Ever since I have started studying Psychology back in school, I have always had this fascination towards Carl Jung’s ideas towards Cognitive functions. That how people perceive and judge the world from their own subjective lenses. For readers who aren’t aware of Jungian Cognitive functions, they are defined as “thinking”, “feeling”, “sensation” and “intuition”. Using metaphors for names, Jung described two kinds of cognitive processes—perception and judgment. Sensation and Intuition were the two kinds of perception. Thinking and Feeling were the two kinds of judgment. He said that every mental act consists of using at least one of these four cognitive processes. Then he described eight personality types that were characterized by using one of the processes in either the extraverted or introverted world; extraverted Sensing types, introverted Sensing types, extraverted intuiting types, introverted intuiting types, extraverted Thinking types, introverted Thinking types, extraverted Feeling types, and introverted Feeling types. He also suggested that these processes operate not just as the dominant process in a personality but also in other ways. In this post, I am only focusing on ‘Intuition”.
What is ‘Intuition’?
In Carl Jung’s theory of the ego, described in 1916 in Psychological Types, intuition is an “irrational function”, opposed most directly by sensation, and opposed less strongly by the “rational functions” of thinking and feeling. Jung defined intuition as “perception via the unconscious”: using sense-perception only as a starting point, to bring forth ideas, images, possibilities, ways out of a blocked situation, by a process that is mostly unconscious. Jung said that a person in whom intuition is dominant, an “intuitive type”, acts not on the basis of rational judgment but on sheer intensity of perception.
Here is one of Jung’s quotes on Intuition:
Intuition gives outlook and insight; it revels in the garden of magical possibilities as if they were real. [“The Psychology of the Transference,” CW 16, par. 492.]
If you too are inspired by Jung and his ideas, this is for you. It is an excerpt from Carl Jung and Dr. Richard I. Evans (Dept. of Psychology, University of Houston) conversations on “Intuitive Extrovert” and “Intuitive Introvert.”
Dr. Evans: More specifically, what would be an example of the difference between an intuitive extrovert and an intuitive introvert?
Dr. Jung: Well, you have chosen a somewhat difficult case, because one of the most difficult types is the intuitive introvert.
The intuitive extrovert you find in all kinds of bankers, gamblers, etc., which is quite understandable.
The introvert is more difficult because he has intuitions as to the subjective factor, namely the inner world; and, of course, that is very difficult to understand because what he sees are most uncommon things, things which he doesn’t like to talk about if he is not a fool. If he did, he would spoil his own game by telling what he sees, because people won’t understand it.
For instance, once I had a patient, a young woman about 27 or 28. Immediately after I had seated her, she said, “You know, doctor, I came to you because I’ve a snake in my abdomen.”
What! “Yes, a black snake coiled up in the bottom of my abdomen.”
I must have made an awful face at her, so she said, “You know that I don’t mean it literally.”
I then replied, however, “If you say it was a snake, it was a snake.” (note: a person dominant at Sensing function would perceive it just like the way it is. Literally!)*
In a later conversation with her, which took place about in the middle of her treatment, treatment that only lasted for ten consultations, she reminded me of something she had foretold me.
She had said, “I come ten times and then it will be all right,” to which I responded with the question, “How do you know?”
“Oh, I’ve got a hunch,” she said. (Intuition)*
Now at about the fifth or sixth hour she said, “Doctor, I must tell you that the snake has risen; it is now about here.”
Then on the tenth day I said, “Now this is our last hour, and do you feel cured?”
Just beaming, she replied, “You know, this morning it came up, came out of my mouth, and the head was golden.”
Those were her last words.
When it comes to reality now, that same girl came to me because she couldn’t hear the step of her feet anymore, because she walked on air, literally. She couldn’t hear it, and that frightened her.
When I asked for her address, she said, “Oh, Pension so and so. Well, it is not just called a pension, but it is a sort of pension.”
I had never heard of it.
“I have never heard of that place,” I said.
She replied, “It is a very nice place.
There are only young girls there; they are all very nice young girls, very lovely young girls, and they have a merry time.
I often wish they would invite me to their merry evenings.”
And I said, “Do they amuse themselves all alone?”
“No,” she replied, “there are plenty of young gentlemen coming in; they have a beautiful time, but they never invite me.”
It turned out that this was a private brothel.
She was a perfectly decent girl from a very good family, not from here.
She had found that place, I don’t know how, and she was completely unaware that they were all prostitutes.
I said, “For heaven’s sake, you fell into a very tough place; you’ll hasten to get out of it.”
She didn’t see reality, but she had hunches like everything, vraiment.
Such a person cannot possibly speak of her experiences because everybody would think she was absolutely crazy.
I myself was quite shocked, and I thought, “For heaven’s sake, is that case a schizophrenic?”
You don’t normally hear that kind of speech; but she assumed that the old man, of course, knew everything and did understand such kind of language.
So you see, if the introverted intuitive would speak what he really perceives, practically no one would understand him; he would be misunderstood.
Thus they learn to keep things to themselves.
You hardly ever hear them talking of these things.
In a way, that is a great disadvantage, but in another way it is an enormous advantage that these people do not speak of their experiences, both their inward experiences and those which occur in human relations.
For instance, they may come into the presence of somebody they don’t know, not from Adam, and suddenly they may have inner images.
Now these inner images may give them a great deal of information about the psychology of that person they have just met.
That is typical of cases that often happen.
They suddenly know an important piece of the biography of that person, and if they did not keep things to themselves, they would tell the story.
Then the fat would be in the fire!
So the intuitive introvert has in a way a very difficult life, although it is a most interesting one.
It is quite difficult to get into their confidence.
Dr. Evans: Yes, because they are afraid people will think . . .
Dr. Jung: They are sick.
The things that they hint at are interesting to them, are vital to them, and are utterly strange to the ordinary individual. A psychologist, however, should know of such things.
When people make a psychology, as a psychologist ought to do, it is the very first question—is he introverted or extroverted?
The psychologist must look at entirely different things.
He sees the sensation type; he sees the intuitive type; he sees thinking and feeling types.
These things are complicated.
They are still more complicated because the introverted thinking, for instance, is compensated by extroverted feeling, inferior, archaic, extroverted feeling.
So an introverted thinker may be crude in his feeling, like for instance the introverted philosopher who is always carefully avoiding women may be married by his cook in the end.
Dr. Evans: So we can take your introvert-extrovert orientations and describe a number of types; the sensation-introvert and extrovert types, the feeling-introvert and extrovert types, thinking-introvert and extrovert types, and the intuitive-introvert and extrovert types. In each case these combinations do not represent a concrete category but simply, as you have indicated, a model that can be helpful in understanding the individual.
Dr. Jung: It is just a sort of skeleton to which you have to add the flesh.
One could say that it is like a country mapped out by triangulation points, which doesn’t mean that the country consists of triangulation points; that is only in order to have an idea of the distances.
And so it is a means to an end.
It only makes sense as a scheme when you deal with practical cases.
For instance, if you have to explain an introverted-intuitive husband to an extrovert wife, it is a most painstaking affair because, you see, an extrovert sensation type is furtherest away from the ‐ inner experience and the rational functions.
He adapts and behaves according to the facts as they are, and he is always caught by those facts.
He himself is those facts.
But if the introvert is intuitive, to him that is hell, because as soon as he is in a definite situation, he tries to find a hole where he can get out.
To him, every given situation is just the worst that can happen to him.
He is pinched and feels he is caught, suffocated, chained.
He must break those fetters, because he is the man who will discover a new field. He will plant that field, and as soon as the new plants are coming up, he’s done; he’s over and no more interested.
Others will reap what he has sown.
When those two marry, the extrovert-sensation and the introvert-intuitive, there is trouble, I can assure you. (Happens at workplace too.)*