vivian in mirror

Priming, a la Gladwell

In moving stuff over from my blog, since I can't actually link posts (not viewable to public), I'm posting this because I'll probably refer to it.  The book Blink by Malcom Gladwell sparked some thoughts on Ni.  (Which I'll probably get back to, after the community has actually been set up.)

Gladwell describes how easily people’s conscious thoughts are influenced by something called “priming”; words (or some kind of stimulus) trigger certain trails of thought that we follow without realizing it, as if the unconscious picks the word up and prompts us to go in that direction. From the book (italics are author’s):

It’s an example of what is called a priming experiment, and Bargh and others have done numerous even more fascinating variations of it, all of which show just how much goes on behind that locked door of our unconscious. For example, on one occasion Bargh and two colleagues at New York University, Mark Chen and Lara Burrows, staged an experiment in the hallway just down from Bargh’s office. They used a group of undergraduates as subjects and gave everyone in the group one of two scrambled-sentence tests. The first was sprinkled with words like “aggressively,” “bold,” “rude,” “bother,” “disturb,” “intrude,” and “infringe.” The second was sprinkled with words like “respect,” “considerate,” “appreciate,” “patiently,” “yield,” “polite,” and “courteous.” In neither case were there so many similar words that the students picked up on what was going on. (Once you become conscious of being primed, of course, the priming doesn’t work.) After doing the test- which takes only about five minutes- the students were instructed to walk down the hall and talk to the person running the experiment in order to get their next assignment.

Whenever a student arrived at the office, however, Bargh made sure that the experimenter was busy, locked in conversation with someone else- a confederate who was standing in the hallway, blocking the doorway to the experimenter’s office. Bargh wanted to learn whether the people who were primed with the polite words would take longer to interrupt the conversation between the experimenter and the confederate than those who were primed with the rude words. He knew enough about the strange power of unconscious influence to feel that it would make a difference, but he thought the effect would be slight. Earlier, when Bargh had gone to the committee at NYU that approves human experiments, they had made him promise that he would cut off the conversation in the hall at ten minutes. “We looked at them when they said that and thought, You’ve got to be kidding,” Bargh remembered. “The joke was that we would be measuring the difference in milliseconds. I mean, these are New Yorkers. They aren’t going to just stand there. We though maybe a few seconds, or a minute at most.”

But Bargh and his colleagues were wrong. The people primed to be rude eventually interrupted- on average after about five minutes. But of the people primed to be polite, the overwhelming majority- 82 percent- never interrupted at all. If the experiment hadn’t ended after ten minutes, who knows how long they would have stood in the hallway, a polite and patient smile on their faces?

“The experiment was right down the hall from my office,” Bargh remembers. “I had to listen to the same conversation over and over again. Every hour, whenever there was a new subject. It was boring, boring. The people would come down the hallway, and they would see the confederate whom the experimenter was talking to through the doorway. And the confederate would be going on and on about how she didn’t understand what she was supposed to do. She kept asking and asking for ten minutes, ‘Where do I mark this? I don’t get it.’” Bargh winced at the memory and the strangeness of it all. “For a whole semester this was going on. And the people who did the polite test just stood there.”

From a couple pages further on:

The psychologists Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson created an even more extreme version of this test, using black college students and twenty questions taken from the Graduate Record Examination, the standardized test used for entry into graduate school. When the students were asked to identify their race on a pre-test questionnaire, that simple act was sufficient to prime them with all the negative stereotypes associated with African Americans and academic achievement- and the number of items they got right was cutin half. […]

Even more impressive, however, is how mysterious these priming effects are. […] Bargh once had people play board games in which the only way the participants could win was if they learned how to cooperate with one another. So he primed the players with thoughts of cooperativeness, and sure enough, they were far more cooperative, and the game went far more smoothly. “Afterward,” Bargh says, “we ask them questions like How strongly did you cooperate? How much did you want to cooperate? And then we correlate that with their actual behavior- and the correlation is zero. This is a game that goes on for 15 minutes, and at the end, people don’t know what they have done. They just don’t know it. Their explanations are just random, noise. That surprised me. I thought at least people could have consulted their memories. But they couldn’t.”

Aronson and Steele found the same thing with the black students who did so poorly after they were reminded of their race. “I talked to the black students afterward, and I asked them, ‘Did anything lower your performance?’” Aronson said. “I would ask, ‘Did it bug you that I asked you to indicate your race?’ Because it clearly had a huge affect on their performance. And they would always say no and something like ‘You know, I just don’t think I’m smart enough to be here.’”

The results from these experiments are, obviously, quite disturbing. They suggest that what we think of as free will is largely an illusion: much of the time, we are simply operating on automatic pilot, and the way we think and act- and how well we think and act on the spur of the moment- are a lot more susceptible to outside influence than we realize.
vivian in mirror

Letter from Princess Ego Cramp

So, the little stuff:

-rinsing off dishes
-putting dirty clothes away
-cleaning out ‘stuff’ from cabinets
-generally, making more room and less clutter
-putting stuff away after using (e.g., food)
-promptly cleaning up cat messes
-telling me when you aren’t coming home at regular time
-leaving note if you’re out saying what you are doing or when you’ll be back

What would or does make me feel connected:

-Physical: kissing, hugging, sex, holding hands, intimacy, going to bed together without cats, massage.
-Being in world together: going out to eat, movies, plays, music, cultural events; walking, being in nature.
-Interest in my life: asking me questions; helping with my writing; curiosity about my interests; getting to know the people and places in my life.
-Reconnecting when there is distance between us; recognizing the importance to me of feeling connected when I am leaving, are away or have just returned; being aware of how your mood and tone affect me.
-Allowing me to express my struggles with you, since sometimes just saying them help them to go away.
-Telling me what you’re thinking and going through, what is helpful, what you need, preferably in a nice way.

I don’t want to judge you: I don’t want to do anything that might lead you to feel bad about who you are.  I love you, as you are.  My issue is simply that my needs are not being met.  I want to find out, with you, if we can each support each other in ways that are meaningful for each other.  You have been more assertive about your needs than I have been about mine, and because of that I have learned over the years many of your ways and adapted to them.  I’m still learning, constantly, but I feel like I’ve come a long way.  As you said last night, I still naively and unfairly expect a degree of immediate resolution, but we’ve come a very long way from me chasing you from room to room with dramatic ultimatums.  I haven’t been very vocal about my needs, or rather, my vocalizations have been pitched from places or resent and in the context of power struggles, which has made them hard for you to hear.

What kills me is the complacency I seem to encounter in you.  As I stated the other day, I’ve learned to grant you space, days of quiet, but after a point I begin to feel disconnected, I can’t maintain the internal sense of orientation which never seems to leave you.  I begin to feel needy, begin a downward spiral of self-judgment and silent bitterness towards you that finally ends in a resigned abandonment of hope for us as a couple.  Something usually remedies this.  You get recharged and return attention to my direction, or a fight reminds me that you were never really away, either I feel reconnected, and things are good and receive tremendous joy from your company and feel deeply grateful for your presence.  Still, soon enough you need your space again and the cycle continues.  I’ve tried to speak of my needs before the downward spiral, to let you know when I’m feeling that sickening fall backwards into an abyss, but I seem to fuck it up almost every time.  So often I’ve rehearsed in my head how to speak kindly, without judgment and with ownership of my own feelings and then watched as petty little barbs come out instead.  Sometimes, remarkably, you’ve seen through them and yourself acted without any judgment.  More often though, I just spark the same old dramas.
vivian in mirror

foraying and the S/N difference

 That was an awesome foray into experimenting with livejournal. How much is it to upgrade? I couldn’t find any specific numbers, it only said “less than $2. a month.” And do I pay for a whole year at once? So many questions I have. I’d definitely like to get rid of the ads, so it might be a thing I want. And for some reason, for the past month I’ve had to keep logging in- which means putting up with even more ads. It’s those ads that make the screen go dark and you have to wait for the “X” to show up to get rid of them that really annoy me, because in that 30 seconds it takes to go from page to page all sorts of things can distract me. I don’t know what the story is with the way I need to keep logging in every time I close an lj window, but it’s annoying.

Anyway, I found a diagram that I think accurately demonstrates the S/N difference.  [That other forum that I was going to go to because my usual one got hacked-- it got hacked last night. thoughts....somewhere.....]

What a sensor sees: 

What an intuitive sees:

While it's not necessarily a mathematic equation (which is sorta more an NT thing I suspect), the point is that things kind of implode with meanings.  And it's not like people are exclusively one or the other- every single person falls in their own spot along that spectrum.  People who are more inclined towards N pick up on abstractions before/at the same time as the concrete thing.  It's not that sensors don't understand the symbolism, it's just that it isn't the first thing that occurs to them; they may have to make a conscious decision to look for it, whereas Ns sometimes have to make a conscious decision to see just the 'thing' rather than what it seems like a symbol of.
I don't know how to insert a video, but there's a scene from Jane Campion's "Sweetie" which is a perfect example.  The main character comes home from work to find her husband has planted a tree in the backyard.  She's really disturbed by the yellow leaves, she's afraid the tree is sick.  It's not just 'a tree' to her.  She uproots it in the middle of the night because she can't handle the symbolism she's perceiving.  People who are farther into the N side of the spectrum have a hard time seeing just the 'thing'- their first impression is what the 'thing' is a symbol of.  (I  can't even figure out right now how to insert a link for the video, so:  )

Metaphors/symbols are just one of the ways intuition presents itself, but I'm just expounding here because I found those diagrams above and- having gone on the tangent the other day about why I think you're more N than S- I felt more expounding was perhaps in order.  Plus I  miss my forum.  (Why hackers?  Why?!?)
vivian in mirror

(no subject)

Of recent origin

requiring an expanded or revised statement

to remove some obscurity

having some, but not all the features of


proceeding with a dramatic exit

now existing foolish and stupid and vain

because the train already left

because to make a reply in response to a reply

can resemble not existing at all

it’s the principle of growth or change in nature




yesterday for breakfast

suspension of consciousness

underfoot an ice cold marble floor

but any coerced motion or mindless act

the day begins anyway

advance or progression in a particular direction

in spite of what anyone says


and so minutes fell like leaves

crunch and break apart underfoot

all the mindless moving

one million miles away from where it started

and still very far from where it fell


surrounded by or furnished with one or more balconies

to hear the things she said

and yesterday for breakfast to forget

with wool slippers today because the floor has gotten cold

it’s just like when the room was bigger

and there were five candles on the cake

vivian in mirror

Princess Ego Cramp is like a demented ferret: post-script to a facebook message.

I've been spending a lot of time this past year- prolly too much time- in MBTI online forums; all in desperate attempt to understand why I can't just go to nursing school and accept a vapid existence as being worthwhile like the rest of humanity seems to be able to. It's really quite bizarre, all the little quirks extreme INFJs have in common. Anyway: ENTPs can be master manipulators, there is a very bizarre attraction between them and INFJs, and this bizarre attraction explains a few things. I'm convinced that Princess Ego Cramp is actually an ENTP (and suspect asshole Tony is as well). The explanation is kind of confusing; I'll try to keep it simple. 

 In Myers-Briggs, each type theoretically uses four of the eight possible Cognitive Functions; the hierarchy of their use determines one’s type. There are 2 Judging functions (Thinking and Feeling) and 2 Perception functions (iNtuition and Sensation). Then- there are 2 variations of each of those mentioned functions- they either lean toward Introverted or Extraverted. The hierarchy of functions for an INFJ type is typically: strongest is Introverted iNtuition (the dominant function is the one through which all other functions are sort of filtered), then Extraverted Feeling, Introverted Thinking and (weakest) Extraverted Sensation. An abbreviation is commonly used for the functions: Introverted iNtuition is usually referred to as Ni, whereas Extraverted iNtuition is referred to as Ne; the same goes for Feeling [Fe or Fi], Thinking [Te or Ti] and Sensation [Se or Si]. The important thing to understand here is that we all introvert roughly half our functions and extravert the other half; the status of being an introvert or an extravert rests on whether we introvert or extravert our dominant function.   

 Sometimes people over-extravert or over-introvert their functions. INJs and ENPs seem particularly prone to doing this; iNtuition is our dominant function, and we get addicted to ‘possibilities’. INJs get addicted to internal possibilities (dominant function being Ni): freedom is in the mind, and we over-introvert our functions as a coping mechanism to deal with stress- we like to be able to form as many subjective ‘truths’ as possible while making sense of the external objective world. ENPs get addicted to external possibilities (dominant function being Ne): having consistent internal values places a constriction on all the objective external possibilities they want to experience.

 Specifically about INFJs: there’s a tendency to have over-introverted periods of ‘looping’ thoughts. This is when the Thinking function (Ti) is engaged to make sense of what we perceive (from Ni). Since both are introverted functions, it all remains rather obscure and very hard to articulate and share with the external world. Ni typically deconstructs things and Ti tries to reconstruct them in a new way, and it all happens just outside the realm of having an appropriate vocabulary attached; so it gets very confusing when it comes time to articulate it to others. Yet when something heavily upsets us- and we try to rationalize it- this is the very private inside corner of our mind where we retreat to make sense of it all. And if we can’t figure out how to re-incorporate the Fe function (sharing our insight with the external world = extraverting a part of ourselves), then we start to feel completely isolated and alone.   

Back to Princess Ego Cramp being ENTP:

The description most often posted about ENTPs seems somewhat misleading- at least for the sake of this asshole Tony & Princess Ego Cramp explanation- so it's not really worth looking up on the usual MBTI type description pages. I’ve gathered, from all the posts made by ENTPs online, that young ENTPs have a bad tendency to: have a strong inclination to ‘conquest’, be extremely manipulative with others to get the external experiences they want in life, and they really don’t have much of a conscious about who they hurt until their 2nd function (Ti) has a chance to congeal. Without a consistent, stable internal set of values- like guidelines- to direct one’s thoughts and consequent behavior, life is in a constant state of perceiving only the immediate possibilities. Opinions- about anything- can completely flip on a whim. This is also true about feelings towards other people: an over-extraverted person can be totally madly in love one second, and in the next breath feel nothing but complete revulsion for the same person. Introverted functions are like value anchors, and without properly developing them- every single feeling is fleeting and fuck loyalty, because life is all about feeling as much pleasant experience as possible right now. [It may as well be noted that I don’t think they realize they hurt people as badly as they do; I think they just don’t realize that other people have feelings that last longer than 5 seconds. To them- I’m pretty sure it’s like ‘bad feelings’ are something that people should always be able to distract themselves from with other brand new shiny feelings, because that’s what they do themselves.]   

Princess Ego Cramp tested as an ENFP, but it really makes more sense out of all his behavior if he’s really an ENTP who doesn’t engage Ti (he'd test as an 'F' because of using more Fe than Ti). The second function of the ENFP type is Introverted Feeling- and Princess really used far more Fe than Fi. It’s not really worth going into the difference between Fe and Fi right here, my point is just that Princess almost certainly over-extraverted. His friends had called him “180” for as long as I’d known him, because his opinions and/or feelings about ANYTHING were liable to do a complete 180 degree turn at any given moment. And the descriptions I’ve read of ENTPs over-extraverting sounds FAR more like him than those of ENFPs over-extraverting.  

Another reason I think Princess is ENTP (and the reason I suspect asshole Tony was too, and the whole point of why I suspect this info might help you let go of some stuff); ENTPs and INFJs have a bizarre attraction to one another. We’re like flipsides of the same coin. We have clear access to the other’s blind spots. It has something to do with the way we share the same Judging functions (Ti & Fe)- so we share a deep need for profound experience (on account of being N dominants) AND usually understand things in such a similar way that it seems uncanny. The difference between us is that they filter Ti & Fe through Ne (so they can provide us with access to an amazing variety of options in the external world, a common INFJ blindspot); whereas we filter Fe & Ti through Ni (we can imbibe the external world with an amazing arsenal of possible subjective meanings).  Ne dominants have a special brand of enthusiam which enthrals us.  They see the external possibilities that we sorely crave. And they deeply crave for those possibilities to mean anything (internal possibilities). This explains the relationship Princess and I had to a tee, which is why I think he is ENTP. It feels good to have someone actually instinctively and inadvertently always scratch a spot we can’t reach ourselves: it can feel better sometimes- for an INFJ- to be around an ENTP sociopath than a kind and thoughtful person of any other type

 Why this is good news:

 We aren’t masochists for staying with them. INFJs often have too much emotional gravity when left to their own devices to figure things out. We get all like, “we’re doomed!” over something as small as a hangnail, and full up on “oh noes!” far too easily.  We don't like that we're high maintenance, but we are.  The grocery store runs out of our favorite brand of butter and it's like the end of the world.  There’s *something* about an ENTPs presence that we crave: access to a spontaneous, unreserved supply of external possibilities. We crave it the way diabetics need insulin from an outside source, external possibilities are a blind spot for us and we crave it from outside sources.

 A good relationship- between an INFJ and an ENTP- is a very mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationship (whether it’s a friendship or more). But getting close to an unhealthy ENTP is toxic because we stay there for the single good thing in which we are deficient; yet we end up putting up with an extraordinary amount of shit for it.  We're not the first, we won't be the last: it's not that uncommon a thing for extreme INFJs to do.   INFJs don’t like change in their external world, we fight it at every turn. Freedom for us is in the mind, and so we keep our external world as constant as possible in order to put our focus on internal matters. For us: external reality is comprised of, like, 15% present moment and 85% previous experience of a person combined with potential we see in that person. THIS IS WHY- when we find something worthwhile in the external world, once we let someone in- we let them stay there, even when they’re shit. We don’t see the shit for a long time.  This is why Princess Ego Cramp is like the demented ferret in the video: I should have gotten rid of him at "holocaust", but kept him around till after the murder.  And it’s also why- even after they are no longer in our present environment- it takes so very long for us to clean out everything about them in our heads.  It leaves us in that Ni-Ti looping mode, trying to clean all the residual shit out of our head to make sense of it all.    

 I’m not saying I know for certain asshole Tony was ENTP, but a great deal of what you’d told me about him sounds like it’s entirely possible AND it would make sense out of why you put up with it.   I am pretty sure though- from the stories I remember you telling me about him- he sounded like an ENxP type (which means he's Ne dominant); I remember catching a wiff of what I now recognize as ENxP brand of  grandeur and flippancy (ie doppelgänger story).

 It can totally feel like the world has no use for strange girls who are easily lost when all we have to compare ourselves to are a bunch of super-efficient drones.   The only reason we are easily lost in the first place is because there aren’t enough of us (on the extreme end of INFJ) to compare ourselves to. It’s a lot easier to find direction and understand things when everyone around you is an effective reflection of yourself, it’s a privilege that we don’t have. But you’re not a masochist for having been with Tony. Not in my opinion. It’s just unfortunate you got your Ne fix from such an asshole.  And from what I've read in the forums by other INFJs, it's not an uncommon INFJ trap. 


For what it’s worth- as a side note- INFPs (the current partner) also use Ne, it just isn’t their dominant function. INFPs use: Fi Ne Si Te.  I'm guessing he probably doesn't have that same "oh noes!" emotional gravity, right?  That's Ne, ftw. 

vivian in mirror

z nosce

The ashes have not been left
It's a quiet place,
if utterances happened only with license
it would stay a quiet place.

There were things that meant a lot to me.
Being able to talk about it
meant a lot to me.
And here, waiting for permission to fall from the tree:
just ashes, tasting like Spring.
What was it before it burned?
It tasted like Spring.

How much does the embarrassment weigh
jarring loose the better moments
moments that once seemed immovable and bright

just thought I'd try prattling online.