Tracking the Elusive Human, Vol. I

Chapter 3: Marriage and the Fourth Function

In the last two chapters we have covered some of the basics of type recognition and type development, but two of the most important topics remain: types in marriage and the challenge of the fourth function.

At first glance the wonderful and painful experience of falling in love may seem far removed from psychological types, but it isn't. In fact, understanding what falling in love means is one of the best ways to grasp the real meaning of types. When we fall in love we feel a completeness and wholeness deep within ourselves. We are overwhelmed with a feeling of luck and gratitude. It's all too good to be true, and yet it is happening, and we attribute it all to the fact that we have finally found the right person for us.

But if we stop for a moment and look at falling in love from the point of view of types, another picture emerges. As an introverted intuition feeling type, I am comfortable with that introversion, and I feel at ease with my first and second functions, but the other half of my personality, the half that is extraverted, and contains the functions of thinking and sensation, remains buried in my unconscious. But just because I am blind to that half of myself doesn't mean it doesn't make itself felt. I am searching for that other half, but I do it not by looking inside myself, but outward. When I fall in love I am overcome by the feeling that for the first time in my life I am whole. Why? Because you are an extravert, and your first two functions are sensation and thinking. What you are is the mirror image of my unconscious. I cannot see that half of myself, but I can see you, and I am entranced. And you fall in love with me for the same reasons. Together we are perfect. We feel as though we have reached a new level of ecstasy, and we can't bear the thought of being apart.

Falling in love is a special kind of projection. You are my other half, literally, from a psychological point of view, and you are mine. But there is a problem. If I could look at my inner unconscious half, I would see how imperfect, scarred, undeveloped and unruly it is. But by looking only at you I see my own inner half that is free of my own imperfections and splits. It as though the inner half of myself jumped suddenly into the full light of consciousness in wholeness and beauty. So in falling in love with you I am falling in love with the hope and promise that I can be whole and complete.

Unfortunately, we don't understand that there are two processes going on at once. We mistake a promise of wholeness for the actual fact. We think if we could only be together forever our problems would be solved. We make our own sense of completeness depend on the other person. Without being aware of it we have transferred the interior task of our own self-development to our partner. By being with you I no longer have the feeling that I am incomplete within myself, and it is as though, suddenly, by meeting and loving you, I am completely developed, all in an instant.

But even though loving you gives me an intoxicating taste of wholeness, it cannot be the Instant cure for my own imperfections and weaknesses. There is no short-cut to wholeness. There is no way to avoid the difficult and humbling work of dealing with our own other side.

All too soon the magic wears thin. I loved you in the moonlight, and now I find I have to love you over the dishes. We spent hours dreaming of our perfect future together, but now my feet hurt and you come home at the end of the day grouchy and short-tempered. The better I get to know you, the more we struggle through the hassles of daily life, the more I realize, with a sinking heart, that you, my perfect other self, are not so perfect. The compliments turn into complaints, the hand-holding and candle-light dinners give way to the football game, and instead of a bouquet of flowers you bring me a bag of groceries. And I end up feeling cheated. You aren't supposed to make problems for me, you are supposed to help keep us both in heaven. And you, on your part, aren't entirely enchanted anymore either. Instead of gazing into my eyes, you notice the dust. Instead of taking me out to dine you wave a pile of bills in my face. And we find ourselves in the painful position of wondering whether we still love each other.

This is when types becomes not only an interesting theory, but the lifesaver to our floundering marriage. The projection of falling in love brought us together, and now we are faced with serious typological dirt time. Now I have to look at myself to see what type I am, you have to look at yourself, and we have to look at each other closely so that we will understand why we fell in love in the first place. But the initial instinct is not to settle down to hard work, but to blame the other for all this unhappiness and disillusion. "You aren't who I thought you were." We were as much in love with the image of our own perfection as we were with the actual, living, breathing other person. And the unfortunate result is that I have an unerring instinct of how to upset you, and you know just the right words to send me crying to the bedroom.

But rather than engage in marital warfare it is time to wake up from our dream of perfection and begin to make that dream into a reality. I projected on you because you are my unconscious half, but I can look at you again and learn from you. You already know how to be strong where I am weak, and vice versa. Now I can take the first tentative steps into my unknown half and begin to experiment with new ways of dealing with myself, you, our marriage, and life. And I am a living model of your own weakest parts. Now is the time when you have to join together as we never have before and work toward mutual wholeness. Now is the time for extra tenderness and compassion as we get our courage up to see just how inadequate we are inside ourselves. Now is the time for long talks and gentle embraces as we face each problem and conflict not with hate and recriminations, but by trust and suggestions. If I break out in a sweat when I know we are going to meet new people, you make sure I am not left alone too long because you know my crippled extraversion is suffering in the crowd. If you bring up negative intuitions about impending doom, I carefully waylay your ungrounded fears with soft reassurances. If I want time, introverted time, alone with you, you give up going out with the boys and spend a few quiet hours with me. If you tend to spend without thinking of our dwindling bank account, I take you aside and we look at our typological differences calmly. It seemed like a tragedy when our projections crumbled into dust in front of our eyes, but now, with types to guide us we can begin to love again, but this time with our eyes wide open. Marriage becomes the vessel in which we can both go on our interior journey.

Let me describe a typical situation:

Richard, an introverted thinking type, and Helen, an extraverted feeling type

Eight years of marriage had left them with three children, a half-paid-for house and not much feeling for each other. They had thought themselves a perfect match. Helen admired her husband's orderly and logical nature. She liked the way he could carefully evaluate a situation before he came to a decision. She knew he would be a conscientious provider who would always look out for the economic security of his family. And Richard saw in Helen many of the talents he lacked and wished he had. She was cheerful and outgoing. She knew how to have a good time and she made friends easily. But after they were married they had a much harder time appreciating each other's good qualities. Helen had to admit that Richard was a good provider, but she had never realized how unsociable he was. He was like a wet blanket on any ideas she might have that would make their life more pleasant. He didn't like to go out to parties, and she could barely get him to go out to dinner, still less take a real interest in his appearance. He would wear the same old clothes day in and day out.

Richard had come to the conclusion that Helen never had a real idea in her head. All she had was some wild notions that she never stopped to carefully consider and evaluate. Long ago he had learned not to commit himself to any of her projects, which meant spending the evening with a group of people that he had nothing in common with. And what a knack she had for spending money. She was always buying new clothes or planning how she could redecorate the house, or wanting them to get a new car, even though the old one was perfectly fine - a little beat up, perhaps, but it still ran - or dreaming of some expensive vacation. Frankly, he just didn't trust the way she arrived at making decisions. She could never really explain the reasons behind them. It was always something vague like, "I felt it was the right thing to do."

For Helen, Richard seemed to take all the fun out of life. He always had to weigh and mull over things. He just wouldn't let himself have fun right now. He was always waiting for some day that never came. By the time he did get around to doing something she had lost all her zest for it.

It would be easy to go on and describe many of the other common contrasts and oppositions that can be seen in married couples. There is, for example, the extraverted sensation husband married to the introverted intuition wife. She feels stifled because he is so routine-bound, and he feels disappointed that she can't seem to handle the many details of taking care of the home. He is matter-of-factly going about his life, while she gets emotional because she doesn't experience the kind of intimacy with him that she thought marriage would bring. But her image of intimacy is a highly introverted one, and he shows his affection in deeds rather than words.

The real issue is not in detailing these typical marital difficulties. It is in facing the question of whether it is really possible to make marriage the place in which two people can aid each other in going on the journey of wholeness. I have described the feeling sessions with which- I tried to work through my memories and dreams and release the energy that had been imprisoned there. Once I had succeeded in doing this I was no longer caught up in the past, but had the strength and freedom to try to tackle the present. For me that turned out to be the question of marriage. Now I could see that my normal, everyday awareness embraced most of my first function, much of my second, but just part of my third and very little of the fourth. It was my third function of thinking that was split and polarized. The upper part of it served the ego, while the lower part looked downward and was connected with the fourth function and the unconscious itself. I began to realize that this third function held the key by which I could understand my relationship with men and decide whether I wanted to be married or not. The idea of marriage had attracted me, but whenever I thought about it in the concrete I would think of the unhappy married people I knew, and I did not want to become trapped like they had. But now I saw there was another reason for my hesitations. Because of the split in my thinking function I was compelled to see men in two distinctive ways. Sometimes I saw them through the upper part of my third function, and then they appeared idealized, spiritualized and safe. But other times I saw them through the lower part of the third function, which was allied to the fourth and separated from consciousness, and these men appeared earthy and instinctual with overtones of menace.

In one of my dreams, for instance, an attractive young priest appeared, representing the idealized, spiritualized and safe part of my thinking function. But as I looked at him I realized he was drunk, for he staggered as he walked toward me. I felt afraid and threatened. Then he turned into a black man, and finally into a dwarf. The dream seemed to be saying that my two images of men were connected. And I saw that if I truly wanted to get married I would have to bring these two images together inside myself. If I failed to do this I would project one or the other on my husband, and I would blame him for the split that existed inside me. Since I couldn't depend on my inner thinking that embodied so much of what Jung called the animus, I was compelled to project it on men and think of them as unreliable. This kind of projection was a sure formula for disaster if I married without resolving it. I talked over the whole matter with Jim, and we saw that he had a similar problem but for him the split was in his third function of feeling. Again, one part was allied to consciousness, and expressed itself in the form of an idealized and spiritualized woman, while the other part was bound up with the fourth function and was earthy and instinctual. While I was dreaming of primitive black men, he was dreaming of Polynesian women. Both Jim and I were introverted intuition types, but the positions of our feeling and thinking functions were reversed. If I had qualms about marriage, Jim was firmly against the whole idea. It seemed to him like a prison in which he would be subjected to a lifetime of paying attention to physical details, and working at jobs he had no interest in, in order to support a family. He loved to spend his time going on inner adventures. But now the inner adventure that had started with the discovery of Jung's psychological types was gripping us both. Once we saw splits inside ourselves and the possibility that they could be healed, and in fact were being healed, not only by our individual work but by our talks together, a new possibility began to whisper in the background. What if marriage could actually become the vessel in which our interior journey could go on, in which we healed these splits and opened the way to another stage in the process of individuation?

Jim and I got married, and our marriage actually did become the way in which we dealt with the question of the third function. I had to see Jim as both spiritual and instinctual, and to do it I had to be in touch with the two parts of my own third function. He had a similar task. I gave him a model of what more developed feeling was like, and he gave me one of more developed thinking. He had to learn to put up with my evaluations by way of feeling, and not to insist that thinking was the only way to arrive at a decision. We were facing each other after each of us had faced our own past. There was no longer an idealized man and an instinctual one. The two had drawn together, both inside me, and outside in my marriage. This new unity left me more in possession of myself. I felt a deeper inner strength in using my mind, in studying new subjects and making decisions about the kind of life I wanted to lead. The healing of the thinking function had strengthened me.

The Fourth Function

Although I described our marriage in terms of the third function, the fourth function was never far away. The divisions I discovered in the third function were caused by the conflicting forces of conscious and unconscious, introversion and extraversion, first function and fourth function. The third function contained an inner demand that I deal with the fourth, and the more Jim and I dealt with our third functions the more the challenge of the fourth function loomed up.

What is the fourth function like? When it shows itself negatively it's the child caught in a tantrum, the teenager gripped by an unnamed rebellion, an adult plagued by fears and doubts, or an older person who is touchy and cranky. The fourth function starts an argument, accuses someone of a misdeed or slight, keeps us worrying about the future or causes us to curl up and immerse ourselves in the feelings that we are abused and misunderstood. No matter what our particular type is, the negative part of the fourth function makes us feel impatient, frustrated, confused, irritated, jealous or downright angry. We know when it is activated because we suddenly feel snakes writhing in our stomach, our fists clench, we are about to spit out an unkind remark, our eyes glaze over with fury, or we are swamped with an overwhelming feeling of depression. We know we are not in control, but someone or something has touched our fourth function and set us off.

But all too often we do not see that all this commotion is caused by our own interior chaos coming from the fourth. Instead, we blame a neighbor for insulting us, we harbor deep resentments because the boss does not listen to us, we plot small revenges to get even with someone. In other words, we project those feelings of abuse on someone in our everyday world without ever realizing that the initial trouble is right inside ourselves.

No matter whether we are married or not, living with the fourth function is like living in a marriage of opposites that has already gone bad. Whatever I said before about the wounds of the third function goes triple for the fourth, and whatever energy that the third function contains is small compared to the energy locked up in the fourth. If the past has split our third function, it has turned the fourth into an antagonist who knows, and is, all our weak points. Living with the fourth is like living with someone we can't stand and don't know how to get rid of. We want the fourth to do just what we say, or to get out. We want to pretend that he doesn't live in the same house with us. Let someone else live with him.

The thinking type will leave his feelings to be taken care of by the feeling type. He will let her make the plans for the party, invite everyone, and smooth out any difficulties that might arise, even if he created them in the first place. The intuition type will let the sensation type cook his meals, wash his clothes, make his bed and pick up his socks, all with the rationalization that he is doing important intuitive work and doesn't have time to worry about these silly, mundane,. unimportant details of daily life. But these kinds of strategies don't work. The fourth does not go away. If we ignore it, it causes all kinds of mischief to draw attention to itself like a neglected child. There's no divorce when it comes to the fourth, and it's a good thing there isn't because the fourth function holds the secret to our wholeness. We have to learn to respect its different way of seeing things as our typological opposite, and find a way in which both of us can give in and create a genuine marriage in which neither side of the personality dominates the other, but rather, one in which both have found a way to work together.

The fourth function has a beautiful and awe-inspiring part of itself as well. Then it's wonderful, energizing, exciting and deeply fulfilling. We have already seen it at work in the magic of falling in love. When I have an experience that comes from the positive fourth it can be numinous or out of the ordinary. I get an almost overpowering feeling of joy. I might be going along in my first and second function way, and suddenly I see the sun streaming through the trees, and it transfixes me with its beauty. It was there all along, of course, but I hadn't been able to really see it through my fourth function of extraverted sensation. Or I pay special attention to a little child, and I am overcome by the beauty of this little creature. He has such a long way to go and so much to learn, but right now, this very minute, he is perfect down to his tiny fingernails.

Just what makes the fourth function different from the others? In the first stages of our development we are taking control of the first function, and with it comes part of the second. Gradually our consciousness expands until it embraces part of the third as well. I have already described how the third function can present its own challenge because sometimes our growth has been arrested there. But the process of individuation when it becomes a question of the fourth function goes beyond the expansion of our consciousness. It is not adding more of the second or third, or fourth function to our first in order to create a super personality in which our ego-consciousness and the first function become more perceptive, effective and dynamic. The conscious personality cannot simply expand and become the center of everything, and when it runs into the fourth function it really discovers how limited its point of view is.

Marriage and the Fourth Function

There is no better way to learn about the fourth function than in marriage. Whether it's in the wonderful projection of falling in love or in the terrible feeling that follows a serious fight, the fourth function plays an important role. It's easy to learn about the positive side of the fourth function when we feel it in that sense of completion that comes from having someone love us, but it's the negative side of the fourth function that demands our attention if we are going to make our marriage work. If you represent my fourth function and that part of me is split off and antagonistic, then I am going to end up blaming you for its negative qualities. And this projection will inevitably set off your fourth function. It's as if we are living in a strange double marriage. We are married to each other and each of us has an interior, invisible marriage partner in the form of the fourth function. If our marriages within are going bad, they will destroy our marriage without. And vice versa. If I can't build a bridge to my own fourth function, you are going to appear as an ally to the enemy I have within, or even as the enemy himself.

In the case of Richard and Helen, when Richard sees her run off and spend money and socialize, he feels as if his own feelings are somehow out of control. Even if what she is doing is innocent and inconsequential, he feels that she is somehow betraying him. At the very time when he would need all his objectivity to understand the legitimacy of her point of view and allow her to have the freedom she needs to be herself, he is in the throes of his own fourth function feeling, which is anything but objective.

Helen, in her turn, is caught by her own fourth function. When Richard seems withdrawn and unsociable she immediately feels as if he is locking her in a prison from which she is never going to escape. But she can't distinguish which of these feelings come from Richard himself and which come from her own stifled thinking function. They both have the knack for setting each other off and they both build up a backlog of specific instances in which the other person has hurt them. And the more their own fourth functions are rubbed the wrong way the more they insist that it is really the other person who is at fault. They are missing the real promise of the fourth function because to fulfill it they have to turn within and make contact with this other side. They imagine that their marriage problems are unique. If only they had , found the right person all would be well. They don't realize that there are thousands and thousands of other couples who are their same types and fall into almost exactly the same kinds of problems. If they could recognize the typological dimension of their marriage they would have the beginning of objectivity. Then would come the task of typological development, and this development could be powerfully aided by the very fourth function that has caused so much trouble. The fourth function has made their other sides visible, and this is an invaluable beginning, for we can't work on a problem we don't even know exists. The terrible vulnerability we feel to the attacks of our marriage partner can be transformed into a sensitivity in which we can help the other person in the delicate job of gently bringing out their fourth function. It is at this point that the couple has to begin to pay attention to their dreams and memories, they have to go through the painful feeling sessions to heal the splits of the past and they have to reach out to each other during this most difficult of times rather than attack each other at their weakest points.

Living With the Fourth Function

My own marriage had started as a working out of the third function, but since the third is so closely connected with the fourth the day arrived when we had to face the problem of the fourth function. Jim and I both had the same fourth function of extraverted sensation, so we couldn't look to each other for an answer. We shared the same weaknesses and blind spots, but what we could do was face the fourth function together and try to find a solution. What we didn't realize was that the solutions that come from the fourth function have a distinctive stamp. They are not like our first, second and third function solutions because they have to have room to embrace the fourth function and its contrasting way of doing things. Real fourth function solutions allow space for both sides of the personality to express themselves. The first function can't predict what they are going to be like, and this makes them interesting, exciting and even maddening.

As introverted intuition types we loved the freedom of traveling to some new place which would then become the backdrop for new journeys within. And we hated regular jobs which gave us only bits and scraps of time to call our own. But we faced a growing dilemma. We could no longer pretend that we were only introverted intuition types, spiritual flyers, people who imagined they could avoid dealing with the fact they lived in this everyday world. We had come back from nine months of studying and camping in Europe, and decided it was time to have children. This decision gave a new sharpness to questions that we had been postponing. How were we going to earn a living? What kind of career should we follow? Would we ever own our own home? And so forth. Jim found a steady job and our first child was born. But as the months went by we found that the usual solutions to these questions didn't appeal to us. Contemplating a 9-to-5 job with two weeks of vacation a year, a 20 or 30 year mortgage on a house in the suburbs and all the rest made our first function scream. Did we really have to do these things in order to deal with the fourth function? Did we have to accept the common solution? Or could we find our own unique way to meet our fourth function responsibilities?

We have seen how the fourth function spins dreams of magical solutions in the form of falling in love. Well, we began to fantasize about finding our magical solution to the problem of living in this world. What if we could find some beautiful tropical island with trees loaded with fruit and the sea teeming with fish? Then fourth function needs would take care of themselves, leaving us our precious free time for inner journeys. We pored over books about little-known islands in the Caribbean and finally found one that looked ideal. It was called Roatan, located off the coast of Honduras. Eventually, we found ourselves in a rattling DC-3 skimming over turquoise waters coming in for a landing on the island. It was a beautiful green and hilly place with secluded coves of white sand, a reef filled with tropical fish and friendly English-speaking people. But it was also hot, humid and buggy. It had plenty of coconuts, fish and fruit, but most of the other supplies were imported and costly. By 10 a.m. our minds clicked off and we sought out the nearest shade. The fantasy spun by the fourth function was hard against physical reality, and our weakness in the fourth had given us none of the physical and mental tools we would have needed to cope with creating a lifestyle in this faraway place.

We went back home to our apartment and job and pondered again the challenge of the fourth function. It was obviously going to take a great deal of work to find a genuine answer, but still and all, the dream lured us on. So the day came when Jim quit his job, we took our 19-month-old daughter and 3-week-old son, got into our Volkswagen camper and drove off. We had no specific destination in mind - only that it would be nice to live in a natural setting and to follow our inner instinct that said deeper down in ourselves and at the same time somewhere outside existed the possibility of a lifestyle that would allow all the parts of ourselves to develop.

Our first day on the road climaxed with our engine blowing up. Our little home was towed to a distant town and we found ourselves living in a motel and watching our hard-earned savings rapidly disappear. Welcome to the fourth function! I can still remember that weekend vividly. We were awash in the feeling that somehow we had unleashed the uncontrolled forces of the fourth function by daring to enter into its territory. But those days marked a turning point. We sat in our room and studied a copy of Marie-Louise von Franz's The Inferior Function, and it began to dawn on us that the fourth function was not something that ought to happen to us in the form of a magical answer, but it was something we had to work on. It seemed as if the fourth function had two faces, or an upper or lower part. There was the upper fourth function that could be brought into consciousness and used to build a richer life. Then there was the dimension of the fourth function that would never come into the focus of consciousness. The question became, "How much of the fourth function could be made to serve our conscious intentions, and how could we deal with the part of it which could not?"

At one point we decided it would be ideal to start our own business. This would allow us to earn a living wherever we were and free us from the former tyranny of bosses and full-time jobs. Then we went a step further and decided to make it a business in which we used our hands, and thus come into daily contact with the fourth function. We ended up making carved wooden frames backed by mirrors and selling them to stores and at craft shows. But again, theory is one thing and practice is another. I remember the day when we received the shipment of a very powerful router. We carefully set it up, and when we turned it on it filled the room wit an enormous roar. That was enough. We turned it off, left, and spent the rest of the day reading books. The next day we went back, turned the machine on again, and went a little further, and gradually we established our small business, and in doing so discovered how much the fourth function could be broadened to a conscious awareness and how much our conscious personalities had to change to accommodate it. It would be nice to think that it is sufficient to spend an hour or two a week in some fourth function activity, and thus appease it so it will not disturb us. But the fourth function often demands much more than this. It's one of our basic ways of relating to life, and we simply can't do without whatever the fourth function happens to be. As we worked on our woodworking, our fourth function capacity grew until it could carry an almost normal load. Then we faced another temptation, which was to forget it was still the fourth function and try to make it do too much. Our fourth function wasn't really meant to compete against the first functions of other people. We made our business work and gained a lot psychologically by doing so, but it wasn't a path of heart. It didn't have enough room in it for the more conscious parts of the personality to express themselves. It represented the opposite extreme of the tropical island. We couldn't do without the fourth function and we weren't happy continually living in it. We were testing the limits in each direction in order to find out what was feasible.

But the business did give us a way of solving the problem of earning a living, and as soon as we were comfortable with it our thoughts turned to the next question: "Could we have a home of our own?" We were getting more familiar with the kind of solutions that would please us. We knew that we wanted to build our own home and have no mortgage on it.

This led us to pursue the dream of the tropical island, not in the Caribbean, but in the middle of a forest in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains near Crater Lake in Oregon. There we bought land, built a home and lived in a world where there was no escaping the fourth function. But now, as we struggled to erect a solar greenhouse or learned how to build wood stoves or used cross-country skis, we were coming to grips with the fourth function on our own terms. And the end result was magical enough. We had actually created a setting that demanded that we use all our functions, and at the same time freed us from many outside pressures that would have artificially demanded one kind of adaptation over another.

I have told this story in detail in our book The Treasures of Simple Living. But it was a typological story as well. The very buildings we built and skills we mastered were at once a solution to genuine outer questions and a step toward wholeness within. Types had become an instinctive and natural tool in living out our lives.

Books for Further Study

The best source for a further study of psychological types is Jung's Psychological Types. In it he not only gives detailed descriptions of each type but even more importantly he makes it clear that a study of types has to do with a study of the whole personality, both conscious and unconscious. Marie-Louise von Franz, one of Jung's closest collaborators, has a small book called The Inferior Function in Jung's Typology which is based on a series of lectures she gave at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich. This, too, is very instructive when trying to get a deeper understanding of the fourth function. The best source of information about Jung's life is Memories, Dreams, Reflections which concentrates on his inner experiences and how they gave birth to his psychological theories, and makes fascinating reading.

Man and His Symbols by Jung and his collaborators is an excellent introduction to Jungian psychology, including the process of individuation. The Living Symbol, A Case Study in the Process of Individuation by Gerhard Adler devotes 400 pages to one part of one person's inner development. Jung's The Relationship Between the Ego and the Unconscious sums up the basic structure underlying the individual case material, while his A Study of the Process of individuation, and Concerning Mandala Symbolism, give an idea of how the new center of the personality emerges and what symbolic form it takes. For an incisive analysis of projection see Erich Neumann's Depth Psychology and the New Ethic.


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