Jan 23, 2007

The Psyche and Reality: Augusta's Understanding

In an earlier post I mentioned the confusion surrounding the terms "function" and "information aspect." In actuality there are three different things that each have their own proper name, and people often mix them up or use them interchangeably for convenience. To clear up the confusion, I have created the following visual (the underlined words are not links):

*Note that in Jungian typology both IM elements and functions of the psyche are called "functions" ("thinking," "feeling," etc. are called functions, but so are the "leading function," "vulnerable function," etc.), while there is no concept that corresponds to information aspects in socionics.

Augusta saw objective reality as consisting of "bodies and fields" - objects and their interrelations. Individuals' perception is able to register all aspects of reality (or at least those accessible to our species) to some degree, but focuses on certain aspects more than others. Hence, the categories used to "divide up" reality can also be used to describe the corresponding "modules" of perception that register them. These modules Augusta called IM elements, or elements of information metabolism. The aspects of reality Augusta called information aspects. She viewed reality as sending living beings a constant stream of information about itself. This stream breaks down into different information aspects much as light breaks down into the colors of the rainbow.

To describe the differences in perception of information between individuals, Augusta used Jung's concept of functions of the psyche. By assigning a number to each IM element in her model of a specific type, she was able to describe the priority of perception, or - in her preferred wording - "the degree of clarity and differentiation of perception" of the given information aspect. The first two IM elements determine the ordering of the other six according to the rules outlined by Jung. At first Augusta referred to only 4 functions, following Jung's example. She called this "Model J." However, there was a logical inconsistency. Reality consisted of 8 information aspects, but only four of these were represented in the model of the psyche, suggesting that the psyche was unable to register the other four. Eventually Augusta and her associates introduced the 8-function model, called "Model A," and found the proper places for perception of all 8 aspects of reality in the socionic model of the psyche.

Jan 22, 2007

Simplifying Reality Through the Weak Functions

This topic came to me while working on a translation of Augusta's The Dual Nature of Man. Augusta's type was ILE. She had a definite tendency to simplify factors affecting relationships and interaction between people. Today her theoretical understanding of socionics and intertype interaction still lies at the foundation of socionics, but they have been fleshed out and are widely recognized to be not as clear-cut as she originally described them. In comparison, my blog and website show a more diverse approach to the topic of human interaction that includes other sources of insight (psychology, evolution, personal observations) in addition to socionics.

The difference? Augusta was an ILE with weak (simplistic) introverted ethics, whereas for me introverted ethics is an area of creativity and multi-dimensional perception. Augusta in effect describes a introverted ethics sphere with the aid of introverted logic. Since her explanations of relationships are secondary to her discovery of new patterns and structure in personality and information interchange, her oversimplifications are permissable, but in the long run they lose out in memetic competition to more fleshed-out and sensitive approaches to understanding relationships. Her understanding of relationships is rough and simplistic and doesn't pick up on the nuances of people's subjective feelings and the diversity of factors that influence these feelings from day to day.

Each of us simplifies certain aspects of reality as well. Have you ever met people who say and believe that all you have to do to maintain good health is eat less than 2000 calories a day, or visit the doctor every six months, or jog three times a week for 40 minutes? Have you ever met people who say and believe that all you have to do to develop your intellectual powers is read one book a week? Or that the key to maintaining a good relationship with your spouse is to frame statements about the relationships in the first person rather than the third (e.g. "I feel distressed when... " instead of "You never... !")? Or that the key to professional success is to perform one's duties and assignments diligently? Or that the way to ensure their physical safety is to take a self-defense course?

Each of these beliefs bears the mark of a weak function (usually the Super-ego). People take a one-dimensional approach toward a multi-dimensional issue. The purpose of this approach is to avoid thinking about this particular aspect of life in order to direct a larger proportion of attention and energy to our "favorite" tasks and activities. People with a multi-dimensional intuitive understanding of the area in question display a willingness to examine the nuances of each problem as it comes up instead of applying a blanket solution (one might say, a "final solution," to use Hitler's revealing choice of words). In certain areas of life each of us is prone to concoct "final solutions" that - naturally - must ultimately fail, since we assume that the problems that arise in this area will always be of the same narrow type that we have been able to foresee. But not all health problems arise from obesity, reading does not involve the entire intellect, relationships cannot be saved through careful wording, diligent employees are often laid off, and robbers do not always attack from the front and warn that they are assaulting you.

In the absence of close relationships with duals (and, to a degree, activators and partial duals), this one-dimensional approach often turns into a rigid false conviction; the individual believes he has found the single correct way of doing things and does not recognize his own incompetency. Dual relations in particular tend to keep the psyche flexible and constantly remind the individual of his own subjectivity in many areas of reality.

Jan 16, 2007

ILIs on the Internet: a Case Study

Of all socionic types, ILIs consistently seem to feel the most at home in the virtual world of computers and the Internet. ILIs are often found writing blogs, managing forums, participating in online discussions, designing websites, and playing computer games. To me what's remarkable is that ILIs who are computer and Internet geeks don't typically feel distressed by their "excessive" online activities, as opposed to people of most other types. It's just a part of normal life to them and isn't any better or worse than real-life activities.

Here is a great example - in my opinion - of an ILI who is very active on the Internet: M. Alan Kazlev. He is the author of www.kheper.net - a sort of sprawling online encyclopedia of articles on esoterism with over 1500 page.

The site has virtually no design elements and lacks a unified navigational structure, but it is fascinating to jump from topic to associated topic if you share Kazlev's interest in "new scientific and esoteric evolutionary paradigm concerning the nature of existence and its infinite metamorphoses, and the transformation of the Earth and the planetary consciousness to a post-singularity state of Supramental (Infinite Truth-Consciousness) divinisation" (from the site index). Here is a complete list of topics presented on the website.

In my opinion, Kazlev's interest in and approach to spirituality is quite characteristic of ILIs in general. ILIs' worldview is full of uncertainty and rarely allows for a final commitment to one single overarching idea system. Such a "final commitment" would imply closing one's eyes to contradictions that ILIs are prone to see in every aspect of human activity. Rather than try to resolve these contradictions by proposing their own competing material/external explanation of reality, spiritually-minded ILIs instead strive to establish contact with "higher powers," "the light within," or some similar source of non-rational knowledge that goes beyond describing physical, observable reality (which is always contradictory to an ILI). As Kazlev says, "I am an empiricist. I accept only what is certain. For me, certain is the light from within." The worldview of a well-developed ILI cannot be expressed using verbal, logical means (as opposed to LIIs), and truth cannot be reduced to words and formulations.

Kazlev has a strong interest in things related to the introverted intuitionextraverted logic theme of "changes in functioning over time" as it applies to the world around us, the world within, and art forms:

In addition to www.kheper.net, Kazlev runs "Orion's Arm," "a bold new shared worldbuilding and creative writing project, creating and exploring a new vision of the future of humanity and other sentient beings, ten thousand years hence" [source]. Not surprisingly, the project is dedicated to the memory of famous science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem, himself an ILI.

Finally, Kazlev has two blogs - here and here, a formidable project on the history and evolution of life on earth called Palaeos (remember that I've typed the scrupulous Charles Darwin as ILI), and a wiki encyclopedia on the history of life on earth. In addition, he is a very active contributor to a host of topics on Wikipedia.

At one of Kazlev's blogs we read a sentiment common among ILIs:

"Although I do consider myself an intellectual of sorts (albeit a spiritual-esoteric intellectual) I do get bored with too much mental debate. Especially where the emotional being gets involved, then you have a big argument, with lots of hurt feelings, shadow projection, misinterpretation, etc. That's why it's better to follow the pure spiritual path and access the reality behind the words."

This reflects the ILI's value of introverted intuition above all else. introverted intuition involves a image or vision of reality that goes beyond words (because it is based on mental images). Also, the Gamma Quadra values of introverted ethics over introverted logic are evident. It's better to preserve good feelings than push one's logical idea system on others, especially when ILIs are by nature skeptical about the chances of finding truth in logical idea systems in the first place.

Finally, let's take a look at Kazlev's own biography. Sincere, self-aware biographies are always a fascinating read. Here we find out about the early origins of Kazlev's interest in science and palaentology, and that his "physical and especially emotinal development always lagged behind, whereas my intellectual development and imagination was very advanced. At the same time, my alienation was so great that I remeber thinking at this time that I really might be a martian." We also learn of what sounds like a dual friendship with an SEE:
At this time I had a friend called Daniel... who was schizophrenic and hyperactive, but a really nice guiy, not at all intelligent but very feeling centered, tall, social and emotionally developed and easy going, extravertive and talkative, obsessed with sex, and would go on all the time about things like how long his dick was which I really wasn't interested in hearing about. He was the opposite of me who was (and am) short, intense, moody, intellectual, private, emotionally backward (not now, but then)... Anyway Daniel and I used to walk the streets of Melbourne together, a bit like Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight in Midnight Cowboy. He was one of my few close friends, although we were quite opposite.
Also interesting is how a relationship helped him become less of a slob, how he spent several years doing nothing but playing computer games, and how a speech impediment has affected his functioning.

I hope Alan will forgive me for "showcasing" him here, if he happens to come across this.

Jan 13, 2007

My Interest in Socionics

Each person who is seriously involved in socionics has his own reasons and personal history that led him to this. My own interest in socionics is based on several things:

  • my innate curiosity about people and relationships: how and why do people differ, and how and why do relationships differ?
  • my interest in personal development: how can I identify and rid myself of ineffective behavior, thoughts, and sentiments to lead a balanced and fulfilling life and achieve the clearest possible perception free of projections and the influences of random emotional and cultural baggage?
  • my innate desire to help people discover their unique individuality, have fulfilling relationships, and do good things in life.
  • my inborn, deep-down conviction of the possibility of deeply fulfilling, ideal relationships that would make a person feel happy and whole; personal experience that demonstrated the impossibility of such a relationship with most people, and experience that proved that my ideals could be met through duality as understood by socionics, and that other people whom I was not compatible with could experience the same thing with other partners.

For some stories of how people have found out about socionics, here's an interesting link.

Getting to Know Introtims and Extratims

The process of getting to know an introtim is quite different from the process of getting to know an extratim. Introtims are designed to respond to efforts made by others, while extratims are designed to make efforts themselves. These orientations are usually most apparent during the process of making acquaintances and getting to know each other better. Sexual programs (i.e. male initiative) can add another dimension to these patterns that I will not discuss here.

Introtims live with the sensation that there are always people who want to talk to them, get to know them, or do something with them. Their life philosophy is very often built around how to respond to these people.

Extratims live with the sensation that it is their job in life to put forth an effort to establish contact and interaction with people.Their life philosophy is very often built around how best to do this.

By no means are we equating socionic extraversion to "talkativeness." Introtims can be very talkative and extratims very reserved (though extreme cases convey a sense of tension and dissatisfaction, whereas by comparison very talkative extratims and very reserved introtims seem more natural).

The difference is that introtims do not tend to talk about themselves, but rather share their experiences, sentiments, thoughts, etc. that apply to the situation or discussion at hand. This kind of talkativeness serves to support communication and refine the situation, and not to get to know people better.

Extratims, on the other hand, tend to talk about themselves even when it isn't required by the situation at hand. In doing so, they inadvertently broaden the context of discussion and open up new topics. Some extratims can be silent for a long time, but then suddenly say or do something that significantly extends the context of the situation.

In general, introverted behavior serves to refine situations and bring them closer to satisfying participants' internal needs, while extraverted behavior serves to expand situations and bring them closer to the demands of external reality.

Let's look at the three possible combinations below:

Two introtims
Introtims, as a rule, establish personal contact with each other and build relationships as a result of being in the same location and circumstances for an extended period of time. In this case, no one has to make an effort to get to know the other - it just happens naturally within the context of their shared activities and experiences.

Two introtims can live together for years and never really know what the other person is like because they haven't ever discussed their personal qualities (similarities and differences) in depth. Instead, they know very well the other person's behavior, thoughts, and sentiments in the context of their shared experiences. Exasperated by the deficit of information circulating between them, they may make strange demands on the other's behavior without ever realizing the objective nature of the problem (i.e. that they have objective differences or similarities). Most often, relationships between two introtims have an aura of eccentricity, as if people are living in their own little bizarre world.

Two extratims
Extratims, as a rule, establish personal contact with other people by making an effort and saying more than needs to be said or asking more than needs to be asked in the given situation. When they are interested in a person, they try to find out about them directly by asking questions or by talking about themselves and expecting that the other person will follow suit. This ensures that people begin talking about their own general characteristics, which is necessary in order to establish a personal relationship.

Most often extratims react to other extratims' attempts to open them up and get to know them better with indifference or hostility concealed under a layer of tactfulness - especially if they sense the other person is treating them like an introvert. Hence, to have a stable relationship two extratims need to make a habit of talking about external things and avoid trying to "build a relationship" with the other by getting too personal. A possible exception is relations of activation, where partners are often able to help resolve each other's problems through direct intervention (without asking permission). Most often, relationships between two extratims lack "glue" and seem to have little that keeps them together.

An introtim and an extratim
Usually it is the extratim that makes the initial effort to establish a connection with the other person. The extratim has usually noticed certain qualities in the other person before the introtim is even aware. Based on his or her observations, the extratim decides to make an effort to open the other person up (each type in his own way). At this point the introtim knows very little about the extratim, but - more often than not - decides to humor the other person and respond to his efforts. At the very least, the introtim acknowledges the extratim's efforts to initiate communication (which is more than many extratims will do).

Video sample:
Johnny Depp and Rosie O'Donnell
If a stable relationship forms, the extratim and introtim complement each other by both expanding and refining situations, topics of discussion, and spheres of shared activity. Their interaction focuses on serving both internal and external needs. The introtim is satisfied that someone is around to periodically stir up the waters and generate convenient opportunities for change, and the extratim is content that someone is around to manage the inner life of the relationship and provide a sense of internal stability.

On a cultural level
In extraverted cultures like the United States, the prevailing habit is to talk about yourself, asking others about themselves, and go beyond (and ignore) the context of the situation when establishing a connection with people. In introverted cultures like Russia or Ukraine, people have a habit of establishing contact by talking about their responses to the shared situation they are in, without making others uncomfortable by expanding the situation or directing attention towards people's characteristics.

Jan 10, 2007

Socionics and Internet Addiction

In light of the recent problems at the16types.info, the most popular English-language socionics forum, I looked around at some other forums and came across this interesting post by a girl who used to be an active participant in online socionics discussions.

In my opinion, the central issue here is not the usefulness of socionics in general (I will discuss this below), but Internet addiction. Many people fall prey to the emotional draw of online forums where they spend hours and hours each day satisfying their need for communication and connection with others. Often people find they have personal relationships and emotional attachments to people on the forums or chat rooms that they have never, and will likely never meet. Dependence on cyber-sex and online pornography is yet worse. Some kinds of dependency, such as the nagging desire to check one's e-mail or do yet another Google search on a random topic, are more inane. The awareness of any kind of Internet dependency is almost always unpleasant and creates the desire to "fight the addiction," reduce or drop one's online activities, and give more attention to events occurring in real life. Often people repeatedly try and fail. If the author of the post is able to hold true to her decision, I would congratulate her. I'm sure she will not regret her decision in the least.

At the same time, I don't believe socionics has much to do with her negative sentiments. It really doesn't matter much what the subject matter of the forum is - socionics, snowboarding, freemasonry, or forex; the side effects of excessive online participation will be very similar. Of course, the best thing to do is to find some way to bring the center of gravity of one's life back into the real world and devote less emotional energy to one's online communication.

For myself - also a fairly active participant of socionics forums (but not nearly as active as the author of the post used to be) - attachment to online discussions has been an occasional issue. However, I am a newcomer to online forums and don't find them very addictive in the first place. Also, I'm older and have my own business to do and my own relationships that are more important than forums. Next, socionics for me is part of my professional interests, so the time and effort I put into serious discussion on forums also goes into "building" my websites and intellectual territory. Each good new realization or formulation is like another brick in the wall of a house I am building. If it weren't for the expectation of doing something with this material and knowledge in the future, my participation would seem like a waste of time. Finally, the bulk of my socionics activities take place in the real world in the form of analysis and discussions with real people (friends who are into socionics and psychology). I regularly get letters from people who are very interested in socionics but have never posted at the16types or other forums.

In short, yes - socionics forums can be addictive. And socionics can prove to be a waste of time if it is not discussed and developed offline (more on possible negative side-effects of socionics here). I recommend trying to stick to "professional" discussion of topics and watching yourself for signs of trying to satisfy emotional needs online. A test of the depth of your "professional" interest in socionics might be this: would you ever write someone a personal letter to discuss a socionics topic in depth just between the two of you (as opposed to having a discussion on a forum)? If not, you may be interested in social recognition more than you are in socionics and related topics.

The next step is to develop your socionics activities offline if the subject really interests you. Our upcoming meeting in London in April, I hope, will be the first step towards forming a real-life socionics community in the West. Perhaps real friendships and more professional collaboration will arise as a result. I think that will be a very healthy development, and I hope similar meetings will take place in the future. Real-life encounters and cooperation involve more aspects of one's being and don't produce unhealthy addictions (unless people get together to do drugs :-).

Walking a fine line between participation in real life and the virtual global community is difficult and is one of the fundamental problems of our day. I would not be surprised to see popular movements in the future to get rid of or drastically limit the role of computers in our lives. For now, each of us needs to have an idea of how to tell what is healthy and what isn't and make corresponding lifestyle choices.

Jan 8, 2007

How to Create Psychologically Compatible Robots

In the foreseeable future household robots may become commonplace. These robots will likely serve not only to help keep order in the home, but to provide emotional support to their stressed out, friendship-starved owners. To elicit an emotional attachment, they will need to display human qualities and psychologically complement their owners.

Potentially, robots could be created that would arouse a greater attachment than a human partner could. The way to do this is to make robots that have no personal goals of their own, but are wholly devoted to satisfying their owners' needs and whims. If robots were also designed to satisfy their owners sexually, the effect could be addictive.

How would you go about creating a psychologically compatible robot?
To generate an attachment between master and robot, the robot would have to display helplessness in the areas that the master is strongest in. This makes the master feel needed by the robot, and in return the robot would have to provide needed assistance to the master as well. If you create a purely functional robot that carries out a single set of tasks and has no human weaknesses and no implicit neediness, there will be no attachment with owners (except for the most technically minded people who "love" machines). For an emotional attachment to form, robot and master must fulfill each other's psychological needs. This implies a certain degree of psychological lopsidedness and neediness, which creates a motivation for cooperation.

The robot would have to display helplessness indirectly - not through blunt questions like, "Can you clean me? I feel dirty." To this the owner would probably reply, "Go clean yourself. I'm busy." Much more effective would be to have the robot cough and look tired and preoccupied when dust begins to build up inside or some other maintenance is required. This kind of robot behavior would be ideal for owners with strong introverted sensing. These robots would lighten up and start sharing insightful observations about events around them as soon as they are fed and properly taken care of. They would also need to finicky and infantile to provide an outlet for their owners' caretaking tendencies.

People with strong extraverted logic would need robot helpers that are cute and harmless playthings that constantly lose track of wires and outlets, phone numbers, things to do, and tools and appliances. Such robots should be able to put on a sad face and say, "Now what am I going to do? The refrigerator doesn't seem to be working any more, and I can't remember where I put the warranty." At the same time, these robots need to be adept at listening and comforting owners who struggle with irritation.

People with strong extraverted ethics would need robot companions who habitually take things too seriously and take issue with other people's choice of words, leading to frequent arguments. Such robots should be able to complain convincingly about a lack of comradery and kinship with others and should feel depressed when they are time and time again left out of fun, socializing, and close relationships. These robots soften up and become animated when their emotionally spirited masters are around. In return, they need to be able to listen staunchly to emotional tirades and help their owners figure out what is at the root of their discontent.

People with strong introverted intuition have a need for robots with strong material desires who are chronically anxious and worried about the future. These robots would need to ask questions like, "what if we don't make it to the bus stop on time?" with a worried face. At the same time, these robots would need to constantly whip their owners into shape by calling them "lazy bums" and by saying "I need the trash taken out NOW," "why haven't you called Aunt Bettie yet?", etc.

People with strong extraverted sensing have a need for robot helpers who suffer from a lack of will and personal desires. Such robots would need to be able to complain with a hopeless look about a lack of motivation and guidance in their day-to-day tasks. These robots would be daydreamers who chronically forget about the world around them, but have a strong sense of meaning and purpose and can hypnotize their owners with their predictions and internal vision.

People with strong introverted logic have a need for robot helpers who are always joking and acting up, but can't communicate information in a clear, logical, and dispassionate manner. When corrected by their owners, they would say, "Yes sirree" or "that, my friend, is precisely what I wanted to say" with a mockingly serious expression.

People with strong introverted ethics have a need for robot companions who are hard-working and diligent, but frequently experience irritation when other people get in the way of their goals and don't act rationally. These robots should be able to sigh dejectedly and say, "my relationship with the garbage man is the source of much distress for me," or "What is wrong with people? Am I the only one who isn't mentally ill?"

People with strong extraverted intuition have a need for robot helpers who worry about their undeveloped talents and potential and wonder what strengths and weaknesses they have compared to other people (or robots). They should be able to convey this insecurity on their face in moments of weakness. At the same time, these robots should be good at supporting any new initiatives of their owners and should be programmed to remind their owners to use the bathroom, ask them if they are hungry or cold, and suggest ways to remedy these situations (i.e. "Oh you poor thing - you look as if you haven't eaten anything all day. How about I microwave the pizza leftovers?").