There is a popular misconception that individuals always have innate, “strong” Ignoring and Demonstrative functions. Instead, these functions are developed through exposure to the information elements.
One’s abilities with one’s lead and creative functions are not limited by socionics. These first two functions of a type are the ones with which that type naturally has most ability, and the role and vulnerable are the ones with which a type naturally has the least ability.
One justification for this: The ability to use role and vulnerable is suppressed because of dichotomies with Lead and Creative respectively. The aspects in these functions are opposite sides of the Logic-Ethics and Sensorics-Intuition dichotomies. They contradict each other, and cannot be used at the same time: using one’s Role actively goes against using one’s Lead. Example: Punching an opponent in the face (Se) closes off one’s options (Ne) in any future dealings.
Unlike the first four functions, the abilities with the aspects in the last four functions are flexible. In these functions of model A, changes of ability occur due to exposure to various information elements.
A Tradeoff between Opposite Aspects
Let’s define the following terms: Development of an aspect is the acquisition of new abilities with the aspect, Degeneration of an aspect is the loss of abilities with the aspect. Development and Degeneration are always “of abilities with aspects”. Development occurs as a consequence of exposure to information elements. Degeneration is not spontaneous; it only occurs because the opposite aspect is developed.
Note also that these terms are value-neutral: there can be developments of the abilities one happens to disvalue, in the strict Socionics sense that the abilities developed are of aspects in a disvalued function. Similarly degenerations can be of abilities that one happens to disvalue.
Development of one aspect is always at the expense of another. Similarly, the aspect in the suggestive function is opposite to the aspect in the ignoring function, and therefore you cannot develop abilities in both: they are fundamentally conflicting ways of acting/thinking/being.
Consequently, you cannot develop both of the Mobilising+Suggestive block and the Ignoring+Demonstrative block. Although you always have abilities with aspects in your Lead+Creative, you might develop either your Ignoring+Demonstrative or your Mobilising+Suggestive, but never both.
However, you can develop aspects independently of blocks: If you’ve developed e.g. your suggestive function, then you might develop either your demonstrative or your mobilising. The question here is — to what extent?
Exposure and Levels of Development
Aspects are part of reality that we can perceive. More precisely, reality has aspects in all combinations, but according to Socionics, we perceive them both individually and in blocks of two.
If you perceive your lead aspect, you have your lead blocked with your creative. There are two variations of creative for any lead (your blocking and your kindred’s blocking).
You might get highly unequal exposure to various information elements. For aspects in the first two blocks this is not formative of personality, because they exhibit no development. On aspects in the last two blocks, this unblocked exposure limits your development: you might not have the occasion to learn to process them in a blocked way (one of the elements of a block might simply be absent). Therefore, we can establish two levels of ability:
- a primary level of ability derived from the base, unblocked aspect, and a secondary level of ability derived from the aspect as it appears in its block.
- a secondary level of ability can only be acquired if both elements in the block have been developed to a primary level; the secondary level “builds upon” the first level with abilities that require simultaneous use of primary abilities.
Directions of Development
An individual starts with ability in their Lead+Creative, with blind spots / disabilities in their Role and Vulnerable, and with equally undeveloped abilities in their Suggestive, Mobilising, Ignoring, and Demonstrative. With exposure to these aspects, individuals begin to develop them.
They first gain primary level of ability with two aspects and then, if these are aligned with their model A blocks, they gain a secondary level of ability.
Because of blocks and the existence of opposite aspects, there are four developmental “directions” open to each type. There are two directions that align with a type’s blocks and can result in all levels of ability (development of Suggestive and Mobilising, or Ignoring and Demonstrative). There are also two directions that do not align with a type’s blocks, and therefore can lead only to primary levels of ability (development of Mobilising and Ignoring, or Suggestive and Demonstrative).
If individuals with developed aspects subsequently begin to develop abilities along a different direction, it is always at the expense of the abilities along the first direction. For instance, developing Ti causes degeneration of Fi (because these are opposite aspects).
In order to illustrate the above, consider the following case studies:
A) Illusory Parenting
Consider a parent-child relation between two Illusory types, in particular an ILE parent raising an IEI child. By exposure to the parent’s Lead and Creative, the child develops both Ne (their Ignoring) and Ti (their Mobilising). This development is not aligned with the IEI’s natural blockings, so their development is stunted at a primary level of ability. The child’s constant exposure to and use of Ne prevents them from developing Se, just as their exposure to and use of Ti prevents them from developing Fi. In fact, the ILE parent has role Se: they might actively prevent their child from being exposed to Se (which they abhor), even though it is the child’s Suggestive.
The child cannot acquire secondary level abilities aligned with their own psychology, until they gain some degree of independence from the parent.
Similar dynamics exist in Semi-dual and Request relations.
B) Dualisation and Extinguishment as developmental processes
Consider a friendship between two Dual types, in particular an ILI and an SEE. By exposure to the ILI’s Lead and Creative, the SEE develops both Ni (their Suggestive) and Te (their Mobilising). By exposure to the SEE’s Lead and Creative, the ILI develops both Fi (their Mobilising) and Se (their Suggestive). These developments are aligned with both types’ blockings, and in fact they develop each other’s valued functions. They are able, with mutual interactions, to break through from primary to secondary levels of ability. This mutual development is known as Dualisation.
There is a similar alignment between two Extinguishers. Consider an LSI with a secondary level of ability with Ni and Fe, and consider their prolonged exposure to an LSE. The LSI might develop Te and Si as a result, not only losing their abilities with Ni and Fe in the process, but also (eventually) gaining a secondary level of ability with their Ignoring and Demonstrative functions.
Extinguishment and Dualisation are both aligned to the types’ blockings, but they pull in opposite directions.
There are developmental patterns in Socionics that are a consequence of the structure of Model A. Because aspects are pairwise opposites (Te vs Fe, Se vs Ne), development of one aspect entails degenerescence of the other. Because aspects appear both as individual functions and as blocks, there are two levels of development, and there are four directions along which a type can develop. However not all levels are accessible in all directions; only directions that align with a type’s natural blockings offer theoretically unrestricted development.
In light of this, we can show why the notion of innate, “strong” abilities with Ignoring and Demonstrative functions is a misconception: It does not support the idea of dualisation. If you had innate abilities with these aspect, you would perceive your dual as half-dual and half-superego/conflictor. Indeed, as well as satisfying each others’ suggestive and mobilising, duals would be hitting each others’ (unvalued) role and vulnerable. But (and this is key) they would not dualise in response to exposure to one another. On the other hand our model guarantees that Dualisation is possible.