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This blog is about---You! Each and every post is about you. Use it to challenge your usual patterns, as a tool for self-discovery, to stimulate your thinking, to learn about yourself and to answer your questions about others.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Absent-Minded Professor

"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves."  Carl Jung    
 The absent-minded professor is both a lovable and an irritating character.  This is the person who can inspire us with their insights and great ideas and irritate us with their seeming inability to attend to the simplest, most practical matters of life.  These are the ones who have the uncanny ability to foresee an outcome in the future and who can take many disparate parts and put them together, mentally, and come out with a whole---a new concept or theory.  These are the innovators, the ones who can grasp a concept in an instant but who lock their keys in the car trunk and can't remember to feed the dog.  (They are not focused on details.)  This is a brief description of part of Jung's typology, the intuitive function.  Intuition, as he defined it, is a quality we all have to some degree but there are about 50% of the population who lead with this quality.  It makes for a very interesting individual, a person who can always see the possibilities but to their counterpart can seem to be always walking around with their head in the clouds (and they do tend to bump into things a lot!).

The opposite function in Carl Jung's typology scheme is the sensation type.  This is Ms Clean or Mr. Tidy.  These are the ones who seem to be able to organize anything in an instant.  They just seem to know where things should go!  They usually have a good kinesthetic sense in addition to their awareness of the outer physical world.  They are often wonderful cooks, excellent carpenters (good at measuring!), thorough dental hygienists and the list goes on.  They see what is missing, what is out of order, and what's more, they are able to make it right.  (They are focused on details.)  The intuitive type has a great value on this person's seeming magical ability to efficiently dispense with the everyday matters that the intuitive type just can't seem to master.  However, they will be quite annoyed when the sensation type cannot see the forest for the trees.  The sensation oriented person can name each tree and, if they've made it their business to know, will remember the growing requirements of each.  They can verbalize lists of facts in an instant.  But they will not see, as the intuitive (who sees the forest but can't remember for anything, the individual trees that were in it!) does, it's importance to the eco-system of the world, or the poetic beauty of a cathedral of redwoods.  While the sensation person lives in a world of facts, the intuitive person dwells in the world of ideas.

Of course, these two will meet up in the world, may even marry.  Often, we are attracted to what Jung called our own "inferior function".  In other words, since we each are strong in one or the other, we often find it charming and attractive when we encounter the opposite strength manifested in another.  We feel complete when we are together, that is, until we get annoyed...!
Have you met up with one of these characters?  Which one lives in your shoes?
Well, Jung offered us an idea (yes, he was an intuitive type):  Individuate (his word) or grow or mature, i.e. become a more balanced individual by developing your inferior function.  And, I would add, if you are partnered with your opposite type, try to be less irritated and, instead, imitate them; use them as a way to learn how to function more strongly in your lesser used part.

A post on a related topic is titled, Flyn' by The Seat of Your Pants,
Has this post helped to explain something in your life?  
Please share.


  1. Nice entries! You are lucky to be able to apply your insight to your work. Jung is one of my favorites. I love your photos and very thought out subjects. I hope to see you in April!!


  2. Sally, thanks for the comment! So glad to know you appreciate Carl Jung's innovative contributions; I studied his theories for a number of years---fascinating. I have fun pairing the photos with the posts, some of the associations are cryptic, you may have noticed. I hope people will be a little intrigued by that.