Happiness Academy Online

A Blog about Psychology (Jungian), Spirituality and Happiness, By Roberto Lima Netto.

Function Types

Function types


The superior function is always an expression of the conscious personality, of its aims, will and general performance, whereas the less differentiated functions fall into the category of things that simply “happen” to one.

Carl Jung


In addition to the two attitude types – introversion and extraversion – Jung also classified the persons into four function types, according to their preference to gather information (Sensation or Intuition) or to make decisions (Thinking or Feeling).

The way we perceive information will determine our preference. A sensation (S) type will prefer a specific answer. If he asks what time is it, the sensor would prefer to hear 9:58 rather than almost ten. He would prefer to work with facts and figures than ideas and theories. The intuitive (I) type is his exact opposite.

The way we decide determines if we are a thinking (T) type or a feeling (F) one. If we are called to settle a dispute, a thinker would rather settle it based on what is fair and truthful, without taking into consideration the possibility that the decision might hurt sensibilities. He tends to favor the rational route. The feeling type considers a good decision one that takes into consideration the feelings of the people involved.

These four types were the original ones proposed by Jung. A last set of functions was introduced later, based on how we prefer to lead our lives. Judgers (J) prefer structured and organized lives while Perceivers (P) are spontaneous and adaptive.

The two attitude types plus the six function types make up for sixteen combinations. There are tests to determine what type we belong to, the best known being the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The book “Type Talk”, by Otto Krueger and Janet M. Thuesen provides detailed characteristics to help us determine our friend’s types and ours. A very sketchy description of each type follows:

ISTJ: doing what should be done

ISFJ: a high sense of duty

INFJ: an inspiration to others

INTJ: everything has room for improvement

ISTP: ready to try anything once

ISFP: sees much but shares little

INFP: performing noble service to aid society.

INTP: a love of problem solving

ESTP: the ultimate realist

ESFP: you only go around once in life

ENFP: giving life an extra squeeze

ENTP: one exciting challenge after another

ESTJ: life’s administrators

ESFJ: host and hostesses of the world

ENFJ: smooth-talking persuader

ENTJ: life’s natural leaders

Jung taught that each person has one of the four functions (thinking, feeling, sensing and intuition) as the dominant one. This function is conscious, under the control of the Ego. Its opposite is the inferior function, not controlled by the Ego. The process of individuation (to be explained below) can be seen as the development of the inferior function.

I was involved in the business world, as an executive of large companies and university professor since recently. I was the president CSN, the largest steel-mill of Latin America and was responsible for its turn-around. My first encounter with the teachings of the Swiss psychologist C. G. Jung, one of the greatest geniuses of the 20th Century, was during my midlife crisis. Reading "Man and his Symbols" at that time, inspired me to go into Jungian analysis and to begin devouring the writings of Jung and his disciples. Since then, I've been studying psychology, especially Jungian psychology and, after reaching my seventies, I decided to become a full time writer, specializing on books on Jungian psychology and psychological thrillers. Every masterpiece of literature can be absorbed through multiple interpretations, and yield powerful insights for our daily lives. My first Jungian book, “The Little Prince for Grown-ups“, in its fourth edition in Brazil, was based on the famous book of Saint-Exupéry. The second, - “The Jungian Bible” - interprets some stories of the Old Testament and world myths. As I get older and, with a bit of luck, wiser, I want to pass on to the younger generations the lessons life has taught me. Jesus Christ taught that it was easier to sell ideas with stories. Following the Master, I published in English "The Amazon Shaman" and "In Search of Happiness", two psychological thrillers around the theme of happiness.

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