Guest Post by Debaparna Das, INTP
Dominant Introverted Feeling (Fi): Cobb represses much of his feeling function so that he can focus more on his professional life using his sensing and thinking functions. He struggles constantly with his feelings of regret, guilt, and grief for Mal, and feels uncomfortable talking about it to others, brushing off Arthur and opening up to Ariadne only when she correctly intuits a good part of his motivations on her own. He resorts to fantasies of reliving their past married life in a controlled dream structure that is meant to separate his dream world from his sense of reality. Repressing his emotions instead of taking time to confront them has huge negative consequences on his real, professional life, and to circumvent Mal’s interference, he ends up breaking most of the rules he makes himself, eliciting wry comments from Arthur and Ariadne.
Auxiliary Extraverted Sensing (Se): Cobb is keenly attuned to the present and the real, with a penchant for ready improvisation, and maintaining a polished, composed exterior even when battling his shadow. He can easily pick up clues from his surroundings and from people’s body language, and uses that to make up a plan that works best with the present situation rather than reflecting on their past success rates (“Mr. Charles”). It can also explain why Cobb became dissatisfied with life in limbo, because it wasn’t “real” for him, and he was aware of the whole environment being an invention. Following the death of Mal and his flight from the U.S., Cobb relies heavily on his sensing and thinking functions to power him through his encounters with his shadow, but due to his shadow functions operating more forcefully in his dreams, he cannot utilise his sensing function to distinguish between reality and the dream.
Tertiary Introverted Intuition (Ni): Cobb can process information and evaluate possible pitfalls quite quickly, but does not take enough measures to prevent them; for example, the idea of containing Mal in a “prison of memories”. He becomes so focused on one primary goal that he tends to neglect crucial details on the side: when Ariadne points out the risks that his mental issues pose for the operation, Cobb insists that his main goal is to return home, instead of directly confronting Mal. He also neglects at the outset the possibly fatal consequences of the side-effects of using powerful sedatives to increase the number of stable dream layers.
Inferior Extraverted Thinking (Te): Cobb has a focused, goal-oriented mindset and makes plans that are clearly chalked-out and best suited to the demands of the dream and the subject, instead of spending a lot of time on the ‘specificity’ of the plan. However, he has difficulty paying attention to basic concepts, such as the time-stretching within dreams that increases with depth; he is so taken by the thrill of exploring further and deeper layers of the dreams – likely an effect of his upper sensing function – that he takes himself and Mal into limbo, the starting point of the disaster.