Briggs again too..it’s been several years and so much has happened to me…I used to be more E…and that balanced out into X…

    I think I’m going to buy this book…

    thanks so much for sharing.

    can you recommend a site where I can purchase and take the real Myers Briggs?

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