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.

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