Mining Deeper in the Cognitive Battlegrounds with Chris Taylor
The last time we were with Chris Taylor, he introduced us to the concept of the “Cognitive Battlegrounds” and helped us build a better foundation to interpret our psyches through. Meanwhile, in season 18, Chase has been lecturing on the Reflector Functions for each Cognitive Function, a vital component to understanding how the Cognitive Battlegrounds interact with each other internally and externally.
In this article, we are going to mine deeper into the Cognitive Battlegrounds, exploring new concepts that will both solidify and deepen our current understanding of the source of conflict within our psyche.
A Little Review
There are four Battlegrounds within our psyche and two contestants (Reflector Functions) within each Battleground. These Battlegrounds are built from the innate conflict between the Superego and Ego — which are reflections of each other — with each Battleground representing the conflict between the equivalent function in each side of the mind. I.e., the Child of the Superego and the Child of the Ego will be set against each other. And so on and so forth for each slot and function.
- The Battleground of Titans is the war between the Hero and the Demon, each the Apex of their side of the mind, contending for dominance over the entire psyche.
- The Battleground of Responsibility is fought between the Parent and Trickster (the Superego’s Parent) and is fought over which function is more responsible and should be utilized to be the primary “Parent” of the psyche.
- The Battleground of Innocence is fought over the Child and the Critic, where they are each, in effect, trying to become each other from the desire for maturity (Child) and the regret of lost youth (Critic).
- The Battleground of Inhibition, the final battleground, is the contention between our anxieties and worries of the Inferior and Nemesis. Each of the hyper-cautious functions informs the other in an effort not to misstep in the areas that the Inhibitions are aware of.
1) So, Chris, what’s new in the Cognitive Battlegrounds?
We’ve talked about the four Cognitive Battlegrounds and how the contestants, or Reflector Functions, are vying for power and influence over each arena. But there is a broader way to capture the essence of the journey that each Battleground takes. And these journeys can be captured using the following two concepts: the Transitory Battlegrounds and the Maturing Battlegrounds.
The Transitory Battlegrounds are the Battlegrounds of Titans and Inhibition put together. The Transitory Battlegrounds are the Apex’s (Hero functions) and the Inferiors for a side of the mind. They Transitory Battlegrounds represent the gateways for the four sides of the mind.
Because the Transitory Battlegrounds deal with Heroes, Demons, Inferiors, and Nemeses, they have the defining characteristic of potency. Every interaction in this Battleground is one of high energy, often reckless, and often leaving someone overwhelmed.
For example, when the Demon does come out, it usually comes out violently because it has been suppressed and ignored in a closet for so long. In response, the Hero may counter with an even more violent attack in the wake of the rubble left over by the Demon.
Because the Superego is trying to overtake the Ego, and the Ego trying to sustain its control over its borders, each Titan will eventually aim for the other’s weak spot. They will target each other’s Inferior Functions to try and weaken the attack from the other Titan.
The Titans, through Cognitive Orbit, have a link to each other’s Kryptonite in the Inferior function. The Hero is in Orbit with the Nemesis — the Superego’s Inferior — just as the Demon is in Orbit with the Ego’s Inferior. It is no coincidence that the most powerful parts of our psyche are intrinsically linked to our vulnerabilities. And the Hero and Demon take full advantage in an attempt to make the other impotent.
The Maturing Battlegrounds are the Battlegrounds of Innocence and Responsibility fused together. The Maturing Battlegrounds represent the masters of the four sides of the mind. A “master” is when the Parent function on one of the four sides of the mind reaches competence. The Battlegrounds of Innocence and Responsibility each contain a function that is the Parent function of one of the four sides of the mind, where the possibility of competency exists for each.
The movement of the Maturing Battlegrounds can be seen as the balance of Responsibility and Innocence. For example, the Critic Function desires to experience the innocence of childhood that was lost to them. Likewise, the Child Function wishes to grow up and experience the responsibility of adulthood as the psyche develops.
Where-as the Transitory Battlegrounds are all about potency, the Maturing Battlegrounds are more about competency. These two concepts allow us to view the four sides of the mind in a more dynamic, unified way, seeing the exchange of energy constantly moving between one side of the Battlegrounds and allowing us to see what each Reflector Function wants.
2) How do the Transitory and Maturing Battlegrounds develop from childhood to adulthood?
Chase has talked about when you’re born, or at the moment of consciousness — whenever that is — the first function you get is your Hero function. From there, your Child is developed. You could say that there is time when you don’t really have an Inferior or Parent function in the typical sense.
Through Cognitive Orbit, for a little while in Childhood, you actually start off with access to the Hero, Child, Trickster, and Nemesis for your Ego. If you look down the list you see that a child has ALL the optimistic functions here. Now, the Nemesis is not super optimistic or pessimistic. It’s in the middle, but it tilts more toward the optimist side. But having only optimistic functions makes sense because when you are young and through your early years you have a lot of optimism.
Conversely, through this time, the Superego — which is composed of the repressed functions — has access to all the pessimistic functions: the Demon, Critic, Parent, and Inferior compose its side of the mind. For now.
During this time the Nemesis is not being challenged because the Inferior is not really there to push it out. In the early years, the Hero function DOES NOT YET have insecurity (This concept is explored practically in a recent article on Jungian Parenting). At this stage of life, the Hero is just there and has no worry or anxiety challenging it.
Because the Parent function isn’t developed, the Trickster is taking the place of the Parent and the Nemesis is taking the place of the Inferior. Although, the Nemesis is typically a worried function it’s not acting super worried because it’s not being pressured by the Inferior.
From the perspective of the Superego, it practically has a Trojan Horse in your Ego. Essentially, the Superego’s master function is in your Ego taking the place of your own Ego’s responsibility. And this is where the seeds of the conflict that define the Battlegrounds emerge.
The Superego, by definition, is repressed by the Ego. It is the unchosen path. Just by being a Type (i.e. having consciousness and having a psyche) you’ve already created conflict because your Ego, by default, will prefer the Hero and the Demon will be shunned at birth.
Next is the Child and its unyielding optimism and the Critic and its cynicism. The Critic (remember, the Superego’s Child) is suppressed by the Child. The Critic is the ignored Child, and it is forced to grow up far too soon. Hence, we can understand how its source of cynicism and bitterness exists — because it never got to experience the innocence of childhood. The Child is like the favored child. The Critic is forced to live in the shadow of the parent’s favorite child.
Next are the trickster and parent. The Trickster acts as a “know it all.” It is a function that is born at the same time as the Child function but, because the Ego does not have a Parent yet, the Trickster is FORCED to be a Parent. So, in a sense, it has to be in the know in order to protect the Child. It still wants to be a Parent because it is the Parent in the Superego (or will be). Still, it is just as young as the Child early one, and the Trickster/Child interaction is just one child trying to raise another.
Lastly is the Nemesis and Inferior. Because the Hero has no real weakness early on, the Demon has NO LEVERAGE over the Ego (yet). But the weakness of the Superego is completely in the hands of the Ego. The Nemesis (the Superego’s Inferior) hasn’t been separated from the Ego just yet. There is still a mixture between the Ego and the Superego at this phase. An ENxP, for example, in this phase can both see what other people want and know what it wants. But it has not been grounded in experience, yet.
Bad times ensue with the Trickster acting as the Parent, and a wannabe child (the Critic) raising the Child. This only creates more worry. The Nemesis can no longer be trusted by the Hero, giving birth to the awareness and insecurity of the Inferior.
3) What does it mean when you say, “The Cognitive Battlegrounds are the Cognitive Attitudes of the Reflector Functions”?
Chase devoted an entire season to exploring the Cognitive Attitudes of each function slot. In this he also explored how each function expresses itself differently based on which attitude it was rooted in (e.g. Se-Hero vs. Se-Parent).
The Cognitive Battlegrounds are no different. They are like the Cognitive Attitudes, where the expression of the Reflector Functions are determined by which Reflector Functions are in which slot of the Battlegrounds.
If you take the Cognitive Attitude of the Hero and mix it with the Cognitive Attitude of the Demon, you get the Battleground of Titans. And so on with the Parent, Trickster, and the Battleground of responsibility.
The Cognitive Battlegrounds are a macro-variant of the Cognitive Attitudes. We are just asking “What are the Cognitive Attitudes of the Reflector Functions?” That’s all we’re doing, really.
4) What do “Potency” and “Competency” mean to the Transitory and Maturing Battlegrounds?
It really just refers to the way these Battlegrounds express and manifest themselves. The Transitory Battlegrounds, home to the Battlegrounds of Titans and Inhibition, push and pull with force through the Hero/Demon and Inferior/Nemesis.
All the EJs, for example, are very forceful with either ethical standards (ExFJs) or procedural standards (ExTJs). This can actually be used as an additional vector to type others by identifying how a person is utilizing their functions.
The Maturing Battlegrounds are the Battlegrounds where naivety meets wisdom. The functions within the Battlegrounds of Responsibility and Innocence are each a Parent function of one side of the mind, and a Child function of another. Naturally, these functions seek to act with competence, each with their own approach to seeking wisdom. The Child represents naivety in its purest form. The Critic, the exact opposite with its cynicism. The Parent starts off ignorant, and the Trickster is oblivious.
Before competency can be achieved, and the maturing functions can become masters of their sides of the mind, they must transition between responsibility and innocence. As the Critic develops more, it challenges the Child. As the Parent develops, it challenges the Trickster. Each step of growth fuels the conflict between the Ego and the Superego.
5) What is the purpose of the Cognitive Battlegrounds in general and how do they accomplish that purpose?
We are born disintegrated, yet seeking to become whole. Like how a fragmented sword can only be unified through heat, the Cognitive Battlegrounds provide that “heat” through conflict. They provide the means to knit our psyche into an integrated, dynamic ecosystem. In the sword analogy, the Cognitive Battlegrounds are the fire that the sword is subjected to. Through this inner conflict, we are able to define and observe our most primitive and baseline purpose, to grow and become more than we were before.
Additionally, you can think of your consciousness as a bowl at birth. Through the conflict of the Battlegrounds and the ensuing emergence of consciousness, this bowl cracks and eventually shatters. Now, once a bowl has broken, it may be whole and function again, but will never be exactly the same bowl as it was before. The pieces can be glued back together, but it has been forever changed by nurtural experience. Thus, we see nature vs nurture come together to shape bowls that, while similar, will never be exactly the same.
6) How is Consciousness Related to the Reflector Functions and the Cognitive Battlegrounds?
To the best of our ability to see reality as it is, everything has a cycle to it. Consciousness is not exempt. It too is part of a larger cycle.
The Cognitive Battlegrounds, and the Reflector Functions that compete over each Battleground, are key components to consciousness. We know that there is order and chaos. But we cannot have both simultaneously. They can be side by side but not the same. The Yin and Yang measure this. Order pushes out chaos and chaos pushes out order. Since you can’t have both simultaneously, then there needs to be a cycle to them.
This makes sense from patterns in nature. A thing will start as one part of a whole, like an unborn child with its mother. Then it will split, separating itself from its source. This signals a return to chaos, where it is cast into an unfamiliar world. Then, as it adapts, it returns back to order.
There is no consciousness at the beginning of our lives. One could argue that consciousness is defined by conflict and is the result of enough conflict being cut into our minds.
Everything we are able to perceive is perceivable only because we can compare it to something else.
This goes down to the foundation of the biology of eyes, up to how we think, and to the most metaphysical analysis for our existence itself. Consciousness is experienced THROUGH CONTRAST.
Reflector Functions make perfect sense because they function as the conflict that propels our minds and allows us to see everything in between the extremes. Two extremes have the same effect. In complete and total light, we cannot see anything. In complete and total darkness, we are equally blind. But, because of these two extremes — and the contrast between them — we can see everything in between them.
Internal functions stand at these extremes. The external functions are just a result of us being able to compare the introverted functions to each other. The internal battlegrounds of future (Ni) versus past (Si) allow us to experience the moment (Se) and to see the potential of the future (Ne). The past has happened, and the future will happen. Because of those certainties, they are objective truths, we can perceive the subjective extraverted functions of Se and Ne.
So, the question becomes, are your reflections of Si and Ni (for example) on the grounds of potency, or competency? If Si and Ni are your potent objectives, then the subjectivity of the experience and desires of others (Ne and Se) will create impotence in your desires and duties though fear and insecurities. If Ni and Si are on the grounds of innocence, then you will be naturally responsible with the subjective experience and desires of others. But before you can develop mastery with desire and experience, the functions you are naturally responsible with must find their childhood again, while your innocent functions must grow up.