Individuation and Differentiation of Functions
“The first half of life is devoted to forming a healthy ego, the second half is going inward and letting go of it.”
― C.G. Jung
An age-old question which most people have pondered at some point in their lives is "why are we the way we are"? Unfortunately, I can't clue you in on the answer to that question in a really authoritative way, but I can tell you about work that has been done to determine how people's Personality Types are developed.
The more recent studies done around Temperament suggest that we are each born with our temperaments intact. Efforts are being made to prove this.
W. Harold Grant did a lot of work with Jung's theories, and concluded that Jung believed that Personality Type has a developmental process which can be observed through an individual's life. The early phases of our lives help determine the dominance ordering of the four functions (Sensing, Intuition, Thinking and Feeling), and the development of our dominant and auxiliary functions. The later phases help us develop our tertiary and inferior functions.
Let's take a look at Grant's phases of development, using the INFJ (Ni,Fe,Ti,Se) Personality Type as an example:
From age 0 - 6 years
At this early age, we use all four of the functions in an indiscriminate fashion. We "try on" the different functions for size, determining which ones work best for us. The little INFJ has not yet emerged as any particular personality type, although his parents may notice trends in behavior which appear to have the characteristics of one or more types.
From 6 - 12 years
During this phase, our dominant function begins to develop and assert itself. Our young INFJ begins to appear dreamy and introspective - he begins to prefer to use his iNtuition to take in information, and he chooses to do this alone (Introverted). The dominant function of "Introverted iNtuition" begins to show itself as the prevailing aspect of his personality.
From 12 - 20 years
The auxiliary function asserts itself as a powerful support to the dominant function. Since all recent studies point towards the importance of a well-developed team of dominant AND auxiliary functions, this is an important time of "self-identification". Research suggests that people without a strong auxiliary function to complement their dominant function have real problems.
In our INFJ example, we see the auxiliary Feeling function come to the front during this phase as a support to the dominant iNtuitive function. Since the INFJ's dominant function is an Information Gathering function, the auxilary function must be a Decision Making one. Without a Decision Making process, we would flounder about and never get anything done! As the auxilary Feeling process comes forth, the INFJ begins to develop the ability to make decisions based on his personal value system. This auxiliary decision making process will be Extraverted, since the dominant function is Introverted. Since the decision making function is Extraverted, our subject now emerges as a "Judger", rather than a "Perceiver". Our INFJ Personality Type is now pretty firmly set in place, and we know the dominance ordering of the four functions.
From 20 - 35 years
We begin to use our tertiary function more frequently and with better success. Our INFJ begins to use his Introverted Thinking function. He continues to make judgments with his Extreverted Feeling auxiliary function, but he also begins to make judgments based on logic and reason, which he works through in his own mind, rather than discussing it with others.
From 35 - 50 years
We pay attention to our fourth, inferior function. We feel a need to develop it and use it more effectively. Our INFJ begins to use his Extraverted Sensing function. He becomes more aware of his surroundings and begins to take in information from others in a more literal, practical sense. He continues to rely on his dominant Introverted iNtuitive function to take in information, but he is more able to use his Extraverted Sensing function than he has been before in his life. Some researchers have attested that the appearance of our inferior functions at this phase of life may be responsible for what we commonly call the "mid-life crisis".
From 50 onwards
From this age until our deaths, we have accessibility to all four functions. However, we use them in a more disciplined, differentiated manner than when we were very young. Our basic Personality Type continues to assert itself, but we are able to call upon all four functions when needed.
Individuation and Self in Jungian Psychology
According to Jungian psychology, individuation is a process of psychological integration the goal of which is development of the individual's personality: "In general, it is the process by which individual beings are formed and differentiated [from other human beings]; in particular, it is the development of the psychological individual as a being distinct from the general, collective psychology."
'The symbols of the individuation process...mark its stages like milestones', prominent among them for Jungians being '"the shadow, the Wise Old Man...and lastly the anima in man and the animus in woman"'. Thus 'there is often a movement from dealing with the persona at the start...to the ego at the second stage, to the shadow as the third stage, to the anima or animus, to the self as the final stage. Some would interpose the Wise Old Man and the Wise Old Woman as spiritual archetypes coming before the final step of the Self'.
Individuation is a process of transformation whereby the personal and collective unconscious is brought into consciousness, by means of dreams, active imagination or free association to take some examples, to be assimilated into the whole personality. It is a completely natural process necessary for the integration of the psyche to take place. Individuation has a holistic healing effect on the person, both mentally and physically.
The Self in Jungian theory signifies the coherent whole, unified consciousness and unconscious of a person - 'the totality of the psyche'. The Self, according to Jung, is realised as the product of individuation - a process of integrating one's personality. For Jung, the Self was symbolised by the circle, the square, or the mandala.
Self should be not confused with the Ego. The Ego is the center of consciousness, whereas the Self is the center of the total personality, including the consciousness, the unconscious, and the ego. The ego is thus contained within the self.
Jung considered that 'each human being has originally a feeling of wholeness, a powerful and complete sense of the Self'. Out of that sense of Self, 'the individualized ego-consciousness emerges as the individual grows up...differentiation of the psyche'. This process of ego-differentiation provides the task of the first half of life. 'And the ego must continually return to re-establish its relation to the Self in order to maintain a condition of psychic health', something facilitated by the use of myths, initiation ceremonies, and rites of passage.
Once ego-differentiation had been successfully achieved, and the individual securely anchored in the external world, Jung considered that a new task then arose for the second half of life - a return to, and conscious rediscovery of, the Self: individuation. 'The actual processes of individuation - the conscious coming-to-term with one's own inner center (psychic nucleus) or Self - generally begins with a wounding of the personality'. The ego reaches an impasse of one sort or another; and has to turn for help to 'a sort of hidden regulating or directing tendency...[or] organizing center' in the personality: 'Jung called this center the "Self" and described it as the totality of the whole psyche, in order to distinguish it from the "ego", which constitutes only a small part of the psyche'.
Under its guidance, 'a certain "order of sequence" of the archetypes' would then emerge, bringing their fragmentary aspects of the Self increasingly closer to its totality. The first to appear, and the closest to the ego, would be the shadow or personal unconscious: 'the shadow is the first representative of the totality'. 'Sometimes the shadow is powerful because the urge of the Self is pointing in the same direction, and so one does not know whether it is the Self or the shadow that is behind the inner pressure'.
Next to appear would be the Anima and Animus, the soul-image - the danger here being that of 'a kind of psychological short-circuit, to identify the animus at least provisionally with wholeness...[with] the Self'. Where that is averted, the animus or anima 'takes on the role of guide, or mediator, to the world within and to the Self...a mediator between the ego and the Self'.
'After the confrontation with the soul-image the appearance of the archetype of the OLD WISE MAN, the personification of the spiritual principle, can be distinguished as the next milestone of inner development'. Jung sometimes referred to such archetypal figures as "Mana" personalities, supraordinate personalities, and treated them as equivalents to the Self: 'the mother ("Primordial Mother" and "Earth Mother") as a supraordinate personality...the supraordinate personality as the "self"'. At other times, he saw them as representatives of the collective unconscious - as bridging-posts to the totality.
Thereafter comes the archetype of 'the Self. It marks the last station on the way to individuation, which Jung calls self-realization'. For Jung, 'the Self...embraces ego-consciousness, shadow, anima, and collective unconscious in indeterminable extension. As a totality, the self is a coincidental oppositorum; it is therefore bright and dark and yet neither'. Alternatively, he stated that 'the Self is the total, timeless man...who stands for the mutual integration of conscious and unconscious'.
Keywords: Carl Jung, Myers and Briggs, MBTI types, personality test, personality assessment, psychological test, psychometric testing, personality development.