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Thread: The Usefulness of Socionics: Limitation and Progression in Understanding

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    Default The Usefulness of Socionics: Limitation and Progression in Understanding

    Note: This is long. And I'm not going to edit it, or edit out my side comments and personal remarks. Have fun.


    This isn't a 'new' concept, just my latest take on it, I suppose. I want to bring it up here because, I suppose, I see it as a relevant matter of actually understanding socionics, or, putting it in perspective.


    First, remarks on what I see or have seen in regard to how people come to socionics and use it, as per my 5 years here on this forum. Then I will address what socionics "has jurisdiction over". I'll conclude with my latest thoughts, and how it fits into everything aforementioned. I'll attempt to be extremely brief and concise.

    -

    I see a lot of people coming to the forum in search of understanding something about themselves. Others, too, but mostly themselves. Socionics is "some sort of reasoning" to be applied to who they are. Many people seem to come here initially as I did - a younger person trying to put some sense to how they are themselves, but also how that self is seemingly different from others. So it is part identity formulation, and part diagnosis of how relationship interactions played out. The curious thing that happens here is an identification with certain traits - such as, "because I am ___ (temperment/dominant function/quadra), this is normal; or x is explained; or this relationship makes sense). It's a very personal and subjective manner of identifying with certain characteristics, behaviors, or associations. It, perhaps, is a 'necessary evil' in the development of socionics, as it is almost one of the most common and easiest ways of actually developing socioncs 'understanding' and terminology; of making 'sense' of what socionics is in regard to your personal self image and relational history.

    Why do I say necessary evil? Because, ideally, over time, one realizes the flaws inherent with the thinking. Over time it becomes clear that a person's psychological type is not an accumulation of certain observe behavioral patterns "All INTx types are nerds that only read books all day"; rather, diagnosing a situation based on functional alignment and psychological lopsidedness (in addition to the myriad other factors of what someone does) - "She has trouble ending the conversation because she has a hard time imposing her own wants (weak Se) but wants to maintain positive relations (Fi in ego)". As you develop understanding of what socionics is and isn't, it becomes more clear why "elements" are called "elements", and "functions" are called "functions"; what functional slot an element is located in is related to the varying levels of priority that element is given, when 'metabolizing' information. So it comes down to what actually influences decision making, rather than what the decisions are. That, ultimately, is the core of what socionics is. Quadra values, clubs, even temperments - those are all manifestations, in a way, of the lopsidedness of psychological nature (if not direct manifestations, they are items that fit easily enough into it, it seems -- I'd have to read more of Jungs work to see if he describes temperments in detail, in how they are used in socionics --- things like that).

    To remain 'concise', I won't elaborate, but instead offer a small recap: initial learning of socionics often leads to stereotyping and development of certain misconceptions based on certain identification -- which can be particularly so based off of formative situations in terms of developing your socionics knowledge base (that is, someone of a certain type being THE MODEL for all people of that type, or, of that IE, or that quadra/etc). Then there is a slow refinement of those initial understandings, and perhaps a reconsideration of how you personally relate to "your socionics type", and the nature of identification. Perhaps, also, circumstances in one's life change and the driving factors for your interest in socionics shift; the need for you to procure such a knowledge about people and psychology evolves or shifts somehow. ...All of which leads to various possible outcomes: a 'rejection' of socionics, a 'retrenchment' into initial stereotypes, a real curiosity to understand it better, an ambiguity about its use or relation to you, etc etc.

    And now to my final point: 'going beyond socionics'. I don't actually know how to phrase it, but, it's more or less where I am right now. Basically, I see myself as totally understanding what socionics is and is not (it's not a 'mark of superiority', it's just that it has its end, it's limit of applicability). So what now? I see a lot of parts of myself that I want to 'change' and grow, things I want to do. And how does what I know about myself via socionics fit into that?

    I realize two things that scare me a great deal: 1) how much I mentally limited myself in terms of assuming "Because I am type XXXx, these following things are normal, acceptable, natural". Again, I go back to the first item of this essay: initial stereotypes and self-image, identification - but at the same time, there being some element of truth therein. And 2) how much in reality I do have clear behavioral patterns and tendencies. Words fail me at how to best describe the difference between 1 and 2, but it is very important. It is important because the differences are not the same; 1 is more of a mental limiting of what you see as possible or reasonable, whereas 2 is a more objective record of what has happened and how your mind seems to prefer to deal with situations - habits, almost, and how they relate to what actually has happened.

    A personal example for this part of the essay is in regard to 'intuition', in the generic sense: planning and visions and so on, and to some extent, "knowing what you want". I have in the past and at various times attributed my 'perceived weaknesses' in this area as me being weak in regard to Ni and Ne. Let's look at a quote I saw earlier today, and relate to:

    Quote Originally Posted by Expat
    Let us change the car into a boat sailing along a river: the ENTj will want to be in control of the journey, to feel that the goal will be reached when the ENTj wishes (but not necessarily according to a pre-established schedule), so the ENTj will, again, focus on the journey itself, possible obstacles, and act to avoid them and compensate for them. The ENTj will want the boat to sail smoothly but its state is important to the ENTj only as a means to an end; the ENTj will tend to neglect the appearance and tidiness of the boat, and will check on its engines but not very enthusiastically; the ENTj is a bit impatient with doing that. The ESTj, though, will pay the closest attention to the state of the boat in its details, and will be inclined to comparatively neglect the flow of the journey itself - or go the opposite way and concentrate on a rigid, pre-fixed schedule.
    (source: http://www.the16types.info/vbulletin...ead.php?t=7305)
    However, even being fully cognizant of that inclination within me, I realize that any effort to "Get better at it" comes outside of socionics. That might be confusing to say, or obvious to say; it is both and more to me. I am torn between "accepting" what that weakness is, what Ni porl implies, and trying to get around it or do better at it. And curiously, I realize that in some ways, the more I am around 'deltas' or people I get along with in general, the more it isn't that big a deal; more directly what I mean here is that it is very easy for me to find people who don't really mind that I am that way.

    (For a rough example: Delta NFs more or less give me helpful, if not sometimes distraught, warnings in ways that I find perfectly palatable. And it is almost alarming in how much I enjoy such remarks, it is almost sedative or calming, to the point where I 'expect' someone to be like that. Which is comforting but also somewhat threatening or disturbing - I don't understand or know what to make of its implications, other than what I already know about socionics and human interdependency tendencies)

    But this goes more than, IMO, the notion of 'using duals as a crutch' or anything like that - it comes down to how I actually view myself and my psyche; in a large part my self image. Do I see myself as someone who "is just going to settle at having 'intuition' problems?", or not? If I make a decision about that, is it arbitrary? It's difficult to say, sort of.


    I suppose my 'conclusion' is this: the course of learning socionics reminds me of learning other disciplines and fields of study, particularly martial arts in the more traditional sense (some of them anyway), and perhaps music, too. This is to say: you start by practicing very simple things, memorizing them, and slowly integrating it into your awareness and subconscious. Then you become proficient at executing those 'stored' chunks of information, still in their unrefined form; regurgitation of various sorts, if you will. Then there is a development beyond regurgitation into actual creation, into expansion of new awarenesses and more full use of all available resources, a sort of synergy.

    So that's where I am now - I don't mean "I have mastered socionics and now I am fully integrated and synergistic", I more so mean that such is how I see things now. I see my path forward as learning to develop more that synergy, and that creativity. I know that psychological type and lopsidedness is there and always will be there, to some extent - I've mentioned before I see it as a 'psychological skeleton', there are things you cannot change. And, like a fingerprint almost, it will always leave a certain mark on how someone does things. But, within all of that, there are individualizations and growths, there are exercise and atrophy, and there is human error and creativity.

    In one sense, it is a returning to reality; in one sense it is forgetting socionics and letting go, and just thinking again "well, what do I want to be or do?". It's a sort of coming full circle (and in this way, it reminds me of other various references of accumulating wisdom and understanding life). But it also points to those things that are clearly outside of socionics.


    Why is a Te dominant not productive at certain things? How come an Se dominant cannot confront things? How come this Fi dominant is questioning her morality?


    If there is one thing I would like to articulate specifically so as to point out what actually inspired me to write all of this, it has something to do with limitations - but not socionics related ones. I've been trying to stab at it this entire essay and I still don't think I've gotten it. So here's one last try... it's nothing new to say, but, ultimately what brings about a 'weakness' or 'lack of skill' at something isn't, or at least doesn't seem to be related to socionics, in and of itself. It's something within the mind and spirit of someone, and socionics, as I see it, is good at explaining someone's path of entropy; a preferred method for handling things, a massive coping mechanism for reality.

    I really must read more of Jung, I think, perhaps that is my personal next step. I wonder what he saw in people that led him to observing such things.

    To continue, it seems like there are a few options for actually "developing" as a person:

    • trying to find other people who naturally support your 'weaknesses', either by "not caring" about them or "constructive criticism" if you want to get better
    • avoiding people and situations that are problematic or uncomfortable
    • becoming aware of your own tendencies and trying to address them yourself
      • One of the ways of doing this is to not actually challenge or try to augment yourself, but develop 'counter strategies' to offset your inclinations. (If you remember the LSE example from Expat, where the LSE created very rigid plans and tried to enforce them - that could be one version of it. Another version would be, perhaps, an LSE learning from that tendency and trying to intentionally create multiple plans of review plans more consciously, more consciously trying to be flexible -- but still 'accepting' that the LSE will be as such)
      • Another would be actual direct intention of trying to augment or change yourself. I don't know how to describe this, and I don't know if it's possible - I feel like I've done it at times but I suppose there is no way to verify my successes, or failures. Compared to the previous example, this would be more... defiant of any perceived weaknesses, and less inclined to 'settle' for the self as being a certain way, ie, following the prescriptions of a type.


    You could draw countless remarks there - even about me, the author. Why are you so concerned with weaknesses? Are you focusing more on Ti or Te? It's almost like a question of rationality vs rationality, isn't it -- trying to define things vs moving on with them? Etc etc etc


    Perhaps I ought to say that one possible explanation for all of this is that, after studying the human mind for as long as I have, I'm challenging what it can and can't do. Maybe it's just a manifestation of Ne HA in that I 'see' all that a person or mind could be, but I really don't know how to get there, or if it can happen. But I feel like a certain state is possible. And I question very much a lot of mental structures and rationalizations and coping mechanisms that are in place; the sense of security that people give themselves because of seeing their actions as "making sense" according to a theory or even a personal sense of identity. There's much skepticism and questioning of what the essence of someone truly is.

    I don't know.

    I've had such 'grim' closing to my understandings about people and life lately, and apparently this is no exception. Perhaps, for myself, this is a personal matter of me figuring out how to believe or accept meaning in something, even if I can disassemble it entirely. It's somewhat unnerving when people seem like robots and poorly crafted embodiments of functions and types, just organic machines.

    Maybe it is true, that saying "Admiration is the furthest emotion away from comprehension"; the flip side would be something about how comprehension seems to produce some sort of a void or lack of emotion, or warmth.

    :/
    Heh, I want to get a hug from a delta NF now.

    So what does that tell you about everything I just wrote?
    Pre-2013 post are written with incomplete understanding.

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    I am torn between "accepting" what that weakness is, what Ni porl implies, and trying to get around it or do better at it. And curiously, I realize that in some ways, the more I am around 'deltas' or people I get along with in general, the more it isn't that big a deal; more directly what I mean here is that it is very easy for me to find people who don't really mind that I am that way.
    I think I know how you feel. This feeling may never go away, actually.

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    This was a good read.

    Hell, if you stripped away all of the personal context you could sticky it in the General Discussion forum for all new users to see. Everyone should come into Socionics understanding what it can, and more importantly, what it can't do.
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    Quote Originally Posted by thehotelambush View Post
    I think I know how you feel. This feeling may never go away, actually.
    I've been considering that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Knight View Post
    This was a good read.

    Hell, if you stripped away all of the personal context you could sticky it in the General Discussion forum for all new users to see. Everyone should come into Socionics understanding what it can, and more importantly, what it can't do.
    I thought about doing that, too, because I prefer when people do that. Maybe I'll rewrite it later.

    I'm surprised people wanted to read enough of that to comment on it. well done.
    Pre-2013 post are written with incomplete understanding.

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    Seems to me to be the logical progression.

    If we start trying to find 'ourselves', we're going to look at basic manifestations of who is like who, which will be highly detailed 'stagnant' information.

    Once we get a sense of the dynamic nature of humanity, and why each person varies so much from situation to situation, we get a sense of why a person can be both loud and quiet or emotional and cold and still have a clearly defined 'identity'.

    Getting to the theory itself and it's understanding, ultimately there are some flaws in every theory, particularly ones such as socionics that don't lend themselves to scientific verification, and we gain an understanding that is 'beyond' the theory. And even if it were perfect, it's much too modularized an existence to stay at the level of 'the theory'. But of course, the error in it is a matter of perspective (roughly speaking), and your understanding for practical use can only be translated into a less accurate form for others to learn from.

    I don't really know the best way to make this into an accessible FAQ, but hopefully I've hit the main points.

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    Perspective is the biggest issue, in my opinion.
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    So, I want to see if I completely understand you. You used to think that Socionics was useful as a way of becoming a stronger and better person, and now you're doubting that?

    I don't see it as a way to make myself better at weak functions. I see it as a way to help me negotiate relationshps in the real world. I worked with an LSI and I so did not get her. I thought something was literally wrong with her. I wish I'd known about Socionics then so I could see that nothing was wrong with her, and that she probably looked at me in the same way I looked at her. I later volunteered with an LSI, and we got along SO MUCH better just by me understanding that she's just the way she is and that it's OK and that the world needs each of us the way we are, with our own particular strengths. Also, I think that weakness in one function is the other side of the coin if you're strong in the corresponding function. Like if you're strong at Ne, you necessarily have to be weak at Se, and that it's OK for that as well, so long as there still are people in the world who are strong at Se. The world needs each of us as we are.

    Anyway, the only way I find it to be useful is in how it helps me understand people and relationships between people better. I don't personally see it as a self-discovery or self-improvement too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mariella View Post
    I worked with an LSI and I so did not get her. I thought something was literally wrong with her. I wish I'd known about Socionics then so I could see that nothing was wrong with her, and that she probably looked at me in the same way I looked at her. I later volunteered with an LSI, and we got along SO MUCH better just by me understanding that she's just the way she is and that it's OK and that the world needs each of us the way we are, with our own particular strengths. Also, I think that weakness in one function is the other side of the coin if you're strong in the corresponding function.
    This is like the best post in this thread so far.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mariella View Post
    So, I want to see if I completely understand you. You used to think that Socionics was useful as a way of becoming a stronger and better person, and now you're doubting that?
    That's not what I think, no.

    I don't see it as a way to make myself better at weak functions. I see it as a way to help me negotiate relationshps in the real world. I worked with an LSI and I so did not get her. I thought something was literally wrong with her. I wish I'd known about Socionics then so I could see that nothing was wrong with her, and that she probably looked at me in the same way I looked at her. I later volunteered with an LSI, and we got along SO MUCH better just by me understanding that she's just the way she is and that it's OK and that the world needs each of us the way we are, with our own particular strengths.
    Ok. I don't particularly disagree or 'see anything wrong' in that.

    Also, I think that weakness in one function is the other side of the coin if you're strong in the corresponding function. Like if you're strong at Ne, you necessarily have to be weak at Se, and that it's OK for that as well, so long as there still are people in the world who are strong at Se. The world needs each of us as we are.
    Sure. I suppose that's not what I'm addressing, though.

    Anyway, the only way I find it to be useful is in how it helps me understand people and relationships between people better. I don't personally see it as a self-discovery or self-improvement too.
    I think that is healthy.
    Pre-2013 post are written with incomplete understanding.

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    To try to give more of a response,

    I want to avoid wading into the muck of "if I'm weak in Xx, does that mean I can't be good at it?". I don't like how that is framed.

    Briefly, the OP was about a progression of coming to socionics, the learning process, things that come up in it, and where it leaves you or leads you. I don't see socionics as a "self improvement tool"; rather, I see myself as interested in self-improvement, self discovery, whatever. And I'm commenting on how socionics fits into that - which I stated is rather limited as such.

    Socionics can be useful in alerting you to certain psychological implications of yourself and others, "tendencies" and/or understanding of certain decision making mechanisms.

    I speculated about whether or not some of those decision making mechanisms I have can be change, or whether or not I want to change them, or whether I could change them if I wanted to.

    For what it's worth, I pretty much don't advocate socionics is "the answer" for anything, for 'a good marriage', for finding your dual and having a good relationship, for self identification, or for self improvement.
    Pre-2013 post are written with incomplete understanding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryu View Post
    (For a rough example: Delta NFs more or less give me helpful, if not sometimes distraught, warnings in ways that I find perfectly palatable. And it is almost alarming in how much I enjoy such remarks, it is almost sedative or calming, to the point where I 'expect' someone to be like that. Which is comforting but also somewhat threatening or disturbing - I don't understand or know what to make of its implications, other than what I already know about socionics and human interdependency tendencies)
    I realize this doesn't have to do with the core of what you were trying to talk about, but it stuck out to me and inspired me to say:

    If you gain comfort from the warnings, be fair and give some comfort back by actually heeding them. It gets very discouraging and eventually entirely off-putting to be ignored when I'm trying to convey something that I consider important. Gaining comfort yourself and then just leaving us in a distraught condition is selfish and leech-like.
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    I don't really worry about what functions I'm weak in and what it means. I guess I just don't frame it that way in my head. Like I'm IEE, so weak in Ti. But I love doing logic puzzles. Is that despite being weak in Ti, or do I use something else? I don't know - I don't use Socionics categories to define it. If you want to improve at something, why worry about which function it relates to? Maybe thinking about tangible areas where you'd like to improve and working on that without thinking about what it means within the framework of Socionics would be better?

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    Undecided as to what I want to say here. But, I want to say something. Maybe I'll come back to it later.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mariella View Post
    I don't really worry about what functions I'm weak in and what it means. I guess I just don't frame it that way in my head. Like I'm IEE, so weak in Ti. But I love doing logic puzzles. Is that despite being weak in Ti, or do I use something else? I don't know - I don't use Socionics categories to define it. If you want to improve at something, why worry about which function it relates to? Maybe thinking about tangible areas where you'd like to improve and working on that without thinking about what it means within the framework of Socionics would be better?
    It's funny, your advice reminds me exactly of another IEE I know.
    Pre-2013 post are written with incomplete understanding.

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    It's almost spring where I am. My favorite time of year. I'm very much a seasonal person, and socionics for me is for the cold bleak days of winter, when I'm contemplative and want to analyze.

    It has it's uses throughout the year, and in proper perspective can be beneficial. I see how you're trying to gain a kind of balanced perspective, but I'll tell you what I've found to be useful, personally. Most people immediately say "intertype relationships" are the most important aspect of socionics, and that's true, but I have a little different angle perhaps.

    I have these unique strengths and gifts that I've always had, and my socionics type enhances them. I have spent far too much time trying to develop my weak areas, and it's a fruitless approach. That's the kind of problem I see in self-improvement of weaknesses. You focus on where you might be "deficient" and you miss your real talents. Now here's where intertype relationships start to come in. Positive type relationships enhance your strengths. They draw attention to them, and allow you to focus on and develop them to be your own best self. Negative type relationships cause you to notice and focus on your weaknesses, tearing you down, causing stress, and a loss of self.

    And there's something else. When you are operating in accordance with who you are, and moving towards those things you are natural and strong in, you're not unbalanced or neurotic. You're healthier, and you don't have glaring weak points. Further, you are better for other people to be around, and become a positive influence on your good type relationships, and less negative, even neutral or positive towards other types as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by squark
    It's almost spring where I am. My favorite time of year. I'm very much a seasonal person, and socionics for me is for the cold bleak days of winter, when I'm contemplative and want to analyze.
    Wow, I didn't realize this til you said it, but I'm exactly the same way. My interest in socionics starts to pick up at the end of fall and then starts fading at the beginning of spring... or maybe I just latch onto socionics in the middle of the school year when life seems most hopeless.

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