Apr 22, 2019

Jordan Peterson's Socionic Type

Against my better judgment, I'm going to do that ridiculous act where you attach a label to someone's body-mind after several hours of deliberation for no reason at all other than a kind of empty intellectual satisfaction.

Preface: I like JP and his ideas a lot. He's brilliant and riveting, even moving.

Jordan Peterson: EIE

My initial thought was IEE, but inconsistencies quickly emerged:

- persona not disarming enough; too dark for an IEE
- generates too much passionate devotion in online admirers
- too verbally fluid
- shamelessly and without caveats categorizes (labels) people and groups of people, particularly ideological opponents
- systematically, calculatingly participates in potentially combative situations and seems to feed off the tension
- doesn't pursue relaxation in the moment, comes across as tense and brooding
- prefers formal attire and, apparently, employment in reliable formal structures (e.g. university)

Let's flesh out the typing.

Somatotype: high ectomorphy, fairly high mesomorphy, very low endomorphy. Translation: a loner preoccupied with being true to himself, managing an overactive nervous system, and achieving desired outcomes through focused hard work.

Somewhat more extraverted than introverted (at least in the popular sense, and according to his own words). Expansive gestures and movements. Tends more to "overdo" than to "underdo" things.

Very high IQ. That means very big ideas, especially for an intuitive type.

Other observations: rather high-pitched voice with typical male compensation (overusing the lower end of his vocal range to sound deeper) and resulting frequent loss of vocal range and quality.

Why not a logical type?

- passionate, moving, and devotional
- apparent logicalness can be explained by intellect and ectomorphy
- tends not to talk about things that will have no emotional impact
- all interests tie into the humanities, particularly to human nature and how to best navigate it
- very deep insight into psychology, religion, and the psyche
- skillfully harnesses anger during debates, and doesn't just address opponents' faulty logic
- comments broadly and authoritatively on general life issues
- he really cares about issues, and you can sense it; he cares more than you do!

Random observations:

- defends the inherent purpose of hierarchies ("aristocratic" vs. "democratic" style, so Beta or Delta quadra)
- needs an enemy or opponent to perform best; likes to get a bit riled up

Mar 2, 2019

It's Not Your Fault You're Unhappy (or Happy)

I would like to propose a sweeping explanation for why different people's lives turn out so differently. We'll start at the level of sub-minds and end up at the societal and demographic level, then return to the hopeless predicament of the individual, possibly introducing a ray of optimism (I won't make any promises).


Let's start with the idea of internal conflict or harmony.

Internal conflict can be understood as a situation where different sub-minds are fighting among themselves to gain control over the individual's behavior. Internal harmony is when all or most sub-minds are on board with what is happening. 

I'm taking the concept of sub-minds from the book The Mind Illuminated, by John Yates. Here's the definition he gives (p. 429):

"Sub-minds: Autonomous units that have their own specialty and function to perform within the mind-system as a whole… [In addition to sub-minds within the sensory mind], there are, for instance, sub-minds responsible for abstract thinking, pattern recognition, emotions, arithmetic, and verbal logic, to name only a few of the higher-level activities of the discriminating mind. Other sub-minds… are responsible for emotions, such as anger, fear, and love. The narrating mind is yet another sub-mind of the discriminating mind."

In another part of the book (p. 315) he states: "In the ordinary, untrained and un-unified mind, much of the energy generated by individual sub-minds gets used up in inner conflicts, many of them unconscious."

To develop our line of thought we need to accept as a given that: 

  1. People are born with different stable traits or tendencies (though not all traits are stable, and not all stable traits are inborn or "genetic").
  2. Traits and tendencies take the form of a particular configuration or relationship of sub-minds which persistently shape thought and behavior outside of conscious control (though in a minuscule percentage of cases there may be a conscious sense of "choosing").
  3. External forces, whether physical, social, economic, etc., also shape thought and behavior.

Why does one person grow up with conflicting sub-minds, and another doesn't? 

The environment he or she grows up — family, community, society — "rubs" the person's innate traits and tendencies a certain way. The environment sends signals that "you need to think and behave a certain way." If that way (ways) are in line with your traits and tendencies, you get the green light and can largely allow yourself to "be yourself." If not, you get the red light and develop internal mechanisms for "overriding" those traits and tendencies. 

Of course, no one gets to fully "be themselves." We're talking about degrees here. One person might generally get to be themselves, and another generally does not get to. 

Each family has its own internal environment, which is a function of the traits and tendencies of the leading members of the family (usually parents), their particular state of internal conflict or unity, and community, societal, and economic pressures which continually exert an influence on them.

Now we can see that, through no fault of their own, each person grows up with a particular relationship to their environment in the form of: "I get to let these sub-minds to express themselves, but not this one, this one, or this one."

The "ideal" situation is when a person allows nearly all their sub-minds to be as they are and experiences very little internal conflict in their home, community, or societal environment. 

This doesn't have to mean being a "typical" member of society. If the parents have non-typical traits and tendencies, but belong to a subculture or community within society that allows them to express their natural tendencies to a high degree, then they will experience less internal conflict, and any children of theirs with similar traits will also grow up in a similar state. However, there will come a time when these children realize that their traits and tendencies are wanted within that subculture, but no so much in society at large. 

This "friction" with the environment — whether in the home, community, or society — is literally that. Instead of being spent on useful activity, the individual's energy is dissipated as mental "heat," or resistance. People experiencing lots of friction, and thus internal conflict (resistance), are simply less likely to reproduce. Look around and you will see that this is the case. More friction with the environment = less children (on average). Less friction = more children. 

Thus, society encourages some people to reproduce and others not to. High friction means high internal conflict which means conflict among sub-minds which means lowered economic, social, and physical productivity. On a sexual level it usually translates into either blockage of the sexual program, sex with no thought of reproduction, or reproduction with no thought of material responsibility.

And yet "conflicted" people continue to appear in this world. How is this the case if reproductive pressure is against them? Well, society is far from uniform and — despite all the messages it sends us — doesn't actually want everyone to be the same. It doesn't actually need everyone to be the kind of person who is happy working every day from 9 to 6, living in a separate home with their nuclear family, being outwardly rather than inwardly focused, spending their entire adult life consuming, providing, and nurturing like good members of society.

In general, yes, society wants 80% of people to be like this. But it also needs 20% to be different. Most of the people we listen to, watch, or follow belong to the 20% who are "allowed" to express their sub-minds in a different way — by being overtly sexual, aggressive, impulsive, critical, obsessive, creative, outspoken, spiritual, etc. 

Of course, each of these people faced a great deal of friction growing up. Few of them have the degree of internal unity that many of their listeners / viewers / followers do. Often they pay a heavy price for whichever part of themselves they have made dominant (sexuality, aggression, impulsivity, criticism, obsession, creativity, outspokenness, spirituality, etc.).

So how is it that some people with conflicted sub-minds manage to "make it" (materially? reproductively?), while others do not? Does "making it" imply that they've achieved unity of their sub-minds? Far from it! I'm not even sure a focus on "making it" is useful since it prioritizes biological success over happiness. 

Heck, if biological success were so important to you, you wouldn't be reading this blog.

Instead, how about a focus on achieving unity of sub-minds? But is this even possible on a large scale? What if all the 50% or so of society that experiences significant internal conflict suddenly achieved unity of sub-minds? 

Society itself would necessarily change as a result. The current "cookie cutter" would largely dissolve, no longer being fed by aggressive promotion or by active resistance to it. People would feel that they are no longer being asked to be a certain way in order to please an abstract "society." There would be a sense of tolerance and encouraging people to develop naturally that we can only dream of. 

But are these "cookie cutter" forces only cultural in nature? Nope. Cultural wars only lead to one cookie cutter being replaced by another. I suspect forces are mostly economic. The current economic-political-technological system — an impersonal system — hinges upon most people being a certain way. I cannot come even close to fathoming that system and why it is the way it is. I've know some insightful thinkers, but I don't think they completely fathom it either. 

And so we're left, as always, with our immediate reality. The reality of conflicted sub-minds pulling us in this or that direction to the chagrin of our "will," — or rather, our system of beliefs and values, our ideas about the way things ought to be — ideas that were inculcated in us before our critical faculties were developed.

Regardless of what is happening on the societal level, we personally want to experience inner harmony, or unity of sub-minds. We look for subcultures which are friendlier to our particular configuration of traits and tendencies. Hoping to find kindred spirits, we try to share the story of our own conflict with reality, which is rarely appreciated. We isolate ourselves from certain societal forces in order to create a world where we can safely be ourselves. We become interested in spirituality as a way to soothe, escape, or transcend inner conflict. 

Is there a solution, or are all these just band-aids? 

Feb 27, 2019

Non-duality as an Adaptation to Separation

Human psychology evolved for the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, but for many thousands of years most of us have not been living that life.

If you've ever been on an expedition or part of some intense team experience that lasted three days or more, you will probably have experienced a significant loss of "ego": far fewer thoughts about your "self" and your personal story and far more spontaneous responding in the here and now. Maybe you felt it at Burning Man, on tour, or during that week when your whole team was holed up in the office finishing off (or starting) a project.

Over recent millennia life has become more and more separate for most of us: the teams have become progressively smaller, the strangers more numerous, the cooperation less intense.

Chances are, if you're reading this, you are alone right now. The way you are living would cause profound anxiety to a hunter-gatherer, who would interpret the situation as fraught with danger.

You may even be living alone. That means cooking alone, washing alone, and cleaning alone. You've got a complete set of home conveniences which previously would have serviced a multi-generation household. And several generations before that there would haven't been any of those conveniences.

Things have gotten particularly "bad" in the past 70 years. Average household size in most countries is plummeting and will soon be below 2. In fact, household size is as good a proxy as it gets for how "modern" or "progressive" a country is. The larger the households, the more "backwards" or "traditional" the society.

In their unadjusted state, humans are bound to suffer in this unnatural lifestyle, like a polar bear at the zoo who endlessly paces back and forth in its cage.

But there is an upgrade, a "tweak," and it's been around for thousands of years — presumably as long as cities have been around: the experience of non-dual oneness.

Non-dual oneness is a shift in the experience of the self from a separate, localized self to a self which is impersonal and universal. It is the mental hack that frees you from the anxiety of living separately while being surrounded by throngs of strangers.

Without the mental upgrade, modern living is bound to leave you low in oxytocin, serotonin, and other neurochemicals, and high in anxiety. From a hunter-gatherer perspective, you are trying to get by on your own in a hostile universe. You're basically ostracized from your tribe.

But these feelings aren't based in reality. There is no one out to kill and eat you. All your needs are met. And nobody has ostracized you. But without the non-dual "hack" you cannot fully assimilate this truth. You may understand intellectually that there is nothing to worry about, but your subconscious doesn't believe it.

With the hack, you can continue your apparently "separate" lifestyle with no loss of neurochemicals and no persistent anxiety or stress.

Some of the first to systematically figure this out were hermit monks who would spend months living in inhuman conditions in caves to train themselves to produce oxytocin without human contact, serotonin in the absence of social support, and all the other neurochemicals they needed to feel good. Of course, to reach this level they had to first undergo extensive training — typically years of special mental exercises. An untrained person would wither and die from the experience.

Today interest in the "hack" is growing proportionally to the apparent dysfunctionality of modern life.

Could there come a time in the not-so-distant future when the non-duality patch comes installed by default?

p.s. There is at least one other "hack:" pets! :-) But it's not as complete a hack as non-dual oneness.

Feb 22, 2019

All the Serotonin You Ever Need

You can engineer your inner mental world to produce more of the neurochemicals you want. This is what enlightened people have managed to do.

What are "tranquility," "equanimity," and "mindfulness" if not a cocktail of serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline, and other chemicals? — in combination with particular neural structures, of course. One without the other doesn't produce the whole effect.

Let's take serotonin as an example. Serotonin levels depend largely on the amount of respect you receive. Let's unpack this logically and find the hidden opportunity to switch on the inner fountain of serotonin in each of us.

Let's suppose you were a programmer tasked with programming serotonin-like pathways into a robot to get it to think and behave like a human. Your thinking might go like this:

Hm... I need to get this robot to evaluate respect and disrespect that is directed towards it. On a purely sensory level there are no signals that directly correspond to respect, so we're taking about a higher-order level of information processing. Much higher, actually. 
But the outside world itself is also an abstraction to the mental processing of the robot. The robot first has to be able to discern different entities or actors and keep them separate from itself, which is also a higher-order level of information processing. It has to then be able to perceive how much and what kind of respect these entities give each other, and compare that with what they give the robot. 
So what we actually want is a comparison mechanism on top of an entity separation mechanism and a 'respect signal identification' mechanism... 
But that's not quite enough to make it humanlike, because any negative outcome from a comparison would immediately send the robot into a permanent downward spiral where they behave as if they had less serotonin, receive less respect as a result, and then have even less serotonin. 
What we're missing here is a self-image. The self-image will be a kind of story or narrative constructed by the robot indicating how much respect it should be receiving based on past experience. Now the robot can compare how much respect it is receiving to how much it is supposed to receive based on the narrative of the self-image. 
This way, if the robot generally receives little respect, it can get used to it and be 'satisfied' enough with the situation to continue functioning with a low, but not too low, level of serotonin. Or, if it typically receives lots of respect, it can habituate to that respect and remain vigilant to possible threats to its status by not generating far too much serotonin.

So now we're already talking about four high-level processes:

1. entity separation, i.e. "I am not You, Him, or It."
2. respect signal identification, e.g. "She quickly looked away as soon as I opened my mouth."
3. comparison, e.g. "He smiled at her 5 times but never smiled at me."
4. self-image, e.g. "He should have smiled at me because... "

Notice that spiritual paths leading to enlightenment, union with the divine, or whatever else you want to call it reprogram these processes on a deep level. That's how they "trick" the body into producing neurochemicals when there is no "objective" (haha) basis for doing so.

Let's look at how these four processes can be undercut:

Vipassana, or "Insight" meditation teaches you to become aware of the lowest possible levels of sensory processing, undercutting process #2. You realize that "respect" is a complete mental fabrication based on multiple layers of interpretation. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and other modalities may be able to produce similar insights.

Disidentification with the false self, the "self-image," is an almost inevitable result of any genuine spiritual practice, undercutting process #4. If "I" is simply "awareness" or "aliveness" apart from all mental-emotional content, then that "I" is entirely immune to the vagaries of life.

Insight into "no-self," typically considered the foundational insight necessary for enlightenment, totally undercuts process #1. If my "I" is "awareness" and your "I" is also awareness — and the same awareness as "my" awareness, — and if I really believe that (not just as an interesting intellectual concept), then this whole idea of individuals exchanging signals of respect becomes an amusing game of appearances.

All this spiritual awakening, however, doesn't stop physiological systems from functioning. The body obviously continues to produce and depend on neurochemicals. However, the deep mental processing that tells the body how much serotonin to produce will have changed.

Here's what that processing might look like:

I am in me, I am in you and in everything. I give my "self" attention, which is the same as respect. Status and hierarchy are games of form which have no lasting significance. Today you have one status, tomorrow another. The status my physical form currently enjoys has nothing to do with me. I am awareness observing this game and acknowledging all awareness. Nothing can harm that awareness. I am invulnerable and invincible.

Some readers may be able to entertain these thoughts in their intellect. But for the nuerochemical systems to actually respond to them and start spitting out all the serotonin you ever need, you'd actually have to believe and accept this way of thinking on the deepest possible level. If you feel like, "well, those statements are interesting, but they're really not true, and I don't want to trick myself into believing things that are false," then you're clearly not there yet.

Feb 20, 2019

Why this Blog is Now Called "The Non-Ex-Socionist"

Six years ago I wrote a post called "Why this Blog is Now Called "The [Ex-]Socionist." Six months ago I wrote a post called "Ex-ex-socionist?"

From now on this blog will be called "The Non-Ex-Socionist."



The Non-Ex-Socionist Manifesto


There may be types. Actually, it seems like there are. We can pretend that there are. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes it doesn't.

The recognition that there are types (or appear to be, upon close observation) is more important than the particular choice of typology.

The close observation leading to the recognition that there are types (or appear to be) is even more important than the recognition that there are types.

A lack of awareness of types causes much bewilderment in the world. Many errors of judgment arise from a lack of recognition of types and from a lack of close observation into the nature of individual differences.

You can and probably should apply different typologies simultaneously. These typologies do not need to correlate. In fact, they will not. Attempts to map typologies to each other or somehow merge them are doomed.

Typologies are imaginary constructs and thus deserve to be treated lightheartedly. There is no good reason to get worked up about typology.

Treating typology as a non-imaginary construct (as reality) can and does become a source of suffering. The very inventors of a typology may be afflicted by it.

Strongly identifying with a type and defending that identification leads to suffering, though it may not seem so at first. At some point it will be useful to give up the identification.

Having relinquished your type identify, you will nonetheless notice type-related behavior in yourself and others. Now you're getting somewhere!

You are not your type. Your personality may seem to follow a type pattern. But even identifying with your personality is unnecessary.

Your interpersonal relationships and interactions appear to be affected by type. Actually, they are most strongly influenced by your identifications.

Your self-identifications can be interpreted in such a way as to seem type-related. This serves to strengthen the identifications, which contributes to suffering.

Changes in identifications and self-referential narratives cause changes in relationships. Show me a type-identified person, and I'll show you a person who is suffering in their relationships.

Nonetheless, there may be types. Actually, it seems like there are. We can pretend that there are. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes it doesn't.

Aug 22, 2018

Ex-ex-socionist?

A recent conversation with a Russian girl who's into socionics (the first such conversation in several years) made me aware of the possibility that I may have gone too far in my rejection of socionics. Since then I have been thinking about types a lot and trying to find the baby in all the bathwater I'd thrown out. It seems to make sense at this point in time to identify the subjectivity in my rejection of socionics, remove it, and see what's left.

Of course, my "adherence" to socionics was also highly subjective before that. I placed high expectations on socionics and believed I could use it to solve my personal issues. Disillusionment with this possibility along with an intellectual dismissal of the theory brought me to the anti-socionics position I've held for several years now.

The ups and downs of illusion


One of the things I think about a lot these days is separating actual events/facts from mental/emotional speculation around the subject. Elation and suffering come from mental speculation, not from facts.

Let's arbitrarily suppose that socionics' actual value is +5 ("potentially somewhat useful"). Yet there are different schools of socionics, most of which play up the value of socionics. Classical "Aushra" socionics, for instance, values socionics around +15 — way above its actual value at the present. Such was my fate that I learned about socionics from a school that played socionics up to +20 ("superpower" and "happiness through dualization"). On top of this I had my own private aspirations around socionics, which added an additional +20, making +40.

So here my mind has this +40 energy around a subject which only deserves +5. Over the years the illusion starts to erode: +35... +30... +25... +20... Eventually I consciously realize that the value of socionics is far below the +20 or +15 I'd assumed, and my personal aspirations around the subject were not to be realized. Those aspirations evaporated, and my assessment of socionics turned negative — to perhaps -5 ("a few key insights, but otherwise a waste of time"). But my mind overplayed this as well, putting perhaps another -10 onto that assessment. In a way, socionics had "hurt" me personally, or something like that.

This overshoot became clear to me in the aftermath of that conversation. I now feel ready to discard my negative mental position around the subject and take a fresh look. I think I'm able to treat socionics as the modest +5 it is, and leave it at that, without it having any importance for my self-identity.

The model above can be used to think about people's mental positions on a wide variety of subjects. As soon as an issue becomes "important" to us, we start playing it up and adding layers of mental speculation. If the subject becomes part of our self-identity, the layers can become exceptionally thick, like my +40 assessment versus the +5 that socionics actually merits.

How would I answer these questions today (8/22/2018)


What is socionics?
Socionics is an invented construct that divides people into types. It is not the "real truth" about people and how they function. Countless other constructs exist or could be created, and each illuminates its little section of reality. It's unlikely that any two constructs (typologies) have a 1-to-1 correspondence, and they don't need to.

When does socionics seem to "work?"
In my experience socionics seems to have the most explanatory value when applied to your immediate environment without trying to corroborate results with other socionists. You will be able to clearly type some percentage of your acquaintances (say, one-third), will have hypotheses for another third, and will be clueless about the last third. Among the one-third typed, everything will seem to fit neatly. Introducing other socionists into the picture to get their opinion will typically decrease, not increase clarity.

As a rule, roughly one-third of people will be easily typeable from the perspective of any one socionist. Furthermore, roughly one-third of all people will be broadly recognized by the community of socionists as being a certain type (the other two-thirds are out of luck and will have their types debated endlessly to their face and behind their back, which rubs some people the wrong way). These two sets of one-thirds overlap only partly. Each socionist will treat himself as being "somewhat typical" of his type, even if he belongs to the two-thirds whose types are unobvious to socionists at large. Thus, the clarity that one gains in one's immediate social environment can quickly become elusive. At least that's my experience.

What is socionic type about?
Type is part of the deep ego structure of an individual and seems to have some roots in physiology as well. It seems to only superficially describe temperament, which varies quite a bit among people of the same type. If socionics is about temperament, it doesn't do a very good job of it, and a better typology could be devised.

Socionic type can also be transcended to some degree, which is usually overlooked. Even deep ego structures can potentially be examined and disidentified with. The fact that somebody rubs you the wrong (or the right) way is probably a result of both ego structures and physiological factors:

Examples:
1) You very much like X, while they dislike X, which hurts your feelings (superficial ego structure).
2) You consider yourself an X person, and they don't have much respect for X people (deeper ego structure).
3) You need regular time alone to calm down and regenerate, and the other person responds to your withdrawal by trying to reengage you, sapping your energy (combination of habit and physiology)
4) You don't like someone's voice timbre, smell, etc. (mostly physiology)

The immediate cause of a positive or negative reaction to another person can probably never be explained by socionics. However, a pattern of reactions might be — to some degree...

So, I can't take any of the following statements seriously:
- "somebody said something that offended my X function"
- "I like her because her X complements my Y"

One of the pitfalls of socionics and all self-definitions is that they can be used to build up a fixed self-identity as an "X person." From a spiritual perspective this is not helpful and keeps one stuck in certain patterns. But this is a potential pitfall of any diagnosis or category. It's not an inherent shortcoming of socionics.

I realize I haven't answered the question. I don't really know what socionic type is. But sometimes it's there, and you just see it.

What about Model A? Functions? Information aspects?
I don't take it very seriously. These are interesting invented constructs, but I don't think they are a very good explanation of how the brain works and why interactions take on certain qualities.

What about the idea of information metabolism?
It's clear that the brain needs different types of experiences, states, and impressions to function well — in addition to the right food and other physiological inputs. It's also clear that different people often need different kinds of inputs. But I wouldn't say that Model A accurately describes these differences. Furthermore, the inputs are highly trainable. For instance, I've trained my brain to respond to hiking. Another person of the same type as me will not get the same kinds of impressions from the same hikes if they have not trained their brain the same way I have. Training trumps type.

What about intertype relationships?
I spent over 5 years in a relationship with an ILE (I am, presumably, an IEE) and was convinced she was my dual. During this period I created Socionics.us, wrote a few hundred articles and posts on socionics, was active on the16types.info, organized socionics meetups, and gave two talks at socionics conferences in Kiev. Hahahahaha, the irony.

Would I have enjoyed the same kind of relationship with any ILE? Of course not. The same goes for dual relations. It's all very individual. Perhaps only about 20% of relationship quality could potentially be explained by socionic types. That's not very much.

What are some of the confounding factors?
Intellect, pheremones, physical attractiveness, sensitivity levels, compatibility of deep ego complexes, etc. etc.

How is socionics useful?
Realizing that most of what happens between you and other people is automatic — beyond your control at this point in time. Realizing that things can work out with some people with little effort, and with others with a great deal of effort.

Would I go around typing people or talking about socionics?
Not at this time. Maybe in the future if I figure out how and why to do it.

Do I type people?
Today I sat down and made a chart of the types of some of the people I have interacted with over the past 7 years. It turns out I'd been registering types on a subconscious level during this time.

What significance do I assign to this chart?
Very little. But it's still interesting. Occasionally it reflects observable real-life relationships.

Do I have a type?
I guess. But I don't really care to prove it or disprove other versions. I don't even like talking about my self-identity these days because I don't take it seriously anymore. When talking to my Russian friend, I even refused to tell her what my type "used to be." I probably went overboard. The reason for that was to avoid any identification with a type. In fact, as soon as she stated her own type, I noticed that my perception of her shifted immediately, and I didn't like the feeling.

Do I prefer a certain type of women?
My preferences for physical and psychological traits are quite distinct at this point. Few of these preferences can be associated with socionic types. If the traits are present, I may become interested, and compatibility appears to be objectively higher, regardless of socionic type. I assume there are good psycho-physiological reasons for these preferences which are totally removed from my own type.

Do I favor dual relations?
I would say yes. Not long ago I finished a very nice 2.5-year relation with a dual (presumably, but who knows?). But some things were lacking. Would I have had a similar quality relationship with any dual? Of course not. My ideal relationship would be like my recent one with a few things added. But much of what made that such a good relationship was my own personal growth and improvements in my life circumstances. The relationship would not have been nearly as good 10 years ago.

Am I drawn to members of my own quadra?
To a slight degree, yes, but it's far from obvious. It's always something non-socionic that serves as the basis for friendship, such as a shared interest or pastime or some psycho-physiological commonality (mutual liking). I've never made friends with someone just because they were of a certain type or quadra. That never worked for me. The only same-quadra people I"ve made friends with were quite like me in terms of values, interests, and temperament — just like friends from other quadras.

Aug 26, 2017

Socionists Discover New Function

Socionists Sulimenko and Gornobakhov from the Novopetrovskiy Institute of Applied Socionics Studies have discovered a new element of information metabolism missing from the original Model A. The function is denoted as a black (extraverted) or white (introverted) pentagon and is claimed to resolve difficulties of type identification and inconsistencies in the expression of Intertype Relations which have hitherto beguiled the socionics community.

"The immediate effect of our discovery," states Sulimenko, "is that the pantheon of information metabolism types is extended from 16 to 25. This will, no doubt, cause our colleagues quite a bit of inconvenience at first. But we hope that the overwhelming logic of this new addition to socionics theory will soon convince the skeptics."

Not only are there now 25 sociotypes, but 25 intertype relations as well. As Gornobakhov explains, "Not all so-called 'dual relations' under classical socionics theory manifest all the qualities of such. As it turns out, 36% of these relationships are not actually 'duality,' but belong to one of two newly discovered relations which mimic duality in certain dimensions, but exhibit incongruencies of energy exchange which the previous socionics model was powerless to describe."

Some socionists have brushed off the discovery, explaining that a fifth function would mean 32 types (2 to the 5th power), not 25. Alesya Filiminova writes, "Evidently [Sulimenko and Gornobakhov] are talking about a complete restructuring of the socionics model, which has always been steeped in a dichotomous approach. Do they intend now to throw out all the dichotomies which have served as reliable landmarks for type identification? Or are we now to use 'pentachotomies' instead? We are rapidly approaching a level of complexity which the average socionics 'user' can scarcely aspire to apply, much less comprehend."

Others welcome the discovery. "I'd always known there was something missing from the standard socionics model," says Real-World Socionics founder Janus Ostrakovsky. "Other socionists would type me as an ILE, ILI, or even LII or LSE, but I could never fully identify with any of these types. Furthermore, my system of informational interactions with those around me was often in total contradiction to what was predicted by the theory. The notion of a fifth function could solve quandaries like this which are experienced by myself and many of my associates."

The researchers have promised to publish a detailed description of the function as soon as possible. 

Jan 9, 2017

Trying to decide what to do with Socionics.us

One of the best resources on socionics in English, Socionics.us is about to change location yet again. I have just sold the site that it is currently being hosted on, TryUkraine.com. I have one other traditional hosted site left that I can attach it to...

Jan 4, 2017

4 Clues that Socionics Theory Is at Least Partly False

Major Theoretical Fallacy #1: According to Model A, information is conveyed from person to person via matching functions. In other words, an ESI conveys information about introverted ethics to an SLI via the 1st function of first and the 6th function of the second. It is this information that determines the nature of the relationship between them.

No, that's just not how things work. If the SLI and the ESI are sitting together, and neither of them talks, one or both might begin to feel tense. How do you explain that socionically? If one starts talking about something of little interest to the other and goes on and on without stopping, the other will become annoyed. Which information element is being affected? If the two types are in a relationship and the ESI has a prestigious and successful career while the SLI is struggling in their much more low-paying job, this will lead to tension and a feeling that the ESI could "do better." Which function is being affected? If the SLI is more physically attractive than the ESI, the ESI will struggle more with feelings of jealousy. Which function is "acting up?"

My point is, the objective and measurable reasons of relationship tension that have been, and are being discovered, have nothing at all to do with so-called information metabolism. 

Major Red Flag #2: Socionics has been around for 40 years, and the issues being debated among professionals in the field have not changed significantly in at least 15-25 years. What's the cause of this? Are socionists not smart enough to make a big breakthrough? Is lack of funding the problem? 

I invite you to try to make a case that the cause of the stagnation of the field is anything other than the fact that the entire field is based upon a set of unprovable axioms. 

My conviction is that real progress is only possible if researchers ignore the unprovable axioms themselves, but then it's simply psychology research, not socionics research. Socionics can only exist if it has its axioms. And having those axioms makes scientific research and thus real breakthroughs impossible. 

Obvious Red Flag #3: It is virtually impossible to get even a small group of socionists to come to a unanimous agreement on someone's type. Existing tests give conflicting results. Each test was created by a socionist who thought long and hard within the context of their own understanding of socionics, which differs from that of other socionists. 

At the very least, this tells us that socionic type is often far from obvious. How obvious does type need for socionics to be useful? What is the threshold of "nonobviousness" beyond which the application of socionics loses all practicality?

Hidden Red Flag #4: Among socionics enthusiasts, a certain percentage — perhaps 30-40% — are more or less widely recognized as belonging to a particular type. These are the people you think of when reading a type description. The rest are in a gray zone where they are either 1) never fully certain of their own type due to a plethora of opinions on the matter, or 2) unable to convince everyone else that their type is indeed X. What does it say about socionics if only 30-40% of people easily identify with a certain type and are recognized as such by their associates in the community? 

I'll answer that rhetorical question for you. It means one of two things. 1) (optimistic scenario) Socionics theory itself is correct or nearly correct, but type descriptions, tests, and socionists themselves are "not good enough." 2) (pessimistic scenario) Socionics theory itself is incorrect in some significant way, and the type identification problem is the natural result of fundamental errors in the theory.

I'm a pessimist. Even if we accept scenario #1 above, what does it say about socionics if the combined efforts of hundreds of high-IQ individuals is not enough to overcome the stated problem — at least locally, within a single socionics school, — assuming the theory itself is correct? 

In other words, any way you look at it, there is something wrong with the theory (see point #1). 

Dec 6, 2016

How to Forget about, or Unlearn Socionics


  1. Either find a convincing intellectual explanation for why part or all of it is false. (e.g. this post)
  2. Or find a system of ideas to replace it which explains the same domains of personality and relationships.

Why Socionics is a Recipe for Strife


  1. Socionics causes people to infringe upon each other's boundaries by inappropriately discussing the qualities of the other person (inappropriately from the perspective of normal etiquette). Once this behavior has begun, it permanently affects a relationship. It may never be the same as when there was a "safe" distance between the people.
  2. If two people become close friends or lovers, this behavior is appropriate and generally does not get in the way.
  3. However, if either person does not accept the self-typing of the other, then conflict ensues regardless of the "actual" types of the two people (if there even is such a thing as an "actual" type). 

Feb 18, 2016

My First Book

The site is not yet 100% finished, and the book and instruction manual have not yet hit the press, but check it all out at www.FrictionlessMastery.com. You can sign up to receive notification when the products come out by entering your email here.

UPDATE: DEC. 2016
My instruction manual is now for sale on Amazon.

Feb 16, 2016

Socionics Residue

It's been three years since I officially renounced socionics. I still subscribe to everything I wrote at the time. I no longer place any importance on socionics types — particularly my own. I disagree with the theory and believe it is fundamentally, hopelessly flawed.

At yet I find myself passively typing people on some subconscious level, even though I don't even care. I've had a number of relationships over the past couple years, and I've pursued women based on romantic attraction alone. It truly makes zero difference to me what type someone is or whether I can even identify their type. I never stop and think, "I wonder what her or his type is."

If I'm in a relationship with someone and it occurs to me that she is an IEI, it makes no practical difference to me. There are attractive and unattractive IEIs, nice ones and not-so-nice, compatible and incompatible. I never attribute "success" or "failure" in a relationship to type. There are always better, more immediate explanations: I am or am not what she is looking for at this stage in life, the attraction between us is deep or merely situational, etc.

On a conscious level I think more about a person's hormones and neurotransmitters, their aims and values, the type of energy that exists between us, and what I am bringing to the table. That is the intellectual framework that has replaced socionics.

Nonetheless, if I dig up the subconscious typing that is going on, I see some interesting patterns:


  • most of my guy friends are intuiters 
  • I go almost exclusively for irrational women
  • it seems I have a slight romantic preference for ethical types or have no preference either way (roughly 70% of women are ethical)
  • it makes no difference to me whether a girl is sensing or intuitive
  • I never go for IEEs (presumably my own type, though I obviously don't care), at least IEEs who have a similar brain chemistry to my own
  • I prefer for a romantic partner to be more introverted and less dominant than I
I'm currently taking singing lessons from a female SLE who is clearly attracted to me. It's a lot easier than working with a male SLE guitar teacher was. Things got better still when the female SLE teacher had me start attending lessons at a music school where she holds lessons together with an IEI accompanist. With the good energy between the two of them it is very comfortable working with the SLE. I see no reason to believe that our interaction will turn sour. It feels very stable. 

My male SLE guitar teacher was (is) married to an IEI who was often in the house when I came over for lessons. Nonetheless, I had the feeling that there was some tension between them and that the IEI was not exactly happy. The SLE had a difficult personality, smoked incessantly, and was 25 years older than his wife. Eventually she left. But then she came back. I had a major personality clash with the SLE. But was it about his socionic type, which is, after all, just an abstraction? Or was it about his intolerable smoking, his domineering personality, inability to listen, or his tendency to talk off topic? 


I have two male friends — IEI and LIE — with whom I meet regularly to discuss self-improvement and practical philosophy. A couple months ago I introduced them to each other. Afterwards the LIE complained extensively to me of how the IEI talked on and on without getting to the point and showed no interest in maintaining contact. I hadn't clearly seen this problem area in my IEI friend until this moment. Since then it has been annoying me as well.

Feb 10, 2016

Socionics.us moved to a new address again

I no longer write on socionics, at least for the time being. At first I preserved my defunct site Socionics.us by putting it into a sub-folder of my personal site, rickdelong.com. Now I am in the [slow] process of moving my personal site onto the Blogger platform, so the socionics section has disappeared again. Here is the new address at which you can find everything:

http://www.tryukraine.com/socionics/index.shtml

Aug 10, 2015

Braverman Test and Compatibility

I came across the Braverman test (Edge Effect Quiz) recently and would like to recommend it to readers. You can easily find it online. Here are my results:

Strengths
Acetylocholine — 40
Dopamine — 29
GABA — 22
Serotonin — 20

Deficiencies
Dopamine — 2
Acetylocholine — 6
Serotonin — 6
GABA — 12

I interpret this to mean that I am a highly creative individual with plenty of motivation to get things done who experiences a somewhat systematic lack of stability and occasional bouts of not-enough-pleasure.

I've thought about the type of women I'm most drawn to (thinking of specific people here, not some kind of ideal) and how they might score on this test. I would surmise they are also high in Acetylocholine, noticeably lower than me on Dopamine, and noticeably higher on Serotonin and GABA without being too high on either.

What this means to me is the following: someone who enjoys learning things to a similar degree as me (I rarely meet people as learning oriented as myself) but is noticeably less dominant than me, better at enjoying simple pleasures without being too pleasure oriented (I can't relate to that mindset), and enjoying a bit more stability in life without having a stability mindset (which I can't relate to).

The Dopamine issue is important. I surmise that in most couples the man would need to have a higher Dopamine output (focus, nature) than the woman to preserve sexual polarity. Exceptions would be couples where the polarities are switched (a masculine, high-Dopamine woman with a feminine, low-Dopamine man). But that is not my case. I prefer women who are lower in Dopamine than I, whom I can "dominate" (guide, motivate, make plans for, etc.).

I'm curious about readers' hypotheses on compatibility issues after taking the test.

Why I don't Write Much Online Anymore

I haven't posted much here or on any other of my websites for quite a while, and I wanted to explain why. Back in 2002 when I began writing online, there was a dearth of information and the Internet was still fairly new. Over the next 7 years I produced hundreds of articles on different subjects and designed and maintained several different websites.

As a dearth of information turned into a glut, I gradually lost my interest in writing online. I saw the average amount of time spent on my most commercial website drop from 3 minutes per visitor years back to a half a minute or less. People no longer bookmark websites or read through them like they once did. It matters less and less where information is posted; search engine algorithms allow people to find what they are looking for faster than ever.

Furthermore, mega-sites like Wikipedia or Lonely Planet (many fields have a mega-site, or several, that dominate a subject matter) continue to gain influence while niche sites like my own have to look for ever smaller niches to develop a market in.

Another issue is the global trend of spending more and more time online and on computers or smart phones. I don't know about you, but I don't wish to spend any more time in front of a computer screen than I currently do. My healthy maximum is roughly five hours a day. Of this approximately two hours is online. Many people are spending a lot more than this. While I was developing my larger websites, I routinely spent far more than this.

If I have five hours day to spend on computers, that means I have to ration my time. There is always pressure to spend much more than that. I try to spend 2-3 hours writing and force everything else I need to do into the remaining time. The only way for me to get that much writing done is to not have Internet at home, where I do almost all my writing.

Now that everyone has a blog (often more than one) and is posting on Facebook and tweeting on Twitter, I have lost interest in being a part of this online world of quick information "injections" and have switched my effort to writing books and to building offline communities with a very modest online presence. I believe I'm at the head of a new trend, so watch for more people like me.

At least where I live, there is increasing demand for meaningful, structured, face-to-face interaction. That's what I specialize in. I'm the organizer of a popular language club here in Tbilisi where people meet on different nights of the week to converse in different foreign languages. I take people backpacking into the mountains. And I'm doing more and more music-related activities.

I'm also in the process of writing two books that — I hope — will seduce people into sitting down and reading carefully for hours on end.

Dec 15, 2014

My New Book: Frictionless Foreign Language Mastery

Yes, I'm coming out with my first book in a matter of weeks or months! The subject is not socionics, but I think many readers of my blog will find it interesting.

My book is about foreign language mastery — how to gain the most skills in the least time with the least effort and develop a sustainable long-term language mastery practice. As some readers may know, I have been speaking foreign languages for many years and have a near-native command of Russian. In total I speak 9 languages, and a typical day involves communication in 3-5 of these.

What's most interesting to me about the book, however, are the general principles that carry over to all kinds of skill acquisition and life changes. This is what really gets me excited. With the tools in the book you will be able to think critically about your efforts to learn a foreign language or any other skill or habit and make specific improvements to your method to make your practice more frictionless and rewarding (potent + fun).

The material in the book is 100% original and includes a theoretical apparatus that is intuitive and derived from 20 years of practice and observation. I go into depth on not often discussed subjects such as honing the physical technique of a skill (in this case sound articulation).

What makes my approach particularly practical is a simple algorithm (list of steps to be repeated over and over) for language learning that can take you from beginner all the way to near-native proficiency with no changes in the method itself. This is how I mastered Russian, and I now do this with all my languages except English.

The book was supposed to be under 150 pages, but it's growing to nearly 200.

I'll be self-publishing the book with a dedicated website and a print-on-demand option for those who want a hard copy. Some of these details remain to be determined.

If you want to be notified when the book comes out, let me know here in the comments, or send me a personal note, etc. 

Sep 8, 2014

Committing to Lifelong Work Activities

I want to share with readers a thought process that I have found to be very productive when considering long-term professional and personal goals. Recently this helped me to formulate with near-perfect clarity what I consider to be my "work" and how each of my four main branches of activities should be developed over the next N years.

The most important part was to identify activities that I am deeply committed to — things that I want to be permanent fixtures of my lifestyle. If there is a way to turn these activities into a livelihood, then they can (and should — at least in my case) become lines of work.

The process of developing a de facto commitment to something and then incorporating it into a conscious worldview has taken me many years. Many people develop amazing skills in their youth, only to neglect them entirely as they move into their adult years. When you see people doing amazing things in their early 20s, you can rarely be sure that they'll still be at it a few years from now.

Without going into too much personal detail, here is a list of my four main branches of activity and the ages at which I began, developed a de facto commitment, formulated my commitment, and began earning money through the activity.

1. WRITING
23; 26; 36; 27

2. FOREIGN LANGUAGES
14; 19; 33 (arguably 19); 21

3. HIKING
11; twice: 17 and again at about 28; 30; 36

4. MUSIC
16 (arguably 6); 21; 34; 37 (probable)

To summarize, it seems that my childhood and teens were a time to discover my main interests. My early adulthood (mid teens to mid 20s) was the time to try working hard at different types of activities without making a firm commitment to one or the other. My 30s have been the time to select the activities that I hope to do for the rest of my life and make them a part of my identity.

I view this step as a transition from young adulthood to mature adulthood. It's like I am finally staking out my territory and saying, "this is mine." In my case the territory is mostly ephemeral (skills, activities, and opportunities), but for some people it could be quite a bit more concrete (property).

What happens when you realize that you are in something for the long haul? It's almost like flipping a mental switch. You start thinking about investing in tools that will help you become as effective as possible at your chosen activity, including: special training, high-quality equipment, routines to maximize your productivity, marketing and branding, etc.

In my case, each of my four branches of activity is a world of its own that has very little to do with the other three branches. I don't know how unusual that is. In any case, making a commitment to these branches has always involved considerable action and investments beyond my previous level of dedication.

As I thought about my activities, I came to recognize that each of them involved the following dimensions: ways of earning money one product or service at a time for a specific customer ("active income"), ways of earning passive income (royalties, advertising, scalable systems, etc.), and a social community surrounding the activity that I enjoyed interacting with and being at or near the center of.

Thus, I ended up with a kind of chart with my branches of work, active and passive income channels, and community development. Cells in the chart where I am currently doing little or nothing show me the large steps to be taken in the next few years. In cells where I am already doing something, in the coming years I simply need to take the "next logical step," whatever that happens to be.

I found this process incredibly satisfying and thought some of my readers might find it useful as well.


Jul 1, 2014

A Constructive Approach to Strength and Weaknesses

At certain times in life, for many people, I think it can be very constructive to view strengths and weaknesses as integral parts of one's personality. Socionics can help with this. It can be useful to stop trying to identify with or overcome one's weak areas and focus instead on strengths. I think this is especially important during the active formation of one's self-identify, typically during one's late teens and early twenties.

At other times, brushing off character flaws or overstating one's strengths — especially using some socionics (or other psychological) pseudo-explanation — may be counter-productive. It can keep you from addressing important issues that could improve your quality of life and level of happiness.

Different moments in life present different challenges and require different approaches. There is a time and a place for imbalance as well as for balance.

As one matures, however, one must find a balance where one neither dwells on areas of weakness nor ignores them.

Here's how I've come to view strengths and weaknesses that I used to associate with specific socionics functions and saw as less fluid than I do now.

Basically, I think in terms of "best practices" and "skill acquisition." Every conceivable area of life has its "best practices," be it professional development, housekeeping, or emotional health. You simply happen to know or to not know these practices.

And whether you realize it or not, you already employ certain practices (habits) in every area of life. Your practices may range from "horrific" in one area to "top-notch" in another.

While personality/socionic type may be somewhat predictive of your skill profile, I think it eventually becomes unproductive to dwell on it. You still have to work on your habits, and that's an entirely different process altogether.

It's important to realize that a) almost everything you do is an ingrained habit that is almost entirely automated, and b) neuroplasticity allows for new habit formation, which can be directed through conscious control, though our conscious resources are limited (but they can be grown, too).

Instead of thinking, "I'm just not good at X," you can think, "I currently have low-quality X habits." Then improving this area becomes a matter of finding out some best practices and finding a way to incorporate them. I suspect the best way to do this is through repetitive exercises designed to create automatic habits.

Now, let's talk about "best practices." These tend to be quick-and-dirty solutions that give you 80% of possible results for 20% of the possible effort.

People who, for instance, truly love cooking, may put in a 100% effort to get all 100% of the results. And it's these people who tend to write the cookbooks. Cookbooks don't actually contain the best practices the vast majority of people need to improve their food consumption habits and skills. So don't necessarily count on recognized pros to give you the practices you need.

Constantly concocting complex dishes that stimulate every possible taste receptor in your mouth and nose may be a "best practice" for a chef, but not for a nonprofessional whose goal is optimization of health and well-being.

In other words, best practices for total mastery and best practices for maintenance will take you in different directions.

If "maintenance" is your aim, some of the best role models are people who are clearly above-average in a certain area while appearing to invest uncommonly little effort. Most likely, the way they do this is by applying very specific, tried-and-true algorithms that require a minimum of effort once turned into habits.

When you look at things this way, you may discover that you indulge in many of your areas of strength for purely recreational purposes. Could that actually be unconstructive? Is the value of that recreation greater than the value of developing a different set of habits and skills? Something to think about.

Probably the most effective and painless way to improve a skill is to copy someone who clearly does it much better than you. In the absence of such a person, you may have to look much harder for best practices, searching online, in books, or asking around.

Once you think you have identified a best (or "better") practice that is compatible with your lifestyle and values, it is time to work on habit formation. Depending on the skill, this might mean committing to a daily practice requiring anywhere from one minute to hours of effort. The more willpower and concentration necessary for the task, the more likely that you will need to do it in the morning soon after waking.

In my view, skills — even mental ones — are basically just composed of mechanical habits. "When X, do Y." For instance, "when you sit down at the computer, start your timer. When 20 minutes have passed, get up and walk around." "When a team player near you opens for a pass, start opening for a pass yourself so that he has someone to pass to immediately." "When you feel yourself becoming negative, stop to remember the good things that have happened recently, and why they happened."

With as little as a few days or weeks of conscious effort, you may be able to establish a habit that noticeably changes your life for the better.

Jun 29, 2014

Rick's Self-Improvement Cheat Sheet

Just some notes...


Have trouble focusing on one task, following through on plans, and reaching goals?

You probably need to work on developing your brain's executive functions.

How?

Mindfulness meditation (at least 5-10 minutes every day); going for walks; aerobic exercise; positive social interactions; reading; intellectual skill development; dealing with temptations and addictions; improve sleep quality and quantity.

How to be productive?

Focus on one task at a time; develop executive functions; remove or limit distractions (Internet is a common one); focus on most important goals requiring high concentration first thing in the morning. Experiment with developing a daily (especially morning) routine as you become committed to a particular professional path or skill set.

How to overcome Internet time wasters?

Mild: "Freedom" and other apps that limit your online activity and can be set and reset each time. Moderate: "Intego Family Protector" app (can be set up to only allow you Internet access for certain hours of the day, as long as you give the password to someone else). Extreme: have no Internet at home and find somewhere else to work online.

How to improve outlook and overcome negativity bias?

Practice "what went well" reflection exercise at the end of each day, or some variation thereof. Personally, I spend 10 minutes remembering how I spent the day, the constructive motives behind my actions (even if they were not as successful as I wanted), and the happy moments and feelings of pride and satisfaction, and basically try to empathize with myself. This really seems to work for me, and the efficacy of the technique has been repeatedly proven in experiments.

Top diet improvements?

Cut out all refined sugars and flours. Replace with whole foods. Learn a few simple food preparation techniques in order to be able to maintain a healthy diet. Treat food preparation as a habit formation exercise.

Top fitness improvements?

Integrate walking or cycling or other moderate aerobic activity into your everyday life. Begin a bare minimum strength training routine and either focus on explosiveness or maxing out on reps, which gives you the best hormonal response. Stand, walk, or lie down instead of sitting so much. Extreme: get rid of your car and move to a part of town where you can get everywhere you need to go by foot, bicycle, or public transportation.

Top happiness improvements? 

Supportive friendships, emotional support on a daily basis, meditation and positive psychology practices, basic physical health and nutrition, sun exposure (for some people), hormonal correction (generally attainable through diet, exercise, and stress reduction), improving sleep quality/quantity (for many people).

Down in the dumps and need a happiness injection? 

My personal favorite is to go backpacking with a friend or friends, or even alone. This affects me on all levels and almost invariably does the trick. Find your individual recipe that provides you with a change of pace or scenery and physical, emotional, and mental stimulation.

My favorite sources of information to "keep my finger on the pulse?" 

The Long Now Foundation talks, selected TED talks, Tim Ferriss Podcast.