Inferior function is an attitude that is pushed out of consciousness as one develops dominant function, however, it still exerts a powerful influence on the person. It leads one to try to fulfill neglected needs, but in ways that clash with the rest of the person's life, experiences, and self-understanding. It confronts you with strange goals that you don't know how to attain. It "floods" you with motives and emotions you may not understand because you cannot easily discern this mode of perception. Attempting to view the world through Inferior Function will conflict with your life investments, ego, and identity that you have built with your dominant function. In other words, by using your inferior function, you are stepping outside of the criteria you have previously defined for yourself. In its usual state, the inferior function is suppressed by the dominant function. Inferior function is thus expressed infrequently but typically in a forceful, all-or-nothing manner.
When you perceive through your inferior function, the dominant function is metaphorically speaking "tied up". The dominant function can work in tandem with the secondary function, or with the tertiary function, but not so easily with the inferior function. If you shift focus to your inferior function when your dominant function is 'on' full blast, your dominant function will usually re-take control through the Tertiary Temptation, unless your secondary function intercedes with a new perspective. There are other explanations of why the dominant function and the inferior function clash:
- People don't focus on information coming from their Inferior Function because they know that it isn't their strong point - they cannot discern information well in this area. It feels strange and unfamiliar. People may feel like they are being childish when trying to express themselves in grip of their inferior function, and no one will take them seriously. They feel like they are not going to make much of an impact.
- People don't rely on information coming from their Inferior Function directly because they don't want to compromise their world view and how they perceive and feel about themselves.
Notes: The following series of excerpts was taken from Naomi Quenk's book "Was That Really Me? How Everyday Stress Brings Out Our Hidden Personality". They describe possible manifestations of one's inferior function, which is the weakest valued function in the psyche that corresponds to the archetype of anima or animus in Jungian analysis. (In Socionics, inferior function most closely correlates to suggestive function.)
Related articles and topics:
MBTI Tests and Resources
Lenore Thomson's Descriptions of Cognitive Functions
Jung's Theory of Psychological Type: Lenore Thomson Interview
MBTI: Foundations and Personality Types
MBTI: Experiencing Different Function-Attitudes
MBTI: A Closer Examination of Feeling & Thinking
MBTI: Functional Descriptions by J. H. van der Hoop
Cognitive Processes and Epistemologic Parallels
Psychological Types by C. G. Jung: Chapter X
Individuation and Differentiation of Functions
SolitaryWalker's NT Profiles
SolitaryWalker's NF Profiles
Simulatedworld's Profiles for Introverted Types
Simulatedworld's Profiles for Extraverted Types
Lenore Thomson's MBTI type profiles
INFP vs INFJ
One of the manifestations of any inferior function is diminished effectiveness in the use of the developed dominant function. For Extraverted Thinking types, there may be a loss of ability to think logically and take effective action, or an inability to recognize the relevance of logic in a situation. One ESTJ said, “I bounce from task to task with no results. I have internal arguments with myself, but I can’t come to any conclusion.” And an ENTJ observed, “The feeling that I am unappreciated becomes the central thing, and I can’t consider anything else.” An ENTJ said that she “becomes disorganized and loses things. I’m late to meetings and miss deadlines, and I focus on non-priority activities and tasks. I procrastinate and do only what is due immediately.” Others report being unable to think, having tunnel vision, and being easily fatigued at work. What they normally do very easily requires great effort. An ESTJ described being unable to organize the structure for a work assignment. An ENTJ felt powerless to influence future events significantly. Another reported that, when under great stress, he would lose the capacity for verbal expression and would have difficulty getting his words out. In general, there is an uncharacteristic reduction in productive work accompanied by a feeling of failure.
In the initial stages of the process, ESTJs may lose access to their auxiliary Sensing, while ENTJs may lose access to their auxiliary Intuition. They seem to function only “from the neck up,” as one ENTJ described it, operating entirely out of their heads. This results in an exaggeration of their Thinking, which they and others experience as the excesses of their natural approach. It is an example of how a dominant process operates without the balancing effects of the auxiliary. As dominant and auxiliary functions continue to recede into the background, the qualities of inferior Introverted Feeling become manifested in hypersensitivity to inner states, outbursts of emotion, and a fear of feeling. For ESTJs, tertiary Intuition appears in the form of negative possibilities, and ENTJs’ tertiary Sensing emerges in the form of undeniable facts—both serving to confirm their inner turmoil and fears of being unappreciated and unworthy. The comparison between dominant and inferior Introverted Feeling is shown in Table 2.
Von Franz (1971) captures all three aspects of inferior Introverted Feeling (hypersensitivity to inner states, outbursts of emotion, and fear of feeling) in the following statement, which also describes the all-or-none, often one-sided expression of inferior Introverted Feeling in Extraverted Thinking types:
The hidden introverted feeling of the extraverted thinking type establishes strong invisible loyalties. Such people are among the most faithful of all friends, even though they may only write at Christmas. They are absolutely faithful in their feelings, but one has to move towards it to get to know of its existence. . . . [But] unconscious and undeveloped feeling is barbaric and absolute, and therefore sometimes hidden destructive fanaticism suddenly bursts out of the extraverted thinking type. (p. 40)
• Inner harmony
• Economy of emotional expression
• Acceptance of feeling as non-logical
• Hypersensitivity to inner states
• Outbursts of emotion
• Fear of feeling
Hypersensitivity to Inner States
Effective dominant Introverted Feeling types use a finely developed awareness of their inner values as a reliable guide for judging themselves and others. In the grip of inferior Introverted Feeling, Extraverted Thinking types become hypersensitive to their own and others’ emotions, often misinterpreting comments from others as personal criticism. In their dominant approach, they typically interpret objectively offered criticism by respected colleagues as an appropriate means to promote excellence. In the grip of their inferior Introverted Feeling, they may easily take offense and overreact to such criticism.
Unaware of the Extraverted Thinking person’s vulnerable “altered” condition, however, colleagues, family members, and friends may communicate criticism as directly as usual. Even mild negative comments may provoke hurt feelings when the Extraverted Thinking type is in this state. ESTJs and ENTJs report having difficulty acknowledging, even to themselves, but particularly to the person who has helped bring about the situation, that their feelings have been hurt. They may lash out at others instead, as the examples below illustrate. “I feel that I am being criticized unfairly,” said an ESTJ. “I blame others for my own faults and find fault with others over nothing. I become demanding because I am in a panic about possibly missing deadlines. I watch the clock. I think lots of negative thoughts, put myself down, and feel that others dislike and reject me. My self-esteem about my abilities gets lower and lower.” Note the illogical progression of his thoughts. “I think I’m pretty confident about my abilities as a trainer,” said an ENTJ. “But when I’ve worked very hard preparing for a training session and am especially tired out, I am plagued with the thought that the trainees don’t like me, that they like my colleagues better, especially if the colleague I’m teaching with is a Feeling type.”
Another ENTJ described “feeling like a victim—persecuted, unappreciated, and used. I don’t see things clearly and I can’t seem to think. I take things personally and am hypersensitive. I will say something without thinking, then become defensive and feel threatened.”
An ESTJ made this observation: “I find myself taking a martyr role, alone and unloved, totally unappreciated. Then I shut down.” An ENTJ described being “particularly sensitive to any signs of being excluded from important roles. When that happens, I feel that my contributions are not being valued.” And another ENTJ described “feeling isolated or excluded and having a sense that people don’t respect me, especially people I respect.”
In a variation on this theme, some ESTJs and ENTJs describe situations in which they effectively apply their usual action-oriented, logical problem solving. But later (perhaps even years later), if they are in a vulnerable state, they will recall a specific incident and beat themselves up for not being conscious of other people’s feelings. One ESTJ recalled thinking,“ Why did I say that to Ellen at that party five years ago? How stupid and insensitive of me!”
Some Extraverted Thinking types are painfully aware of the dilemma they face in dealing with relationship issues within a task-oriented setting. Focusing on others’ feelings inhibits their ability to take effective Thinking action, though it prevents negative feedback from others about their lack of caring concern.
Outbursts of Emotion
Effective dominant Introverted Feeling types show an economy of emotional expression. They are typically quite selective and discriminating in revealing their deepest and most cherished values and feelings. Extraverted Thinking types in the grip of inferior Introverted Feeling lack control and discrimination when expressing their inner emotional states. However, their fear of having others witness their rejected, irrational selves strongly motivates them to stay in control if at all possible. They especially worry about losing control in public, particularly at work. Avoiding a public display often results in an even stronger outburst of affect at home, directed at family members, since the emotions have to be released somewhere. An ENTJ said, “I feel lost and out of control. I know I am not myself, but I can’t help it. I don’t want company or to be touched. I want to be left alone and I want to escape.” “I will get a headache or shoulder ache and feel really tense. I feel like crying but try to hide it. I hide my feelings inside and push them down, and then become angry, depressed, and withdrawn,” recalled an ESTJ.
Both ESTJs and ENTJs report sometimes feeling suddenly tearful for no apparent reason, and crying in private. However, if the worst happens and they lose control, they may explode in public. This may begin as expressions of intense anger about others’ incompetence but may quickly evolve into tearful recriminations about a lack of appreciation and recognition.
In recalling one such incident, an ESTJ said, “I am normally not an emotional person; at least I don’t show my emotions. I am a very steady person externally. My outburst was quite unlike me.” One ESTJ said she is “more emotional and not calm—I’m irritable, can easily snap at people. Another ESTJ woman commented, “I get so emotional I can’t stand myself.”
As is the case for all the inferior function expressions, anger is a commonly mentioned response for both ESTJs and ENTJs. This is as true for women of these types as it is for men. ESTJ and ENTJ women list “emotionality” as their most frequent grip reaction, and although men of these types mention this much less frequently, they often report episodes of emotionality in describing inferior function experiences.
An ENTJ minister worked hard over a period of five years and saw his church grow from a few hundred to more than a thousand members. Throughout this stressful time he managed all facets of his work calmly and effectively. But one day at a church board meeting, he broke down sobbing, lost all control, and was unable to function in his job. It took him several months to recover completely, during which time his grateful and concerned church officials carried on his work for him.
Extraverted Thinking types may be on shaky ground in situations that call for expressions of feeling. One ESTJ described her difficulty with intimate relationships this way: “I’m normally gregarious and outgoing with people. But if I get into a one-on-one relationship that’s significant, especially romantically, I can’t express what I feel or what I’m experiencing. Eventually, I blurt out some really exaggerated emotion at exactly the wrong time. I feel childish and silly and don’t want to ever do that again.”
Fear of Feeling
Talking about innermost values, feelings, and concerns is quite difficult even for dominant Introverted Feeling types. Jung (1976a) observed that “the very fact that thoughts can generally be expressed more intelligibly than feelings demands a more than ordinary descriptive or artistic ability before the real wealth of this feeling can be even approximately presented or communicated to the world” (p. 388).
Effective dominant Introverted Feeling types accept the nuances of feeling they experience as natural and welcome evidence of their own inner complexity. But feelings and emotions intruding into the consciousness of an Extraverted Thinking type who is in the grip of inferior Introverted Feeling are experienced as so alien and overwhelming that they are inexpressible. From a Thinking point of view, the eruption of “illogical,” uncontrolled, and disorderly feelings is like being at the mercy of strange and overwhelming forces that threaten a person’s equilibrium, if not his or her whole existence. As a result, Extraverted Thinking types are rarely able to communicate their distress to others, often maintaining their typical controlled demeanor while fearing that they will lose control of their emotions. In extreme instances, they may be terrified that they are going crazy.
To fend off the feared result, initial attempts involve maintaining cool and detached effectiveness and objectivity. Casual observers will not detect the intense inner battle for control. More careful observation, however, may reveal uncharacteristic silence, withdrawal, moodiness, or flat and depressed affect. Men and women of both types typically report becoming uncharacteristically quiet and withdrawn. An ESTJ described feeling “a swirling in the pit of my stomach and a desperate attempt to figure out why and to define my reaction logically.”
Because the Extraverted Thinking type has few resources for communicating what is going on inside, potential helpers may remain largely unaware of any distress, even when the person is in serious trouble. The despair, sense of isolation, and feeling of worthlessness may become so extreme that the person may become severely depressed, sometimes requiring medication or hospitalization. Acquaintances and colleagues may be surprised to learn that such an episode has occurred because until final control is lost, the ESTJ or ENTJ may appear fairly “normal.” “I’m calm on the outside, in control, very logical, solve problems, yet it ties me up inside,” said an ENTJ. This manifestation of the inferior is an exaggeration of the dominant Introverted Feeling type’s “economy of emotional expression.”
Two Extraverted Thinking types described their experiences with their inferior functions in these ways after their episodes had run their course:
“I became overly sensitive and tried to cover it with biting sarcasm. My energy was focused inside and I felt shaky. I wanted to be alone. I put on a front of being a strong soldier, but it was really only a protective shell to hide my vulnerability.” “I was different in being very negative. Everything appeared bleak. I was disoriented and aggressive. I talked to myself more. I got emotional (angry or sad, tearful or despondent).”
Some Extraverted Feeling types mention becoming uncharacteristically logical and analytical, with a tendency to think before they speak, when they are in the grip of their inferior function. Such experiences of Introverted Thinking are not generally seen as either positive or negative— merely as strangely different. Perhaps the prevailing societal favoring of Extraversion over Introversion makes Introverted forays into Extraversion (note the comments for Introverted Feeling types and Introverted Thinking types) more appealing to Introverts than the converse experience of Introversion for Extraverts.
For Extraverted Feeling types, the more obviously distressing aspects of “losing” their dominant Extraverted function seems more prominent. Falling into the grip for them is preceded by a diminution or an absence of characteristic Extraverted Feeling qualities. General optimism, enthusiasm, and interest in people give way to low energy, pessimism, and depression. Uncharacteristic withdrawal from usual activities and becoming highly critical of others are consistent responses for male and female ESFJs and ENFJs. “I’m different in being Introverted. I don’t make contact, call friends, go to social events, meetings, the theater. I may accept an invitation, but only if someone urges me. I get concerned about my health. I have no plans, no vision, the future is bleak. I am numb, without feeling or zest for life,” said an ESFJ. An ENFJ said, “I am quiet and withdrawn and want to be alone and reflect on what is happening.” Commented another, “I feel phony and uncomfortable, like a fish out of water. I am unable to be my usual spontaneous self.” Another ENFJ said, “I don’t make eye contact. I can’t share what is going on inside me. I feel tight and negative.” An ESFJ said, “I want to be alone—I’m uninterested in anyone else.”
Jung’s (1976a) comment on the inferior function of Extraverted Feeling types touches on all three of these features:
The unconscious of this type contains first and foremost a peculiar kind of thinking, a thinking that is infantile, archaic, negative. . . .The stronger the conscious feeling is and the more ego-less it becomes, the stronger grows the unconscious opposition. . . . The unconscious thinking reaches the surface in the form of obsessive ideas which are invariably of a negative and deprecatory character. (p. 359)
Tertiary Sensing and Intuition serve to support the negative judgments that are made. The tertiary Intuition of ESFJs generates vague, negative “hypotheses” that affirm their convoluted “logical” critical stance about themselves and others. ENFJs bring their tertiary Sensing to bear by coming up with negative past and present “facts” that support their complicated and largely illogical critical judgments. As energy continues to be withdrawn from the dominant and auxiliary functions, inferior Introverted Thinking intrudes in the form of excessive criticism, convoluted logic, and a compulsive search for truth. The comparison between dominant and inferior Introverted Thinking is shown in Table 8.
• Impersonal criticism
• Logical analysis
• Search for accuracy and truth
• Excessive criticism
• Convoluted logic
• Compulsive search for truth
Effective dominant Introverted Thinking types critique ideas, products, systems, and methods. The inferior Introverted Thinking of Extraverted Feeling types appears in the form of a sweeping condemnation of people. In the grip of inferior Thinking, ESFJs and ENFJs may “dump” on other people, slam doors, yell, make biting comments, and say terse, blunt, or even cruel things to others. They often become physically tense, grit their teeth, clench their fists, and appear visibly agitated. Both Extraverted Feeling types frequently mention “laying a ‘guilt trip’” on those closest to them as responses to being in the grip. An ESFJ said that her automatic response to anyone’s “excuses” about his or her work is to state emphatically, “Well, it’s not good enough!”
A hostile, negative atmosphere can elicit sharp, biting, even vicious comments from Extraverted Feeling types. They seem to dig in their heels, becoming impervious to either logical or feeling arguments. As one ENFJ described, “I become cranky, judgmental, and angry. I mistrust myself and others. Normally, I instinctively trust everyone. I am different when I am not acting from trust. Often this occurs when I feel I am not trusted or understood, or when there is conflict and tension around me.” An ESFJ reported becoming steely and caustic; another described herself as being coolly objective when her strongly held feelings were violated. One ESFJ was convinced that everyone took advantage of her good-natured, helpful ISFP husband. She persistently berated him for his weakness and loudly condemned his family and friends for their rude behavior.
“I am like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” said an ENFJ, describing his reaction to extreme stress. “My humor becomes inappropriate, meant to shock people. I’ve even been known to throw things while in this frame of mind.” An ESFJ said he becomes “angry, out of control, critical, responding too quickly to others with impatience, cutting a person off when they speak.” “I’m critical rather than seeking harmony, self-protective rather than ‘giving,’” said an ENFJ. As their Extraverted energy further diminishes, their criticism is internalized, resulting in self-deprecatory judgments. Turning the criticism inward encourages depression, low self-esteem, and guilty embarrassment at revealing what they view as their alien and unacceptable side. An ENFJ related the following story, which illustrates a natural progression from using dominant Extraverted Feeling to projecting inferior Introverted Thinking onto others, then to turning that judgment on herself, and finally returning to reasoned Extraverted Feeling judgment.
“When my father died, at first I thought I was okay. I was buoyed up by all the support I was getting from others. Also, he’d been sick a while. But then I had a delayed reaction. First, I started finding petty little faults with everything and everyone around me, like people on the subway. But then I became very self-critical. As an example, at the time, I was taking a facilitation workshop, in which I had to be videotaped. I was so sure I’d bombed that I cried in the bathroom after the taping. When I finally (reluctantly) watched the video, I saw that I actually had done pretty well.”
In the grip of inferior Thinking, the Extraverted Feeling types’ attempts at logical analysis take the form of categorical, all or none judgments that are often based on irrelevant data. A highly idiosyncratic “logical” model may be developed internally, but the resulting conclusions may violate good logic. In describing this quality, Von Franz (1971) stated that because Extraverted Feeling types’ Thinking is neglected, “it tends to become negative and coarse. It consists of coarse, primitive Thinking judgments, without the slightest differentiation and very often with a negative tinge” (p. 45). “My thinking becomes rigid and I insist on solving problems alone, with none of my typical sharing,” said one ENFJ. “I maintain a front, even though I feel unworthy. I am verbally critical, organize more, and become rigid, perfectionistic, and angry. I want the world to go away.” Another ENFJ described being “inside my head analyzing—adding two and two and getting five and knowing its right.”
Elaborate, logical “plots” may be developed by the Extraverted Feeling type in the grip of negative Introverted Thinking. These take the form of complicated and improbable scenarios for dealing with or eliminating the distress or disharmony in question. ESFJs and ENFJs frequently describe making up “stories,” the goal of which is to explain some upsetting event or solve some nagging problem. An ENFJ recalled that at the age of twelve, she was required to participate in a field day of sporting events. Convinced of her lack of skill in this area, she wanted to avoid embarrassing herself in front of her peers. She plotted various ways to break her leg or ankle, such as falling out of a tree or being run over by a car, but she abandoned her plans, reasoning that she would probably suffer more than minor injury. She also recognized that a lot of pain could be involved. Ironically, her forced participation resulted in her placing third in the broad jump.
Often the source of the problem stimulating the “story” is meanness or criticism directed at the Extraverted Feeling type or a close associate. An ESFJ with a long commute to work was frequently distressed by other drivers’ rude, inconsiderate behavior. He found himself “making up a long and involved story about one particular rude driver, in which I imagined the kind of work he did, his family relationships, the daily events that affected him, and the possible mitigating circumstances that caused his meanness to me.” The imaginary explanation served to restore harmony and allowed the ESFJ to retain his positive valuation of people.
Compulsive Search for Truth
Dominant Introverted Thinking types value truth as the criterion for judgments and decisions. They use logical analysis to arrive at the most objective truth possible. For Extraverted Feeling types in the grip of inferior Introverted Thinking, seeking absolute, ultimate truth can become an obsession. Many report turning to experts for advice but requiring them to have the “real truth,” or at least the latest knowledge and thinking on the subject. When an expert is not immediately available, they may attempt an internal logical dialogue, often ending up recognizing that their logic is convoluted. This may make them feel frightened, out of control, and despairing of ever extricating themselves from their negative logical conclusions. An ENFJ said: "I become stuck on an idea and don’t have any perspective about it. The devastating truth of my conclusion is overwhelming. I try to think my way out of this tight box I’m in, but there is no escape from my conclusion. I feel compelled to find someone to tell me what to do."
Instead of searching for a specific person who might provide them with needed answers, many Extraverted Feeling types report turning to lectures or books relevant to their current problem or isolating themselves to contemplate about issues that concern them; these types are often avid readers of self-help books. ESFJs and ENFJs agree that when stress occurs in some area of their lives, they search bookstore shelves for answers. One ENFJ had a wall full of books in his office. His colleague wondered how he could possibly have read all of them. The ENFJ reported that when under pressure to solve a big problem, he virtually devours the books, having many of them open at once, searching for expert advice on the problem at hand.
When a stressful area is chronic or serious, Extraverted Feeling types tend to be attracted to support groups. In the company of others having similar experiences, they can find validation for their perceptions, as well as the latest expertise and thinking about the problem area.
Many young male and female ENTPs and ENFPs report becoming uncharacteristically quiet and reserved when they are out of character and find this in marked contrast to their usual openness and sociability. Like other young Extraverted types, they do not seem to find anything positive in moving to this Introverted approach, but are rather puzzled and surprised by it. “I become very quiet and reserved,” said an ENTP young man, “and I don’t talk to people like I normally do.” An ENFP young woman said, Sometimes I withdraw from everyone, sit alone for hours, and just think. Let stuff stew in my head alone.” Older Extraverted Intuitive types also do not report much pleasure in being withdrawn, quiet, and reserved, and in losing their natural Extraverted Intuitive qualities. Said an ENFP, “I become very quiet, unsure about my thoughts and expressing them. I think a whole lot.”
As the connection with dominant Intuition diminishes, so do Extraverted Intuitive types’ characteristic enthusiasm, optimism, and energetic approach to life. When their hold on their dominant and auxiliary functions continues to taper off, the qualities of inferior Introverted Sensing manifest in withdrawal and depression, obsessiveness, and a focus on the body. For ENTPs, tertiary Feeling emerges as strong, uncontrollable, and emotional criticism that accompanies the obsessive “facts” that overwhelm them. The tertiary Thinking of ENFPs contributes to their obsessive “facts” the sarcastic, legalistic “logic” that proves others’ failings. The comparison between dominant and inferior Introverted Sensing is shown below:
• Solitude and reflection
• Attention to facts and details
• Awareness of internal experience
• Withdrawal and depression
• Focus on the body
Two qualities of the negative, inferior forms of Introverted Sensing (obsessiveness and a focus on the body) are reflected in Jung’s (1976a) description of the inferior Introverted Sensing of ENTPs and ENFPs:
They take the form of intense projections which are . . . chiefly concerned with quasi-realities, such as sexual suspicions, financial hazards, forebodings of illness, etc. . . . [The Extraverted Intuitive may] fall victim to neurotic compulsions in the form of over-subtle ratiocinations, hair-splitting dialectics, and a compulsive tie to the sensation aroused by the object. . . . But sooner or later the object takes revenge in the form of compulsive hypochondriacal ideas, phobias, and every imaginable kind of absurd bodily sensation. (p. 370)
Withdrawal and Depression
Effective dominant Introverted Sensing types are in their element when they spend time alone in reflection. Processing their stored information is familiar and pleasurable, and they are energized by their Introverted Sensing activities. For ENTPs and ENFPs in the grip of inferior Introverted Sensing, the inward focus of energy is unfamiliar and disturbing. The diminution of Extraverted energy results in feelings of sadness and despair. Tertiary Thinking or Feeling may emerge as well. For ENTPs this comes out in a conviction that no one understands them or cares about them; they may become emotional and vulnerable in this state. ENFPs may demonstrate perverse logic and accuse others of not being rational, insisting that logic is the only acceptable criterion for making a decision.
In this condition, one ENTP describes feeling isolated, convinced that no one loves her or ever has. Another reports feeling hollow, turned off, “fixated on a narrow linear trap.” Another ENTP is plagued by an uncharacteristic emotionalism. “When things don’t go well, I resort to emotion to get my point across,” he explained. “There is a sense of feeling numb and frozen with no way out,” said an ENFP. “I have tunnel vision and lose my sense of time.” Another noted that when he is under too much pressure, his verbal skills deteriorate until “I become almost mute.” Many ENFPs describe turning inward, eventually becoming grumpy and depressed and putting people off. Their Feeling side seems to disappear. One ENFP said, “I realized I had become numb and frozen inside— there was no light, no energy—just a wasteland of a landscape, and I was plodding through it.” Another ENFP described “deep depression and hopelessness. The most extreme unrealistic scenarios become real and factual. I will be broke, I will die of some dread disease, I will lose all respect among professional colleagues.”
Both ENTPs and ENFPs report a loss of enthusiasm and motivation accompanied by low energy. They are prone to an uncharacteristic, uncomfortable pensiveness and are unable to find pleasure in the things they normally enjoy. This may lead to self-neglect and, ultimately, illness. This kind of approach to life is particularly alien to them, for they are usually enthusiastic, fun-loving, and full of energy. An ENFP said, “There is a lot more going on inside my head. I want to be alone to think and it becomes one-track thinking. Everything else is clouded by this one issue—I can’t stop thinking about it. I lose confidence in myself and doubt myself in every realm of my life.” One ENFP noted that twice a year, in winter and summer, she regularly experiences ten days to three weeks during which she retreats into herself and broods. Others describe periods of becoming withdrawn, critical, unfriendly, and cold. Isolation can exacerbate this reaction. An ENFP who was forced to spend a lot of time alone while recuperating from a badly broken leg was put on antidepressant medication after a month of increasingly lengthy periods of sobbing and despair.
Effective dominant Introverted Sensing types are adept at dealing with many facts and details and at putting their knowledge to practical use. In the psyche of ENTPs and ENFPs in the grip of inferior Introverted Sensing, this appears as an obsessive focus on one or two facts or details. This is in marked contrast to their typical perspective, which includes the broadest range of possibilities in the world.
The tunnel vision that accompanies the expression of all the inferior functions is particularly dramatic for ENTPs and ENFPs because they no longer have the Extraverted Intuitive energy necessary to envision a future that differs from their present obsession. All sense of possibilities is eliminated. An ENTP said that sometimes the details involved in a major project overwhelm her so much that she slips into an obsessive focus on how much time is left to work on the project: “I get it down to minutes and keep repeating the time frame over and over.” An ENFP said, “I can become compulsive when I begin to bring order into my kitchen or when I’m balancing the bank statement. I’m generally pretty relaxed about order and usually have piles of books and stuff that needs to be returned to file cabinets.” Another ENFP said, “I examine, analyze, question stupid things. I also get overly organized, planning and cleaning things rather than getting to the task appropriately. I work overtime to create organization for myself. I count things (like sides on a piece of furniture) over and over. I remember and get obsessed with facts and details, remember dates, memories of being bombarded with ‘unwanted greatness.’ I have an overwhelming need for all data to make every ‘little’ fact relevant.”
When their Intuition is not working, sensory data become the all encompassing objects of perception for Extraverted Intuitive types. But as their statements indicate, their lack of expertise in this area usually leads to an inappropriate selection of sensory data. And because “the future is now” in a very distorted way, they take the data at hand and project it into a vague, oppressive future. They may focus on a thought, such as “I’m alone now and will always be alone,” rather than the dominant Intuitive type’s more typical response of “I’m alone now; I wonder what interesting things I can find to do, and what exciting people I’ll find in the world.” In this state, the depression and hopelessness described earlier readily occur.
It seems that when inferior Sensing focuses on a single fact, dormant dominant Extraverted Intuition intrudes and generalizes it. Because their Extraverted Intuition is not functioning in its usual well-developed way, ENTPs and ENFPs cannot recognize the fact in question as one possibility among many. No perspective exists for the person beyond the one fact. Extraverted Intuitive types in this state report being unable to respond to alternatives presented to them by others. The present fact—be it pain, depression, or whatever occupies the central focus at that moment—is projected into forever.
Extraverted Intuitive types report one or more of the following ways of obsessing: being overly picky, getting upset about little things, becoming irritable, escalating small irritations into major issues, getting finicky over unimportant things, being nervous and jumpy with people, and becoming fussy, crabby, short-tempered, and rigid. “I am usually a very happy and relaxed person,” said one ENFP. “Sometimes I want people to just get to the bottom line, and then I want to analyze for them where they went wrong and just get on with it. This is quite out of character for me and I feel bad when I’ve been like this. People tell me that when I’m in my negative mode I become terse and clipped in my interactions with others. I give orders and delegate in a very autocratic manner.” An ENTP described becoming outraged by minor errors, irritated by detail, intolerant of interruptions and people—“the very things I usually welcome.” Another told of feeling overwhelmed and out of control, being unable to sort out priorities, and thus becoming inflexible. An ENFP described becoming curt with people, insensitive, literal, logical, and critical, and being especially insensitive and pedantic about language and vocabulary. Other ENFPs report doing obsessive record keeping, organizing data from their checkbooks, making endless lists of things to do, and putting minute details in order. “I become incredibly organized; everything is step by step when I’m under stress. I also act to get things done, not worrying as much about the impact,” said an ENFP.
Many ENFPs report fanatically mowing the lawn or cleaning house and being unable to stop themselves, even though they typically view these activities as relatively unimportant and avoid them. The ISTJ husband of one ENFP reluctantly admitted that he rather liked it when his wife was highly stressed because it was the only time the house ever got thoroughly cleaned! An ENFP described the following reaction as very distressing:
“I cannot respond to another’s conversation. I pace, the traffic is loud, the clock is loud, sounds I never noticed before are deafening and very slow. It’s almost as though time is standing still. My usual self is calm, patient, and friendly. I would classify not responding to the conversation of another as exceedingly rude behavior. And I’m generally oblivious to noise.”
Another ENFP becomes picky and critical of himself and others. Usually, he sees the bigger picture, is flexible, and allows others to be who they are without trying to control or change their behavior. On the day before the final examination in a workshop, when anxieties typically run high, a minor typesetting error was discovered in a table of data in the test manual. The instructor commented that there were two or three other errors in the text that would be corrected in the next printing. One ENFP heatedly stated that he wanted the publisher to prepare a document listing all the typos in the text and to send it to him so he wouldn’t have to buy a new text when the errors were corrected.
Focus on Body Sensations
When effective dominant Introverted Sensing types describe the nuances of their internal sensory experiences, one can marvel at the exquisite, evocative images that emerge. When an Extraverted
Intuitive type in the grip of inferior Introverted Sensing focuses on inner sensations and internal experiences, it often translates into exaggerated concern about physical “symptoms,” whose diagnostic meaning is always dire and extreme.
In the grip of their inferior function, ENTPs and ENFPs frequently Over-interpret real or imagined bodily sensations as indicative of illness. When they are in full command of their dominant and auxiliary functions, these types easily ignore or minimize messages from their bodies. So when they do focus on the body, it is done to the exclusion of everything else and with little experience of what is “normal” for them. A particular symptom can have only one cause, which must be life threatening or incurable: A pulled muscle is taken as a sign of heart disease; indigestion signifies an impending heart attack; and a headache is believed to be a brain tumor. It seems that when their Intuition isn’t working, they react to messages from their bodies rigidly and absolutely. An ENTP had been in a rare bad mood for several days but was unable to identify any cause. One morning while shaving, he noticed that when he turned his eyes to the left, the white in his right eye crinkled. He had never noticed that before and was terrified that something was terribly wrong with his eyes. Before making an appointment with an eye doctor, however, he decided to observe other people’s eyes to determine just how bad his were. To his relief (and chagrin), he found that everyone’s eyes moved the same way his did. He had simply never bothered to look at eyes—his own or other people’s—at all closely before.
An ENFP fell and injured a small bone in her back, which she could feel as a bump. She asked a friend, who was a nurse, what the bump could be and was told that it was probably a cyst. She quickly translated the cyst into cancer and imagined herself on Medicaid dying alone in a squalid hospital ward. In fact, all that was necessary was a visit to a chiropractor to have the bone put back in place. During a particularly stressful time, another ENFP woman insisted that her husband have an otherwise innocent-appearing wart removed because she feared it was malignant. An ENFP man reported that in times of great stress he becomes obsessed with illness. Once, when he had a routine liver function test, he became convinced he was dying of liver cancer before the test was even performed. Another ENFP told of owning a blood pressure cuff he rarely uses—except when he becomes very stressed, at which times he takes his blood pressure three times a day.
One ENTP described taking any fact and blowing it out of proportion— for example, imagining an illness in his child as a fatal disease.
Others report having a low pain threshold, fearing the dentist, and reacting to stress with a number of somatic symptoms. In fact, though physical symptoms as an expression of stress are common across types, it may be possible that “somaticizing” is more prevalent among Extraverted Intuitive types. One ENTP had digestive problems for fifteen years. During a period of extreme stress, he developed a life-threatening bleeding ulcer. An ENFP and an ENTP discovered in a discussion that they both have medical conditions that force them to attend to their bodies—something they did not do prior to having the conditions. As a result, they more readily attend to their other physical needs as well.
There is an interesting contrast between the imagined negative outcomes of minor bodily symptoms reported by Extraverted Intuitive types and the catastrophizing that is an expression of the inferior Extraverted Intuition of Introverted Sensing types. Although there is some seeming similarity, the processes through which the two negative expressions occur are actually quite different. For Introverted Sensing types, the future is always somewhat suspect, so stress encourages them to imagine and anticipate a future filled with negative outcomes. Extraverted Intuitive types, in contrast, are typically optimistic and welcoming of future possibilities. But when they get stuck on a present fact or situation, they lose sight of the future, imagining it as an endless repetition of the negative situation that is occurring right now.
One way in which Extraverted Intuitive types may try to return to being themselves when chronically stressed is to vacillate between the extremes of frenetic Extraverted and Introverted Sensing. Because both extremes are likely to be exaggerated and undisciplined, little of substance is accomplished in either state. When they finally succumb to negative Introverted Sensing, it may take the form of moderate to severe depression and a sense of hopelessness about the future. One ENFP said, “I get into a downward spiral. One time I went into a stress-induced depression. I almost left my job and made it back through therapy.” Perhaps because ENTPs and ENFPs thrive on the threshold of chronic stress, they seem to have a high tolerance for situations that might prove debilitating for many other types. ENTPs in particular report very few sources of stress in their lives, and both types report a low incidence of heart disease and hypertension, ENTPs having the lowest incidence of all the types. This is in marked contrast to their opposite types, ISTJs and ISFJs.
Extraverted Intuitive types are likely to leave work situations in which conditions become intolerable, but usually not because they are overloaded or forced to work very hard. Rather, such conditions as working with incompetent people (especially for ENTPs) or being forced to adhere to unacceptable work values (especially for ENFPs) are likely to trigger quitting the noxious situation. Sometimes becoming ill or depressed and recognizing how different they have become can force these types to take action. Some of the flavor of what constitutes a noxious work setting is captured in this statement by an ENTP who said that stress was a very important factor in quitting her job: “I reacted by leaving an organization and becoming an independent consultant. I can select the work I want and the people I work with. I can arrange my own schedule. There are no stupid rules and regulations. I enjoy helping organizations function better, but I don’t want to be part of one.” She had earlier described the most stressful work demands of her previous job as “working with incompetent people, not having control of my own schedule and activities, and running up against a lot of stupid rules and regulations.”
Both ESTPs and ESFPs typically become quieter and more thoughtful when they are in the grip, and this may either precede or alternate with becoming more emotional and/or easily angered. As was the case for Extraverted Feeling types, no positive or negative value seems to be placed on this more introspective stance. Many Extraverted Sensing types who describe becoming “more introverted” convey a sense of wonder and surprise at this change from their usual way of being.
One early sign of an impending inferior function episode is a loss of the easygoing, agreeable character of the Extraverted Sensing type. Although becoming quiet and withdrawn is by far the most frequently mentioned effect, irritability and negativity are also frequently reported. No longer are sensory data accepted indiscriminately at face value. ESTPs and ESFPs often withdraw into themselves, appear to lose contact with their habitual optimism, and appear tired and worried. An ESFP remarked, “I gradually take on too much work and too many responsibilities, then I become overpowered with negative thoughts and become very quiet and sad.”
An ESTP noted, “I start to feel that things are overwhelming, then I let them accumulate, and then I lose all motivation.” Another ESTP said he becomes “quiet and reserved and withdraws from people.” An ESFP said, “I become more contemplative, less talkative, and I’m seen by others as a serious, withdrawn person. This is not my usual self.” “I feel like I have to get control of the situation,” said an ESTP. “I avoid other people, feel guilty about it, and try to speed up everything I do.” As their hold on their dominant and auxiliary functions further diminishes, the qualities of inferior Introverted Intuition manifest in internal confusion, inappropriate attribution of meaning, and grandiose visions.
For ESTPs, tertiary Feeling aids and abets inferior Intuition in the form of imagined personal slights that are incorporated into an elaborate “theory” that proves that others are rejecting them. ESFPs use their tertiary Thinking to come up with cold “logic” to support their theory that others see the ESFP as immature or incompetent.
• Intellectual clarity
• Accurate interpretation of perceptions
• Visionary insight
• Internal confusion
• Inappropriate attribution of meaning
• Grandiose vision
All three qualities of the negative, inferior forms of Introverted Intuition (internal confusion, inappropriate attribution of meaning, and grandiose vision) are reflected in Jung’s (1976a) description of the inferior Introverted intuition of ESTPs and ESFPs:
Above all, the repressed intuitions begin to assert themselves in the form of projections. The wildest suspicions arise. . . . More acute cases develop every sort of phobia, and, in particular, compulsion symptoms . . . contents have a markedly unreal character, with a frequent moral or religious streak. . . .The whole structure of thought and feeling seems, in this second personality, to be twisted into a pathological parody: reason turns into hair-splitting pedantry, morality into dreary moralizing . . . religion into ridiculous superstition, and intuition . . . into meddlesome officiousness. (p. 365)
Effective dominant Introverted Intuitive types are noted for their intellectual clarity—their ability to process and integrate complex information. In the grip of inferior Introverted Intuition, Extraverted Sensing types become confused by unfamiliar inner processes. An ESFP in her early twenties described being out of character when her mind starts wandering. An ESTP described herself as “flustered, haphazard, out of control, especially about details; I forget things.” Because their negative Intuition is internalized, fantasies of impending disaster and dire possibilities are typically self-referential or limited to the people closest to them. They may have overwhelming fears about fatal illnesses, forebodings about losing an important relationship, and anxiety about harm coming to a loved one.
Fears of impending psychosis can also haunt ESTPs and ESFPs. The unfamiliar internal Intuitive information appears fraught with danger and impending doom. Extraverted Sensing types may feel overwhelmed by inner possibilities, disturbing images, unfamiliar self-doubt, and loss of connection to their environment. They may question their own abilities and fear subsequent exposure as incompetent in their most important endeavors.
“I feel like I am being enveloped in a whirling, swirling maelstrom,” said one ESFP. “I get into a spiral filled with frightening possibilities,” said another. A third ESFP said, “I cry! Everything is bad! I can be extremely creative (using my Introverted Intuition) about worrying about what could happen.” An ESTP describes feeling as though she is in a dark, endless tunnel. Another explains, “I become confused and paranoid. All possibilities are fearsome—any kind of change, anything in the future.” When the trigger for the experience is being forced to think about future plans, the reaction can be devastating, as the following example illustrates: "I am terrified that I won’t be where I want to be. Not that my lack of accomplishment will be disastrous, but that it will be dreary. If I try to project myself to where I should be, it will cut off my ability to react to the moment. Instead of exciting possibilities, I can only think of disastrous ones. The thought of future change makes me feel lonely and gloomy and dreary. It all ends up with misery. So it’s safer to stick with what is, but the possibilities in what is are also dreary. For this ESTP, negative Introverted Intuition is accompanied by tertiary Feeling so that the negative possibilities appear as emotional states—loneliness, dreariness, and gloom."
Inappropriate Attribution of Meaning
Effective dominant Introverted Intuitive types are adept at interpreting their complex inner perceptions. They are highly selective in the environmental information they process.
In the grip of inferior Introverted Intuition, an Extraverted Sensing type may, due to lack of experience, internalize random cues from the environment and interpret them as negative possibilities. If an intimate relationship is involved, there may be a foreboding that the ESTP or ESFP has done something to elicit a negative response from the other person. Or a simple request may be interpreted as a sign of disapproval or disappointment.
A young and newly married ESTP became overwhelmed by the thought that her husband, who had gone out with his friends, had left her and would never return—even though she knew that he visited his friends frequently and that the time at which he was expected to return had not yet arrived. She obsessed on the thought that she had been nasty to her husband earlier and became flooded with anxiety and apprehension. She thereupon drove over to his friend’s house, only to find that he was just preparing to leave and return home. Extraverted Sensing types in their vulnerable phase may start reading between the lines and attributing malevolent motives to people. A feeling of unreality or disconnection from others may occur, and this alien experience of isolation may in turn lead to terror. One ESFP was pleased to have free time while her children happily spent the weekend with her ex-husband and his new wife. But when the children were gone, she became consumed with the idea that they would prefer their new stepmother to her because she was not a good mother. They won’t be my kids when they return, she told herself, so nothing is okay and it never will be again.
The visionary insight of effective dominant Introverted Intuitive types has often been noted. They have an uncanny ability to envision the distant future in an almost prophetic way. In its inferior form, this quality surfaces in Extraverted Sensing types as grandiose, often nebulous cosmic “visions.” We saw hints of this quality in the “magical thinking” that was described earlier. Because dwelling on the past or future is unusual for Extraverted Sensing types, their inferior function episodes tend to be short-lived and magical ruminations are rarely acted on. However, when subjected to extended stress, Extraverted Sensing types may search for mystical meaning in the form of an obsessive interest in unseen forces of cosmic proportions.
The omnipresence of profound meaning may stimulate the ESTP or ESFP to search for or create a grand cosmology. Events typically given no more than a moment’s thought are imbued with deep significance; unrelated chance occurrences are subjected to complex integrations and interpretations; theories about the ultimate purpose of life and humanity’s place in nature are formulated. Such ruminations may engage the entire attention of the Extraverted Sensing type, and this interest may be seen by others as out of bounds and out of character.
An ESTP who lost his business during a recession became increasingly morose and distant. He tried reconnecting with the church of his childhood but was unable to find comfort there. By chance, he saw a notice in the newspaper advertising a lecture by an East Indian guru. He attended the lecture and felt instantly “transformed by the words of this wise man. I knew what my destiny must be,” he explained. He abandoned his existing life and joined the guru’s spiritual movement. During his year of spiritual exploration, he wrote lengthy mystical poems extolling the unseen forces that shape people’s destinies. When he returned home, he started a new business with great enthusiasm and optimism and felt that he brought greater balance and breadth to his enterprise.
Although ESTPs tend to report that few aspects of life are very stressful for them (in comparison to ESFPs and most other types), when they do become vulnerable, both they and ESFPs are likely to lose their typical optimism, carefree enjoyment of the moment, and skill at solving immediate problems. ESTPs, especially women, may become emotional more readily. ESFPs can become angry and critical. “I’m less tolerant of other people, and I am just an angry person with a short fuse,” said an ESFP in his early twenties. A young ESFP woman described becoming “sarcastic, oversensitive, negative, sad, worried, and cold.” However, compared with other types, ESFPs report little work stress relative to the stress they experience in their personal relationships and responsibilities. They are likely to try to leave stressful situations if they can.
Like Introverted Feeling types, Introverted Thinking types often report becoming uncharacteristically sociable, outgoing, and expressive of feelings as part of their inferior function experience. This is reported by both males and females of these types and by individuals of all ages. However, the loss of social inhibition is likely to emerge eventually in easily expressed anger, being loud and perhaps inappropriate and obnoxious.
Introverted Thinking types seem to report less pleasure in losing their inhibitions than do Introverted Feeling types, perhaps because they are uncomfortable extraverting their normally introverted critical Thinking. It may be that their naturally unspoken critical stance emerges more quickly than it does for ISFPs and INFPs. As the Introverted Thinking type's conscious control of differentiated Thinking starts to diminish, use of that dominant function along with auxiliary Sensing or Intuition becomes increasingly difficult. The internal struggle for control may be largely unobserved by others. But as time goes on, others may notice a certain slowness, vagueness, and distractibility replacing the sharp acuity that they are used to seeing in the ISTP or INTP.
Introverted Thinking types report becoming illogical, inefficient, unfocused, and scattered. An INTP described becoming “emotional, edgy, disorganized, obsessive about details, confused, closed. Usually I am easygoing, centered, and creative and see lots of options.” An ISTP reported becoming “confused, disorganized, and unable to focus. I lose track of my organizational strategies and get messy.” A young ISTP described himself as “slow and dimwitted, forgetting stuff all the time.” And a youthful INTP said, “I lack the mental energy and clarity that I ordinarily maintain. I'm not able to concentrate at all. I become completely illogical.” As inferior Extraverted Feeling becomes more prominent in the demeanor of the Introverted Thinking type, it comes out in the form of logic being emphasized to an extreme, hypersensitivity to relationships, and emotionalism. For ISTPs, tertiary Intuition may aid and abet these forms, appearing as a conviction of some imagined “pattern” of others' uncaring neglect of the ISTPs needs and feelings. For INTPs, tertiary Sensing takes the form of an obsessive review of the facts and details that prove that others neglect the INTPs needs and feelings.
The comparison between dominant and inferior Extraverted Feeling is shown in Table 6. Jung (1976a) touched on a combination of these characteristics as they can be seen in their inferior form:
Because of the highly impersonal character of the conscious attitude, the unconscious feelings are extremely personal and oversensitive, giving rise to secret prejudices—a readiness, for instance, to misconstrue any opposition to his formula as personal ill-will, or a constant tendency to make negative assumptions about other people in order to invalidate their arguments in advance—in defense, naturally, of his own touchiness. (p. 350)
Logic Emphasized to an Extreme
Effective dominant Extraverted Feeling types are quite comfortable making decisions that are not logical. Introverted Thinking types in the grip of inferior Extraverted Feeling may become passionately insistent on the application of logic, becoming quite emotional about their approach. As an extension of their loss of control over the Thinking function, the Introverted Thinking type begins to engage in excessively logical, unproductive thinking. There may be an obsessive quality to this thinking. One ISTP feels compelled to “prove” the accuracy of his perception of things. An INTP said, “If a problem comes up that I'm unable to resolve, I work at it anyway and can't let go of it, even if I know I can't solve it.” Other Introverted Thinking types report becoming less articulate, speaking rapidly and disjointedly, and using sharp, clear, but “paranoid” logic.
• Comfortable inattention to logic
• Sensitivity to others' welfare
• Sharing of emotions
• Logic emphasized to an extreme
• Hypersensitivity to relationships
They may find that they forget things, misplace objects, and engage in futile projects that don't accomplish anything and are marked by disorganization. One INTP described becoming rigidly stuck on a false belief that at the time seemed totally supported by logic. Later, he was able to reassess his conviction as an inferior “Feeling judgment masquerading as logic.” “I am very impatient, demanding, and extremely logical,” said another INTP. “I am obsessively analytical,” said another.
Hypersensitivity to Relationships
Effective dominant Extraverted Feeling types value their relationships with others. They carefully consider the well-being of others in making decisions and devote energy and enthusiasm to personal and social interactions. In the grip of inferior Extraverted Feeling, the Introverted Thinking type experiences increasing hypersensitivity to “Feeling” areas. And just as Extraverted Thinking types struggle to maintain controlled efficiency and competency when in the initial grip of the inferior function, so ISTPs and INTPs valiantly try to hide their formerly alien concerns with being liked and appreciated. In this unfamiliar state, they over-interpret or misinterpret others' innocent comments or body language. “I nail someone and babble forever about my feelings and all the terrible things 'they' are doing to me,” said an ISTP. However, to the Introverted Thinking type, the perceived slights are accurate and authentic. Something as innocuous as someone failing to say hello upon entering a room, or briefly interrupting a conversation to greet a passerby, may be interpreted as an indicator of dislike and disapproval.
ISTPs and INTPs tend to feel discounted when others do not listen to them attentively. “I tend to be emotionally hypersensitive when I'm 'not myself.' It's extraordinarily different from my usual state of logical ‘emotional detachment,” said an INTP. Others are usually slow to catch on to the altered state of the Introverted Thinking type, as was noted earlier for Extraverted Thinking types. Distress, anxiety, and annoyance are typically expressed with minimal cues—a raised eyebrow, a distant look, or other subtle body language may be the only signal. Further, family, friends, and colleagues, who are in the habit of trusting the person's careful, objective analysis of people and events, are likely to take the ISTPs or INTPs conclusions as objectively true. They have little reason to doubt, for example, that the boss doesn't appreciate the INTP and won't let him do a particular project. They are therefore unlikely to inquire about the evidence used to reach this definitive-sounding judgment.
In its extreme form, the grip experience of Introverted Thinking types may manifest as a feeling of profound and infinite separateness from the whole of humanity. The ISTP or INTP is convinced that he or she is unloved and ultimately unlovable. Some relive childhood feelings of being extremely different from other children, marching to a different and unacceptable drummer, often with no clue about how others see things. The memory of childhood misery and helplessness may intensify the adult's inferior function experience.
Effective dominant Extraverted Feeling types readily share their values with others and are comfortable expressing their emotions. In the grip of inferior Extraverted Feeling, Introverted Thinking types may not differentiate between the expression of Feeling values and the expression of emotion. We may witness confusion between Feeling as a judging function and emotion as a state of physiological arousal. Jung (1976b) was explicit in his differentiation of the two: "What I mean by feeling in contrast to thinking is a judgment of value; agreeable or disagreeable, good or bad, and so on. Feeling so defined is not an emotion or affect, which is, as the words convey, an involuntary manifestation. Feeling as I mean it is a judgment without any of the obvious bodily reactions that characterize an emotion. Like thinking, it is a rational function." (p. 219)
Nevertheless, it appears true that dominant Thinking types, especially those who favor Introversion, do not have ready access to their emotions when they are operating in their habitual, dominant mode. Often they report not knowing or being able to describe a feeling at the time it is occurring. Some INTPs, however, report being able to infer the presence of a feeling by attending to intuitive cues; it may be recounted later in Thinking, analytical terms. They fear that once in the realm of intense emotion, they may become possessed by it and never be able to get out. That is why descending into “the depths” is rare and entered into against the will of the Introverted Thinking type.
Lack of familiarity with felt emotion is probably due to the fact that Thinking judgment typically excludes subjective values and affective data from the decision-making process. How the Thinking type or others feel about things may be judged irrelevant to the problem at hand and therefore as interfering with logical decision making. In contrast, Feeling types typically consider such data entirely relevant to their decisions. Their primary decision-making criteria include personal values, feelings, and consequences for important people and institutions. Due to limited experience, therefore, Thinking types' emotional expression lacks the differentiation and subtlety of feeling seen in well differentiated Feeling types. When positive feelings are involved, they may seem maudlin and sentimental. One INTP said she becomes “mushy, sentimental, very outwardly emotional, and unpredictably so.” A young ISTP said, “At times I feel really emotional when I'm by myself thinking about things that normally wouldn't bother me.” With greater intensity, inferior Feeling comes out as raw, extreme emotion.
Feeling judgment seems to become increasingly exaggerated and obsessive, reaching a point where it no longer serves a judging purpose but becomes unbridled emotionalism. “I am 'hysterical.' I believe that nobody likes me and I am worthless . . . [and] have nothing to contribute to society. Whereas normally I am very happy to be alone, when I am 'not myself' I seek affirmation from everyone. I call all my friends until I feel better,” related an INTP. An ISTP said, “I talk about inner feelings and show emotions. I don't usually do that; I also express criticism toward others—I usually keep it to myself.”
When the contents of this normally unconscious, primitive function rise to the surface, they appear as a loss of control over emotional expression. There are reports of irritability and difficulty in holding back frustration and anger. In early phases, the Introverted Thinking type may become fidgety, trembling, and sarcastic, stomping around and making verbal attacks, exaggerating and accusing others. In more extreme cases, there may be physical outbursts that include breaking things and attacking people.
An INTP college student was deeply involved in a research paper when some of his friends invited him to go to a carnival with them. He refused, but they persisted anyway. When one grabbed his pen and paper and teasingly refused to return them, he began yelling at her and grabbed her arm. Both he and his friends were surprised and frightened by the swiftness and intensity of his reaction. Although expression of anger is common, especially in younger ISTPs and INTPs, often there is increasing self-pity and a sense of feeling neglected, unappreciated, and even victimized.
With greater loss of control, Introverted Thinking types can burst into tears with no warning. One wrong word can trigger an emotional outburst accompanied by rage, crying, and rising emotionality. Some describe feeling as if all their emotions are all mixed up, released with uncharacteristic spontaneity. “I start to notice my own feelings and become moody and impatient; I deny to others that anything is wrong, but all the while I feel like I am drowning in emotions,” said one ISTP. Another described being “very emotional and unable to keep my reactions to situations under control.” Not only are their own emotions problematic, but so are the emotional reactions of others. Some Introverted Thinking types say they cannot truly understand something in the Feeling arena if they haven’t actually experienced it. As a result, when they are in the grip of their inferior function, they find that emotions from others are upsetting and only intensify the magnitude of the situation.
The three manifestations of the inferior function typically appear together. One INTP feels martyred and cannot help snapping, whining, and complaining to people. She reports becoming very emotional and a little irrational, unable to organize or problem-solve with her usual efficiency and competence. Another INTP describes feeling numb, frozen, or enraged, as well as exhausted and unable to concentrate. Some describe an inability to keep their emotions to themselves, even though they wish to reveal little of their internal processes. In this state, said an ISTP, “I act out my displeasure rather than keeping it to myself as I am inclined to do. The actual acting out is usually brief, but feeling stressed out about it may last longer.” An INTP described the shame she associates with experiencing extreme feelings; she also described blaming others for not appreciating or loving her enough. Paramount is a sense of being misunderstood, with no way to correct the misunderstanding. Other ISTPs and INTPs report similar reactions.
Being out of character can be temporarily enjoyable when inhibitions are lessened, freeing up energy to explore unfamiliar but intriguing parts of oneself. Introverted Feeling types sometimes report becoming more sociable and outgoing. This is particularly true for male ISFPs and INFPs in their early twenties and somewhat less so for older males of these types. Women generally do not report this kind of lowering of inhibitions, perhaps because any such “positive” expression is likely to be eradicated by the negative expressions of anger and criticality that are the hallmarks of inferior Extraverted Thinking. Women may find these inferior function expressions to be more unacceptable than do men. However, over time the characteristic tolerance, flexibility, and quiet caring of Introverted Feeling types diminishes as the energy available to their dominant Introverted Feeling dwindles. “I lose my concern for harmony, my connection with my inner values,” said an INFP. An ISFP said he “searches for conflict and forgets about others' feelings.” ISFPs may also lose access to their auxiliary Sensing function. “I react quickly without finding out any facts,” said one. INFPs may similarly lose sight of their auxiliary Intuition. One INFP said that she “cannot process information, thoughts, or ideas” and becomes “focused on detail, making elaborate plans that are unnecessary.” Initially, INFPs and ISFPs may control their urge to blurt out hostile thoughts by engaging in destructive fantasies directed at just about anyone available. Alternatively, they may employ biting sarcasm and cynicism. As these tactics fail, the negative Extraverted Thinking of their inferior function becomes manifested in judgments of incompetence, aggressive criticism, and precipitous action. For ISFPs, tertiary Intuition may be revealed in their being plagued by the negative possibilities they imagine will be the inevitable, logical consequences of their incompetence. For INFPs, tertiary Sensing provides all the “facts” necessary to support their overwhelming sense of failure.
The comparison between dominant and inferior Extraverted Thinking is shown in Table 4.
Jung (1976a) alludes to these inferior manifestations in the following statement:
Just as introverted thinking is counterbalanced by a primitive feeling, to which objects attach themselves with magical force, introverted feeling is counterbalanced by a primitive thinking, whose concretism and slavery to facts surpass all bounds. (p. 388)
Judgments of Incompetence
In the early stages of expression of their inferior function, Introverted Feeling types often project their unconscious fears of their own incompetence. They become hypersensitive to others' mistakes. Because of the Extraverted attitude of their inferior function, the projections often extend to large segments of the outer world, encompassing much of humanity. Once caught up in this state, they see incompetence in employees, bosses, colleagues, strangers on the street, the person on the other end of the telephone, drivers on the highway, local and national institutions, and major world figures.
Introverted Feeling types in this state may complain loudly about others' gross ineptitude. ISFPs and INFPs seem to turn into the very opposite of their accepting, nonjudgmental, and flexible selves, coming across as harsh critics and judges whose standards of competence are too extreme to be met.
• Truth and accuracy
• Decisive action
• Judgments of incompetence
• Aggressive criticism
• Precipitous action
Inferior Thinking often comes out in an unrelenting search for accuracy— in a precise, nitpicky logic and focus, and an almost legalistic standard of validity. One INFP said, “I home in on precise logic and truth and am very critical, detailed, picky, frustrated, and irritable. I'm nitpicky and see only what is in front of me.” An ISFP said, “I'm in a bad mood and show it. I cut myself off and am critical, judgmental, bitchy; I am not accepting, happy, optimistic, nice, or understanding. Usually, I am friendly and always have time for people. When I'm tired and vulnerable, I can get into this state by remembering some incredibly dumb thing I did—an embarrassing moment. Or somebody else's incompetence that reflects on my own will set me off.”
When this projection of their sense of incompetence fails to take care of whatever has triggered it, the negative energy of the inferior function takes the form of critical self-judgment. Introverted Feeling types become focused on their own incompetence, extending it both backward and forward in time and including the world at large in their conclusion. In the words of one INFP:
I become overwhelmed by an awareness that I am totally incompetent at everything I do, that I always have been and always will be—and that the whole world knows it! The truth of this is beyond doubt. I am mortified at not recognizing this before, and of compounding the offense by acting as if I were competent. I am unable to verbalize my despair to others for fear I will make a fool of myself by acknowledging my former ignorance of my true lack of ability. I view my advanced degrees and other achievements as the result of people feeling sorry for me— I was too emotionally fragile to be told the truth. “Everything seems impossible,” said an ISFP. “I begin to lose faith in my ability to do even the simplest task, and I especially distrust my ability to make competent decisions about my life.” An INFP said, “I become rigid and think I am stupid, hopeless, etc. I often play a mental videotape of all the times I remember getting things wrong.” Another INFP described being “very arbitrary, loud, direct, hateful. I become inflexible, rigid, and most intolerant. I make snap judgments and become quite self condemning. I think it's all over; I'm no longer worthwhile.” When feeling vulnerable, another INFP worried about whether his teachers had paid sufficient attention to his work to properly evaluate it. “Maybe they were so wrapped up in their own work that I slipped through undetected,” he said. An ISFP said, “I review all the mistakes I ever made in my life and then conclude that I am a bona fide failure at everything I attempt to do, despite any evidence to the contrary.”
We know that effective dominant Extraverted Thinking types make useful critical judgments about the world. In the grip of inferior Extraverted Thinking, Introverted Feeling types make judgments that are overly categorical, harsh, exaggerated, hypercritical, and often unfounded. In marked contrast to their typically gentle, self-effacing manner, they become so aggressively judgmental that they come across as caricatures of their opposite types, the Extraverted Thinking types. Depending on the nature and intensity of the precipitating circumstances, the excessive criticism may be immediately directed at themselves or may focus first on the objectionable qualities of others, only later culminating in severe self-criticism. Such alternating criticism of others and self is evident in some of the preceding comments describing “incompetence.” One ISFP said, “My humor becomes biting and cynical and I take an 'army-navy' dictatorial approach to communicating with others. I am very negative.” Another described becoming “very short-tempered. I react quickly and sometimes not rationally. I yell at people and have very little patience.” “I'll be loud, critical, and rash, talk about people behind their backs, or be unreasonable,” said another.
An INFP becomes “more intense. I tend to lash out at people with great anger. I am blaming and accusatory. I get vicious 'Ben Hur'–type images with a lot of violent action. I feel cold, intolerant, uncaring, rigid, straitjacketed, focused, and terrier-like.” “I snap at people and I don't care about their reactions to this. I criticize people, especially for their incompetence. I generalize this to thinking that the whole world is incompetent and has screwed up values, and I stop caring about my own values,” explained another INFP. “I become self-critical, doubting, irritable, inflexible, and more picky. I focus on details. Usually, I am flexible and quiet and like new challenges, new ideas, and working with people.” When one ISFP becomes especially irritated with her husband's chronic indecision, she provides him with lengthy, logical accounts of his available choices, adopting a combative, lawyer-like tone. One INFP makes almost vicious attacks on people who fail to live up to his ethical standards. “One winter I found out the gas company had turned off service to my disabled neighbor, who couldn't pay her bill. I flew into a rage, called the president of the company, and threatened to expose him to the newspapers. Even I was surprised at the language I used,” he said.
Introverted Feeling types in the grip are often overwhelmed by the urge to take some action, usually to correct some imagined mistake or incompetence of their own. But where the dominant Extraverted Thinking type uses differentiated judgment in deciding what action to take, if any, the Introverted Feeling type's actions often exacerbate the problem. A difficult situation may be created where there initially wasn't one.
At her engagement party, Sylvia, an INFP, was kissed playfully by a former boyfriend while both were alone in the kitchen. Later that night, she remembered that a friend of hers had passed by the kitchen door and might have seen the kiss. She called her friend and begged her not to tell anyone. She interpreted her friend's puzzled response as evidence that she had already told several other people. Sylvia then called four more close friends to warn them not to tell. By this time, the innocent kiss was common knowledge to virtually everyone who had been at the party. Of course, Sylvia's fiancé found out about the kissing incident and was hurt and angry. Sylvia's precipitous “fixing” created an unnecessary problem that required a great deal of real correction.
The urge to take action can also be seen in attempts by Introverted Feeling types to take control. One INFP reported that when things seem out of control, he attempts to put them in order, organize them, and piece together data in an orderly, logical, linear fashion. An ISFP responds to such episodes by taking charge of people and ordering them around. Others make lists, organize the list contents logically, and methodically check off the items once they are accomplished. Undertaking large household cleaning projects, reorganizing, and moving furniture are also ways of responding to increasing stress. They are usually accompanied by concerns about one's abilities—perhaps indicative of attempts to ward off inferior Thinking by acting in a decisive, controlled way.
INTJs and INFJs appear less likely than other Introverted types to get much pleasure from a lessening of introverted “inhibitions,” although some INTJ males describe becoming more extraverted in a positive, sociable way. An INFJ said he is “surprisingly more extraverted, especially in the company of strangers; more expressive and less contained.” Female Introverted Intuitive types mention increased sociability less frequently, possibly because they, like other women who are Introverts, are encouraged (or required) to develop social skills. However, for the most part, the obsessiveness and discomfort that accompany extraverting their Sensing function is experienced as overwhelmingly distressing for both male and female INTJs and INFJs.
As dominant Introverted Intuition loses its position of primacy, INTJs and INFJs start to lose their characteristic wide-ranging, global perspective. Their field of operation narrows considerably, and their range of acknowledged possibilities becomes limited and idiosyncratic. They may make more factual mistakes and become careless with spelling and grammar. “I am unable to cope with simple decisions and problems,” said an INTJ woman. “I'm frustrated by the physical world—I lose things, drop them, hate them. I don't know what to wear or what to eat. I'm impatient with people and can't read or concentrate.” An INTJ said she obsessively looks for the “right” factual piece of information that will solve the problem. “I notice things not put away around the house—things that are broken or things to do.” As their hold on their dominant and auxiliary functions further diminishes, the qualities of inferior Extraverted Sensing manifest in an obsessive focus on external data, overindulgence in sensual pleasures, and an adversarial attitude toward the outer world.
For INTJs, tertiary Feeling may abet the process in that the “facts” (real or invented) on which the INTJ obsesses are often used as “proof” that others discount, devalue, or dislike the INTJ. Similar “facts” may be used by the INFJs tertiary Thinking to prove that the INFJ is inadequate or a failure. The comparison between dominant and inferior Extraverted Sensing is shown in Table 12.
Jung (1976a) incorporates the three qualities of inferior Extraverted Sensing (obsessive focus on external data, overindulgence in sensual pleasures, and an adversarial attitude toward the outer world) in the following comment:
What the introverted intuitive represses most of all is the sensation of the object, and this colours his whole unconscious. It gives rise to a compensatory extraverted sensation function of an archaic character. The unconscious personality can best be described as an extraverted sensation type of a rather low and primitive order. Instinctuality and intemperance are the hallmarks of this sensation, combined with an extraordinary dependence on sense-impressions. This compensates the rarefied air of the intuitive's conscious attitude. (p. 402)
Obsessive Focus on External Data
Effective dominant Extraverted Sensing types are open to the widest variety of information from the environment— the more the better for them. Fully experiencing the outside world is their greatest pleasure. For an INTJ or INFJ in the grip of inferior Extraverted Sensing, data from the outside world can seem overwhelming. Facts and details in the world demand the attention of the Introverted Intuitive type in the grip, so he or she obsesses about them. This may be experienced by both INTJs and INFJs as a state of intensity and drive. Their attempts to control the details in their environment are often expressed in such activities as feverishly cleaning the house, moving furniture, and organizing records and other materials. They may show an adamant concern about minute details and an unrelenting effort to control everything in their immediate vicinity.
An INFJ described her obsessiveness and withdrawal from her usual interests this way: “I stew about what's going on. I can't sit still and am restless. I am mentally fatigued and find myself compulsively putting things in order and trying to control everything around me.” An INTJ said that when he is in this state, he feels like a top spinning faster and faster. If he is working with tools and getting frustrated and angry, he has learned that it is best for him to stop or he will get hurt or break something. An INFJ described “obsessing about details.” He gave as an example:
“When I'm using power tools that can cause injury, I will spend an inordinate amount of energy making sure that I'm not going to inadvertently hurt myself when I turn the thing on. I will triple-check to make sure my fingers are out of the way, etc. Usually I take in the world more globally and have less concern about details until I need them.”
• Focus on external data
• Seeking sensual/aesthetic pleasure
• Delight in the outer world
• Obsessive focus on external data
• Overindulgence in sensual pleasure
• Adversarial attitude toward the outer world
“I'm more likely to have accidents,” said an INTJ. “I'm robotic, forget things, say things backwards; I'm obsessed with a thought and can't get it out of my mind. I try to control situations and people and engage in strange behavior, like checking on things,” said an INTJ woman. And another INTJ woman said, “I can become obsessed by detail. I'm less able to function and make decisions—sort of paralyzed.” An INFJ said, “I alphabetize my compact discs; or suddenly it's time to do that thing I thought about doing two months ago. I drop everything and do it; or I fixate on smells and sounds.” “I organize or clean. I feel pressured and can't think clearly,” reported another INFJ. “I nitpick about things in the environment. I bombard people verbally and obsess out loud.”
An INTJ recalled the following from his childhood and adolescence: “When my studies were not going too well I would start to develop detailed tables of data, or drawings to support technical/science answers. These were frequently in too great detail, taking a lot of time and usually out of all proportion to the task and the length of the answers sought—or even irrelevant to the original questions.”
Often the external input that becomes the object of obsession is something someone said or even failed to say. When the last client on an unusually busy day left without saying her usual “See you next week,” an INTJ therapist became convinced she had made a mistake during the psychotherapy session. She spent many hours going over the content of the session. She felt the only reason the client had not terminated therapy that day was politeness, so as not to hurt the therapist's feelings.
A common focus, particularly for INTJ and INFJ women, can be an aspect of their physical appearance. They may become convinced that they have prominent skin blemishes, that others are noticing that they don't dress very well, or that they look fat. In combination with the “overindulgence” manifestation described below, a powerful effect can occur.
Overindulgence in Sensual Pleasures
In effective dominant Extraverted Sensing types, the enjoyment of sensual pleasures is natural, spontaneous, and quite consistent with their focus on the reality of the immediate environment. In Introverted Intuitive types in the grip of inferior Extraverted Sensing, this quality takes the form of sensual excess rather than sensual pleasure. It is interesting that a number of INTJs and INFJs described themselves as becoming “self-centered” and “self-indulgent” when they are in the grip—a descriptor often projected onto well-functioning Extraverted Sensing types by INTJs and INFJs (and by other types as well).
Overdoing gratification of the senses is a commonly mentioned behavior for INTJs and INFJs in the grip of their inferior function. They may overeat or binge. They see themselves as obsessively doing harm to their bodies. A typical “tactic” is to overindulge compulsively and immediately thereafter—if not during the episode—berate themselves for their uncontrolled, shallow, destructive behavior. An INTJ described the experience this way: “There is a clear preliminary state where I am totally apart from the real world. I am not even an observer, and I can completely ignore anything real. It's a nice fantasy, that's all—just absorbing. But later I become excessively indulgent, getting totally immersed in physical experiences— eating, exercise, pulp fiction, TV. But I don't enjoy it. It feels like a dangerous roller coaster, but I'm immobilized and can't get off.”
An INFJ said, “I have to get away from reality. I do too much of something— one thing. I eat more or stop eating; I shop for useless things.” Another said, “I eat too much, spend too much, watch TV or read excessively to escape. I'm late for everything.” An INTJ said her pattern is to overeat, feel guilty about it, wake up in the night and feel worse, get too little sleep, causing her to feel more vulnerable, and then eat more. Another INTJ feels bad about her overeating but not guilty: “I hate it when people brag about how much they exercise!” she said.
Adversarial Attitude Toward the Outer World
Effective dominant Extraverted Sensing types approach the outer world with eager anticipation of all the wonderful experiences awaiting them. For Introverted Intuitive types in the grip of inferior Extraverted Sensing, the immediate reality of the outer world spells difficulty and danger. They expect obstacles and problems to plague them as they move through a strange and potentially hostile environment. Their hypersensitivity to potentially dangerous surroundings can promote uneasiness about people as well. “I can have negative forebodings and feel that people are against me,” said an INTJ. An INFJ said she “becomes suspicious. Usually I'm tolerant, curious, and compassionate, so 'out of character' for me means I'm unaccepting and frustrated with the world.”
An INTJ said, “I start tripping over things and feel out of control in the external world. I feel like I'm under a dark cloud. I get hung up on some false fact and distort it. I get stressed out about time—too many things and not enough time. I attack others with words and then feel guilty.” An INFJ described herself as “shutting down, communicating very little. I misplace things, especially keys and watches. I'm very harsh, critical, not diplomatic. I lose my temper, obsess about details, organize, reorganize, yet nothing gets done.”
Anticipating the worst can often elicit anger and blame in INTJs and INFJs. “I'm moody and gloomy, with sudden deep anger,” said an INTJ. An INFJ also describes experiencing deep anger: “I am emotionally aroused and am terribly critical of others. I accuse people of never helping me. I become dogmatic and blast people with facts. If no one is around to attack, I write a scathing letter to someone.” Another said, “I internally check off all the events that happened leading up to the 'conflict' and then I verbalize this list with a sense that the impeccable logic of it will convince others I am right and I will be vindicated.”
The altered state of any inferior function is typically accompanied by a lessening of social controls and therefore more frequent expressions of anger. However, the character of the anger may be different for different types. For INTJs and INFJs, the “cause” of distress is often one or more “objects” in the environment. The anger directed at either things or people may therefore be more focused, intense, and extreme than with other inferior functions. Introverted Intuitive types may be unable to recognize alternative possibilities so that their perspective becomes extremely narrow. This tunnel vision and externalization of blame can produce ruthless results.
One INTJ said, “I get into verbal raving and am out of control. I regress emotionally and act childish. I feel anxious, exposed, childlike.” Another INTJ said, “If I bump my head on a cupboard, I get mad at the world for putting a cupboard there. Others think I'm cursing at myself— but it's really at the inconsideration or stupidity of the cupboard being there.” An INFJ observed, “I am angry, unreasonable, totally irrational, closed-minded, and impatient. I feel vulnerable and then become angry at others for it. I can't communicate with anyone. I am hard, callous, unfeeling, and I have no energy to be bothered with anyone else.”
Younger Introverted Sensing types, like other Introverted types, report becoming more sociable, outgoing, or outspoken as part of their grip experience. This is especially true for young men and to a lesser extent for young women. “I’m more outspoken and friendly,” said a 21-year-old male ISTJ about his grip experiences. “I’m also more into people’s needs and how they feel. I guess I’m more of a ‘people person.’ ”An ISTJ young woman said, “I’m more sensitive and understanding, more outspoken and outgoing.” Introverted Sensing types often report that their increased sociability occurs in social situations in which they feel comfortable. An ISTJ is his mid-thirties said he becomes “outgoing, daring, dancing the gorilla dance, whereas I’m usually reserved and calculated.” This is stimulated by festive, comfortable occasions with family and friends. Some young Introverted Sensing types, however, report going too far, becoming loud and obnoxious in social situations. ISTJs and ISFJs of all ages also report a high frequency of becoming more withdrawn, angry, irritable, and pessimistic when in the grip. However, there are some notable differences by auxiliary function and gender. ISTJ and ISFJ men tend to report becoming angry, while women report withdrawing from others. ISTJ women report becoming both pessimistic and scattered, while ISFJ women mention becoming more irritable, emotional, and worried.
Introverted Sensing types’ characteristic task orientation and calm attention to responsibilities begin to disappear as they move further into the grip. “I feel like I’m in a fog of sand and can’t absorb details around me,” said an ISTJ. As their hold on their dominant and auxiliary further diminishes, command over dominant Introverted Sensing is lost. If this state persists, the qualities of inferior Extraverted Intuition manifest in a loss of control over facts and details, impulsiveness, and catastrophizing. For ISTJs, tertiary Feeling combines with inferior Intuition so that the negative possibilities are focused on important relationships with loved ones. The tertiary Thinking of ISFJs contributes the “logic” used to support negative possibilities regarding career, money, natural disasters, and so on. The comparison between dominant and inferior Extraverted Intuition is shown in Table 14.
Two qualities of the negative, inferior forms of Extraverted Intuition (loss of control over facts and details, and catastrophizing) are reflected in Jung’s (1976a) description of the inferior function of ISTJs and ISFJs:
“Whereas true extraverted intuition is possessed of singular resourcefulness, a “good nose” for objectively real possibilities, this archaisized intuition has an amazing flair for all the ambiguous, shadowy, sordid, dangerous possibilities lurking in the background. (p. 398)”
Loss of Control over Facts and Details
Effective dominant Extraverted Intuitive types are comfortable glossing over facts and details as they focus on the complexities of an engaging new idea. Their strength lies in emphasizing generalities; the particulars can be dealt with later. In the grip of inferior Extraverted Intuition, however, Introverted Sensing types’ relationship to details becomes problematic. As they begin to lose trust in dominant Sensing and auxiliary Thinking or Feeling, ISTJs and ISFJs have difficulty attending to relevant factual information and arriving at rational conclusions.
• Comfortable inattention to sense data
• Flexibility, adaptability, risk taking
• Optimism about future possibilities
• Loss of control over facts and details
On the last afternoon of a difficult training session, an ISTJ imagined that a small-group exercise in which trainees practiced their presentation skills was preparation for each class member to give a presentation to the entire class. He became anxious and agitated as the time to return to the workshop room approached. He later admitted that he did not feel adequately prepared to present the material publicly and feared he would be humiliated. What he failed to recognize was that no such activity was listed on the schedule (Sensing data) and that with only sixty minutes left in the workshop, thirty-five people could not possibly make presentations (Thinking judgment). His general anxiety and fatigue at the end of a stressful day contributed to his abandonment of his Sensing and Thinking functions.
Flexibility and adaptability are assets to effective dominant Extraverted Intuitive types. These qualities permit them to manage the multiple activities and interests characteristic of their operating style. As expressions of inferior Extraverted Intuition, however, these same qualities take on an aspect of thoughtlessness and impulsiveness, not unlike the qualities ISTJs and ISFJs project onto dominant Extraverted Intuitive types. When they experience a gradual slide into their inferior function, Introverted Sensing types may become uncharacteristically spontaneous, sometimes to the point of later judging themselves irresponsible and reckless. One ISFJ reported giving in to the urge to leave work in the middle of the day and go to the movies. An ISTJ made a spur-of-the-moment decision to buy a new computer before thoroughly researching the options. He returned the computer later, assessing the purchase as rash and foolish.
Introverted Sensing types may experience increasing lack of focus, confusion, anxiety, and even panic, even though their demeanor remains calm and seemingly unperturbed. Their uncharacteristic spontaneity, however, may come out in snappishness and terse, hurtful comments to others, or in out-of-character behavior. After being divorced by his wife of twenty years, an ISTJ dated forty different women in six months. It was as if his inexperienced Intuition went haywire and his tertiary Feeling judgment was unequal to the task of deciding among the overwhelming relationship possibilities available.
Whereas effective dominant Extraverted Intuitive types thrive on the exciting possibilities the future will bring, Introverted Sensing types in the grip of inferior Extraverted Intuition anticipate the future with fear and trembling. As their descent into the grip proceeds, they become ever more negative, less willing to tolerate the unfamiliar, and more wildly imaginative about disastrous outcomes. One ISFJ described this as “awfulizing.”
In its full-blown state, inferior Extraverted Intuition anticipates all the catastrophes that might happen in an unsafe, threatening world and focuses on dire possibilities in the future. (Remember that the other Introverted perceiving types, the Introverted Intuitive types, focus on negative realities in the present.) ISTJs and ISFJs imagine that anything not previously experienced—any unfamiliar place, any new activity—will provoke horrifying consequences. In the full grip of their inferior function, even familiar, previously safe areas may be reassessed as fraught with danger. This level of catastrophizing is the hallmark of inferior Extraverted Intuition. “I start imagining a lot of terrible things that could happen,” said an ISTJ. “If I tell anybody what I’m thinking, the usual response is, ‘you worry too much,’ or ‘don’t think about that.’ I appear emotional, not my usual controlled self. I am not being realistic, which I always pride myself on being, but borderline ridiculous,” she concluded. An ISFJ school choir director is usually in a good mood when she awakens—except when a choir performance is scheduled for that day. On such occasions, she experiences a general feeling of dread and impending disaster, even though there is no specific content associated with her forebodings.
After having knee surgery, which resulted in a good deal of pain and immobility, an ISTJ was convinced that he would never feel any better: “I couldn’t stop expressing my pessimism and was a real pain to one and all. Before that I’d always been a pretty optimistic person.” In fact, research evidence supports this ISTJ’s experience. ISTJs and ISFJs are among the types most frequently treated for chronic pain. An increase in fatigue and stress often lowers Introverted Sensing types’ tolerance and patience in the face of others’ inattention to or denial of important facts and details. A full-blown exhibition of negative possibilities is likely to ensue. One ISFJ said, “I am given to very sarcastic humor, slashing and unpredictable explosions of cold, hard statements about here-and-now reality. I get stubborn and let loose a negative barrage covering all the bad consequences of what is being proposed.”
When her work situation becomes particularly stressful, another ISFJ’s recurrent fear is that her most recent promotion will be rescinded, or that she will receive a letter from her college informing her that her degree was granted by mistake and they are going to have to take it back. One evening in May, an ISTJ returned home tired after a long day of hiking in the mountains. Distressed to discover that his garage door would not open, he immediately imagined all the possible negative effects—he would have trouble getting to work on time, he wouldn’t be able to go on vacation in the summer, and he certainly could not make it to his niece’s wedding in August!
Introverted Sensing types report having strange or paranoid thoughts when they are in this state, feeling overwhelmed and irritable and imagining that a current stressful situation will go on forever, as will their inability to handle both the stress and the situation. Alternatively, they may come up with off-the-wall, unrealistic positive possibilities when faced with unfamiliar situations. They then must deal with the extreme disappointment that results when the positive possibilities don’t materialize. For example, an ISTJ was quite attracted to a young woman he met and talked with briefly at a party one evening. He planned to get her phone number from his friend so he could ask her out. He imagined where they would go, what they would talk about, and how pleasant their date would be. On calling his friend, therefore, he was upset to learn that the young woman was engaged to be married and had left town that morning to return home to plan her wedding.
One ISFJ’s description of not being herself includes all three forms of inferior Extraverted Intuition: "I ignore facts and details—create monstrous, horrible outcomes that have far-reaching impacts (for instance, in my lifetime and my daughter’s lifetime). I dwell exclusively on these “realities.” I believe that I need to act right now, this moment (for instance, leave my husband or quit my job). Generally, I am very loyal and steadfast, however."
Descriptions of Inferior Functions Taken from Lenore Thomson's Wiki
"Si provides information about the fixed and stable, the facts / constancies of the universe. At it's best, it provides such information as a firm basis for proceeding forward into the world. Where Si occupies the inferior position (as it does for those with dominant Ne), it is strongly tainted with unconscious contents. In these cases, Si may manifest as negative/malevolent images of eternal tendencies in people and situations that will not change. Such tendencies may well be present, but inferior Si sees the part as the whole. Inferior Si is also linked to feelings of nostalgia, overwhelmingly vivid internal imagery and a selective recall of facts and memories that are highly emotionally charged."
"As an Inferior Function, Ni typically leads ESPs to either self-doubt or claim to a mystic vision--to see themselves as an oracle of transcendent truth, bypassing the need for finding things out through observation, reasoning, and putting ideas to a test."
" As an inferior function, Se often leads INJs in either (or both) of two directions: to shun everything of a bodily nature as corrupt and animal (e.g. Immanuel Kant), or to crave "letting loose" and table-dancing or delivering some serious violence. In the grip of the inferior function, they try to make others feel weak by displays of physical power (or trying to get others to compare themselves with physically powerful people), but usually end up only making themselves feel like helpless bugs. "See how POWERFUL I am? See my ANIMAL MAGNETISM?" Some get into guns or karate, taking an off-kilter delight in fantasies of getting into a confrontation with someone and surprising the hell out of them with the damage they can do (see Taxi Driver). Some idolize jazz musicians as people who are completely in touch with their animal selves, able to "let go". Some join academic cliques where the object is to make other people feel unpopular by snubbing them for not being up on the latest intellectual fashions--a sort of faux popularity contest, where the wider social standards are reversed and the most unintelligible gibberish gets the most attention. Some use esoteric jazz or modern art to make a twisted marriage of Ni and Se: "It might sound like an incoherent mish-mash of notes to you, but that only shows that you lack the finer discernment of the really cool people." A different way, perhaps the genuine reunification with the inferior function, is to find an unconditional pleasure in "the now" and a peaceful, live-and-let-live philosophy--enjoying each moment, "being present" no matter what comes.
Less dramatic, more recreational (and more common) forms of tertiary and inferior Se include athletics and engaging in physically dangerous activities, like auto racing and bungee jumping--providing the participants visceral proof that they have power over the physical world. Or simply enjoying these activities in a pure way, for the thrills they offer, no differently than an SP."
"As an Inferior Function, Ti typically causes EFJs to aspire to behavioural standards that aren't defined by typical social norms. EFJs with low confidence may reject or even demonize Ti, preferring to instead go along with the observable expectations that others place on them. Because it is so adverse to the standpoint of Extraverted Feeling, Ti may sometimes seem too cold or emotionally detached, and thus EFJs might avoid it out of fear of losing their sense of self in the community. EFJs who can accept an introverted stance will realize that things don't have to be determined by what can be observed, and that they don't always have to agree with others just to get along; they can introduce their own ideas, think with their own minds, and determine how the world works through their own subjective perceptions."
"As an Inferior Function, Fi typically leads ETJs to acts of self-destructive hedonism, creation of opera-like drama in their lives and the lives of those around them, obsession with "integrity" (like going down with the ship), instant and irresponsible abandonment of anything they don't like (the opposite of going down with the ship), and bizarre solitary acts of atonement for the harms they've done to others. Sometimes inferior-Fi leads ETJs to preach and even practice a sort of hyper-selfishness, e.g. Ayn Rand and the Landmark Forum. "I'm doing fine, so why should I give a damn about you?" (Very different from highly developed Fi, which leads you to see all people as connected and the highest joy of life as the experience of that connection.)
Tertiary and inferior Fi also sometimes lead TJs to view large numbers of people as "troglodytes": soulless or stupid creatures whose rotten situations in life derive only from their own intrinsic rottenness-of-soul. To take a comic example, Lex Luthor's lamentation in Superman, "Why is the world's greatest criminal genius surrounded by nincompoops?"
Perhaps the most typical manifestation of tertiary and inferior Fi is an attitude of psychologizing other people: a sort of pseudo-empathy in which one explains other people's behavior in terms of pitiful needs and psychological flaws that anyone would be ashamed to have. "Notice the defensiveness. He clings desperately to his ideas. Such weakness." (Nearly all psychological theories offer plenty of ammo for psychologizing, including Lenore Thomson's ideas.) Where developed Fi leads you to find something in your own soul in terms of which to truly understand someone else and see things their way, tertiary and inferior Fi typically lead you to find something in your own soul that you despise, in terms of which you can "explain" them and justify putting them down."