Reply To: Emotional Attitudes (Updated)

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Mitchell Newman
  • Type: NeFi
  • Development: ll--
  • Attitude: Seelie

That’s an interesting response Janie, and I actually relate to it a lot.¬† I agree that it’s not always the case and did not mean to say that it was, but the fact that it isn’t always the case (especially for the reasons that you lay out) raises some interesting questions for me:

I have also struggled with an avoidant attachment style in my life, although it is becoming less and less that way as I grow up more and spend more time with the opposite sex, for example.¬† It doesn’t entirely surprise me that it’s more common for Unseelie/Directive because there were some points in Unseelie Fi which I related to about not wanting to show your vulnerable feelings to others.¬† However, I was typed as Seelie Fi, and it is true that more often I am agreeable and I aspire to be open and kind with people.¬† Maybe I was Unseelie before and am becoming more Seelie, and there are still some remnants of my old Unseelie self.¬† Or maybe I (and by extension other people) are not purely Agreeable or Disagreeable.

After all, agreeableness is actually a scale on the Big 5, not a binary trait.¬† Now, the Big 5 is a self-assessment test, and the fact that it’s a scale is by virtue of how it is measured as answers to a series of questions, so that may not tell us that the ontology of “agreeableness” is truly a continuum.¬† However, there are enough shades and variants on the test, and enough complexity in people such as ourselves (I am a Seelie who relates to a few aspects of Unseelie, you are an Unseelie who relates to the agreeable enneagram type 9) to suggest that it may be good to include a non-binary measurement of agreeableness and disagreeableness.

When it comes to the abstract principles, it seems pretty straightforward that Agreeable relates more to 9, and Disagreeable 8 and 1 (especially 8).¬† However, in practice it’s not that simple.¬† It’s ALREADY not that simple in the Enneagram alone, because the Enneagram types aren’t discrete by nature: wings are important part of the theory.¬† So a 9w8 with a strong 8 wing may be considerably more disagreeable than a 9w1 with a weak 1 wing.

Moreover, in the Humanitarian Socionics that I study, there is a concept called the “communicative space”, invented by Victor Gulenko.¬† What’s important about it in this context is the concept of “communicative distance”:

1) Far-close range. When interacting at a long distance, people are separated by a significant distance, their communication is largely subject to conscious and social control. This distance usually occurs between strangers or in groups of more than eight people. Close distance means that communication takes place with close contact in space and is distinguished by spontaneity (a greater degree of influence of the unconscious). This distance is most typical for groups of up to eight people, especially if they know each other well.

What Victor Gulenko has found in his practice is that people act differently at these different communicative distances, and that this is important for type diagnosis.¬† What’s more, in Humanitarian Socionics there are various subtypes of each type (Dominant, Creative, Normalizing, Harmonizing), which is similar (but not the same as) to something like Agreeable/Disagreeable variants of the types in Cognitive Type (especially if you add in development levels, but that’s not germane to this discussion, so we can leave it aside for now).¬† More recently, what Victor has discovered is that people can have different subtypes at different communicative distances.

To give an example, John D Rockefeller is considered as an LSI DN.  What that means is that he is a Logical-Sensory Introvert who has a Dominant subtype at far communicative distance (meaning at far distance his Business Logic Te and Power Sensorics Se would be enhanced).  At far distance, he is one of the most powerful capitalists in history, able to compete, persevere and monopolize at a level few other people are capable of.  However, at close communicative distance, he had a Normalizing subtype (enhanced Structural Logic Ti and Comfort Sensorics Si): he liked to study accounting and manufacturing details for extra hours even to the point of pedantry (not true of most business leaders), redrafted his letters until they were absolutely perfect instead having the more expedient behavior more typical of a pure dominant subtype, he served in many supportive help roles such as a janitor, he dressed scrupulously, and he tended to blend in with his subordinates and lead them in a more polite and subtle rather than demanding way.  If you met him, he may well appear to be a rather modest and agreeable man, not the domineering capitalist the most people know him as (which he ALSO was).

None of that applies to type of Rockefeller in Cognitive Type, and that wasn’t my intention.¬† The point is just to demonstrate that people can appear quite different at far and close communicative distance, and that you can take this into account in a theory of types.¬† This may suggest the possibility of a more nuanced assessment of Agreeable/Disagreeable, but there are a few ways you could go about it.

It may be that people can be Agreeable or Disagreeable depending on the distance of communication.  That gives 4 gradients of possibility:

AA (agreeable at far and close distance), AD (agreeable at far distance and disagreeable at close), DA (disagreeable at far distance and agreeable at close), DD (disagreeable at far and close distance)

How this might look: Someone who is AD may be very polite and accommodating to strangers, ready to yield for them and empathize with them up to a point, but with their family, lovers or close friends, they may have attachment issues and close their emotional boundaries after a certain degree of closeness is reached, or maybe they can even be more domineering and disagreeable with family, lovers or close friends.  Likewise, someone who is DA may play a very tough role at the workplace or need to be very strong and disagreeable as a leader or public face of something, but at close distance with their family they may be utterly polite, tolerant, yielding, empathic and open.  Basically, the tough steely person with a soft heart once you get close enough to it.  And some people may be more purely Agreeable and Disagreeable, not varying as much.

Another dimension to this is time (as you pointed out with life conditioning): people may be born agreeable, but suffer some kind of trauma or adverse circumstances, and to adapt they have to harden their heart against the world and become tougher and more disagreeable.¬† Or, someone who was born very disagreeable may go so far that they alienate everyone around them or go to jail or something like that, and they eventually have a spiritual awakening that helps them to develop an agreeable side or even become a mostly agreeable person.¬† A further interesting question to consider is how strong the biological components of this are, when it comes to whether someone is born agreeable or disagreeable and how stable that is.¬† In Humanitarian Socionics, people are born with a subtype as far as we know, but it can change if circumstances that demand the change coalesce with a strong internal desire to make the change.¬† In Cognitive Type or Socionics, if someone started as one variant and changed to another, it’s interesting to consider how similar they are to someone who was born that way.¬† Maybe there is no meaningful difference, but maybe the difference is still quite substantial.

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