Jungian: The Ego Boundary

Table of Contents

This article is the first in a series that will be outlining the phenomenon of cognitive type within the context of Jungian psychology and how it fits into the greater panorama of human growth and development. As CT is a model emerging largely from Jung’s analytical psychology – there is much to be explained in terms of how type manifests in relation to the unconscious, the ego, the anima/animus and other mental functions.

The Ego Boundary

The ego boundary, to put it simply, can be described as the barrier between what we associate with ourselves and what we don’t recognize as belonging to or being part of us. When we are young, our first experience of this separation is had when we realize that our body ends at our fingertips. We become aware that this is “me” and that is “that”.

But the ego will only capture the elements of ourselves that we are aware of, not what instincts might be internally motivating us or where our end-desires or behaviors are originating. Everything else not within the ego boundary is what we are unconscious of:

So what lies beneath the ego boundary is everything else that is also us and which comes with the package of being human, but which we either deny or are unaware of how it operates within us. The unconscious holds all that it means to be human; so it is what we might call the complete self. The complete Self is just as irrational as rational, just as logical as ethical, just as dark as light, just as female as male — and does not distinguish or highlight any aspects. But we highlight certain elements in this terrain and this is what we call the Ego. It is the section of our complete/biological self that we recognize as “me”.

And just as we became aware of our somatic limits at a young age, growth is defined by the constant expansion of our awareness to include more and more (initially contradictory) elements of ourselves.

If we begin our journey as a rational type, we are unaware of our ethical dimension and may suppress the “goody-two-shoes” in us, or see such motivations invalid or irrelevant. If we are unaware of our sensory dimension, we may find no association with the tracking of the environment or storing literal data and may consider such motivations mundane. And so on for other elements. We can note which elements of a person’s psyche are unconscious by an active opposition (or passive avoidance) of the content contained therein.

This relates directly to the functions as well, and to which functions have entered into our consciousness. As life introduces us to hardships and challenges, we learn to exercise foreign parts of us and we discover that we do have these other sides of us, hidden within. And suddenly the ego boundary expands to include more dimensions of ourselves.

The Functions when in our Ego Consciousness

Ne: “I see the possibilities arising from each passing moment. I see what things can change into or become, and even if a lot of those directions aren’t plausible – I have fun imagining them. I draw associations between the present, the past and everything I remember, and have a talent for conglomerating together concepts in novel ways.”

Se: “I see the truth of the present and experience life photographically. I can see where things are, where they’re likely going to move next, and am ready to be there when they arrive. I’m quick, I never lose a beat, and I have fun synchronizing myself to this flow and steering it toward the highest experience possible.”

Ti: “I recognize myself as someone who is always contemplating, and trying to define elements in life for their fundamental (philosophical) qualities. I enjoy getting to the bottom of every concept, teasing apart the definitions, eliminating contradictions and structuring my own view of life to fit those definitions.”

Fe: “I recognize how people’s instincts influence their behaviors and interactions with others. I’m often aware of how things are going to play out in a group based on the dynamics involved. I can leverage this awareness by interacting with others and moving the emotional causality of things to my benefit.”

Te: “I recognize the elements of reality that contribute to a system’s overall functioning, and quickly come to grasp the clockwork involved as well as anticipate what a certain action would change in the overall landscape. I can leverage this awareness by engineering systems capable of efficiency and great productivity according to what I choose to build.”

Fi: “I recognize myself as someone who is always contemplating and listening to my inner sense, which tells me how conducive or destructive something is to life. I enjoy finding things which are life-supporting and have a keen sense of what aspects of something have that effect and which are harmful. I aim to align myself, as best as I can, to this sense and live my life in harmony with what I see.”

Si: “I see knowledge as a crucial part of my life, and the acquisition of knowledge as the best guide for my future. I think that one of the best gifts we have is the works of others; building on what those before us have discovered is how we move forward our understanding. I enjoy learning and storing facts and referencing them whenever an occasion may call for them. I have a talent for piecing together different author’s works and seeing how they can all apply to different situations I encounter.”

Ni: “I am constantly synthesizing my life experience into a web of interdependent events and causalities. I can see how separate actions come together, or will come together, and this defines my outlook on the world. I have a talent for anticipating outcomes which I can leverage to be one step ahead of the game.”

The Functions when in the Unconscious/Depreciated

The following are reactions which a function may have when it’s other half is immersed in the unconscious, or to a lesser degree when it is depreciated.

Unconscious Se (conscious Ni): “I don’t live in the present, I have to try hard to engage with reality meaningfully. I often feel myself existing in a rather timeless place. As I go about my life, I come to understand what lies behind the way the world works. I can see things that happen at the same time, or because of each other, even when they’re not directly related, and it’s sometimes spooky. I believe in synchronicity and, although I can’t explain it, I know there’s something science hasn’t yet uncovered about how events are entangled.”

Unconscious Si (conscious Ne): “I can’t bring myself to engage meaningfully with the mundane. I am terrible at keeping track of facts, numbers or graphs and would much rather contemplate the bigger questions of life. I’m a dreamer; my mind is a melting pot of ideas, and I am really good at coming up with solutions out of nowhere. I pick up on things other people don’t, because what I look for is what’s between the lines. I sometimes have sudden realizations (“aha moments”) about how to do things best, or I sometimes know just where to go to find something – even in totally new places, and I don’t know how I know.”

Unconscious Fe (conscious Ti): “I don’t understand why people play the social games they play. It’s entirely inauthentic, irrational and roundabout. I wish people could express their desires in a straightforward way. I never know how to move people’s emotions and I feel constantly pressured by society to play along in the charade. The funny thing is I can see how they all struggle like I do on the inside. I can see through the act, and see how everyone is faking every smile, ever look and comment… but we’re all collectively pretending we aren’t.”

Unconscious Te (conscious Fi): “I can never agree with putting a price value on a life. I find it repulsive to treat people as numbers or variables to arrange or discard based on what utility they have to a heartless system. I disagree with meritocracy, and feel many things have a right to be here. We should be arranging our systems and politics around our values and what we know is most ideal, not adjusting our values (or compromising them) to gain the approval of the current system.”

Unconscious Fi (conscious Te): “I don’t understand how some people can expect certain things to be given to them, without them doing anything. That’s just not the way the world works. Life doesn’t owe you a favor, and we should each cultivate independence, strength and intelligence in order to make something into what we want to see. Weakness isn’t something that helps anyone, not even yourself, and isn’t something that we should encourage.”

Unconscious Ti (conscious Fe): “Life is about living. We won’t get the most out of life by sitting in the comfort of our lair or ruminating about what we should do. I find it such a waste of life and potential when people spend their days trying to decide what life is all about, rather than finding out for themselves. Make connections, meet people, make mistakes, flirt, love, cry, play… that is where you’ll get your answers – not in the comfort of your desk or room. We should each be doing something with the gift of life we’ve been given.”

Unconscious Ni (conscious Se): “Today, right now, is the only moment that is truly real. Everything else – our memories, our future – doesn’t exist. I don’t understand how people can miss that fact. If you want to know about life, well then you can learn a lot more by engaging in life than you could by imagining what life may be like. You can’t trust your abstractions to do that for you. Nothing’s ever going to beat or come closer to the truth than your own sensory experience.”

Unconscious Ne (conscious Si): “There’s a good reason for why things are done the way they are. I use time-tested methods, and there’s nothing wrong with that. New isn’t always better. I don’t understand why some people are set on changing something that isn’t broken. People should first spend the time learning the history of why we’ve arrived at this present conclusion, rather than waste their energy repeating the same mistakes just to find out what we already know works.”

What is described here is the attitude of the Ego when it is disassociating the opposing duality from itself. Every person has different levels of consciousness for their functions, according to what live experiences they’ve had and what that has brought into necessity.


Annotation for Development

These eight conscious and unconscious descriptions will outline the basic attitudes that can emerge in people toward their functions, as identified visually. The level of consciousness of a person’s functions can be visually determined by their presence or relative absence in relation to more standard development.

Along with this visual estimation, a person’s psychological development can be summarized by combining the above attitudes. Here is an example of what this annotation may look like:

TiNe

Ti: “I recognize myself as someone who is always contemplating, and trying to define elements in life for their fundamental (philosophical) qualities. I enjoy getting to the bottom of every concept, teasing apart the definitions, eliminating contradictions and structuring my own view of life to fit those definitions.”

Ne: “I see the possibilities arising from each passing moment. I see what things can change into or become, and even if a lot of those directions aren’t plausible – I have fun imagining them. I draw associations between the present, the past and everything I remember, and have a talent for conglomerating together concepts in novel ways.”

Unconscious Si: “I can’t bring myself to engage meaningfully with the mundane. I am terrible at keeping track of facts, numbers or graphs and would much rather contemplate the bigger questions of life. I’m a dreamer; my mind is a melting pot of ideas, and I am really good at coming up with solutions out of nowhere. I pick up on things other people don’t, because what I look for is what’s between the lines. I sometimes have sudden realizations (“aha moments”) about how to do things best, or I sometimes know just where to go to find something – even in totally new places, and I don’t know how I know.”

Unconscious Fe: “I don’t understand why people play the social games they play. It’s entirely inauthentic, irrational and roundabout. I wish people could express their desires in a straightforward way. I never know how to move people’s emotions and I feel constantly pressured by society to play along in the charade. The funny thing is I can see how they all struggle like I do on the inside. I can see through the act, and see how everyone is faking every smile, ever look and comment… but we’re all collectively pretending we aren’t.”

What we would expect from this psychology is a visual signature with:

High Use:
– Ji Eyes Disengaging Down
– Rigid Posture
– Ti Neutralization
– Ti Meticulous Hands
– Ti Technical Speech
– Ne Naive Eyes
– Ne Eye-Toggling

Low Use:
– Pi Eyes Drifting
– Si Scowling
– Si Slanted Edges
– Fe Exerted Pushes
– Fe Placid Smiles

And a similar parallel between conscious/unconscious psychology and signal-prevalence will appear for all of the 16 types.

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