The Body: Neither Here nor There! 
September 30, 2017

Dear James, 

People have often asked, "Which of the types is oriented to perceiving the body?"

In asking that question, we assume that Jung's type model embraces all modes of conscious awareness. Yet, it does not. Memories, dreams, emotions, awareness of identity, consciousness of consciousness itself--none of these are included in his type model.

Awareness of the body also seems to be excluded. Of the eight types, only two have the potential to perceive the body: introverted or extraverted sensation.

Introverted sensation, by virtue of the prevailing introverted attitude, is more oriented to the admixture of unconscious images than to perception of objects in the world. Some have confused introverted sensation as exclusively oriented to perceiving the many bodily sensations. They see it as perception focused inwardly, therefor toward the body. But that interpretation is fundamentally flawed; it is very clearly not what Jung had in mind.

Rather, introverted sensation takes on an almost mystical quality, actually similar to introverted intuition in many ways. Listen to what Jung had to say about it:

"The decisive thing is not the reality of the object, but the reality of the subjective factor, of the primordial images which, in their totality, constitute a psychic mirror-world. It is a mirror with the peculiar faculty of reflecting the existing contents of consciousness not in their known and customary form but, as it were, sub specie aeternitatis, somewhat as a million-year-old consciousness might see them. Such a consciousness would see the becoming and passing away of things simultaneously with their momentary existence in the present, and not only that, it would also see what was before their becoming and will be after their passing hence . . . We would say that introverted sensation transmits an image which does not so much reproduce the object as spread over it the patina of age-old subjective experience and the shimmer of events still unborn. The bare sense impression develops in depth, reaching into the past and future, while extraverted sensation seizes on the momentary existence of things open to the light of day." (CW 6, par 649)

If we had to choose one of the eight types that would be aware of bodily sensations, it would need to be extraverted sensation--for extraverted sensation perceives without any patina or admixture of unconscious images. Yet it is a tricky conundrum to have the body oriented to perceiving itself.

The body does the perceiving; we perceive sight, sound, touch, taste, smell through the body's sensory equipment. The body could be considered an embodiment of the conscious perceiving ego.

The body includes all kinds of feelings and sensations that are not needed for the perception of outer objects in the world at large. Emotions, for example, have bodily sensations: the feelings of anger, sadness, remorse, heartache, grief, fear, jealousy, all have attributes felt by the body, but none are needed for that practical and realistic perception of the outside world at which extraverted sensation excels. 

Hunger, thirst, weariness, sexual impulses, the urges of intestinal or urinary functions, all have sensory qualities perceived within the body. They are not external objects; they are sensations of the perceiving body.

Even aesthetic inspiration has its bodily corollaries. Listen to Vladimir Nabokov's account of an idea as it emerges in the inner life:

"A prefatory glow, not unlike some benign variety of the aura before an epileptic attack, is something the artist learns to perceive very early in life. This feeling of tickly well-being branches through him like the red and the blue in the picture of a skinned man under circulation. As it spreads, it banishes all awareness of physical discomfort--youth's toothache as well as the neuralgia of old age. The beauty of it is that, while completely intelligible (as if it were connected with a known gland or led to an expected climax), it has neither source nor object. It expands, glows, and subsides without revealing its secret. In the meantime, however, a window has opened, an auroral wind has blown, every exposed nerve has tingled. Presently all dissolves: the familiar worries are back and the eyebrow redescribes its arc of pain; but the artist knows he is ready."

The panoply of purely bodily sensations, not related to external objects, is manifold. All of these bodily sensations are really quite different from the perception of objects outside the body--the acme of extraverted sensation. Awareness of the body--like the awareness of complexes, dreams, memories, identity, and consciousness of consciousness itself--must be considered outside of Jung's simple model of eight types.

Awareness of the body per se, would therefor be "neither here nor there!"--neither included in introverted sensation nor extraverted sensation.
James Johnston
Author of Jung's Indispensable Compass

Jung's Indispensable Compass
Navigating the Dynamics of Psychological Types

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