The point of least resistance, formally known as the vulnerable function (as per model A), and sometimes also called blindspot, is the fourth function in model A. It is weak, subdued, mental, and cautious. It is also a function with a few misconceptions and misapplications while being a central function when it comes to understanding other types and model A as a whole.
What is the “point of least resistance”?
The point of least resistance (continuing, I’ll call it vulnerable or polr) is one of the two weakest functions in the model, together with the suggestive function. As such, it is one dimensional, available for use through “experience”; it can, exclusively, be used with our experience as a basis for it. Even reaching for norms and rules is impossible, and as such, it is a highly individual function, where we reject standardizations and rules surrounding it. This also means that through time, with more experience building on it, we will gain a better understanding of the function, and better be able to use it in different and more complex situations.
It is also a subdued function. While this doesn’t mean that the information element is seen as worthless, or that we don’t find any value in it at all, it does mean that when compared to its extraverted/introverted counterpart, it will be less preferred. Through the weakness of the function, combined with being subdued, it’s the weakest spot of our psyche, as all other functions are either stronger or valued. Further, there are two additional dichotomies that apply, that makes this point even clearer; it’s a mental and a cautious function.
That it’s a mental function is opposed to the vital functions. The former, including the vulnerable function, something that we are very conscious about. We are mentally aware of and in control of it. And as such, we are painfully aware of our utter weakness in the area. It’s also a cautious (as opposed to bold) function. With some functions, regardless of their strength, we are bold. More inclined to step out of the comfort zone, the limits that it has. With the vulnerable function, the opposite is true. We’re careful with it.
Considering all of the above, when it comes to our vulnerable function, we are painfully aware of how weak it is. It’s an annoyance to us; an irritating itch that we can’t get rid off, that people for some reason cannot stop pointing out. At the same time, there’s a kind of acceptance. Yes, I do suck at this. I know.
Major “polr” misconceptions
As a polarized and extreme function, it naturally follows that the function occasionally meets misunderstandings.
First, the vulnerable function isn’t a lost cause. This is possibly the one I’ve seen the most, and something blatantly inaccurate. The polr is a weak function, with limits not set on any other function. Yet, while talking about how weak the function is, we often forget the fundamental element that makes the function weak; dimensionality. Where the polr are limited and unable to reach the higher dimensions, it’s also based on the first: on experience. As such, it will always be based on our experience, and our experience will build up. In a sense, the first dimension, including the polr, will have a sort of personal library; a notebook, where experiences are added and stored for later access. While the vulnerable function is weak, it’s not a lost cause. And being stagnant in this area cannot be blamed on the function itself.
“It’s the weakest function” or “it’s the ‘inferior function’ in socionics”. Yes and no. It is one of the weakest functions of our psyche, together with the suggestive. And as for the latter, a clear comparison to the MBTI inferior function can’t quite be done. It’s a discussion in itself, but no, a clear connection between the vulnerable and “inferior” function cannot be made.
The last misconception about the vulnerable function, is that we’re defensive about it. It’s easy to assume that since it’s such a weak spot, one that we cannot deal with to any greater degree, with be defensive and stingy about it. But as we are very aware of the weakness, it’s often not something we feel the need to defend, but rather approach with an approach of “yes, I know it’s weak”.
How to deal with the vulnerable function
When it comes to this type of weakness, where an entire area of information is, if not lost to us, at least much more inaccessible and often something that is lacking in us, it can be hard to know how to deal with it, both in minimizing pain and annoyance and maximizing utility. Luckily, intertype relations and a few other approaches can give us valuable information on how to approach it.
Duality and supervision. The intertype relations to consider here goes way beyond just those two, but they are the most extreme, and as such the best examples. The former; duality, will help us with the function. As our dual has what is our point of least resistance as their demonstrative function, it’s a strength of theirs that they, while they can deal with without any effort, don’t put much emphasis on. Because of this, we can effortlessly and without strain transfer the responsibility of that area of information to another person, and won’t have to be bothered by it ourselves. On the contrary, supervision might expect us to use or at least pay attention to the information located in our polr. Instead of relieving us from the burden, they may enhance it and make it greater (it should though be noted, for both duality and supervision, that these are described as types in a purely theoretical form, and that life is more complicated with other aspects to consider as well).
That is all how other people may relieve or enhance our polr. But there are also things that we can do ourselves. To avoid the stress of having to deal with it, we can, as far as it’s possible, outsource it to someone else. This approach, however, makes sure that we don’t build on the library of experiences. To best deal with the function ourselves, there are two major ways to approach it. The first being at least related to using the ITR for it, is an approach where we spend time around someone that is proficient with the information element, in order to imitate and learn. For this, I personally think supervision is beneficial (as they share form of cognition which furthers the exchange of information and leads with the information element in question). But regardless of which type we choose to look to, learning about our polr this way can be highly beneficial.
The other approach in dealing with it ourselves is to routinize it. Since it’s hard to deal with and is something we don’t naturally or willingly engage in, it can be worth considering to create routines around them. This way, we can work with it without having to rely on being able to adapt it to new and unknown situations (something that we find first at the third dimension), but instead do at least something, at a steady and controlled pace. And as a plus, it will build our library of experience, and we will grow in our skill to deal with that type of information.
The point of least resistance, one of the weakest functions of our psyche is just that; a weak spot in terms of the information we can deal with. But it’s not a lost cause, and there are ways we can deal with it, both by ourselves and with the help of other people. Through misconceptions and frustration, it’s an area for growth. Instead of wholly rejecting it, we can, to an extent, embrace it and learn.