To the wise

In no place have I found such typologian wisdom and whimsy as here. Alright now that I’ve buttered you up, I’ve got a question.

One idea that travels through the MyersBriggs subreddits like a boomerang is to describe the tertiary function as a relief function. That jives with Donovanian typology which describes it as a temptation. All good and tasty things tempt towards addiction.

I find this idea interesting, because I’d like to explore another angle of something similar. So here’s the question.

Which placement of a function would correspond to what someone finds to be a “passion” in life? Disregarding whether or not there’s a viable way to “follow” one’s passion and “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”, what would be the function placement that created this experience of passionate enjoyment?

I also want to distinguish it from the enjoyment that comes from being very skillful with some task or activity. What I’m interested in is that kind of passion from which a psychological individual derives enjoyment, even when they totally suck at it.

To me, that signals a thing that could be described as a passion (even if destined to remain only a hobby).

So what do you think? Would this also correspond to the tertiary relief function?

To add more context, I’m thinking more about how adults function, and not children. So 25+ years old (or whatever the biological age of brain maturity is, as the bottom age limit).

I think that it would probably be a different placement from tertiary. However, I am currently at a loss as to which function it could be, if a personal passion could indeed correspond to a particular placement in an individual psyche.

I’m curious to read what the wise have to say on the matter.

It’s a good question. Not so wise, but this is what I think :slight_smile:

I think of “a passion” as something that easily takes you into a flow state. Regardless of whether you are good or bad at this (as you have mentioned) you want to persue this, whatever “this” is, and when you are persuing this, your brain achieves a certain elation, a kind of bliss.

This is you, in a state that you are happy about being you, because quite frankly your attention has gone outside of you - to your “passion” - in other words, it seems like the internal conflict between ego and super ego is at rest at this point.
So, there is no conflict between the hero (1st function) and the opposite of hero (5th function) - the internal war is “on hold” or you might say, there is a “truce” between them at the point of “passion”.
Ok! I have narrowed it down to here. It has to be our 1st or 5th function that derives and drives our true passions.
I guess if we can figure out who has brought about this truce, then we have our answer.
But now, I leave you to figure the rest of it out and let me know as well please, because I don’t know myself :slight_smile:

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So, taking an arbitrary type for example, let’s take ESFP.

The 1st function would be Se.
What would be the 5th function?

It will be Si.

Please read about “shadow functions”
For example here

Alright just making sure.

This doesn’t matter much, but I happen to call this 5th function the Wingman function. It just makes the most sense to me that way. I don’t order them by arithmetic, but by geometry.

Referencing the article that you linked, I might re-interpret it as the “Anti-Hero” function, borrowing on some tropes in storytelling (the less-stable, more-flexible archetypes of human un/sub/conscious). Hm. So I can understand how the dominant function placement could be responsible for the experience of passionately pursuing an activity despite totally sucking at it, except that, being the dominant, one wouldn’t suck at it.

So what I’m gathering from what you wrote is that, perhaps the Hero and the Anti-Hero reconcile each other’s differences and become wingmans (or wingwomans). Then the placement of the 5th function could be responsible for this passionate pursuit without regard to “sucking” because the main ego isn’t based in this function placement, so there is no risk of ego disintegration from perceived failure.

This makes a lot of sense to me! You didn’t know this of course, unless you are psychic, but my intuition was dropping hints about the neutral / ignoring / role / observing / opposing / anti-hero / wingman function placement. I think the key would likely be that this function placement doesn’t get confused about who is the hero and who is the sidekick, and then much fun and enjoyment could be had in the passionate pursuit.

Globe, thank you for the input.

I got it!

I figured out exactly where to draw the line between the tertiary as a temptation (towards disintegration) function and a relief function. It is so simple.

It is as Donovan teaches. You must engage the auxiliary function first. They are not mutually exclusive, like it may seem to a tempted psyche’s ego function. That is: bypassing the auxiliary to go straight for the tertiary IS the temptation.

It can present itself as a false dichotomy, e.g. “I can engage this auxiliary function that I don’t particularly respect, or I can go with this fun, so-called “relief” function which feels good now and I, at times, am rather amazing at it. I’m going to disregard my auxiliary function and figure out how to more consistently be amazing at the tertiary function, even if I must torture myself into success with it”.

Thus, missing the crucial point, which is that all of the tertiary excellence comes from engaging in it through the auxiliary.

Bypassing the auxiliary doesn’t make for excellence, not in any function. That perfection of the tertiary, as Donovan describes it, is the gift which comes from the auxiliary.

Thus, the relief function is A->T, and not just T alone. That’s what makes for relief, excellence, perfection and enjoyment.

Following on from this, my hypothesis is now like this: that the “passion” function is actually the so-called inferior function, but only when it is engaged through the auxiliary.

Sorry, but I am in doubt! Beg to differ.
The problem is “strength”. For passion you need strength I imagine, not relief. Tertiary function, no matter how you apply, via aux or whatever, is still not as strong I’d say.
The Nemesis (or Wingman function as you said of the 5th function), is as strong in might as the hero (the 1st function). It (5th function) is like the hero of our shadow side.

So I am still not too sure about your latest hypothesis nr.nom

Please hypothesise more.

Also, to add a few more cents worth…
from relief you reach escape I would have thought, not passion.
So you just might be confusing Passion with Escape, and I have a feeling they are not the same, because at the end of the day passion is about “truly cherishing”, yes relief can come as a by product, but true joy (cherishing) for it’s own sake is the main sentiment/feeling behind a true passion I am guessing.

I request yet again, nr.nom, please go on hypothesising.

INFJs, man.

Brilliantly put; I was going to make the same point, but you have saved me the trouble!

And you’re also right about the inferior function being associated with passion. An alternative name for the Inferior is the “Aspirational function“, as it represents capabilities we may admire and respect in others, and believe we should be able to do, but really aren’t very good at.

Unlike the tertiary, the 4th function has an innate power that belies our lack of competency. This explains why this function can sometimes erupt from the unconscious and seize control from the dominant function with a childish vigour and surprising strength.

This is commonly known in type circles as a “grip experience” when expressed in its negative, “inferior” mode, often as a result of prolonged stress or when we’ve fallen too far into the tertiary temptation.

But as we age and (hopefully) mature, we’re more able to tap into the more positive, aspirational qualities of the 4th function. This mode can usually only be safely accessed via the auxiliary function.

Even then there are certain preconditions: for best results we need to step outside our habitual dominant/tertiary comfort zone when confronted with a situation which requires the opposite attitude. So for introverts this would be something that calls for an Extraverted attitude, and vice versa for extraverts.

But something magic happens when we finally learn how to expertly apply our auxiliary function in a sustained, conscious and appropriate fashion. This is especially true when the situation is amenable to the specific nature of the auxiliary; for example if the auxiliary is Fe this could involve producing a piece of art for public display, or participating in an artistic performance such as a play or piece of music or, more prosaically, simply attending to the emotional needs of others in an open and authentic manner.

The effect is heightened still further when the stakes are high (eg. performing in front of a distinguished crowd, or giving advice to another person about a serious and pressing problem), but any successful and appropriate use of the auxiliary in these situations has a way of opening the door to a much more positive manifestation of the 4th function.

These are peak experiences for all types and can be profoundly moving and life-changing. The passionate nature of the aspirational function can be fully appreciated at times like this! It gives us a peculiar sense of invigoration and “aliveness” that verges on the spiritual.

My intuition consolidated the concepts just now, so I’m leaving a note for later reference:

  • Relief function + Temptation function = Indulgence function (in the sense that Indulgence as a concept is a higher-order abstraction with includes the meanings of both functions, as defined in the context of my understanding of cognition, in “functional” terms).
  • Inferior function + Aspirational function = Passion function (in the sense of being something enjoyable, when maturely employing it, or engaging with it, despite any setbacks, failures or unskillfulness. Both aspiration and inferiority are associated to it, as define in the context of my understanding of cognition, in “functional” terms).

Boom, I just read your responses. I can see you understand what I am getting at with this inquiry. Thank you for adding depth of perspective to my rather shallow comprehension. Very cool.


This has become quite interesting!

We may need to approach this from a different angle to shed some more light on it though.
Some ‘practical’ exercises are needed here I think :slight_smile:

So, assuming that a passion
(a) - primarily excites a feeling of “enthusiasm
(b) - generally warrants “strong emotions
in the person experiencing it.

Which of my cognitive function(s) is/are MAINLY PLAYING A ROLE in originating and/or supporting and/or driving my “passion” if I am say…

  1. An INFP (Fi, Ne, Si, Te, Fe, Ni, Se, Ti) and passionate about writing?
  2. An ISFJ (Si, Fe, Ti, Ne, Se, Fi, Te, Ni) and passionate about gardening?
  3. An ENTP (Ne, Ti, Fe, Si, Ni, Te, Fi, Se) and passionate about computer programming?
  4. An ESTP (Se, Ti, Fe, Ni, Si, Te, Fi, Ne) and passionate about playing tennis?
  5. An ISTJ (Si, Te, Fi, Ne, Se, Ti, Fe, Ni) and passionate about learning French language?
  6. An ESFP (Se, Fi, Te, Ni, Si, Fe, Ti, Ne) and passionate about playing guitar?

You get the idea.

Please help me here and apply your hypotheses to these scenarios, so I can understand it better.

Thank you.


Do we, though?

I think that observing my own psychology is great practice.

I think I can agree with this assumption.

If you are willing to change “strong emotions” to “stable emotional pleasure” then I will consider engaging in hypothetical simulations of personality types with which I am hardly familiar, neither as being my own, nor as being someone I know well.

I’ve got an intuition about your idea, sure.

I don’t see a benefit to applying my hypothesis to an imaginary scenario. To me, such a project seems no different from inventing a fictional character as “evidence” for my interpretation of some particular personality type. What benefit do you see in such an exercise?

I found this wiki article rather interesting in what I intuit as an “analogical resonance” to my subject of inquiry. I will transfer some quotations into the presentation of this post, placed below the preview of the link here.

In Psychological Types, Jung defines enantiodromia as “the emergence of the unconscious opposite in the course of time. This characteristic phenomenon practically always occurs when an extreme, one-sided tendency dominates conscious life; in time an equally powerful counterposition is built up which first inhibits the conscious performance and subsequently breaks through the conscious control.”

Jung himself wrote: “Old Heraclitus, who was indeed a very great sage, discovered the most marvellous of all psychological laws: the regulative function of opposites. He called it enantiodromia, a running contrariwise, by which he meant that sooner or later everything runs into its opposite.”

Enantiodromia is typically experienced in conjunction with symptoms associated with acute neurosis, and often foreshadows a rebirth of the personality. [emphasize mine]

The grand plan on which the unconscious life of the psyche is constructed is so inaccessible to our understanding that we can never know what evil may not be necessary in order to produce good by enantiodromia, and what good may very possibly lead to evil. (“The Phenomenology of the Spirit in Fairytales”, Collected Works 9i , par. 397)

Enantiodromia also refers to the process whereby one seeks out and embraces an opposing quality from within, internalizing it in a way that results in individual wholeness. This process is the crux of Jung’s notion called the “path of individuation.” One must incorporate an opposing archetype into their psyche to obtain a state of internal ‘completion.’

To add another dimension to my hypothesis of the Auxiliary->Inferior cognitive pathway (possibly requiring Tertiary in the psychological vector in order for it to be considered appropriate/stable) I postulate that if the psychological individual refuses to consciously engage in developing their inferior/aspirational function, it will unconsciously emerge to fuck them over.

The importance of the Auxiliary is re-emphasized in my hypothesis for the reason that the “Dominant->Auxiliary” dynamic is the essential opposition that represents the balanced approach to cognitive development. (In that the Dominant function takes the lead and maintains prominence while the Auxiliary function “fills in the blanks” of whatever the Dominant is lacking).

In the Auxiliary->Inferior cognitive pathway, however, the Auxiliary represents the leading-prominent function (a proxy for the dominant function), and the Inferior represents the “fill in the blanks” balancing function (proxy for the auxiliary function) because they share the same (extraverted/introverted) orientation. The more conscious function (Aux) necessarily takes the lead instead of the less conscious function (Inf).

That means that, taking ESFP for example again, the inferior Ni will always be a subliminal monster until the Fi takes it’s rightful place as the function which regulates the use of inferior Ni. If this development is neglected (the auxiliary Fi is passed over in favor of the tertiary Te), the over-reliance on dominant function Se (where the dominant function will take on even greater responsibility [reaching the point of excess which translates the responsibility into a psychic burden] because Se and Te share the same extraverted orientation, and Se is the more conscious function, so it takes the lead yet again) will unconsciously emphasize the inferior Ni and it will continue to fuck over the ESFP until death or “psychological rebirth”.

Rebirth, in the context of Enantiodromia, signifies the necessary integration of the inferior function. I hypothesize that the inferior function is integrated into the auxiliary context (becomes contextualized by the auxiliary function) following the analogy of how the auxiliary function is integrated in to the dominant (ego) context (becomes contextualized by the dominant function).

Simplified, if the auxiliary is neglected or disrespected by the dominant (ego) function, that neglect or disrespect will be translated to the rest of the less-conscious functions and, necessarily, lead to psychic disintegration.

Thus, the cure is the same: Engaging in the auxiliary function.

However, the administration procedure of the cure likely differs depending on which function is the dominant function (whether it is introverted or extraverted, whether it is a judging or perceiving function, and whether it is abstracted or concrete (if a perception function) and otherwise tangible (if a judgment function).

I extend this principle of auxiliary functional development to the inclusion of all the shadow functions as well in my hypothesis. Thus, the id, superego, “neutral” (whatever whoever calls it) and the deep shadow function (here referred to as a hell function, I think) would all also require the engagement of the Auxiliary, followed by development of Tertiary (appropriately, through the Auxiliary), followed by integration of the Inferior opposite (reflecting both the symmetry of Dom->Aux and Aux->Tert in its integrated form), and so on - arithmetically, as a direct emergence of the geometric arrangement of the functions.

Thus, I must insist that the 8th (deep shadow) function is the one which should be described as the Transcendent function, and not the 4th so-called Inferior function.

Taking once more the ESFP model for example, the transcendent function would be Ne, which is only integrated by following the appropriate protocol as deployed through the auxiliary function to integrate the geometric cognitive arrangement arithmetically as prescribed by whoever decided that these numbers belong to these functions in this order based on this type’s description of the cognitive functions in these particular placements.

I don’t see a benefit to applying my hypothesis to an imaginary scenario.

Sorry to hear this, probably if you don’t then you just don’t.

To me, such a project seems no different from inventing a fictional character as “evidence” for my interpretation of some particular personality type.

Evidence! Who said anything about evidence! :neutral_face:
If you use a map to study geography, it doesn’t make the map any kind of evidence. It’s only a tool to understand something. But maybe not for everyone.

What benefit do you see in such an exercise?

I am beginning to think none.

Okay, then I won’t.

Testing a hypothesis implies the search for evidence (or the discovery of opposing evidence, or even simply finding no supporting evidence for a hypothesis).

So for example, in my thinking, the “passion” function, as I defined it (differently from how you seem to understand what would make a passion function based on how you interpret the word passion), it could’ve been the 5th function or the 4th function. So I’d hypothesize about which one I think it is, I would see if I can predict accurate results and then I’d go look. Based on whatever I see there in my psychology, I would refine my hypothesis.

The deeper issue with the premise of a “passion” function (or even any singularly-defined function), in my opinion, is that these function exist in simultaneity and the brain works by synchronizing circadian rhythms with cycles of cognition. Kinda like an energetic engine. The so-called “loops” don’t have to be detrimental, in my view.

So perhaps the 5th AND the 4th function has something to do with passion, and it is worth considering since you have made a case for it. At the very least, there is your psychology and my psychology which may or may not support this hypothesis. But I’m not a mind reader. I can only observe my own psychology.

That’s what I mean when I’m talking about evidence. I only have evidence of my own psychology. And it is enough for me, since I don’t personally have a vested interest in being able to accurately type other people. My goal is to improve my own cognitive process and integrate myself holistically.

In fact, my grand hypothesis is: that this is the only way to transcend this cookie cutter type of cognition. You differentiate yourself from the archetype, or whatever. Doesn’t mean you are separate, but you are a unique person. Once you’ve “taken the curriculum” so to speak, and integrated along the appropriate channels, then you get to decide if you want to continue conceptualizing your inner reflection in these terms, or move on to the joyful liberation of experiencing yourself for who you are, without regards to anything external, only as the creation of your inner self-authorship.

Testing a hypothesis implies the search for evidence (or the discovery of opposing evidence, or even simply finding no supporting evidence for a hypothesis).

We are jumping the gun a bit here, aren’t we, with all this talk of evidence and testing?
“Stating” might be the first step, stating as in clarifying.

So perhaps the 5th AND the 4th function has something to do with passion, and it is worth considering since you have made a case for it.

Ok, truce then! :grinning:

My goal is to improve my own cognitive process and integrate myself holistically.

It’s a good goal, I like it.

I can only observe my own psychology…
I only have evidence of my own psychology.

Quite frankly nr.nom I am not sure if I have access to the unconscious or subconscious side of my mind, so I am cautious of relying too much on my “own psychology” and need some external simpler “tools” at times to figure things out.
If my goal was to “integrate myself holistically” the first thing I would have done is to stay clear of my own psychology. Good for you though if you can rely on your’s :slight_smile: