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Discussion Starter #1
I didn't know if I should post this here or in the MBTI forum. I've been a believer of the MBTI for a decade now, but I've never studied the functions until this past week. Gaining understanding of the different functions helped me to confirm my type and is helping me as I try to type other people. I've begun thinking that knowing one's type is not what's important but knowing the functions behind that type. That's what's helping me understand myself and others.

Yet, every type really is unique, and it doesn't flow how you think it would. For instance, an ENFP is not just an extraverted INFP; they really are a completely separate type. SPs in disguise is what I like to call them. And then there's the phenomena of two types that seemingly should have nothing in common but yet seem to mimic each other (sorry, can't think of any examples; just something I've heard). And I can identify with other INFPs. But I notice that a lot of people don't identify with others in their type.

So, my question is this: With what viewpoint should we be looking at types as? As a whole? INFP. ENFP. Or as a sum of different cognitive functions? Fi, Ne, Si, Te. Or even, as a sum of cognitive functions, with each one to a different degree? Is one of these ways better or more accurate?
 

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MOTM August 2012
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Personally I would look at this from the standpoint of the entire person's psyche. The functions represent a very small portion (even in MBTI) of the entire psychology of a person. Sometimes we, I think, attach too much to the functions when in reality they are just ways of thinking and processing.

Jung breaks the types down basically by dominant function and the Jungians generally refer to people as Extraverted Intuitive, or Introverted Sensation type and this is probably broad enough, yet to the point enough to accurately evaluate a person typologically. To go as far as to say ENFP or ISFJ, I think makes too many assumptions and forces people into boxes that might actually be too narrow for them to fit in as individuals.

When you begin to look at this from a broader context than just MBTI you begin to realize that there are a lot of aspects to a person's psychology that impact how they behave, how they think, and reducing it all down to four functions or something like judging and perceiving is probably much too oversimplified. It's a decent metric for quick and dirty evaluations but not for really understanding the complexities of the psyche and human experience. So when we say Introverted Intuitive, we can make certain assumptions (that person generally is self-focused cognition wise, that they might have issues around Sensation, etc.) but we don't have to go as far as say MBTI does and state "and they all have to be closure-seeking (judgers)," which to me takes it a step too far. Because now you are forcing behavioral characterizations onto a type that may not necessarily fit those standards.

I'd take a look at the first article by Daryl Sharp in http://personalitycafe.com/cognitiv...k-guide-understanding-jungian-psychology.html to help better understand the bigger picture here. Whether or not you choose to jump down the CG Jung rabbit-hole is up to you, but the short story is that psychology is actually much, much bigger than something as simple as type or functions. They are just mechanisms in a much larger theory of the psychological system.
 

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Right. I know that who a person is, is determined by much more than just their type. There's considerations like how they were raised and what experiences they've been through, and we all have individual quirks that have nothing to do with type. I guess I'm just talking about in the word of typology, forgetting about the bigger picture. But maybe that can't be done.

And your reply leads to another question I have, which is how to approach types and functions in general. I know they're definitely not the end all be all. So are they more of a guideline or reference point? A jumping off point? A piece of the puzzle? Are they more helpful to an individual trying to understand themselves rather than one using them to try to understand other people?

And I've seen others, I guess approaching all of this from the Jungian perspective, say that the current groupings of NFs, SPs, etc., don't make sense and that we should go back to grouping by IP, EJ, etc. So I wonder how possibly inaccurate groupings hamper our understanding and if we grouped them better if that would make typology more effective.

I realize I'm throwing out a lot of general questions here, and this probably isn't the place for it. I've just started researching this stuff this week, so maybe I'm being premature by starting a thread like this and asking questions like this, and I just need to go and do more research to find the answers. Sorry if that's the case. :unsure:
 

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I made a rushed picture of my mental map of MBTI/Jung for fun. It's a lot to keep in mind, I think there's use for all categorizations depending on the situation or context, but this "compass" is mainly for SJ/SP/NJ/NT their opposites, and upon that the 8 main functions described by Jung.

MBTI compass.jpg

I mean... How can you categorize that in a simple way?
 

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I see the types as a combination of functions.
To take you example, an ENFP isn't just an extroverted INFP because it doesn't use the functions in the same order, and thus those functions don't interact with each other in the same way. You can't see those differences if you look at the functions individually.

I find that the theory is a lot more accurate when you look at how people process information instead of focusing on behaviors. That's why I'm not a big fan of profiles descriptions anymore.
 

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So, my question is this: With what viewpoint should we be looking at types as? As a whole? INFP. ENFP. Or as a sum of different cognitive functions? Fi, Ne, Si, Te. Or even, as a sum of cognitive functions, with each one to a different degree? Is one of these ways better or more accurate?
How about both? If you want to describe traits of types then you need to look at type as a whole. Most people choose type going by tests and profiles so this is where they start. Next you can look at combinations of functions and elements. A lot of this work has been done already in socionics. Different combinations of functions and elements yielded something called Reinin dichotomies. Further putting those together revealed existence of four cognitive styles, which describe the overall cognitive pattern of types that arise from holistic combination of information elements (Te, Se, Fi, etc.) and functions (dominant, auxiliary, etc.).
 

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And your reply leads to another question I have, which is how to approach types and functions in general. I know they're definitely not the end all be all. So are they more of a guideline or reference point? A jumping off point? A piece of the puzzle? Are they more helpful to an individual trying to understand themselves rather than one using them to try to understand other people?

And I've seen others, I guess approaching all of this from the Jungian perspective, say that the current groupings of NFs, SPs, etc., don't make sense and that we should go back to grouping by IP, EJ, etc. So I wonder how possibly inaccurate groupings hamper our understanding and if we grouped them better if that would make typology more effective.
I think a guideline or reference point is probably a safe bet. But I would caution into reading too much into so-and-so is an XXXX and thus will always be like x and his brother is a YYYY and will always be like something else. That overgeneralizes.

I don't think its the groupings themselves that hamper people's understandings of the types. Taken in and of themselves Kiersey's groupings do exactly what he set out to accomplish. The problem is that people don't recognize that Kiersey's groupings aren't really founded in any Jungian theory. They're more like nicknames for his temperaments but it causes problems when say someone identifies with the NT temperament despite not actually being an NT (INFJs for example have this happen a lot). Many people think they are NFs because they identify with Kiersey's NF description or they think they are Idealists (and they may in fact be idealists) but they are functionally not NFs (many are ESFJs or ISFJs or even ISFPs). So that's the problem is learning to separate the two theories that have somehow been interwoven into one idea (even the MBTI casually uses Kiersey's grouping terminology like SJ and NF, despite the fact that functionally these don't make a whole lot of sense). Again Kiersey is dealing much more with social roles not really psychology. Different personas people might wear loosely based on MBTI's type theory. So you sort of have to either go with Kiersey, or go with MBTI (and effectively many times they are the same thing), or go back to basics with Jung and get a much more coherent theory, but one that might be too deep for most casual type enthusiasts (but remember Myers is a behavioralist and as such focused on outer behavior like Kiersey, where Jung is a psychologist dealing with the mind itself so it really does matter what approach you are looking at this from. You can't really mix the two because they're attempting to do two very different things).
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I see the types as a combination of functions.
To take you example, an ENFP isn't just an extroverted INFP because it doesn't use the functions in the same order, and thus those functions don't interact with each other in the same way. You can't see those differences if you look at the functions individually.

I find that the theory is a lot more accurate when you look at how people process information instead of focusing on behaviors. That's why I'm not a big fan of profiles descriptions anymore.

Yes, I'm seeing how the profiles are not very reliable. So what makes a type is their functions, the order of these functions, and how those functions interact together. There are lots of type descriptions out there and lots of articles explaining the functions, but are there any articles/books that explain how the functions work in each type, how each type processes information? Like, for INFP, let's talk about how the order of Fi, Ne, Si, and Te work together to produce this type.

There is so much confusion out there as to what type each person is. So many people can't decide between two types, like INFJ or INFP. If they understood how the thought processes worked in each type, would that clear the confusion?

Right now, I'm very confused and wondering if there is anything to type theory or if we're all too complex and fluid to be categorized at all, and it's all just bunk. I know it's not the end all, but is there anything to it? Since I learned about the types, I've thought there was definitely something to it. Not all encompassing, but a pretty darn good guideline. Now I'm very confused and not sure anymore.
 

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There is so much confusion out there as to what type each person is. So many people can't decide between two types, like INFJ or INFP. If they understood how the thought processes worked in each type, would that clear the confusion?
In this case yes since INFP and INFJ are nothing alike.

In your case though I would ask yourself what are you trying to figure out? Your behavior or social role, or persona (the mask you wear outwardly) or are you trying to come up with a way of understanding your psychology? Because there are very different approaches depending on what you are attempting.
 

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The whole and the "sum" of cognitive functions actually turn out to not be mutually exclusive....
 
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Yes, I'm seeing how the profiles are not very reliable. So what makes a type is their functions, the order of these functions, and how those functions interact together. There are lots of type descriptions out there and lots of articles explaining the functions, but are there any articles/books that explain how the functions work in each type, how each type processes information? Like, for INFP, let's talk about how the order of Fi, Ne, Si, and Te work together to produce this type.
Yes. There are books out there, but the thing to keep in mind is it's mostly interpretations of how things interact. You'll find that there is a lot more variety in how people believe something manifests within a specific type/ theoretical functioning order (Dominant Fe versus Inferior Fe) etc. There are more traditional approaches when it comes to function, and there's more throwing in together whatever works sort of system.

There is so much confusion out there as to what type each person is. So many people can't decide between two types, like INFJ or INFP. If they understood how the thought processes worked in each type, would that clear the confusion?
It certainly helps. The thing is, there are people out there who are a lot more varied in function identification. For example, a person who identifies a lot with both Fe and Fi to the extent that it's difficult to figure out which they have a natural preference for or which one is developed basic model. At that point, one would normally look to to the next set of functions in order to determine things (Auxillary, Tertiary, Inferior) to see if a pattern matches up, but it's not definite that it will show up.

Right now, I'm very confused and wondering if there is anything to type theory or if we're all too complex and fluid to be categorized at all, and it's all just bunk. I know it's not the end all, but is there anything to it? Since I learned about the types, I've thought there was definitely something to it. Not all encompassing, but a pretty darn good guideline. Now I'm very confused and not sure anymore.
Type theory is a good basic categorization system. It can explain a lot of things. When you think about things in terms of bell curve norms, it's pretty useful in that sense.
 
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