Aug 22, 2018


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:

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, wrote a few hundred articles and posts on socionics, was active on, 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.


Johnny said...

I've thought fairly long about this, and ultimately I've came to the conclusion that Socionics doesn't work, because there is a giant gaping flaw within its entire philosophical premise.

The logic behind this is actually inordinately simple.

"What is socionic type about?"

- All a "type" is, is to say that a person is X, and therefore will ALWAYS stay X throughout time. If that weren't the case, then there would no longer be a "type", or at least there'd be no need for a type. If a person turned into Y, then it would no longer make any sense.

But do people actually stay the same? It would be absurd if people stayed the same throughout their whole lives. People clearly change and evolve over time. People try new things, people do things in a slightly different way, they get influenced by their environments and by their own thoughts.

You might say, well things like being logical or emotional don't change much over time. Sure enough, yes. But how can we "predict" how one will act in the future, from how the person tend to focus on his emotions, for example? What do any of his actions have to do with his tendency to focus on his emotions? I think that there'd be too many variables and too many different factors on how he may act from his tendency to focus on his emotions. Or what do being "logical" have to do with say, being liberal or conservative? Neither are really decided by pure logic. We know that a normally logical person can still make incredibly stupid emotional decisions.

The glaringly obvious problem with this approach is that we haven't actually established *how* emotions or logic lead to this action or that. Why exactly does a focus on logic and intuition lead to "Alpha values", for example? This has not been explained. This is because Socionics is a system of making correlations between observations, without coming up with explanations on how or why that is the case.

"When does Socionics 'work'?"

- Socionics "works" when an observation made by Socionics repeats itself. X happens, X happens again, there's a repeating pattern, therefore Socionics "worked". What if the pattern doesn't repeat? Then it doesn't work, as simple as that.

So Socionics only "works", if the observed pattern keeps repeating itself. But is that really a genuine discovery, or is it just something so inane and trite that it couldn't be said to be much of anything? Are we just stuck in finding some repeating patterns? Is that all we have come to?

I think the problem is that human beings are simply inherently unpredictable, because of our tendency to try new things and do things slightly differently than before. Otherwise, there'd be no discovery, and there wouldn't be science as we know it. That's why these "typologies" that only HOPE that people will forever be stuck in some pattern of a "personality type", can't be said to work.

So how can we ACTUALLY predict people? I think that's only possible, when we find enough universal laws that CONSTRAIN ourselves enough that we simply have no other choice but to act in a certain way. For example, if somebody holds a gun to your head, then you'd have no choice but to comply to his wishes, which can be explained by certain universal laws, such as that as an evolved biological being, it's your biological imperative to survive. And also to add that psychologically, you are rationally aware of what a gun can do and what a person may do when he threatens you with a gun so on and so forth.

Daniel said...

You should quit one more time and then come back in uncertain terms, so you can be the triple-ex(XXX) Socionist. Then they can make a video game about you similar to Jet Li's Rise To Honor from 2004, because you got out but then you had to go back in to get out again.