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?


  1. At the risk of seeming simplistic:
    I do not think that cognitive functions explain everything about ourselves.

    There is brain. There is mind. We can go to supervenience when moved by some need to evade.
    Point stands.

    My best reconning: brain serves by producing an assessment very quickly. Amazing, really.
    And then? ahhh ... well ... why would some successfully self-serving aparatchik got to "And then"?! No reason.

    Mindfulness is the product of principled autonomy.

    None of this is quantum physics.
    see abhidharma


    1. Ben,
      I am not going to lie, I had to lookup the word "supervenience." That is a good word.
      I agree that this is a very unrefined field. It leaves up many questions. I hope that someone continues Jung's research, not just rename everything and call it new.

  2. "Perfection is the enemy of the good" ... great concept, but too often it has been twisted to support unprincipled "pragmatism".
    My line: we are not called upon to be perfect, or heroic. We are called upon to do what we can, by the lights of our own experience.

    Nothing about that connects with greedy careerism.

    Authenticity / empathy / solidarity => sanity.