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Willeford, W. (1976). The Primacy of Feeling: I. Affectivity, the ego, & the feeling function. J. Anal. Psychol., 21(2):115-133.

(1976). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 21(2):115-133

The Primacy of Feeling: I. Affectivity, the ego, & the feeling function

William Willeford, Ph.D.

Much of the force and utility of Jung's typology comes from its describing ‘polaristic patterns of behaviour and adjustment’ (ADLER I, p. 341). These patterns are polaristic in the sense that extraversion and introversion tend to inhibit and exclude one another, as do the rational functions of thinking and feeling, and the irrational functions of sensation and intuition. Aware of such polarities, we are in a position to notice phenomena that might otherwise escape our attention, and to see patterns where we might otherwise see none. But our attention may at the same time be diverted from important psychological qualities to which the polaristic habit of thought does not readily do justice. These are, first, more generally, slight differences and compatibility (as distinct from great differences and mutual exclusion), and second, more specifically, the gradations, transitions, and coherence that are essential qualities of differentiated feeling (WILLEFORD 29, pp. 32-3; 28). Further elaborating the argument of a recent article on feeling (WILLEFORD 29), I will here focus on such qualities, while exploring some of the ways in which feeling has primacy among the four functions of consciousness.

By granting the feeling function this status I am in some measure compromising the openness and symmetry of the conceptual arrangement outlines in Psychological types (JUNG 15). (By its openness I mean the assumption that the extraverted and introverted forms of sensation, intuition, thinking, and feeling are each valid for certain elements of our experience, with none intrinsically having primacy as a guide to truth. By its symmetry I mean the tendency for the functions to balance one another polaristically.) But something is gained, as I will hope to show, by regarding feeling, and the other functions, in the way that I am here proposing.

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