What's Your Relationship to the 5th Function


#1

How does everyone here relate to their 5th function? Aka the “oppositional” function.

Blake has hinted here and there that the 5th function is necessary for ego-orientation, but the way to tap into it is (once again) through the auxiliary. There isn’t much direct information on this site about it though, so I’m wondering what everyone’s views on this are.

For myself, I’ve found recently that Fe does lead to Ne, almost inadvertently. But then engaging with Ne more directly seems to naturally produce Te minimums (which I had been struggling with more consciously). And then over time, I get the Se result I want, finally.

There’s some relationship between this and INFJs approaching ENTP eventually, I’m sure of it. Just not sure how yet.

Anyway, this probably sounds really abstract, so I’ll have to expand on this later. I’ve been really sick of Ni and Ti lately though.


#2

This sounds awesome and I would love to hear more when you have the time.


#3

I’ve written about my relationship to Ne elsewhere on this forum, but it may take me a little while to find it. I’ll post something here once I’ve found it again.


#4

Please describe this more whenever you feel like it and have time.

I am horrible with Ne, and I have no idea how you can actually engage with Ne directly.


#5

As am I! I don’t think it’s at all easy (or advisable!) for dominant Ni types to engage with Ne directly. However, I do believe that it’s an important function in type development for both INTJs and INFJs.

The only way I know to healthily access deeply unconscious functions is via the auxiliary function. So for an INFJ, this means using Fe. For example, I’ve recently noticed how my day-to-day interactions with my ENTP partner can trigger my own Ne in a more positive, supportive fashion, instead of the habitual defensive “oppositional” reaction that is more common in INJs.

I think I first noticed this while blogging on this forum, so when I track down my previous comments they may shed some more light on this elusive 5th function.

I do remember that at the time I was writing spontaneously instead of my usual considered style, and that was key to me suddenly noticing my use of Ne in real-time.


#6

Finally found a thread on the main Stellar Maze site where a bunch of us discussed our shadow functions in some depth:

I wrote a semi-humorous piece on how I experience Ne in its oppositional mode, which other INJs seemed to relate to. I’ve re-written my comments for clarity here, to highlight how hard it can be for INJs to avoid using Ne defensively and negatively.

"Let’s talk about INFJ’s Ne for now:

It took me a very long time to even be able to discern this process in myself. And what I saw wasn’t very nice.

Sometimes my Ne is activated when I’ve been forced to overuse inferior Se for an extended period. At some point, Se shuts down completely and Ne is triggered in its place. My brain then flips into a state of hypermanic overdrive. My usual decisiveness is replaced by a complete inability to choose between a thousand different options. I can no longer focus on anything and become scattered and confused. I completely lose track of time and am late for everything. I imagine this must be what ADHD feels like!

Fortunately, the previous state only happens to me on rare occasions.

I’ve also become aware that I sometimes use Ne in a more focussed, oppositional mode. This is best described as passive-aggressively shooting down other people’s ideas. It’s basically a version of the classic “Why Don’t You?/Yes But?” game:

“What if you did this?”

“That will fail because….”

“How about this idea?”

“I’ve already ruled that out for the following reasons….”

“I know! Why don’t you……?”

“Don’t be absurd!”

“You are so negative! I’m only trying to help”

“Please go away!”

Etc. etc. ad nauseum….

Whilst I fully appreciate the power and value of Ne in theory (I have an ENTP partner and many ENFP friends) – I would rather be elsewhere when there is a lot of Ne-ing going on around me (another planet would be just fine!). Unless I’m in a very positive place, mentally and emotionally, Ne usually irritates the crap out of me.

I know that my issues with this function are quite irrational and completely out of proportion, but let’s face it, fellow INJ’s, Ne is supremely annoying in so many, many different ways. I have prepared a helpful list to explain why Ne irks me so much:

Perceived Ne Activity:

Brainstorming

How Ni sees this:

OK at first, but soon degenerates into a pointless spew-fest of stupid ideas and ludicrous “What-if’s?”.

Perceived Ne Activity:

Networking

How Ni sees this:

A bunch of over-caffeinated extraverts producing enough noise to shatter glass.

Perceived Ne Activity:

Exploring options.

How Ni sees this:

Please, please, please make a decision soon before I lose the will to live!

Perceived Ne Activity:

Speculating about the future.

How Ni sees this:

Paranoid worrying about worst-case scenarios. For God’s sake: are we really likely to be eaten by a shark at the beach or drowned in a tsunami?

Perceived Ne Activity:

Asking lots of questions.

How Ni sees this:

Generating doubt where once there was certainty.

Perceived Ne Activity:

Revisiting decisions.

How Ni sees this:

The Ninth Circle of Hell: “Arghhh!!! I’ve already packed the bags, booked the hotel, stopped the mail and arranged for a cat-sitter; and now you tell me you’ve changed your mind and don’t want to go!!!”"


#7

I’m feeling a little confused myself what I was talking about originally, but I’ll just share an anecdote and you guys can analyze help me what function is what:

Recently, I decided to organize some people together to study something of common interest, with myself as facilitator. It went something like this:

Ni - Suddenly, has a grand vision of how all this group will be.

Ti - Tries to come up with a process of how to do this and immediately gets overwhelmed. Wants to nix the idea.

Fe - Wait, no I like this idea! I feel excited!

? - We don’t need to plan it out all at once. We just need to know the next thing to do.

I feel like as soon as I have that thought, I enter into an Ne space, if not exactly directly, where I can see immediate possibilities and feel a bit excited about them. And then almost right after, I think Te automatically supplies me with the next step and a minimal way to do it, and if I employ Se right then and there to do it, it works out. Then I repeat the whole process with the next step. And the next step. But I do think Fe is the one driving the whole thing, with Ni as behind-the-scenes director, and all the other functions somehow subordinated to Fe. And truthfully when I am doing this, there is a feeling of being out of control, and a voice that still says “it’s not going to work out!” But if I keep the Fe-Ne-Te-Se loop going, I get enough concrete evidence to the contrary to override that. The trick though is to keep moving and not think about it too much.

Then a few days ago, after several days of doing this process (with various things, not just this group I’m trying to organize), I did feel like I was starting to directly be in an Ne space, where the various elements of my present situation started to look like objects I could kind of manipulate into various possibilities. I’m not entirely sure that this is Ne-proper, but I felt like how I feel NPs seem to feel when they are first excited by a potential venture. But it did feel really unnatural; I felt kind of high and even more out of control. And it all fell like a house of cards when my INTJ boyfriend asked me when I would be making all these possibilities into a more definite plan. I still don’t know why, but this sent me into an Fi-id space that took me a day to get out of, even though now that my normal Ni-ego is back online, what he was asking doesn’t seem very unreasonable.

I’m still trying to figure out my relationship to Ne. I think having Sun in Aries trine Saturn and Uranus in latter Sagittarius makes it more prominent in my personality than for the prototypical INFJ. I come off as more “active” in some way, and in comparison to the ones I’ve met in real life and also here at the maze, I do get the feeling that I’m more willing to start new ventures and be out and about than most other INFJs. Honestly, I think it’s actually good for me to do this, and whenever I’ve used what I consider to be more Ne energy in going after something big, it’s worked out very well, especially since having Ni/Se means that I am more likely to actually follow through with doing it than an actual Ne user once I start something. But it’s always highly stressful and feels like I’m fighting against the rest of my personality (except Fe) whenever I do this. It’s also not sustainable, I think because it does rely a lot on Se to carry out a flurry of activity. So I tend to get an incredible amount done in short bursts, and then have to do nothing for awhile after except zone out in Ni and Ti.

Yeah, it often feels like it’s my Aries sun (+maybe Libra rising?) against the rest of my personality. I know Blake says the astrology is like the “clothes” for the real Myers-Briggs personality, but sometimes I feel like I have two egos, the Ni one and the Arian Ne one. When they work together, I do great things, but the rest of the time it’s really annoying because I often feel like I am fighting myself. An INFJ friend of mine who has no strong Arian influences has remarked that I always seem to be starting something, stressed out, or burning out, once you get past the serene Fe facade I put up. She, being a Taurus, doesn’t seem to have the same problems, but instead tends more towards self-indulgent laziness/comfort.

@schlopadoo What’s your astrology? And why do you say you’re bad at Ne?

@Stewart When I was in Ne-heavy environments, all those things would drive me crazy in the way you described. But I have a lot of NP friends and in some ways get along better with them as a whole than other NJs, especially in more Ni-friendly environments. It’s like I use Fe to mimic some of their Ne in their presence, and it balances me out and satisfies my Arian qualities (that I don’t know how to express as well on my own). All my best mentors have also been ENxPs. Once again though, I wonder if astrology is part of the reason I am drawn towards it. Come to think of it, not only do I have 7th House Sun in Aries and Saturn/Uranus in Sag, I also have Mercury/Jupiter and North Node in Aries. So half my planets are in Ne signs, while I have none in Ni signs. Yeah…


#8

@nirdre

? - We don’t need to plan it out all at once. We just need to know the next thing to do.

I would venture the “?” is your Te superego talking, which needs to nudge you to use Ne to gather the tools for it to successfully operate? Just a guess, still very insecure trying to talk functions.

Found this while Ne zooming around YouTube:

They agree that the 5th function is activated by the auxiliary and have an interesting take on it. I also remember you saying you felt a notable lack of T on the maze and I thought you might appreciate this; it’s an entirely NT perspective. Have no idea if they are typed accurately (all seems well to my feeble typing skills), but even if they aren’t I feel their ideas are worth spending a little time on. Plus their T nerdiness is adorable.

@Stewart

My brain then flips into a state of hypermanic overdrive. My usual decisiveness is replaced by a complete inability to choose between a thousand different options. I can no longer focus on anything and become scattered and confused. I completely lose track of time and am late for everything. I imagine this must be what ADHD feels like!

This made me smile. Yes, this is what ADD feels like, for me at least. I don’t typically have the hyperactivity, just the distraction. The hyperactivity amplifies when I’m stressed, particularly about Se things (I just moved and trying to unpack is exacerbating it big time), but also Si things. I’m probably an Ne user so it’s a whole different ballgame, but still very counterproductive.


#9

I’m Aquarius rising, Libra sun, Leo moon. My planets are mostly concentrated to the public sphere, so from houses 7-12, with most in the 8th and 9th. I generally don’t have planets in mutable signs. Don’t have that much fire in my chart either. Practically no planets in Ne signs. None in Fe. Scorpio, Libra, Capricorn, Aquarius, Leo, and Virgo are the signs all my planets are in.

It’s a very “serious” looking chart in my opinion. I’ll post it in my “Confessions” thread.

Why I’m bad at Ne, I’ll get to that later.


#10

Here’s a link to a previous conversation on this forum regarding the development and use of Ne by INFJs, and how one’s personal astrological factors may play out:


#11

Thank you so much for this post! @Stewart

I’ve been using this Ne for years!
I always felt like a lost child, I’ve always been struggling with this nagging feeling that I don’t fit in…
So, I became trapped, bend to the will of the people who ‘love’ me…
No wonder I feel so depressed, so frustrated with a constant pain when I feel constrained by circumstances that are beyond my control.
I’ve been aware of it these last few months.

I’m going to copy your list and stick it to the refrigerator or something…


#12

I’m not sure if I understand how the 5th function works. Is it strong or weak? Can we ever really be able to use it or the way we use our auxiliary makes us look like we’re using the 5th function, meaning it gets the same results?

Mine would be Fe. Different things come to mind:

  1. As a very introverted child, I painfully tried to ‘make an effort’ to get out of my shell, engage in small talk, adopt an ISFJ-ish approach. Needless to say, it led me nowhere and drained the life out of me. Later on, when I’ve tapped into Ne more, I’ve learned that the way it works is not to use it, but let it use you. (Pretty sure I read something about that in one of the articles on the maze, not sure if it only applies to Ne though). It feels effortless and it gets the job done. Maybe because it’s natural, more authentic for an INFP and people feel it? It’s still a struggle not to actively try to do something and just relax and be present (without disengaging either). Surf the wave. Now that I think about it, there are probably a lot of the enneagram 9 patterns mixed into what I just wrote.

  2. An example of a time when I maybe could ‘see’ what Fe does, but not really use it. I was out with a group of people, all different friends/acquaintances of a friend, the kind of enthusiastic extrovert who collects acquaintances and gathers them all together. Fun, isn’t it? I think she was probably some sort of ENFx based on our dynamic, but it’s been a while. The thing is, I very quickly realized I didn’t like/care about any of them besides this girl and probably was never going to see them again. (Yup, I judged them all and decided they were stupid and uninteresting). But, as soon as I stopped caring, I could lay back and observe them and then the group dynamic became so obvious! This was amazing to me, because I always get completely blinded by my own emotions! But now I could see how this guy was subtly trying to flirt with this other girl, even though his girlfriend was just there and the girl was embarrassed and trying to distance herself from him. And this other girl being goofy and then seeing that she had gone too far on a self-deprecating/sexual note and trying to turn it around as soon as she knew the other person’s reaction would have been too judgmental… I know these are trivial matters and pretty much everywhere for INFJs to see, but this never comes so easily to me. I’m still in awe!

So how can I put these two pieces of the puzzle together? Using Ne as a tool to achieve Fe results and this example as a realization that I can see these things at play if I choose to? By learning to become present, so Se->Ne->Fe? Having an off switch for Fi would surely come in handy sometimes.


#13

Good questions!

With regards to function strengths (for anything other than the dominant and auxiliary functions) there including the 5th function) there are a range of opinions on the subject but little in the way of a consensus. This is partly due to not properly defining what “strength” specifically means in terms of type theory.

Without a clear and consistent set of defining criteria, function strength is often conflated with other factors, such as level of development, or degree of conscious access or whether it is valued or undervalued etc, leading to mucho confusion among Type enthusiasts. And so everyone tends to evaluate the functions from their own, subjective perspective, which of course are inherently biased by their own type preferences.


#14

But if we take strength to mean raw psychic power, then it becomes a little easier to get an objective understanding of the relative strengths of our typological stack.

And by power, I mean access to psychic energy or libido. As Jung said, we can think of the personal psyche as a dynamic, self-contained, self-regulating psychic system, in the same way our bodies are dynamic, self-contained, self-regulating biological systems. “Dynamic” implies action or movement; because we are not static, unchanging and immovable statues.

And action or movement require energy to power the activity. Our bodies, of course, require fuel in the form of glucose sugar, which we obtain from our food.

The psyche is powered by an entirely different type of energy, what Jung and others called libido.

And just as with our physical bodies, there is a finite limit to how much energy/libido we have available at any one time to carry out the essential functions of the body and mind. When we burn up our current stores of physical fuel, then we must rest and eat. The same applies to psychic energy, we need to rest when our reserves become depleted. But in place of eating, the psyche requies a different source of fuel, typically sleep, so we can dream and replenish ourselves in the inner world.

As with our bodies, there is only so much psychic energy to go around, which means different functions and processes must compete with each other for the scarce resources of precious libido. As life evolved from primitive bundles of organic chemicals to ever more-complex multicellular organisms, the number, variety and scope of energy-draining life processes muliplied exponentially. This eventually lead to the requirement for some kind of high-level regulating executive function to manage the energy demands of the whole life-form and ensure that energy is directed to where it is most needed at any given time.

This adaptation was highly successful, organisms with a regulating energy management function were not only better equipped to thrive and multiply in their traditional ecological niches, but also benefited from an enhanced ability to adapt to changing conditions, and were more likely to survive, say, significant climatic change or the intrusion of new species into their territory.

Evolutionary success generally grants a species access to improved resources (food, territory etc), which means more energy becomes available to fuel further physical adaptations to the environment, such as enhanced senses, improved weaponry for killing prey or defending against predators, or greater size, strength and resilience.

But as a species increases in size and complexity, it becomes increasingly difficult for a primitive control centre to monitor and direct the activities and conditions of different parts of its larger body, whilst simultaneously paying attention to the outer environment in order to scan for threats and opportunities.

The necessary upgrade was achieved by both plants and animals evolving a series of sophisticated internal communication networks, including both chemical signalling (such as hormones circulating via the endocrine system), as well as electro-chemical networks to rapidly transmit signals from the sense organs to the central processing unit, and then swiftl
1 to the muscles if immediate action was called for.

This is where plants and animals began to diverge, since non-ambulatory plants only need to coordinate and manage internal, cell-based biochemical processes, for which a decentralised network of fluid-carrying tubles and interlocking nodes is more than sufficient.

The physical mobilty and faster-paced metabolisms of animals required a different approach, and so evolved both a biochemical (endocrine) system, and a separate, bioelectrical neural network.

At first, both of the chemical and electrical signalling systems would have been coordinated in primitive animals either by basic glandular organs to store or generate signalling hormones, ony chemicals or a centralised nerve-cluster (or several clusters) for the nervous system. But as time marched on, the nerve-clusters grew in size and complexity, until they started to resemble what we would recognise as primitive brains. Brains allow for a degree of self-awareness because they are able to store memories and experiences, which in turn allows a creature to learn from its experiences and draw from its memory-banks to make predictions about the future.

In other words, animals slowly evolved a basic executive operating system - a hugely important development because it vastly increased the chances of survival and reproduction for a given species.


#15

Once the human brain and associated neural network reached a certain level of complexity and processing power, the first glimmerings of animal consciousness were awakened, made possible by the continual rapid-fire movement of charged particles back and forth along the neurons and acoss the synaptic gaps.

The extensive connectivity and high speed of data transmission along neural networks therefore created the first “information superhighways”.


#16

This is fascinating. Do you think then that shadow function take more “energy” to use consciously? I imagine they would take less energy to use if we are in our shadow (Jungian shadow, acting from a shadow place), but perhaps still more than preferred functions and would manifest more negatively. Though there is also the golden shadow.

And does a cultivating a practice of working with unconscious material (dream work, visual or physical creativity, intentional fantasies) give more energy to access weak or shadow functions? Morning pages is an example of this.


#17

Excellent questions as usual, @batshitty!

The best way I can attempt to address them is to continue sharing my intuitive story of the evolutionary origins of consciousness and the psychological type functions. I can only write like this when the muse strikes me, as the words and themes are then entirely spontaneous. So much so, that even I don’t entirely know where I’m going with this!

But right now it’s late at night and I’m utterly drained and exhausted after another intense week at work. I’ll write some more when the time feels right; this is my version of the morning pages, if you like.


#18

Yes, please share as you are able! I like the story format.


#19

My understanding of Jungian psychology is that if you are able to integrate your shadow with your ego (or even better, persona), it actually releases a lot of psychic energy for you to use, since you no longer use all this energy to repress those sides of yourself. Whereas, integrating your anima/us doesn’t just give you more energy, it also unleashes undiscovered potential within yourself. But all of this requires to some extent giving up the illusion that your ego is the center of your psyche and being able to accept (and direct) more unconscious influences.

But what’s shadow and what’s anima for functions? I know John Beebe sees the inferior as analogous to the anima, and it fits well with Blake’s transcendent function. The 5th and 6th function seem to be best fits for the shadow. Eighth function is really deep shadow. Or maybe there’s not a direct correlation between these parts of the psyche and cognitive functions. I personally think there is a link, but it’s not a direct one. Jungian psychology and Myers-Briggs are related but can’t be entirely interposed on top of each other.


#20

Si is my 5th function. to me. it just feels very uncomfortable.
stability? remembrance? solid foundation? precision? detail oriented? whaaaaa???

actually, putting it that way, i appreciate all those qualities i mentioned above.

but see. it doesn’t FLOW like extraverted perceiving function. Se!

i have to STOP my Se and do the Si. that’s why it’s an opposing or ‘switch’ function.
it doesn’t really work in concurrence. maybe it can though. if i frequently switch on and off, it might just appear like i’m doing both.

any other function i think i can combine. heck. maybe i can combine Si with my Se too.
or. at least pretend like it’s combined.