The Inferior Type and the Soul
In the last letter, we saw that midlife is often a critical initiation for the journey of individuation. In the second half of life, some of the functions that had been less developed become more central.
For individuation to proceed, the "inferior function" must become integrated in one's life. The term inferior function refers to the least developed of the four functional attitudes. We could also refer to it as the inferior "type." The inferior type is both ". . . the greatest cross of a person, and the carrier of great value" (M.L. von Franz, "The Inferior Function," 1986).
In individual cases, it is sometimes difficult to identify one's inferior type. But von Franz has a wonderfully simple way of describing it: "Where does he feel that he always knocks his head against the obstacles and suffers like hell?" (ibid).
The inferior type is inextricably embedded in the shadow and in the soul (the unconscious contra-sexual aspects of the psyche that Jung termed animus or anima.)
Jung postulated that the unconscious animus or anima plays a compensatory and opposite role to either a masculine or feminine persona. If the persona is masculine, then the soul would be feminine (anima). If the persona is feminine, then the soul takes on masculine attributes (animus). They might be thought of as Logos and Eros.
In dreams, people often discover aspects of the inferior type and the accompanying anima or animus. Women who are mainly oriented to extraverted feeling, for example, might dream of highly intellectual men, personifying both an inferior introverted thinking and masculine animus.
Jung studied a series of dreams of Wolfgang Pauli, the Noble Prize winning physicist. Pauli had a dream in which he was taking the elevator in a hotel; he had forgotten a dark woman on a floor below. Jung comments that Pauli: ". . . should not have kept the dark woman, i.e. the anima who stands for the taboo function, waiting below, i.e. in the unconscious . . . " (C.G. Jung CW 12 par 201).
Pauli was a brilliant scientist who came to Jung because of acute problems with relationships and erratic behavior. With a very keen theoretical intellect, his inferior type was likely extraverted feeling. Through analysis, he was better able to integrate his anima and his inferior type.
(The recording of a recent webinar on the subject of Animus/Anima, by Jungian analyst, Misser Berg, will soon be available at the Gifts Compass web site.)