PREFER, HAVE or BE

So, you learned about type and what a relief: Finally, a defence against all those people who tried to force you into being what you are not; all who suggested you should simply change your natural tendencies. For most of us, learning about type is a revelation in that sense, because we finally feel allowed to be what we were meant to be.

For example, how many introverts were not told to go out and make friends, with the implicit message that not doing so meant you were broken? How many SPs were not told that “if other kids can sit still, then so can you”?

Psychotype allows all of us to claim our natural Self as okay, because it is inherent in the theory that we are all different. Suddenly, there is no more justification for medicating children if they are different than other kids in the class, or for judging their ability to sit still or play outside.

It also explains interpersonal problems, for if I have a communication problem with people, because I don’t naturally say things directly but hint when I need something done, which is a trait most FPs have, this can be misunderstood by those who give and expect direct answers. They don’t get what I want and I expect them to hint and misinterpret their directness. Knowing type helps both of us to be more tolerant.

However, if I know that I am one type and not another and I cannot change that, and if I know that they are one type and cannot change that either, then how do we continue?

I may have an explanation for my communication problems with certain types, and I may have a justification for saying that I do not need to go out and play, but if we want to live together, we need to adapt. So how do we adapt without losing ourselves? Does not that bring us back to having to change for others; the exact thing we thought learning about type relieved us of?

This relates to the current trend in the type community to dismiss the idea that we are a type, or have a function, but instead to say that we prefer some tendencies, and talk about these tendencies in relation to the stack of “function-attitudes”.

However, as Jung described, the personality or psyche is the moving of ‘psychic energy’ between unconscious and conscious, in which the functions are the filters for the different forms of information. The whole typing system is therefore a code, a symbolic description. It is an indicator of what goes on in this forever dynamic and fluid conscious-unconscious interface we call the mind.

Now, I agree that the general tendency in our world to refer to people by their disease, their orientation or ethnicity – he is a diabetic, he is white, he is gay – is not the best way to go about things. Likewise, I agree that to say we “have a function” implies something we acquired, something we chose to have or which we learned. However, “preference” also has different meanings and one implication of the word is that of choice.

Yes, we do prefer a function over another function in the sense that it comes natural to us. Like any physical energy flows more easily or more naturally in one direction, so psychic energy has a preferred direction and the psychological functions are that because they move psychic energy.

I use the analogy of a camera, which can both zoom in (sensory perception) or zoom out (intuitive perception), but not both simultaneously, and each person has their camera set in their preferred position. Thus, by referring to somebody as an N, it is implicit that the S is the other setting that is not engaged, but nonetheless present. Our default functions have become so well-developed that we can totally rely on them, and that is how we recognize our type, by their preference of S or N, T or F over its opposite.

We use four letters to indicate our type, like we use one small e or i for each function’s attitude, which are simply symbols: shorthand for the entire psyche.

But where intuition and ‘sensation’ deal with completely different aspects of perception – they have a different ‘language’, are tuned to a different aspect of ‘reality’ and we cannot possibly do without either of them – this is not the case for the attitudes of the functions. To use their other ‘face’ simply takes more effort, like it takes an introverted person effort to behave extraverted.

Therefore, whether we talk about 4 or 8 functions (or function-attitudes) is semantic, since a dynamic system does not have clear boundaries, but S (whether Se or Si) gets its perceptions from the material realm of existence, so that to refer to a person as being a “sensor” simply means they naturally rely on their sense perceptions. Likewise, Ni and Ne perceive from different aspects of the immaterial realm, and referring to a person as being an N is simply using a word to indicate that this person relies on their intuitions more than on their senses.

Similarly, T and F process information, but each has a different approach to reasoning and we need both: T analyses and eliminates in order to get to exact knowledge about a particular; F generalizes and justifies in terms of the collective whole and its motivations. In that light, I will call somebody a T or an F – although I object to “feeling” and “thinking” as discussed elsewhere – to indicate which function they most likely relying on.

But even if, with regard to the functions, the idea of preference may hold some ground, with regard the attitudes it does not. I am an extravert or an introvert; it is not the case that I prefer those, since the other possibility is not in the background being idle, but is absent. We can force our behaviour to be extraverted or introverted for a while (put on a different persona), but that comes at the cost of our natural Self, and is exhausting. Likewise, for the attitudes of the functions, which I have compared to a door. You can push the door the other way to make the energy flow against its nature, but the moment you let go, it reverts back.

So, your attitude is an expression of your psyche, it is the Self you put in the world; I am an introvert and I am P, because that is my attitude, and my attitude is a result of what goes on inside me, like I am a person (and not a dog) because of how my inner organs are put together.

Psychotype is not a choice, it is not about something we have in addition to ourselves. It is not the case that I (as an entity) possess my functions. My functions are what make me who I am. Without those functions, there would be no I, no Self, no psyche, no personality. Our psychotype (the way our functions filter information within us), has been there from the moment we were born; it has affected every experience we had, everything we learned, everything we noticed, all our feelings, and all our responses and thoughts. We cannot be anything else than what we are because of our type; we’d be a bundle of cells, otherwise.

Sure, not all people of the same type believe, feel or respond exactly the same, because of individual circumstances and experiences, and type is about tendencies, after all, but nevertheless, our type is how we experience and therefore respond.

This is important, because “preference” implies choice and “have” implies possession in addition to, both of which could be used to suggest that the “I”, the “me”, the Self can choose to change, which is exactly what many people who do not know type are trying to force on us. We found type as a relief, because we found we were suddenly allowed to be ourselves; we don’t want to go back to accepting that we are not okay, because they don’t understand us.

And we do not want to fall into the trap of seeing the mind as a by-product of something material. The whole point is to get the mind accepted as equal, the psychotype as equivalent in value to the phenotype and the genotype.

So how do we adapt, accept and tolerate each other for who we really are, without losing ourselves on the way?

The only way I can see is that we accept that we are different people by nature, so that we do not negatively judge each other or try to change each other, but simultaneously use the understanding of our differences to reach out a little.

“Hey, look, I don’t like to play outside, because I’m an introvert, but you go and have fun.”

Or, “I’m sorry, did you get my hint? Maybe I should be clearer.”

A little effort from both sides can bring us closer together without losing our Self in the need to be politically correct.

Thank you for reading.

Why I think Jacinda is an ENFJ and why that is good for us.

In light of the recent events, I have gotten caught up in discussions about politics on social media, a topic I usually prefer to avoid. But as I do believe that Jacinda Ardern and her cabinet (in New Zealand) are doing a fantastic job, and because I have previously said and written that I do not believe that democracy is a good system (in light of our inborn type differences), I want to explain my thinking.

Keep in mind that, more often than not people see in positive role models their own type and in negative ones somebody else’s type, so that understanding type includes understanding that these differences of opinion are part of our humanity and are not, and never will be, objectively the same for all people.

It is in that light that I discuss the type of Jacinda Ardern – who is the only justified source of her own personality type – so that what follows is my INFP interpretation, but I expect people of different types to have different opinions about that, which I am interested in hearing.

When the lockdown was announced, one of the first things Jacinda addressed was people’s safety, but also that it must be devastating for people just about to get married, for example, who see their big day ruined; guests unable to come and so on. Likewise, she deals with people’s fears instead of ignoring them, and with the loss people must feel. In short, she focuses on the value for people (F).

She is clearly an extravert (E) as she communicates fluently with people (and tirelessly, it seems) and she can answer any questions without hesitation, without talking around it (as some politicians are clearly trained to do), without being rude and without misunderstanding; she anticipates questions, which is N. She tactfully and carefully reminds people that others are allowed to be outside, thus being aware of the increasing amount of negative judgments, but also acknowledges the notion that people have the right to call the police on each other if they do not feel the rules are obeyed (J). Although she acknowledges that people call in fear, and although many Ps will also believe that everybody has to stick to the isolation for this to work, the mention of reporting others is something that will rub most Ps up the wrong way.  So, I see an EJ attitude with NF functions, making her an Fe-dominant justifier (Jung’s rational) rather than a perceiver, which suits the idea of a cabinet leader with an opinion and who takes her values from the environment she lives in.

So far for my justification of Jacinda’s psychotype.

The reason I do not believe democracy to be the best system to deal with an emergency, which I have repeatedly expressed in light of the climate emergency we are all (still) facing, is that democracy cannot guarantee that a natural leader will be in charge, and, due to a system that hangs together of red tape, we have seen a decade (or more) of endless climate summits without real and immediate solutions.

In addition, because of the way representative democracy works, the politicians elected to represent the people are those who say what the public wants to hear; what the majority already believes. That means that politicians tend to follow, not lead, while they take their ‘expert’ advice from a select few, with as a result that they favour traditional and often outdated ideas, without hearing those of people with the same amount of expertise, but without the credentials. This guarantees slow change and although that is okay in times of peace, during an emergency it cannot work.

My last objection is that, besides the vast number of politicians elected into leadership positions being neither dangerous nor very suitable, the system has an equal chance of electing a Trump as it has of electing a Jacinda. But the former is more likely to be voted in during an emergency, because, as long as voters are not required to give a justification for their opinion, mass hysteria, panic and propaganda will sway the ignorant masses: Voting does NOT equal having a voice.

As detailed in Homological Composition, natural leaders need to have a number of combined talents that we do not find in all types. Even if, as many type writers stress, other types can also be in charge, the most naturally suited person does it effortlessly and without having to learn techniques, which is evident in their performance.

EJs have the natural tendency to lead groups, but leading a group and leading a country are quite different things. Where people with S in their dominant pair are excellent at logistical leadership and the organization of goods, the implementation of rules and keeping the day to day practicalities functioning, we need N to make the strategic decisions needed for a nation, since those affect not just the immediate situation or environment, but all related issues and connections. Where INs can also do this strategic planning, and are usually better at it than ENs, they do not have the natural ease in communication and the ability to tirelessly interact with people. Where Ps can also have the insight and the communication skills, they lack the natural tendency to put the needs of the group before their own; their best position in a government is that of adviser. After all, Ps tend to keep their options open, so they need to stop a government from becoming too dogmatic, which is a risk of having only Js in a government, especially if they then take their advice only from those in the traditional institutions, such as academia.

In my book, I suggested an ENTJ leader, supported by a team of advisers of all types, in which everybody is listened to. An ENTJ would be able to manage that position, deal with all those inputs and keep the decision making moving forward; they’d be resolute.

However, my book describes a possible social structure that does not exist at the moment. The way things are organized today, we seldom see ENTJs taking on politics, because they are results driven and politics is too bureaucratic for them. This is why businesses and science can adapt and change quickly, but government institutions seldom do. Of course, all those with N in their dominant pair have the same problem, but the NF combination ensures motives that are people-driven, not results-driven, and so ENFJs can compensate and flourish in politics, which is, after all, one of the humanities.

Therefore, I will now revise that opinion – the book was published in 2017 and we keep learning, after all – and state that I think that an ENFJ is better suited to lead a country, because of their patience, natural tact and people handling skills, which is evident in Jacinda’s excellent leadership. An ENTJ is not comfortable or well-equipped to deal with an emotionally volatile situation such as the one we are facing now, and I have recently witnessed that an ENFJ can certainly keep a cool head.

Of course, in an ideal situation, we have a government made of all sixteen types, and therefore the best of all worlds.

One last note, for those who take this as a political preference: I do not vote, because that would be unethical if I believe the system itself to be flawed; while, even if I see a possibility for a better democracy, that will never include party politics. My assessment is purely from a psychological type perspective and with that, the recognition of natural born leadership skills in our prime minister.

I would do the same (and have done), if I see the occasional monarch or self-appointed dictator with natural leadership skills. The problem is that none of those systems guarantees that people get the leadership needed, which is why I favour  a “typocracy” – my term for a meritocracy based on psychotype.

 

 

Take Care of Your Extraverts

Just a quick post about, of course, COVID-19, since that is foremost on people’s minds, and rightfully so.

I should start by saying that seeing the original scaremongering slowly making place for countless goodwill messages and people offering each other all kinds of help, is heart-warming. As we all know, there is no bigger danger to our health than fear and a healthy body and mind is always our best defence. Even those who are immuno-compromised can still help themselves a lot by being in a positive mindset.

Visualizations can help increase our defences: imagine your body being surrounded by a protective layer; it does not matter how you imagine that, or even if you do that by picturing images or by thinking about it. For those who are already ill, imagine your body’s defences destroying the virus; imagine the virus leaving your body. Even if you don’t believe in the mind as more powerful than your body, what harm is there in trying, after all?

And that brings me to the topic of this post. Because we have by now all heard introverts responding to the “self-isolation” message with sighs of relief, accompanied by phrases, such as “Introverts heaven!”, “Finally, peace”, “Working from home, yeah!”.

And that is one aspect of the type differences that is important in this context; the need to get our energy from outside or from inside. For this reason, we see extraverts inviting each other to meet online just for the sake of being able to communicate.

But there is another aspect to the difference between extraverts and introverts that is really important in this situation and much less obvious to a lot of people. That is, as Jung explained, that they relate differently to the object.

The object is that which exists outside of our Self, outside of our mind; thus, the environment, nature, but also other people.

Where introverts begin and end their mental journey in every situation and encounter with their own Self, relate to the outside and return to their Self, so extraverts begin with the object, come through their own perspective and turn back to the object. In short, extraverts put more power with the object and introverts put more power with the subject.

What that means in practical terms, is that extraverts allow the object to influence them. They will have more trouble resisting a temptation from outside; they are less likely to believe that they can resist illness or heal themselves from the inside out. Remember that type is about tendencies and that there may be exceptions to this, but in general, extraverts are more likely to fear something coming from outside at them, such as this virus, because they feel powerless against it. Introverts feel they have the choice not to let it in.

That is not to say that introverts are not also worried and that there are no extraverts who accept the power of the mind and meditation, but it is a subtle difference that exists despite what people may put in words.

So consider that with regard the messages you sent to others. If a person near you expresses extreme fear, don’t dismiss it or advise them to just tell themselves to be strong, because all that does is send the message that they are even more helpless, since they might not know how to do that. Acknowledge our natural differences and help extraverts by bringing in external evidence or messages that show a cure is imminent or that things are getting better, that people are working on it.

Likewise, although to a lesser degree for those who have other letters of the objective accord group in their typename. Ts are much more likely to accept hard data or scientific evidence; Js want to hear from an authority and Ss will need practical things to do or tackle, not hypothetical or theoretical possibilities.

So consider your friends and loved-ones, but also those you respond to on social media; remember their type may incline them to deal with this situation differently than you do. Let’s take care of each other in mental health as well.

What is The Philosophy of Type Harmonics?

What does it even mean: a philosopher of psychotype?

Most people retreat when your start talking about psychological type, because “psychological” implies something vague and academic to most people, something they don’t want to deal with. Something similar happens when you say “philosophy”, which conjures up images of old men with beards and argument for argument’s sake.
So, if I say that I am a philosopher of psychological type (or psychotype), I get a lot of questioning looks and vague smiles, which usually imply they are too polite to say they think me silly or unrealistic.

Well, it is a lot less scary than it seems, and, no, I have no beard and am not an old man.

“Psychological type” was Jung’s word for our innate natural tendencies for how we all think, feel, sense and relate differently. Psychology, after all, is the study of the psyche, which is our mental functioning (as opposed to our physical functioning).

As a brief reminder: a “person” is an individual (human being); you and I are each a person. A “persona” is the outer identity, the jackets we wear in our environment. A “personality” is the inner Self with its functions that underlie our behaviour, but are not identical to it, because a person is more than only what they do or say; personality includes their inner world and what motivates them.
After all, if you decide to stand on your head every day, you behave like that, but you are not an upside-down person.
Sadly, however, most people use “personality” for this outward behaviour only, and “psychology” for the study of “human behaviour”. In addition, with the late twentieth century introduction of “neuroscience”, academic ‘psychology’ is now almost entirely devoted to the study of the brain (the physical body).
Although twentieth century reductionist and materialist thinking is slowly being replaced with a more holistic view in most fields, most clinics and academic psychology departments still rely on what they can observe only.
This is why I have suggested that we dispense with the words “psychological type” and “personality type” and replace them with the shorter and more accurate “psychotype”, because it is the type of one’s psyche, not of once’s behaviour or body, that makes us who we are. “Psychotype” is a biological term, though seldom used that way, with a similar meaning as phenotype (our physical body) and genotype (our genetic makeup). Let the academics have their behavioural observations, their neurology and their resulting personality disorders, and let us deal with the real inner person; the sixteen healthy personalities.

The environment cannot create our psychotype, but it can make us feel unhappy or stressed if it does not acknowledge us. Although, the mind and the body interact and shape each other, the brain is not responsible for our psychotype, because the brain rewires according to our habitual behaviour. Likewise, our hormones respond to the environment. And so far, there is absolutely no evidence that our genotype is responsible for our psychotype, at least not in the sense where our genes are passed down from parent to child. It is possible that epigenetics will come up with an overriding environmental factor that influences how many of each type of people develop in each location – because the percentages are stable – but that is still far in the future.
Anyway, all of those are discussed in the posts in this blog.

Now, why a philosopher of psychotype and why “type harmonics”?

As a philosopher my job is to put things in context of a bigger picture and to question assumptions.
As a philosopher of psychological type, therefore, I see it is as my task to look at the theory that underlies the psychological types, as well as the psychological theories that ignore the inner person and put them all in context.
For just as a theory needs empirical evidence, so you cannot have evidence without something for it to be evidence for.
Jung-based psychological type is rich in evidence, which comes from the millions of people around the globe who have recognized it, talk about it, use it as a practitioner both in therapy and work environments, in business, in job choice, in understanding themselves and their family and friends, in resolving problems and counselling, as well as articles and statistics.
Jung himself, of course, had a psychological theory, a theory of psychic energy, which consists of our psychic functions (thinking, feeling, sensing and intuition) that create our innate different tendencies.
My supporting philosophical theory is both one of epistemology (the study of knowledge and how we know things) and metaphysics, the study of reality, which includes the immaterial mind and information, the information for which our type functions are the filters.

Yes, critics are right, philosophers have been debating the same issues for at least three millennia and they still have no answer to the question of knowledge. But that is because they assumed it to be something objective that people can access without their psyche or with all identical psyches. Jung showed us that that is not possible; we are all different and therefore cannot “know” things the same way, because “functions of consciousness” means functions that give us knowledge. We can know things by acquaintance: instant knowledge, but such knowledge depends on relations and experiences and can never be the same for all people. In other words, the philosophers made an assumption (that everybody’s mind must work the same) on which their entire existence was built, and when this assumptions crumble, their theories don’t hold.
That does not make philosophy wrong, mind you. Because people assume; that is what we do, and that is also a function of our psyche. Psychotype theory, therefore, can help philosophy get a better understanding of knowledge and how it is different for different types. This, in turn, explains how knowledge changes over time and why we have disagreements.
The metaphysical part supports the actual theory of the existence of our psyche, of consciousness, of our psychological diversity in sixteen (no more and no less) types. This metaphysical aspect is lacking in all personality systems that rely on observation only. This is the theory that makes the evidence mean something. The support for this theory can be found in evolution theory, information theory and complexity theory, all of which are studied in the biological and hard sciences, and which is the focus of my philosophy.

But the other side of philosophy is putting things in context and looking at the big picture, which is the ethical and political aspect, because if we are going to accept that psychological types are innate and real, then that must mean something for the way we live together; what we consider right or wrong and how we organize our society. It means that we have to question whether it is right to favour people with certain innate abilities. Like we question whether it is right to discriminate against people based on their gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation, so our psychotypes are inborn, yet some types are medicated for who they are.
Then, when we decide it is not right to discriminate, we must change our organizational structure to prevent this from happening; we must change our governmental, our judicial and our educational system to create a society in which all types of people have rights.
That is where we come to “Type Harmonics”, because only if a person feels respected for who they are inside (their true person) will they thrive, and thriving individuals will create a harmonious society together. Of course, the opposite is also true, as long as the society does not respect people’s inner needs, they are going to be unhappy and unhappy people cause problems.

I use music as an analogy in my books to explain psychotype theory, so that “harmonics” was a nice play on words.

Questioning assumptions, therefore, simply means not taking things for granted, even if those things are ingrained in the society, so much that nobody questions them anymore, just like most people assume without giving it a second thought that if you say “innate” you mean genetic or if you say “thinking” you mean the brain.
The thing is that groups of people tend to dogma. Traditional views are not easily discarded, no matter how much evidence is brought in, and new ideas take a long time to be accepted – except, apparently when those ideas are based on fear. At the moment, we are struggling to get the idea of innate psychological types accepted among those who run the societies, which means that, at this point, my task is to help provide the bigger picture and get this acceptance. However, there will come a time when these types are going to be taken for granted, at which time we need to prevent them from being used dogmatically.
For example, when governments and schools integrate them, they are most likely to start classing people accordingly, having kids do tests and assign them a social position or job accordingly. My fictional book Of a Note in a Cosmic Song begins with such a society and follows a population of colonists who try to get away from that and start a new society without prejudice.

Since philosophy is not so easily understood by most people, including many practitioners and the type community at large, and most academic philosophers (as well as biologists and theoretical physicists) don’t really know anything about Jungian psychotypes, I feel rather lonely in my (self-appointed) task and I would love it if others join me in this endeavour of creating a d type friendly world together. So, if any of this speaks to you, please let me know.
This blog contains a variety of articles on both type psychology and philosophy and a more comprehensive philosophy of psychotype can be read in my book.

Defensive Reading and the Fifth (Jungian) Dichotomy

Everybody who knows Myers-Briggs or the Jungian psychological type model, knows that there are four dichotomies: four letter pairs that describe the functions and attitudes that make up our psychotype:

Two attitude dichotomies belonging to the person:

E-I (extraversion or introversion)

J-P (judicious or persuasive)

Two function dichotomies belonging to the mental filters that we use to deal with information and which underlie the attitudes:

S-N (sensory or intuitive perception)

T-F (truth-based or value-based reasoning)

Although Jung did not specify the J-P distinction, which was Myers-Briggs’ contribution, it was implicit in his theory.

But for Jung there was a fifth dichotomy, which is not always recognized today. Many explanations and descriptions, especially on social media, ignore the differences that result from looking at the dominant function (as Jung did) instead of on the dominant pair (as is usual in Myers-Briggs).

Now, I have discussed these difference in detail before – as well as my changed terminology – and that the one does not exclude the other; both give us different information and explanations about our differences. But in light of the, sometimes heated, debates about what makes a psychotype – not just with academics, but also within the type community – I wanted to have a quick look back at the difference between those types who have a dominant perception function and those with dominant justification (or reasoning), using the example of defensive or open-minded reading.

The question: When you read an article or watch a documentary about a topic you have a belief about, is your first response to go into a defensive mode or do you open up? In other words, do you start (and continue) with the expectation that they will be wrong, or do you allow the information in without fearing they might make your own theory obsolete? Do you welcome new ideas?

Apart from the notion that we all tend to believe that we are open-minded, when looking a bit closer, we start to see that some are a bit more so than others. In discussions among people who are familiar with type, almost without exception, this difference is attributed to the other dichotomies (even by those people who focus on cognitive processes or the eight functions). Usually it is considered an S-N difference, sometimes T-F and commonly J-P.

Now, apart from that being too simplistic to begin with, since a type is a combination of functions and those influence each other, so that one dichotomy is never solely responsible for any action or attitude, it is much more likely that whether we trust our perceptions first or our justifications first influences our response to new information.

Our dominant function, and whether it is introverted or extraverted, determines our attitude (EJ, EP, IJ, IP) toward information.

IJ and EP types have dominant perception, which means that no justification, reasoning or belief can overrule the all-important perception. However, more often than not this perception wants a reason, usually for the perceiver themselves.

Now, EPs tend to collect information continuously, so that when an answer to something is required, they can pull it out of their mind almost instantaneously. They don’t invent it, but take what they have previously stored, while IJs take their perception and go looking for answers in the already existing databank of knowledge; they do research.

EJs and IPs, however, have dominant justification, so that the reasoning overrules the perception – they notice what they already believe – and their justification can thus be an existential belief. Consequently, they will feel attacked by anything that threatens to destroy that justification and so, they are more inclined to watch or read defensively.

I understand that this is not exclusively so in all cases; it depends on the topic. I also understand that most people will deny this reaction – possibly due to the same process that explains it – yet many recognize that constantly niggling feeling when reading something that comes too close to our own beliefs and the relief when “they turn out to be wrong, after all”.

They were bound to turn out wrong, because we cannot simply change our beliefs, nor can we have exactly identical beliefs, so it is relatively easy to find something to dismiss it, just as it is easy to find evidence for your belief in already existing writing.

In addition, there is the influence on our social status. Especially EJs may be worried about their position in academia or the regard for their knowledge, while IPs need their work acknowledged as standing out from the crowd.

In short, what we rely on for our existence, because it is dominant, will make us more or less defensive to incoming information from others.

Thank you for reading and let me know what you think.

Judgment and Manipulation are two sides of the same coin

Those who know me, know I have changed some of the type terminology for two reasons:

  1. Language evolves and the words we use are in some cases no longer accurate or have gained a negative connotation.
  2. It is easier to explain the differences to people who are new to type if the words don’t confuse matters.

To begin with, I use “psychotype” to replace “psychological type”, because it puts our innate psychological differences at equal value with our physical diversity (phenotype), which it what it deserves. – Currently our psychology is considered a by-product of our body.

I also try not to use “personality type”, because most people use that for outward behaviour (the persona), although personality type is correct where it concerns the attitudes (the person) as opposed to their functions.

I have also changed “thinking” and “feeling”, which do not accurately represent the functions they stand for.  We all think; T-F is about our direction of thinking or rather our reasoning; it is about how we arrive at a decision or justification: from a general to a particular, deduction (T) or from particulars to a general, induction (F). Those are opposite actions, which are both equally vital for our reasoning process.

Likewise, we all feel; we all have emotions and motivations, but the difference in the function is about how much of that we allow to influence our decision making. Ts put their project outside themselves; it is an object, while Fs make a project personal. Particulars are objects about which we can gain knowledge – because knowledge is limited to particulars – but generals are relations; they require an understanding.

I will do another post on T-F specifically, and it is also discussed in Homological Composition, pp 135-143.

In this post, I want to come back to the J-P distinction. This was the dichotomy added to Jung’s theory by Myers and Briggs to help people find which of their functions is dominant, and even today, it is still often the dichotomy that is treated as less important, especially now all the attention is on the function-attitudes. However, J-P is NOT just about finding dominance; it is an attitude in its own right. It is the orientation to the group (the society) and it is vital for our moral and social perspective and in being so, responsible for almost all clashes between people.

Myers talked about “judging types” and “perceiving types”, but not only does that give the J a negative connotation, it is simply not correct. Like we all think and we all feel, so we all perceive and we all judge. All of those are action words; they are verbs and verbs are what we use for the functions, because those DO something; they function; they filter information.

Like E-I, so J-P refers to the person, the whole being; the attitudes refer to a state of being, a tendency or perspective.

It is currently fashionable to say that someone “has a preference for” instead of saying “is”. Thus, I am not supposed to say that I am an F, but that I prefer the F function.

Okay, that is fine where it concerns the functions, because I have all four of those, and therefore to say which I prefer (even if it is not a conscious preference) is correct, but not for the attitudes. I am an introvert. I cannot take the other perspective (extraversion) and never will. Likewise, I am a P.

So, first of all, I changed the names of those attitudes to “persuasive” for P and “judicious” for J, because that refers to them as people. This also takes away the confusion with the functions (perceiving or judging), and it sounds better, because “judicious” means measuring to a standard, which is what Js do, even if Ps experience that as judgmental, and “persuasive” means using tactics to convince others or handle a situation, which is manipulation and which Js consider negative.

Judicious people pose their wishes directly: “Could you watch the dog over the weekend?” and consider that honest, since it gives the other person the chance to say “no”. They cannot understand that Ps consider this an imposition, while Ps use persuasion to get their needs met: “We are going out this weekend, but we have the dog…” This gives the other person the chance to ignore the hint, and they cannot understand why Js consider this an imposition.

But it is not just about the words, because it is simply not the case that Js are more judgmental than Ps and that Ps are more manipulative, because both of those are flipsides of the same coin. It depends on how you look at it.

Both cause harm when used to achieve compliance; both cause guilt and both are either for the group or the individual, and that is where the difference lies.

The difference comes from whether we consider the needs of the group prior to those of the individual or the other way around. Remember, this perspective is a result of our inborn functions and not a choice; it is how we feel it; it is about our timbral experience – the experience of something as real and alive, something we notice deep inside our Self.

Ps judge the society (the collective) rather than individuals, because this is experienced as an artificial imposition upon what nature gave every person: the right to life and freedom. Ps don’t assume the right to judge individual people because they don’t experience objective norms. That does not mean that they don’t need other people or won’t accept a person having authority over them, but they want to make the choice of who has such authority and an anonymous third party (such as the state) does not count as a person.

Neither is it the case that Js don’t manipulate; they do, but they manipulate the individual in name of the “greater good” (the majority) because the need to civilize comes with the right to coerce for conformity. Js don’t assume the right to manipulate individually, because they make themselves subject to the collective and experience its norms as self-evident. Consequently, they accept the idea that the right to authority belongs to the collective as a whole or to a person chosen by it.

The same applies to “coercion”, which is a soap-bubble word, since Js consider coercion what an individual does to another individual, while Ps consider coercion what public morality does. Consequently, Ps are more inclined to listen to another person and Js are more inclined to listen to the law.

 In other words, Js judge the individual to the standards of the group – the social rules, the moral expectations, the customs, the manners, the scientific standards. They do that because the needs of the group (even if this group is an abstract) are prior to those of the individual. The group is a timbral, vibrant and ‘living being’ that ensures the survival of the individuals, and therefore it needs to be protected; so, they expect everybody to give for “the greater good”.

But Ps also judge; they judge the group to their individual standards. That is because social standards (norms, truths, values and beliefs) come from the justification functions; F and T, and for Ps those are introverted; they are created in their Self.

The reason this only goes for T-F and not for S-N, is because perceptions don’t measure or reason or compare or justify; they simply are. If Si has an internal “form” to which it holds the world, it merely does so inside itself; it does not affect the implementation, because at this point information is incoming; only implementation and expression affect “the other”.

If J, the measure stands in the shared world and the instance is compared to their acceptability. In Ps, the instance is checked with the internal measure first and then expressed, so that it tells the world, it is okay with this, even if the world says differently.

Thus, Ps run by personal standards, because Fi and Ti are introverted, so that information reaches the Self first. Ps use “they”, by which they mean the group or its members, but they are aware that does not mean each individual; they use the word to make those judgments in exactly the same way, Js use “ought” or “should”. It is about group behaviour; only those aspects that apply to that behaviour or those members who do this; the rest are automatically excluded from this “they”. Yet, Js, who identify with the group, feel personally attacked from the use of that word.

As an INFP, I have learned that I can sound very judgmental to those who identify with the group – and this applies not just to Js, but to Es as well, where it concerns a slightly different but external group. I attack, however, not the individuals, but the system; that bigger entity, that level up (see my last post). If I target a group, those who identify will feel attacked, but I feel attacked from their targeting me in name of their group. Js abhor manipulation, but I experience their trying to push me to fit in as manipulation.

And this difference is expressed in the grammatical person we naturally use. Ps focus on themselves (me), and use the first person when expressing themselves with regard to their social role – “I need that mess cleaned up” –  while Js focus on others (you) and speak in the second person when doing so – “Can you clean up that mess?”

In short,  Js naturally put the social group above their own needs, Ps naturally do not. Js naturally make moral codes, Ps naturally reject them. Js judge the behaviour of Ps and Ps manipulate the rules of Js. The more Ps manipulate the more judgmental Js become; the more Js berate, the more Ps will become obnoxious and this tends to spiral out of control until people are hurt – in a family, at work or school, or between individuals and society.

Therefore, both Js and Ps judge and both manipulate, but each focuses on a different target. Js judge the individual who does not conform to the norms of the group, but Ps judge the people who favour the group, which is expressed in global terms (“they”); they judge the collective. As a consequence, Ps manipulate the rules or members of the group and Js manipulate the individual in name of the greater good (the group). Neither judgment nor manipulation are by definition healthy or unhealthy, but our society sanctions one and dismisses the other.

Thank you for reading.

A brief introduction to psychotypes

What follows is the introduction to psychotype, which I include in the character discussion of my novel as well as a discussion about war and conflict, so as to explain why each behaved and felt the way they did. I decided to split the discussion and the introduction between blogs so as to limit the word count.

Human nature is diverse. It is diverse, not only in our physical bodies, our social, cultural, ethnic, gender, religious or orientation preferences, but most of all in how we deal with information (our psychology). Each person is one of sixteen “psychotypes” (personality types), which is the way they process immaterial information, which is their mind, which is their immaterial Self, which means it is not caused by ethnic or cultural influences and not by gender, hormones, brains or genes, but it is nevertheless with them from birth and is responsible for all clashes and misunderstandings between individuals. Environments cannot change a type, but they can influence how a person feels about their inborn Self, and any attempt to ‘correct’ people (as opposed to correcting behaviour) leads to problems – the greatest danger to mental health today is the loss of distinction between person and behaviour – and, consequently, nobody can step outside of their own mind and assess others objectively.

Functions

The functions are the mental filters that process information and not always immediately obvious, but their order and focus is responsible for people’s natural talents, learning style, topic of interest, non-verbal language, perceptions, empathy and manner of reasoning, and they express in the attitudes we see in people.

Each person has all four functions, since we need all four to understand, communicate and interact with the world around us in order to get what we need to survive: One function is dominant, and with one well-developed auxiliary it forms an ‘inseparable pair’ – one perception and one justification function – on which we can rely without needing conscious deliberation. The other two functions tend to be weaker and prone to making mistakes. Functions can be mostly closed (i) or mostly open (e) to the environment, which influences the energy flow in both directions between Self (the subject) and Other (the object or world outside).

Since those functions develop with us, even if our weaker functions get stronger over time, our dominant functions will always be better developed and so our type remains the same throughout our life:

S = sensory perception of the tangible, physical (material) object in the shared world, using body language and detail observation in the practical here and now. If introverted (Si) starts with an internal form or standard of quality and beauty to hold the world to. If extraverted (Se) collects impressions from the shared world (movement, excitement, sensations); exchanging vibes in the current moment.

N = intuitive perception of the immaterial relations in a holistic image, using symbolism, possibilities, connections and patterns. If introverted (Ni) starts with an internal prototype, vision or premonition, of what comprises reality beyond the observable. If extraverted (Ne) collects the non-material relations, universals and connections of the world, creating a ‘cosmic’ model.

T = truth-directed, data-based or objective reasoning according to pre-agreed rules from a general understanding to knowledge about the particular: a truth, using formulae, categories, definitions and deduction; it analyses and focuses on the components of a set. If introverted (Ti) starts with an inner set of essential truths and principles to use as criteria. If extraverted (Te) communicates with resolve and logical problem solving towards a certain goal, eliminating all that does not contribute.

F = value-directed or holistic reasoning from similarities between particulars to a general understanding of the whole; it seeks harmony in idea as well as people, using empathy, human values, relations and induction. If introverted (Fi) starts with an internal essence of goodness and justice, seeking motive, intensity and passion. If extraverted (Fe) picks up emotive vibes and shares interpersonal values and sympathy, seeking personal growth in connections with other people.

The functions are therefore responsible for people’s natural strengths and weaknesses and those are not age or general intelligence related; each type has its own intelligence. Of each function pair (perception and justification functions), one is objective (S and T), as in measurable in our shared (interpersonal world) and expected to be the same for all people, and one is holistic  (N and F), taking the relations and personal perspectives into account.

These functions alternate in being extraverted or introverted, so as to give the subject and object the best possible energy flow – the type is introverted or extraverted along with their dominant function.

Attitudes

Unlike the functions, attitudes are not something we have (not filters), but the resulting tendencies and point of view (experience of Self). Each person tends to either of each pair and cannot take the other perspective; we can know that other people see the world differently, but we cannot experience what they do.

Extraverted (E) types (objectivists) participate in the world; they relate directly to the object, which is the perceptible and measurable reality (objective perceptions); they experience this object as more powerful and independent of the subject; they get their ideas from the world and their energy from people and things, and consequently socialize easier and like to work with others.

Introverted (I) types (subjectivists) observe the world; they relate indirectly to the object, which makes reality abstract; they experience the subject as more powerful, but connected to the whole; they get their ideas from reflection and their energy from being alone, and consequently get tired from being among people and prefer to work alongside others.

Judicious (J) types experience the group (the greater good) as an objective entity, its needs prior to that of the individual, and the existence of normative justifications (the expectation of conformity according to accepted norms, truths and values) as binding; they measure to a common standard, direct others, and can be judgmental. They accept group-responsibility, meaning that belonging to a group (even if non-voluntarily, such as having been born in a certain country) results in the duty to contribute to the needs of that group. They believe rights are given by authority and measure by moral values (the values of the group).

Persuasive (P) types experience the group as a collective; the group is as great as the achievements of its autonomous members, and, therefore, individual needs as prior to those of the group, and its justifications or beliefs (its norms, truths and values) as optional or arbitrary (they do not value conformity); they measure to a private standard, inform others, and can be manipulative. They accept self-accountability, meaning that they will do what needs doing in those groups or jobs they have voluntarily agreed to participate in, but they feel no obligation to authority or any imposed group. They believe rights to come from nature, measure by personal values, and can be amoral (as in, they do not subscribe to the values of the group).

The different combinations of these focus attitudes (E or I) and expression attitudes (J or P) make for four different attitude groups – perspectives – according to whether objective perceptions and/or normative justifications are experienced as optional or binding, which, in turn, affects how and when people experience conflict. Note that this is about the idea of norms that must necessarily be the same for all people, but the exact content of those norms is often debated, especially between those who experience the need for them. Likewise, it is objectivists who will argue about reality, since for subjectivists, reality is obviously different for different people, so there is no use arguing.

Attitudes concern the individual we see as opposed to the filters inside them:

 EJ people have a dominant extraverted justification function (Te or Fe), and auxiliary introverted perception (Si or Ni) serves this justification, which means their inner form or vision adapts to the existing beliefs. Both objective perceptions (reality) and normative justifications (beliefs) are binding (obviously and necessarily identical for all people), and no individual or personal perspectives of others can overrule that. That is how they experience it and that is what they expect of others, and (being extraverts) that is what they express. They connect and fight over ideas, scare from and trust ideas, and they voice them; they want a say in the world, and they measure to an established standard, so that their own new ideas come from an authority (scientific or social) or from the collective beliefs of the group. They are obedient, chatty, conscientious and naturally lead, teach and organize people.

EP people have a dominant extraverted perception function (Se or Ne), and auxiliary introverted justification (Ti or Fi) serves this perception, which means they will find new answers from all their previously collected facts inside themselves to explain the all-important reality and vibes of the outside world, or they will make it up on the spot if needed regardless of existing beliefs. They experience reality as obviously and necessarily identical for all observers (objective perceptions), but norms, truths and values as arbitrary (optional justifications). They connect and fight over events, scare from and trust events, and they may have internal dilemmas when their personal truth or values have to give way to the perceived reality, which takes priority. They consider rules a challenge, may make fun of life, may be somewhat impulsive and often can’t sit still. Some communicate mostly in body language, while others are linguistically verbal and can outtalk anybody. They can be exhausting to be around, but they are also non-judgmental and many have an underlying insecurity that does not surface, but is very real.

IJ people have a dominant introverted perception function (Si or Ni), and auxiliary extraverted justification (Te or Fe) serves this perception, which means they will seek reasons in the accepted beliefs of their society – they investigate and study – but will not compromise their inner form or vision, even if no answer can be found. They experience norms, truths and values as self-evidently necessary and identical for all people (normative justifications) – without which there would be chaos – but reality as relative to the observer (subjective perceptions). They connect and fight over events, scare from and trust events, and they may have internal dilemmas when the objective justifications clash with their personal perceptions, which take priority. They tend to be quiet and compliant, but they are also highly sensitive, often to noise and electronics, as well as to negative vibes, and their natural need for perfectionism can cause them all kinds of stress, which may express physically, or as insecurity, awkwardness or arrogance. They won’t open up until they feel safe.

IP people have a dominant introverted justification function (Ti or Fi), and auxiliary extraverted perception (Se or Ne) serves this justification, which means they will see only that which they already believe, and find evidence for their truth or value in the outside world, collecting from every discipline and instance. They experience as self-evidently relative to all people both reality (subjective perceptions) and beliefs (optional justifications), so that they demand that their personal view is accepted. They connect and fight over ideas, scare from and trust ideas, and they voice them; they want a say in the world, but dismiss the existing standards. They are easy-going as long as they are not pushed, at which point they become insubordinate, obstinate and dig in their heels. They are either good with their body, technology and non-verbal communication or mostly intellectual and theoretical.

None of these perspectives is either right or wrong, because even if we experience a relative reality, as in, we feel that our perspective is influenced by the position we take in relation to the object, the Self presents this reality, justice, truth, or beauty as the only possible way it can be seen. Just like you can experience pain objectively, even if others cannot feel it, it is very real to your own Self, so all other “pure constants” are presented as objective to our Self. Thus, each type has a different ‘objective’ sense of real, of just, of true. Either perceptions or ideas create this ‘sense’, and the other function adjusts without us realizing it does so, so that our own view is self-evident to us, and people will defend their Self, because their existence depends on it: our Self is our existence.

 J-P, contrary to popular belief, is therefore not simply about finding the dominance of your functions; it is important as an attitude in its own right. Everybody today focuses on the functions or function attitudes, but we are people too, we are not just a collection of functions. These are two different dimensions: the whole and the part, and I have previously discussed how important it is to keep that distinction in mind. (Homological Composition: 199)

We can also describe other groups of four, notably: function groups (ST, NT, SF, NF), expression groups (TJ, TP, FJ, FP) and instinct groups (SJ, NJ, SP, NP), which can be found in Concerto for Mankind. But exactly because we cannot equate different dimensions (functions with attitudes) – and I am sorry for all the wonderful works that are out there based on this Keirsey system – we cannot group SP, SJ, NT,NF, and compare them.

Note that psychotype is about how we process information, and not a description or prediction of specific behaviour or beliefs, so that not all people of the same type will behave in the same way. Behaviour is subject to our will, but experience (person) is not. Also note that these are sixteen different but healthy personalities – all are equally valuable to a society. We signify each type with a four-letter typename, which comprises the above-mentioned attitude group with the letters of their dominant function pair in between.

Everything people do is about energy; they perceive energy and they express it, whether physically (metabolism) or in words, thoughts or emotions (mental energy) and this energy can be converted from one form to another (just as EM energy) and so it flows continuously into and out of consciousness and through all four filters. – I maintain that there are four, not eight, filters and that the difference between introverted and extraverted functions is like a swinging door that sits open in a position to the outside or the inside, which is the way information more naturally flows, but (with effort) we can push them the other way.

Now, what happens in stress or hurt is that one of those filters gets stuck in the wrong position or shut too far and the naturally flowing energy stagnates in some places, but energy is energy it has to get out somewhere, just like a kettle will blow if the steam gets too much.  – We even use metaphors like when we “need to vent”. When stressed, therefore, which happens in conflict, the energy of the functions changes and we might see a different attitude than is natural for a personality. This does not mean the personality changes, because the personality comes from the filters (functions), not the energy (information).

Thank you for reading,

Nōnen  Títi (INFP)

 For more information or to find you own type or that of a loved one https://www.nonentiti.com/books/12-The-Music-of-Life

Justice is not a T concept

In many articles, explanations and, especially, questionnaires, there is a recurring use of the word “justice” as related to T.

As you may know, my aim as a type philosopher is to help work towards a society that is type friendly, a society where all types are equally valued and respected. That includes seeing which assumptions and patterns are currently stopping us from reaching that level of equality and what we may do about it.

Patterns tend to be kept in place by our ingrained language and word usage, and that is one of the places we need to look, and if needed – even if this might be more difficult than to simply stick with tradition – we must change the language we use.

In the type community, we know that perspectives differ; this is why we value type, and that is also why we have to initiate a change in terminology if that could help us.

I have previously explained why I no longer use “personality”, “thinking” and “feeling”. Those words have acquired – even if they did not have that when first coined – a connotation that is biased and causing confusion.

Today, I want to address some other ingrained misconceptions.

We all know that Myers-Briggs described T as truth over kindness and F as kindness over truth. This is correct where it concerns what each type relies on when making decisions. T is the truth-directed function; it seeks one answer to the exclusion of all others, based on criteria and facts. F seeks understanding in the motivations of people and by means of empathy.

The other thing we know is that different types interpret abstract words differently and a number of abstract words are archetypal, in that they are linked to the very core of our Self and our existential beliefs. Those words – like beauty, good, just, real, true, fair, right – are important to every type, and register as a deep inner sense, directly related to our emotions.

For example, if somebody, regardless of which type, feels unjustly treated, they get angry. This anger can be expressed differently, but it is the emotion connected to injustice, even if the circumstances in which we feel injustice are different for each type. Consequently, if the society accepts only one interpretation of the word, the rest of the people are going to feel angry.

Now, societies, like people, favour one interpretation, and since they are societies, they tend to make that into moral and legal rules. Not only that, but such an interpretation becomes ingrained and, hence, gets spooned into the next generation, often without giving it a second thought. Schools play a big role in this, as do the media.

We live in an objectivist society, which means it favours the objective poles of each dichotomy (E, S, T and J), simply because their interpretations and observations can be shared and measured. As a result, it accepts definitions of “just” and “fair” according to those objectivist views, which describe them as giving for the greater good and obeying the rules (which is a J interpretation) or in accord with a factual truth that can be reasoned (which is T). Both T and J belong to the objective accord group. Objective accords are easier imposed, but that does not make them more profound or better.

In other words, we live in a world where “fair” and “justice” are treated as facts or objects that can be measured and can be objectively the same for all people. Those definitions are readily adopted by governments, schools and the legal system, not only because the purpose of such institutions is compliance, but also because they take the word of academia on faith, and academia is also run by Ts and Js. Those who find their natural interpretations enforced in the society will not protest it, but often feel entitled, because they experience those objectively and therefore feel that everybody else has it wrong. Note that I am not blaming Ts and Js, but they will be the most likely to dismiss this discussion, simply because it does not ring true for them.

Yet, we are a type community, and we know, from a psychological perspective, that these differences exist, that our psychotype is an expression of how we deal with information, that words are information, and that they will ring true differently for each type.

Hence, we know that it is not the case that words are objects that can be measured the same for all. Justice is not an object; it is something people experience (not reason) and is directly related to their personality type. None of us can exactly describe, define or understand what “justice” is, yet if an injustice is done to us, we most definitely know it; we feel it.

I call such abstracts “pure constants”; pure, because they cannot be influenced by our environment, and constant, because they are directly attached to our sense of Self. This means that, if we impose one explanation, interpretation or definition to it, we are dismissing the Self of other people. We are doing exactly what type is not supposed to do.

Now, think about the questionnaires you have done in the past, or the explanations given you by those who teach it, or by websites. Take a question like, “are you more fair-minded or sentimental?”

I am not discussing the use or accuracy of the questionnaires here, but merely the subliminal message that is sent along with the question. It not only states that sentiments are opposed to fairness – while sentiments are close to emotions and thus directly related to that sense – but, because we know to which dichotomy they belong, we are given the message that being fair is something Ts are inclined to, and being sentimental (which has a negative connotation in our society) belongs to Fs.

Now, I understand how incredibly difficult it is to create questionnaires with the right wording, and how every interpretation is going to be influenced by the type of the creator of the questionnaire, as well as – as is obvious in Myers’ writing – by the ingrained cultural beliefs of their time.

As I explained in Concerto, the main conflicts arise between T and F and between J and P, because they deal with expression and implementation, and thus with how it affects others.

But as a pure constant, justice is an ethical concept, not a legal (T) or moral (J) concept; it is not something that can be shared, but only sensed. It is in our ethical values that we find our sense of justice. Remember that we cannot even imagine what it must be like to take the other perspective. JP (like EI) is an attitude of the whole person and not of the functions, which means we simply have no experience with the other side.

Ethics is about justice; it deals with people, and not inanimate objects or data, which makes it an F topic, like it or not. But all people have this sense of ethical values; the difference is that Js often equate their sense of justice with the values of the group – they naturally internalize the values of the group as their own ethical values, because their T or F is extraverted, while Ps experience them as distinct.

This is why I call J the judicious attitude and not the judging attitude, because judging, like feeling and thinking, is something we all do. Expressing judgment (being judicious) is making sure the standards are adhered to. Js measure themselves and others to the standards; they also tend to set those standards. But where it is mostly Js who equate the moral and the ethical sense of justice, the legal equation is more a T interpretation.

Yet Ts and Fs have an opposite sense of justice: Ts equate it with impartial, because they naturally deal with data and facts, so they step away and avoid personal involvement; they judge by means of exact definitions or criteria, regardless of motivations and circumstances. But for Fs being partial to something means caring about the outcome for both parties equally; caring for harmony and the happiness of everybody involved. Fs cannot treat people as if they are inanimate objects – which they are not – or as if their actions and reactions stand on their own.

In Concerto, I discussed the different responses in parenting: the needs of FP children are currently dismissed in our society, and in doing so, it is creating an increasing amount of violence and mental problems.

Fs need a personal response and a partial involvement – to them the detached, impersonal, factual response is an attack on their person, not their behaviour – and Ps need a retributive response. They need the response of the victim, the other party as an autonomous individual, not those who assume the right to put themselves above the rest because they believe to represent an entity (the group or community) that for Ps simply does not exist. If I hurt someone, they alone have the right to retaliate; a third party does not, and if it does, I experience that as unjust, which justifies revenge, and that applies to admonitions and accusations as well.

Js may not be able to deal with retribution – and Ts not with partiality or emotive responses – because they feel it attacks their individual person, but if you understand type differences, you have to accept that it goes both ways.

Emotions are accumulative, as opposed to the eliminative tendencies of truth. This means that, if you treat an F unjustly, these feelings will ember and ignite, with more and more explosive power. The judicial system then steps in and says that these people are overreacting – or the naiveté of academia calls it neuroticism – but it cannot see that it caused these reactions by dismissing the person inside.

If justice is a sense we feel inside, something that motivates our actions and beliefs, it cannot be impersonal or based on superficial outward behaviour. Even for Ts, it is personal and related to their inner Self and their sense of anger – just try and argue with them about it and see what happens.

In short, the equation of fair and justice with truth (factual) and right (moral) is an ingrained misconception that has seeped through into the symbols and words people use every day, and as such, they continue this bias, even in the type community. I plea to those of you who can understand that people are not psychological clones of each other, to stop misusing “justice” in this sense, whether in symbol or in explanation.

If we are going to help people understand that all our psychological differences are equally valuable, we must try and avoid – and I realize how difficult that is, because language falls short in every way – using concepts that make believe that Fs and Ps do not know what justice is.

Justice is personal – no matter how inconvenient that is for those who prefer to mould everybody to one ideal – and, to quote from my books “lawbooks can never be fair, but people can be.”

So, I plea to the type community – the only group of people in today’s world, who can understand these differences – to avoid symbols and words or questions that equate the law, facts, truth and impartiality with justice.

Thank you for reading.

The Big Questions

Some criticisms and questions about psychotype are frequently raised. I will answer some of the questions here, and the myths and criticisms in future posts. Remember that psychology is not an exact science, so that there may be some disagreement, but the following is based in the philosophy of psychotype theory and in evidence coming from the type community, which includes practitioners in all fields and many theorists.

Is type inborn? 
This is debated. Most people accept Jung’s notion that E-I is there from so early it may as well be inborn, and that the other letter pairs differentiate later, but that a person is a rounded type by age 11. Personally, I believe it is inborn in the sense that the differentiation of the functions begins in the womb. With continuous information going through these filters, they develop to be more and more reliable. This continues throughout life. And, since E-I, which is a result of the functions, is already noticeable at birth, the functions must be differentiated before that.

Is it caused by the brain?
No. the brain responds to habitual behaviour (plasticity) and both influence each other, but there is no evidence of a causal relationship. Psychic energy flows; it is like the water in a river; the river bed is shaped by the moving, but simultaneously the bed directs the water.

Is it in my DNA?
If it were laid down in a code that spans generations, then how would we adapt mentally to our rapidly changing environment? The DNA is the code for the material body; it makes sure we grow two arms and legs. Psychotype and phenotype co-develop. Not only is there absolutely no evidence of a genetic cause, there is evidence to the contrary, from reports by identical twins. Although there is no official research – because researchers don’t take the types seriously – but assessments and responses from identical twins show that many of them do not have the same personality type.

Does my gender influence my type?
There is some disagreement about this. Both Myers and Jung believed that there were more T males and F females, but I believe that was a cultural bias (through self-report) seeing the time they were writing in, and some of that may still linger.

Is type culturally determined?
Each culture picks the traits it likes best, so in every culture some natural tendencies are criticized, and some types may feel more at home in their culture than others, but culture is learned, and your inclinations (tendencies) are inborn; they adapt the learned information, not the other way around.

I tested as one type and now I am another, so can I change type?
No, you may have tested with a certain mindset, or after a certain experience. Tests are guidelines only and need to be answered as much as possible for how you have been your whole life, not the moment. Some types are better at doing so than others. People cannot change their type; they can change their temperament.
It is unlikely that anybody would want to change. We might desire a trait, but another perspective cannot make sense to us; thus, the best indicator of your type and that type is correct, is that nobody wants to be different.

What if I don’t like putting people in boxes?
People are not put into boxes. Firstly, because others should not do this for you; you are assessing your own psychological identity and finding the best match. It is not meant to label but to understand and develop yourself, and many people who understand type say that the awareness actually helped them climb out of boxes.
A typename is an identity, like your given name. A label would be a box; a disorder is a label.

I behave differently than my friend, so how can we be the same type?
Because type is about inclinations and not exact behaviour, which is influenced by experiences and environment.

Can other people assess me?
We can, each of us, only see the world through our own perspective and never crawl into somebody else’s perspective, so the simple answer is NO. But we all try to asses those who are dear to us, and we can get an idea if we know what to look for. This is okay, as long as you NEVER overrule what somebody else says about themselves. Nobody can know your inner self as well as you can. This also applies to academics, no matter how much they have studied, no matter how many letters they have behind their name; they are only human. They are only ONE type and they will assess everybody else through that lens.

How can they predict my behaviour based on asking me a lot of questions?
This is a common misconception. Unlike academics, type practitioners do not test you; they talk with you and help you type yourself. Besides, type does not predict behaviour, only inclinations.

Can I be in the middle? Can I be a bit of both?
No, if we did not have two dominant functions on which we can rely automatically and do not have to make a conscious choice, we could not survive. It is like the river; the water cannot flow two directions at once.

How come there are more of some types and do those numbers change?
I think there is an evolutionary necessity for this; it ensures the constant change. If there were exactly the same of each type, society would get just as dogmatic and stagnant as if we were all alike, and change comes from new ideas slowly gaining ground by spreading from one person (type) to the next. That those percentages do not change is evident in the patterns of change in history.

What about the Enneagram; why can’t I match my MBTI type to one of the other systems?
Because most other theories are derived from looking at outward behaviour or one aspect of our being and not the whole set of inclinations. That does not mean they are not compatible, but only that you cannot make an exact match.

Extraversion or extroversion?
In the type community, the words is extraversion, because it indicates the focus toward the external world, the world outside our mind, like we talk about extra-terrestrial for those who come from outside the Earth.

Thank you for reading.

Do Not Dismiss the Dichotomies

Last week, I wrote a post about why I believe that Jung’s original theory is still the best we have, despite all the new ideas, and this time I want to focus on a particular aspect of Jung’s theory that is at risk of being run over: the dichotomies.

Some people refer to “the dichotomies of Myers-Briggs” (E-I, S-N, T-F, J-P) in a somewhat dismissive voice, as if those are the simple way of looking at type, from which ‘we’ have moved on. But if the dichotomies are simple, it is because the simple explanation tends to be the most vital one, and I do not think it is as simple as some people believe it to be.

Jung described the psyche in terms of flowing energy – an entity in constant flux – and regarded the difference between extraversion and introversion as the most important. That is because the functions filter information and this information needs to relate the inner Self with the external environment in order for us to survive.

The dichotomous nature of type terminology comes from the functions being the ‘door’ between the environment and the Self; this door can be more or less open in different people, perhaps, but each causes flow in one direction.

Despite the functions not being at the same level as the attitudes, they are related, because the attitudes are a direct result of the focus and order of the functions (e or i); we are an extraverted (E) or introverted (I) person because our dominant function is extraverted or introverted. We are J or P because either justification (Te or Fe) or perception (Se or Ne) is extraverted in the dominant pair.

This dominance causes us to experience normative justifications (group norms and standards) and/or objective perceptions (reality) as binding or optional. In other words, the flow of energy of our functions (whether they open to the environment or the Self first), influences our entire experience of existence; extraverts and introverts experience a different reality. And that realization is not to be dismissed as simple.

The reason I keep coming back to four functions with two poles each, is because of the importance of the opposite nature of these poles. They are like the poles on a magnet; they repulse or attract different aspects of information, and, by extension, so do the attitude dichotomies. These poles, rather than north and south, are objective and relative, and that is what makes us experience so differently. It is what causes all our conflicts; it is what makes us essentially different people.

The objective poles communicate directly with the object, the environment, while the relative poles relate to the object by means of their own position.

Dictionaries describe objectivity as “independent of people’s thoughts and perspectives”, but in light of psychology, in which the psyche is the only way to experience, to think or to perceive, this is impossible. The shared realm (as opposed to our personal inner realm) is the world in which we communicate with each other, it is our shared environment, and it is exactly that which causes the assumption that it must “obviously” be independent of our mind and the same for all people. However, millennia of disagreements are the evidence that this is not the case, and Jung’s theory explains the why of that: because we process information differently and, consequently, experience existence differently. I am not saying that there is no reality outside of our mind; I am saying that this reality appears differently to different people (and beings).

The objective pole of the E-I dichotomy, is extraversion. It experiences all objects (environment, people, things), including themselves, as independent entities that can affect each other directly. Reality is an actual world where abstracts are conceptual, not perceptual, and every object can be assessed by its observable properties. The object can exert power over the subject – extraverts often talk about resisting temptations – and Jung described it as the awareness starting with the object and returning there. This objective awareness and direct relation to the object allows extraverts to tap into the energy of the object and share in it.

The relative pole is introversion. It experiences the subject as part of a greater whole, but each viewpoint as different. Reality includes a possible world where abstracts can be real, but are necessarily inaccessible. Introverts look at the object rather than directly interacting with it; they observe their person in the world rather than being immersed in the world; they are continuously aware of their subject in relation to the object. The subject has power over the object; it can resist its influence, but it uses its own energy doing so.

In other words, the E-I dichotomy is about how we experience our SELF in the object-subject relationship – the shared world, in which relative reality is that because the world is observed in relation to the position of the subject.

The objective pole of the S-N dichotomy is sensory perception, which gives access to the qualities of  the material world through direct contact – even if at a distance by means of light or sound – in the shared world. These tangible objects are measured by the senses in the here and now. Some of those physical perceptions are still very personal, like the perception of pain, but others can be experienced the same by like beings.

The relative pole is intuition, which makes immaterial connections and detects relations, recombining previously internalized perceptions to form a new picture, a picture of possibilities and hypotheses. Despite phrases like “counter-intuitive” which treats it as if something we all do the same, intuition is personal and cannot be measured in the shared world. Therefore, it is always relative to the perspective of the subject.

The objective pole of the T-F dichotomy is truth-based justification, which uses exact data, categories and frameworks that are logical and bound to exact rules and, therefore, can be shared, to reduce general concepts to their components in search of one truth or cause and effect.

The relative pole is value-based justification, which uses personal and internal measures to gain an understanding of the whole by relating like instances and generalizing them, especially in terms of human concerns. Empathy or “feeling into” has no measure in the shared realm, which makes it relative to the experience of the subject.

 The objective pole of the J-P dichotomy is the judicious attitude, in which the group is an entity in its own right, and its standards take priority over the individual. Js accepts laws (whether social, moral or scientific), status and knowledge as independent authorities and judge accordingly what ought to be allowed.

The relative pole is the persuasive attitude, which considers the group as a collection of autonomous beings, whose needs are prior to those of the group. Ps ignore standards or authority and accept the instance (rather than the law) and what could be allowed, relative to the situation and the observer.

In short, of each dichotomy that deals with an aspect of information, one letter represents the objective stance, the other the relative stance – which, only with regard to introverts, I call ‘subjective’. To take an objective stance – objective reality (E), objective perception (S), objective inference (T) and objective norms or standards (J) – means appealing to what is assumed true or real and identical for all people, while a relative stance marks its own perspective as one of many possible alternative perspectives.

Some people experience all aspects of this information exchange process as objective. They, therefore, have a legitimate claim to assume that others must experience it as they do. Only from listening to other people, and respecting their accounts – and from understanding Jung – can they know that not everybody experiences the same. The rest of us must allow for relativity, because we claim it for ourselves in some or all aspects and, therefore, have some experience with this viewpoint.

In my books I use the term “timbral”, because the objective or relative perspective is not a choice or preference, but an actual experience that each type has with a different aspect of existence as “vibrant” or alive; it creates their reality. For example, Js actually experience the group as a living entity rather than just a concept, which is why they will put the needs of the group above their own.

I have used many different metaphors and explanations, because it is so incredibly difficult to relate those different experiences, exactly because they are that: experiences. We can never share them and language falls short if we try to explain them, because we each internalize different experiences with all those abstract words.

Keep in mind that E-I and J-P are the result of the functions and that some may use common words. For example, J-P is about accepting the standard (or not); this standard comprises the norms, truths and values of their group, even if truth and value are justification, because J-P is about accepting (or not) the justification (T or F). Likewise, E-I is where we observe, while S-N is the observation itself, so that the actual world of Es includes the sense perceptions. This is why I refer to them as the objective accord group (E, S, T and J) and the relative accord group (I, N, F and P), because the more letters a person’s typename has in one accord group, the more objective or relative their entire stance with regard the world will be, and these experiences support each other.

In my next post, I will come back to the attraction and repulsion of the norms and reality in our attitudes, the normative justifications and objective perceptions, and how they create our relation with other people, with knowledge and with social rules.

Thank you for reading.