posted by VJ on Jan 27

I had some required reading before a Beebe workshop last weekend, and it contained a couple of definitions for the Feeling functions that caught my interest. Eventually I’ll incorporate them into my website, but for now here they are for you to consider.

I’ve been thinking about them quite a bit, and there’s a lot to discuss and explore.

Extraverted Feeling
The extraverted feeling function concerns itself with other people’s emotions — especially those that lie on or near the surface and are easy to sympathize with. Placing a value on people’s feeling, extraverted feeling relates to them with discrimination, empathy, and tact. At its best, it tends to appreciate the strengths of people, but it also seeks concrete gratitude and validation. In its shadow aspect, extraverted feeling tends to discriminate against feelings that are less easy to identify with, and therefore less socially acceptable. The result is that extraverted feeling tends to ignore or harshly judge emotional needs that do not validate collective norms. This kind of response can lead to forms of bullying and prejudice, as majority values are emphasized at the expense of other, more individual values.

So this is the form of Feeling that INFJs prefer. I feel that when I am using this process well, I am tactful, gracious, empathic, validating. At those times I have probably felt at my best.

It’s a bit of a shock to consider feeling being used as a form of bullying and prejudice; nevertheless, I can think of times, particularly in my high school days, when I have censured others for not behaving according to collective norms. It’s interesting to reconsider those experiences now, in light of the eight-function model and a [hopefully] more developed consciousness.

While I may have snubbed others for displaying “inappropriate behavior,” my transgressions pale in comparison to the extreme pressure from the Collective to hide our unpleasant emotions. Emotional expression of any kind is “unseemly” and readily discouraged, while pills are dispensed by the millions to keep us from feeling anything “bad.” We have an extremely repressed emotional culture, and it leaves many of us feeling like automotons.

Introverted Feeling
The introverted feeling function concerns itself with the values expressed in the archetypal aspect of situations, often relating to the actual situation by measuring it against an ideal. When the actual is found wanting, introverted feeling can become intensely disappointed. Although it often finds it hard to articulate its judgments, or simply prefers to keep them to itself, introverted feeling also tends to ignore social limits regarding the communication of critical responses, to the point of appearing to depreciate others. It may withhold positive feelings as insincere and fail to offer healing gestures to smooth over difficult situations. In its shadow aspect, introverted feeling becomes rageful, anxious, and sullen. It may withdraw all support for attitudes it has decided are simply wrong, even at the risk of rupturing relationship and agreed-upon standards of fellow-feeling.

Now this process is a shadow function for INFJs since it is associated with our 6th position in the hierarchy of processes. We do use this process, albeit in a shadowy way. So whilst I may pat myself on the back for my ability to validate, affirm, and express acknowledgment to others — I also have to concede my propensity to become rageful, anxious, and sullen when I feel overlooked, disrespected, or taken advantage of.

I also know introverted Feeling is at play when I sever a relationship, quit a job, or otherwise cut a connection. (Some of those endings have lingered in my memory for decades as painful, unhealed wounds.)

I’m not sure I understand this phrase: “introverted feeling also tends to ignore social limits regarding the communication of critical responses, to the point of appearing to depreciate others.” I think it means that when using this function, we may not know when to stop criticizing, but I’m not certain. If anyone cares to try interpreting this statement so that I can make sense of it, I would be grateful.

-Excerpts from the journal Psychological Perspectives, issue 27, Fall-Winter 1992