bre patterson

A Response to Anna Moss' "Cognitive Functions and Type Dynamics - A Failed Theory?"

[You can read Anna Moss' article here.]

Beckett and I focus primarily on cognitive functions when typing and coaching people. Because of this, I've had a few people say, "But haven't you seen Anna Moss' article about how the functions don't exist?" They seem worried that our entire type theory will crumble and Type in Mind will be no more.

I always think it's silly that they bring this up at all.

The thing is, the functions Anna Moss is referring to don't have much to do with the ones we use.

Every Type community has formed their own definitions and their own way of doing things. We see different texts as canon — Jung's Psychological Types, Keirsey's Please Understand Me, etc. We have different theories that form our type-vocabularies.

Beckett and I really like the cognitive functions. As we've used them over the years, the terms have grown with us and have come to mean something to us personally. We've redefined the terms in our own ways, and have drawn from many different sources as we've learned about the functions... just like everyone does when they start using Type, whether they realize it or not.



Whenever we go looking for physical proof of anecdotal concepts, we have to first define what we're looking for. We have to say "Ti means THIS", "Ni means THIS". This is necessary for any sort of research into Type.

Any evidence that's put forth is meant to prove something specific, like the existence of Type as that researcher is defining it. It does not prove that everything that fits under the umbrella term "Type" exists.

Looking for proof of Type is like looking proof of a kid's imaginary friend.

Depending on how you define what you're looking for, you could prove that the imaginary friend isn't there ("See this heat map? No signs of life. There is no person there."), or you could prove that the imaginary friend is indeed there ("See this brain scan? You can clearly tell that the kid is imagining something.").

You'll get completely different "proof" depending on the assumptions that you walk in with and the way you define "imaginary friend" and "existence".



Moss' article mentions the lack of empirical evidence and research into the functions and type dynamics. I think her points are valid; she raises important questions.

However, I feel that more clarity is needed as to what she means by "cognitive functions" and "type dynamics". Without specific definitions for the various terms used in the research she cites, it's really hard to know if we're talking about the same thing or not.



If you look carefully, you'll notice that Moss' entire article is only citing work from J. H. Reynierse (with some help from J. B. Harker). She's throwing out cognitive functions entirely (which, mind you, are the only reason MBTI exists) because of one person's theories. I find it especially interesting that Reynierse has come up with his own pet theory for referring to people's types. An example she shares is a IPTNsfje.

I have a lot of issues with his theory, but one of the key one's is that J and P DON'T EXIST. (I don't think I can ever say that too many times in this life...) How can you have a strong preference for P over J if the only thing they point to is which of your functions is extraverted first?

I digress...



Her article pretty much goes like this:

  • "Cognitive Functions" is an unproven hypothetical construct.

  • One guy I found did some research and stuff.

  • So here's a new unproven hypothetical construct we should use instead.

I don't find that very compelling and it doesn't inspire confidence.

I've seen a lot of people's lives change through the functions. They make a lot more sense to me than the 4-dichotomy way of measuring people (E-I, N-S, F-T, J-P) and the functions are a lot closer to Jung's original ideas.

I've seen other type theories bring mini "aha" moments in corporate settings (like work or shallow party-talk), but functions actually enable people to go deep into the nitty-gritty of who they are. And it helps them understand the people they love. I'm talking about tear-wrenching, life-changing, I-finally-understand-why-the-6-year-old-me-was-afraid kind of stuff.

In my own life, I've been set free from who I thought I should be and am able to finally BE myself. For years I didn't even realize I was trying to be someone else — functions helped me see that.

So yeah, I think I'm going to keep using the cognitive functions. =)

How to Keep Your Stupid Job (Without Prostituting Your Dignity)

Team meetings always kill me.

In the job I'm working now, there's a particular emphasis on "being passionate about what we do" and "bringing 110% of us to the table". Most of the people I'm working with are uber into what we're doing, and have long-term dreams for both the company and their part in it 30 years down the road.

Me? I just need money.

Sitting in the circle of chairs while our boss casts vision, encouraging us to grab hold of it and run with him, I wish more and more that I could literally sink into my seat and disappear. I don't want to die, just... not exist.

I like my job. The tasks and projects that I work on are often fun, and although it's still "work" it's a nice kind of work. But as soon as someone starts talking about “where we’ll be as a team in 10 years” or how “this job makes me feel so alive and fulfilled” I start looking for the exits. Wow, you really feel that way? Maybe I’m taking up someone else’s place, because I don’t feel that way.

There's a sense that every day I spend with this company is investing in a future here — a future that I don't want to live in. Impending doom.

What do I do? Maaaaaybe, find another job.

Sometimes that works. But let's explore that for a minute.

Although it's particularly intense with the job I'm doing now, I've noticed a common passion-for-the-company theme in every job. When I worked for a pizza shop a few years ago, I remember watching videos on the Founding of the Company as part of my initial training.

I was pretty good at making pizza, and in my mind, being good at making pizza should be the main qualification for pizza-makers in your pizza shop. I just lacked a certain, I don't know, enthusiasm that my managers were looking for. I didn't believe in the company, and even though I didn't talk about it, I guess it showed through.

My thought was, "I make pizza, you pay me for making pizza." Their thought was, "You make pizza, and that makes you are an adopted member of the company family, your future is tied to ours, you represent our heart with each pepperoni slice you lay, and you better understand how serious it is."

Impending. Doom.

I need money, does that mean I have to sell my soul?



A company totally has the right to choose who they hire and who they don't. If I was the business owner, I'd want people in my business that represented me well. This realization sucks, because I get it. But what does that mean for us who are looking to make an honest living without living a lie? I can't go each day pretending I care, when I actually don't give a crap.


1) Decide how much you DO care

You might not buy in to the whole 100-year vision, but there's gotta be at least a little part of you that cares about the business. What IS your vision? Don't think about whether it's good enough or big enough, just figure it out. It'd probably help to grab a pen and paper (or a whiteboard, if you're like me) and jot it down.

Maybe it's to make the customers feel welcome. Maybe it's to see your small store in the franchise get some corporate recognition. Maybe you think your manager is a great guy, and you'd like to see him succeed.


2) Once you know where you stand, don't stray from it

In a way, let's 80/20 our passion. You might seem half as enthusiastic as your co-worker, but that's no problem. If your caring is purely authentic it's actually going to be way more believable and last a lot longer.

Also, when you're just being honest, it's INCREDIBLE how easy it becomes. Faking passion, or even just bearing the guilt for not feeling passionate enough, are where the real problems come from. You will burn out. Fast.

So don't add to it or take from it, just let it BE.


3) Remind yourself how much you do AND don't care

This is where having it written down comes in handy.

It helps me a ton to pull out my journal and re-read my list. I kinda forget where I stand after being around co-workers and representing my company to clients. It starts to feel like I'm being sucked in to the company vortex again, and that my presence in the business is a declaration in itself of how much I love everything we're doing. How offensive! Wanting desperately to reinstate myself as an individual, my heart starts to cry "Rebel! Get out! Run!"

How much do I care again? And how much do I NOT care? Sometimes you just need to remind yourself.


4) Leave Work at Work

You need weekends. You need time when you're not at work, and you're not thinking about work. You need to remind your mind and body that your life is not centered around your company. And to do this, you need to LEAVE WORK AT THE BUILDING.

When I come home, I might have left my stuff in the office, but my brain is still carrying work with me. What am I going to do about that email in the morning? Does my co-worker hate me? Ideas for that project...


Make a conscious choice to not think about work. If, for some reason, you must, SCHEDULE IT and don't let it sneak into your off-time.

Start an "I'm home now" ritual. Something that helps you transition OUT of work and INTO being home. For me, I get into my pajamas and play with my dog for a couple minutes. For you it might be taking a shower, or turning your phone off, or playing music and making a cup of tea, etc. Try some stuff and find out what works for you.

Honestly, your job has nothing to do with you. It's someone else's dream.

Your future is not wrapped up in the fate of your company. It's a fair trade to get paid money to pour into someone else's vision, but don't loose yourself in the process.

Spending time doing things that have nothing to do with your job remind your body and your mind that you're alive for something else.


5) Dream

What do you want to do and accomplish? What does the perfect normal day look like in your imagination?

There is more. This is just a small section of your life. You may be working for someone else's dream and just trying to not burn out in the process, but what are you moving towards? Having hope for the future gives today meaning.

Bucket Basics: How to Avoid Burnout (even when your job sucks)

Burnout sucks. I was burnt out for a couple years in my early 20's. Yes, my early 20's. There were many factors, mostly that I said "yes" to too many things. I was also, as I found out later, sick from food allergies, which propelled my depression. Yuck yuck yuck.

BUT, I escaped! I prevailed! And now I love my life, even without loving all of the separate parts of my life. (For more about surviving sucky-ness, see here.)

And ya know what? The core of not-getting-burnt-out is super simple.

Here are the 2 keys I learned and use today to avoid burnout:


1) Protect your Bucket

You need to know what you can do and what your can't. Where is your line?

You have ONE bucket, and you only have so much in there to give. Burnout is the result of continuing to give when your bucket's empty.

BE INTENTIONAL with your time, energy, and heart. CHOOSE where you're going to give, and where you're not. Have some boundaries and learn to say no to the things that really don't deserve that precious stuff, and say yes to pouring into the people and projects you've chosen specifically.


2) Fill your Bucket

In addition to protecting your bucket, you need to be pouring back into your own bucket. What makes you come alive? What makes you feel awesome? What's beautiful to you? These things fill your bucket.

On a simple level, it could be taking a walk. On a deep level, fulfilling your destiny. It's up to you to figure out what makes you come alive, and include those things in your life.

One common mistake is jumping your stack.

This is typically skipping your second function and deferring to the third. Example: As an FiSe (ISFP), I have a tendency to ignore my Se and its needs altogether and just focus on my inner Fi-Ni world. Of course Te (my fourth function) butts its head in, but the second function isn't that aggressive.

To give an extraverted example, an NeFi (ENFP) will very quickly burn out if they ignore their Fi (second function) and just hang out in Ne-Te land.

The second function may be the often-forgotten-middle-child, but others can be skipped to. Take a look at your life and see if you're valuing and exercising the right things. 

You are worth it. And heck, the more your pour into yourself, the more you have to give.

Fill that bucket.