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MicroscopeFacilitator - Detail

Facilitator strategy could be thought of as the secretary of the mind. That is because the Facilitator person is conscious in a mode of thought which stands apart from the rest of the mind, observing and adjusting thought from a distance. As a result, the Facilitator person is both similar to all of the other cognitive styles and completely different than anyone else.

The similarity comes from the observation. Describe any of the other six cognitive styles to the Facilitator person and he can look inside of himself and see a part of his mind that functions in that manner. He is aware of Perceiver mode, Server thought, Teacher strategy, Mercy thinking, Contributor mode, and Exhorter excitement. He sees them all within his mind and he can use conscious thought to focus upon any one of these modes and emphasize it over the others. And, if you look at marriage combinations, the Facilitator is the only one that you find who potentially marries any one of the six other cognitive styles.

As a result, he is often the social chameleon, almost automatically adjusting his persona to suit the demands of the moment. He can be loud, quiet, withdrawn, or socially involved. He may even pick up the accent of his surroundings and talk like those he is with. At times, he may feel that he adjusts too much, and he may wish for a more even personality.

If he grows up in an environment which strongly emphasizes one mode of thought, then that way of thinking will predominate, and he may even look like he is that cognitive style. For instance, if his father was an Exhorter person with great ideas and visions, then he too may look like a copy of his father, with similar mannerisms and speaking styles. However, he is actually watching subconscious thought operate from the side lines; he is observing himself be like his father.

And that is what makes the Facilitator person different than all of the other cognitive styles. He is the only one who stands apart from thought, objectively watching and manipulating from the periphery. At times, he may literally feel as if he is observing himself go through life, as if he has two identities—one doing the observing and one doing the actual existing. When he talks about himself, he will often refer to himself in the third person, describing himself objectively as if he is referring to another person.

In general, he often prefers to operate from the sidelines, facilitating others as they perform their activities. He brings people together who have similar skills, and encourages them to work together. Likewise, he is not usually the troublemaker who causes problems. Instead, he is the schemer who encourages others to perform forbidden activity and who observes from the fringe as they carry out the schemes that he has suggested.

One can see that such a person would naturally be drawn to professions such as science, psychology and philosophy. The scientist observes the natural world, the psychologist observes human behavior, and the philosopher observes himself. It appears that most of the prominent individuals in these fields have had the cognitive style of Facilitator.

Each of these professions illustrate prominent character traits of Facilitator thought. The scientist observes and experiments under controlled conditions. First, he does not get personally involved. Instead, he is tries to be the ‘dispassionate observer’, carefully measuring what is happening while making sure that he does not contaminate the process that he is observing. Second, he adjusts and changes. He does not just stand back and passively watch what is happening. Instead, he steps in occasionally and makes small careful adjustments. If the Facilitator person cannot make these changes, then he will feel strongly motivated to move on to some other field where he has the freedom to control and adjust. Finally, he makes small changes in order to avoid mental confusion. When change is too large then he can feel muddled, and the Facilitator person hates it when that happens. Therefore, he will try very hard to make sure that change occurs in small, bite sized, digestible chunks.

Looking now at the psychologist, psychology excels at labeling and describing behavior. However, psychology is often better at discovering syndromes than it is at curing them. Similarly, the Facilitator person is better than anyone else at studying behavior and describing it accurately. However, when it comes to meaningful personal change, then the Facilitator person tends to be the most crippled. That is because he lives on the periphery of thought, and cannot reach in to the mental machine itself and make direct, deep changes. Therefore, he may even turn to dream analysis in order to get a clue about what exactly is happening within the bowels of thought.

When the mind of the Facilitator person is operating, he finds it difficult to shut down his thoughts. He may lie awake at night while his mind continues to churn away. When this happens, it often helps if he processes his thoughts by writing them down. In general, the Facilitator person often keeps a diary, but may write it in code or keep it hidden so that no one else comes into contact with his private thoughts. After several years of writing, he may even burn his notes and destroy his diaries in order to free himself from the past.

Finally, turning to the philosopher, philosophy tends to be more a search for internal clarity than it is a seeking of universal understanding. The Facilitator person who has mental clarity, or who lives in a society where everything is solid and certain, is not motivated to turn to philosophy. Instead, it is uncertainty that gives birth to philosophy. When society falls apart, when there is physical unrest, or when accepted authority figures are questioned and the standards and mores of society start to shift, then the Facilitator person loses his mental bearings and begins to look for what is truly solid and clear.

Facilitator thought operates by blending and balancing, but this fine tuning must be guided by a set of fixed references points. And those appear to be provided by Perceiver and Server thought. When these mental absolutes start to crumble, then the Facilitator person feels muddled. It is as if the entire dining room starts to shift when he tries to move the fork on the table. If this uncertainty grows, then the Facilitator person will enter a state of mental angst, in which nothing is certain. Angst is when you move the fork, and the entire universe turns. If you want to know more about angst, then study philosophy.  

Mental Clarity

That is why the Facilitator philosopher searches for clarity. He wants to discover what is mentally solid and what is not. He wants to know what can be known, how he can know that it can be known, and does he really know that he knows. The ultimate topic of knowing is knowing about myself. Therefore, the Facilitator philosopher generally asks, “Who am I” and “What is me”. Often, what ends up being solid within the mind of the Facilitator philosopher is the very process of searching for what is mentally solid. Thus, a Facilitator such as Descartes may declare, “I think, therefore I am”. Or for a more recent example, Heidegger may state that what really matters is Dasein, the fact that I am thrown into an uncertain world and that I have to struggle to find meaning for myself when all is meaningless and I know that I will eventually die.

Facilitator strategy cannot function without knowing. In order to blend effectively, it must be guided by absolutes that are solid. However, these mental reference points are provided by modes of thought which are subconscious in the Facilitator person. Therefore, when the Facilitator person knows something, he knows that it is obvious that it should be known, and when he does not known something, he knows with equal certainty that is impossible that anyone could ever know such a thing. Therefore, in a time such as ours, when people believe that there is no absolute morality, then the uncertain Facilitator will preach with great certainty that it is impossible to be certain, he will feel very strongly about never feeling strongly about anything, and he will expect everyone to submit to his moral standard that there are no moral standards.

That puts the Facilitator person in a quandary. On the one hand, his mind needs absolutes in order to function properly. On the other hand, absolutes are extreme; they are impolite; they are fundamentalist. Even the word ‘absolute’ is mentally jarring, and the Facilitator hates to be jarred.

That is because Facilitator thought acts as the filter for information that is entering the mind. As someone who is aware of all mental modes, he usually sees both sides of a story and finds himself sympathizing with both parties in an argument. He hates it when he is forced to choose one side or the other, and he tries very hard to compromise and stay on good terms with all parties. But, truth is extreme; it is solid; it does not compromise. Therefore, the Facilitator person often ends up filtering out the very information that he needs in order to think clearly, and avoiding the very people that can give him mental stability.


Much of the recent history of philosophy can be summarized by this predicament. When a Facilitator philosopher feels internal uncertainty, then he may take decades to describe his internal predicament with great care and precision, but he will seldom if ever take the step of actually filling his mind with some system of internal stability. Instead, he declares that because he feels uncertain, certainty does not exist, it cannot exist, and then he turns his mental instability into a great system of philosophy with many high sounding words.

If this analysis sounds somewhat cynical, then it probably is. That is because I as a Perceiver person am conscious in one of the parts of the mind which gives stability to Facilitator thought (check the end of the Neurology section for the neurology behind this statement), and I find it rather annoying to have someone use fancy words to tell me that I do not exist.

In plain English, the Facilitator person would often rather be wrong than have truth stuffed down his throat. And if he ever comes to the conclusion that truth was stuffed down his throat, then he may take great pains to remove this content from his mind. As a result, the Facilitator person often goes through one or more ‘cult experiences’. First, he finds himself attracted to some individual who preaches with clarity and certainty. Then, he enters the camp of this individual and become a loyal follower. Eventually, he then finds that he is no longer safely in the middle, but rather out on some extreme, enemies with people whom he does not even know. That is when he leaves the group, decides that it is a cult, and tries to deprogram himself. As I mention in the book on Christianity, he may even regard childhood itself as a form of cult experience, and work strenuously to change education so that nothing is stuffed down nobody’s throat.

The solution to this Kantian dilemma of transcendental knowledge, this Berkeleyan question of whether reality actually exists, this Heideggerian insistence that nothing really matters except being, this Wittgensteinian conclusion that philosophy itself is meaningless, this Nietzschian declaration that God is dead, and this Sartrian statement that life itself is meaningless is scientific hypothesis.

Every good scientist knows that there is no such thing as 100% certainty. Instead, you come up with a hypothesis and then you test your hypothesis. A similar principle applies to subjective knowledge. As many philosophers have pointed out, there is no way of knowing if what I perceive with my five senses matches up with reality, or even if there is such a thing as reality, or God, or whatever. Instead, one has to gather evidence, come up with a hypothesis, and then take a small leap based upon that evidence. And yet, it seems that the philosopher is far more willing to turn existential and take a huge jump into irrational subjective feeling, than he is to take the small leap of rational faith into logical hypothesis.

For instance, I remember a comment from one of my thesis supervisors, the professor in my committee who was from psychology. He told me bluntly, “I refuse to believe in cognitive styles unless you can prove it to me by examining every person that has ever existed.” That is what the Facilitator philosopher demands; that is an impossible demand; that demand will destroy your mind; and that demand is not scientific.

Unfortunately, applying this sort of logic requires Perceiver thought, which can only function in areas of emotional content if Perceiver strategy gains sufficient confidence to handle emotional pressure. And, that means allowing childish identity to die and be replaced by adult identity, a process I describe in detail elsewhere in this site.

But, personal death and resurrection is a discontinuity; it is a huge gap; it violates the Facilitator assumption of blending and smoothness.

And the Facilitator person hates gaps; he loathes discontinuities, especially personal discontinuities. Instead, he thinks that everything can be described by gradual change without any gaps. Putting this another way, the Facilitator person is attracted to the concept of evolution, and it appears that Charles Darwin was a Facilitator person.

The Facilitator person must assume evolution, for that is how he thinks; that is how he holds his mind together when it falls apart. Other cognitive styles can use conscious control to keep the mind functioning when it is unstable. They live in the middle of thought, and can hold the fragments of mental processing together. The Facilitator person, however, cannot reach in to fix his broken mind. When his thinking falls apart, then he can only observe from the sidelines, balancing the various fragments of thought until they choose to mend themselves.

One can see this happening when the Facilitator person talks about personal tragedy. He appears to be totally in control of his feelings, and gives the impression that he can handle the intense feelings. But, in the middle of his speech, he will suddenly stop talking and break down completely. Then, after a few seconds, he gathers his thoughts and continues speaking in a calm voice.

One of the basic principles of the theory of mental symmetry is that mental growth is not just an evolutionary process. It is not simply a series of small steps. Yes, there are vast stretches of smooth road where growth is incremental. However, these areas of mental continuity are interspersed by huge uncrossable chasms in which personal identity can only continue growing by falling apart and then coming back together.

I suggest that there are four major mental chasms, each associated with one of the four MBTI® splits, and that when mental growth arrives at one of these junctions, it will halt unless the corresponding MBTI® division is tackled head on and integrated. First, there is the challenge of bridging Thinking and Feeling, getting head and heart together. Then, there is the struggle of finding enjoyment within the rules, integrating Perceiving and Judging. After that comes the challenge of making words consistent with actions, integrating Sensing and iNtuition. The final battle integrates internal and the external, bringing Introverted together with Extraverted.

Much of philosophy can be summarized by these four struggles: How can anyone know whether his internal world matches up with external reality; how can mere words be used to describe physical activity; how can stability be reconciled with freedom; and how can logic be applied to emotion. The philosopher examines each of these issues and concludes that no solution exists. I suggest, in contrast, that a solution does exist, but it involves building certainty and not just assuming it, and it requires going through a process of personal discontinuity, which Facilitator blending is unwilling to accept.

Does this mean that the Facilitator person can only become mentally mature if he is willing to stop using conscious thought to control his mind? To some extent, yes. Each one of the cognitive styles naturally uses conscious thought to control and shut down other parts of his mind, and the Facilitator person is no exception.

However, I suggest that personal growth can be viewed as an evolutionary-like process with small continuous steps if one analyzes fundamentalist religion as a rational, universal Teacher theory. I have chosen those words very carefully. Facilitator thought requires internal stability; that can only be supplied by mental absolutes and fundamentals. Facilitator thought requires answers to big questions, such as the existence of God, the basis for morality, and the definition of identity. Those are all religious questions.

But, these religious principles must not be accepted as blind faith. Blind faith may give mental stability, but whenever I accept one person, book, or religion as my source of truth, then by definition I am rejecting other people, other books, and other religions. Therefore, the Facilitator who submits his mind to blind faith will always find himself out on an extreme, and we already know that this is precisely where Facilitator thought does not want to be.

In addition, blind faith is dogmatic; it cannot be questioned; it must not be adjusted; it must remain fixed, frozen in time, rooted upon the immovable rock of the ages. However, while Facilitator strategy requires absolutes in order to function, Facilitator thought functions by adjusting and blending. Therefore, not only does blind faith force the Facilitator person into an extreme, but it then forbids him from using conscious thought to fine tune and adjust.

As far as I can tell, when truth comes from people, then there is no solution to this paradox. The only answer is to let go of idolatry, move beyond truthiness, and search for truth. But that means going through the discontinuity of personal rebirth, and Facilitator thought hates discontinuities.

However, if absolute, fundamentalist religion can be described as a rational, scientific theory, which I take a whole book attempting to do in the section on Christianity, then another option emerges. That is because there are now two emotions at play: Mercy emotion programmed childish identity by mesmerizing Perceiver thought and filling the mind with blind faith and blind obedience, but the elegance of understanding truth and religion produces Teacher feelings of order and structure. Now, instead of having to leap across the gap that separates childish foolishness from adult identity, one can let go of childish Mercy feelings, hold on to Teacher emotions and be carried smoothly across the chasm by the pleasant breeze of understanding before landing with reborn Mercy feelings on the shores of adult identity.  

In essence this is like stepping into an airplane in order to travel across the ocean. Travelling from one continent to another used to be a great trauma involving weeks of danger and discomfort. Now, one can cross this discontinuity in comfort by flying through the air. Similarly, by ‘flying through the air’ of theory, one can endure the struggle of acquiring an adult identity, of bridging head and heart, and of integrating Thinking and Feeling, in relative comfort. Yes, it is still a struggle. Yes, there are still steps of faith. But, these steps now become negotiable. In essence, mental revolution turns into Facilitator compatible evolution because it involves several mental modes, and makes progress by transferring control from one mental mode to another.

Interaction with Contributor Thought

As I mention in several places, the mind appears to be run by a three stage ‘pump’ which starts with Exhorter drive, excitement and energy, goes through Contributor control, choice and optimization, and then passes through Facilitator mixing, blending, and balancing.

Facilitator thought also performs a type of optimization, but it is more limited than that of the Contributor person. Contributor optimization can involve major disruption and may lead to huge improvements. Facilitator strategy, in contrast, makes small adjustments in order to make the best of the existing situation. Facilitator strategy works within the system, Contributor thought changes the system. And this principle also applies to politics and organizations. Thus, the Facilitator person is the best at working within the system and at playing by the rules of the game.

Both of these approaches are necessary. The Contributor person may be good at coming up with plans, but he tends to treat people within his plans as pawns who should move only when he tells them to move and sit still otherwise. The Facilitator person takes the plans of the Contributor person and adjusts them to fit the person and to suit the situation. Thus, behind every successful Contributor is usually a very capable Facilitator executive secretary.

So which of these two is actually in control? The Contributor person likes to think that he is the boss, because he is the one who makes all of the decisions. But, the Facilitator person is extremely talented at the art of indirect control, giving choices to the other person while making sure that he decides the choices that they can make.

The Facilitator person will also take the ‘plan A’ of the Contributor person and ensure that it also contains elements of ‘plan B’, so that a backup course of action is available in case the primary plan fails.

In computer language, Facilitator strategy adds the third dimension to the process of thinking. Thought without Facilitator mixing and blending is angular, with sharp edges and hard corners. Facilitator strategy rounds off the edges and smoothes the corners. This works very well when there sharp edges and smooth corners exist. However, if Facilitator strategy ever takes over the mind, or if society ever decides that solid facts and stable commitments do not exist, then Facilitator blending  turns into compromise, moves through relative morality, feels muddled which grows eventually into full blown  angst, and then finally ‘restores’ mental stability by giving up freedom and clinging to some strong man and his system of absolute obedience and control.

At each of these stages, the Facilitator person is simply ‘making the best of the existing situation’. But, when Perceiver truth is determined by Mercy feelings, when truthiness rules, then as Hegel pointed out, every situation carries within itself an inherent contradiction that will eventually destroy the system.

Normally, Exhorter excitement provides the imagination and energy that leads to the next step of the Contributor plan. But, when there is a physical crisis, then there is no time for new ideas or radical solutions. Instead, the existing environment must be scanned as quickly as possible and solutions be found here and now. When this happens, Facilitator blending takes over from Exhorter excitement. In terms of brain chemicals, noradrenaline takes over from dopamine.

This transition is apparent in the behavior of the Facilitator person. Normally, crisis leaves him feeling muddled, especially when strong emotions are involved. But, when he finds himself in a physical disaster, then suddenly his mind is crystal clear.

Many years ago, I remember reading the biography of a person who was stricken with Parkinson’s disease at a very young age. As far as I could tell, he was a Facilitator person who used physical crisis as a way of gaining control over his mind. Unfortunately, he succeeded. Exhorter strategy appears to be related to dopamine, and when a mental circuit is not used, then it begins to die. And, when enough dopamine cells in the substantia nigra die, then the result is Parkinson’s disease.

Most of the time, the Facilitator person finds it very difficult to control subconscious Exhorter strategy. For instance, if Exhorter thought becomes attracted to something forbidden, then Facilitator strategy has no way of controlling this fixation. Instead, all he can do is use sublimation to express this forbidden desire in ways that appear legitimate and refined. Similarly, if the Facilitator person experienced disapproval from his parents as a child, he may get a PhD in order to prove himself, and yet still feel unworthy at the end of the entire process.

The combination of childish identity and Facilitator optimization leads to another trait. The Facilitator person is very talented at portraying an event in such a way that makes him look good and others look bad. Seldom is there any outright lying. Instead, he puts a spin on the situation, downplaying certain aspects while emphasizing other factors, choosing some words while avoiding other terms. The ultimate result is that he ends up looking lily white while you end up both looking horrible and feeling like dirt.

Putting this another way, the Facilitator person tends to apply cosmetic change to childish identity. He takes the idolatry, hedonism, debauchery, stupidity, and arrogance of the immature child and packages it in a way that looks elegant, debonair, avant garde, and sophisticated. Unfortunately, these words are not too strong. If you want some examples, I suggest Louis XIV, the sun king of France, or Maurice de Talleyrand, the French minister before, under, and after Napoleon.

You can imagine what happens when two Facilitator persons collide. Each wants to be at the center, facilitating the system. And each is naturally talented at using the system to attack, belittle and demean the other. But, all of this political infighting occurs politely, through channels and via procedures.

In other words, life for the Facilitator person involves mainly small choices. He seldom makes a large decision.  But, over the years, these small choices all add up to a large decision. If he continues to make himself look good and other look bad, if he continues to compromise, then he will eventually turn into a loathsome person. However, if the small choices that he makes are in the direction of personal integrity and honest commitment, then the Facilitator person will eventually become an individual of personal stature and wisdom.

Wisdom and Personal Change

The Facilitator person is very good at coming up with wisdom. Wisdom is not a universal theory, but rather a pearl of insight, a small nugget of practical understanding, a proverb. Speaking of proverbs, Solomon in the Bible was also a Facilitator person, and he stated several times that ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’. This concept needs to be explored.

The immature Facilitator person is plagued by ‘fear of man’. He is constantly tempted to adjust and fine tune his actions and alter his persona in order to make them less offensive to others and to make himself look good in the eyes of his audience. That is ‘fear of man’.

The solution to this emotional entanglement is to break identity free from its attachment to Mercy idols and to hold on instead to the Teacher emotions of universal understanding.

I suggest in my analysis of Christianity that a mental image of God emerges when universal Teacher understanding touches personal Mercy identity. As I have mentioned, the Facilitator person finds it difficult to make large changes or cross major chasms. Therefore, if universal Teacher theory is described in personal terms, if a mental image of God develops, then I suggest that the Facilitator person can make the transition smoothly from childish identity to adult identity. He can go from fearing man, to fearing God, to understanding God, to thinking rationally, to having a rational personal identity.

Notice that this is all happening mentally. I am not trying to prove here that God exists. Instead, I am looking purely at a mental image of God. I am also not talking about worshipping God. The Facilitator person loves to worship God; he loves to worship beauty; he loves worship of any kind. But, worship does not change the Facilitator person, it simply makes him feel good about his existing situation.

Instead, what is required is fear of God. The Facilitator person must be sufficiently scared of God that when push comes to shove, he chooses to obey his mental image of God, even when it makes him look bad in front of others.  

And, this fear of God must be so strong that the Facilitator person does not compromise. Partial fear of God, or partial obedience of God is not sufficient. Only complete total fear and obedience will suffice.

And that, I suggest, describes the fatal weakness of most philosophy. The philosopher also builds a universal Teacher understanding which eventually turns into a mental image of God. But this God comes from ‘me’, it is the same as ‘me’, it makes ‘me’ feel good about myself, but it does not motivate me to change myself. Thus, the philosopher ends up worshipping god and not fearing him. And, because he does not fear god, he experiences no fundamental personal change.

Why is an image of God so important? Because, the Facilitator person needs internal stability, but this internal stability must be stated in universal terms. He needs absolutes, but those absolutes must give him personal freedom to blend and to mix. Thus, he needs absolutes that are universal, and these universal absolutes must govern me. And that, by definition, is an image of God.

And why is it essential to fear God? Because, if the Facilitator person wants to escape the Hegelian world of inherent contradictions, then he needs to stop thinking like a child and become an adult. And that will only happen if his image of God makes him feel so guilty that he is willing to die inside to childish identity.

Instead, what does the typical Facilitator person do? Rather than allowing words to make him feel bad, he does exactly the opposite. He continually cleanses his vocabulary, removing any words that produce negative emotions and replacing them with new, emotionally uncharged euphamisms. When he conducts a war, for instance, innocent people do not get slaughtered. Instead, there are ‘civilian casualties’, and when this term becomes unacceptable, then there is ‘collateral damage’.

Thus, instead of curing the cancer of childish stupidity, he puts a verbal bandage on it and makes it look better. If I had to choose between a bandage and a cure, I would take the cure.

Because, when you cure thought, then you no longer need the bandage of philosophy. Instead, you can enjoy the success of science, another area where the Facilitator person excels. If it is so effective to apply the scientific method to the objective world of nature, why not apply it to the realm of the subjective? And, if we examine the history of science and philosophy, we see that every branch of science began existence as an aspect of ‘natural philosophy’.