As a typical over analysing INTP, I found this extremely valuable
Maturity and the Grip
People of all types report that the frequency and intensity of their grip
experiences tend to decrease with age, notwithstanding the often start-
ling episodes characteristic of the middle years. Even without specific
knowledge of psychological type theory or understanding of the adaptive
nature of inferior function experiences, people tend to become familiar
with and often benefit from these experiences.
Sometimes “familiarity breeds contempt,” however, and a mature per-
son learns to ignore and reject these kinds of experiences. If this becomes
habitual, they may miss out on important developmental information. For
others, repetition of the form of the inferior can encourage development
of a repertoire of helpful responses.These may include stopping what they
are doing, taking time to attend to neglected sides of themselves, and
reflecting on some aspect of their lives.When this occurs, the psyche may
receive the stimulation necessary to permit the person to proceed in his
or her personal growth and development.
Trivializing the Inferior Function
Often when we name an experience, we run the risk of minimizing and
trivializing it.Then when we experience it we say,“Ah, yes. I know what
this is. It’s nothing but my midlife crisis” (or my grief process, or my empty
nest syndrome, or my inferior function). We may then disregard the experience and miss out on an important opportunity to develop our awareness of ourselves and our lives.
If Jung is correct about the role of the inferior function in the self-
regulation of the psyche, then it would be an error to treat it in a dis-
missive, trivial manner. We might rather approach encounters with our
least-developed side with the utmost respect, neither avoiding it nor at-
tempting to forcibly overcome it.
Overusing the Concept of the Inferior Function
Have you ever had the experience of learning a new word and then seeing and hearing it everywhere? Once our awareness is heightened, we
begin to notice words or other things we didn’t see before. Often when
we learn a new concept we try to apply it everywhere and feel compelled
to try to explain everything with it. Done judiciously, this is a good way
to become familiar with a new idea as well as recognize its limitations.
People who are newly introduced to typology often stretch the limits of
the theory by insisting that virtually everything is related to one’s type.
IN AND OUT OF THE GRIP
It is well to remember, therefore, that typology, including the inferior
function, is only one way, albeit one very rich and intriguing way, of
understanding individual differences. There are many other useful explanatory systems. It is probably a testimony to the incredible complexity
of human beings that no one personality theory proves entirely adequate
to the task of explaining us.
It has been wisely said that “If the only tool you have is a hammer,
you’ll treat everything as if it is a nail.”Avoiding that pitfall will encourage
our best use of Jung’s personality theory and his concept of the inferior