Jul 6, 2008

Using Socionics to Solve Personal Problems

I really think socionics can be a very practical tool for personal growth and change, not just an abstract discussion topic. Most likely, in some way or another the desire for change in one's personal, intimate life is the primary motive for most people who spend time learning about socionics. However, the personal accounts with all the really interesting and poignant details usually go unsaid in public (I guess forums allow for more anonymity), and attention instead focuses on the theoretical and descriptive shell of socionics. Yet the real driver of socionics is the search for solutions to personal problems. Of course, you can solve all these problems without socionics, just as you can be completely physically fit without ever visiting a gym.

The main motivation for pursuing personal change comes from experiencing problems in one's relationships: with intimate partners (love and close friends), society (social adjustment, work, and casual friendships), and oneself (self-concept and living skills). The strongest motivator is love relationships, because they involve the most aspects of one's being at once, potentially can satisfy the most needs, and hence cause the greatest adjustments and can be the most problematic.

Let's look at some of the common personal problems people who are into socionics may face and what can be done to address them:

"I have never been in a relationship"
In this situation a preoccupation with socionics might not be very helpful at all. It takes hands-on experience to develop the unconscious skill set (effective behavior patterns and natural, uninhibited physical, mental, and emotional reactions) needed to attract a "soul mate," and no socionic or other mental knowledge can provide this. I know of no other way than trial and error. Even if you hit it right the first time and spend your entire life with your first relationship partner, will you really be satisfied with yourself and your successes in this area? (okay, granted a few semi-autistic people would be) So, find the environments for pursuing a relationship that you find the least stressful, and go for it.

What might be wise is to search for information and advice that would address specific fears of yours that might be holding you back from meeting people and having relationships. Simply look for the fear; that is where problems are sure to lie. If the fear concerns rejection, find a place where you can air your fear or find out about how other people have dealt with it. If the fear concerns physical intimacy, find out about stages of intimacy and what to do at each stage, and find a place where you can talk about it comfortably and see how others have overcome problems and fears. If your fear concerns commitment and relationship expectations, learn about different relationship forms and how different people satisfy their needs in different ways. If your fear concerns your own attractiveness, find a place where you can comfortably talk about the specific things that you fear make you unattractive to potential partners. Much fear can be alleviated this way, leaving you more receptive to other people and potentially intimate situations.

"I am depressed or have some other emotional problem"
Look at the types of people you live with and interact with most. Are your Super-Id needs being met? Is your Ego being fully appreciated? This are indeed silly terms, but thinking about socionic functions can help concreticize your personal situation and identify specific problems. People have a harder time being happy and emotionally stable if they do not have a dual among, say, their top 3 confidants and significant friends and partners. Consider changing your living, work, and/or social circumstances to get away from negative stressors and bring a dual or duals into your inner circle. Yes, it really works, even if your choice of duals is somewhat artificial. If you're not sure of your own type or those of others, at least look for people you can trust and feel comfortable around.

"I'm having trouble choosing my path in life"
Learn about your type and what other people of your type have done with their lives. In general, look for people who are living the way you would like, and learn about their biography and background, but focus especially on happy people of your own type. How did they discover their career path and main interests? How did they stumble upon the right opportunities, organizations, and people? What do they consider to be the key to their success? What false roads did they discover along the way? Especially look at people you have met personally, because daydreaming about the lives of famous people can be unproductive. If you have a particular skill or skills that you know would like to base your life on, focus on learning about people with that skill in addition to people of your own type who are content with their lives.

"I can't seem to get along with anybody" or "I don't connect with people"
These are usually sentiments of people who have difficulty or take a long time getting to know and understand other people. Studying socionics theory will help them understand what makes all those "difficult people" tick and will help them to be more tolerant of the things they used to view as "faults" or "defects."

"I'm looking for the right relationship"
Now that you have some relationship experience under your belt, you have probably learned about some of the complexities of relationships and the difficulty of trying to make things work with a seeming vast majority of people. If you've preserved an ideal of what kind of relationship you would like, you're probably ready for some socionics "meat": learning about duality, how your and your duals' types operate, and the roles that different socionic functions play in interaction. It's time to hone your relationship behavior to become as natural, effortless, and spontaneous as possible and provide potential soul mates with what they are subconsciously seeking (I'm speaking of spontaneity in the use of one's functions, not the kind of impulsivity usually associated with irrationality). They will undoubtedly begin to return the favor.

You can get "hints" of how to develop your behavior by studying other people of your type and how they interact with others. Some of what they do may seem "cheesy," but other things will make you say, "I can/want to do that!"

In general, you will need to make sure you have opened up more to Super-Id input and that you are providing "real goods" with your Ego functions, and not just talking or boasting (see also this article). Let's say you're an SLE. Do you dig wackiness and imaginative fun? Do you actively motivate your partners and provide them with real-world adventures? If you're an LII, have you learned to resonate with Joy, or is all you care about the Truth? Do you help others resolve their organizational difficulties and mental madness? If you're an IEE, are you open to the many varieties of physical experience, and do you initiate new opportunities for your partners, and not just talk about yourself? etc. etc.

Many people may find they need to work on reducing inhibitions against "imposing" on potential partners with their strong functions. Your duals are unconsciously expecting to be "imposed upon" (even the feminist ones) in certain ways, and do not perceive your Ego-block initiative as an intrusion on their personal space. In fact, if you don't "intrude" upon their suggestive function, they won't feel deep down that you really care for them.

Finding the right relationship is basically finding yourself. The more you are "yourself," the more likely you are to find the right relationship, and vice versa. This is not because of any romantic mushy-mushy stuff, but because the "right" relationships are grounded in compatible physiological automatisms and impulses (my opinion).


Anonymous said...

Interesting post Rick. We do have to get to the core of our problems before we can begin to solve them and that may mean facing a lot of fears or ignorance.

Anonymous said...

I've found two people I see regularly who I am about 90+% sure are my dual.

One of them I am attracted to much more thoroughly however. I think this is because the other dual is emotionally unstable and going through some problems (i think he's going through a depression and having anxiety problems, which he has recently started seeking help for).

When the healthy dual interacts with me, i'm fulfilled and experience all the sensations expected of duality.

When the unhealthy dual interacts with me, I am usually bored and uninterested, which I'm assuming based upon some theories about functions and Model A means he is acting from his super-Ego. However, usually after interacting with him for about 15-30 minutes or so, I think he starts to subconciously get the hint that I'm more interested in his Ego than his super-ego, then we start hitting it off like his healthy dual.

I'm assuming the healthy dual must have some experiences with duality in more intimate places in their life, and thus has a stronger Ego block. This really helps confirm for me your writings about duality and emotional well being.

Rick said...

Great comment. That's exactly what I'm talking about, and how I would tend to interpret it, as well.

Anonymous said...

i really liked what you said about busting out of the theory and into personal growth. the rubber hits the road with this idea. actual application trumps theory any day. thanks!

Anonymous said...

Socionics describes a system that already exists; it’s not a set of instructions of what to do. You should naturally do everything it describes regardless of knowing about the theory.

Type and element descriptions are terrible and an understanding of how the system 'really' works takes a lot of practice over a long period of time. Socionics tends to lead people into thinking in strict platonic terms of types and relationships leaving out circumstance, situation and irregularities. Not to mention this being integrated into some kind of emotional/spiritual ‘ideal’ of relationships and the possibility that you could have mistyped yourself.

There are so many ways to screw up.

So acting on your post pretty much leads people into wrong relationships and positions.

IMO its best to experience as much as possible (this should shape your ego) and just go with whatever method you where using before, trying non-socionic methods of dealing with these problem or being very selective with the socionics you use in your methods.

Basically don't use it a lot because you don't understand it.

Izzy said...

so... is a relationship of Conflict completely and utterly hopeless?

- an EIE/IEE more likely the former

p.s. Ha, that kind of sounds dumb... because the actual title of the relationship should be self-explanatory I suppose... but I wanted a well-informed socionist's opinion.

Rick said...


Sorry for taking forever to answer. I am hesitant to say that it can't work. There are so many factors involved that we cannot imagine until actually seeing the people involved.

My conviction is that the nature of a relationship is mostly determined by factors we cannot control, with some degree of flexibility depending on our attitude towards the relationships, i.e. whether we have committed ourselves to it or not.

Fundamentally, relations of conflict are not favorable for spending lots of time with and being emotionally intimate. But some people manage to preserve a semblance of a good relationship simply by largely ignoring the other person or interacting with them in simple and predictable ways.

Do not take my word for it, though. If what you want is a deep and intimate relationship where you feel like you are discovering and improving yourself, then use that as the measure of your relationships. If your ideal is something else, use that as your yardstick. Don't let socionics suggest that your relationship is bad if it really isn't -- or good if it really isn't.

Anonymous said...

I've debated asking this on a forum, but then I stumbled on your blog, and I wonder if you could help me. My question is, why would someone reject their dual for a look-a-like?
I'm an IEI who was good friends with an SLE for a year. We got along so well, there was even some kind of physical chemistry. But he was with a LII who acted like a ILE, so we were just friends.
Then she went out of town and they took a break, and we somehow got into a physical relationship. It was unbelievable, and this was before either of us knew our type. He said he didn't know anything like it, and he has been with a LOT of girls. But when she came back, it was all over and he went back to her. That didn't stop him from trying to pursue a friendship, with benefits, with me, but he made it abundantly clear that he preferred her, she was his "main" girl. Putting aside his womanizing issues, wtf????
This has caused me so much grief, I'm still seeking an explanation, from a socionics perspective. Since then, I've been with 2 EIEs who are sweet, considerate, and I can see that they value NiFe, which makes me immediately close to them. But having been in such an intimate dual relationship, I see exactly what is lacking. Could you please help me??

Rick said...


It's hard to say, but maybe he's saving you from greater grief later on if he had a serious committed relationship with you and was still unable to remain faithful. Perhaps his current less intimate relationship places fewer expectations on him and he is free to wander and do his own thing, whereas if he were in a more intimate dual relationship he would feel emotionally bound, perhaps obligated. Maybe he is afraid of potential limitations on his freedom.

Or, his choice might be more superficial. Maybe he prefers the other girl for some purely physical or practical traits. Maybe he has so many friends that his need for emotional and spiritual intimacy is less pressing than for someone else who has difficulty finding people to talk to and share themselves with.

Finally, it's possible that during your relationship you fell in love, but he did not — for whatever reason. If this is the case, then the experience for him was not as "deep" as for you.

Aside from socioinc type, there are other important aspects to compatibility (see my "Personal Typology" post at http://socionist.blogspot.com/2010/08/my-personal-typology.html ). Maybe there were some ways in which the compatibility between you was not ideal?

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for your feedback.
I should mention that we are the ultimate archetypes of an SLE and IEI, so this holds a kind of intellectual fascination for me as well – if according to theory, characteristics belonging to A + characteristics belonging to B = characteristics of duality, then does ultimate A + ultimate B = ultimate duality? I realize this might be a particularly IEI way of thinking, because it might have some obvious fallacy though it makes sense to me.
I read your article on dualization and harmonization, and yes, I do think that both of us went through that process. We did everything together even after the “tryst” ended, and others have remarked that I have become more practical and he has become more considerate. Which, actually, no one ever says about either of us. But you are right in that he hates to be emotionally bound or obligated in any way, and with the other girl he had an open relationship that allowed him to see me when he wanted. But this would suggest that, on top of all the other external factors you mention, there needs to be a pretty high level of MATURITY for duality to work, and I don’t think either of us had it.
Another point: it seems to me that with some types, duality is ALWAYS lopsided - even with all else being equal – because of the nature of the types involved in it. By lopsided, I mean it affects one person more than the other. The ones that seem most obvious are SLE-IEI and SEE-ILI, due to the way that society values Se and Ni. As you mentioned, for a Ni-dominant person to find someone who values it is quite an event, while Se always has admirers. Maybe this changes with age, but it is particularly true of youth – Se is what makes you popular in high school and college. Another lopsided one might be LSE-EII.