For the longest time, I had difficulty understanding how the cognitive functions work. I could read about them, but I thought it would be so much easier if I had an analogy to work off of. I can imagine that it might be difficult for some to immediately recall what Ne, Fi, Te, Si, etc actually are, without memorization, which is difficult for me.
A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh is a perfect example, because the 8 animals that live in the hundred-acre wood are two dimensional: They do not learn, or grow outside of themselves, because they can't. They are all fragment's of a young boy's imagination. And although they are incapable of growth, they rely on each other in their own ways, and work well as a team, when they decide to. Because they are static characters, they do not have personality types, with the exception of Christopher Robin, who is the only one who actually learns and grows.
The 8 cognitive functions work in a similar way: Alone, they are insufficient for a healthy personality. An overly dominant function can lead to an unhealthy individual, just as an under-used function can cause a reliance on a less familiar function. But the combination of all 8 when used in harmony is essential for a healthy personality.
"Pooh, promise you won't forget about me, ever. Not even when I'm a hundred."
Pooh thought for a little.
"How old shall I be then?"
"I promise," he said.
Still with his eyes on the world Christopher Robin put out a hand and felt for Pooh's paw.
"Pooh," said Christopher Robin earnestly, "if I--if I'm not quite" he stopped and tried again --". Pooh, whatever happens, you will understand, won't you?"
"Oh, nothing." He laughed and jumped to his feet. "Come on!"
"Where?" said Pooh.
"Anywhere," said Christopher Robin.
To begin I will briefly explain what the 8 cognitive functions are, according to Best-Fit Type : Exploring the Multiple Models of Personality Type.
Extroverted Sensing(Se): Experiencing the immediate context; taking action in the physical world; noticing changes and opportunities for action; accumulating experiences; scanning for visible reactions and relevant data; recognizing what is relevant.
Introverted Sensing (Si): Reviewing past experiences, evoking what was, seeking detailed information and links to what is known, recalling stored impressions; accumulating data, recognizing the way things have always been. Remembering the last time you wore a particular item or the last time you were at a similar event, maybe even remembering how you felt then.
Extroverted iNtuiting(Ne): Interpreting situations and relationships; picking up meanings and interconnections; being drawn to change What is and what could possibly be, noticing what is not said and threads of meaning emerging across multiple contexts.
Introverted iNtuiting(Ni): Foreseeing implications and likely effects without external data, conceptualizing new ways of seeing things, envisioning transformations, getting an image of profound meaning or far-reaching symbols. Envisioning yourself in an outfit or maybe envisioning yourself being a certain way.
Extroverted Thinking (Te): Segmenting; organizing for efficiency; systematizing; applying logic; structuring; checking for consequences; monitoring for standards or specifications being met; setting boundaries, guidelines, and parameters; deciding if something is working or not. Sorting out different colors and styles; thinking about the consequences.
Introverted Thinking(Ti): Analyzing; categorizing; evaluating according to principles and whether something fits the framework or model; figuring out the principles on which something works; checking for inconsistencies; clarifying definitions to get more precision. Analyzing your options using principles.
Extroverted Feeling(Fe): Connecting, considering others and the group, organizing to meet their needs and honor their values and feelings, maintaining societal, organizational, or group values, adjusting to and accommodating others, deciding if something is appropriate or acceptable to others. Considering what would be appropriate for the situation
Introverted Feeling(Fi): Valuing; considering importance and worth; reviewing for incongruity; evaluating something based on the truths on which it is based; clarifying values to achieve accord; deciding if something is of significance and worth standing up for.
So let's start with everyone's favorite show stealer, Pooh.
Ah Yes, the silly and lovable Pooh is the ideal representation of Introverted sensing because he is constantly gravitating to things that give him comfort, like honey. He is always upbeat and cheerful, yet blissfully unaware of consequences. His insatiable appetite often comes at the expense of of others, like the time he ate every last drop of Rabbit's honey. What he lacks in common sense, he makes up for in spirit, and the others also find comfort in Pooh's simple yet lovable pursuit of happiness, as long as it doesn't infringe on theirs.
Piglet lay there, wondering what had happened. At first he thought that the whole world had blown up; and then he thought that perhaps only the forest part of it had; and then he thought that perhaps only he had, and he was now alone in the moon or somewhere, and he would never see Christopher Robin or Pooh or Eeyore again. And then he thought, "Well, even if I'm in the moon, I needn't be face downwards all the time," so he got cautiously up and looked about him.
Extraverted iNtuition sees many possibilities, and little piglet is always on the lookout. Piglet's big picture is larger than life, because he sees himself as small and helpless, and the world is so vast in comparison. When piglet finds himself alone, his imagination runs rampant, and because he feels so incapable of standing on his own two feet, he relies on the others for comfort and protection.
Adventurous, Rambunctious, always on the lookout for new experiences and adventure. Tigger certainly fits the bill for Extroverted Sensing. He is not concerned with understanding the world, only with having a good time, filled with plenty of new experiences. Unfortunately, he is so focused on the present, that he never learns from the past, and is blind to potential disaster, and will often get anyone who follows him on these adventures into a bind. Despite this, he certainly brings excitement to the Hundred Acre Wood.The wonderful thing about Tiggers, Is Tiggers are wonderful things
Their tops are made out of rubber, The bottoms are made out of springs
They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun
But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is, I'm the only one
The wonderful thing about Tiggers, Is Tiggers are wonderful chaps
They're loaded with vim and vigor, They love to leap in your laps
They're jumpy, bumpy, clumpy, thumpy, Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun
But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is, I'm the only one
Tiggers are cuddly fellows, Tiggers are awfully sweet
Everyone else is jealous, That's why I repeat
The wonderful thing about Tiggers is, Tiggers are wonderful things ! !
Owl is Introverted iNtuition incarnate. He can pull facts and figures out of seemingly thin air, and is often right. Although when he isn't he is blind to it, even if his logical inconsistency is pointed out. He comes to conclusions rather quickly, and because he feels that he has more brains then the rest, who only have stuffing, he doesn't need to check to see if his conclusions are actually true, because he just KNOWS how to appear credible.Owl licked the end of his pencil, and wondered how to spell "birthday."
"Can you read, Pooh?" he asked a little anxiously. "There's a notice about knocking and ringing outside my door, which Christopher Robin wrote. Could you read it?"
"Christopher Robin told me what it said, and then I could."
"Well, I'll tell you what this says, and then you'll be able to."
So Owl wrote . . . and this is what he wrote:
HIPY PAPY BTHUTHDTH THUTHDA BTHUTHDY.
Pooh looked on admiringly.
Introverted Feeling is concerned with finding purpose and worth of things, and deciding when and when not to say something. Eeyore feels like he really understands everyone else, but he feels isolated because nobody seems to understand him. Because of this, he concludes that he is unimportant, and therefore he feels there is no point to anything he does. And because he feels it is fitting that he feels the way he does, no amount of help from his friends will cheer him up, because he chooses to feel the way he does. He knows this, which is why he is always forgiving when his friends neglect him.Looking very calm, very dignified, with his legs in the air, came Eeyore from beneath the bridge.
"It's Eeyore!" cried Roo, terribly excited.
"Is that so?" said Eeyore, getting caught up by a little eddy, and turning slowly round three times. "I wondered."
"I didn't know you were playing," said Roo.
"I'm not," said Eeyore.
"Eeyore, what are you doing there?" said Rabbit.
"I'll give you three guesses, Rabbit. Digging holes in the ground? Wrong. Leaping from branch to branch of a young oak-tree? Wrong. Waiting for somebody to help me out of the river? Right. Give Rabbit time, and he'll always get the answer."
Reliable. Dependable. Organized. Rabbit is Extroverted Thinking. He is constantly scheming, making plans, and tirelessly looking into practical ways of improving things. Unfortunately, he spends so much time doing these things that he neglects himself and having fun is a foreign concept to him."It was going to be one of Rabbit's busy days. As soon as he woke up he felt important, as if everything depended upon him. It was just the day for Organizing Something, or for Writing a Notice Signed Rabbit, or for Seeing What Everybody Else Thought About It. It was a perfect morning for hurrying round to Pooh, and saying, "Very well, then, I'll tell Piglet," and then going to Piglet, and saying, "Pooh thinks--but perhaps I'd better see Owl first." It was a Captainish sort of day, when everybody said, "Yes, Rabbit " and "No, Rabbit," and waited until he had told them.
Kanga, like the Extroverted Feeling function, is concerned for the well-being of those close to her, and is often fretting over ensuring that they are taken care of. She spends all day trying to ensure that everyone is taken care of, but tends to neglect herself as she is incapable of taking care of her own needs."Now it happened that Kanga had felt rather motherly
that morning, and Wanting to Count Things--like Roo's vests,
and how many pieces of soap there were left, and the two clean
spots in Tigger's feeder; so she had sent them out with a
packet of watercress sandwiches for Roo and a packet of
extract-of-malt sandwiches for Tigger, to have a nice long
morning in the Forest not getting into mischief. And off they
Little Roo's mind is a sponge. He is always asking questions and trying to understand the world around him, much like Introverted Thinking, the function that needs to analyze data to better understand the world around it. Unfortunately Roo doesn't question what he learns, and therefore will readily believe anything he is told, because he has not developed a filter to make conclusions."We can't get down, we can't get down!" cried Roo. "Isn't it fun? Pooh, isn't it fun, Tigger and I are living in a tree, like Owl, and we're going to stay here for ever and ever. I can see Piglet's house. Piglet, I can see your house from here. Aren't we high? Is Owl's house as high up as this?"
"How did you get there, Roo?" asked Piglet.
"On Tigger's back! And Tiggers can't climb downwards, because their tails get in the way, only upwards, and Tigger forgot about that when we started, and he's only just remembered. So we've got to stay here for ever and ever--unless we go higher. What did you say, Tigger? Oh, Tigger says if we go higher we shan't be able to see Piglet's house so well, so we're going to stop here."
So, now to understand how your functions work, you can pretend your functions are like Winnie the pooh characters, working together to solve a problem, or understand the world. So as an ENFP, I would be Dominant Piglet, with Eeyore there to tell me what of my perceptions are right/wrong, Rabbit there to organize my thoughts and make goals, and pooh to make everyone feel better, and remember what makes me happy.
"Piglet," Pooh said suddenly, "Would you like to be anyone else? Or would you rather to be Piglet?"
"What do you mean?" said Piglet.
"Suppose that you could choose who you wanted to be," explained Christopher Robin, "who would you choose to be?"
"Oh, I don't know," Piglet said. "It is not easy to be a Very Small Animal. Often it is even a little Anxious," he went on. "But then again, there are not many Fierce animals here in the forest, and if there are, they don't seem to be Fond of Pigs." He thought for a moment. "I have never met one, at least," he added.
"Would you like to be Rabbit?" asked Christopher Robin.
"Well, no, not really," said Piglet, "Being Rabbit is nice enough, I suppose, but there are all those relatives to deal with."
"Would you like to be Kanga?" Pooh tried.
Piglet thought for a moment. "No," he said, "Kanga is a Large Animal, although not a Very Large Animal, but I don't think I will ever get used to all that jumping."
"Piglet," said Pooh, "would you like to be me?"
"Could I, Pooh?" Piglet said with awe.
"I don't know," Pooh replied, "but Owl seems to think so."
Piglet thought about it for a moment. "I'm not sure," he said. "I would no longer be a Very Small Animal. But then, I wouldn't have you for a friend. So I think I'd rather be me."
"Piglet,"Pooh said solemnly, "I am Touched."
They walked on in silence. The sun was golden yellow in the sky, and it was slowly getting warmer. Christopher Robin looked up when a bee came buzzing by.
"I have been thinking," he said, "and it seems to me that Owl is right. If you really stop and Think, we don't know of anyone else we would like to be. And if we think we do, it's because we want to do something or want to have something." He stopped and looked around him. "So We All Are Who We Want To Be."
Pooh scratched behind his ear. "How?" he said. "And Why?" he added.
"I don't know," said Christopher Robin. "But if we could choose, and if we really Thought about it, then we would probably choose to be ourselves."
Pooh was silent as they walked on. He felt that Christopher Robin was right. "But how that can be is beyond a Bear of Very Little Brain," he thought."
"Except maybe Eeyore," Piglet said.
"What do you mean?" said Christopher Robin.
"Well," Piglet said, "Eeyore is always Gloomy and Sad, even if there is nothing to be Gloomy and Sad about."
"Yes, that is true," said Christopher Robin, "sometimes I think that he likes to be Gloomy and Sad, although I can't imagine why."
"You mean," said Piglet slowly, "that he likes to be Eeyore?"
"Yes, he does," answered Pooh. "I don't know why but I am sure, and there it is."
Christopher Robin nodded. "I think you're right," he said, "but I don't know why either."
"But why did you ask?" asked Piglet. "It seems to me that the question about who you want to be is rather Unimportant. After all, we all are Who we are, and that is the way it is."
"That's the whole point," explained Chistopher Robin, and he told about the song that Pooh had made about the Why and the What and how they had asked Owl what it really meant.
"Yes," Piglet said after Christopher Robin had finished, "I you look at it that way..."
"I think we do," said Pooh.
"Then the answer is Obvious," said Piglet. "If we all are who we would choose to be if we were given a choice, then we probably did choose to be who we are."
"I do not remember choosing to be me," said Christopher Robin.
"Me neither," said Piglet. "But I feel that it's more than just a Coincidence."
"I remember something," said Pooh suddenly.
"You do?" asked Piglet.
"What do you remember?" asked Christopher Robin.
"That it's lunchtime," said Pooh.
And they went home for it.