I suppose I first became aware of personality theory in the early 90ís when my significant other discovered the
book Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars. I read it and thus the journey began. The biggest takeaway there
is to not assume others are like you and donít interpret their behavior as it would be reflected in yourself.
For example, an extrovert will assume when someone retreats to a room and closes the door they are angry,
depressed or sullen while in reality itís entering happy land for the introvert. I remember a revelation for
myself was the fact that some personalities when complaining, moaning and haranguing only want you to listen
rather than solve the problem. This I found astonishing but it helped explain some incidents. I still struggle
with this concept 20 years later Ė I get it personality wise but still struggle with it intellectually. The point
is it is good to know such things as ultimately they can just help people to get along. This particular book
is mostly for parents and families but for me it led to the MBTI paradigm. I took the test and studied the theory,
absorbed a great deal of the material, understood I was an INTP Ė albeit one leaning toward different sides
of the spectrum as we all do Ė talked about it occasionally with others Ė but after a while filed it away as
Now some 20 years later, it reared its head again. Iím rarely one to revisit things Iíve already studied but in
this case I made an exception, perhaps due to its flourishing on the internet, and I once again became absorbed
in the material. Lo and behold, Iím still an INTP as Iím still a 5í8Ē Caucasian, some things are apparently
locked in, but I find discussions of the theory interesting still. The purpose of this corner of the blog is
to prolong the discussion and have some fun with it.
After years of wallowing in the weeds, I was finally able to lift my head above the roughage and look at a pristine lake beyond and discover that I was staring into the face, not of Narcissus, but an unmitigated and naive INFP. The INFP and INTP may seem like apples and oranges to some but I assure you, from inside the head of an introverted intutive, it's not a terrible stretch. One who is well up in years and daresay a mature INFP may perhaps have finally developed his TE capabilities and has worn out the functional stack and for this reason, easily confuses themselves with INTPs. Using myself as an example, I've spent the last five years studying math and physics and I love it but not until after essentially mastering all the artistic genres. Yes I'm indulging in hyperbole here but I have read a great deal of the literary classics, have enjoyed and studied the majority of musical genres, have wandered through art history etc. and to quote my uncle, a bonafied intellectual, who had also and even truly mastered the canon, "there is nothing left but technology and science". In our current decadent technological age, it doesn't take a string theorist to see the truth in his assertion. Yet if anyone approached either he or I in our twenties and thirties, they would have found a dreamer fully ensonsced in the Arts. Time changes people or it should yet the basic electrical wiring remains the same. Now an INFP will usually approach the sciences differently than other types and I'll broach that topic more in a separate section. If you're confused about your type look at your hobbies. Now, yes, I'm assuming you're of a certain age and have hobbies. If not, I'll discuss a point about that later also. It's not to say that other types won't share your hobbies but the passion and love and transcendence of the art form of choice, that will probably be unique to at least certain NF types. Writing, painting, music and photography will most likely dominate. In whatever way, shape or form. NTs are more likely to have more mechanical/quantitative hobbies. Robotics, gadgetry and engineering for example. Now these may come to the INFP but typically it will be later in life after the Arts have been processed to the full. Many, if not most, INFPs will hate gadgetry a priori. It just won't float their boat. I use gadgets as a tool when necessary and I sometimes admire their engineering but in and of themselves I don't have a great interest in mechanical things. I prefer ideas. The idea of a car or computer floating in a Platonian netherworld, or Not, excites me far more than a Mercedes sedan. So the Arts and beauty and transendence and the numinous and insights and analogies and imagination and metaphors will always define the INFP despite the fact that those on the outside world may not see what burns inside. Now back to the hobbyless. If you're a millenial and you haven't developed hobbies you might find yourself creating a youtube channel or enjoying some video games or making your own videos for contests etc.. the point is, the creative spark and imagination will emanate from the soul of the INFP regardless of their supposed generation.
I'm amazed that so few mention the two greatest writers of the 20th century as likely INFPs, namely Jack Kerouac and J.D. Salinger. Both were hyper-sensitive, imaginative and seekers of better worlds. They both suffered greatly with Salinger locking himself away from the world and Kerouac killing himself with alcohol. Salinger longed for a world without phonies, Kerouac for a meaningful spiritual existence. Both spent their teenage years putting pen to paper, not a common practice. Both were severly disappointed in humanity, unfortunately, also a common refrain of the mature INFP. I'd bet my baby guitar that these guys would fall under the INFP scaffolding. I wouldn't be surprised if Ray Bradbury was an INFP, he was my favorite and the most literary of all science fiction writers and if you've ever absorbed "Dandelion Wine" you'll feel the huge theme of nostalgia, sentiment, magic and mystery, all hallmarks of the lit-up mind of the INFP. There's a forgotten British writer named Walter De La Mare who deserves rediscovery. His style and love of whimsy might also qualify him as an INFP, his short stories are simple delights. Don't forget Marcel Proust, author of the giant masterpiece "Recherche..". Here's a fellow who frequented Salons only to gather information for his Opus and once the necessary studies were conducted, retired to his cork-lined bedroom and starved himself as he completed his work. Now that's dedication to your Art, something only an INFP would probably be sordid enough to contemplate. These are just a few writers, no need to mention musicians as that's probably the dominant personality type represented therein and I don't know enough about visual artists to make any sort of claims. And don't fret gender police, I'm very fond of many female writers I just haven't been able to type them enough to guess they're INFPs, I've heard Emily Dickinson and Jane Austen mentioned so remember, I'm mentioning those that haven't been mentioned. I love those two writers by the way along with Harper Lee, Ursula K LeGuin, Agatha Christie and Joyce Carol Oates to name a few more. I can't suggest any to be INFPs however. I'll add some more as I remember them. It's just fun to talk about and I think the guys I've mentioned certainly qualify.
INFPs don't like people telling them what to do. Anytime. Anywhere. Under and circumstances. I guess, considering this independent streak, we feel it's an affront to our individual liberty and a way of saying "we know better than you" and this is something we can't and won't accept. No one knows better than the individual self in our ego-centric universe. To each his own and her own methods. Suggestions are fine, if couched appropriately, but just don't tread on our selfhood. This is our sacred inviolable altar. Now obviously, this can be a problem at work and the reason all INFPs and probably most all INs prefer to work for themselves. Keep in mind that we don't want to tell others what to do either. We'll typically couch things in possibilities rather than directives. Leave us alone please and if you're going to try to pull a "Lord of the Flies" on us, we'll disappear into the bush and become the world's foremost Sigma male!
Business and Politics
INFPs will always hate business and politics. As a youth they'll be considered mundane and boring. It's only at middle age that they'll begin to get shortshrift and even then only only as an unpleasant necessity, like a Dental visit. At a laterstage of integration a few interesting businesses might spur some study and things like finance and the stock market may come into play for an aging INFP as they become more concerned/worried about survival in our consumerist SJ society. But these dabblings will never bring the fulfillment or the transcendence that this type seeks. If a partner is willing/capable of taking care of these horrifying practicalities, the INFP will gladly continue frolicking in the Arts and their own hobbies.Politics is too nasty, revealing the sordid underbelly of human affairs, and illuminating all that is wrong with the species. In fact, after an INFP tries to indulge in politics for a little while, they'll quickly realize again it is soul destroying and they won't see the point and they'll return to not voting as a sign of protest, a sign that they don't support the broken system, certainly a valid point of view despite what you'll hear from all the conformists out there. So if you're an INFP avoid politics and religion, there really is no other way to say it. The gift of the INFP is to create beauty for the rest of mankind, Politics is the antithesis of beauty, follow your soul and avoid it; that is unless the Nazis are marching up the Coast, then it's time to go rogue ESTJ on the bastards.
Math & Science
It's considered a truth that INFPs are incapable of mathematical or scientific thinking. False! Let me just use my favorite INFP as an example; Edgar Allan Poe. Poe graduated 3rd in his West Point class in mathematics, probably certainly without a great deal of effort. His work often showed great analytical skills, strong pattern development and very conscious construction. His stories were sculptures not Pollockian explosions. His final work, still misunderstood and underappreciated 175 years later, is a mystical attempt at a scientific treatise. It anticipated relativity and the expansion of the universe. It's a misnomer to say that most INFPs have no interest or aptitude for mathematics. Despite this, it is probably true in most cases, at least until middle age, for a few good reasons. The youthful mind of the INFP will gravitate toward the Arts as the dominant function of FI is, well dominating. Literature will often be the first love, as it was mine, from a very young age and arithmetic, even if it comes easily, will be experienced as boring as it doesn't fire the imagination. Now the reason for this is twofold; one, grammar school math teachers are usually SJs and as such don't begin courses by discussing concepts, ideas, anecdotes and the magic of the subject but instead jump right into the mundane details. This leaves the intuitive children listless, feelers inert. On the other hand, even if an intuitive teacher lit the fire of imagination underneath the bottom of the eager beavers, aka young INFPs, they would probably still be hesitant, with their dormant TE, for the immature mind will be unable to do the necessary stack jumping at this point. Now I want to make another point here about INFPs and Math. What will probably enthrall are the ideas of meta-mathematics. Actually doing the work of math or science will be secondary to the exciting ideas. Platonism, the golden ratio, Godel Thereom's, Fibonacci numbers - astonishing ideas like these will be most likely what the INFP falls for rather than actually doing the mundane and hard work of deriving equations and measuring milliliters of fluid and plotting data etc.. Some INFPs would be capable of such practicalities but only after first understanding and getting excited about the big picture concepts that are truly earth shattering. An INFP will approach the sciences intuitively and abstractly - unlike perhaps the NT types. Don't count us out of these fields though.
An INFP may find out later in life, if they discuss personality type, that many of the authors and musicians they've been fond of and relate to deeply, have also likely been INFPs. Now of course this is guesswork but an educated Jungian can do a remarkably accurate job. In fact all types will admire and respect those that speak the most to their deep essence or soul, if you prefer such vague mystical terms. Of course you'll have to realize the 80-20 rule is in effect but in general, especially when young, those that you most admire and identify with will share your psychological type. A few of the writers I most admired: Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, J.D. Salinger, Jack Kerouac, Ray Bradbury, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Charles Baudelaire, Vladimir Nabokov, Bram Stoker, Wilkie Collins, Sheridan Le Fanu, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Marcel Proust - to name a few. Bands/musicians: The Rolling Stones, The Talking Heads, The Clash, The Pretenders, Neil Young, Patti Smith, The Gang of Four, XTC, Leanard Cohen, Bob Dylan, JJ Cale, Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Iggy Pop, The Ramones, New Order and Joy Division - again to name a few. Now am I suggesting all of these writers and most of these individual musicians are/were all INFPs? Certainly not - but I'm surmising that many might be. Perhaps later I'll include some actors or visual artists, nevertheless, the point is, if you look at those you admire, respect and/or identify with - or more majestically, those who lift you to another level of emotion/consciousness - these in particular will most resemble your interior self. They are mirrors of your feelings.
I think I saw somewhere a while back that INFPs are known for using hyperbole and/or dramatic adjectives to describe experiences. Woo hoo, Wow, Bingo, I'm not the only one! But now a few weeks have passed and I'm not sure I actually read that or if it was my imagination but whether I did or not, it really hit home in a deep seated way. For whatever reason, especially in writing, I like to use dramatic hyperbole to describe even mundane things. I don't know if it's subconscious or with an eye to humor or whether circumstances really affect me in a more intense way than others. It's probably all of the above. But for some reason I use terms like "horrifying" and "staggering to the imagination" and "dreadful" and "it was the worse thing in the history of Western Civilization" and "ungodly" and "soul destroying" and "perverse" and "cacophonous" and "excruciating" and "astonshing" and on and on. Words like this give me a perverse pleasure and I also think it actually shows the depth of how I actually experience these seemingly mundane things. It's a mystery wrapped in a condundrum surrounded by an anomaly. This tendency is probably related to my love of words in general, I love a good mot like pusillanimous and the joy of looking up its Greek root and seeing how it spread through the romance and Indo-European language trees. In addition to gross exaggerations and the love of unusual but spot-on million dollar words, I also have a fondness for slang and even a propensity for making up my own language. Only close friends really know how I use this spontaneous wacko language of my own. Again it gives me some kind of fun, some pleasure in a harmless frivolity and in all honesty it comes naturally. The reason I mention these things is because I'm curious if other INFPs play the same sort of language games? From the little I've read in this regard, I have a hunch that many do - although I'm sure each approach will be vastly different. Where does this language love come from?, I haven't the foggiest...
INFPs will want to be everything at one point or another. Seeing someone great will light up the INFP and she'll go home and start working on whatever sparked the imagination immediately. But how long will it last? An INFP will see a great concert, get so inspired they're in the clouds, and then fantasize that they are the great guitar player - the Santana, the Prince, the Keith Richards. They'll see a great movie and want to be the next Johnny Depp or Woody Allen. They'll visit and art gallery and want to become an oil painter - a Picasso, a Van Gogh. They'll even, especially as kids, go to a basketball game and go home to dream of being the next Doctor J or Michael Jordan or Lebron James. They'll go to an Ansel Adams photography exhibit and be in the stores the next day looking for a camera. And of course they'll read Huckleberry Finn or the Tell-Tale Heart or the Catcher in the Rye and they'll go home and put pen to paper. This is usually the only one practice that sticks permanently while the others flit in and out as spur-of-the-moment hobbies - depending on the excruciating demands of making a living. At the same time, with all the admiration an INFP will have for the aforementioned super-talents, when it's comes down to the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hour proficiency minimum, most INFPs will become bored with almost anything - the obsession that is required to be among the best will often fall away as the INFP seeks greener pastures. This isn't to say that some INFPs can't focus enough to achieve mastery, only that it will be quite difficult due to a roaming mind and an idealized imagination. Even if extremely gifted as a golfer say, as an example, even if they love golf, the idea of playing the game every day becomes untenable. They want to be the Renaissance Man, the polymath, the be all end all. Because if you want to be the world's greatest golfer you can't be the world's best painter or the world's best Tango dancer or the worlds's best mathematician or the world's best cartoonist or the world's best singer or the world's best Sommelier or the world's best comedian and for Christmas' sake, how do you choose? I doubt that most INFPs will have dreams of becoming the more mundane careerists like policeman or fireman or construction workers - they may briefly dream of becoming a great surgeon or lawyer as an outlier - but in general - their desires will be of entertainers, artists, athletes and/or scientists. In the 1970's there was a journalist that tried several professional positions like pro quarterback and race car driver etc. - a fellow by the name of George Plimpton. I had great admiration for him and here's the key takeaway - as a writer you can be that guitarist ripping the solo, that painter dabbing her brush, that physicist deriving his equation, all at the behest of the one thing we all have - the imagination. This is why writing usually sticks with INFPs; we can be whomever we want.
INTPs and HSPs Sept. 2018
It's all starting to make sense now. I can say I've more than dabbled in psychological typing, it's been a fairly dense
study for a few years now - with intermittent breaks. I went through a phase where I was dabbling in INFP and INFJ-ness because
I just wasn't jiving with the INTP stereotypes and I loved music, the arts and especially literature. I never felt socially arkward
or insensitive to others feelings - shy yes but when I engaged I wasn't a nerd or geek. I do think I learned from childhood on that
one must not speak the truth when others will be offended, this has always been difficult, but I've usually abided by the social rule
except in trivial matters where I can't help myself and even then mostly only in the presence of friends. No matter how hard I tried though I just couldn't fit under the
INFP INFJ umbrella. Some things resonated which made me feel like a hybrid, which I think and hope we are as we approach old age, having
ideally gone through a period of growth and change. Ultimately though, INTP was the only type I could identify with, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
The funny thing is, I'm more certain I'm an HSP than an INTP. All introverted intuitives hide their emotions, they experience them deeply
but rarely reveal them, I guess for various Freudian psychological reasons. Can INTPs be emotionally sensitive? Absolutely 100% certainly they
can. In fact, one could argue, and I've only heard this idea hinted at by others, but never articulated as I'm about to. On some level INTPs love of
abstractions could be seen as a buffer or diversion from deep and painful emotions. Not only are introverted intuitives and especially INTPs rarely
witnessed to show emotions but this could be seen as a reaction to the intensity and ultimate dread of said emotions to the point of suppressing,
compartmentalizing and trivializing them. As a narcissict is an exponential overreaction to insecurity and inadequacy, an INTP is a dramatic example
of a type whose emotions and sensitivity are so extreme that getting lost in abstractions is a defense against emotional overwhelm and potential nervous
breakdown. Churn that around in your brain for a while. I'll give an example from a 19th century giant - one to whom I often refer.
Edgar Allan Poe was an HSP, certainly among the most HSPish fellows of all time. He penned a protagonist called Roderick Usher who essentially
goes mad inside his home arguably due to hypersensitivity; in fact, one of my favorite lines and one I've never forgotten
is essentially the following: "he suffered from a morbid acuity of the senses". If there's been a better description of HSPness in all of literature I've
yet to find it. Now to continue the segue into my point, this same gentleman, Mr. Poe, invented what he called tales of rationcination; the definitive
original detective story as well as early science fiction precursors. These were tales of the utmost calm, cool rationality - which was later eagerly adopted
by Conan Doyle in his Holmes stories. Now over the decades many armchair psychologists and literary critics have surmised that Poe adopted this mental purview
to prevent his own descent into madness. Becoming a rational thinking machine enables one to suppress and compartmentalize terrible thoughts, sufferings and emotional
injuries and in Poe's case all those around him suffered, died and vanished. Now one may or may not agree with this insight but the point is - HSPs and INs, especially INTPs,
may develop their cognitive structures not from lack of emotion but just the opposite (too intense) - especially the painful, sad, death-filled and debilitating kinds.
This my friends is a very interesting idea if nothing else and as an INTP myself, I'd like the opinions of the best and brightest among you, dear readers, to add
to my internal library of congress.
I'll say this, to state that INTPs are emotionless robots is a very shallow claim. Some people, through innate temperment, childhood experiences and fear of social
opprobrium, simply don't demonstrate emotions as readily as their less sensitive cousins. It doesn't take Jung to realize there's sometimes a lot beneath the surface. In fact,
as I've demonstrated, what's beneath may be so powerful as to require elaborate defenses to prevent the storming of the Bastille. The Visi-Goths must be thwarted.
Now Sherlock, put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Some traits of HSPs
Hold ears as sirens go by
Struggle with urban street noises - grinding saws, jack hammers, trucks, buses, sirens - all stressors
Sleep with ear plugs and eye patches
Mute TVs at commercials, often mute sound during sporting events, loathe public TVs and always ask or try to
turn them down or off is possible - like at the Dentist
Love long solitary walks
Vivid fantastic dreams
Love sports but not actually going to the games - too much madness and cacophony
Like sit-down small venue concerts
Hate blasting restaurant music - often beg to turn it down or switch to low classical
Very senstivite to pain - Dentist is torture - head on top in middle is very delicate
Face sweats when eating - especially spicy foods
Saliva glands will eject before something like a lemon reaches lips
Love music and have strong emotional reactions and imagination ignitions from glorious tunes
Love sleep, require 8 hours
Sigh deeply and often
Can only play favorite music occasionally - get too excited
Really struggle with loud groups at restaurants
Light sleeper - generally awaken when a pin drops
Absolutely supersonic hearing - even hear things that other HSPs don't
Take naps every day at 3 p.m. - can't help it - like a narcoleptic - Do
it at work and never apologize for it
If concentrating on something like a book or the computer and there's something bright or another tv
or computer in the peripheral vision - It must be blocked
Can't watch modern tv shows. The mania of changing perspectives every second and zooming in and out and flying from place
to place - Stupefying - like Japanese Anime - way too much sensory stimulation and eye-burn
Possible INTP Traits November 2019
Yes friends, it's funny, but I travelled around the horn of the MBTI types and I arrived in my own backyard. I feel like Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz" who returned with the
line "there's no place like home". I considered all the IN types and even briefly an IS, which I now know is beyond ludicrous. The irony is, my diving down into rabbit holes and my chasing
red herrings into a labyrinth of hyper analysis and doubt is in itself proof of my type, the INTP. To those still trying to determine their type, I would say this, don't look at behaviors,
ignore stereotypes, ignore 90% of youtubers - even if they are entertaining - and spend significant time on simply the first cognitive function, or what I like to call the mental landscape or
primary propensity and once you figure this out, the rest will fall in place fairly easily. Takes a birds eye view and look at yourself at different parts of your life, from school days onward,
and observe when something significant happened, it can even be trivial, but something you remember and determine how your mind was working at that time - what was the real definition
of your mental experience, what was the marker that set this apart as a category. This can take time but once you find it, you will be very convinced you have arrived at what is your true
personality type, and whatever you think of the system, this can be useful in your life (at any age). For me, that go-to propensity, that interior focus, that ghost in the machine was (and is)
indisputibly introverted thinking. There were a few examples of this from my school days, which I'll perhaps delineate later, that set me on the right track. Again, keep in mind, many and I
mean many, take Jung and the system way too far. This is why people get lost and mistype. All MBTI and Jung concern themselves with is 1) how you typically perceive and 2) how you normally
make decisions, that's it folks. So within a type you will have a wide of range of people, talents, interests and lifestyles. First find your type, then you can go entertain yourself with
readings and videos about traits - whether you accept them or not. Now after stating that - I'm going to contradict myself a bit here - I'm going to list some possible tendencies, nothing
more, that you might see in some INTPs - as always take them with a morsel of NA+CL-. I like to invoke the 80-20 rule a lot. You might find 80% of INTPs with the following characteristics
but a full 20% won't relate at all. This is the best we can do and remember, lists like these are more for entertainment than anything and for gosh sakes, don't ever use
them for typing. With all those caveats, let's catalog some traits.
Hate Redundancy (Both written and verbal)
Loathe sloppy writing (i.e., deadwood)
Love to Read (anything!, a phone book will do and a dictionary is heaven)
An Autodidact (Never really needed school, only a library)
Seek knowledge for its own sake
Often walk with head down
Creator of one's own language (including slang)
Sometimes delight in shocking people
Need a private sanctuary
Love Music and have elitist tastes
Detest Status Symbols
Always tear up at Rom Coms but rarely attend them
Dress for Comfort
Keep a list of ideas
Sometimes record dreams
Do best thinking in bed at night
Love movies especially Dystopias (many genres except horror)
Loathe the mundane
Love people but prefer to be alone
Hate the Holidays
Have unusual powers of recall
Feelings are intense or absent
Don't like to be the center of attention
Often bites one's lip in public (figuratively of course)
Love making lists! Ha
Oh No Not Again! December 2019
Well, this is embarrassing. Again. Is this stuff really that tough? I believe Iíve said this before but I must be either really dunderheaded or marginally bright. Itís taken me several years to figure out my MBTI type. As you can see above, each time I feel certain for a length of time and then Iíll see something or read something or have that "aha" moment and there I am again, lo and behold, discarding the old and embracing the new. Now Iím not going to embarrass myself further by stating that Iím 100% sure but I must say, just by default and the laws of statistics, I am about 99.7% certain. I guess a big part of the difficulty lies in the fact that my dominant mental landscape is one of some murkiness and a good deal of subterranean processes. This makes grasping and defining quite difficult. I, my friends, and once and for all, fall under the outliers tent at the personality convention that reads INFJ! Can you believe that? I know I didn't.
Now, for some time Iíve had difficulty with the idea of introverted thinking being dominated by logic. First of all, I donít like the term logic. Iím aware of what Boolean logic is from my days as a programmer and Iím also aware of the philosophical debate in mathematics which pits the sub-discipline of logic within the larger framework of mathematics. Here the likes of Bertrand Russell have argued that all mathematics is a from of logic while the countervailing camp insists logic is simply a mathematical sub-branch. So when a personality practitioner mentions the word logic, this old idea pops into my head and I doubt this is what they mean when they speak of the internal machinations of the TI dom. At least I thought it had to include all forms of reasoning - be they deductive, inductive, analogical or comparative. But it kept gnawing away at me Ė I knew that I used this sort of thinking when necessary, certainly at work at times and in various other types of analysis - yet I knew this didnít begin to encompass what I would describe as my overarching conscious mental experience. This is where the faÁade once again began to crack. I'm not sure why I had prejudices against the INFJ but, whoa, wait a minute, of course I'm sure why I had prejudices, are not the names Hitler, Mugabe and Osama frightening enough to scare one away? Even the images of Mother Teresa and Mahatma Ghandi were somewhat spoiled for me when I heard the opinion of Christopher Hitchens. Now I don't always agree with that late gentleman but you know how it is when you get something in your head. To put it bluntly, Hitchens thought those two to be ogres rather than saints. Anyway, I'll leave that discussion alone for now.
Now most famous INFJs are proud heroes, MLK and Mandela for example. These fine fellows have been canonized in the public psyche to the point where they are beyond reproach. In other words, if you say anything bad about them you will be hung up in the town square a la Mussolini. Anyway, as one who shuns leadership, I couldn't identify at all with these folks. But of course these are outliers themselves and are they really typed correctly? I have my doubts. Anyway, once I moved into the realm of actors, musicians and artists, even philosophers, identification became much easier. It's pretty exciting if Plato and Spinoza are in your camp and as for literature, my favorite novel is "Crime and Punishment" and Dostoyevsky has often been typed as INFJ. JK Rowling has self identified as same. Several of my favorite actors have also been so-typed; i.e., Daniel Day Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Cate Blanchett and Al Pacino. When one enters musicland Leanard Cohen is often mentioned and his music absolutely takes me to a galaxy far far away. But anyway, who really cares about celebrities, and in all honesty, these categorizations are pure suppositions. There are thought to be 3 or 4 million people in the U.S. that fall under this MBTI wing, essentially equal numbers men and women and most of these would fall under the category of "regular" folks, or would they?
In my case, I just didn't think I could be a J and I'm not the only one who wishes Myers and Briggs never introduced this confusing dichotomy because it only serves to muddle the cocktail. The true essence of the system and I am hesistant to call it a theory because theories have reams of evidentiary support, this systems' essence is what I like to call the mental landscape or psyche and what the MBTI community likes to call cognitive functions. The only deep dive necessary is into this realm.
Yet when I gave J-ness a little more thought, well, truthfully a lot more thought, I had to reconsider. I never thought I was a J because I don't like planning events in advance but what I realized was I don't like planning specifically social events in advance which may be more of an indicator of introversion than anything else. Whenever I agree to a party down the road for example, when the day arrives I'm full of angst and usually trying to figure a way out, this actually happened recently and I blew off the event and of course heard about it later and then naturally felt guilty. I've experienced this sequence many times over the years. But besides not liking pre-agreed upon social events, I do tend to plan other things, especially in my head.
And the rare time when I have to give a presentation at work or even the few times that I've posted a video, I've worked out the entire discussion in my head, usually two or three times before I step up to the Mic. I guess I don't like to get caught with my figurative pants down, I don't like to be caught unawares because I guess I think I'll panic, freeze up or fail in some way. This of course will result in unpleasant feelings, perhaps even the worst - shame or humiliation. So in those sort of cases I do plan. I discussed on a video how a friend once went into the woods in flip flops and otherwise completely unprepared. While I might decide on a spontaneous Saturday morning hike, I'll want to have a snack, first aid, water, proper clothing and hiking boots at bare minimum. If this is planning than yes I plead guilty. Sometimes I plan a vacation in my head that I may or may not execute later or think where I might live or move in the future but in general I don't do any specific long range planning, well, little anyway. I did however, write up an offical will and testament rather early in my life.
Again, I don't think we INFJs, at least I, necessarily plan things for any love of planning but rather to prevent being caught off guard. I've learned the hard way a few times and I don't like trudging through the rain without an umbrella. I don't like physical discomfort which may also have to do with my being an HSP but I guess deep down we fear being a sloppy mess in any number of ways or circumstances. Another aspect of this J-ness concerns personal surroundings or living space. I realize I essentially like things neat, clean and organized as I've become older and in possession of my own solitary home space. Now not to excess mind you and sometimes things slide, especially as I'm indulging in my beloved hobbies, but all told, I prefer an organized environment. At work it's become even more pronounced as I've aged. I keep a minimalist and de-cluttered work space. I absolutely loathe clutter of any form. This trait is not for everyone mind you, and Einstein wittily pointed this out, but for me a cluttered desk is a cluttered mind. I can't focus in an environment of sensory or physical cacophony. Straighten things up and throw away the nonsense and I'm much better able to get something done. And another things is, yes I do make lists. Now I think this trait is misinterpreted. We don't make lists because we're organized, just the opposite.
Without the list I wouldn't pay the electric bill, show up at my Doctor's appointment or change my oil. Lists are what allow us to survive in the extraverted thinking world because that world is the furthest it could possibly be from the world we normally inhabit in our minds. I don't have any particular love for lists, I simply make them to stay somewhat tethered to the practical world. Extraverted Thinking demands adherence lest it gobble you up and spit you out - so write notes to yourself to make your car payment so the repo man doesn't show up at the door. This itinerant bogeyman doesn't care that you're a philosopher, poet or scholar. He simply cometh and taketh away.
One final thing indicating my J-ness. I hate a cluttered inbox, I purge all emails after reading them except for those of value which I will move into a properly named folder. I even purge my delete and sent folders frequently, again clutter, it messes me up. I don't like unnecessary junk lying all over the place whether it's on the computer or paperwork in my study. Purge the superfluous I say. I also keep folders of photographs by category, name and date. I never thought of all this as being indicative of anything in particular but as I now take the bird's eye view, I see organization, concision and perfectionism. Who was I trying to kid?, this has J written all over it. Thanks alot Isabella and Katherine!
Now that I've spent nearly a thousand words analyzing the J-ness of the MBTI system, as most of us know, the dichotomies have limited significance. The meat is in the cognitive functions or what I prefer to call the mental landscape. Let's accept ad nauseum that yes I'm a J, which is borderline irrelevant, and move into the tendencies of the INFJ psyche.
As you can see, after some analysis and by discarding fear of parties as insufficient evidence of a P preference, I'm truly J to the core and in fact without a doubt an INFJ.
When I eventually understood and accepted that I was an NI dom or an introverted intuitive to the unitiated, many things fell into place and ironically I had
that "eureka" moment for which the function is famous. This explains a lot.
I always wondered why at work, in the technical software industry, I felt out of place. There were certain areas in which I felt stupid and would marvel
at colleagues who could seemingly voice strategies in the moment whilst I had to ruminate for some time and get back to them later. I now know I was surrounded by mostly
NT types, especially INTPs and INTJs - not to mention a few STs, ISTJs for example. Most of my peers could think faster and more effectively than I could and now knowing that introverted thinking was in my wheelhouse but hardly up front with the Captain, I was usually able to hold my own but it caused a great deal of stress and burned copious amounts of brain glucose.
I could induce and deduce at times but I was like the weekend ice skater up against Olympic Medalists. They kept me around for a couple of reasons, the main one being that I could write. Documentation is required and in all my years in I.T. I never met a programmer who could write a grammatically correct English sentence. It was something they loathed and had no interest in so they were quite grateful when I took the onerous task off their plates. I also seemed to have another rather unusual talent. When there was a deep-seated problem, a production problem, the worst kind, I was sometimes the one that came up with the unorthodox solution. I liked to dig deep into the weeds of the matter and even deliberately let my subconscious chew on it sometimes, even before I even knew anything about MBTI. I would lay in bed at night and think about it, presumably using introverted thinking as best I could and then forgot about it and fall asleep.
Sometimes I'd wake in the middle of the night with the answer floating in my mind's eye or occasionally, while in a semi-conscious state, images and thoughts and ideas would nebulously flit about until I'd wake with a start and voila, the answer hovered before me like a genie from a lamp. When this occurred, I'd grab my notebook, often at my bedside, and jot down the solution lest it float back unimpeded into the black hole of the subconscious. This happened on a few occasions and I thought nothing of it, assuming everyone had such revelations and quite frankly, I don't know if they do, I only know now that as an INFJ this sort of intuition is the protagonist in the drama that often saves us from drowning. It's essentially the one talent that has kept me from getting fired for twenty five years.
Another characteristic of mine is that in movies or tv shows I often know what's going to happen next and am usually right. And again, I thought everyone did this but as I've become more aware of individual differences and even watched things with others, I've realized this isn't necessarilly the case. It's like in the old Clue game or in an Agatha Christie whodunit, I just know the Butler did it before I can explain to you why. But trust me, it's not magic, the subconscious is merely making connections of which the conscious is unaware. I also sometimes know what someone is going to say when they're stammering and and I venture a guess and happen to be right. Of course "the how did you know that" follows and the INFJ just shakes his or her head.
If extraverted intuition is scatterbraining, associating, extrapolating and connecting, introverted intuition is oil drilling, laser beaming and pile driving - streamlining something to its essence, whether it be a person's character or something extremely abstract, like the nature of perception, it's a drilling through the earth to China all the while discarding superfluous pathways and unnecessary distractions. Introverted intuition - when in flow - blocks out all noise and is myopically focused, the very antithesis of multi-tasking, a term and practice I despise, that grinds things down to their core meaning, their soul if you will. It wants to see through things like x-ray vision. If and NE dome sees a crow they might think "Oh look a crow, a crow's like a Raven, oh yeah wasn't it Edgar Allan Poe who wrote the Raven, he was a poet and invented the detective story, oh yeah, speaking of detective stories, I think Sherlock Holmes with Benedict Cumberbatch is on tonight, I need to watch that." So the NE dom will jump, jump, jump and associate till the end up somewhere barely or completely unrelated to the original sensory stimulation that spurred the thought process. The NI dom, on the other hand, might see a crow and peer into its ultimate crow-ness "I wonder what that crow thinks, I know that they're smart, I wonder how far his territory extends?, does he hang out with his family around here?, where's his nest?, I wonder how long it lives?, does it know when it's going to die?, does his family mourn?" I'm not necessarily suggesting these are intuitions, especially the introverted example, but more the difference between scattershotting and honing. Of course, all types are capable of all different methods of thinking at various times but we all have goto tendencies and the introverted intuitives default is to go deep while the extraverted intuitives is to go wide.
If NE is a supernova, NI is a wormhole.
I'll now leave the discussion of the INFJ's dominant psychological mindscape for the time being. For those introverts out there still searching for your MBTI type, I suggest diving deep into your own psyche to find your most characteristic psychological trait and once you do, after a brief analysis of your first extraverted function, which most people find significantly easier, the rest of the puzzle falls into place like magic.
So as I look back on my career and life now, things make a lot more sense. I felt like an outlier because I was - yet my otherliness was just enough to keep me employed - although I went through periods of tedium, despair and dissatisfaction to the point of madness - nd yet I've been able to survive by doing what I'm doing right now, writing. Creative outlets are a necessity for an INFJ, the job will rarely provide what you need so you'll have to grab the pen, pick up the guitar or set up the easel in order to get some of what's inside out into the domain of reality.
Now let's just talk for a minute about FE, extraverted feeling of what I like to call comraderie or harmony. I like people. INFJs like people. Sort of. It reminds me of a play about the old cornpone Will Rogers who said "I never met a man I didn't like". We like people but overall when heave comes to ho, we generally prefer solitude to fraternizing. Usually, when we spend time with people and the novelty wears off, they come to disappoint us. This can be for a variety of reasons but our idealism is always partly to blame. We do have an idyllic world in our heads and we rue every day that our imagined Utopia is not realized. Of course we understand reality but we still try to make this world the best we can and when people's dark, ugly or disgusting side is exposed, we generally retreat. The irony is, we usually feel bad about this and that push-pull is something we deal with our entire lives. But there are a select few that stay on our pedestals and we always enjoy hanging out with them. It's simply a question of when, where and how often because again, with all the practical demands of life and with our constitutional need for privacy/solitude, there's only so much time for friends and intimates. We know all too well the relentless pressure of time.
Another trait printed in the INFJ playbook is that of conflict avoider and this is an undeniable truth despite the cognitive dissonance is causes. We don't like to fight or argue and if we do, we end up ruminating and reliving and re-analyzing the incident until we're cerulean blue in the face to the point where the guilty aftermath is worse than the incident itself. We want people to like us and we want to remain friendly even though we often disagree with them. We generally hold our tongues because we simply feel it's not worth it. We're also emphathetic enough that we don't want the other party to regret the argument either and go home and chew on it for hours like we will although this regret is probably unfounded in regards many MBTI types. We still treat everyone with kid gloves unless they are really asking for it.
Iíd caution against making all INFJs into saints however. Itís true we donít like conflict and we can feel the angst of the other person but another less spoken motive is that of self protection. Not only will we relive a verbal argument for example, analyzing and re-thinking it to death, causing us a great deal of wasted time and anxiety, but we know all too well that an argument or conflict can sometimes result in an individual's wanting revenge in some way. And be it at work or in your personal life, the possibility exists that they may invade your personal space or get involved in some back stabbing scheme etc. Nearly all INFJs have come into contact with narcissists and psychopaths, so we become very wary of them and are hyper aware of the damage they can cause. So these kinds of thoughts go through our forward thinking intuitions when conflicts arise resulting in often biting our tongues when we really would like to say something, like when someone is ranting ignorantly about Politics or Religion, but instead we swallow our words and nod or change the subject.
Yes we often donít want to ruin a friendship or acquaintanceship, perhaps of a co-worker, but we are also thinking of the implications of confrontation and the albeit unlikely potential for a compromise of our guarded privacy and alone time and peaceful anonymity. Keep this in mind, a contradiction certainly, as expected of INFJs, but yes our feelings are super sensitive and we donít like to hurt others but an equally strong reason is for solid defense and specifically self-preservation, especially the sanctity of our personal refuge. So donít pen us as saints for our thoughts can be as judgmental and nasty as anyoneís, if rarely our tongues. We'd rather walk away and re-enter the refuge of our imaginations than argue with someone over Politics or an office personality conflict. Maybe not the healthiest way to handle things but one, for better or worse, the INFJ often chooses.
I'm going to sign off on this discussion now with a possible return in the future. I could literally talk and/or write for hours about MBTI but I'll just say that I have finally landed in the INFJ camp and I hope my rare fellow INFJ colleagues will welcome me into the fold - it's been a long hard journey yet somehow still feels like a new dawn!
Arrival! April 2020
Well, I hope you've stayed with me thus far. We have now arrived at the top of the wheel, we've circled around the IN's of the MBTI world and arrived where we
started. If you've fallen for my trap, I salute you, in sterotypical "Mastermind" fashion, I have led you through a labyrinthe of mistypings in hopes of giving perspective to some of the
different types and also to illustrate some of the similarities of the introverted intuitives. Ha. And if you believe this, I have a basket of bitcoins to sell you. I'd like to claim I've
been toying with you all this time but my meanderings around the MBTI Wheel of Fortune have been on the level - I've been wrong and confused about myself and others and perhaps the reason I most like this typology system, it's abstract and a great challenge, two things any IN can love.
Anyone who's known me for more than five minutes knows I can't possibly be an E or an S so at least we limited our scope from the very beginning to the IN's. We'll skip for now the brief
foray into ISTP territory but as an athletic fellow, I think even this was justified. So without further adieu, let's talk about the wonderful and wooly INTJ - a tribe which
quite honestly, I do not belong - but yes even this practical achiever type was considered for a while.
First off, INTJ's probably get the harshest criticism for being, well, harsh. Cold, aloof, robotic, curt, acerbic - you get the picture. And with Al Gore and Hillary Clinton in their
wheelhouse, you can see why charisma isn't listed as among their characteristic traits. But the fact of the matter is, INTJ's can be HSP's and far more emotionally sensitive that many realize. The kicker is that this tendency is rarely expressed publicly and so the emotional basket cases, thinking everyone like themselves, propogate these inaccurate labels.
INTJ's feelings can well up at the strangest times and will be expressed but again, only to a few intimates and even here, quite rarely. The INTJ believes feelings and emotions are largely a private matter and should be kept close to the vest lest one unduly burden others. It's a shame so few others have this control. Feelings are powerful and both aggrandize and detract from the experience of life and the INTJ knows this. No reason to scream, erupt and shout Hallelluiah every five minutes. Keep in mind that animals have feelings, just observe your house pet, we all know what our dog is feeling and if we don't we'll surely impose human emotions onto it. What separates man from the beasts is reason and the INTJ knows, along with the laissez-faire
INTP, above all other types. Actually beasts also reason, witness the abilities of crows or Octopi for example, what separates man is intensity of feeling and depth of reason. Good decisons must take both of these factors into consideration usually - but an INTJ will take more convincing. If one presents a sound argument however, they might give a little. What irks the INTJ
most is when people have no evidence to back up their arguments but simply get louder and more emotional when challenged. This annoys many NT's to the core. The fact that most humans
rely almost solely on feelings and/or magical thinking to guide them drives the INTJ into a cataclysmic fit. Resisting this with some force (see Christopher Hitchens) is why INTJ's get the moniker of contrarians. It isn't done out of spite but rather for a sincere desire to make things better. If you're an advocate of third wave feminism for example, an INTJ will expect you to defend your position with forethought, facts, dispassion and clear examples. The fact that this rarely occurs leaves the INTJ exasperated. And people wonder why they become recluses!
The stereotype about INTJ efficiency ais largely true but things they do naturally, as with all other types, are so commonplace to them that they assume all types do the same thing. When
they first find out this isn't true, they get that "aha" moment for which they are famous. What the INTJ knows
intrinsically is that life is short and time is of the essence. Everything a person does is a choice which automatically negates all other choices so to sit at a coffee shop with ten people
chit chatting about nothing in particular takes one away from playing tennis, cooking, reading, writing, drawing, designing etc..and the INTJ prioritizes their passions, whether practical or
aesthetic or literary, over activities that aren't pleasurable or productive - for they know the sand is pouring through the hourglass.
So if an INTJ must cut the grass, do their taxes or go to the grocery, they will perform these acts as efficiently as possible by default, without introspection or forethought.
If an INTJ is heading to the grocery, they may have a list but this will only contain those things that aren't part of the regular routine, no reason to write down things which are
in memory, that would be wasteful. In other words - only the oddballs - so as the INTJ enters the market she may glance at the oddball list as she is procuring her cart to refresh her mind as she probably won't look at it again until heading to checkout.
He or she will then forge a path to the back of the store - going by shelves where things may possibly be needed - and then from the back of the store, they can work their way efficiently toward the front check out lines without meandering around unnecessarily. Here they pick up the normal purchases without reading or analysis of any kind, the brand has already been decided
or is irrelevant, i.e., eggs, milk, soups, beans etc. and the entire exercise is either legitimately timed or intuitively so - to get in and out at world record pace. INTJ's like to play
efficiency games in their everday life. In the store, coupons are rarely used and unless one has an unusually large basketfull, the self checkout counter is preferred as here the INTJ maintains control.
At checkout, things are scanned quickly and effectively and bagged strategically as well - likes with likes, a weight limit per bag since plastic bags are all that are offered
and double bagging takes extra time. Scanned, bagged, produce looked up, weighed and debit card inserted - all in a couple of minutes and the errand is complete.
Grocering is a classic example but keep in mind that for the INTJ all errands are executed with a similar mentality whether it's getting gas, going to the hardware store or choosing a traffic route from the office - the efficiency and - not waste valuable time - mentality is always maintained whether conscious or not. Another trivial example; as an INTJ heats up a dish in the microwave to take to someone in another room, he/she will insert and heat the second dish before delivering the first dish, then upon return the second dish is ready and a half a minute has been saved.
Of course, throughout life the INTJ always does such things and assumes others do the same. Keep in mind that all NT's probably indulge in similar games but none with the seriousness of the INTJ. When delving into psychology, particularly of the Jungian variety, one realizes the profound differences that are at the core of each personality. And time saving and efficiency isn't just a game, but it allows a person time to be more productive doing what they like and deem more important - which in my particular case is writing, reading, drawing or noodling on my guitar. Other NT's may have more business, entreprenurial, mechanical or aesthetic goals - any personality really can be into anything - this is probably more related to culture or upbringing than MBTI type. To understand an INTJ, always remember the INTJ mantra - life is short - every activity precludes all others.
INTJ's really want to leave their mark on the world and they often have the will and drive to do so. Intuition is a strange bedfellow with objective thinking but if a good idea is honed, the
TE function is just the ticket to get it realized. While INTP's and INFP's rarely plan beyond a few events or some things to get over with before forgetting, the INTJ is probably the only
personality type that might have a career plan in grade school. Most NP's can't see beyond their next lunch break. The other irony of the
INTJ is - despite the whimsical nature of introverted intuition - extraverted thinking is anything but - and this mental codependency is what drives INTJ's to get things done
in the practial world with absolute tunnel vision. INTP's, in contrast, don't necessarily care about the practical world, if something they create has practical value, great, but what's
more important is creating or discovering something beautiful and timeless. A great poem or great equation might be more in the INTP line while an INTJ, like Elon Musk, wants to build
a colony on Mars and while his ambitions are at the top of the INTJ chart, all INTJ's have some goal, even if a relatively modest one. Goals for the INFP or INTP however, rarely exist
except maybe in a more amorphous state - I want to write a fantasy novel or I want to discover something important about quantum mechanics - and these ideas will not proceed according to
any calendar or chart or step-by-step process but rather as the wind blows. And if another more interesting idea rears its appealing head all may be dropped for the new "goal". And they
wonder why "P" types struggle with decisions! INTJ's on the other hand, see the future, choose a path, plan and execute ruthlessly, crushing anything or anyone standing in the way. Their
self-esteem depends on succeeding in their visions. NP's, in contrast, have no visions, only dreams.
Keep in mind, fine friends, if you are an IN in the MBTI world, you are going to share traits with all the other IN's so if you go by behaviors and stereotypes you are going to get lost
and mistype. The other difficulty is in getting a good understanding of one's own mental landscape. It's hard to fit one's mind into a dominant propensity of TI or NI or any of the others.
Correct typing is no easy task and hence, I think its appeal, especially for introverted intuitives. Is it worth it? I think it is since it's always good to learn more about one's self
and more importantly, others, as you must deal with them whether you want to or not. Knowledge is power. As I've said before, and you know how INT's hate
redundancy, MBTI and the enneagram are models and as such are flawed. I see people on the internet taking personality typing too far.
One should stick to the
essence of Jung's system and don't drift too far from its two main principles; decision making and perception. This is all he is positing and I think we get into problems when we say "an
INFJ will have nice hair and an INTP will look like something the cat just drug in. It's even more difficult because some of these stereotypes are true, at least for many, and so the
tempation is there. Too little is attributed to culture and upbringing. So take personality typing for what it truly is, don't overestimate
it and don't use it to judge or subjugate, it's meant to help us improve as a species and besides, if you do overattribute, I think Mr. Jung, looking down upon us from his archetypical cloud, will be
As for myself, well, if you've come this far, I should give you a lollipop and apologize for the rigamarole I've put you through. To be honest, all truth be told, knowing I was an IN from
the beginning, I think it is necessary to travel around the neighborhood of the IN's and take a peak inside. I really strongly entertained them all and at one time or other truly believed I fell under each acronym exclusively - but my certainty was always mercurial. Doubts always gnawed at the back of my mind. When all is said and done and the rotund lady has sung, I really
belong in the camp of the INTP's - where I started some long time ago. I may not like it, but yes indeed, I live unequivocally in the land of the nerds - with zero chance of escape.
So let's end this soliloquy on a whimsical note. I'll contradict my admonitions against stereotyping and invoke Pareto's 80-20 rule to give you the main differences between the various
introverted intuitives. I'll use myself, the certain INTP, as the anchor point. Here we go. The difference between INFP's and INTP's is INFP's care about their
personal feelings, INTP's don't. INFJ's on the other hand, care about groups and group feelings, INTP's don't. And finally, INTJ's care about achieving things in the practical world, INTP's
don't. That's pretty much it. INTP's care about one thing - figuring out the objective truth of the universe - hook, line and sinker. If along the way they are able to produce something that helps others, well that's wonderful, that's gravy; if they don't, well that's OK too, as after all, none of it will matter in the end, the end is the Void. Any questions?
Is This a Farce?! May 2020
I promise you I'm not doing this deliberately, I'm not wheeling you around the MBTI Ferris Wheel just to mess with your heads. I hope everything I've said about the various
types is true and insightful in some way although obviously these thoughts are coming from one mind, and that one mind has only one MBTI type. Now get this, and I'm dead serious, I've figured
it out, after a good five years of analysis, that I am indeed an ISTP! Read that again people, a real life, dyed in the llama, ISTP. You know ISTP's can't be writers, right, we're just dumb
grease monkeys, everybody knows that, well, my friends, especially my introverted intuitive friends, it's now time for your commeuppance. Get aboard.
First off, since we share introverted thinking as our dominant psychic propensity with INTP's, it's not a ludicrous notion that one could mistake one's self or another for either of these
brother types. But, as in my case, you will have to write off certain tendencies or talents as evidence of being an outlier, and despite these rationale's, eventually that whole house of cards
tumbles to the floor. While I've cautioned against involving behaviors in MBTI, one can stick with one or other school, just don't try to correlate them. If you want to use the Beebe
behaviorist school that's fine, just don't mention cognitive functions. The behavior versus cognition dichotomy can cause a great deal of confusion. So for fun, let's do a little mashup of
behaviors, talents, traits and cognitive processes to get a grasp on the ISTP, especially in contrast to the INTP. The most glaring difference, and one that can't be avoided regardless of
personality school, concerns kinesthesia. The ISTP will almost always be kinesthetically talented, the INTP not. Kinesthesia involves motor skills, the movement and precision of muscle control. This is most obvious in athletics, crafting and anything involving hand-eye coordination. All ISTP's have this, many in abundance, probably the most of all types and whether it shows up in baking talent or sculpting or skiing or mountain biking or hooping or dancing or pool or ping pong yada yada - will be up to the individual and in most cases, the ISTP will be gifted in all of these with seemingly little effort. Even INTP outliers, which I sincerely thought I was, will still not measure up to the physical/kinesthetic talent of their ISTP counterpart.
This is pretty clear. Now you'll hear it said that ISTP's have no interest in theory or abstractions and I take serious issue with this. If an abstraction interests us, as do the theories of evolution and relativity for me, we can discuss it or otherwise engage it for quite long> In general, however, and this is probably where the stereotype comes from, if there's a bunch of idle chitchat going on in a seemingly meaningless loop, we will quickly become bored. And this next point is rarely surmised but if the discussion lacks truth or intellectual power, we will get ants in our pants and want to get out and do something.
You might hear us say "C'mon y'all, enough of this, let's get on our bikes and take a spin". It's rarely because the discussion is beyond our intellectual capability, at least speaking for myself, but we do indeed have an innate need for physical activity during which we feel most alive and so we'll often opt for that, anything to get out of the house, be it bikes, hikes,
When it comes to intellectual matters, one must consider the particular ISTP's IQ and also education level. Now I don't necessarily mean traditional degrees awarded through the
system, as an ISTP will be largely self taught, but how much they self educated, mainly through reading. With all that being said, the ISTP is ultimately a "doer" and if someone is sitting around discussing musical theory we're much more likely to say why don't we just go grab some instruments and play something. This propensity along with our typical taciturn nature is often mistaken for a lack of intellectual chops which can't stand up to scrutiny, at least for some of us.
It's also likely that the GOATS (Greatest of All Time) in their fields are often ISTP's. It's been suggested that Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Wayne Gretsky may all be ISTP's. Among
guitarists, Keith Richards and Jimmy Page are often mentioned. One must be wary of celebrity typings but the athleticism matched with a keen thinking ability and the kinesthetic
tactile talent of two of the great rock guitarist's of the 20th century would not be anathema to the ISTP skillset. Even in the world of writing, it wouldn't surprise me if there were some
undiagnosed ISTP's such as Robert Ludlum, Robert Pirsig and/or Ian Fleming, to name just a few. Surely the writers of action-adventures are as likley to be ISTP's as the actors and Pirsig's
motorcycle maintenance is a spiritual homage to craftmanship. To put it succinctly, even in unexpected fields, the ISTP will bring his or her virtuosity to the fore.
ISTP's are the type who bond with their mates by doing stuff together, by shared
experiences, not by sitting around talking or crying or whining. Again, like all types, you don't even know you have certain abilities until they are specically pointed out. I once recently
took on the task of gluing together a small jewelry box that had fallen and broken into about ten pieces. It was a ceramic of some sort and an heirloom of a fmaily member; anyway, I was able to get it back together in a state fairly indistinguishable from its original. No big deal. A relative happened to be over during that reclamation project and when he glimpsed at the end result, he pronounced me a "genius". Now obviously this was an exaggerated paean but it brought home the point that yes, maybe there are some people that wouldn't have the manual dexterity or the visualization to complete this task quickly. So indeed, the ISTP will generally possess unusual manual dexterity, extreme physical coordination and often very acute senses. These traits
differentiate this type from the INTP, who in general, while acknowledging their sometimes otherworldly intellectual abilities, will lack physical grace and kinesthetic talent of any kind.
Think Richard Dawkins versus Tiger Woods for an extreme example.
Another potential differentiator, especially with the INTP, is the idea of an aesthetic sense. Dawkins himself admitted to have no understanding of painting so I think this is often a
blind spot for the INTP. The ISTP, on the other hand, will often display some sense of color, balance and an appreciation for beauty - in all its forms. Not necessarily in their dress, especially the guys, but possibly through artwork or even interior design. Many ISTP's are probably Minimalists but sometimes, later in life, they may develop some interest in their
surroundings, sometimes spurred on by a female, but when they do, they often demonstrate an unknown talent, one even unknown to themselves. This of course isn't 100% but does appear more
often than many would guess.
To change the subject, one movie scene I strongly related to was the final one in the movie "Office Space" when the protagonist Peter quits his Office job to go outside and join a
construction crew. At the time I was locked in corporate America and to this day regret that I had not walked out and done the same thing. Construction wouldn't necessarily be the best fit for me but
I needed something physical, physiological, kinesthetic - anything to feel alive. While still in high school I got the idea of oceanography or marine biology as a possible career path
and to this day I wish I had somehow realized that ambition.
Also, as a freshman in high school I was put in a language class, and don't get me wrong, I love languages but because of a score on a test some kids were relegated to "shop". Now, in retrospect, as an ISTP, if I was put in shop I may have discovered my need, not my desire, but a physiological need, to use my body and hands and senses in a career. This prejudice, that if you are book smart you should be funnelled into the white collar world of "Office Space" was a tract that caused me a great
deal of distress. I think this sort of tragic thinking continues to this day but I won't delve into that now. In college I majored in physical anthropology and wished I had gotten into fossil hunting and digs, especially of hominins, but again those dreams fell by the wayside and I ended up a corporate slave in a cubicle for 30+ years. It drove me to despair more than a few times. I'm an old man now and am just discovering my personality type in a reversal of how it should work. I do hope they do a better job with kids today, be it MBTI, the enneagram, DISC or
Freud, to help them learn about their tendencies so they can find a fulfilling path. I probably wouldn't have survived if it wasn't for my hobbies and in a perfect or even decent world this
isn't the ideal predicament for a young lad. I was also thrown unceremoniously from several jobs.
To further elucidate this type just a tad, a few films come to mind. I saw a movie called "Divergent" several years ago now, I think it's actually a series, but the gist was that
at a certain time all citizens had to decide which of four "tribes" to join as an initiation into adulthood. I don't even remember all four groups now but I remember two for sure. One was
the scientists, locked up in a glass palace with their microscopes and their chemicals and the other was a collection of wild rambunctious kinesthetics - running and jumping and swinging
and flying all over the place. I was well into middle age when I saw the film but even then I remember thinking, yeah the scientists are cool and super smart and maybe I could
contribute there but when I saw the athletes running wild and free - I thought I'd have to join those guys. That just looks like too much fun. Now I could see a smart
ISTP thinking yeah in my youth I'll join the kinesthetics and when I'm too old to run and flip and climb anymore then yes maybe I'll join the intellectuals but of course that
wasn't how the society worked. I knew nothing of ISTP's at the time but this simply illustrates what really juices the ISTP, we want to swing through the trees like Tarzan, run through
the woods like a deer, swim in the sea like a porpoise; again, it's in our DNA. Another movies in which I truly identified was "Fight Club", my only disappointment being a schizophrenic dream versus reality. They should have kept it dead real. I don't like to fight and abhor violence of any type but I understood the desire to do something extreme to feel "alive" again after suffocating from the feminized corporate culture that is modern Western society. It stifles, constricts and neuters the ISTP and this was the only way they could think to rebel. It struck a chord, a resounding chord. With these films now mentioned, let's go ahead and list a few more that might appeal to the ISTP.
Mad Max Series (especially beyong Thunderdome)
Not John Wick (Too Over the Top)
Clint Eastwood Westerns and Dirty Harry
Die Hard Series
The Wild One
Any Sherlock Holmes movie
Any Hercule Poirot movie
Lethal Weapon Series
Subway (Sci-Fi Dystopia)
The Usual Suspects
No Country for Old Men
As ISTP is like a perennial twelve year old, always running, a real Huck Finn type, ready to get up and go. You can take the ISTP out of the craft shop but you can't take the craftsman out of the ISTP. Thanks for viewing. Stay tuned for more....