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Discussion Starter #1
Note: I do realize that online tests are bad at identifying one's cognitive functions, so I'm not basing my logic on them.

I realize it's an important thing to study the cognitive functions one uses to learn how to live in the world in line with your strengths. However, one thing I noticed, was that all 16 MBTI types don't cover all the possible cognitive functions. Here's an example:

The only two type with Ni are: INTJ (Ni, Te, Fi, Se) and INFJ (Ni, Fe, Ti, Se). But what if someone has observed their functions to be something like Ni, Se, Fi, Te? Furthermore, is it necessary that the functions flip from introverted to extroverted? I'm having trouble seeing a pattern in how cognitive functions are laid out for each personality type that explains why many function-order possibilities are left out.

Final question: I've heard many times that developing shadow functions is a bad idea and you should focus on what you're good at, but imagine one has a shadow Fe but still wishes to improve their emotional communication skills (let's say for the sake of their significant other). Is this individual screwed?
 

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MOTM August 2012
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Well it would not be terribly uncommon for a Ni-dom to identify Ni and Se as his two strongest functions since those are in fact, at least his two most influential functions. The relationship the person has to Se may not be all wine and roses but the person may on some level recognize that way of looking at things more distinctly than say figuring out whether or not his thinking or feeling is introverted or extraverted.

There's a lot to be said and has been said about whether or not the functions deploy in a specified manner. Philosophically one could argue that dom>inf are sound ideas. Empirically its almost impossible to know for sure. Part of it is that there isn't a lot of agreement out there as to what the functions entail and how they manifest anyway. MBTi is different from Jung in many respects, which is different from Socionics and so forth. So without really a common baseline other than the names of the functions its basically impossible to know for sure. The few empirical studies that have been attempted have found no real correlation that type dynamics (Ni>Fe>Ti>Se, etc) exists in reality. But again the study might be in error trying to codify something philosophical too. Hard to know.
 

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How were these function orders determined? Were the 16 MBTI types determined first, then the function orders were determined empirically by looking at each type and seeing that they were consistent? Is there logical reasoning why all INTJs (according to jungian psychology) are Ni>Te>Fi>Se? Does this mean that there exists no on in the world who is Ni-dom and Fi-auxiliary? Why?

If it's to tedious to explain yourself, and you give links to a few discussions about the reasoning behind cognitive functions (and not just explanations)?

There's a point where classification gets too tedious and not very useful, but I think knowing about one's own function dynamics can prove useful in exploring personal growth and personal strengths. In fact most of the people I see talk about function dynamics suggest focusing solely on the functions and not at all on the MBTI letters. If this position were to be espoused then there needs to be justification that the function orders have actual meaning and validity.
 

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Personally (and these are my current thoughts on the matter based on where I'm at in terms of all this theory) I believe the cognitive functions are describing modes of behavioral tendencies based on the idea that INTJs, for example, are driven by intuition, then thinking, then feeling, then sensing as a general order of preference. As such there would necessarily be quite a bit of fluctuation between preference strength and order in the actual population. An INTJ with a weak T may come to rely on their other judging function, Fi, more than the "usual" profile. And I see no reason why an INTJ is forever barred from accessing Fe, Ne, Si, and Ti as well. We need all functions to survive optimally in the world and have to utilize them at some point, even if weakly and not very often.

Also, I believe that whole "don't develop your lower order functions" thing is nonsense. I think the healthiest thing for an INTJ to do is to balance their feeling and sensing sides. We already have all the thinking and intuition in the world, such that that unbalance is what defines our personality (same goes for all the other types). What we need to do is focus on the parts of ourselves that we have neglected in addition to utilizing our types' strengths. If you are a person who is especially mindful of your thoughts, become more mindful of your body. If you are a person who is especially mindful of your body, become more mindful of your thoughts.

Just my idea on the whole thing.
 

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How were these function orders determined? Were the 16 MBTI types determined first, then the function orders were determined empirically by looking at each type and seeing that they were consistent? Is there logical reasoning why all INTJs (according to jungian psychology) are Ni>Te>Fi>Se? Does this mean that there exists no on in the world who is Ni-dom and Fi-auxiliary? Why?

If it's to tedious to explain yourself, and you give links to a few discussions about the reasoning behind cognitive functions (and not just explanations)?

There's a point where classification gets too tedious and not very useful, but I think knowing about one's own function dynamics can prove useful in exploring personal growth and personal strengths. In fact most of the people I see talk about function dynamics suggest focusing solely on the functions and not at all on the MBTI letters. If this position were to be espoused then there needs to be justification that the function orders have actual meaning and validity.
I'll start with the four functions and the original theory. Thinking content excludes Feeling content and Sensing content excludes Intuition content because they are opposites. For example, we perceive information in two ways, tangible information through our senses or intuitive information through pattern recognition or something similar. We tend to favour one over the other. Since one is on the surface and one is behind the surface, we can't place equal importance on both. Our dominant function will select it's content and exclude the opposite. That's the reason for the inferior being opposite to the dominant.

The differentiated or dominant function is the aim/direction of consciousness. The other three functions are mostly unconscious. Consciousness has to have direction and can't function with conflicting aims, which is why only one function is dominant.

Consciousness selects its dominant function and it's conscious i or e attitude. Since extraversion is opposite introversion, when one is conscious the other is excluded and therefore becomes unconscious.

The orientation of the aux and tert functions are under debate. Some theorists believe that it's i,e,i,e some believe that it's i,i,e,e and others that it's i,e,e,e, etc.
 

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Personally I never thought that they had to be in an order, when I think of my Fe I think of it as the function that I present to the world around me rather than the function I use after I use my Ni. Ni Fe Ti Se are my functions, Ni gets priority as an observer becoming like my default mode and I supplement it with my Ti, I interact with my Se and present myself through my Fe.
 

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Socionics seems to be less shaky in this regard, although I've yet to delve deep enough to get any clear insight from a wider perspective.
 

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Json221 said:
How were these function orders determined? Were the 16 MBTI types determined first, then the function orders were determined empirically by looking at each type and seeing that they were consistent?


One has to examine the philosophy of what the functions model is likely getting at. I don't believe in categorizing what someone can and cannot do, because that's just nonsense --- you mark "I" "N" "F" and "P" on a bloody dichotomy test and are sure you prefer those options, and you can't understand Se for the life of you? Bullshit.

The basic premise I use is simple -- your dominant-inf axis is pretty self-explanatory. For your auxiliary/tertiary, think of it as how balance is brought to your dom-inf perspective. That's I think what the MBTI theorists envisioned it as.

How do you reconcile with external reality as an introvert? How do you adapt the ego to the subjective realm as an extrovert? This is performed by some function(s). Analyze what is going on there, and you'll have an idea as to your aux-tertiary "axis".
The idea is that the auxiliary is what helps you accommodate data that isn't your natural orientation.

A solid auxiliary should help the extrovert begin to incorporate the inner world, as well as help the rational type accommodate perception. That's the basic idea.

To say an Ni type can't Fi or Ti is ridiculous. But if Ni is their dominant type, their processing of subjective information will tend to be foremost intuitive.


 

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In addition to the idea of the dominant type being the most conscious, or the ego, it should also be noted that the dom function is also the most differentiated. This means it's the most closest to "pure cognition", not mixed up with non-cognitive stuff like emotions, memory, fantasy, physical sensations, etc. This is why all the functions are THINKING - or forms of cognition. But when less differentiated, they are often not experienced by the individual as "thought" the way their dominant is. This why the dominant feels like "yourself".

The inferior has to be repressed in order for the dominant to reach consciousness, because it opposes the dominant. But it has a big influence on people because in life, when anything "threatens" our ego, it's essentially asking us to use this inferior process. This means we kind of feel it as an antagonistic force in our own psychology. And because it is unconscious, it can show up negatively in the personality. It's usually negative because of how undifferentiated it is (mixed up with all that non-cognitive stuff), so it appears irrational or paranoid - basically a lot of projection.

However, Jung noted that no one is really a pure type, that most have a secondary function which develops as a complement to the dominant. It would have to be opposite in every way, so as not to oppose the dominant as the inferior does. That's why a T-dom would not be F-aux, but would have to be P-aux. If you take what Jung says to every aspect of a function, then this would include the function's I/E attitude also. A Ti-dom could not only NOT be F-aux, they could not be Pi-aux either. This leaves Pe for the auxiliary, meaning Ne or Se. Those functions could complement & not oppose the dominant enough to reach some level of differentiation.

So it's rare that a system based on Jung doesn't note an auxiliary patterns as - Je-Pi, Pe-Ji, and so on....
The tertiary is where it gets fuzzy because Jung just kind of deems everything else as party of some undifferentiated gobbly gook.

Jung also noted that some people may not even have ONE function that's differentiated. They may have still have an identifiable dominant, as far one that is perhaps more conscious, but they would not have a differentiated auxiliary. In any case, they would not be a pure type either, as even their dominant would still be mixed up with other functions. Or at least, that is my grasp of it in a nutshell.

The reason a lot of people think they use certain functions or all functions is due to a poor grasp of the theory. They equate functions to skills, traits, abilities. It's about whole mentality though, how one is oriented to consciousness. A person can have an orientation that is in terms of, say, extroverted intution (they have an outward focus on intangible patterns which evoke emerging potential and possibilities), but still be able to put together a rational argument just fine.

Lenore Thompson makes this comment about IFPs, but the same concept can be applied to all types:
"As stated in the other chapters, all types use the skills their inferior functions supplies, and IFPs are no exception. When their values lead them to pursue mathematics, accounting, medicine, or science, for example, IFPs are just as motivated and capable as Thinking types.

What's difficult for these types is the approach to life Extraverted Thinking [Te] fosters. To understand reality by way of general principles strikes IFPs as cold and dehumanizing. It reduces people to categories, robs them of their self-experience. IFPs don't see this viewpoint as a part of their own makeup, so it remains primitive and undeveloped, forming the basis of their stereotypes about others".
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Very interesting responses, thanks everyone. Any recommended readings to add?

I understand how the dom and inf functions have to be opposites for sure. And if this is the case (and functions must be i-e-i-e or e-i-e-i) I understand how there are only 16 types. However, I don't understand the logic behind why the functions cannot be i-i-e-e or i-e-e-e or something similar. For examples, an INTJ with a very well developed feeling might think his function order is Ni>Fi>Te>Se. I don't see any conflicts in this, except that perhaps two introverted functions might use up too much "brain power" or something.


@OrangeAppled, I notice you say that auxiliary and below functions are not even conscious. Can you explain this further? If this is the case, how are we supposed to know what functions we are using through any sort of introspection? Or is the point that we must simply reflect on our behaviors and discern what our unconscious functions are? For example, my tertiary function is Fi... I don't think I have control over it, but I notice it cropping up in my life. Does this mean people who are Fi-dom have total control over this function? Furthermore, what does it mean for an INTJ like myself to "consciously" choose to use Ni? You can see how I would be confused at this.

Cheers.
 

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Very interesting responses, thanks everyone. Any recommended readings to add?

I understand how the dom and inf functions have to be opposites for sure. And if this is the case (and functions must be i-e-i-e or e-i-e-i) I understand how there are only 16 types. However, I don't understand the logic behind why the functions cannot be i-i-e-e or i-e-e-e or something similar. For examples, an INTJ with a very well developed feeling might think his function order is Ni>Fi>Te>Se. I don't see any conflicts in this, except that perhaps two introverted functions might use up too much "brain power" or something.

Can't speak for all of us, but this happens to me fairly often and I am miserable when it does. I have to do something to put Te back in its proper place or I will go into a spiral of despair and self-righteousness, neither of which is very fun at all.
 
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