If you are a veteran typologist, you may recognize a certain pattern that appears in a lot of typology (and other psychologically affiliated domains). But even more likely is that you might not be privy to it at all. In fact, you may have even fallen for this certain pattern, considering that is a tried and tested trick straight from the book.
Despite how I have characterized this trick thus far, it's hardly deceptive! I would even go as far as to say that it's so easy to spot that we begin to ignore its underlying nature because 1) the rational approach is just so unsatisfying, and potentially more importantly, 2) it's "how we're used to seeing it," so we don't demand for anything more rigorous.
But what am I even talking about?
Let's begin with an example showing you the conditions for setting up this trick:
Let’s say that you often observe someone to be “reserved”, it is very easy to jump to the conclusion that they are introverted because they display stereotypical introverted behavior. However, there are many possible non-type-related reasons why a person might behave that way, such as: depression, anxiety, a recent tragedy, past learning or upbringing, cultural influences, etc. In other words, the person might indeed be introverted but you can’t be certain until you accurately contextualize their behavior by examining their unique individual circumstances. When trying to type yourself or other people, you are likely to make mistakes if you rely on stereotypes or simply take behaviors at face value; you should instead try to grasp the individual’s cognitive processes that produced those behaviors, which is a much more difficult task.
Any sane person could look at this and see merit in the general idea behind what's being said here, because the reasoning seems well-thought-out and the idea of "seeming one way but being another way" is an idea we are already familiar with. But let's pay closer attention to exactly what's going on here.
In order to do that, we must look at exactly what picture the author is painting of type. The holistic, resonant image that we take a liking to here is one that the author uses to describe the idea type specifically. This is important. The author claims that type is not about "stereotypes" or "behaviors," but about "cognitive processes that produce these behaviors."
This is key. Keep this in the back of your mind for now.
A little bit further down that page we find: This implies that when a person uses Si a lot, they can superficially resemble a person who uses Ni a lot, in behavior, because both seek to conserve energy and honor personal priorities (same for the other three categories). However, Sensing and Intuition employ different cognitive strategies to achieve those goals, which again emphasizes the point that your type is found in cognition rather than behavior, i.e., the “how” and “why” (the exact method and reason for conserving energy) is more important than the “what” (the simple fact that one does). (source: https://mbti-notes.tumblr.com/theory#part1)
This should give you a more concrete example of how the author foresees people to conflate "behavior" with "cognition." There is something strikingly essential to the concept in this specific sentence: employ different cognitive strategies to achieve those goals…your type is found in cognition rather than behavior, i.e., the “how” and “why” (the exact method and reason for conserving energy) is more important than the “what” (the simple fact that one does).
Now, let's stop and have a reality check. The author directly refers here to cognitive processes that produce behaviors, or in other words, a mental orientation we have that produces a set of behaviors that cannot be isolated from the original orientation that creates them. Do you know what this implies? Think about this and keep it aside for the time being. Another excerpt from the page: While there is agreement that people use all four cognitive processes (SNTF), some theorists argue for a primary functions model (top four functions only) while others argue for a full stack model (all eight possible functions) while some even deny that functions have an i/e orientation. There also continues to be disagreement about the true order of the functional stack, particularly regarding the auxiliary and tertiary functions, with the confusion stemming back to Jung himself (he was not known for writing with clarity).
It is beyond the scope of an introductory guide to dive into theory disputes but I will say the following: 1) I don’t think that a full stack model postulates anything that can’t already be explained by a primary functions model. I am not closed to the idea but, so far, full stack models seem excessively complex, difficult to interpret consistently, difficult to apply effectively in therapeutic situations, and somewhat redundant (I admittedly prefer elegance). I believe that full stack models require further development and critique. 2) Drawing upon my one-on-one experience working with hundreds of individuals and their psychological issues, the conventionally accepted alternating functional stack (eiei/ieie) has proven most useful in correctly diagnosing cognitive development issues as well as prescribing the appropriate remedies.
I recommend conceptualizing the functional stack as the ideal path for achieving individuation over the lifespan, rather than using it merely as a typing instrument. Many people suffer from type development issues, which some might want to interpret as the result of expressing functions in the wrong i/e direction. Stunted development doesn’t mean that a person won’t fit a functional stack, it means that expression of their functions is problematic, which can make it more difficult to type accurately in some cases (and why it’s important to clearly distinguish cognition from behavior). However, once their type is correctly identified, the alternating stack is an effective guide for healing their maladaptive tendencies.]
If you're used to typology, you may already be very warm to the ideas that author exposes you to here, and you may have already formed your own judgment on what the most "correct" (unsure what wording the author would use to refer to "most recommended form") form of the theory is. But let's get a hold of what the author is actually saying here.
This is loaded with implications, and I'll explain the most important ones:
1) The author believes that their interpretation of type is worth communicating to you, the reader, because it is not excessively complex, not difficult to interpret consistently, and effective in therapeutic applications, unlike an alternative interpretation of the model (as claimed by the author).
2) The author sees type as a mental orientation that can be effectively identified using the provided model, and the grounds for confusion in type are related to the concerns that were shown before. There is no such thing as "not fitting a functional stack" to the author, because the brain is simply oriented in this manner.
Note: You may consider that the author means it in a figurative sense rather than literal: the author does not claim that the processes literally exist in the brain, but that they are the best representative ideas of what occurs in the brain. This can be refuted: there is such a thing as "more difficult to type," but not "impossible to type" (i.e. every factor that prevents people from accurately identifying their type cannot be related to a flaw in the theory's fundamentals because there is always a way to type somebody correctly using the theory).
Before furthering any criticism, we must first understand how the "why" and "how" that the author described as essential to their type theory adequately explains, to the author, the forthcoming "what." ake a look at the blog itself and notice that the wording throughout the entire thing treats all of this as a given. It is a list of claims that are not supported by anything but your own intuition about how the mind works.