The Cognitive Battlegrounds With Chris Taylor
I. What are the Cognitive Battlegrounds?
Chris: When you look at the Cognitive Attitudes and the Reflector Functions together, the Cognitive Battlegrounds emerge. The Cognitive Battlegrounds come about through the contrasting nature of certain functions.
For example, Ne and Se each fill a similar role but in different ways. Se is aware of the present reality, with testing strength of character and consuming Si. But Ne’s guidance is future-focused desire, and it is primarily aware of future possibilities. Because they are both directed outward, and both are perception functions, they cannot realistically be used at the same time.
The Cognitive Battlegrounds result from the conflict of functions that do similar things in different ways. These are the Reflector Functions:
Another way to look at it is the conflict between your external judgment functions, your external perceptive functions, your internal judgment functions, and your internal perceptive functions, respectively.
These Battlegrounds take place in four arenas. These four arenas are the Battlegrounds of Titans, Responsibility, Innocence, and Inhibition. The Battleground of Titans is between your Hero and Demon. The Battleground of Responsibility is between your Parent and Trickster. The Battleground of Innocence is between your Child and Critic. And the Battleground of Inhibition is between your Inferior and Nemesis.
II. How do the Battlegrounds play out?
Chris: Let’s take the Battleground of Titans as an example. This takes place between your Hero and Demon. The Hero and Demon will always have conflicting Reflector Functions. Even though the Demon has a very low frequency compared to the Hero, it is kind of a repressed function but is still very powerful.
Now think of the Cognitive Battlegrounds as a seesaw. The Battleground of Titans is the longest seesaw with the biggest ball. The ball naturally tilts toward the side of the Hero, and our Hero function is what is predominately used in this Battleground. But when the ball tilts to the side of Demon, it rolls further and faster because the seesaw arm is so long. It picks up so much speed and force that it sends the Demon out with far more force than any other Battleground can match. When the Demon wins out in this Battleground, it is usually a violent victory.
As you go down the arenas of Battlegrounds, the arms of the seesaw get smaller and smaller all the way down to the Battleground of Inhibition. Both these functions, the Inferior and Nemesis, are sources of worry. There are small arms here, a small ball, and it is very easy to bounce between these two Reflector Functions. They are also both getaway functions and can teeter totter between the two different sides of the mind that they lead. The ease of changing back and forth in this Battleground is not so with the Hero and Demon.
Through the cognitive Battlegrounds, the brain’s eventual goal is balance and harmony between the Reflector Functions. But the brain will use whatever function is readily available to solve a problem, similar to how it uses Cognitive Transitions to adapt to problems.
The desired outcome is to give space for each pair of Reflector Functions to be used. For example, the inability to balance the Battleground of Inhibition is one of the reasons your mind tends to shift sides pretty easily. There’s a tiny marble and a tiny arm on the seesaw. The slightest thing can throw it off whack.
III. Why are they important? What is being fought over in each arena?
Chris: Each contestant in the Battlegrounds plays a certain role. Much of this depends on which functions are within each slot, but archetypically each Battleground is fought over something in particular.
The Battleground of Titans is between the biggest forces in the psyche — the apex of the Ego and Superego. The battle is over which Titan will have more influence in the psyche.
The Battleground of Responsibility takes place between the Parent and the Trickster. If you look at which functions develop first, you see that the Hero and Child develop first, followed by the Inferior, and the Parent last. Just as the Hero and Nemesis develop simultaneously through Cognitive Orbit, the same goes for the Child and Trickster. The Trickster develops before the Parent. Because the Parent develops last, the Trickster is trying to fill the role of the Parent until it develops.
The conflict between each of the Battlegrounds is caused by the Superego and Ego built-in opposition. The Battleground of Titans is between the apex of the Ego and Superego, the Battleground of Responsibility is between the Ego’s Parent and the Superego’s Parent, and so on with each respective Child and Inferior functions within the Battleground of Innocence and Inhibition.
The Battleground of Innocence is between the Critic and the Child. At the end of the day, the old man Critic is trying to be a Child again, and the Child is trying to become wise. Your Hero function favors its Child and likewise your Demon favors its Child — the Critic. Both functions have a desire for innocence.
The Battleground of Inhibition is between two sore spots in your mind: insecurity and worry. No matter how developed the Inferior and Nemesis are, they always have the potential to be a sore spot. They inhibit you, make you stop and think, look back, and proceed with caution. Ti and Fi Inferior/Nemesis creates many inhibitions on thinking, logic, and morality.
There are lots of hang ups with those. The Battleground of Inhibition can be used as another vector for typing. Where are their hang-ups, worries, and concerns? Be cautious using these as vectors to type, but they can be helpful.
IV. What is the difference between the tension between Cognitive Orbit and the conflict between the Reflector Functions?
Chris: With Cognitive Orbit, the tension is between the Ego and Shadow, not the Superego. The Shadow is the complementary opposite of the Ego. Cognitive Axis is between the Ego and Subconscious. The Subconscious is the inversion of strengths and weaknesses with the Ego. The Reflector Functions are directly between the Ego and Superego. The Reflector Functions are the straight opposite of the Ego’s function.
The Superego is in direct competition and challenge to your Ego and its strengths. The Superego and Reflector Functions represent the “other way of doing things.”
Let’s look at the first two functions for an ENFP Ego and an ESTP Superego. Se-Demon is telling Ne-Hero that “what people want doesn’t matter if they aren’t strong.” And Ti-Trickster (the Superego’s Parent) is telling Fi-Parent, “You can sit there and be moral, but acting ‘moral’ here doesn’t make sense.”
Over every Battleground, a function in the Superego and Ego fight to gain as much influence as they can. The Ego’s strongest functions are the Superego’s weakest, and vice versa. Both the Ego and the Superego think of each other, Your way is wrong, my way is right.
V. We want the Reflector Functions in our Ego to win out, right?
Chris: The implication of having a “victor” is wrong. There is no need to “subdue” the Superego, but letting it run wild and free is not the answer either. You need to understand that your preference for the Ego is what is pushing the Superego to challenge the Ego for space. The Superego is not the villain of the story.
At the end of the day, it is still you. The Superego is only the unchosen path. It and the Ego walk in the same direction but on different paths. The ultimate goal in using the Reflector Functions is to balance them. But that is extremely difficult. It begins with becoming attune to the switching that takes place between the Reflector Functions in your mind. Harmony rather than conflict — rather than a victor — is the goal.
VI. How did you come up with the Reflector Functions?
Chris: I struggle to say that I “came up” with the Reflector Functions. There was a lot of hypothesizing, experimenting, and a lot of conversations with people back in the discord days. It was only later that I found out John Beebe had a concept known as the “Mirror functions”. I had no idea he had a concept that was similar. I do recommend people read his book, Energies and Patterns in Psychological Type, to learn more. But I didn’t feel the concept was very developed even in his work.
As far as development goes, I started drawing out the function stacks of all the types and looked at the way they were set up. I sort of reverse engineered the type grid and found some interesting correlations between the Cognitive Functions, interaction styles, and temperaments. And I saw that the Superego and Ego came together at a middle point. One pushed the other one out. If the Ego and Superego came together like that, then every other function had to do the same thing. For example, with Ni and Si, you can’t look at the future and the past at the same time. The same goes for the rest of the Reflector Functions. It’s either/or.
VII. Who are you and how long have you been following Chase’s work?
Chris: I joined the original discord server 3-4 months after it was started. For those who around then, I was Raka. So I’ve been following Chase for around three years. I am going to be one of the season 18 episodes in August, and I’ll be starting my own iteration of “confessions” or “musings” of an ENFP and related content. I’ll be discussing my thoughts on things soon. Look out for Ti-Trickster rants!