Excerpt from Understanding the Seeker (Quinelle): "Understanding the Seeker's Approach to Life"


The Quinelle series of books, based on Understanding the People around You, focuses on individual personality types. The excerpt below is from Understanding the Seeker: Socionics in Everday Life.

Want more information? Read the books! Start with Filatova's book, then turn to Quinelle's books that break out the individual styles:

Understanding the Analyst
Understanding the Critic
Understanding the Entrepreneur
Understanding the Seeker

---- at least three more coming in 2022 (Romantic, Performer, Professional)

Understanding the Seeker’s Approach to Life

What is the Seeker?

The Seeker is an Intuitive Thinking Extrovert (ITE). As such, he or she is a combination of the three expressed traits and the unexpressed trait, Irrationality (emphasis on the Jungian definition, not the English-language lay definition).

Filatova describes the Seeker in the following way:

The most attractive feature of Seekers (ITEs) is their enthusiastic look, as if they are oversized children about to open a long-awaited present. Sometimes they walk with their hips and their head slightly ahead of the rest of their body. Seekers are often preoccupied with something, causing them to neglect thinking about how their interests may affect or interfere with others’ lives. The Intuitive subtype is very dynamic—when engrossed in something, they may act heatedly and unthinkingly. The logical subtype is calm and reasonable (p.80).

A deeper look at each of these characteristics—Intuition, Thinking, Extroversion—separately provides insight into the Seeker. Keep in mind that this ordering of the elements indicates that the Seeker belongs to the Irrational personality group described by Jung.

Seekers, like all Intuitive types, rely on personal impressions. They trust their intuitions more than they trust facts, data, statistics, or other kinds of objective input. Subjectivity is where they live and what they rely on.

Additionally, like all Intuiters, they live in the future and can be quite oblivious to what is going on around them, resulting in their being perceived as absent-minded. Routine is anathema to them, and comfort is not something they think about much. A Seeker, then, can often appear to be lost in the world of his or her own ideas and internal motivations.

The Thinking type looks at the world as an objective system of laws and hierarchy. This type becomes involved in inventions and creations. They are fascinated by the structure of the universe, but care little about the social world. They trust in facts and are unlikely to make rash decisions or hasty statements. Emotions confuse them, and they have a limited repertoire of appropriate responses in emotional situations; they would prefer to leave emotions out of their interactions and decisions.

The Extroversion of the Seeker propels him or her out among people—even if they are, more often than not, considered eccentric by those who co-habit the planet with them. The value of ideas, for them, lies first and foremost in the possibility of realizing them, i.e. making them real. The “real world,” then, and the world of ideas coincide for them.

The Extroverted Intuiter is always looking for something new, i.e. “seeking.” Their world is mysterious, and they actively attempt to uncover its secrets.

The Seeker’s Strong Channels

Channel 1 (Personality Program) Characteristics of Seekers

Seekers are attracted to the new, the untried, the untested, and what others might call the fanciful. Not satisfied with the status quo, they chase after change and whatever newness they can find—or invent—in life and work. This interest is not merely a matter of change for the sake of change, however. Rather, it is change for the sake of improvement.

Seekers are generally multi-talented and diverse in their interests. Often, they find it difficult to choose a profession because they are interested in many things and, perhaps as a result of that interest, become good in many things. For example, a Seeker doctor who loves music is quite common, as is a Seeker musician who loves horticulture.

Their diverse interests, coupled with their inherent ability to generate new and unusual theories, result in a happy combination, where their application of research and theory from one field of endeavor to a different, often completely unrelated, field can result in fresh and useful discoveries that might not otherwise come about. One Seeker describes the occupation she has chosen as a result of this ability as a “redistributor of knowledge.” She explains that she “buys” (learns) from one field or group of people and “sells” (teaches) to another field or group.

Although Seekers can be quite spiritual, they are intellectual explorers. Traditional religion can be quite rigid and ritualistic, and, while embracing the personal within the ritual, Seekers do not find anathema at all the most radical of ideas; nor do they hesitate to question even those ideas that they consider, on another plane, to be spiritual truths. They can hold their beliefs in abeyance for the sake of exploration, while never leaving their values, which may well be based on spiritual belief, behind.

Seekers easily withstand the attraction of new fads. As new theories pop up, the Seeker, who has often contemplated something like that theory earlier, maintains a certain amount of skepticism, having already moved on to an even newer theory. Within their own fields, they are frequently the movers and shakers of the next movement to come about, and then the next.

Having developed one theory, created one movement, or completed one task, the Seeker becomes restless and seeks out a new theory, a more advanced movement, or a more complex task. They are always seeking; hence the name Filatova assigned to them.

The intuitive nature of the Seeker is his or her most dominant characteristic—and it can take a form that may astonish others: solving a puzzle on the spot, producing a theory without much or any time for research, or figuring out anew rules they have forgotten. When asked how they come up with an answer, their response is, “It is just commonsense,” or, “I don’t really know; it just seemed right.”

One young Seeker had a quick answer for her English teacher, creating an awkward moment for the teacher. During an in-class discussion after watching a film about “pearls of wisdoms,” or aphorisms, and the authors who produced them, the Seeker became restless—too much talk about the same thing—and began whispering to another student. Thinking to embarrass the Seeker into silence, the teacher pointedly told her to come up with her own “pearl of wisdom” on the spot for the class.

Without hesitation, the Seeker replied, “He who wins is not always victorious.” With that, she effectively silenced the teacher, who had been told, in a not-completely-subtle way, that while she might have won by concentrating attention on the Seeker, she was not victorious because the Seeker, contrary to the teacher’s expectation, completed the task. The teacher was left with little to do except applaud, as did the rest of the class. One would be wise not to take on a Seeker in an intellectual contest, given that acumen, intuition, and perception, according to Filatova, are their strongest personality traits.

Seekers recognize abilities in others perhaps better than do most other types. Their strong Intuition helps them in this, allowing them to look beyond surface behaviors. This trait makes them excellent mentors—for as long as their patience holds out.

This trait might have the potential for providing them insights into financial matters, but they generally have no interest in such things. They are not practical in the eyes of many, but rather idealistic, looking for ways to improve the world, enhance a field, or make a mark on history—not for self-glory, but from an internal need to see the present (and, ultimately, history) change for the better. As such, they more generally fall into the group of eccentrics who change the world (or their part of the world) than into the group of financial geniuses.

Channel 2 (Production) Characteristics of Seekers

Seekers meditate, contemplate, consider, and ponder, i.e. they do a lot of thinking—goal-driven thinking, not aimless thinking. They do not meditate in order to improve their mood, feel good about themselves and the world, change their state of mind, or achieve some other affective purpose. No, they think in order to organize life. They do not readily tolerate systems, accept structure, or follow rules; they create them.

Their copious reading—Seekers are indeed voracious readers, in spite of being extroverts, who, commonsense would tell us, should prefer to learn from people rather than from books—provides them ample research and evidence, as well as ideas and thoughts, to carry theories, begun in part by others, to their intellectual endpoint. They display equal skill in formulating their own theories, generally in an attempt to organize life around them into those systems, structures, and rules that they do not accept from others or from society at large.

Like other Intuitive Thinkers, they are skeptical of authority. Teachers have to earn their respect, as do political leaders, social leaders, and even parents and colleagues. Respect comes only when they see that the people they are dealing with “know their stuff,” i.e. that they have reasons for what they do, understand and expect the appropriate consequences—and accept them, and reach for logical conclusions, not emotional ones.

Dogmas amuse them, and, if amused enough, they will spend time reorganizing and structuring the rules emanating from the dogma. As mentioned earlier, they can experience a deep spirituality, but they do tend to turn a blind eye to unquestioned/unquestionable faith, religious cults, and politics. “Do it because you are supposed to do it” more often produces the opposite behavior than the one hoped for by the dogma-speaker, as do similar pronouncements, such as “everyone else is doing it,” “it has always been done this way,” “because I said so” (an ineffective way for parents to influence the behavior of Seeker children), and “that’s the rule.”

When Seekers look to convince others of their persuasions, they use brainstorming sessions, group discussions (without peer pressure), shared governance, and other forms of democratic decision-making. For the Rational Sensers of any personality type, the Seeker can feel threatening, though the Seeker intends just the opposite resultant relationship through his or her democratic approach to drawing conclusions. The threat can seem even greater when the normal range of intellectual activity is undertaken by someone of above average intellectual capacity. Since Seekers are given to presenting what appear to others to be “outrageous” ideas in their search for the new, the intellectually stimulating, and the ideationally challenging, other personality types can become confused as to whether the Seeker is putting them on or presenting ideas “for real.” With a proclivity for testing both ends of the spectrum in order to find the most probable middle, Seekers often earn the unfair label of being “inconsistent.”

The end result of this approach to others has led Seekers to found institutions dedicated to new principles and practices, to develop new schools of thought, along with adherents to propel those schools forward, and to get others to undertake new projects. Seekers can be change masters in this respect; they are, however, not implementers. Implementation is generally left to other personality types, particularly the Rational Sensers.

The Seeker’s Weak Channels

Channel 3 (Vulnerability) Characteristics of Seekers

The Seeker experiences uncertainty in the areas of psychological distance and relationship. They do not have the inherent confidence and skill in interpersonal relationships that Feelers have; their Thinking gets in the way, as do some inherent behaviors and their treatment of values.

Their internal values, focused on integrity and honesty, are strongly held. They hold themselves and others to an exceedingly high standard of integrity. Typically willing to trust others to have integrity, i.e. to be trustworthy, once they see lack of integrity or honesty in another person, their trust is broken, never to be regained.

“We have had a miscommunication,” someone of another type might say. “So, how do we rebuild the trust between us?”

The Seeker’s response will invariably be short: “We don’t.”

The Seeker sincerely applies the adage, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” There is no going back and no opportunity to repeat an error that involves integrity with a Seeker, who assumes that there is no guarantee that a person who has been shown not to meet the Seeker’s high bar for integrity and honesty on one occasion will never fail to meet it again. Rather, the assumption is that there will be repeated failure—and too frequently for maintaining good relationships with those who err in ways considered to be a matter of integrity.The Seeker will ascribe the broken trust to a deliberate action, rather than a mistake that comes from human error in decision-making.

Seekers try to judge others objectively. Their difficulty in relationships arises from their stringent criteria for honest behavior and, therefore, what it takes to maintain the trust that is initially freely given.

Seekers do not judge others for the purpose of forcing them to do anything. They believe that all have a right to freely choose what they think, how they relate to others, and what they do. Given that, Seekers then judge others on the choices the others have made.

When their judgments are negative, Seekers can easily alienate others by their comments. They will make it known when they believe someone to be untrustworthy, unreliable, lacking in skills, dishonest, or lacking in integrity. If they have been made sensitive to a particular group of people, a certain hierarchy, or a clear need for discretion, they may make their opinion known carefully—but they will make it known, usually without a great deal of diplomacy (though they may believe they are being diplomatic), either to the individuals themselves or to others they consider confidants (sometimes not as well chosen as they think). When these judgments reach the ears of the people being judged, relationships can—usually do—sour quickly.

Seekers are indeed vulnerable in their relationships with other people. While they have good insights into others’ intellectual and creative potential, they have nearly no insight into what others think about them. They expect others to tell them straight out, just as they share their own opinions about others straight out, but there are few personality types that will do this. So, the Seeker ends up judging by the overt behavior, and often misjudging. Mature Seekers, who realize this about themselves, will often take a long time to size up someone new, wanting not to get it wrong. With strangers, then, they are quite cautious, and sometimes very formal, coming across as cold, though they would be surprised to hear that observation about themselves and would most likely react to it saying, “that’s just that person’s opinion,” not being nonplussed by it but rather perplexed by it.

Channel 4 (Suggestibility) Characteristics of Seekers

In terms of harmony, comfort, and well-being, Seekers are oblivious to their own needs. Some other types have noted that Seekers do not seem to need to eat or sleep. “She does not have the same physical needs that the rest of us do,” one non-Seeker said of a Seeker colleague.

They are typically poor homemakers, regardless of gender and upbringing, and rely on parents, spouses, children, partners, roommates, and friends to help them get by in these areas. It is not a lack of ability for most Seekers; it is more a lack of attention and interest. Seekers “are capable of sorting and cleaning their things from time to time,” says Filatova (p. 82), “if the mess disturbs their life or work.” More likely, though, they will clean only to the point where they find something they need, and then they will re-shuffle everything back into some new arrangement, which will have to be sorted again when something else is needed.

The young son of one Seeker learned to cook so well that his mother allowed him to prepare the special meals for guests. One guest commented upon his culinary skills, developed at a very tender age, to which he replied, “In this house, it’s self-defense.”

This obliviousness to the life around them can be detrimental to the Seeker on many levels. Health issues can be ignored until health has deteriorated to the point of needing extensive medical attention. The same can be true of financial matters, with money earned being money spent, and the creativity of the Seeker being focused on earning more money from new sources rather than on tracking and controlling finances for financial health.

The protagonist of the book, Mommy Poisoned Our House Guest (Shenan Leaver), is clearly a Seeker. The author calls her “detail-oblivious,” and “detail-oblivious” is about as accurate a description of a Seeker as one can get.

Seekers in Real Life

A well-known example of a Seeker might be Don Quixote.* The lead character of Cervantes’ novel by the same name was always tilting at windmills, dreaming of possibilities while ignoring realities. Recall the music from The Man from La Mancha?

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I'll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

—lyrics by Joe Darion

Most people shake their heads at Don Quixote’s strivings. They do not understand the character. They do not understand the personality type. It is too far from “reality” for those not of that personality bent. Most people would not give up what the Don Quixotes or the Seekers of the world give up, simply because, in the Seeker’s minds, they are not really giving up anything. They are, after all, not attracted by the comforts of the physical world.

Other well-known Seeker personalities, as suggested by Filatova, include Dustin Hoffman, Edit Piaf, Aušra Augustinavičiūtė, (the founder of socionics), Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein, Dmitry Mendeleev (remember the periodic table from chemistry class?), Andrei Sakharov, Sergei Prokofiev, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Miguel Cervantes (creator of the character of Don Quixote). Perhaps you can think of others, and of Seekers among the people around you?

*Identification of the personality types of famous individuals is a matter of author hypothesis. To determine the actual personality type, the individual would have had to take a personality test. The hypothesis is made, then, based on observable behavior.

Something to Think About

Do you believe that you are a Seeker? Take the test at the end of this book and determine if you are. If so, answer the questions in Section A below. If you are not a Seeker, but you work, live, or play with Seekers, answer the questions in Section B. Both are intended to provide real-life insight into the Seeker and those with whom he or she associates.

Section A. Questions about Yourself as a Seeker

If you are a Seeker and you find yourself surrounded by non-Seekers, whether they be in your office, school, home, or social group, what might you expect to be the difficulties you will face, and how will you cope with them? Think, for example, about the following:

·       Most non-Seekers are into planning their lives in practical ways and will want to discuss steps and practical ideas with their friends, including you;

·       Non-Seekers are not nearly as idealistic as Seekers and in some cases simply do not understand an idealistic mindset, no matter how a Seeker tries to describe or explain it; and/or

·       With all the best intentions, a non-Seeker may advise or even pressure a Seeker to “be more realistic” or “show some commonsense.”

Which of these things can you accept?

What can you do to adapt yourself?

What can you do to help those who surround you accept you as you are? (Can you, for example, have a discussion with them about socionics and explain the conflict between your idealism, and its centrality to everything you do, and their greater tendency to look at life in a more realistic and pragmatic vein? Can you show them some advantages to your idealism—even if those things don’t advantage you but someone else? After all, the idealist does tend to be altruistic, not living for himself or herself alone.)

Section B. Questions about a Seeker with Whom You Associate

If you are a non-Seeker and find yourself surrounded by Seekers (or, more likely, associating with a couple of Seekers, given that Seekers are relatively rare), what difficulties might you expect to face and how might you cope with them? Think, for example, about the following:

·       A Seeker will avoid developing personal relationships, focusing instead on an idea, a goal, a campaign, the principle of a matter, and so on;

·       A Seeker will not readily give you warm fuzzies (it is not you; it is in the nature of the Seeker, who does not expect, want, or, often even accept warm fuzzies from others); and/or

·       A Seeker will often bring discord into a conversation or discussion in the form of skepticism and debate to get you to consider all angles of an issue.

Which of these things can you accept?

What can you do to adapt yourself?

What can you do to adapt the Seeker? (Can you, for example, have a discussion about the ways in which discord affects you or how much you appreciate a kind word here and there? Can you identify the elements you find lacking in your relationship and express your needs in a Seeker way—not emotionally dependent but conceptually based?)

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