Myers Musings: Heroes and Villains


In my earlier post, I discussed how the preference order for the various cognitive processes affected type. In this post, I will examine how the preference position might affect the presentation of each process. Depending on its position in your preference hierarchy a particular process might be a hero or a villain.

While Myers and Briggs took the work of Jung in one particular direction, others have taken added their own ideas to both. John Beebe mapped Jungian archetypes to the various cognitive processes. He postulated that a person would experience each process (e.g., Ti, Fe, etc) differently according to its position in their preference order. A particular function (e.g., extraverted thinking) would be experienced very differently by someone for whom it was a lead process than by someone for whom it was a less favored. Each of the positions from first to last plays assigns a role to the process that occupied that slot.

The Archetypes

Type theory says that we all have a most favored process. While we engage in all processes at various times, we will tend to favor and be more conscious of some.

Late in childhood, we find ourselves relying more and more on one particular process. That becomes our leading (first process). Perhaps during the teens and early adulthood a second process rises up to support the lead. It too, is something we are comfortable with and conscious of. We use the other processes less, and in a less conscious way. They can surprise us and baffle us. They can be the source of growth or pain. They are likely to be acting in all of those “was that me?” moments.
1 Hero
This is you. Indeed this is the best you. When engaging this process you feel most alive and in control. This is your arena of unconscious competence. This is likely the seat of those “in the zone” moments.

2 Father/Mother
It acts as a sidekick to the hero. It also acts like a parent; it guides and supports the lead process. It helps keep you and the lead process in line. It supports the hero in his quest. It is also what we use to parent (guide) others. This is your zone of conscious competence. You can engage it with relative ease but without the fluidity of the leading.

3 Puer/Puella
This is a source of relief and a little anguish. Like a child, it may be undirected and a bit uncontrollable. It may be a guiding or hindering force. It may switch between those roles at different times. You may engage in it for relief but it may impose itself when least expected. This is part of your zone of conscious incompetence. It is under far less conscious control and notice than the first two. It is in mid-life that you gain some control and integrate it better into your whole personality. This third function is likely the root of those mid-life moments of growth and doubt (the why am I? who am I? questions).

4 Anima/Animus
The fourth preference is one we are barely conscious of directly. It is the seat of many of our best hopes and worst fears. It is the area that we project most from, and to. As home to the anima, it drives how we see and interact with the opposite sex.

The Shadow Archetypes

The shadow functions are mostly unconscious. We engage the functions reluctantly and with great cost. For most people the functions here will be barely developed and largely unconscious. They probably are the source of most self-destructive behavior.

I don’t believe that these functions want to be destructive, it is just that their clumsy nature means that cannot help but cause problems. These represent your areas of unconscious incompetence. Those things that undermine, embarrass, hold you back, but in ways you cannot fully comprehend.

5 Opposing Personality
Tends to undermine the hero. A mixture of the boy who cried Wolf and the boy who called the emperor on his lack of clothing. Sows doubt and confusion in place of the hero’s confidence.

6 Witch/Senex
Critical parent. May try to undermine the good parent. Another source of internal criticism and doubt. Also how we may attempt to undermine others.

7 Trickster
Where the good child (third) is playful the trickster is disruptive. It provides false impressions and misleading perceptions to lead you astray.

8 Demon/Daemon
Least preferred function. Least developed. Least conscious. Just awful.

Personal Notes (how the archetypes work for me)

I will try to illustrate these archetypal roles using myself. You may be able to use this to create your own map. Please note that although INTP my preference order is probably a little closer to ENTP. At the very least Ne has pushed its way to the heroic role ahead of the expected Ti (introverted thinking).

1/Hero: Ne (extraverted intuition)
When theorizing or brainstorming, I am in my element. I can read a book or article and find myself effortlessly linking the ideas therein to others. The thought offered by speaker, page, or screen sweeps open into a vista of other possibilities. A single idea today will instantly link to all the other things I already know, building a vision way beyond the one offered. I can often fill in the gaps before they are presented or explained. From a web page to a door lock I can see many ways it could be improved (or at least made different). With the right material, I can learn effortlessly, making leaps and connections. At times, it may almost seem I am rushing ahead of the teacher; sometimes I am.

2/Father: Ti (introverted thinking)
If the hero generates ideas and possibilities that the parent (sidekick) helps to organize them. Introverted thinking allows me make some sense of the possibilities and visions generated by the heroic Ne. It allows me analyze and systemize what I know and can imagine. It helps me put the hero’s plans into likely/unlikely, correct/incorrect, interesting/useless piles. It is most happy when I am helping others understand. It wants to father others by guiding them to some understanding of a complex system or problem. It also is the seat of my desire for competence. Ti does not just want to imagine, it wants to be good.

Posts like this are mostly the work of Ti. Happiness for Ti here is understanding for me and understanding for you. Ti is where I take my Ne generated ideas and attempt to share them. Ti wants first to help me understand and then help others understand.
[Remember all roles are about motivation not skill. I am not saying that I am better than others at explaining, merely that I am happier when attempting it.]

3/Child: Si and Fe (introverted sensing and extraverted feeling)
Both Si (remembrance of past experience) and Fe (connecting with others) slip into this role at different times.

Si is active when I indulge in nostalgic reminisces with friends of family. Such memories are less about exact detail (likely to be opaque at best) but more about good feelings. I use it when I compare work I have completed to a known standard. It backs up the ideas of Ne and the categorization of Ti with what I have learned before. It gives me comfort in routine that might drive others mad.

Fe is active in my more playful and fun moments. You see it in my (attempts at) humorous posts. My blog war (and truce) posts were Fe at work. Te in this third position would probably actually try to stir up a blog war. Fe wanted to give readers a smile, Te would have enjoyed “energetic debate.” Fe wanted to make it clear it was all in fun, Te would have wanted to make it clear it was “nothing personal.”

This playful but unsophisticated approach is an example of a process acting the child (third place) role. It has neither the sophistication of the hero nor the certainty of the parent. It is a child: unsure whether it should speak up or remain silent, uncertain whether you are laughing with him or at him.

4/Anima: Fe (extraverted feeling)
Most likely Fe resides here when not popping over to third place. Fe in this position wants to connect but does not know how. For me it means an unease rather than disdain for the social niceties. It feels like I am conducting social interaction through a third party (Hi Pupu :)). If the heroic Ne swaggers through the abstract world of ideas then fourth place Fe stumbles and stutters through the concrete world of social interaction. It both wants to run and hide and greet vivaciously. It wants to curl up into a ball and envelop you in a hug. It is a frightened and confused puppy looking for a gentle owner.

5,6,7,8/Shadow Processes Ni, Fi, Se, Te
The shadow processes are (perhaps by definition) less clear. However here are some of the ways they strike out. I have not placed them in particular order because I am not certain they occupy a specific slot. In “perfect” formation, they will form a shadow of the first four; 1 opposed by 5, 2 opposed by 6, and so on. In reality, I suspect that they are journey men, moving to where they are (un)needed as situations require.

Ni (introverted intuition)
In the heroic position, this generates clear and powerful vision to guide a quest. In the shadow form, it provides dark and murky vision of how things might go wrong. Won’t work is the catchphrase of this process. For me, it can work with Si to “prove” that it cannot be done because I have not done it before. Where Ne generates exciting or interesting possibilities, Ni generates dark visions of how bad things are or could be. Ne asks “what if…” Ni says “what if …it all comes crashing down around you head?”

Fi (introverted feeling)
In this shadow role Fi generates feelings of hurt and sensitivity. In a favored role this allows a person form a view of their authentic self, it allows them feel deep empathy with others. The shadow form allows me feel sorry for myself. Fi works with Ni to remind me that I am not just a hopeless person but I am in a hopeless position too. Most of my TMI posts are the work of this valiant tag team.

Se and Te (extraverted sensing and extraverted thinking)
These are the processes that create the feeling of aching loss. The decisive leaders (Te) and graceful doers (Se) create feelings of anger and despair. They perform with seeming ease what cost me much effort. While heroic Ne can skip gracefully from idea to idea any attempt at a physical equivalent would result in broken bones. Any activity that requires fast action in the moment (e.g., squash) is a disaster for me (my reactions are fine and I have reasonable strength and speed but cannot bring them together). While parental Ti can generate clear classifications and understanding it cannot generate decisions. The decisive types are issuing orders while Ne/Ti are still contemplating possibilities.
[The fact that Se (active doers) and Te (decisive leaders) are masculine archetypes makes the loss even more painful]

Added October 25, 2010

I should point out that the shadow functions are not always misbehaved. What I described was the ways in which they can act to trip me up. They can play a helpful and supportive role too. The insights provided by Ni are not always dark and can, indeed, be helpful. Introverted feeling (Fi) warms out Ti and allows me feel empathy with others. It softens the brittle cool façade of Ti making me less like Mr. Spock and more like a human.

In addition, the favored functions are not always well behaved. Just as in real life, the hero can be an asshole at times. He does not always respect, and may try to run roughshod over, the sidekick. Sometimes its confident swagger can become an unbearable smugness. Ne will keep generating ideas and possibilities but will refuse to pause for Ti’s reflections on the matter.

Parental Ti can have its annoying moments as well. It can change from a nurturing role to a tedious didactic one. It will tirelessly ask for clarification and explanation and worry over small details. Rather than help the hero it wants to tie him up with red tape.

Game note:
It seems that INTJ women have a strong need for very dominant men. I wonder if this has to do with Se (extraverted sensing) occupying forth place in their preference order. The rough physically dominant man would be the personification of the female’s (Se) animus. Perhaps for male INTJs the slut would be the embodiment of his (Se) anima.


Wikepedia page mapping positional archetypes for each of the 16 types under different structures (Carl Jung, Isabel Myers, John Beebe and Linda Berens).

John Beebe’s description of his function model Part 1 and Part 2

A listing of how each function might act under each archetype.


One Response to “Myers Musings: Heroes and Villains”

  1. To Ponder « Default User Says:

    […] PUAsphere post (it was popular and garnered many comments). I worked hard on, and was pleased with Myers Musings: Heroes and Villains but it garnered few views and no […]

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