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[INFJ] How confident are you in your type?

Discussion in 'The INFJ Typology' started by hauteur, Jun 26, 2018.

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  1. hauteur

    hauteur Regular Poster

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    I've seen it written again and again that INFJs are pretty prone to questioning their type. I see it here, I've seen it in different blog posts throughout the interwebs. And it doesn't help that most of the type descriptions are garbage - they paint a caricature of each type as though it is a typical representation.

    But even more than that, the cognitive function descriptions can be just as problematic. They focus on behaviors. TE folks are driven to organize stuff. FE users are emotionally expressive and show concern for harmony. So on and so forth.

    Whether it's the type descriptions or the cognitive functions, I have a really hard time building up any confidence in my type. As soon as I do, I'll read something in a book or on the net, or I'll watch something on YouTube that completely jacks me up and makes me question everything all over again. Here's one example of that:




    I guess the question for me is where the problem lies. Is it in the descriptions, or is it just an inherent thing that INFJs do? Or some combination? Then again, it could be that I'm just mistyped.

    To me, the idea that I'm a "feeler" seems made up, like it's fiction or something. My whole adult life, I've been accused of being too analytical or closed off. Thinking too much. Whatever. I absolutely lock up when I need to be vulnerable in an unexpected way - like say a person smiling at me out in public.

    Honestly, I typed as an INTJ for a really long time and, when for the first few years, it felt like it fit. And, compared to my INFP wife, I've felt like Spock compared to the depth of her feeling.

    But, now, INTJ doesn't feel like it fits AT ALL. I've done a lot of healing work, and I'm way more connected with my emotions. And I feel like Fe resonates with me way more than Fi, I'm just not the guardian/counselor/whatever type that comes out in the descriptions.

    But then I go back to the cognitive functions and INFJ is the only one that really fits, no matter what the silly type descriptions say. Until it doesn't.

    But, really, my goal here (right this second) isn't to try to type myself - I'm just wondering how others feel about this. Are you confident in your type? If so, how did you get to that point? If not, why not? Is it even possible? Is there something inherently broken in MBTI or is it just a proclivity of INFJs? Or am I the only one?
     
    #1 hauteur, Jun 26, 2018
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  2. Sandie33

    Sandie33 Love Often & Absolutely ♡
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    @hauteur Hi. These two gentleman in the video are quite knowledgeable in regards to all things INFJ-y. (They have several nooks and videos available.)

    Their talk about being INFJ and building a relationship with yourself is great! Here it is:
     
  3. charlatan

    charlatan Community Member

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    The part of the MBTI that was officially validated is the statistical stuff. The dichotomies, basically (although there's a middle-road/so they're not really discrete dichotomies).

    Not the functions theory, which is more an interpretive gloss placed on the statistical stuff by Myers' reading of Jung, which she acknowledged to be controversial.

    I tend to thus treat functions theory as experimental -- that is there may be multiple good ways of organizing it, and even if there's one way synthesizing the multiple, it's possible it's so abstract that it's unclear how to apply the model to real cases without some room for disagreement


    Tentatively I do think I'm an ILE/ENTP. I think it's a pretty good fit, the vibe comes through reasonably clearly... nothing outstandingly off about it. I'm most sure about N-dominance above all.
    Probably the N-subtype.

    My recommendation is aim to note there are many versions of each type, and this will enable you to ensure you don't explain away the more individual features of yourself when aiming to fit yourself into the overall pattern.
     
    #3 charlatan, Jun 27, 2018
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  4. Pin

    Pin Commander-in Chief / Ren's Counterpart

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    I'm not confident in Myers Briggs typology, in fact, I think it's largely bunk. I use it to pass the time.

    However, if it's not bunk, the ENTJ description adequately fits me.
     
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  5. OP
    hauteur

    hauteur Regular Poster

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    Thanks, guys.

    @charlatan - I want to make sure I'm understanding what you're saying. Are you saying that the way people answered the tests (and was largely statistically recorded by Myers) is more reliable than her understanding of the individual cognitive functions?
     
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  6. charlatan

    charlatan Community Member

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    @hauteur -- basically the functions theoretic stuff has no empirical basis, whereas the actual test does. So it's not Myers' understanding of functions alone, but anyone's.
    The way the test (and the Big 5 and all such models) work is you figure out what personality descriptors actually intercorrelate, and form bigger clusters like T/F or N/S which are mutually independent. (Bigger clusters, meaning, no one T/F item describes it fully, they all intercorrelate and partially describe it -- some are notably different, like the tough vs tender and the logic vs feelings items are pretty different but still related.)

    The functions models are not based on empirical but philosophical arguments, which began with Jung but have grown in complexity since then (Jung's model was pretty simple, essentially just a dichotomies-esque model).

    Often times, the latter is still very good, because a lot of psychological tensions that are empirically validated also tend to have 'reasons' that we can conceptually spell out.
    But there are two things to be wary of: first, some tensions are hypothetically valid but don't tend to appear in the broader population, only in smaller subsets of it. Things like the big 5 pick up the broadest tensions.For example, most feel there's a psychological difference between Agreeableness and Disagreeableness. However, fewer may feel a tension between Rationalism and Empiricism.
    Second, we often stereotype when we build models without looking at the data, because we might think X correlates negatively with Y because we simply haven't thought through different ways X and Y could relate which cancel out the possible negative we see.
    For instance, we may think logic and emotion necessarily conflict, but it may be that they only conflict under certain circumstances or in certain people with additional psychological markers. And we may overlook ways they positively contribute to one another.

    The latter is remedied largely by examining all the possibilities scrupulously, in absence of data (my preferred approach). The first is of no concern to me, because it's fine as long as you don't say everyone exhibits these tensions, only IF you see the left side in so and so ways, you're likely to see the right side in so and so contrary ways producing conflict between the two. In other words, some may not feel any tension/have a perspective that balances the oppositions just fine.

    The point, though, is this is just something to be wary of -- there's a REASON there are a million functions theory models and no clear agreement among the theorists. Yet the language is still clearly powerful, so just abandoning course seems an extreme reaction.
     
    #6 charlatan, Jun 27, 2018
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  7. Wyote

    Wyote Moody Magician
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  8. OP
    hauteur

    hauteur Regular Poster

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    Thank you, @charlatan. That's a lot of good food for thought. What you are saying lines up in a lot of ways with what I thought before I started digging into the cognitive functions. Not that I think you're wrong - I really don't know what I think at this point. That's largely why I'm curious to see what people think about their typing - whether that is through the functions, the descriptions, whatever. How well do they match?

    With that said, the test is one of the primary reasons I haven't given up on MBTI. No matter what else is in the theory, you could say that there are statistical groupings and patterns in how people answer the questions on the test. Logically, that would mean that it serves as a marker for similarity in preference, even if we don't fully understand those preferences. Although, by saying that, I'll have to ignore that the vast majority of people who take the MBTI aren't taking Myers' test, but rather some derivation of it. You could argue that those derived tests may or may not measure the same markers, particularly if the underlying function theory were flawed - so, while their statistical validity might be just as valid, it could be measuring something different.

    But, then again, I've felt like the tests try to treat personality - or rather the MBTI - like a math problem. They go after the dichotomy of thinking versus feeling or sensing versus intuition. They try to apply the directionality of those based on social preferences. If I'm introverted and I'm always on time and I like theoretical books and I am not gushy, then I must be an INTJ. The trouble is that INTJs have both feeling and thinking in the middle of their stack as do INFJs - only their directionality is flipped, and so is their order. According to Jung (and Myers), I am not introverted, my intuition is. According to Myers, I'm not a judger, my first extraverted function is.

    The tests make it seem as though INFP and INFJ are very similar, whereas they are actually very different. In contrast, it makes INTJ and INFJ seem very different, whereas they really aren't all that far apart, at least according to the cognitive functions.

    But, then again, she designed the test that breaks it down into a mathematical composition. In some ways, I have a hard time seeing how they can co-exist. I mean, that's not exactly right - because I understand that Myers built on her mother's and on Jung's work, and she tried to create a statistical model to validate it. So, I get it, but the test just seems fundamentally flawed to me. And that's without factoring in the permutations that the age of the internet has created. Everyone has their own interpretation or - worse - has copied someone else's interpretation in a slightly different way.

    All of that is very academic, though. At the end of the day, none of the theory really means anything if it doesn't resonate with people.

    What I want to know is how people feel/think about their own types. Do you feel like it is a good fit? At the end of the day, does your understanding of the cognitive functions fit you, or is it just the way you test and the functions are crap? Do some/most/all/none of the portraits fit you? Do the functions fit? If they do, tell me more. If they don't, what drives you to keep looking? What keeps you from dismissing it like a bad horoscope?
     
    #8 hauteur, Jun 28, 2018
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  9. charlatan

    charlatan Community Member

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    There are a few points:

    - first, to Jung, the first sentence is no longer applicable. That is, Jung did not really think when he laid his ideas out in Psychological Types of having introverted intuition as particularly more than being an introvert and being an intuitive > sensation type overall. Jung's system was basically dichotomous (thus in a manner of speaking very simple...understandable as he was the pioneer) -- thus, it was a lot more like saying the difference between INFP and INFJ was the difference between NiFiTeSe and FiNiSeTe....or to put it more simply, it was a matter of INF(R) vs INF(IRR) where R = rational, IRR = irrational.

    The big thing here is Jung treated the auxiliary as relatively more conscious than unconscious in the normal case (and the 'tertiary' was generally seen as relatively more unconscious, although one of his prized pupils notes the view that it could be developed as a second auxiliary in some people), and thus, it took on the conscious attitude (either introversion or extraversion) -- also, Jung spent much of his book talking of introversion/extraversion by themselves, quite independent of the other functions, and your type was basically i/e + 2 functions + irrational vs rational (to decide which is dominant between the two). This determines any talk of the combined 'function-attitudes' like 'introverted sensation' because that just WAS the peculiar character of sensation in an introvert.


    So basically, the question is more WHICH 'cognitive functions' you mean! Certainly by the model people often use online, there are vast differences between FiNeSiTe and NiFeTiSe. Heck, you could aptly say none of the 8 function-attitudes is held in common between those two types!

    I can even give an express example, Nietzsche, someone Jung typed as a NiTi person. In Ch. III of Psychological Types, Jung both claims him as an intuitive with leanings towards introversion and as having an introverted intellectual side (anyone closely familiar with Jung knows he referred to T as 'the intellect') evidenced in his aphoristic writings. In Ch. X, he states Kant vs Darwin exemplifies the introverted thinking type / extraverted thinking type in their normal forms, and states a Nietzsche vs Cuvier as a more extreme example of contrast.

    - Second, it seems to me if a test contradicts a functions model, that's hardly evidence against it, unless a functions model is considered correct in the first place

    - Third, one has to consider the possibility that they're both right -- after all, if "INTP" is just code for two different things (one is TiNeSiFe, the other is the output of the statistically based test), that could just mean we're talking the same name used for different things, and unless we have independent reason to suppose those two different things can't both have validity of their own, this becomes nothing more than issue of semantics (ie it goes away if we call one INTP_test and the other INTP_functions)

    Certainly there is a tension if we suppose the test actually predicts the functions in their TiNeSiFe format. That is, as you note, the test model seems to suppose that flipping P/J shouldn't result in something as elaborate as flipping all the function-attitudes, and instead, you should just get successively farther away from a type by flipping letters. But really, all this leads to is that we shouldn't suppose the test predicts the common functions model used (if anything it would be closer to Jung's own that it predicts).
    It doesn't answer whether the commonly used one describes a meaningful pattern (which may be somewhat vaguely related to the test but far from 1-1 with its results)


    - Last, but not least, in the original concept, the idea that a Ni-dom had Se wasn't to support the idea that the two types had something in common in any traditional sense -- that is, the Ni type consciously was farthest away from Se. However, Jung believed in the unconscious producing compensation to the conscious attitude -- but of course, if you showed a Ni type Se, the idea that they'd somehow view that as more in sync with themselves than Si is simply far from obvious....there was a very strong vibe in Jung that Se was just anathema to Ni, and that's why it gets pushed out, repressed into the unconscious until it forcibly threatens to influence the person basically going against their repression of it

    On a theoretical level, you can see the tension here because someone who goes more with the modern stackings (the analyst Beebe) places the shadow at the opposing function-attitudes in his model, so e.g. for NiTeFiSe, it would be NeTiFeSi.....on the other hand, for Jung, an introverted intuitive dom with thinking auxiliary would have Se in the shadow.

    In a way, the modern stackings just turn the axes into variables of their own right/value them somewhat higher than they value the individual function dichotomies. That is, there seems to be some notion that you can decide on your INFJ vs INTJ status by considering Fi+Te vs Fe+Ti, instead of a good-old-fashioned F vs T comparison.
    I'm sort of trying to suggest here that this is a controversial idea even to someone true to Jung.



    (This doesn't decide if Jung was more right than the modern stackings approach -- it simply says the issue is highly controversial and thus it takes a lot more to refute a dichotomous approach than some would seem to think.)
     
    #9 charlatan, Jun 28, 2018
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  10. Happy Phantom

    Happy Phantom Phantom Traveler

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    I am 99.5% certain that I am an ESFJ, or ENTJ.
     
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  11. OP
    hauteur

    hauteur Regular Poster

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    @charlatan, I do have to admit that I'm on shakier ground when talking about Jung's core theories. Most of what I know about what is in Psychological Types is secondary: I haven't read it.

    But, as for the tests versus what is laid out in Gifts Differing, wasn't the test a way to measure the cognitive functions in people? Jung created the model but had no interest in typing people. Katherine Briggs expanded on it, and then Isabel Myers expanded on it further - creating and administering the test in an attempt to type people according to their function preferences as well as to validate or demonstrate the functions.

    So, if that is true, I'm having trouble with your second and third assertions. Although, I wasn't really trying to say that the test contradicts the model: only that it attempts to reduce it to a mathematical construct. My point is that I'm not sure the way the test is designed works in that regard. Or, rather, that I'm not sure the functions can be reduced in that way. But I'm also not completely sure they can't. I see the logic behind it; I'm just not sure I believe that it works.

    Still, with your third assertion - it seems to me like the test would have to be a failed attempt - even if it does measure something useful. If they are measuring different things and Myers' intention was to measure the functions, then the test is not meeting its intended purpose.
     
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  12. charlatan

    charlatan Community Member

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    Well sure, it doesn't work in the way it was intended by Myers -- she obviously wanted to pool it with functions theory. It works exactly like it was built, which is ultimately similar to any modern psychometric instrument such as ones used to measure the Big 5.

    However, to be clear, when she constructed it, MYERS didn't buy the TiNeSiFe model either! That has caught on later on. I think her idea was more like TiNeSeFe originally. Or maybe TiNe with an agnostic on the attitude of the tertiary -- that I forget. What Myers definitely pioneered, and as a move away from Jung, was that the attitude of the auxiliary is opposite that to the dominant. (As a note, this was admissible to Jung in the case of a mostly-unconscious auxiliary, i.e. one that remained more like an inferior function than a developed one....so for instance this is in his portrait of an extreme introverted thinking type....however, in his notes on the auxiliary, he amends this picture by speaking of the groupings of the conscious function***S*** ie the practical intellect vs the intuitive feeling)


    Still, my second and third assertions are about what's true of the test, not really about what someone else thought was true of it. I also want to add here that I'm not sure Myers would say, if you held a gun to her, that it really predicted the functions in any systematic way. Rather, she might opt for a 'softer' use of the test as an imperfect indicator to be coupled with the theory as she presented it, rather than a hardnosed use that really tries to say precisely what the test is measuring. My understanding is many functions enthusiasts who practice MBTI today use the test this way. Ultimately though if you want the point-blank answer, I think all the evidence suggests it's ridiculous to say there's any direct way they're predicting the same things.
     
    #12 charlatan, Jun 28, 2018
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  13. charlatan

    charlatan Community Member

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    (For interest -- the idea that the tert and dom share an attitude finds theoretical basis e.g. in the Beebe model, which suggests the Puer complex of the eternal child points the tertiary back in the attitude of the dom, sort of stubbornly against branching out into the balancing opposite attitude, which is exemplified in the more mature 'good parent' archetype.)

    (The first proposal of the TiNeSiFe model though seems to be from Harold Grant, but I think that seems unlikely to have been how it got traction; I don't know how it got so much traction, being not the one endorsed originally by Myers, but it's clear Beebe has popularized it/ thus is somewhat responsible -- he certainly pioneered the 8 function-attitude model at least)
     
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  14. OP
    hauteur

    hauteur Regular Poster

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    Okay, so I'm really curious. You are clearly well studied in MBTI, but you seem not to give it much credence as a theory - beyond what you find empirical. Yet you are an active member of an MBTI-based forum. I don't mean that as a criticism; just as an observation.

    Sorry if that's too bold or off base - it just makes me curious what drives your interest in it and what you ultimately think about its validity - versus other models.
     
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  15. Ren

    Ren Pin's android

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    The question is why haven't you updated your type on here yet! ;)
     
  16. Happy Phantom

    Happy Phantom Phantom Traveler

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  17. charlatan

    charlatan Community Member

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    Well there are several reasons (related ones) -

    - I only mention what is semi-empirical as a warning about believing there's any consensus on what model 'works'. It's not that I'm actually interested in the empirical nature of something....I'm the type who would rather learn string theory even if it were decisively proven wrong than learn some more down to earth theory that is proven right, simply because what if it had been right, and how cool the esoteric details must be!
    Similarly, I'd rather honestly argue the esoteric details of functions models (ie what is consistent with each theory, what is an unnatural assumption in a theory, and so on) even if it's a game.

    - as it is, I actually think functions theory gets at a lot of interesting patterns that do show up in real life, but I just prefer a more flexible take on which exact model and rigid assumptions to adopt. I use it more in a language/logic/definitions fashion (that is, if it's helpful to describe a pattern by a certain model, I make note of that) ... viewing various exact models more as some of the most interesting patterns than as the ones that have to naturally occur or something. Nature may be much more boring.

    As it is, I think the language/definitions approach is pretty powerful, and if we think about it, ultimately even something like the Big 5 was gotten from observing clustering in how terms from a dictionary tend to describe people. The dictionary is ultimately all about language/definitions -- that the terms people use to describe people actually can be fed into a replicating statistical model that is now corroborated with a bunch of neurobiological correlates suggests maybe if we find something is a useful language for describing something, to some extent just go for it.

    I tend to view a functions model as a complex pattern (vs a simple pattern that a dictionary term like 'friendly' or 'warm' describes) involving the interaction of the individual ideas involved in individual functions.... and view it kind of like a mega-dictionary term. I'm open to any number of functions-types being at work in a given person, just like any number of dictionary terms could describe a person. Maybe we can discover which patterns are more at work than others. Maybe someone isn't described by any given one of them.


    The reason I adopt a warning tone is I have seen some pretty dogmatic appeals to an 'it just works' sort of attitude in the typology community, and if you're going to do that, I expect very exceptional empirical support. If you make no such claims, then I'm happy


    With respect to my own type, I just used this flexible approach/I acknowledge it's still not 'over,' that there are lots of ifs and buts, but I guess I've studied the theory for long enough that I think it's not going to obviously get much better than *some version of ILE* with certain interpretations of what that means, and so on.
    You have to make some judgment calls/look at the big picture a bit to make a decision, in my experience
     
    #17 charlatan, Jun 28, 2018
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    hauteur

    hauteur Regular Poster

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    Nah - I don't look at it like that at all. In fact, I'm not even really sure what "it" is. Don't get me wrong, I've done my fair share of research into it, and I do think that I see aspects of the functions in myself and in others. My big problem with it all is that virtually everything you read about MBTI today is derivative. Even folks like Kiersey are derivative, but at least he is much closer to the source - even if I'm not sure I like how he approached it.

    Everything out there today is several generations removed and boiled down for mass consumption. Introversion or extraversion of feeling (or thinking or...) can be hard to grasp on a conceptual level, so many authors feel compelled to translate it into behaviors. That makes things so much worse because it may or may not show up that way in real life - never minding how it looks when it's in a different spot in the stack.

    The net result is that I don't personally have a huge amount of confidence in the model. I want it to fit better than it does in actuality. I want to feel as though I'm a solid fit within a bucket, even if it isn't perfect. What's interesting is that I'm much more accepting of variances with how other people fit than with myself. They can be good enough for me to move on. With myself, it's really hard for me to get to that point where it's good enough.

    So that's really the crux of my OP. Is it because I'm expecting too much of it, or am I mistyped? Am I in the same boat as other INFJs? -I've read that it's very hard to use Fe on yourself, so Ti takes over and it looks for too much exactness. And it's even tougher when you can't trust most of what's out there. I've read several things written by INFJs who seem a lot more like INFPs or ISFJs. That means everything you read has to be measured against something. Now if only I knew what that something was...
     
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  19. charlatan

    charlatan Community Member

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    @hauteur -- also, just to be clear, the "you" in the quoted segment is general, not about you! Ie I'm not suggesting you see it that dogmatic way, but that those who do might lead some of us astray ( because I hate dismissing things without continued research, I spent a LOT of time understanding the different views first....and I used to wonder what am I missing!!)...and more that it seems like, as you say, you're already suspecting things don't fit like a glove, and I'm recommending that, at least based on my experience, it's better not to worry about that/force it.

    I think it's much better to say maybe you're best-fit this type, have more aspects of that type than someone else of your type..and so on


    I try to be holistic, consider many takes on the models, and so on, and that's how i personally managed to both get a lot out of the functions-theoretic aspects of type + actually reach a reasonable overall best-fit conclusion that I think a lot of people besides me can also empathize with....despite the experimental state I think it exists in.
    I also try to note in what ways I fit the stereotypes of my type, what ways I don't, how enneagram colors it, and so on.


    There are, by the way, hardcore empiricists on type. I try to understand their arguments and pay homage to them to the extent I think due... but tend to refuse to abandon the less firmly empirical aspects because it seems a baby/bathwater type situation.
     
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  20. charlatan

    charlatan Community Member

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    Oh yeah -- abandon meaning, I still use it to describe people (in a flexible way).

    I'd not abandon course in terms of just discussing thetheory necessarily even if it can't describe real people because again, as long as it could describe hypothetical psychologies it's still potentially fun.
     
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