The four proactive processes are easier to identify than their counterparts, given how they make themselves apparent by their functionality, but Fe in particular requires recognition to accomplish its aim. The whole of its operation is geared towards an emotional visibility. It coordinates the muscles of the face to align with the emotional impact it wishes to impart, and this is the main avenue with which it moves the social economy.
Because of this innate control of expressions, identifying Fe is more a matter of gauging whether the individual has deliberate coordination of their emotional presentation, than it is about identifying any one specific muscular contraction. And while Te can also coordinate a presentation, it will not be infused with emotional investment like Fe, being a much more distant and dismissive process.
For Fe, every gesticulation is an emotional undertaking; an attempt to channel one’s convictions onto the audience, and because of this it is marked by an exertion of effort that is wholly absent in Te.
The smile of an Fe type will primarily use the zygomaticus major muscles, causing it to stretch widely from ear to ear as seen here in Figure 24. This smile, as well as the rest of Fe’s expressions, will be on-beat; their timing, duration, and execution will align with the expected, or desired, impact. As a consequence of this muscular use, individuals who are primarily Fe types often possess strong muscle tone spanning diagonally from the ears to the side of the lips.
However, in all Fe-Ti users the area spanning from the eyes down to the lips will remain neutral at rest. Now, I should note that the zygomaticus muscles can be consciously controlled by any person, whether they are an Fi or Fe user. However, the authentic smile of an Fe type will still primarily use the zygomaticus major muscles, while an authentic Fi smile cannot be created without also contracting the muscles around the nose associated with deep feeling. In this way we can differentiate Fe from Fi in all but the rarest cases.
Now, the zygomaticus muscles are used in Fe types not only to convey joy, but also to convey upset and other negative emotions. If, for instance, there is some frustration preventing the Fe user from moving social dynamics properly, the lips will become slightly pursed with the corners slightly tilted downwards, while the zygomaticus muscles remain taut, but not elevated. We see examples of this in Figure 25.
It would seem, in this position, that the muscles of the lower part of the face are collaborating to produce an invisible arrow, or point of convergence ending at the mouth. This forwardness will perfectly reflect their forwardness of thought and intention.
Fe Warm Swelling
Now, when preparing to gesticulate, both the body and voice of the Fe type will begin by building-up energies for their moment of impact, and this build-up will culminate right before the climactic delivery. In other words, there is a delay between the initial ignition of a gesticulation and its peak, and during this period the individual embeds their tone and emotional energy. Here in Figure 26 we see a graph that shows the rhythm of Fe’s gesticulation.
There are two parts to Fe’s gesticulation; swelling and neutralization. While it lags in delivering the motion, it is very fast in halting it. The opposite is true for Te, which delivers quickly, but does not neutralize the emotion afterwards – allowing it instead to linger as long as it needs. For Fe-Ti, after a gesticulation is delivered, energies recede into dispassion for a short time. The fingers dwindle softly and the cheeks relax around the eyes.
Gesticulations are given in bursts, and each of these bursts is not sustained for long, even though they may be followed soon enough by other bursts. Notice also how there is a complete neutralization after the first gesticulation (where the dotted line drops to the bottom of the graph). This demonstrates the stop-start signal of Ti, and these intermittent pauses are a standard element of the Ti-Fe communication style.
These exacting hand motions, head shakes, head nods, shoulder shrugs, eyebrow-raises and all other gesticulations will carry the same swelling property and timing. However, when Ti is strong in the Fe user, the halts in articulation become far more jittery, sudden, and prolonged.
Swells come with much more effort, and stuttering may accompany their speech. The meticulous nature of Ti transforms these Fe gesticulations, sometimes restricting or delaying their delivery until internal evaluation has completed. But if Fe is particularly heavy in the person, halts are less frequent, and articulation flows from one word to the next without such a pronounced rest.
Now as previously mentioned, the intention behind each of these gesticulations – whether this motivation is conscious or unconscious – is to deliver an emotional influence on the receiving party. This is regardless of whether that influence communicates camaraderie, opposition, shame, submission, or some other relationship between both parties. This is because Fe is incapable of interacting with other humans without establishing a dynamic.
A situation must fall on either the left or right side of judgment’s blade an for an ethical process like Fe, neutrality is never wholly possible to achieve. There is either some form of affinity, opposition or a combination of both between the parties involved, and this must be taken into consideration for Fe to manage a social situation properly.
This necessarily commits Fe to create a disposition when it interacts with an element or person in the environment; to position itself in relation to the other entity in some way.
The Management of Instinct
Like Fi, Fe is a different phenomenon than the emotional register – the locus of instinct – but its entire operation revolves around managing those instincts in individuals. Because of this, the persona, the ego, the shadow, the sexual function, the anima and animus concept, the mother and father concept, and their resulting emotional experiences are the domains of Fe’s concern. If the development of the Fe user is typical, then from countless micro-judgments spanning across many years of life, the individual will have a general, intuitive understanding of how these instincts interact in a real-time situation. Early in life, the Fe type will be struck by these instincts and work to coordinate them into optimal arrangements, often developing systems in which they could be managed within a broad population. Control of pride, control of fear, regulation of praise, distribution of attention, application of shame and the like are considered in order to address the human condition. Every culture is, in some way or another, an attempt to address human instincts and coordinate a way to live with them. In this way, Fe is also a culture-creating process.
The Methodologies of Fe
There are countless methodologies that Fe users can implement in order to coordinate and manage emotional dynamics. However, I have found certain strategies so consistent and persistent within these types, that while they do not exclusively belong to, or confirm this function’s presence, they are certainly worth mentioning as examples of the tendencies, approaches and reasoning of this process:
During a real-time conversation, as words first coagulate into the consciousness of the Fe type, immediately Fe will execute a dynamic judgment to determine how the delivery of that idea would affect the surrounding atmosphere. This takes into consideration wording, the audience and their attitude, vocabulary, status, as well as many other factors – to gauge how successful their intended meaning will be received. If, during this realtime troubleshooting endeavor, a fatal misconception is anticipated, an Fe disclaimer is the result. The first sentence is delivered, followed afterwards (or sometimes beforehand) by a sometimes exhaustive clarification.
“First I should clarify that you did great…”
“But I don’t mean to say things are gonna stop being…”
“And don’t get me wrong, I love them but…”
“And this doesn’t mean I’m jealous, I’m just…”
“And it wasn’t one of those sappy poems, he was very..”
“Not that I couldn’t do it myself, but we agreed he’d…”
The above are some examples of what such disclaimers may look like. They are, in essence, expectations of the audience’s perception and preemptive attempts to steer them away from those perceptions. They offer extra information which, were it not for the Fe type’s sense of being misperceived, might otherwise be unwarranted. The underlying motivation for such phrases may be to circumvent embarrassment, avoid overstepping a social boundary, sidestepping perceived sensitivities or taboos, preserving a certain self-image, and so on. Notice, however, that none of these underlying motivations are exclusive to Fe types – they are the result of human instinct. All humans are capable of disliking embarrassment or desiring to preserve a self-image. It is instead in the method of managing those instincts that we see the hand of Fe.
The ability to calibrate one’s persona to circumvent negative experience can take an even more pronounced form. At times the whole of an interaction may be treated as an endeavor to harmonize with the audience, leading to a constant emulation of the other’s peculiarities. In such times, the mind of the Fe type is in a stressful hyperalert state. Psychic energies are channeled towards solving an evolving puzzle, exhausting all available information to dynamically readjust one’s disposition and retain alignment. Here the persona wholly overshadows the self, yet this act of creation is itself a legitimate byproduct of the operation of the self. It is as much an authentic part of an Fe type’s identity to calibrate oneself to their environment, as it is to be themselves; the two are ultimately one and the same. Now, this accommodation of attributes doesn’t necessarily lead to a positive or friendly persona. In an atmosphere where there is a callousness to feeling – to positivity or good-will – such attitudes may be suppressed to sustain a more aloof and distant persona. Sensitivity or strength, passivity or aggression, either may be favored by Fe depending on the social bias of the environment. Indeed, an Fe type may appear paradoxical or fickle to an observer if they witness them use multiple strategies in different settings. This accommodative strategy is more common in Fe users who lack a personally-created ethos; a system of ethical judgment. It may be that feelings of uneasiness or fear will perpetuate a defensive methodology – one where the self is camouflaged and hidden – in the absence of well-defined ethical stances. Thus, adherence to an existing ethical system or established protocol is typical in those with an adaptive Fe.
Directive Fe takes the opposite attitude. While adaptive Fe yields to the ethos of another, directive Fe will push its own self-created ethos onto others. Fundamentally, in both of these cases, Fe is operating identically; it is ascribing to a system of judgments and adjusting the relationship between the elements at play towards alignment. Whether the arrangement necessitates that they adjust themselves to the protocol, or that others adjust to it, then becomes simply a situational question. Nonetheless, due to this adherence to a self-created protocol, these types may appear out-of-protocol, indifferent or imperceptive of social dynamics; traits that may be seen as contrary to Fe. Such a type may in fact see very clearly what social dynamics are at play, but choose not to tailor themselves to them. But this decision to stray from an existing protocol will not be impartial; it will carry within it a keen antagonism. This is because directive Fe cannot be truly impartial or dismissive like its couterpart Te. When the emotional environment does not align with Fe, it will pull on Fe’s ethos, forcing it to pull against that ethos if it chooses not to subscribe to it. It must manifest as opposition or some other defensive attitude. In all its dealings, Fe will still be manipulating emotional energy; concerning itself with the victory over hearts, continually recalibrating its directivity to better suit that aim. A Te type, on the other hand, may be oppositional and even at times simultaneously emotional, but they will not shepherd the emotional causality of others methodically towards their ethos.
Fe and Cultures of Honor
When we consider the fundamental properties of Fe, and collide those properties – as one would mingle chemical constituents in a laboratory – with human nature and the logistical reality of our world, the result is always similar. There will always be multiple persons and egos, while simultaneously there will be the impulse towards connection. Always more hands on a task will be better than one, and always tasks will need to be accomplished for the sake of survival. But always egos will differ, and there will always be a need for a way to coordinate egos; to designate the coordinator and the helpers. The formation of culture is an entirely causal, predictable phenomenon, and when Fe is more heavily represented in a population, that culture will likewise take a predictable shape. It will become, as I call it, a culture of honor.
So far as my experience has taught me, every culture possesses both Fe-Ti and Te-Fi in the population, but in a culture where Fe heavily predominates, tasks will be done not only for the accomplishment of some logistical aim, but for the achievement of some social standing. And honor – because the culture as a whole values it as such – is made to have a legitimate, logistical weight. Honor becomes translatable into favors, support, and therefore ultimately logistical power. Dealing in honor is therefore not fundamentally different from dealing in money; it simply has one extra (or perhaps one less) layer of conversion. It is a successful and alternative avenue of managing reality; one that accounts for and includes the human emotional center into the equation. Cultures such as the Korean, Japanese and Hispanic, which carry a system of honorifics, are profoundly marked by the presence of Fe, both visually and psychologically. In such cultures, economic success is near-inseparably tied to social success. These cultures present a heavy contrast to those of the U.K., U.S.A., Australia and other neoliberalist cultures which do not marry the two facets; allowing instead for one’s economic success to depend solely on their financial competence.
Diagonal, Zygomatical Smile
Diagonally Toned Cheeks
Fe Warm Swelling
On-Beat Voice Tone
This snippet has been imported from the 2016 Cognitive Type book, with the author’s permission. We hope you enjoy!