Saturday, March 4, 2017

Agency and Speech .............. or, Don't Tell Me What To Say!

Mantra: Done is Better than Perfect.
Cognitive process order: NiTeFiSe
Socionics - ILI
Aneagram - 5w6

In social science, agency is the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. This is a very important concept to me. I support Freedom. I live in America where we have certain freedoms. People are always trying to erode Freedom. By limiting the freedom of people, power is created. 

When I was a young boy it was the "Religious Right" who wanted to control Free Speech. I remember when the video game Mortal Kombat came out. It was the church groups that raised a fuss over the violence in the game. Their voice was so loud that the depiction of blood was taken out of the home console released versions of the game. About that same time the "Progressive Left" started really pushing Politically Correct speech. Since then the "Religious Right" has gone quiet, but the "Progressive Left" is still going strong. There is another push happening right now to remove gender specific job titles, as well as removing gender specific pronouns. I happen to agree with the alteration of those job titles that use the term "man" to refer to the general idea of humanity. So Chairman being changed to Chairperson is ok with me because it was not meant to be gender specific in the first place. Although, in the early days of business it was primarily males who occupied those positions. Where I start to have issues is where two words exist, one for each sex, and they want to condense it to one word. For instance the words actor and actress. There is no distinction in ability between the two. I don't hear the word actress and automatically think that this will be someone who is inferior to an actor. It is a simple distinction of terms based on the known reality of the gender of the thespian. The key word is KNOWN. If someone has a name that is androgynous and is of unknown gender then the word actor is used. If the person is known to be female, then the word actress is used. This does not diminish the ability of the person, nor does it categorize them.
All of this crap makes me want to go on a venom-filled rant about clarity in communication. I will spare you the rant, but I would like to ask you a question. Let's say that you are a witness to a crime. The police round-up people from the scene and ask you who the perpetrator is. The group consists of five men and one woman. Is it more clear to say "they did it" or "she did it?"

The last thing that I will say on the subject is that Feelings are not protected in the American Constitution, but Speech is. Do not tell me what words to use. My words reflect my thoughts. As soon as I am no longer free to use words that reflect my thoughts, I have lost an essential freedom.

Inspiration for this post came from Youtuber Arthur Arcturous:

Friday, January 20, 2017

Crowds .............. or, Mysanthopy Managed

I am socially introverted. This hasn't always been the case, but since my teens it certainly has been. I also primarily use an Intuitive learning style (Ni), rather than a Sensory one like 75% of the rest of the population. These two things together mean that I haven't really ever fit in. It has always been hard for me to make friends and for other people to understand me.

I have been cynical for a while. Part of that is because of feeling ostracized, part is because I see the flaws with systems very well. A healthy amount of cynicism is perfectly fine, I just have no idea where healthy stops.
Image result for cynicism

Cynicism in the Army was fine. They don't really care. What I learned is that there is a time and place for cynicism. During the process of plan creation, for instance. Good leaders like to see how their plans might fail so that fixes or contingencies can be put in place. What didn't work so well was when I added PTSD to the mix. For me, the combination had three results: depression, nihilism, and misanthropy.
Image result for nihilismImage result for misanthropy

I kind of made peace with my nihilism. I even learned to keep my mouth shut about it (which was the tricky part). I fight every day with depression and misanthropy. Mostly my misanthropy isn't an active problem. It is more of a background noise. I don't really know how to break it. It isn't a clinical diagnosis, it is more of an outlook. There is no medication for it, nor are there any procedures to fix it. I think it comes from the horrible first impression that I give (for all the reasons listed above, plus I am not classically handsome).
Image result for misanthropy

The other wonderful gift of PTSD is paranoia. So you put all of it together and you have someone who is a hairs width from throwing in the towel and calling myself agoraphobic, or at least a hermit. Let me walk you through a scenario. I went to my daughter's play. My paranoia mandated that I be there in time to scope the place out and get my choice of seat (usually near an exit, preferably in the back so I can see everyone). My misanthropy wants me to be as far away from other people as possible. Inevitably someone will sit near me, no matter where I sit, and want to engage in small talk. I have expressed my disdain for small talk in another post. I just want to tell them that they are wasting their time, that I have no societal affirmations for them.
When I talk to my therapist about this type of thing I am told to go out anyway.

Image result for fear of crowds

So, by now you are asking how I function. The secret is in my realization that I am not in hostile environments. Although the pulse pounding action isn't an indication of safety, I still know that the Grandmother sitting behind me isn't going to attack me. It is unsettling to be in that situation, but I just rationalize my way through. Sometimes it works better than other times. The other thing I do is conscientiously monitor and control my breathing. I know that sounds like a weird thing, but by controlling my breathing I am able to slightly lower my pulse and blood pressure. It isn't much, but sometimes it is enough. It also gives me something to focus on other than outside stimulus, and makes me feel like I have some control over what my body is doing. The feeling of no control is a pretty scary thing. I am not so delusional as to think that I have control of autonomic processes in my body, just that I can effect them slightly. 

If you suffer like I suffer, or differently. Give this breathing strategy a try. Breathe in for four seconds through your nose then out for four seconds. It doesn't seem to matter if I breathe out of my nose or mouth. I find it way more convenient to breathe out of my nose. You look more in distress if you are breathing out of your mouth every four seconds. Make sure that you are counting in your head. Counting makes you concentrate on the breathing. This technique is just as much about mental distraction as it is breathing. I have looked someone in the eyes while they were talking and been completely focused on my breathing. It makes you seem like a good listener, which is ironic because I have no idea what that person was saying.

Do you have other strategies? I would love to hear them. Leave a comment below and we can talk about it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Analysis Paralysis ..............or, Why I'm Broke.

Mantra: Done is Better than Perfect.
Cognitive process order: NiTeFiSe

When it comes to making decisions I tend to take into account as many variables as possible. The more familiar I am with a given situation the better the outcome (or more accurate the outcome) will be. The problem that I run into is that when not framed properly in my head the variables don't stop. I am always seeing new ways to do something, or new ways that things can go wrong. These become puzzles, large jigsaw puzzles with no clear borders that seem to go on forever.

With jigsaw puzzles it is common practice to start with the border pieces and work your way in. It gives you guidelines to work off of. Picture a jigsaw puzzle that has had the border pieces removed. Now imagine that you find one piece for your jigsaw puzzle every minute. The pieces all seem to fit somewhere. At what point do you stop putting pieces together? You don't know when your picture is complete, there are no borders. So you decide to stop putting together pieces once your puzzle has reached a decent size and it makes a clear image, only to find out that you had only completed a small section of the puzzle. The actual complete puzzle would have shown a totally different image. What do you do when you start getting handed pieces for the next puzzle? When do you stop putting pieces together? You don't want to miss the whole picture again (because in life that means bad choices that waste time and other resources).

So that is where I sit a lot of time. I find pieces everywhere, but I never know when to stop putting them on the puzzle. The more defined the situation the easier it is to make that decision. When I was in the military I would only work on certain things. My goals were well defined. If I didn't know where to stop there were plenty of people around me who would let me know. Once I was out of the Army there were no more people to stop me. Sayings like "you can be anything you want to be" do nothing but add to the number of pieces I want to include. As if there were a picture out there that would be perfect for me, only I can't seem to find it.

I, like all of you, have bills to pay. I took a job in security so that I can live while putting my puzzle together. I am at an age where opening my own business is the most desirable choice. But a business doing what? What picture completes that thought? As far as skill goes it doesn't really matter. I can learn anything. But what magical business is going to let me hit all the criteria I am searching for (money, time, ect). So I put pieces together. I have been burned by moving too fast to accept the picture that I need it to be full. My biggest fear is that I have had the completed picture for decades now without moving on it. All of that time wasted.

I think the puzzle metaphor is most easily understood by watching this video:

I know this one is kind of weird. If it doesn't make sense then please ask me questions so that I can clear it up.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Holiday Stress ....... or, HO HO when can I go HOme?

Mantra: Done is Better than Perfect.
Cognitive process order: NiTeFiSe

There are four things that bother me during the holidays:

  1. Crowded Places
  2. Socializing with People I don't know / The Expectation of Small Talk.
  3. Not having an escape option.
  4. What to get other people for Christmas

1. I am almost always scanning for information. When I am talking to one person one-on-one it is easy for me to carry on a conversation. When there are enough people to have two conversations at once then I start to loose focus as I am trying to hear both conversations. It is kind of like getting two radio stations at the same time on a radio. So when I attend Christmas gatherings I go nuts trying to listen to, and separate, multiple conversations. I end up not really listening to anything. I retreat to a newly defined "safe area" and try to tune everyone out. This of course makes everyone look at me weird and ask me why I am not being social.

2. So then I go once more into the breach. It never fails that everyone that I actually talk to only wants a surface level conversation. "It sure is cold outside." No shit, it is December. I despise this type of thing. Something designed to give the appearance of conversation without real meat. I am a conversational deep diver. I want to get into the details of a subject. Usually the more abstract the better. However, most people that I talk to do not have that same agenda. Sometimes I can get someone to that point by asking about their work, but more often than not I just get the conversational cold shoulder.

3. I get tired of getting blown off when I am putting some much effort into talking to people. It just takes all of my motivation for being at the function and balls it up and throws it out the window. So I start looking for an escape route. But it isn't that easy. I am not the most sensitive to other people's feelings, but when someone goes through the effort of cooking for a bunch of people I feel obligated to at least stay long enough to eat. So I am stuck. This only adds to my stress.

To deal with all of this I usually add myself to the "staff." I will volunteer to do menial tasks in order to remove the social obligations. It is a cheap trick. It only barely works.

4. I think everyone goes through this a little bit. My case goes to the extreme. Have you ever seen "The Big Bang Theory" episode where Penny gets Sheldon a Christmas present?

I'm not quite that bad, but the first part where he talks about the obligation of matching a value of the gift is what I go through, along with trying to figure out what type of gift to give someone. I like useful, practical gifts. But I have found out that not everyone does. With Te as my secondary function ( with Te being the function of "how can I make this?"), I wonder if the secondary function is the secrete to gift giving? I will have to watch my daughter open her gifts and see what items she likes more.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Unpleasant Nocturnal Visions ............. or, My Hell Comes at Night

Mantra: Done is Better than Perfect.
Cognitive process order: NiTeFiSe

I was listening to the Personality Hacker (PH) Podcast and Antonia said something that made a lot of sense to me. She said that to remove the distraction of the tertiary function (which for me is Extraverted Sensing, or paying attention to the outside world) you need to feed it. At PH they refer to this tertiary function as having the sophistication of a 3 year old. I do my best thinking in the shower. I have known this for a while. I guess it makes sense that the external sensation of being in the hot shower with the water hitting me, and also the sound of the water, as well as the smells of soap, ect, would pacify my 3 year old Se and allow my more primary Ni and Te functions to flow.

What I want to talk about is how this can backfire. While in the Army I had to spend extended periods of time using my Se function as my primary. This is completely unnatural for me. There is a well documented connection between INTJs and being over-stimulated. This is because Se is so underdeveloped. So when I spend time in my Se for too long it really causes issues for my brain. When traumatic things happen while my head is already having issues my Ni kicks in and tries to remove the details from memory. Normally I do not remember strict details, I remember more in impressionistic imagery. When I dream at night my subconscious is able to recall all the things that happened as my Se processed them, not as my Ni blurred them. 3 - 4 nights a week I am stuck in the worst places that I have been, recalling all the awful things that I have done, seen, and smelled. When I wake up I am quickly able to rationalize all of those things away. I remind myself that I am not in those settings any more. It takes a lot to shake me when I am awake. The sensory experience has to be extremely dominating for me to notice it in the first place.

What occurs to me is that some people are naturally Se users. They walk around all day noticing all the little things in their environment. For those people PTSD must be a waking nightmare. My brother, for instance, is an ESFP (based on knowing him and my own observations). Se is his primary cognitive function. Not only that, but his secondary function is Fi (so he filters everything through the question "how do I feel about that?"). He was involved in combat as well. The effect of PTSD for him is much greater because he remembers the details while awake and feels responsible for some of the bad things that happened during war. His secondary Fi really won't let him move on very easily.
Our nephew, who was also in the Army and is an ESFJ (he has tested this way), has PTSD from combat as well. His primary function is Fe ("are my people getting their needs met?). His secondary is Si, sort of a subjective sensation. It is able to take that outside stimulus and only deal with the parts that are important to him. Si is also responsible for using the problem solving technique of "what have we done before" very well. The thing that haunts him most is the people that he lost. When checking first to see if your people are getting their needs met, having one of them die is a serious blow.

Disclaimer: I do not think that cognitive functions explain everything about ourselves. I know that I spend a lot of time talking about it.

Things I know:

  1. I am only partially knowledgeable about this topic.
  2. I am lucky and cursed. My demons mostly come out at night.
  3. My cognitive functions protect me.
Things I want to know:
  1. (always) Am I right?
  2. Should/Could PTSD treatment be tailored toward each individual persons cognitive functions?
  3. Is anyone reading these? Should I continue?

Friday, December 16, 2016

My MBTI Type Nailed Down

In regard to my confusion about my MBTI type I contacted the people at and asked them for assistance. This is the response that I received from their COO:
Hi Austin
Thank you for your email. We receive a lot of requests from people asking for help with finding their best fit type.
Your best fit type transcends tests. Online tests aren't known for their accuracy, they're more of a guide or starting point. True knowledge comes when you take the time to research the cognitive functions of each type and learn where you fit into the equation.

It is entirely possible you mistyped as an INTP originally, and now that you have matured, you are typing accurately. Or, maybe you are an INTP and your exposure to a dynamic that is heavily Extraverted Thinking (the military) has influenced you to demonstrate cognitive functions that are not yours. 

We did a podcast a while back about how trauma can impact personality:

We all have modifiers in our lives that make us unique. There are more introverted Extraverts and vice-versa. I'd recommend watching for your 3 yr old (in our car model, or what's technically called the inferior process). Sometimes where we go when we're overwhelmed can tell us more about our type than anything.  

Also - have you listened to our podcasts on the types? If not, those may be a good place to start as well. They're long form deep dives into the types, so they may shed some light.  

Go to and find the resource pages for the types you have narrowed it down to. There's a ton of content and information there. 

You can also check out these articles:

If you still run into confusion, we have a product whereby you can talk to a qualified Profiler and find out your best fit type over the phone. Here is the link to that product:
Good Luck!

Charis Branson
Director of Operations | Personality Hacker 
 I watched the videos and read the pages that she suggested. To be honest they didn't help me much. However, the part where she said to "look at the inferior process" really helped. The stack sequence for an INTJ is NiTeFiSe. The stack sequence for an INTP is TiNeSiFe. For an INTP the inferior process is Fe (or Extraverted Feeling). For the INTJ the inferior process is Se (or Extraverted Sensing). I couldn't decide which of these I was better at. Fe looks at if other people are getting their needs met, and Se looks at the detail in the world around you. I suck very badly at both of these. I moved up to the tertiary position. Which do I use more, Si of Fi? Fi is understanding your own needs/feelings/morality. Si, for most thinking types, is about remembering how you have done things before. And there we have a winner! I almost have to learn things on the fly every time I do something. I can not readily recall how I have done things before. So that locks me in as an INTJ. There is no doubt about it.
I am able to use Te to see possibilities and how things work, like an INTP,  fairly well. I guess 18 years developing that skill still counts for something.

So, that leaves me with a plan for improvement. The good folks at Personality Hacker say that the key to personal growth is to develop your secondary process. For an INTJ that is Te. Te looks at something and asks the question "how can I use this?". So I need to work on completing tasks and putting them to the test in the real world. It is a deductive trail and error process. New Mantra: Done is better than Perfect. I need to not obsess over the perfect path to do something and just do it. This will be a hard thing for me to do. It will certainly take me out of my comfort zone. But isn't that where they say growth happens? Time to do a deep dive into INTJ specific information.

In an effort to keep better track of information and events I have started using a bullet journal. I have it all set up using Microsoft One Note rather than paper and pen, I am a tech geek at heart. I am interested to see how this goes.

Things I know:

  1. I am an INTJ
  2. I have a lot of work to do.

Things I want to know:

  1. Are there questions that I can ask myself to direct my thoughts to a utility base other than "How can I use this?"
  2. How can I leverage my thought process to not only create a system (my journal) but keep up with it?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

About Me ...... or, Who's Mind is This Anyway?

I am from a small-medium sized town in Georgia called Dalton. After graduating from High School I entered the Army. I seemed to take longer than other people to adjust to the military way of doing things. I can remember doing a billion pushups because I kept asking "why?" In the military you are expected to do things because you are told to do them. I really didn't have a problem with that, I just didn't understand what we were doing and trying to figure it out was slowing me down. Two things happened after that, 1. I got really good at doing pushups. 2. I stopped asking why.

In my youth I was certainly a Myers-Briggs type INTP.  That means that when I came across something new I would start with the Ti function. Ti is Introverted Thinking. So I would try to match things with things I already knew. Kind of like everything I know is on a series of wire frames and this new data would either fit on an existing frame, connect two different frames, or be a new frame . Creating a new frame is the most difficult. All of this new Military knowledge had little to connect with on my existing wire frames. By asking "why" I was able to match parts of the new data with existing frames, thus creating extensions of frames. When I stopped asking "why" all of the new data became new frames. The problem was that these new frames weren't linked. They were just separate pieces, like towns with roads but no roads going into or out of the town.
The second cognitive function in my stack was Extraverted Intuition (Ne). That process looks at what could be done with that new data. It takes a little thing and makes a near infinite flow of what could be. The "whys" keep that flow focused. It allows for some guidance. Some sort of criteria that this new data is meeting or problem that it is solving. That way when new ideas are coming they can be filtered to only those that meet the existing criteria. When I stopped getting all the data my brain went into overload. It was like my Ne just shut down because it was still spitting out ideas for information that was experienced weeks ago.

At this point I was a lost soul. I know that training is supposed to break you down so that they can build you back up, but this was not the kind of break that they were looking for. I can remember acting on Sensation. This is how 65%-75% of the population functions. The issue for an INTP stacked person acting in Sensation is that the S function is only about as developed as a 10 year old.
I survived basic training and entered into job training. I found this to be a more academic setting, and one where I could ask "why" when I absolutely needed to. The damage had been done though. I wasn't the same as I had been. Instead of going back to INTP, I was now thinking more like an INTJ. As it was happening I had no clue what was going on. I was scared. An INTJ looks at something new and uses Introverted Intuition (Ni). Ni wants to know what the best guess of how something works. It takes an almost infinite amount of data and distills it into its basic parts, or most recognizable parts. The second function for an INTJ is Extraverted Thinking (Te). Te looks for ways of using things. The power of an INTJ is solving problems and improvising. Those skills fit in with the Army much better.
There were a few INTJ's in my Army units (only 1.5% of the whole population). Almost all of them had been INTJ's their whole lives. I was a poor copy of what they were. They had much more time to hone and craft their thought processes, while I had only months. For the rest of the time I was in the Army I seemed to be comfortable with this new function stack. It set me apart from most of the other soldiers. I was able to craft strategy better than most others. It even got noticed by Generals after my squad, who were playing the opposing force, were able to take out the rest of our Battalion.

Then I got hurt. It was one of those things that rarely happens, but still happens. The Army decided that I was no longer suited to be in the Army. It was partially true. I was not able to perform the functions of my primary job. I asked to be reassigned to the training command for new soldiers. I knew more than most about computers and communications equipment and wanted to teach what I knew to the ones taking my place. My request was denied. I was medically discharged.

In the military you always know what your goals are: promotion, job placement, and survival. The road to those things is usually pretty clear. Outside of the military it is a whole different situation. There is no path. Things are wide open. I thought that I had marketable skills: computer repair, network design and implementation, microwave communication repair (cell phone towers). As it turns out, no one recognizes military experience as actual job experience. Also, no one takes training as job training. I hit a state of depression. More accurately the depression hit me, HARD. My newly acquired INTJ'ness was working against me (traitor!). It wanted to solve all the problems, but I had no ability to do so. Here is the pitfall of INTJ, with no path clearly marked you will choose no path. You will stand still and endlessly try and determine which path to choose. That is what I did, and let me be honest am still doing. I work a brainless job for low pay. I am trying to get out, but with a family (girlfriend and daughter that live with me, son who lives with his mother) it is hard to just take a leap.

I took a personality test and it showed INTJ. This particular test was at a career center and showed how much of each letter I am. I am 92% to the Introverted side of the Introverted - Extroverted scale. I am 87% Intuitive on the Intuitive - Sensing scale. I am 90% T in the Thinking - Feeling scale. But I am just 51% J on the Judging - Perceiving scale. The 51%J means that 51 times out of 100 I am going to show up to the world in INTJ mode first.
So I took the test 19 more times. 10 results were INTJ, 9 were INTP.

Things I would like to know:

  1. #1 is always: Am I very wrong about everything?
  2. Does personality type change in adolescence until the age of max maturity?
  3. How does PTSD effect MBTI typing?

Things you need to know:

  1. If you leave me a reply, I will answer you.
  2. If you tell me that I am wrong, I will seek understanding.
  3. My primary method of understanding is to argue. So come bearing facts. :)