Dec 6, 2007

Vulnerable Function Fixations and Their Resolution

Excessive focus on the vulnerable (4th) function can lead to a sort of mental paralysis or unhealthy obsession that robs the individual of his spontaneity and ability to interact with others effectively. The person feels like he must prove something to the world and defend his right to exist on this planet. An intense, prolongued focus can probably lead to severe psychological problems. Most likely the solution (if the problem is not yet too severe) is to have the person move to a more favorable environment with "better" socionic types and responsibilities that activate his Ego and Super-Id functions more, thus drawing away focus from his unhealthy fixations.

Here are some different scenarios that create long-term distress for the vulnerable function, and their possible resolution:

Someone in your immediate family or social or professional circles constistently criticizes you for not meeting their standards/expectations in the area of your vulnerable function and lets their opinion be known publicly. The situation is compounded severely if this person has a higher position of authority and you are somehow dependent on him or her.


  • An ESI parent criticizes an SLE child for being unkind and heartless and for being unable to get along with others.
  • An LII criticizes an IEE for his ideological (political, religious, etc.) views and constantly reminds him publicly of the disagreement.
  • Professionally oriented parents expect their SEI child to make wise professional choices based on financial and career prospects and stick to those decisions and criticize him for doing otherwise.
  • No one believes that a LSE's business activities will lead anywhere, and they criticize him for trying to accomplish things too fast and not seeing all the intermediate steps that must be done first.

The "victim" has a deep sense that he or she has been wrongly judged and must correct the misunderstanding in order to continue his life. However, each attempt to explain the true situation to the "offender" fails, because the offender cannot see what the person is trying to get at, simply does not try hard enough to understand, or quickly forgets the point the "victim" was trying to make and repeats the criticism again later. If this continues long enough or if there are more than one person making the same criticism, the victim may feel like the whole world is against him and that he must prove to them that they are wrong about him. Then the person begans carrying the issue around him and "proving" it to people who couldn't care less, which makes them lose interest in him and alienates him even more.


  • The SLE talks to everyone about interpersonal ethics and tries to prove that interaction should be based on extraverted sensing (for instance, challenging other people, making demands on them to see if they can perform them, and testing one's strength and will with those of others), not introverted ethics (for instance, being sensitive to people's feelings, avoiding potential sore spots, and distancing oneself from people with whom conflicts may arise). Obviously, few people will sympathize with this kind of viewpoint, so the more the SLE focuses on it, the fewer people like him. If the SLE makes agreement with this viewpoint a criterion for friendship, he will end up with few friends. The fixation on ethical issues leaves him unable to be spontaneous with his creative introverted logic (generating logical reasoning off the top of his head for fun and being playfully combative in logical arguments, which is typical for SLEs), which is an SLE's key to establishing contact with other people.
  • The IEE talks to everyone about his disagreements with the LII, trying to pick apart the LII's logical errors from a broader perspective and show that he is wrong, even when listeners aren't really interested in their disagreements. Since defining, elaborating, and defending viewpoints is not an IEE's strong point, the more he focuses on this, the less likeable he becomes to other people. Instead of the spontaneous, mild, and fun and accepting person that he could and "should" be, people begin to see him as an ideologically preoccupied person who is not much fun to be around. (Incidentally, LIIs -- who are naturally more ideologically focused than IEEs -- can forget about ideology in a second and respond to emotionally playful and engaging activities that have nothing to do with ideology. When an IEE is ideologically focused, however, it seems like a fixation, because the person does not respond well to other kinds of signals.) The fixation with introverted logic keeps the IEE from seeing the people around him and responding creatively to the emotional canvas of each situation he is in (in short, creative introverted ethics).
  • The SEI talks to everyone about how life is not just about work and production, but also about enjoyment and following one's true desires. This is a mundane assertion to many people, and the more the SEI focuses on criticizing all people who value their corporate positions and who think first about financial and career benefits, the less people around him are able to sympathize with him and the more it seems like he has a chip on his shoulder. This "campaign" against "bad extraverted logic" saps the SEI of emotional energy that is better spent having fun and generating lively and stimulating interaction (extraverted ethics) with others, which is the SEI's main tool for building relationships with others.
  • The LSE tells everyone of his business plans and how he is sure to achieve his objectives despite what other people say. He talks to others about his chosen way of making money and tries to prove that it really has great financial prospects. Most people aren't that interested, though, and wonder why he is pushing the issue so much. The LSE may seem obsessed and unhealthily single-minded, as if his whole plan for life depended on a single undertaking that seems like a gamble to most other people. This over-focus on what he believes his activities will lead to (introverted intuition) leaves him unable to sufficiently focus on satisfying real needs that have already surfaced (introverted sensing), which is an LSE's greater strength. And if an LSE can't do that, then he has little basis to build relationships with other people.

NOTE: Here I have described situations where the "victim" tries to fight and disprove the criticism. However, sometimes people react the opposite way -- by purposely neglecting the criticized area. For instance, the SLE becoming even more mean and heartless, the IEE giving up all attempts to logically express his views, the SEI purposely doing unproductive things, or the LSE ignoring all preliminary steps even more than before. Ultimately, this drives others away just like the fixations described above.

The victim physically and emotionally distances himself from the offenders and gets involved with people from his own quadra who help to straighten out his values and self-perception and stimulate him to focus on his real strengths. Gradually the vulnerable function fixation dissipates, and over time the former "victim" recognizes the fixation and learns how to avoid such situations in the future.


  • The SLE moves away from home and gets involved with friends from his quadra who help him to see that it's more important to be fun, exciting, and vocal than nice and sensitive (extraverted ethics value vs. introverted ethics value) and who accept his challenging interaction style and welcome his logical abilities. Over time the SLE builds up his own rules of thumb for interacting with other people that are based on things like considering the logic of the situation (introverted logic = what kind of situation it is, what position each participant occupies within the situation, etc.) and welcoming and responding to displays of emotion whenever they come up. This helps him to ultimately address the introverted ethics weakness his parent had criticized and find the correct place for introverted ethics in his life while not focusing on it directly.
  • The IEE distances himself physically from the LII and gets emotionally involved with friends who help him to see that it's more important to be productive and get things done effectively than to have the most correctly systematized point of view (extraverted logic value vs. introverted logic value) and who value his spontaneous insights and bring out the friendly and emotional side in him. Over time the IEE builds up his own rules of thumb for dealing with differences of opinion and logical disputes based on an understanding of the emotional aspect of the situation (introverted ethics helps to recognize when the emotional distance is suitable for a deep discussion of viewpoints and when it is unsuitable) and attaching more value to discussions that lead to productive cooperation. This helps him to ultimately address the introverted logic insufficiencies the LII and others had noted and find the correct place for introverted logic in his life while not focusing on it directly.
  • The SEI moves away from his parents and finds a more accepting social group that is fun to be in and helps him to see that it's more important to have a systematized concept of your activities than to try to obtain profit from everything (introverted logic value vs. extraverted logic value), and who value his relaxed and fun-loving nature more than his attempts at productivity. The SEI comes to realize he is liked more for his ability to get people involved and emotionally enlivened. Over time the SEI builds up his own rules of thumb for making professional choices based not on a direct profit-loss analysis but on an understanding of the emotional implications of his decisions and the positive support that organizational systems provide in his life (extraverted ethics and introverted logic focus over extraverted logic). By being part of a logical system where he also has fun and enjoys himself, he is able to resolve the productivity issues he had before and be part of a group that will take partial responsibility for his professional decisions.
  • The LSE gets involved more closely with types with strong extraverted intuition and introverted ethics who help him to see that it's more important to develop your personal potential (interests and talents) than to choose the right high-potential enterprise and put all your eggs in one basket (extraverted intuition value vs. introverted intuition value) and who value his ability to get useful things done. By considering different new and interesting areas that show potential, the LSE comes to realize that he had closed himself off to many interesting possibilities and had been ignoring tangible needs and achievable goals for the sake of a single illusory goal. By having strong extraverted intuition types around him, the LSE can safely shift his focus from trying to see into the future to useful activities that satisfy real needs while being sure that others near him are picking up on high-potential areas of development and can give him the tips he needs to not fall behind the times.


Anonymous said...

The effects of supervision relations in family of origin on type development and expression...interesting.

thehotelambush said...

Very interesting. Are these examples that you have seen personally?

Rick said...

They're basically a composite of several different people of each type I have known, with a degree of extrapolation (imagination).

Anonymous said...


meatburger said...

Was i your inspiration for the ENFp's Polr? If i remember i got your attention once by talking about INTJ's and my weak Ti a lot.

Probablly not though, im sure its quite common :)

Its funny actually, im going through a stage at the moment where im not very accepting and very opinionated. hmm

Anonymous said...

so if I am right in what I saw, you just created a new system of matching 4th and 6th functions in a way which showed how we reach life evolution stages. Defocusing on some obsessional criteria and refocusing on something near. I think every type would like this done for them, with all the branches you were able to acheive for 'environment'. It's mind bending,,, primarily cause i want to do it for my own type.. ILI