In the stack of cognitive functions, through model A, influenced by dimensionality, and in even more detail through the different dichotomies we can apply to each function, some functions are stronger, and some are weaker. In some, we have a lot of confidence; in others, we have almost none at all. Through some, we feel an immense measure of success and accomplishment, while others are so natural for us that someone can directly insult them for hours without making a single dent.
Sensitivity and safeguard
In a couple of functions, we are extremely sensitive towards criticism. Whether we are sensitive about them or not has to do with several factors; one of which being whether it’s an accepting or producing function, another which block it is in. When it comes to blocks, we are most sensitive about the super-id. It’s a valued block, consisting of the mobilizing and suggestive functions, otherwise known as the Hidden Agenda (HA) and the dual-seeking (DS) function. They are weak but valued, and they compliment our ego: it’s because of this that we are more sensitive towards criticism about them, than we are with many other functions. If we add the dichotomy of accepting and producing functions to this, the mobilizing function is also producing, making it even more sensitive. Our vulnerable function (Point of least resistance) is also a producing function, making it more sensitive than the other subdued function, and another one of the more sensitive functions of our psyche.
Because of how sensitive they are, we, as far as possible, want to avoid being criticized too harshly on them, or even at all if that’s an option. Instead of taking in criticism aimed at those particular functions, it’s very easy for us to, often without being aware of us doing so, transfer it to a function we’re better at. Do a sort of safeguard, so that we don’t have to deal with it as something we’re insecure or sensitive about, but in an area we are confident and strong.
The good, the bad, and the ugly
This kind of transfer can be both a good and a bad thing, or something entirely neutral. In a sense, it’s the same thing as when you choose to brush your teeth with your dominant hand, because that feels more natural. It’s the same thing when we transfer something, when we “safeguard”, taking something that was directed towards a more sensitive function, and giving it to the one we’re confident in.
Above all, it makes things a lot easier. Dealing with things through our ego functions, or our demonstrative function for that matter, is simply a matter of convenience. If it’s possible, going through those pathways are much easier, much more efficient, and less energy draining, than going through a weak and sensitive function would be. Transferring criticism can be a way of keeping our spirits up, and keeping ourselves from losing sight of the goal at hand.
The problem with safeguarding, especially in the face of criticism, is that of avoidance. When we’re faced with criticism on our weaker, more sensitive functions, it’s very easy for us, since we don’t want to handle it, transfer it to a function we’re confident in. It’s a sort of escapism, where we “escape” to an area of confidence, so we don’t have to deal with our area of weakness. While we don’t technically repress them, it will give us issues that we don’t deal with, in effect leaving us with repressed criticism. It is, after all, a way of running from problems.
Linear and non-linear
It’s very easy to pull up an image of a linear relationship, that if we’re criticized on our mobilizing function, we always revert back to the demonstrative one, or that if criticism hit our suggestive function, we go to the leading one. Unfortunately, our stack and how the functions interact with each other are seldom that consistent, and while there are patterns, we cannot expect them to always hold true.
Nevertheless, there are patterns, and they are useful to explore. If we, for the sake of the example, use an ILI (INTJ in MBTI), the functions they would be the most sensitive and insecure about would be Fi, Se, and Fe (now, this too is a simplified, generalized statement, and will likely not hold true in all cases. In reality it’s more dynamic and situational than this). Starting with Se, there are several directions we can go, when trying to safeguard against an attack, or transfer the weight the function has to carry to a stronger one. Natural directions, solely in terms of the functions themselves, would be to take it towards Si, Ne, and Ni, as they are all functions the ILI will be more confident in. Because of the positions they hold though, transferring to Ne would be less likely, since they’re ignoring that function. Si and Ni will, therefore, be more natural alternatives to dealing with things through their Se (not necessarily because they are irrational functions in itself, but because Si also deals with sensory aspects, while Ni is complementary to Se and often can take care of the same problem, only from a different angle). Other functions, such as the vulnerable function, will hold similar patterns. When it comes to their Fe, it will often be transferred to the demonstrative function, Ti, as it again serves as the complementary function, or to Fi; their mobilizing function.
To transfer in this way isn’t necessarily a negative thing. It can, in many ways, help us deal with information we otherwise would have a hard time dealing with. But when we do it to defend against criticism aimed towards a lower, more sensitive function, it becomes an unhealthy way to avoid having to deal with the insecurity that follows.