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. :)

What this blog is, and isn't

The purpose of this blog is to help me understand why I do some of the things that I do. My goal is to keep track of things that trigger unwelcomed responses from my limbic system. This happens because of PTSD and depression. I am a naturally curious person. This blog will also be my sounding board for new things that I learn. As of this time I am learning how Carl Jung's Cognitive Function stacks operate. You may know this by the name Myers-Briggs Personality types, or MBTI. I will be using what I know about my own stack, and maybe how someone else with a different stack, might be impacted differently. I am not formally trained in any of this. Everything that I say is my own interpretation of things that I have read. If material is referenced from anywhere specific I will add a link. I know I will be linking to Personality Hacker quite a bit. The people over there have done, and are doing, great work.

What I will try to avoid:

  1. Going off on tangents regarding personal problems, anymore than necessary.
  2. Talking at length about politics (tend to be Libertarian) or religion (tend to be a Deist).
  3. Writing a book in each post. No one has time for that.
  4. Being too clinical. I mean this in the technical sense regarding science. I also mean it in the lack of emotion sense.

So let's Crack the Lid on my dome and see what shakes out.