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Functions Confer at the Jungian Round Table

May 10, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 161

Dream alert concerning a personality type

I have been interested in Jung's typology system for several years now, but only rarely do I dream explicitly about personality types! A few days ago, I woke up trying to remember: did they say that the ENFP must be eliminated? I was not sure which type had been spoken of in the dream, but I was certain that the committee in my dream had agreed to dispose of a young girl's teacher.

In this Conference Table dream scene, adults are seated around a long conference table. A woman, the principal character or observer in this scene, is concerned about her daughter's infatuation with her teacher. Seeing that she is in doubt about this situation, the man sitting opposite from her is moved to provide her with two quotes from materials written by the teacher. He reads these passages out loud and heatedly conveys that the teacher is a pervert and a child abuser!

The man sitting at the far right of the table takes the initiative and hands a gun over to the one sitting two spaces away from him. "The ENFP must be eliminated," he says (or some other type). The fellow receiving the gun hands money over to the first one in order to make this look like a purchase; his intention here is to exonerate the other one from any blame for the crime. He says "Here, take twenty dollars," but the paper bill that he hands over is purple, which is the colour of a ten dollar bill in our Canadian currency.

I want to begin the dream analysis with the scene that preceded this one, but here I wish to pause in order to provide the reader with the context for this dream.

Dream context

As you may have guessed already, I am quite partial to Jung and I must confess that this has led me at times to fantasize that this feeling might be reciprocal. At one period in my life, I was having dreams that contained multiple elements that had their counterparts in the following day's readings from Jung's writings, and these elements were even reaffirmed by synchronistic events. For example, I would dream about a honey comb and encounter one in the next day's reading; then I would run into the comb-shaped remnant of a hornet's nest on the sidewalk during my two minute walk from my apartment to the school that I was attending.

The next day, waking up concerned about a missing blue in a disintegrating dream rainbow, I would feel compelled to read about colour in a dictionary and fall upon an illustration of a colour wheel that falsified the cyan, making it look green instead of blue (I was positive about this, because I was studying additive and subtractive colours at the time). Then the next page in Jung's writing would be about his concern for the missing blue element in an illustration. A single disintegrating cloud, in the shape of a rainbow, would then mock a clear blue sky during that same day, etc. These synchronicities encouraged a sort of magical thinking in me that was not, shall we say, entirely grounded in reality. I found it amusing to entertain the poetic notion of a disembodied Jung fishing for like-minded souls in the sea of our dreams and pulling us towards him whenever he felt a bite.

My exaggerated fondness for Jung, whom I have never met, was brought to mind on the day preceding the dream that we are analysing here, while reading Dr. Mario Jacoby's contribution in a book entitled Jungian Analysts: Their Visions and Vulnerabilities. Dr. Jacoby writes quite frankly about a period during which he struggled between extreme admiration for his teacher and bouts during which he had to "doubt the whole endeavor and consider Jungianism a grandiose illusion." I was not familiar with the term "inflation" that he used to describe his exaggerated enthusiasm, but the context led me to approximate its meaning with the more familiar word "infatuation", a term that was then taken up by the dream. It is important to note also that Dr. Jacoby spoke of the atmosphere at the Institute when Jung was quite aged, saying that his admirers thought of him as "a wise, old Mana-personality living in a mysterious tower somewhere in the woods."

Disposition of the functions in the first scene

In the Night School dream scene, I have stopped by the side of the road in the country and I am washing my hands at the edge of the woods. There is a secret camping area here. Now a police car is here, and a school bus has parked at 90 degrees across the road to let the children off. The policeman asks the driver to meet with him at 1:00 and they agree to this. He does not bother me and I go back to my car.

This scene was followed by the Conference Table scene related above, and then I woke up with the warning that "the ENFP must be eliminated" still resonating in my head. I could not recall exactly which type had been mentioned in the dream, but my curiosity was definitely aroused and my first impulse was to verify if the dream material could be linked to a particular type.

In the Night School scene, there were conveniently four energy groups that I could distinguish, and this is how I have classified them, assigning one of the four Jungian functions (Thinking, Feeling, Sensing, and Intuition) to each of them:

  • Intuition appears as the main character, the woman who has just finished exploring the woods. The woods are far reaching and mysterious, and the context of the dream supports the idea that the woods are related to Jung, who is sometimes referred to as a visionary. In waking life, I am cognisant of the fact that Intuition was one of his strong functions. In this scene, the stream of consciousness seems to emanate from this female character so I shall consider this introverted Intuition to be the dominant function.
  • The car connected with this character could easily be Intuition's polar opposite, extraverted Sensing, in the position of inferior function: Sensing because the vehicle is on a scenic route, extraverted because of the rising sun (as opposed to the darkness of the woods explored by the introverted Intuition function), and inferior because the vehicle is parked and empty.
  • In the dream, there are children inside of the bus, making the bus an expression of introverted Feeling: it deals with people, but internally. The unconventional way that the bus has parked shows originality, something that is typical for an introverted function.
  • The policeman, representing law and order, may be assigned the logical Thinking function. The flashing police lights and the respect for tradition and conventional values indicate that in this case we are dealing with extraversion.

If I understand Jung's typology system correctly, the disposition of the four functions in this Night School dream scene, with the introverted and extraverted polarities as noted above, finds a match in the INTJ personality profile. Interestingly, this is exactly the type that I obtained in my most recent personality test.

New arrangement of the functions

In the following scene, the Conference Table scene, there are again four active participants and they are communicating in pairs, but the INTJ formation seems to have broken up. Let's see if there is a recognisable type in this scene nevertheless.

  • The Thinking function now appears as the main seat of consciousness, whereas formerly Intuition was dominant. Note that the dominant function is once again manifesting with my own gender, in the form of the woman for whom the meeting has been called. She does not speak but ponders things internally, so we are once again dealing with an introverted type.
  • The man who is passing judgement on the teacher and really getting beside himself, in the telltale fashion that our inferior function often does in waking life, is definitely the extraverted Feeling counterpart of the first function.
  • Without any hesitation, the man on the right quickly appraises the situation, at once zooming in on the problem and its drastic solution. I see him as the extraverted Intuition function.
  • In waking life, when Intuition is extraverted, then the Sensing function should be introverted, and if the same dynamic is respected in this dream scene, that role would fall on the last active character, the person receiving the gun. But what would be the point in choosing an introverted function to accomplish an outward deed, one might ask? The key factor to notice in this case is the fact that this complacent cooperator is focused on the meaning that he attaches to the goods that are being exchanged. His thoughts about the objects supersede the objects themselves. The docile man receiving the gun then represents the introverted Sensing function.

Further observations

In the Conference Table scene, while the daytime personality type has been dismantled, much more is revealed. The arrangement of the characters around a conference table suggests that each function is aware of all of the others, and this does seem to be the case:

  • The sentence pronounced by the man on the right indicates that the slandering manifesto coming from the excited Feeling function has had quite an impact on the Intuition function.
  • The introverted Thinking function (mother) is concerned with an image of her daughter, a thought that had been subtly brought to its attention by the Feeling function in the previous scene. By parking the school bus sideways, the Feeling function was blocking traffic and forcing the others to stop and consider their actions. It seemed to be saying "Would you want your own child to attend such an unlikely school?" Or perhaps, "Is your attraction to this teacher not a bit childish and irregular?" Now, the main character has begun integrating the Feeling function's view of the situation.
  • The Sensing function (the man receiving the gun) is aware of the Intuition function's concern about being blamed; this element was more covert in the first scene and only hinted at by the washing of hands.
  • In waking life, Sensing is the fourth or inferior function, the one that Marie-Louise Von Franz calls the unlocked door, and therefore the one that can most easily tap into unconscious material. Perhaps this function has understood before any of us that the injunction pronounced by the Intuition function to "eliminate" a specific type should be understood symbolically: it is merely type labels that need to be eliminated. The ten dollar bill offered in the dream is exactly half of the amount stated: this might be the Sensing function's way of suggesting to take a middle path and not to focus on personality types so much.

In the final scene, the functions have completely reversed their original polarities: those that were extraverted are now introverted, and vice versa. Note also that the degree of exchange between the functions has intensified dramatically. What was merely hinted at in the first scene or known only to one function has now become shared knowledge.

You will recall that in the Night School dream scene, the functions were following the pattern of my INTJ personality type. There is nothing shocking about the scene, nor is there much work being done. Were it to stand alone, the Night School scene would not be very instructive, if you will pardon the pun.


When the functions manifest in a dream as characters or objects that express the introverted and extraverted attitudes that are usual for those functions in waking life, or in other words, when they constellate to form the dreamer's usual personality type, the dream is probably a reflection of the person's conscious waking attitude.

In contrast, when the functions masquerade as characters with atypical attitudes, this reversal of polarity seems to facilitate the exchange of information between them. Knowledge available only to the relatively unconscious third and fourth functions during the waking state can then be transferred during the dream to the upper functions, and this is when the real dream work occurs.

If you work regularly with Jungian types, you may be interested in the mnemonic graphics that I have created to facilitate the process of type identification. The present article, complete with images for the scenes for the Jungian Round Table dream, may also be found on my website

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