Saturday, November 30, 2019

Quadrality and the Theory of Triads

Socionics is indisputably based on quadrality. Because it's built on dichotomies, everything is groups of two, then four, eight, sixteen (4 times 4), and so on. Model A is conventionally depicted as two rings, and for the types we have supervision and benefit rings, quadras, clubs, and so on. But what has not been mentioned up until this point is that, in practice, these groups of four (whether they are types, functions, elements, etc.) often manifest as groups of three - the fourth one remains hidden.

Example 1: Among the valued functions, the suggestive function is often out of sight, due to being weak and cautious. While it is an unconscious goal, people rarely prioritize it in practice - it's as if they are unaware that they need it. The remaining values (functions 1, 2, and 6) are manifest values.

This leads directly to the sub-example of quadra triads: you rarely observe that someone is, e.g. "Gamma" - there is always a bias in the information towards some subset of the quadra, such as the "Fi Gamma triad" (excluding LIE who has Fi suggestive), the "Ti Alpha triad" (excluding ESE who has Ti suggestive), etc.

Example 2: Among the strong functions, the ignoring function's goal is sometimes neglected to the point where it looks weak, due to being both subdued and cautious. We can use it when needed occasionally, as it's less stressful than the 1D functions, but not much beyond that. So, much like the suggestive, the lack of these two traits "overpowers" the presence of the third. This leads to club triads, e.g. the "Fe SF triad", the "Ni NT triad", etc. The remaining strengths (functions 1, 2, and 8) are manifest strengths.

Example 3: Among the weak functions, the mobilizing function is both valued and bold, so while clumsy and overconfident, it can be the "slow and steady one that wins the race", often developing habits over time that allow us to achieve its goal adequately for ourselves. The remaining weaknesses (functions 3, 4, and 5) are manifest weaknesses.

Example 4: The creative function, although cautious, is used with far less fatigue than the other cautious functions, to the point where it works together with the leading function amicably.

Example 5: All of the producing functions can be "blocked" with the leading function to define the type, however the vulnerable function is much more rarely used in conjunction with it. Similarly it is the one left out of the mental ring, being almost completely neglected compared to the others.

There are plenty more examples on the semantic side, to give a few:
  • Ti is the structure of language. Te is the objective information conveyed via language, and Fe is the implicit aspects of communication through language. Fi's relation to language is less obvious.
  • Se is "completely apparent" while Ni is "completely hidden", and Si is the balance between the two.
  • The Enneagram instincts roughly correspond to Si (self-preservation), Fe (social), and FiSe (sexual). Here we have two which are grouped together instead of one being hidden.
  • Se is the most masculine of the irrational elements, Si the most feminine, while Ni and Ne seem to lack gender for the most part.
  • The themes of aesthetics and beauty involve Si (pleasantness, good taste), Se (outward appearance which conveys status, impact and impressiveness, and sexual attraction), and Fe (adornment and expression through choice of fashion). Fi again seems to be absent.
  • Alpha is the quadra of unity (harmonious communal interaction, understanding the universe as a whole), Beta the quadra of duality (good fighting against evil, us versus them), and Gamma the quadra of multiplicity of independent things, facts, or people. Delta seems to have no particular attitude with respect to number.
  • If you take all four irrational elements (or all four rational elements) you can make a square with the opposite points being either duals, extinguishers, or superegos. But you can't make them identicals since that would imply repetition.

There are even more examples beyond socionics:
  • If you imagine two lights which are either on or off, we can have 1) both on, 2) only one on, or 3) both off. So four possibilities lead to three by the act of counting, i.e. by identifying the two lights.
  • The one who speaks can be either truthful or a liar. The one who does not speak is merely silent.
  • A car can veer off to the right, to the left, or stay on course. Its motion prevents the backwards direction from manifesting.
  • An action is either in the past, present, or future. When past, you find yourself after the end. When future, you're before the beginning. In the present you're after the end and before the beginning. But you can't be before the beginning and after the end.


"One becomes two, two becomes three, and out of the third comes the One as the fourth." (Jung, Aion)
A mandala from Jung's Red Book
Jung was particularly prescient on this topic. He would create mandalas, a kind of four-fold diagram made of a square or cross combined with a circle. He interpreted this as an archetype of wholeness, unification of opposites, and eternal evolution and rejuvenation of the Self. The triad is by comparison incomplete, deficient:
"We find a wide spectrum of four-fold symbols and systems in religion, myth, history and culture. There are four winds (Boreas, Eurus, Notus, Zephyrus), four seasons (winter, spring, summer, fall), four directions (north, east, south, west), four Evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), four letters in the sacred name of God (YHVH), four ancient ages (gold, silver, bronze, iron), and four medieval humours: sanguine (blood), choleric (yellow bile), phlegmatic (phlegm), melancholic (black bile)to name a few.

Adding a fourth to an already established three has a transformational effect. In geometry, a fourth point transforms the two-dimensional triad or triangle into a figure with depth, the cube and the tetrahedron (a form lapis). As the mathematician Michael Schneider observes, “There are always four ways (another quaternity) to look at any three-dimensional structure: as points, lines, areas, and volumes, or as corners, edges, faces, and from the center outward (63). Ellenberger notes that “The quaternity can appear as a geometric figure of square or sometimes rectangular shape, or it will have some relation with the number four: four persons, four trees, and so on. Often it is a matter of completing a triadic figure with a fourth term, thus making it into a quaternity” (712). Jung searches for the quaternity when a trinity is encountered, “Jung over and over again in his writings returns to the alchemical question: “Three are here but where is the fourth?” (Edinger 189). The completion of the quaternity is seen frequently in alchemical works, even whimsically, “All things do live in the three/ But in the four they merry be” (quoted in CW 12 125)."
 Augusta may have been inspired by this to complete Freud's triad of ego, id, super-ego with "super-id" (although the analogy with the actual functions is a bit weak).

Dualization itself is completion of the four quadra values from two overlapping threes, where your leading function completes your dual and vice versa.

The theory of signed elements completes the three function dichotomies with a fourth, to produce 16 functions.

But socionics as a whole is based on Jung's four functions and is in this sense already complete. So the question becomes, how do we derive the three from the four, the appearance from the reality? Each triad is such a derivation.
"The goal of psychic development is the self. There is no linear evolution; there is only a circumambulation of the self" (Jung, MDR 196)

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Model G and How To Fix It

Jack Aaron and Ben Vaserlan recently had a heated debate over the relative merits of Model G and Model A: why Model G was created and if the reasons really hold up.

Aside from a few minor quibbles (such as the supposed difficulty of telling apart the vulnerable and role functions), I completely agree with Jack's criticisms of Model G. In short, it adds essentially nothing to Model A, is steeped in vague jargon (like "long range" and "short range", the social vs. personal spheres, etc.), and is at odds with how the types actually work (in particular how it conceives of the suggestive function as being somehow "high energy" or more prominent than the mobilizing function — or whatever they're called now).

Model G does, however, have a few selected insights. One is the greater emphasis on the benefit rings, or rather, the bold/cautious dichotomy.

Another is the idea of "energy." For some reason Ben flounders in this video when asked to define energy, while he had previously connected it to Jung's concept of libido (not Freud's), which Jung defined as a kind of "life force". This is a sound idea in itself: Model A addresses information processing (information metabolism) but it does not address the obvious limitations of resources that apply to each function's processing, in particular the strength and boldness traits.

Unfortunately, beyond this very basic outline, the details of Model G seem disconnected with the reality of the types — including which functions are supposedly maximum energy, etc.

That's a very brief take on the semantics — the details are really not that interesting and are addressed in the video. Another interesting idea (which precedes Model G) is the signed elements, but I'm not going to get into that here either. The real point of this post is the structural deficit which I pointed out and Jack later mentioned in the debate. It's very obvious if you look at Andrew's diagrams (and translate the names and numbers accordingly):

As you can see here, some of the standard socionic dichotomies are presented asymmetrically in Model G. Gulenko apparently does not assign any meaning to the left and right sides of the model, he still uses the standard dichotomies such as strong/weak, etc., albeit with different names, as displayed on the right here. Strong/weak becomes "master/slave" and valued/subdued becomes "values/tools". (correction: It is said that Gulenko does consider the left-hand functions to be "better" in the "sense [...] of energy allocation to the function and the degree of freedom of behavior afforded by this." Again, more jargon which does not seem to apply to the suggestive function, or if not actually wrong, at least is not as clear as the existing Model A dichotomies.)

How can we fix this? The obvious thing to do would be to simply switch the suggestive and ignoring functions (or "manipulative" and "control", numbers 6 and 8). Then the left side is strong and the right side is weak. And the valued functions are "outside" and subdued "inside", which is at least as good as it is in Model A. And we still have the benefit rings proceeding horizontally: NeTeSeFe... and TiNiFiSi....

In my opinion this clearly shows that the Model G blocks are defined wrong. The issue is that Gulenko wanted to have a benefit loop of types, but he represented them using the standard Model A ego blocks (as the columns of Model G). So for ILE we have NeTi, then TeSi, then SeFi and FeNi for the ILE and its Process-Extrovert ring. Instead we should express the types entirely in terms of the benefit ring (in analogy with how it is in Model A and the supervision ring) with each represented using a consecutive pair of elements in the ring, ILE being NeTe, LSE being TeSe, etc. Then the types can be thought of as "edges" between the IM elements, and they interact at their shared points. This makes much more sense if Model G is meant to show energy flow, does it not?

Ben made the interesting point (possibly the only one he made in the entire video) that Model G includes not only benefit rings, but also supervision rings if you extend it vertically:

(Written in to the left of the #4 heading.)

Note that this property still holds if we switch the suggestive and ignoring functions. There are literally only two ways to make a grid like this, and Model G does not use the right choice.

Aside from the semantic issues with Model G, this is a very obvious structural flaw. Fixing it might be the first step to salvaging the model.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Typing Video: Amanda

Amanda is going to college to study behavioral neuroscience. She has a lot of passion for her work and intellectual activities. She mentions liking the interdisciplinary nature of the field, perhaps suggesting an Ne motivation. Some things she mentions disliking are competitiveness, that it can be "loud and overstimulating, disorienting", and that you "have to think in the moment". She would prefer to sit back and observe, make a plan and then implement it. This suggests a type with rather low ability or "dimensionality" in Se, and conversely higher Ni.

Amanda's aversion to, and perhaps lack of understanding for, Se things (conflict, pressure, vying for dominance) is echoed later in the video in the context of her relationships: she takes issue with how confrontational her foster mother is, and this seems to cause her a lot of stress and anxiety. A more subtle example is the "wearing a labcoat" stereotype [17:25], which suggests annoyance with viewing people through a shallow, material lens rather than listening to what they have to say.

She mentions working with autistic children, and likes helping them, and "figuring out" their issues. So she takes a problem-solving tack rather than overtly expressing sympathy or emotional care as some people would.

She mentions calligraphy as one of her interests, "the beauty of the word"; although she has intellectual leisure activities also, the aesthetic nature of calligraphy could be a kind of balance to her professional intellectual activities — the one Si and the other Ne.

While Amanda expresses a lot of confidence in her studies, we see more hesitance and confusion when it comes to relationships and dealing with people. She often has good surface relationships but is not motivated to pursue (deepen) a lot of them. She characteristically doesn't participate in group celebrations like on New Year's Eve, although she does enjoy other ones like family dinners, where she may sometimes take an observer role. Her disinterest in politics is also notable.

She mentions how she doesn't share her passion for science with others (to get them interested, rather than with people who are already interested). This points away from, say, an ILE with Fe mobilizing who would characteristically share their intellectual interests with others.

So far, it seems that Amanda is an Si-valuing logical type, and probably one with higher Ne and lower Fe. She enjoys free intellectual exploration, but displays a combination of depth and breadth in her thinking. Combined with the obvious aversion towards Se, and her careful, measured style of thinking and speaking, I think it is clear that Amanda is LII.

The conflict between Se and Si seems to trouble Amanda a lot: she has an accepting attitude towards people: "I hesitate to speak of people in negative terms", "I really want to like this person [but they] pick fights" [24:40]. She tries to be approachable, despite not thinking much about the tone of what she's saying (valued Si, low Fe), and in arguments tries to reconcile. She is surprised by accusations that seem harsh and unwarranted — the idea that someone might engage in conflict for purely emotional or selfish reasons seems beyond her.

Amanda's emphasis on autonomy is also a characteristic LII trait. She doesn't seek to influence anyone, nor does she want to be influenced by others, leading her to be somewhat isolated.

Other points:
  • interest in self-improvement (Ne)
  • doesn't mind "annoying" people who ask a lot of questions and talk a lot (Fe, Ne)
  • can make things interesting for herself (Ne)
  • likes deep conversations, is contemplative (high Ni)
  • dislikes fast-paced team sports, people yelling (Se)
  • "knowing which things to keep clear", "finding the core issue" [47:00]
  • trouble self-motivating, needs encouragement (low Fe, Se)
  • environment is minimalistic but comfortable
  • "polite", "timid"
  • won't describe emotions directly, speaks in terms of actions
  • worries about minute details
  • as a kid took in "vast amounts of information"

We've already typed another female LII on this blog. Compared to Laura, Amanda comes across as colder, more introspective and introverted, more socially awkward, more academic. Amanda is still young and I expect some of these things may change with age. (LII is, unsurprisingly, a common type in the socionics community.)

Amanda expressed difficulty in showing that she wants to get to know someone better. I suggested saying something like "Hey, want to go out for lunch tomorrow?" If you want to develop your weak functions, you have to find a way to use them that is natural and sustainable for you. Logical types need to find a way to express their feelings that feels genuine to them. People can learn these things through trial and error over time, but socionics can be a useful guide.

To find your type, book an appointment here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Typing Video: Laura

I've known Laura for a while now; she is a long-time participant in the socionics community and has made other videos before. This video didn't change my opinion of her type; I think the same options present themselves, with the same apparent contradictions, as we will explore below.

Laura consistently presents an open, tolerant, and accommodating view of others, and dislikes conflict, rudeness and roughness, and unpleasant interactions. She believes everyone has inherent worth and tries to approaches others with tact when possible. My observations of Laura in the community match this: she has very little inclination towards conflict or abrasiveness, and prefers if people could just all get along.

All of this is a strong indicator of Si/Ne values.

Laura is also curious and focused more on the intellectual side of life: her jobs have consistently focused on information, she doesn't do a whole lot to beautify her environment, and would prefer not have to deal with physical maintenance if she could. She got a short haircut because it's easy to maintain - one tactic an intuitive might use to avoid dealing with sensory complexities. She is always thinks of the long-term future, and loves the feeling of mastering a new skill, as well as experiencing new cultures by traveling (potentially if not actually in her life).

This suggests that Laura is much more likely an Ne ego type than an Si ego type. Traveling and skill acquisition are common Ne themes. Laura does show some ability to maintain her life, and a tendency towards stability in her career and finances: she has worked in the same career for over a decade with little change, and although she mentions feeling stagnant, she also views the prospect of unknown change or risk (in the "starting a business" question) as "scary" and a threat to the status quo, therefore something she would not really do in practice. This points to relatively higher priority for + ability to deal with Si, and therefore more likely Si mobilizing than suggestive. This goes hand in hand with the lower Se and higher "activation energy" needed to kick oneself into gear and realize possibilities in one's life.

But we see more ambiguity in how the rational IM elements might fit into Laura's psyche.

For Fi: on the one hand she speaks very clearly and directly about what she seeks in relationships ("loving me, supporting me", trustworthiness, emotional support), and likes it when people cry or "show their vulnerability."

On the other hand, she also uses Fe in describing all of her relationships: doing "fun stuff together" (mother), "being fun to be around" (sister), "good sense of humor" (father).

This suggests that maybe Laura is one of the types with some ambiguity between Fe and Fi, namely IEE or LII.

But there are other clues. Laura also describes not having close, deep friendships, only lots of acquaintances. And although her work does involving interacting with people, this seems to drain her; she sees people as interruptions at her work and wants to find one where she's more "behind the scenes".

She also seems a bit insecure about relationships in general (maybe this is not so type-related, but in context it could be). She describes needing help in relationships, how to relate to others better, and was not very tactful as a young child, but learned how to be as she got older.

When it comes to logic, Laura is good at organizing information, and explains her role and the structure of her work very clearly, right off the bat.

Overall I think LII is the best fit for Laura. She is a natural organizer, is dependable and reliable in her work, and while she is in touch with her emotions, she isn't really a people person either. She is sensitive to criticism, yet has a strong sense of fairness and civic duty. Fairness, which as I see it, is one of the distinguishing themes of the LII.

To find your type, book an appointment here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Reinin Dichotomies

What are the Reinin dichotomies?

The types were initially described using four independent dichotomies0 : extraversion/introversion, rational/irrational, intuitive/sensing, and logical/ethical. Jung mentioned the first two directly; the latter two come from the fact that socionics adds a secondary function to Jung's types, and they specify which of two domains is present in the first two functions (or strengths as a whole). These four Jungian dichotomies (also known as the "Jungian basis") were heavily emphasized in the early stages of socionics, and their popularity continues, particularly in the East, despite the fact that they now coexist with a more "functional" approach based on Model A.

But Augusta introduced another dichotomy of IM elements called "static/dynamic", which also extends to the types. Elements (and types) are called static if they are 1) rational and introverted or 2) irrational and extraverted. Otherwise they are dynamic. We can visualize this by forming a grid with the two dichotomies:

The static/dynamic dichotomy comes from taking the two diagonal slices.

What Reinin realized is that you can play this game with any pair of dichotomies — and then you can do it again with the new dichotomies you get! All in all you get 2⁴ - 1 = 15 dichotomies from the original four, and we call the dichotomies you get "Reinin dichotomies".1 They (and in particular the "Questioner/Declarer" dichotomy) are alluded to in a brief statement in Augusta's seminal work "The Dual Nature of Man". She refers to them as "other, less obvious opposite qualities" but does not elaborate further.

Where's the beef?

Ok, so we have all these dichotomies, but what do they mean? This operation doesn't obviously produce meaningful categories, any more than the set of men who like ice cream and women who don't like ice cream has anything meaningful in common.

Augusta tried very hard to answer this question. She gave the dichotomies names and descriptions, and others like Gulenko also researched them later on. It seems Gulenko's names are the ones that largely stuck, and have influenced how the dichotomies tend to be interpreted now. The latest descriptions come from a 2003 study by Mironov, but they largely preserve the earlier interpretations.

Despite all these efforts, they did not succeed in producing a viable theory. Augusta emphasized that they were a work in progress2 and Reinin has also said to not take them seriously3.

They remain controversial in the Eastern community: Dmitri Lytov did a survey and asked socionists to rate different concepts in socionics based on reliability, with 5 being the highest and 1 being the lowest. While IM elements, Model A, and quadra values all scored over 4, Reinin dichotomies scored a shabby average of 2.87, with the most common response being 2.

The issues with the descriptions have been addressed to some extent by existing articles. There are three major issues:

1. Lack of clarity

In large part, the descriptions are "not even wrong", in that they can't even be made sense of or clearly applied in practice to say whether they are more right than they are wrong — instead they're some kind of mush. Take the questioner/declarer dichotomy. Do ILEs ask more questions than LIEs? Could be. But do ILEs ask more questions than IEEs? Hard to say. Do ESIs ask more questions than IEEs?? That seems just wrong.

If the description only fits 50% of the time, it may as well just be wrong. If you try to use not-even-wrong mush instead of (or along with) solid theory, you end up with a poor understanding of socionics.

2. No theoretical basis

The descriptions (as opposed to the mathematical structure) are not derived from or linked to any more reliable part of the theory, such as the strength and value function dichotomies. Caveat: when I speak about the Reinin dichotomies being unreliable, I mean the ones other than the quadra, strength, and introversion/extraversion dichotomies, since these can all be clearly explained in terms of Model A.4 Theoretically one could define other ones in terms of function dichotomies like contact/inert and evaluatory/situational, but those dichotomies seem slippery in their own right.

One of the great virtues of socionic theory is how its parts all fit together to make a coherent whole, whose different parts can be used to check each other. Most attempts to add (semantically) independent extra parts to this whole (subtypes, Reinin dichotomies, Enneagram) end up doing more harm than good.

3. Actual contradictions with the base theory

The example of "questioning/declaring" above illustrates how the Reinin dichotomies can overlap with, and therefore end up contradicting, pre-existing categories in Model A. In the end there is only a limited space of observations you can make about a person's behavior, and it's highly unlikely that you could make a coherent system of 15 dichotomies that are all equally apparent.

There are other contradictions. Lytov gives a long list in his article, but for the sake of example let's take Mironov's description of Carefree types:

“You cannot prepare for everything.”

This doesn't make any sense for LSIs, who have Ni mobilizing and therefore highly prioritize preparing for potential negative outcomes. If it's between that and “It is best to prepare in advance.” (for Farsighted types) then LSIs are definitely the latter.

Another is Aristocracy/Democracy. Supposedly Beta and Delta are the Aristocrats. Why would Deltas, types with subdued Se and Ti, be likely to see people in terms of external group membership? Per Mironov: "Hierarchy and status are frequently described as inherent to structural logic (Ti). According to our observations this is entirely false." I would say more Se than Ti, but this illustrates how the confusion of Reinin dichotomies ends up replacing the clarity of Model A, which allows identifying specific sources of behavior in the IM elements.

Another is Tactics, which is somehow supposed to describe Ni leading types (and Ni mobilizing types):
  • "they are not inclined to constantly compare their current actions with the desired end state ("goal"). The emerging goals are evaluated in accordance to how well they fit their current route (how well the goal coincides with the direction they are adhering to)."
  • "They consciously do not set goals or do it very rarely (when pressured by the circumstances). They avoid setting distant (very long-term or global) goals: "Why plan—you still need to live to that moment"."
By contrast Strategists are described as follows:
  • "Strategists, as a rule, do not fix their direction i.e. concrete actions the sequence of which leads to the goal. Thus, their "trajectory" by which they move towards fulfilling their goals can change.
  • "They assess their actions and choices from the point of view of how closer they bring them to their desired objectives (goals). Being put before a choice, they reject those options that do not bring them closer."
  • "Without having a conscious goal, Strategists feel as if something is missing and their life is incomplete. They experience discomfort and feel disoriented."
The latter makes way more sense for Ni leading types, who are more likely to commit to a single vision of the future and focus deeply on it, rather than "living in the moment" or changing their desired state frequently. They are of course "strategists" in the everyday sense of the term.

The list goes on.

The Way Forward

For all the reasons above, there is no way to justify using the Reinin dichotomies practically at this time. They aren't useful (and are in fact harmful) for typing people, and mostly not even useful for explaining behavior after the fact. Could they be useful theoretically, in the future? Could they be given definitions that make sense, even if they aren't particularly visible in practice? I think so. I myself have attempted to come up with better definitions, and there are clues which indicate that they hold an important place in the structure of socionics. But the jury is still out on what they mean.

So, while thinking about Reinin dichotomies may be a fun exercise, I also don't consider it a productive research direction. Maybe thinking about the "other" IM element and function dichotomies would be a nearer goal. In any case, the greatest success will be found in refining and deepening the existing content of the theory, rather than trying to come up with something from scratch. If you put a building on a shaky foundation, it will surely fall down.

[0] A set of traits or dichotomies is said to be independent if any combination is possible; that is, for each dichotomy we can choose either pole, or the trait being true or false.

[1] Sometimes only the derived dichotomies are called Reinin dichotomies; they are the main topic of this article.

[2] "This first hasty edition of “Theory of the Reinin Signs” is not intended for a wide circle of readers, but only for a narrow circle of socionics for the further development of theories, corrections, amendments, and improvement of terminology. It is possible that, for example, some properties of the personality type, which I attributed to any one attribute of Reinin, after verification will have to be attributed to another." (source)

[3] Mentioned at a relatively recent meeting with some Western socionists.

[4] Even the descriptions given for the two quadra value dichotomies (Merry/Serious and Reasonable/Resolute) in the Reinin studies are questionable, as they don't seem to rely on any conventional understanding of valued functions. Mironov says that according to Objectivists (i.e. Te valuers) "there exist rules and guidelines that are "true in general" and "always correct"." This is the exact opposite of what an understanding of Model A gives: Te valuers have subdued Ti and thus tend to be skeptical of universal rules.

Although rationality and static/dynamic (as well as their correlates accepting/producing and mental/vital) are considered important in the classical theory, I find them (maybe) applicable in a post hoc way at best; i.e., I don't use them for typing people.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Typing Video: Steffi (Tao)

Some observations:

  • Steffi begins the video by mentioning how she is a bit self-conscious and worried about getting her speech right. (probably low Se, valued Ti)
  • She describes largely being "in her head", and while she constantly seeks out knowledge, has no interest in applying it. (high Ni, low Te)
  • The words "honest" and "authentic" come up repeatedly, especially referring to expressing one's inner emotions, whether they are good or bad (Fe+Ni)
  • Says that the values question is "the most important question" — the search for values in particular. Steffi is still young and describes her values as being in flux.
  • Has an interest in history and connects her values with the Victorian period and the novels she read from that period. (Ni+Fe)
  • Comes across as a soft, accepting kind of person who nevertheless has a certain depth of emotion. (low Se, introversion, ethics)
  • Is quite good at articulating her self-observations. (probably high Ni, Ti)

These observations are already enough to point to IEI. In fact it is hard to see Steffi as anything but that type.

Although she is socially introverted (with only a few friends) and tends to keep to herself, Steffi describes being interested in people, and having been more extraverted, expressive, and focused on others as a child. Fe creative types tend vary widely with regards to social extraversion, and Steffi has embodied both of these extremes over the course of her life.

Her being in her mind and general focus on imaginary or past worlds suggests high focus on Ni, and probably ego Ni. She is interested in learning from the history by seeing it with an open mind, without bias. I find IEIs often emphasize the need for open-mindedness.

Despite being focused on people, Steffi has what some might find a shocking disregard for relationships in themselves: she "appreciates people" or "appreciates their existence" (one of a few dramatic phrases found in Steffi's speech) but treats everyone essentially the same, even her parents. This strongly suggests that Steffi values Fe and not Fi, as does her disinterest in "corrective" moral values (or "traits"), as opposed to abstract, conceptual ones like "beauty" and "simplicity". It seems like these values are arrived at through a process of reflection on the world and herself, yet they have little to do with how she actually operates in the world (she explicitly mentions that she didn't actually act on her value of beauty :). Despite considering authenticity and honesty "traits", she doesn't see how one might work on them, they "just are" and she wouldn't judge people very strongly based on them per se.

Difficulty acting and "actually living" in the outside world is another theme that comes up, very common in introverted intuitives, with weak and cautious Se. This is due to the tradeoff between Ni's focus on the internal world and Se's focus on the outside world. Steffi is more capable when it comes to dealing with practical Si details such as grocery shopping etc. In fact Steffi is rather mature for her age and is quite aware of her weaknesses.

Fe, especially as in Beta NFs, is about authentic self-expression. Steffi describes very clearly what this means to her: to show others who you are internally, even if who you are is "bad" (e.g. if you are envious).

Steffi's attitude towards conflict is surprisingly nonchalant: she neither shows a tendency to engage and defend herself (as most Se valuers would), nor does she seem to get bothered by the unpleasantness of the situation (as most Si valuers would). Not many types other than IEI (with suggestive but valued Se) would be likely to express this attitude — perhaps some Ne leadings could. Not taking these things personally could also be attributed to low priority Fi. What she does describe being sensitive to is the need to fulfill expectations. In my opinion this is an example of Ti, related to the theme of duty — she gives the example of selling ice cream and all the expectations placed on her by the customer and her work. She had to focus quite hard to get the change right (something which involves logic, a weak spot which she describes not having any intrinsic inclination towards).

Steffi mentions some far-off dreams for the future ("I have dreams but not goals" (37:24)), but her tendency towards inaction leaves some question as to whether these are things that might actually happen. She describes founding a cafe for discussing philosophy in an intimate, comfortable setting. She has no interest in noisy settings or getting a lot of attention through marketing. She also certainly isn't interested in working with numbers or the competitive aspects of business (Se+Te). These real-world exigencies are far from the mental realm that Steffi tends to inhabit when given the choice.

Some other strengths Steffi describes herself with are: empathetic, adaptable, creative, reflective, receptive. All traits that are reasonably typical of IEIs.

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Saturday, April 20, 2019

Friday, April 19, 2019

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Masculinity and femininity

There is a small mismatch between how socionics divides up concepts and our everyday concepts, as well as other systems of thought.

Intuitively we have an idea of what it means to be harsh vs. to be nice. Socionically this is primarily Se vs. Si, with Se being harsh and Si being "nice". However, niceness also has a ethical quality which involves how you actively manage your relationship with others. For example, SLIs are "nice" in the sense that they generally avoid conflict and blend in, yet they are not "nice" in the sense that they go out of their way to make people feel good. In fact they can sometimes seem grumpy or standoffish which are the opposite of "nice".

You can see this in how writers conceive of personality: they often will set up exemplars of a "nice character" or a "harsh character", and these characters end up being sort of unrealistic from a socionics point of view, a combination of LSI and SLI for example, the "gruff tough man" who is aggressive like an LSI yet does not display anything resembling Fe values. Arguably this could be seen as a "non-dualized" or "introverted" kind of LSI but in any case, the dynamics of the suggestive function are rarely captured in their full complexity.

This dichotomy is also known in a more formal sense as "yin/yang", or "jamal/jalal" (beauty/majesty) in the Islamic tradition. While it is close to Si/Se, an SLE or LSI is more likely to be considered a prototypical example of jalal than an SEE or ESI, who have certain "soft" qualities coming from Fi. The reason is that ethics is from the feminine principle while logic is from the masculine principle. So the most jamal type would be an Si valuing ethical type.

Masculinity means extroversion and logic at the dichotomy level, however at an IM element level we can say that Se is the most masculine element, Te and Ti are also masculine, Ne is slightly masculine, Ni is slightly feminine, Si is feminine, and Fe and Fi are clearly feminine.[1]

Men have traditionally taken the riskier role of hunters, warriors, and expanders of the family's resources, while women traditionally are maintainers of the home and caregivers, an Si role. This is one physical manifestation of a primordial dichotomy and spiritual reality.

When it comes to types, the problem is even more complex. ESE men are often highly masculine because they are more aware of gender expectations. While Si and Fe tend to accentuate the person's gender (and maybe to a lesser extent with Se and Fi), otherwise generally types are masculine or feminine according to the IM element scale above. According to my observations, women tend more often to be ethical types, and men logical types, but not by a lot (maybe 60/40).

[1] These connections were recognized by user szaulinska some time ago here, noting that the masculine always complements the feminine. However, notice that while Se is highly masculine, its complement Ni is the least feminine feminine element (or arguably even neutral).