• MBTI: Simulatedworld's Profiles for Introverted Types

    MBTI: Simulatedworld's Profiles for Introverted Types
    by simulatedworld



    Related articles and links:

    MBTI Online Tests and Resources
    Simulatedworld's Profiles for Extraverted Types
    SolitaryWalker's NT Profiles
    SolitaryWalker's NF Profiles
    Lenore Thomson's MBTI type profiles
    Inferior Functions: Form of the Inferior
    INFP vs INFJ

    INFJ: A Jungian Cognitive Function Analysis

    INFJ, or Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judger, is a label borrowed from MBTI nomenclature and now applied to the Jungian Cognitive Function set {Ni, Fe, Ti, Se}.

    Dominant: Introverted iNtuition (Ni)

    "I just like putting all of life's little dreams in perspective. The real world is inside my head. Imagination is the doorway to the world--if you can imagine it, then it exists. The difficulty lies in compromising that world enough to get along with the other one. I mean, if you think about it, I have no proof that you or anybody else really exists. Is anything really 'true' in the most ultimate sense? Or is whatever we think of as 'truth' just another frame of reference, with no more objective value than anything else? I try not to take any one definition of reality too seriously, because then I lose the ability to give equal consideration to others."

    As introverted perception (Pi) dominants, INFJs are constantly busy with the private inner world of subjective association of signs and symbols with personalized meaning. Both Pi functions (Ni and Si) are concerned with generating internalized impressions of past experience--in this way they are quite similar. But while Si depends on specific and concrete sensory data to build its personal conceptual map of meaning, Ni instead depends on more vague and loosely defined skeletons of the intangible and abstract relationships between ideas. It can't build a map as thorough and complete as that of an Si type who has directly experienced all of the information in a given area, but it can use the conceptual outlines of its own experiences to "fill in the blanks" and predict how related experiences that it hasn't actually had will feel in terms of the personal impression they create.

    Often, the way a particular piece of information strikes them is simply too dependent upon the assumptions inherent in Ni's worldview to make its significance meaningful to anyone else. Putting it into words ruins the point because words are yet another limited medium which carries too many inherent assumptions to fully carve out an effective vocabulary for the conceptual impressions in which Ni specializes.

    As an introverted perception function, dominant Ni is not making any kind of value judgments. It's only taking in impressions--as many different possible interpretations of the significance of any given idea or event as possible. That may sound similar to Ne on the surface, but it's not--Ne is picking up a lot of different events and ideas at once and looking for common threads between them; Ni is picking one idea or event at a time and examining ("from a clean slate", as Yukawa says) every angle of every component of that one thing in order to find any as-of-yet untried interpretations that might cause us to view the whole issue in an entirely new light.

    While Ne explodes into a million new places from one starting point, Ni is much more comfortable "imploding" into an overarching interpretation that combines many different disparate elements into one more cohesive whole. Often this results in the keen ability to pare down many different apparently disparate options into the best and most effective option for the singular vision that the INFJ's judgment functions have decided is the best use of time. This ability often leads others to see INFJs as possessing some sort of mystical, almost supernatural foresight; of course, there is nothing supernatural about--Ni simply notes the general ideas implied by conceptual impressions, and from there it's not a difficult jump to imagine how they might be deconstructed or rearranged for different purposes. Ni dominants are often surprised and a little perplexed that others don't naturally see the unstated meaning that characterizes their entire self-experience.

    Ni dislikes forcing rationalized structure onto its conceptual impressions because that structure is bound to operate under a certain set of assumptions which may prematurely (and without even realizing it) eliminate the very kind of information Ni is interested in: using past experiences with related conceptual frameworks to eliminate the barriers on its holistic understanding of symbols and the meaning they signify.

    Often, INFJs feel that others operate under too many unstated assumptions of meaning to even follow the esoteric trains of internal imagination in which they live. All too commonly this results in feelings of isolation: the INFJ sees himself as too unorthodox in his very assumptions about the nature of reality to fit into the frameworks by which most of the people surrounding him define themselves.

    Auxiliary: Extroverted Feeling (Fe)

    "A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people."
    --Mohandas Gandhi

    How then, may an INFJ find a way to relate his vision meaningfully to the people around him and achieve the social acceptance and communal understanding that he desires? The answer lies in auxiliary Fe.

    Fe encourages us to derive our moral and ethical ideals from the groups of other people that we consider important, or at the very least, to define morality in a way that can be widely understood and applied by large groups of individuals. The goal is relatively simple and utilitarian: To define our relationships to each other according to the common moral guidelines upon which we agree to base our lives together, for the common good of everyone involved.

    "I can sympathize with where you're coming from--allow me to emphasize some sort of cultural bond or familial connection that relates us in an objectively observable way and suggests that we have some degree of responsibility toward each other. Only through committed responsibility to these objective relationships can we form the social hierarchy by which we will decide--together through collective experience--what constitutes moral and ethical behavior within the communal bonds of our lives together. Morality is simply too important to be decided by any individual without any input from the consensus of the people he trusts, loves and respects."

    Fe is, in a certain sense, inherently tribal. While it does promote something of an "us vs. them" mentality by grouping those who feel the same way "we" do as opposed to those who do not, Fe types do not view this as an exercise in the exclusion or repression of differing views. They simply regard morality as an ideal that is too important to be trusted to the whims of single individuals: they recognize that in order for society to exist productively as a collective unit, certain interpersonal and social standards of conduct and ethics must be agreed upon and upheld in order to maximize the utility of moral values by designing them to appeal to as broad a base of different people as possible.

    In a more practical sense, Fe provides the INFJ not only with a vocabulary for defining and structuring her familial, social, and cultural obligations to others, but also with a clear cut sense of direction and a tangible goal at which to direct her grand visions. INFJs with strong Fe often make tremendously charismatic speakers--they are in touch with the needs and collective sentiments of their communities, and they understand the assumptive frameworks of competing value systems in enough depth to express the collective ethical voice of "their people" in terms that even their enemies will find palatable--or at least difficult to argue with.

    Without strong Fe, the INFJ may find herself increasingly isolated and feel bitter and resentful toward the external world for its inability to understand or appreciate her talents. She will, most likely, also be painfully aware of her own shortcomings and faults, including her inability to communicate her ideas effectively to others in any way that will facilitate the mutual understanding and approval that she requires. She may even feel directionless and purposeless, full of immense visions for worthwhile goals but utterly unable to convince anyone of their merit.

    Tertiary: Introverted Thinking (Ti)

    The downside of Fe, of course, is that it depends exclusively on the judgments of others in its ongoing effort to be judged as a morally sound example of the best values its communities (friends, family, coworkers, any groups to which the INFJ feels emotionally connected and responsible for) hold dearly. One may wonder, then, where the INFJ's sense of personal principles originates, if Ni simply perceives as many conceptual possibilities as it can, while Fe derives its evaluative principles from the moral fabric of its external surroundings.

    Enter tertiary Ti: When all else fails and no meaningful conclusion can be reached via the Ni-Fe approach, the INFJ will turn inward again and listen to whatever his conscience tells him is inherently consistent, fair, and reasonable. The value in Ti's approach here is that it provides a sense of definite and complete closure to an INFJ in the middle of a conflict over which set of external moral values should be granted highest priority. Return to the basic axioms of what we do know for sure: "I think, therefore I am." When externally derived moral values have become too convoluted or too compromised to be trusted with a personal decision, Ti steps in to provide a personalized logical framework which can be universally applied regardless of context.

    It gives us something we can know for sure because it seems inherently correct and consistent in and of itself, and that can be quite a relief in times of internal strife. When an INFJ gets overloaded with too many possible interpretations of a problem, and can't find any useful objective guidance, he turns to Ti to decide what's ultimately reasonable and important to him. From this he can derive personal convictions and find a way to make private value judgments without feeling he is neglecting the vital opinions of his community or locking himself into a limited interpretation.

    Ti can have a negative impact when it's poorly developed or when it blocks out Fe to an unhealthy degree--the NiTi loop INFJ is brutally anti-social and absolutely clueless as to how to relate to the rest of humanity. One INFJ friend describes Ni as, "a very deep hole that it's very easy to get lost in and never come back."

    NiTi loop can have even worse implications: If Fe is weak or underdeveloped enough, the INFJ may display so few outward signs of emotion that he is seen as uncaring, unsympathetic, selfish, and pretentious. Ti suggests a framework of logic for dealing with a problem, but there's no source of objective data to stop Ni from noting all the inherent assumptions in Ti's approach and short circuiting the INFJ's confidence in his entire cognitive process.

    In the end, Ti serves a useful and much-needed assistant to Fe in the judgment process, but it will not function on its own as an adequate substitute for objective, externalized Feeling judgment.

    Inferior: Extroverted Sensation (Se)

    For the INFJ, inferior Se has a slow building process over time, like a candle gradually burning down into a stick of dynamite. The first example I always think of in reference to inferior Se is Black Flag singer Henry Rollins (obvious INFJ), and the stories of him beating the living snot out of kids who spit on him on stage, back stage after the shows.

    Another example might be Radiohead singer Thom Yorke, with his amusing explanation for how he deals with the guilt and pressure of fame: "I masturbate a lot. That's how I deal with it."

    One INFJ friend describes inferior Se thusly: "Man, when I was a kid, I always hated and resented jocks for their superficial outlook...but some part of me still thought, 'But oh man, aren't they SO COOL?'" That same friend, I have noticed, has learned the hard way to remove himself forcibly from conflicts before he gets truly upset--because he knows how brutally aggressive and insensitive he can become if he is pushed to the breaking point.

    Se represents the raw, animalistic, aggressive, spontaneous hunger for the reality of pure, literal sensory input which Ni dominants take so much care to lock away and hide from others as much as they can. As a tertiary function for ENJs, Se has a much more helpful use, because it's under their control enough that they can use it to show others they care about appearances and trends (for Te- or Fe-oriented business goals), and, if necessary, to subtly imply threats of brute force if the adversary cannot muster up the discipline to respect the ENJ's polite requests for obedience.

    But as an inferior function, few INJs learn to command Se to a degree that it becomes a substantial part of their regular healthy cognition. Its literal focus on precisely what is immediately obvious presents a direct threat to Ni's all-encompassing desire to see "beneath the surface" of the information presented to it. Se places value on precisely the kind of guttural, immediate impact that many INJs spend their entire lives working hard to eliminate in themselves, insistent that such shallow focus is beneath the sophistication of their constant work to see all the less obvious, hidden interpretations where Ni feels at home. But Se is still there...lurking under the surface, waiting to boil over. You don't want to be around an INFJ when it does.

    Ideally, inferior Se should eventually help the INFJ to stop looking for deeper meaning in places where it's neither intended nor useful, to appreciate the more immediate value in that which is tangible and real to others (even though she herself may see it as trivially insubstantial), and to maintain a degree of spontaneity in terms of ability to pay attention to and imitate what others around her see as current and worthy of attention. Ultimately, Ni can learn to interpret Se's unconscious signals as "just another perspective" and assign them the same level of scrutinized value as any other possible frame of reference. Harnessing Se for positive use requires tremendous personal balance and will power, lest it get out of hand and consume the INFJ in an uncontrollable fit of hedonism or rage.

    Eventually, Se should support Ni by adding real physical data and in-the-moment "gut feelings" to the intuitive conceptual "hunches" on which Ni operates. It's vital for the INFJ to recognize that the face value of this immediate sensory information can actually bolster the power of his intuitions--if only he is able to interpret it in context, rather than allow it to consume his entire experience and block out the under-the-radar, between-the-lines information to which he feels a more natural connection.

    Sometimes this is the only way the INFJ can get anyone to pay enough attention to what he's saying to make any real noticeable impact or difference in the world--and that's something most INFJs struggle their whole lives to feel like they are doing.


    INFP: A Jungian Cognitive Function Analysis

    INFP, or Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiver, is a label borrowed from MBTI nomenclature and now applied to the Jungian Cognitive Function set {Fi, Ne, Si, Te}.

    Dominant: Introverted Feeling (Fi)

    "I know just how you feel--I've felt just the same way when that happened to me, and it really hurt. You should be able to say how you feel even if others don't always necessarily think it's appropriate--as long as it's truly from the heart. You should never go against what your personal moral compass says, even if that goes against the commonly accepted morality of all of your close family and friends and anyone you respect. I don't want to know what you should feel--I want to know what you do feel."

    The INFP's dominant Fi is an introverted judgment (Ji) function, meaning the top priority for INFPs is full, deep, robust, profound definition of precisely what values the user finds instrumental to the essence of his personal identity and that which he finds to be fundamentally "good" or "bad" at its root core. But it's more than just good or bad; on a grander scale, the INFP is concerned with the very essence of Good and Evil, Meaningful and Not Meaningful, Sacred and Not Sacred. This duality becomes central to the moral philosophy of many Fi dominant types.

    Fi users believe there is a definite moral order to the universe (meaning that it is inescapably true that some things and some ideas are inherently more valuable, more virtuous, and more worthy of positive evaluation than others), and that the only way we may catch a glimpse of this sacred ideal is by allowing ourselves complete and total connection and understanding with our emotional responses and the way they reflect that which upholds the internal "essence" of moral goodness as we understand it subjectively and individually. One INFP friend calls it "The uh oh feeling" when his Fi (bolstered by Si) somehow "senses" almost immediately that a new person is up to no good.

    For Fi, standardizing ethics collectively misses the point by blunting the individual's unique identity and influence so much that the real significance is lost.

    Morality for Fi is not something that anyone else can tell you how to approach: it's something you just have to look inside and feel for yourself. Morality is too complex and nuanced, reasons Fi, to be marginalized by approaching it from a collective standpoint. It's too dependent upon the essence of the individual and his personal impressions, too subject to that individual's experiences and understanding to even be approached (or worse, insisted upon) by anyone else. As soon as you try to design moral philosophy that works the same way for more than one person, you've ruined its inherently individualistic nature.

    INFPs often have a distinct habit of letting resentment and negativity build up toward someone until they're so incredibly upset that they can't help exploding into a Te-rundown of precisely everything you are doing wrong and why it's simply not acceptable in moral terms they can justify (Fi.) At least two INFP friends have told me that when they focus on explaining and resolving their grievances routinely and calmly before they have time to bottle up and fester into huge issues, they find themselves much more able to maintain the deep one-on-one connections they invariably must form with others, and to reach even greater personal understanding and empathy as a result.

    Auxiliary: Extroverted iNtuition (Ne)

    As an auxiliary function, Ne grants INFPs both an awareness of and concern for how others perceive them, and the ability to explore, create, experiment, and play with new combinations and possibilities for different approaches and ways to change and recreate what they see around them, with an eye on how these exploratory outings will affect the perceptions and emotional states of others.

    This is a crucial factor in the INFP's ability to apply Fi's uniquely individualistic values to an externally observable context in a way that both captures the attention and admiration of others and allows him to translate his inner passions into forms that others can understand, identify with, and appreciate. The INFP needs Ne in order to spread the message of his ideals to an audience that will listen: Ne is the bridge by which Fi's vision can be forged into the creations that serve as external representations of the INFP's identity.

    "No need for greed or hunger / A brotherhood of man / Imagine all the people / Sharing all the world."
    --John Lennon, "Imagine"

    Ne often ends up expressing itself through artistic and creative endeavors: This penchant for interpreting and rearranging patterns of external phenomena frequently results in a particular knack for manipulation of language and its ability to say just the right thing to convey precisely the value or feeling the INFP wants to express, in a way that makes that feeling real for others. Indeed, INFPs are quite often found among novelists, musicians, graphic artists, screen writers, and all other forms of widely recognized creative expression by which the purity of their internal worlds (Fi) can be expressed externally (Ne).

    At their best, INFPs are principled, idealistic, playful, creative, and deeply empathetic. Without the aid of auxiliary Ne, the INFP may become frustrated at the conflict between her intense desire for self-expression and her inability to translate the ideals she strives to live by into a medium that will touch the souls of others in the same way they define the meaning and purpose of her own life.

    INFPs, because they show the outer world their flexible Ne side more readily, will appear much more open and accepting on the surface, and indeed they will remain that way as long as their interactions with you remain relaxed and enjoyable and do not require getting into serious ethical analysis or put them in any uncomfortable situations which might make them feel morally conflicted. They will appear flexible now (Ne), and steadfast later (Fi). They are generally open to all sorts of new experiences and connections between different experiences--they love to get at the heart of the people's true character by finding and comparing the ways in which different individuals have different unique "flavors", each offering its own special kind of meaning, and they love to observe the connections between different individuals in this regard. They may come off as rather reserved at first, but it doesn't take too long before they will at least open up Ne to you and relate to you on a surface level--this usually happens in terms of discussion about some common interest, such as art, philosophy, music, etc...anything that will seem interesting and noteworthy to the collective of people the INFP deems worthy.

    Inside, however, they are far more rigid and unyielding in terms of the extraordinarily high ethical standards they place on themselves and anyone they consider close enough to be a trusted friend. When you become close to an INFP, you are accepting a responsibility to uphold the high personal standards that define the INFP's entire self-image and existential philosophy. INFPs will offer only the very best ethical treatment of their friends and loved ones, and they expect no less in return--if you cannot fulfill this sacred bond to the same level they hold themselves to, you should not commit to such a close relationship in the first place.

    Tertiary: Introverted Sensation (Si)

    For INFPs, the tertiary relief function Si is consulted in order to provide them quick reference to the real feelings and experiences that have affected them profoundly in their past experiences. Fi+Si doesn't consciously say, "Ok, the last time this happened it caused a negative emotional reaction for me; therefore I will avoid it now"; Fi simply instinctively begins to experience the terrible emotional state Si has associated with whatever negative experience, and panic and dread take over, forcing the INFP to escape this situation at all costs, for fear of being forced into that state again. Fool me once, shame on you--fool me twice, shame on me.

    I have seen INFPs who, once they begin to develop Si, start to pay very close attention to possible contaminants which could taint the purity of their physical bodies in the environment around them. They'll become extra careful to check food to make sure it hasn't gone bad, has the right nutritional content, etc. Some of them either insist on seeing a doctor more often than necessary, or become distrustful of doctors in general and avoid the experience, if they've had some negative past experience with doctors or medication (as, unfortunately, a fair number of INFPs have.) When applied positively though, it gives them a grounding into something real, something they can hold on to that they know will always be there for them because it always has been--this can be instrumental in leading the INFP into the spiritually aware and comfortable state she desires.

    Development of tertiary Si helps the INFP connect her physical health and the needs of her body to the emotional and spiritual health upon which Fi is so heavily focused. As INFPs learn to pay more attention to Si, they will learn what conditions and surroundings are likely to lead them to better physical health, and recognize the enormous effect this will have on their emotional and spiritual health. As Si improves, they will appear to take a page from ISJs in their refusal to work under conditions that "don't feel right" in that they aren't conducive to promoting the calm, relaxed, and emotionally aware state under which their creative juices can flow most freely.

    Most importantly, however, Si serves as a voice of caution and experience to help avoid the Ne trap of getting so lost in creative exploration that the INFP forgets where his comfort zone is and repeats the same painful mistakes again and again. INFPs with strongly pronounced Si will appear less naive, more world-weary, and perhaps a little bit more cynical--but it's generally for the best, as repeated negative experiences with being too trusting too quickly will teach them.

    Inferior: Extroverted Thinking (Te)

    For INFPs, Te ideally provides an objective counterpart to Fi's value judgments by allowing them to consider the importance of accomplishing real goals through real functional external world systems. This is very difficult for many INFPs to process because forcing any sort of cooperation on others for the good of a larger system (Te) is often seen as tantamount to destroying the right to express one's personal individuality at all costs (Fi.) This moral dilemma plagues many INFPs.

    Te will, on occasion, pop out and result in the INFP blowing up and telling everyone in painstakingly objective detail how poorly they are living up the expected standards of their responsibilities. It kills the INFP to do this, because she wants so badly to respect others' right to personal individuality and self-expression, but ultimately she must recognize that some people will not voluntarily cooperate and must be forced to change for the good of society as a whole--nay, for the Good of Good itself!

    As far as I can tell the line of reasoning goes something like this: "You are not performing your moral duty to me as a friend (Fi), and every time I have been in a positive working relationship in the past (Si) it has followed certain standards (Te), and while I hate to do this, you are threatening my right to personal identity here (Fi) and thus I must explain to you objectively and very, very bluntly how your behavior cannot be tolerated (Te)."

    The real issue for INFPs struggling with inferior Te is the conflict between Fi's idealistic, highly personalized individualism and Te's somewhat Machiavellian ends-justify-the-means, get-it-done-at-all-costs attitude. Ultimately, once Fi, Ne, and Si are satisfied, an INFP nearing total maturity should be able to recognize the value in the idea that sometimes, unconditional promotion of individual freedom of expression is simply not practical from a resource management standpoint, and that in order for society (or any other organization) to function meaningfully as a unit, some degree of personal individuality must, at times, be sacrificed.

    Nonetheless, INFPs remain distrustful of any suggestion that people be "forced into boxes" or otherwise compelled to conform in any way that violates their sense of freedom of choice or private identity. As Te begins to balance this attitude, INFPs will gradually realize that actually creating the ideal utopian world they envision so naturally will require paying some attention to practical considerations, namely some form of objectively impersonal evaluation, and that this doesn't have to conflict with their ideals--it can, in fact, support and assist them in their quest to set all things right with the world.

    And even if they never really find perfection, at least they'll have some degree of measurable success to point to--and that may be the only way to feel content in a world which will never truly live up to the perfectly harmonious ideals that Fi lives for.


    INTP: A Jungian Cognitive Function Analysis


    INTP, or Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiver, is a label borrowed from MBTI nomenclature and now applied to the Jungian Cognitive Function set {Ti, Ne, Si, Fe}.

    Dominant: Introverted Thinking (Ti)

    "I guess more than anything I just want things to make sense. I frequently feel like most people around me make decisions based on totally irrational criteria and it's hard to see how they can miss the basic building blocks of common sense logical reasoning and decision-making. I like to work with systems, especially theoretical systems of ideas that represent concepts that interest me--the more complex and interrelated, the better. There's something aesthetically appealing about designing and reworking systems; creating symmetry that suggests a sense of total systemic completeness is something that brings me a lot of enjoyment. It's really important that things remain fair and consistent--if I don't feel I'm being treated fairly or reasonably, I will speak up and explain in detail exactly what's wrong with the flawed reasoning that's being used against me. I go to great pains to maximize clarity and conceptual precision when I'm dealing with others, and I expect them to do the same. If I can't establish a clear definition of an idea, then how can I connect it meaningfully to anything else?"

    INTPs firmly believe that conceptual analysis and evaluation is not for the faint of heart. What they're after is no less than absolute correctness, definitional precision, and universal truth. Almost quixotic in this idealistic search to grasp the nature of everything, INTPs believe everything can ultimately be defined, categorized, and succinctly systematized into a single unified conceptual picture--even if that degree of completeness is not something humankind can ever expect to achieve.

    Unlike INTJs, who resist strict conceptual definition until empirical evidence renders it indisputable, INTPs must categorize and define their ideas into clearly distinct blocks before they can even begin a discourse or exchange of information. Dominant Ti creates such a keen awareness of definitional specificity that INTPs often garner a reputation for nitpicking that borders on neurotic and may drive other types up the wall. (After all, you can't spell "nitpick" without "INTP".) And while they may sometimes abuse this ability in order to play games with others or establish their own intellectual superiority, more often than not, they simply recognize definitional differences to a much finer degree of detail than most other types are even capable of discerning. Until we know precisely what our words denote and connote, we can't even make any meaningful differentiations--which are, of course, the foundation for everything.

    INTPs most often find work in areas where they can apply their sense of internal structural identity to complex systems of ideas where they can broaden the scope of a problem and discover a new area in which to work out all of the intricate relationships that make up the defining characteristics and total framework thereof. For Ti, practical application is rarely much of a concern; INTPs are in the business of idea development for the sake of learning and cerebral expansion. If they can map out an area of reality that as of yet lacks definition, INTPs may find a sense of purpose by feeling they've contributed to the development or clarification of humankind's understanding, demystifying something previously not understood.

    It's hard to overstate the importance of fitting everything in the universe and the entire realm of existence into Ti's overarching sense of the total causality of all the relationships, properties, and axioms that make up the definition of everything involved in life as we know it. When a new piece of information contradicts Ti's previously understood rule set, there is no choice but to retreat into private introspection until the inevitable error in reasoning is discovered and the causal chain of deduction repaired, checked, and double checked for consistent flow of rhetorical integrity. Each piece of a system implies the necessity of other pieces filling counterbalancing but symmetrical roles: with enough If/Then statements and explanations of possible conditions and situational exceptions to them, literally everything can ultimately be mapped out and explained and shown to adhere to a global sense of logical predictability. The universe cannot function any other way. If we're still running into wrong conclusions, it's either because we started with bad premises or we haven't created enough subsections of systemic explanation yet: either way, the answer always lies in further analysis and reevaluation.

    Like all Ji dominant (IxxP) types, INTPs are, above all, people of principle, and they will defend those principles to the death (especially if you try to debate them!) The search for truth outweighs any transient cultural values, transcends any perceptual bias or interpretive difference, renders irrelevant any lesser or arbitrarily chosen values, and represents the ultimate ideal to which all should feel privileged to have even the most fleeting encounter with. It is of vital importance to the INTP to seek knowledge purely for the sake of understanding, and to uphold his sense of logical integrity in the process. Anything less would be, well, illogical.

    Auxiliary: Extroverted iNtuition (Ne)

    "Overthinking, overanalyzing separates the body from the mind / Withering my intuition, leaving opportunities behind."
    --Tool, "Lateralus" (lyrics by Maynard James Keenan, INTP)

    Unfortunately, the INTP's primary interests and skill sets are often esoteric at best, frequently not lending themselves to much use in terms of connection and interaction with other human beings. While the INTP may spend tremendous time and effort developing incredibly thorough understanding of numerous multi-faceted concepts and ideas, he may find himself woefully unable to articulate their meaning or significance to others without some method by which to connect abstract concepts to that which his fellow man already understands.

    When developed well, Ne will bestow the INTP with a number of positive balancing characteristics, ranging from awareness of and desire to play to the expectations and interests of her audience to cross-contextual perception of conceptual similarity and an accompanying (and somewhat unexpected) ability to teach these concepts to others who lack understanding. For many INTPs, this becomes one of the most valuable and far-reaching gifts that Ne has to offer--she may find, much to her surprise, that her natural talent for noting structural similarities between the seemingly unrelated allows her to rephrase the most abstruse hierarchies of ideas into surprisingly understandable unifying explanations with which her audience can readily identify. This ability marks one of the more substantial and notable differences between INTPs and INTJs: while Ni intuitively grasps conceptual symbolism quite readily, the INTJ's comparative inability (or simple disinterest in trying) to "translate" such abstractions results in a peculiar communicative disconnect which INTPs are frequently much more able to mitigate through Ne.

    Perhaps most importantly of all, Ne grants the INTP not only a broader understanding of the vast interconnectedness of his various intellectual pursuits, but a sense of playful creativity and an excited enthusiasm for new possibilities for the future. When Ne is developed poorly, and the INTP is left with TiSi, his ever-looming sense of self-doubt and imminent awareness of the incompleteness of his own understanding may lead to extreme social isolation and dejected burnout from repeated failures at attempts to navigate the confusing and illogical world of external interaction. Ne encourages the INTP to remember that, no matter what the failures and inadequacies of today have wrought, tomorrow will be a new day full of new possibilities for different approaches, connections, and changes. If the current model doesn't feel consistent, we can always adjust it, rework it, or tweak its variables and turn it into something else tomorrow. The possibilities are endless--they're already out there, waiting to be found, and it's up to us to rearrange the pieces until we find them.

    Ne, ideally, should serve to balance out Ti's insistence on deductive perfection through complete information by allowing the INTP to "fill in the blanks" and make rougher, more intuitive guesses at information he may not yet possess or fully understand. As Ti would prefer to work with If/Then statements which provide unifying explanations of wide ranges of theoretically absolute data, the failure to consult Ne may often result in an uncomfortable unwillingness to take action or make any attempt at something until the INTP feels he has complete enough information to solve for the entire causality of the system in his mind. Properly developed Ne leads the INTP to accept the reality that life is full of uncertainties, and that if we refuse to act without knowing all the variables, we never really learn or progress. When he gets stuck at a critical juncture, Ne reminds him to just veer off and try something different--even if it may not work every time or provide a complete explanation, it might lead him to just what he needs to see in order to discover the next step in the process. It allows him to break out of his shell and try new things just in case something unexpected happens, and it's this sort of vibrant curiosity that combines best with Ti's tireless thirst for truth and knowledge to produce a well-rounded and psychologically balanced INTP.

    Tertiary: Introverted Sensation (Si)

    As a tertiary function, Si can have a variety of balancing effects on the INTP's total cognition. It tends to work best when Ne has already been allowed to grow and develop as Ti's natural assistant and counterpart; however, it's worth noting that, like all tertiary functions, its effects can be potentially damaging if overused or interpreted out of context.

    The most essential purpose of Si is to provide a sense of comfort in familiarity, in the idea that our internal maps of undifferentiated information work best when we're able to sustain them with a consistent flow of concrete sensory data, and that we should be wary of people, places, and situations that the map has not yet charted. For INTPs under the influence of tertiary Si, this can generate a certain degree of cynicism and potentially even irrational distrust of situations they've experienced before and associated a negative connotation with. INTPs may develop curious suspicions about the adverse effects of their surroundings on their physical health; they may select insignificant sensory details to use as scapegoats for their inability to produce consistent work. ("I'd be churning out fantastic material here if only these morons could get me some half decent coffee!")

    Si's influence, in its infancy, may lead INTPs to avoid new experiences or block out possible new approaches or changes in methodology that may very well have improved the development of their ideas or increased the range of options available to them. "I've tried and it didn't work" can become something of a mantra that allows the INTP to both avoid the uncomfortable nature of leaping into the unknown with incomplete information, and build more support for the superiority of his personal convictions and subjective beliefs about the nature of fairness and reason.

    Given enough negative reinforcement, as TiSi loop sets in, the INTP may even develop a habit of avoiding the very situations and mindsets that his personal growth requires most in order to move forward. Utterly convinced that the deck is stacked unfairly against him, he may devolve into bitter cynicism about the coldly inconsistent nature of the harsh, stupid, and illogical universe around him. Sensitive about his failures in the social arena, especially, he may convince himself that the only people worth interacting with are those who feel "safe" in that they espouse the same kinds of views with which he is already familiar: locked into a self-serving loop of subjective logic and subjective reinforcement of the kind of experiential data that supports it, he may simply resign himself to the fate of being alone and unappreciated, comforting himself with grandiose and romantic ideals of being "the only one with any real integrity" or "the only one who really cares about The Truth."

    The problem with pouring on too much Si too quickly is that it may lead to a tendency to ignore Ne development. The INTP already has plenty of depth, and plenty of subjective perspective; what she needs to do first is develop a sense of the objectively observable effects her ideas have on others so that she can connect their perspectives to her own and learn to communicate the significance of her convictions meaningfully. Blocking this growth process with more encouragement to indulge in more of the same familiar experiences will only cause regressive development.

    When granted a more balanced and positive role, Si should serve not as a mere excuse to remain forever entrenched in one's experiential comfort zone, but as a useful counterbalance to Ne's tendency to fly off the rails and become lost in its own excitement. While Ne teaches the INTP to let herself go and reach out to embrace the random, Si reins her back in and reminds her that, sometimes, there's a very good reason we've become familiar with a certain form of experience: it's what's best for us and it keeps us out of trouble. It reminds us to pay attention when things start to push too far out of our comfort zone for our own good, and helps us to avoid repeating mistakes that we've already made and (hopefully) learned from.

    Lastly, Si should grant the INTP a sense of real connection to the actual experiences represented by the theoretical ideas he is constantly mulling over in his head, which will contribute to his slow-developing ability to concretely identify with where others are coming from. It's one thing to be able to explain to someone why an idea should work in theory and point out how clearly consistent and logical it is; it's quite another to be able to honestly say, "Because I've been there and I've tried it for myself, and I know from experience that it genuinely works." Being able to offer that kind of backup for their arguments can help INTPs transcend the theoretical basis from which they normally operate, endearing themselves to others in a way that only real world experience with real world issues can.

    Inferior: Extroverted Feeling (Fe)

    At the bottom of the barrel of the INTP's cognitive makeup lies the oft-unconscious and mostly neglected counterpart to Ti's personalized logic: the collectivized ethics and cultural expectations represented by inferior Fe. Right out of the gate, INTPs are naturally distrustful of extroverted judgment: they feel that decision-making is something that rightfully belongs to them and them alone, and that the idea of letting other people's expectations taint the depth and purity of their primary focus--for such questionable purposes as making people get along, no less--is, at least consciously, seen as a disturbing affront to their right to individualism and free thought.

    "Why should I be expected to get along with anyone whose beliefs clearly represent incorrect logic and poor reasoning? It's not my fault people are too stupid to realize their beliefs are ridiculous!" Earlier in life, dominant Ti may have an exceptionally difficult time even understanding why getting along with others is desirable in the first place. If those people can't be trusted to make rational decisions according to the indisputable reality of The Truth, it can't see any value in associating with them at all. The way angry, adolescent INTPs develop social circles around this common belief represents one of the great ironies of the Jungian world.

    Insistent that emotion is, by nature, a fundamentally invalid form of reasoning, INTPs may actually become emotionally attached to the idea that their decision-making is unemotional and therefore perfectly rational and "objectively superior" to other competing value systems. By asserting that Ti's subjective logic represents absolute or objective truth, they conveniently avoid both having to confront their own emotional needs and having to accept that their preferred method of reasoning does not represent absolute dogmatic truth. They will continue to cite "facts" and "scientific evidence" based on their own subjective sense of truth, using Ti's own axioms as proof of its ultimate correctness, never realizing the ultimately circular nature of their own declarations of self-superiority. When they meet other INTPs who feel the same way they do, the fact that someone else identifies both feeds Ti's conscious desire to be The Most Correct and Fe's subconscious desire to share a collectively derived ethical viewpoint with a larger group.

    Try as they might to deny it, beneath the surface of the unconscious, inferior Fe (aided by auxiliary Ne) does drive INTPs to seek social acceptance and emotional connection; however, they often find themselves so hopelessly clueless at understanding and adjusting to social cues that they quickly develop intensely negative associations with the whole process of attempting to share themselves with others, content to interact only with those whose beliefs are consistent with their own, and thus non-threatening. In this way, INTPs may actually act out inferior Fe by seeking out like-minded friends and acquaintances who dislike the idea of having Fe standards forced on them, thus forming Fe-oriented bonds based, ironically, around the idea of disliking the very social expectations that end up creating the common ground on which they identify. "Don't conform to society--be a nonconformist like us!"

    By attacking the systems of collective ethical expectations they so despise on a conscious level, they fulfill their own subconscious needs for cultural and familial camaraderie by replacing "I'm right" with "We're right"--but good luck to any member of that group who disagrees with the precepts of correctness by which it defines its membership!

    Eventually, once Ne and Si have fallen into their rightful places and developed properly, inferior Fe should grant the INTP the much-needed realization that sometimes family and friends should come before theoretical correctness. Even if it's wrong or illogical or unfounded in science, if he wants to keep friends and family around, or hold a consistent job, or participate in social situations with any degree of discernible success, he must develop a desire to adjust to their emotional and ethical needs and preferences, even if he cannot see an imminently "logical" reason to agree with them.

    This duality of thought ("I think it's illogical" + "I can still see the value in it and respect it as an equally valid form of reasoning") is something that takes many INTPs a long time and a lot of soul-searching to grow into. It requires, above all, the realization that even if absolute truth exists, it's not really possible or logically plausible to believe any single human being can access or understand it directly--the addition of competent Fe into his cognitive hierarchy will allow the INTP to admit that yes, even he is subject to emotional bias, and even he has practical reasons to adjust his ethical outlook according to the feelings and needs of those he holds dear.

    Once the INTP is able to simultaneously value the idea of truth and admit to himself that his own opinion cannot constitute the entirety of it, he will begin to realize that balancing his personal convictions against collective moral evaluations can actually move him even closer to the transcendent vision of universal truth and integrity around which his entire life is centered--and who knows? He may even develop some deeply meaningful personal connections along the way!


    INTJ: A Jungian Cognitive Function Analysis


    INTJ, or Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judger, is a label borrowed from MBTI nomenclature and now applied to the Jungian Cognitive Function set {Ni, Te, Fi, Se}.

    Dominant: Introverted iNtuition (Ni)

    "I feel like most people skip too many steps. They're locked into frameworks of meaning that I neither identify with nor see as necessary or useful in the process of developing understanding. Of course, the ability to imagine new interpretations and platforms for understanding is the most important thing for me, though it's often difficult to convince others to peel away their own perspectives enough to even notice the sorts of conceptual leaps that strike me on a near-constant basis. I like to solve problems by stepping back and adjusting the building blocks that the whole issue is founded on: if you're not willing to do this, you're inevitably going to miss something that might completely change everything. And where would you be then? When you really understand something thoroughly, the answers will jump out at you so clearly that the problem practically solves itself. If that hasn't happened yet, then you're still missing something or looking at the problem the wrong way."

    As Ni dominants, INTJs are neither strictly "idea" people nor strictly "process" people: while ideas and processes both factor heavily into what they do, it's the synthesis between the two that really characterizes their unique brand of insight. Like their Si dominant cousins, Ni dominants are most preoccupied with the way their own cognition personalizes information and condenses it into internalized "maps" of past experience. The difference is that while Si uses more precise and specific sensory data to formulate these maps (and thus builds more absolute completion over time), Ni would rather intuit the skeletal framework of the map based on past experience with other ideas or symbols that are merely conceptually related. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage, in that Ni can often predict what one's personal conceptual imprint for an unfamiliar experience will feel like and thus explore uncharted perceptual territory purely in one's own mind, but is limited in the level of sensory precision it can internalize and must often start over and "re-map" the finer details of familiar experiences using the same form of conceptual pattern-jumping that it used to arrive there in the first place.

    In other words, INTJs find themselves able to see "around corners" in terms of conceptual limitations of languages and systems of symbols and their associated meanings. They can often "predict" meanings and interpretations which may not yet exist in the current system of available symbols, but they don't do this by adding more information or complexity. On the contrary: Ni works by simplifying complex problems into their component parts and slowly turning each one over to see how it looks from a different angle. Sometimes, if you look for it long enough and thoroughly enough, there's an angle nobody else has thought to look at or make use of yet.

    INTJs may turn up with ideas and suggestions which seem to utterly turn accepted convention on its head--although that is not really their intention; they simply recognize a problem that needs to be solved and then adjust their individual perceptions of it until they see a way around it. Sometimes this results in a very typical and conventional solution; other times it doesn't. As long as it completes the desired task, it doesn't really matter. INTJs never feel like they can really get a sense of the real scope of a problem until they are able to stop making the same unnecessary/misleading assumptions that everyone else makes without even realizing it.

    "Back to basics" (or some variation thereof) is a phrase I hear often when requesting the advice of an INTJ, particularly in regards to problems I'm having trouble solving. Perpetually aware of the problem of interpretation, the more an INTJ explores the many facets of a given idea, the more he discovers there is to know about it and the less prepared he feels to react competently without spending the necessary time to break down every newly discovered piece into smaller, more digestible pieces. The more INTJs consciously practice this "break it down into simpler parts" process, the more they find themselves able to instantaneously visualize the all-encompassing solution they're after. Often that solution is far simpler than anyone expects: while everyone else is busy looking for more ways to jam a circular object into a triangular space, the INTJ is trying to conceptualize a triangular object which may not yet exist. The only reason the INTJ "knows" it exists is that the existence of a triangular space implies conceptually that it should be possible--even if it's not on the map most people are using right now.

    Auxiliary: Extroverted Thinking (Te)

    The problem, however, with relying exclusively on Ni, is that it grants the INTJ all the perceptual depth in the world, but no breadth of applicability by which to connect his ideas to any measurable or useful external context. Enter Te: it's vital for Pi dominants (IxxJ) to develop fluency in an objectively verifiable language by which they can structure, predict, and evaluate the way the world around them behaves (or, at the very least, however it seems to behave according to collective human understanding.) INTJs realize that, ultimately, all "objectivity" in the truest sense is impossible; however, since our perceptions are all we have to go on, we may as well agree on some standards for quantifying and measuring external phenomena so that we at least have some sort of common ground on which to move toward meaningful goals. This is why so many INTJs find work and enjoyment in the sciences: the scientific method provides as objective a measurement of any given phenomenon as can be realistically achieved, and it's widely credited and supported by virtually all of the people most INTJs consider intelligent and worth listening to. It works consistently for everybody in all sorts of different contexts, and the experts all agree it's the most efficient method = Te dream.

    When it comes to logical structure, Te firmly believes in agreeing upon a consistent standard of measurement: We need a yardstick that can prove quantitatively and empirically what the experts all agree makes logical sense in terms of categorical organization. For INTJs, depth of analysis is best served through iNtuition in the form of Ni--trying to apply depth to the process of structured organization is a fruitless effort because logic's fundamental purpose is to apply to the widest possible range of different contexts in the same standardized, consistently predictable way. Thus, from a Te standpoint, individualized or subjective "logic" is neither useful nor consistent with the purpose of logic itself.

    As the INTJ develops Te further, she finds herself increasingly able to delegate tasks and render her prodigious visions into real projects and processes that generate measurable progress on a realistic timetable. She learns to coordinate the various different disciplines and processes required to accomplish her goals, and she finds herself naturally talented at breaking down larger processes into small enough tasks that the entire project becomes a manageable reality. This vital objective factors into Te's continuing love affair with the concepts of personal independence, responsibility, and accountability. TJs want to show that they are capable of managing resources intelligently and efficiently, and that they can stand on their own two feet and say honestly that they depend only on themselves for sustenance and support. Society is, to Te, a large system of interrelated logical relationships, and the system won't function properly unless each member is ultimately responsible for himself. TJs hate being dependent upon or subservient to others, and they pride themselves on their ability to generate more resources than they consume.

    It is of paramount importance to Te to consider the limitations upon available resources and ensure that they are distributed in the most efficient manner possible. INTJs often excel in management positions where they are free to envision optimally efficient working conditions and design, improve, or adjust real-world processes and methodologies accordingly. When they commit themselves to a project--which they will not do unless they either truly consider it worthwhile, or need the money--they will push themselves to fulfill their agreements to the greatest extent possible within the restraints of the resources allocated. They hold themselves to high standards in this regard, for if they do not uphold the collective standards by which Te governs the structural relationships between external world entities (i.e., laws, procedures, rules, measurements, quantitative standards), they are all too aware that they will have no recourse when the parties they work with fail to hold up their own ends of the bargain. If nothing else, INTJs can be counted on to reliably complete the tasks they've agreed to. This is a matter of not only personal pride but also of practical utility--if one establishes a reputation for disregarding the accepted Te methodology among the people he seeks to work with, he may very well find others unwilling to work with him in the future.

    Tertiary: Introverted Feeling (Fi)

    It's often difficult for other types to understand why INTJs can appear so cold and uncaring, so utterly disinterested in interpersonal matters and disconnected from the needs and feelings of others. Indeed, this poses a substantial problem for INTJs when it comes to one of their characteristic weak points: social interaction. The cause of this can be attributed to some combination of Te ("Engaging in small talk and pampering the feelings of people I dislike is not a productive use of anyone's time, and time is a valuable resource") and Fi ("If I don't actually like or empathize with this person, I don't see any reason I should have to connect emotionally with him when I don't want to.")

    Often, the cultural expectations that suggest to INTJs that they should participate in social rituals strike them as unfair and arbitrary impositions upon their personal freedom. They are being offered a courtesy they didn't ask for, and then chastised when they don't return the favor. "If there's no law, no empirically standardized logical relationship requiring that I do this, why should I be judged negatively when I don't?", Te asks.

    And unfortunately, this question can't really be answered fully in Te terms. The Te argument for participating in cultural ritual tends to point out that if you pretend to indulge meaningless rituals, you will create more opportunities to get your real goals completed because people will view you more favorably and thus be more willing to cooperate with your wishes. And that's the way many INTJs convince themselves to put up with it.

    But in truth, that's only a half-hearted solution that doesn't even begin to hint at the full spectrum of perspectives available to a well-balanced INTJ who has learned to command tertiary Fi. This is a milestone that many INTJs take a long time to learn to place much value on: Fi allows them to judge and evaluate subjectively, according to an individual, personalized standard that won't bend for anyone else's opinions and provides an absolute moral compass connecting them directly to their true sense of value and higher purpose. For many INTJs, the ability to introvert judgment in the form of tertiary Fi provides a much-needed counterbalance to Te's coldly impersonal and objective evaluations. It grants a more refined sense of aesthetic taste and artistic value: Instead of merely measuring by numbers, Fi leads the INTJ to consider the emotional and moral impact that art and aesthetics have on him--he learns to empathize with the soul of the poet, the painter, the writer, the musician. He no longer simply understands conceptually; he identifies.

    Fi grants the INTJ a connection to something greater than himself, more powerful than his worldly goals and aspirations, and ultimately more important in principle than the sum of everything he will ever accomplish in his lifetime. It connects him to a deeply personal sense of responsibility to uphold that which is Good and Just, to decide for himself what causes are worthwhile beyond the scope of his own prerogatives and benefits. In short, it allows him to set some definite barriers in terms of right and wrong.

    The inability to do this can be a substantial problem for INTJs who ignore or fail to develop Fi. Since Ni can adjust its interpretation to anything that serves the goals Te deems efficient expenditures of resources, a lack of any substantial introverted judgment function can result in the justification of virtually any action or position--dominant Ni is all too aware that as long as you shift vantage points and look at it the right way, any interpretation can be potentially justified. This poses a major problem for the INTJ persona--as a case in point, consider the character Kurtz in the film Apocalypse Now: Obsessed with winning the Vietnam War at all costs (his objectively defined Te goal), Kurtz seeks to utterly eliminate any trace of human compassion from himself, believing that the only effective method for defeating the Vietcong is to beat them at their own game by indulging in unrestrained brutality and eliminating any and all regard for human life in the process.

    In short, he tries to Ni the Fi out of his own cognition in order to fulfill Te's agenda. It ultimately doesn't work: after all the horror and bloodshed he inflicts upon the native people surrounding him, he still has a conscience, and he allows Willard to kill him, knowing that his experiment has failed and that he needs to be stopped for the sake of the greater good.

    When Te is poorly developed, resulting in a so-called "NiFi loop", the INTJ becomes increasingly threatened by the pressures of conforming to any sort of externalized expectation or methodology whatsoever. By accepting or promoting any such objective information, the NiFi loop INTJ feels he is compromising the purity of Ni's insight by exposing it to potentially misleading bias, and he resents the expectations of others for him to change what he views as his personal moral identity (Fi.) He will withdraw further and further from all forms of interaction, convinced that the only way to develop pure and complete understanding is to block out any and all external sources of information. Deliberately distancing himself ever further from any link to objective reality, all manner of bizarre and irrational impressions are indulged as isolated (and objectively unsubstantiated) Fi value judgments color Ni's increasingly elaborate perceptions of the sinister affronts invariably hiding around every corner. That weird recluse down the street who wears a tin foil hat 24/7 to stop the government from penetrating his brain with secret nefarious mind control signals? Probably an NiFi loop INTJ.

    Inferior: Extroverted Sensation (Se)

    It's worth noting that introverted perception takes great pains to limit its perceptual intake to certain specific kinds of information with which it is comfortable and familiar, because understanding this concept helps us to see why extroverted perception (which encourages taking in the greatest possible quantity of different varieties of new information) generates such a difficult psychological barrier for the IxxJ types.

    In the INTJ's case, inferior Se is forced out primarily during highly stressful moments where taking in massive quantities of new external information and adapting and responding to it in real time becomes necessary. This is where IJs flounder the most: they are most at home when Pi is allowed to select the type of information it wishes to perceive and then focus intently on absorbing it into the internal template for that type of experiential input, which Je will then consult in its decision as to which externally accepted methodology will prove most effective. When all sorts of different kinds of information are thrown in her face at once, however, the INTJ must resort to inferior Se in order to catch them all and have any hope of responding before the opportunity is gone. She must act purely on immediate impulse with no time for reflection or consideration; she is forced to navigate terrain that she not only lacks a map for, but that she doesn't even have any related experiential templates to turn to for guidance. She must improvise.

    When this happens to INTJs, the enormous flood of undifferentiated information accompanied by the feeling of total loss of control generated by the inability to reflect or consider the options before responding is extraordinarily threatening. Left with no other option, inferior Se leads the INTJ to resort to his most base animal instincts: fight or flight. Even the normally composed, calm, and reserved INTJ may be prone to occasional bouts of total indiscretion, resulting in extreme indulgence in sensual pleasures or outright rage and even physical violence (or at least overt threats thereof.)

    I have also seen, on more than one occasion, an INTJ purchase expensive status symbols (fancy cars, big houses, etc.) for the simple purpose of showing off how much his hard work and perseverance has paid off in an immediately noticeable, material sense. On some level, INTJs are aware that ostentatious possessions are the only language some people will understand--and while they tend to consider this a rather primitive value system, they're glad to oblige by occasionally dropping significant money on really nice possessions. This way, they can simultaneously indulge their unconscious Se desires while telling themselves they're only doing it as a private little in-joke with themselves, where Ni can laugh at how heavily such a trivially shallow display of status and power can impact the perceptions of the silly little everyday people around them.

    As Ni dominants, INTJs are naturally averse to a focus on literal surface meaning, because it threatens Ni's insistence on defining one's identity by the ability to see past the obvious and intuit the less obvious interpretation, the hidden meaning beneath the surface. If they ever learn to command Se in a positive way (which is somewhat rare), INTJs will learn to discern situations in which there is no underlying meaning, or at least in which looking for it is neither useful nor productive. For an Ni dominant, shutting off this desire to see "between the lines" and focus purely on the immediate sensory content in from of him is just as threatening as turning off vision, hearing, touch, taste, and smell would be for an Se dominant. He feels lost, confused, and woefully subject to the same lowest-common-denominator surface deception that his entire self-image prides itself on its natural ability to discern and avoid.

    Nonetheless, some INTJs do eventually learn to command Se in a useful way. It confers some sense of what's popular and immediately effective on a literal sensory level, which often partners with Te's desire to be judged as competent and effective in leading INTJs to take serious pride in their physical appearances, and to be certain that their clothing, speech, and aesthetic tastes are up to date and in style (and thus do not preclude useful business opportunities they might otherwise have missed.) It provides them with an appreciation for things as they are instead of constantly looking for ways to reinterpret them as something else, and for the simple pleasures in life--good food, art and entertainment, physical intimacy--in a way that may, in time, strike them as more spiritually pure than the constant meta-analysis they're accustomed to. In a very well-balanced INTJ, Se should bolster Fi's sense of aesthetic appeal and artistic value ("How does this piece of art hide a disguised meaning that I can analyze?" will give way to, "How does this piece of art make me immediately feel?"), while allowing occasional controlled indulgence in pure, unadulterated fun, for no reason but its own merits.

    And that's something, I think, that would make a lot of INTJs feel a lot better if they could get out of their systems in a healthy and non-destructive manner. The sooner we get that out of the way, the sooner we can get back to work.


    ISFJ: A Jungian Cognitive Function Analysis

    ISFJ, or Introverted Sensing Feeling Judger, is a label borrowed from MBTI nomenclature and now applied to the Jungian Cognitive Function set {Si, Fe, Ti, Ne}.

    Dominant: Introverted Sensation (Si)

    "It seems so obvious that it's kind of silly I even have to say it, but things just always seem to go more smoothly when you know exactly what you're doing. There's really nothing quite like having your own private map for how to do things--the more I study and work on the areas I'm interested in, the more I develop this ability to connect my experiences to everything else I've done, and the process just builds and builds. I don't even mean for it to happen that way--I guess I just know what kinds of things I like, and I know what makes me comfortable and what doesn't, and I know that the more I plan my life around setting myself up to work in areas I know I'm confident in, the more I'm going to succeed and the more in-depth information I'm going to have about the skills I specialize most in. I think one of my greatest strengths is that I know what I'm good at, and, perhaps even more importantly, I know what I'm not good at, and I have the good sense to know when to avoid the latter. I don't understand why people insist on haphazardly jumping into things they don't have any idea how to handle properly. What's the point? If you don't know what you're doing, aren't you just bound to fail?"

    ISFJ is one of the most poorly understood types in the entire Jungian Cognitive Function canon. The fact that they're often misunderstood and inaccurately stereotyped as groveling doormats who live to serve others and let people walk all over them serves only as a testament to the true extent of their humility in terms of how private they keep their true selves and their real passions and interests.

    While they do prefer to conduct the bulk of their interactions with the external world through auxiliary Fe (which I'll get to in the next section), that is not at all the primary focus of an ISFJ's cognitive hierarchy or preferred lifestyle. To understand the significance of Si, we need to touch for a moment on the overall nature of introverted perception (Pi) in general, and to compare and contrast it with the extroverted perception attitudes by which most people who have written about ISFJs have gathered their information and totally missed the point of what these people and their dominant attitudes are really all about.

    There's a scene in the film Across the Universe where two characters argue over the dinner table about the nature of experience and identity. While one of them, a young P type, argues that, "Who you are determines what you do", the older character (presumably a J type) insists on exactly the opposite: "What you do determines who you are." This latter attitude is a great way to introduce oneself to the philosophy central to Si: we build our identities on the experiences we've internalized. This is fundamentally why Si dominants go to such great lengths to control their experiential intake: they're not turning down unfamiliar experiences just to annoy their ExxP friends; they simply understand that the comfort in perceptual familiarity is such a powerful force in their own lives that they have to be extremely careful not to fill themselves up with too many experiences that might not end up being healthy or productive for them in the long run.

    They know themselves well enough to realize that, above all, their natural tendency to seek out very specific kinds of informational and experiential input depends directly on the kinds of input they've become accustomed to through their prior life experiences. Like their Ni dominant cousins, Si dominants are most concerned with how their individual cognitive tendencies associate meaning with various kinds of signs and information; however, since they assign this meaning based on direct association with highly detailed sensory information imprinted on their consciousness from previous associations, they know that if they start spending a lot of time involving themselves in a certain kind of experience, the fact that it becomes familiar and slowly works its way into their experiential comfort zone means they may start to like it. And then they may never stop doing it.

    While Pe dominants are constantly on the search for all sorts of new information and new experiences of as many different kinds as they can get their hands on, there's not as much of a threat of becoming attached to any one specific sort of experience or information. They'll just tire of it and look for something new the next day anyway, but not so for Pi dominants: since they have to focus their attention fully and completely on whatever kind of information they're seeking out, they can't just shut off this focus and switch to a different kind of input on a whim. Once they allow themselves to become immersed in the absorption of an experience, they know they won't stop until they've built a completely internalized map of every detail of every piece of meaning this experience has for them. Their choices of experiences literally create their identities--so how can they not be constantly wary of what sorts of experiences they let in?

    ISFJs are, above all, highly cognizant of their own impressionable nature. They like to figure out what areas interest them, and then maximize the absorption of all sorts of information, data, skill sets, and experiences related to "mapping" as much of that terrain as humanly possible. I've known ISFJs who sit up all night on Wikipedia reading about their favorite subjects. Note that they don't prefer hopping around to as many different unrelated articles as they can find--they have a focus, a taste for certain particular flavors of input, and they want to know everything they can about those specific areas. If you've ever watched Antiques Road Show, well over half of the expert analysts who appear on that show are likely ISxJ types. They didn't necessarily set out to become experts in their fields--they just found that they so enjoyed internalizing sensory information related to, say, World War II-era Confederate rifles, or Kandinsky paintings from the 1920s, that after focusing their lives on these fascinating pursuits for so long, they eventually found that they'd become certifiable experts. Given enough time to learn, absorb, and practice all the established information, methodology, and techniques in a given area, Si dominants will outperform virtually everyone in terms of consistency and thorough attention to detail.

    Auxiliary: Extroverted Feeling (Fe)

    "Govern a family as you would cook a small fish--very gently."
    --Chinese proverb

    Once we move past the dominant and start to focus on the auxiliary, we start to see where the general misunderstandings and assumptions about the ISFJ type originate. Given only knowledge of their public faces, it's relatively easy to assume ISFJs have no internal lives and exist as sort of less effective versions of ESFJs, using Fe as a public interaction method but not commanding it as fluently as their ESFJ brethren.

    This is, of course, due to the fact that Fe is only a secondary concern for ISFJs--an important part of their lives but ultimately subservient to their personal quests for experiences associated with the familiar sensations they find most pleasing. In order to form meaningful connections with others and establish any sort of communal framework, it's vital that ISFJs master the objectively verifiable language and methodology of externalized Feeling judgment. As Fe develops, ISFJs will develop important interpersonal skills, along with consistent attention to the needs of their friends, family, and other individuals to whom their connective obligations suggest they share mutual responsibility. This is where the commonly understood impressions of ISFJs as loyal and conscientious group supporters come from: and indeed, when Fe is strongly in place, this awareness will absolutely form a vital component of their total selves. They will work tirelessly to promote the best interests of their loved ones, developing fluency not only with practical day to day maintenance tasks, but with any skill which may contribute to the well-being of others that their culturally supported networks of interpersonal obligations suggest is their responsibility.

    All the while, the healthy ISFJ manages to balance this network of familial responsibility against her own personal desire to continue her quest for absorption of ever more information and experiences related to the sorts of sensory input that, over time, come to define her comfort zone. Indeed, Si and Fe should ideally become intertwined and mutually beneficial to each other, as the experiences associated with organizing, encouraging, assisting, and bonding with loved ones help to grant more definite and outwardly observable shape and meaning to her internal mass of undifferentiated experiential input. Fe is vital to the formation of interpersonal networks upon which her fundamental need for consistency and routine (based on a desire for new information to relate concretely to that which has been internalized and understood before) can depend. It grants her not only a means of communicating and defining the significance of her relationships to others, but an ability to depend upon others and show them that she herself can be depended upon as well.

    If Fe goes undeveloped and leaves SiTi to handle the majority of cognition, the ISFJ is prone to feelings of terror that his trusted support network will fall out from under him at any given moment. Trusting others to handle important tasks becomes an uneasy endeavor at best. Since the feeling of trust and security upon which Si depends so heavily is never connected in any meaningful way to the bonds and relationships defined by interaction with others, the SiTi loop ISFJ feels that no one but himself can ever be depended upon to bring him the sort of consistently reliable experience his dominant function necessitates that he have access to. Without a way to describe or objectively designate his feelings for others or theirs for him, no sense of faith in upholding mutual responsibilities can form--he must do everything for himself, or risk total ruination through the failure of other less reliable individuals to uphold their agreements and obligations. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself--or risk facing the unknown, totally unprepared--which, of course, represents Si's worst fear of all.

    Tertiary: Introverted Thinking (Ti)

    As ISFJs find themselves so singularly focused on developing their internal maps of experiential impressions and defining their directions in life based on the kinds of experiences these maps point them toward, at some point in life it follows that they should begin to ask the question: What if the map is wrong?

    Dealing with this possibility is, to Si, unfamiliar (and therefore frightening) enough that most ISFJs defer almost exclusively to Fe in determining the answer: If my impression of how something is has somehow misled me or given me wrong information, surely I can count on the people to whom I hold cultural and familial bonds to remind me that I've lost touch with what our community finds most important. Surely, by listening to the ethical consensus of those to whom I feel closest, I can discover and rectify the problem when my own desires conflict with the institutional customs and values by which my relationships to others are given objective meaning and definition. Unfortunately, however, the savvy ISFJ will invariably notice situations in which neither Si nor Fe seems to offer any reasonable solution. Despite Si's inherent preference for that which has come to define its comfort zone ("If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"), at some point the ISFJ will be forced to evaluate situations in which her community's collectivized ethical norms will strike some part of her being as somehow fundamentally flawed, even if these norms are consistent with the kind of experience she has built into Si's vast internal database as the familiar and consistent standard she has come to trust.

    When this happens, the involvement of tertiary Ti enters the picture primarily to serve as a sort of corrective force in the event that something has been written onto the map that may come into conflict with the ISFJ's own innate sense of logical reasoning. "This is what I've always done, and it's what everyone I find important says I should be doing, and yet something about it simply doesn't make sense." This can be doubly disconcerting as it represents not only a break from the unconditional trust the ISFJ normally places in her own self-referential experience, but also a deliberate separation from the outward judgments upon which her relationships to others are most directly verified through external reinforcement. The introduction of Ti into the mix seems to poke holes in the very fabric of everything by which the ISFJ has come to define her own existence--and yet she still can't ignore it. It's only through this vital corrective process, however, that the ISFJ is able to rewrite segments of her own sensory maps to align more closely with a sense of universal fairness and consistency in principle which extends beyond that which her own limited personal experiences with the evaluative standards of her communities have the context or precedent to grasp or define completely.

    When applied negatively in a poorly developed state, Ti may cause counterproductive changes as its insistence on "just knowing" that something is (or is not) inherently fair or reasonable can reinforce all of Si's worst tendencies in terms of subjective self-reference as the ideal solution to any and all problems or disagreements. Convinced beyond all doubt that only he has the true depth of experience to understand the problem in realistic terms, the SiTi loop ISFJ may reject any and all outside opinions regardless of the status or relationship implied by the characteristics of the person offering them. "Listen, my wife doesn't know what's best for our children--I'm the one who's been there looking after them from day one!" Neglecting Fe's vital external input can leave the ISFJ lacking any sort of meaningful outside standard against which to weigh his own subjective evaluations of the overall value of any given idea, practice, or methodology.

    On the other hand, once Fe has been granted the necessary growth and development time, Ti may step in to assist it with the evaluation process and remind the ISFJ that yes, it is possible for our family and friends to be wrong, and sometimes we need to have the courage to stand up for our own beliefs when faced with decisions that will directly impact our own lives and personal needs. More importantly, Ti allows the aforementioned sort of retroactive "map correction" process by which internalized sensory experience can be questioned, devalued, and ultimately overwritten with more effective and consistent ideals. For the ISFJ, Ti is there primarily to serve as a reminder that his own experiences and impressions do not always equate directly with the mostly universally just or reasonable approach, and that, somewhat paradoxically, sometimes the only person who can make this distinction to the necessary degree is himself.

    Inferior: Extroverted iNtuition (Ne)

    Last but not least, the Achilles' Heel: many of the typical complaints others have about SJs (and especially ISJs) can be traced to manifestations of inferior Ne. On a surface level, Ne opposes everything Si holds dear and considers vital to maintaining a healthy outlook: while Si would encourage us to find exactly what we're looking for on our internal maps before setting out to find it, Ne takes a somewhat different approach: that the most interesting things in life are usually surprises.

    It should be relatively obvious by now that Si doesn't like surprises. It wants complete information and it wants time to sort through every piece of the information given and compare it to the sense of static, internal consistencies by which everything in its worldview is granted stable meaning and significance. Until you can relate a given piece of information to something you already know, until you can show where it would fall on the map you already have, Si not only has no use for it, but is actually threatened by its imposing presence among the already-sorted information by which its identity and worldview are defined. Inferior Ne seems to throw a wrench into that identity itself: By encouraging the ISFJ to ignore what he knows and instead let loose and actually enjoy a constant influx of new and unfamiliar ideas from as many different unconnected sources as possible, Ne seems to attack everything the Si mindset holds as important or meaningful. Rather than carefully compare each nugget of data to every other piece of data we already hold, each new piece of information seems to suggest even more connections to even further-reaching outwardly defined patterns that continue to change the meaning and threaten stable interpretation the more we indulge them.

    It's almost as if Ne would suggest that the more we know, the more we don't know; the more we discover, the more we find out is potentially wrong with the map we're reading now. Rather than contribute to a more complete understanding, inferior Ne frightens the ISFJ by telling him that the more he learns, the more he will be forced to deal with the unknown without a plan of action or the opportunity to educate himself on the possible responses. The result is often a form of stalled burn-out, trapped between the desire for knowledge/preparedness and the inevitable realization that the more knowledge he gains in his preferred areas, the more he will have to acknowledge new relationships and connections between that knowledge and other as-of-yet unknown areas. The resultant realization that he will never possess a complete map strikes the ISFJ as a terrifying reality: there will always be uncertainty and there will always be things he has to adapt to without preparation time.

    In practice, inferior Ne often manifests itself in the form of outlandish insecurities and fears resulting from the inability to distinguish between the relative probabilities of the occurrence of various events: as the ISFJ becomes more and more stressed, he is forced to confront an uncontrollable flood of increasingly strange and unrealistic possibilities for the future--what if my spouse dies of a heart attack? What if my office is engulfed by a giant fireball? What if aliens enslave Earth and kidnap my children and I never see them again? What if the unrelenting flow of constant future possibilities totally ruins my confidence in any sort of stable or consistent lifestyle--what if I can never count on anything to stay the same again?

    Of course, like all inferior functions, Ne can eventually be harnessed for positive use--but it takes a long time and a lot of personal development. When a very well-balanced ISFJ is able to stop viewing Ne as a disturbing threat to his sense of security and perceptive stability, it should actually assist and support dominant Si's desire for more information by granting him new paths and avenues by which to obtain more information of the specific types and categories which he finds so pleasing. He will continue to seek out information and experiences that seem related to that which he's already mapped--that doesn't change--but what does change is his ability to recognize the relationships between seemingly "unrelated" areas of knowledge. He may not even consciously realize he's doing it, but this expanded awareness of the interconnectedness of all knowledge will make the ISFJ feel more comfortable learning and adapting to new contexts than he ever thought possible. Areas in which he has relatively little experience will suddenly seem much more familiar (and therefore less daunting) than they ever have before--he will unconsciously find something in the new area that relates back to something he already knows; by making the unfamiliar seem familiar, he will "limit" his perceptual intake (and thus remain in his comfort zone) while expanding it into all sorts of new directions. He will unwittingly teach himself to improvise through the simple realization that, when we are able to see some form of abstract relationship between any combination of ideas we can imagine, everything seems related in some way or another, and thus all new information can be traced back to that with which he is already well-versed and comfortable.

    Exploration in the name of expanding one's comfort zone, so that one never has to leave it--whether or not the self-actualized ISFJ realizes this is what he's doing, it makes his experiences that much more complete, and his life that much more well-rounded and fulfilling.


    ISFP: A Jungian Cognitive Function Analysis


    ISFP, or Introverted Sensing Feeling Perceiver, is a label borrowed from MBTI nomenclature and now applied to the Jungian Cognitive Function set {Fi, Se, Ni, Te}.

    Dominant: Introverted Feeling (Fi)

    "I think it's important not to overthink things. I guess I know generally how I feel about things, but I often don't really consciously think about it until a situation comes up, and then I just respond in whatever way feels right at the time. I don't think you can really prepare for the most important moments in life because you never really know what things are going to be like until you get there and feel for yourself how it affects you, emotionally and physically. I'm usually pretty good at figuring out how other people feel, too--just from watching them and thinking about how I'd feel if I were in their shoes. It's really important to treat people in a caring and understanding way--I know that's how I'd want them to treat me. More than anything, I guess, I just want to be who I am and not try to overanalyze or define things more heavily than I need to. Just feel it out, do what seems moral and feels right to you in that moment and you'll know what to do when the time comes."

    ISFPs, more than just about any other type, need to feel that they have the freedom to spread out and be themselves, to do whatever it takes to find the kind of life and the kind of friends and the kind of job and the kind of hobbies that really feel like "home" and make them feel balanced and at peace with themselves and their values. While they are equally as focused on personal values and an individualistic sense of morality as INFPs, the major difference in the application of dominant Fi is that ISFPs do not analyze and reanalyze their values through hypothetical or theoretical extensions of their imaginations. Unless they are directly contributing to solving a real moral dilemma that affects them or a friend or loved one personally, they see little value in hashing and rehashing all the different possible applications of their values when there is so much immediately available information to deal with in the real world of tangible sensations and emotions.

    For this reason, among others, ISFPs epitomize the sort of "go with the flow and let your heart be your guide" sort of mentality that's often attributed to P types; however, unlike the EP types, who react to their environments in a way that's designed to appeal to the demands and expectations of their perceptual surroundings, ISFPs begin by consulting their subjective internal values and then support and assist their private judgments with the information immediately surrounding them. What makes this process unique is that ISFPs don't necessarily know how a given idea or moral concept will affect their sense of ethics until a realistically tangible scenario arises in which they can react in the way that feels most natural. It just doesn't strike them as a worthwhile investment of time to worry about things that don't directly impact the immediacy of the situation in front of them. While INFPs may know substantially in advance how all sorts of different situations would impact their ideals and the resultant emotional evaluations, ISFPs often can't assign any real meaning to a theoretical ideal until they're right in the middle of an actual situation that makes it real for them. When asked, "How would you feel if xyz happened?", often the ISFP answer is, "I don't know--it's never happened and it's not happening now. So who cares?"

    Introverted feeling for ISFPs often prompts the assimilation and support of various ethical causes and crusades, ranging from basic, everyday human kindness to grand-sweeping visions for idealistic change and promotion of universal harmony (especially as tertiary Ni develops and grants the ISFP a deeper range of interpretive possibilities for the application of his values toward global alignment with what he sees as "the greater good.") These ideals represent more than just optimistic hopes and daydreams; they serve as a window into the ISFP's uniquely personal vision for a better world tomorrow than we have today. The development of this vision can take an ISFP the better part of his life to mold into something coherent enough that it can be explained or shared concretely with others--but ISFPs spend the better part of their lives filling themselves with real experiences precisely so that they will understand themselves and their relationship to the world fully and completely enough to share this vision in a way that combines the fire of their passions with raw, genuine empathy for the needs and feelings that unite humanity on a universal level.

    You can find these developing visions in the artistic works ISFPs tend to spend substantial amounts of time perfecting--often credited as "artists", ISFPs may display this affinity for aesthetic quality through music, graphic design, acting, fashion, arts and crafts, woodwork or other concrete artistic creations--but they need not show it through traditional artistic outlets, and it's important to realize that while many ISFPs are involved in artistic pursuits, many are not. Some may go their entire lives without ever finding the right medium to express exactly what they feel inside, but rest assured they're always searching. Some may find it through something as simple as feeding the homeless, adopting stray animals, or mentoring young children--anything that makes them feel as if they've had some sort of positive, tangible impact on another person's life. ISFPs almost always practice what they preach--if they advocate something, you can bet they're out there doing it themselves.

    Auxiliary: Extroverted Sensation (Se)

    "Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind."
    --Bruce Lee, ISFP

    Alert and ready to react on a split second's notice, auxiliary Se serves as Fi's liaison to the exciting world of sensations and sensory responses. It's the combination of Se's natural command of visual/auditory appeal and Fi's sense of aesthetic value and significance that grants ISFPs their oft-stereotyped position as purveyors of all things artistic and expressive. While this reputation may be somewhat exaggerated, it is true that ISFPs often feel a need to express and display their personal identities through visually engaging media--their homes and personal dress are often a little offbeat and uniquely decorated, aimed at creating a sense of calmness and tranquility that connects us to our spiritual and emotional needs while avoiding social expectations and pretense. ISFPs need things to be real, and they need to show their convictions, tastes, and preferences through real demonstrations of the sensory properties thereof. As with all SP types, it's important to remember that actions speak louder than words: Se puts the ISFP in touch with the sensory expectations of his surroundings and the natural audiences those surroundings create. This lends itself not only to their vaunted sense of improvisational spontaneity, but also a clear idea of what "plays" and what doesn't--some ISFPs even make it their business to be keenly aware of what trends and fashions in visual and aesthetic design are currently making the greatest impact on the greatest number of people, and to make a conscious effort to stay ahead of the curve. (Some even become what you might call "hipsters"--effortlessly grasping the essence of "cool" but quietly comfortable with the status it conveys, and silently amused at the failed attempts of others to imitate it.)

    Unlike ESPs, who often fill their time with exciting and physically thrilling activities largely for the immediate excitement involved in losing themselves in their sensory reactions, ISFPs engage in similar surface behaviors for a somewhat different purpose: they need these sorts of experiences not only because they appreciate the face value of sensory impression for its own sake, but more importantly because putting themselves into unfamiliar situations forces them to define their own values and identities through the means they choose to find their way out. ISFPs often feel they must prove that they have what it takes to find their way out of dangerous situations as a means of confirming the value and moral worth of their own character to themselves.

    ISFPs have a reputation for dropping everything and leaving to embark on some sort of journey or expedition with little to no preparation and no apparent reason for doing so beyond a momentary whim. Variety is the spice of life, and if they do the same thing for too long, ISFPs may feel trapped and locked in to one course of action--they need to change their surroundings every so often just to make sure they aren't losing touch with what's really important to them by becoming too entrenched in one approach or one way of living life. While this may confuse other types (except EPs, who do the same things purely to stave off boredom, as is a constant concern for them), ISFPs have more reason for doing this than simple enjoyment of the experience itself. Since they often see little to no value in hypothetical self-analysis, they may find it difficult to get in touch with their true selves until they've forced themselves into difficult or unexpected situations that require immediate and instinctive responses. People show their true colors most completely when a crisis arises, and as dominant Fi types, it's of the utmost importance to discover and nurture their individual identities: what better way for Fi to accomplish this than to involve oneself directly in real life, and see how we respond? Paradoxically for a type often characterized as so calm and serene, it's often during moments of acute crisis that ISFPs find the experiences that come to define the overall meaning of their lives.

    On the other hand, Se may result in some negative tendencies for the ISFP who applies it in excess. When an ISFP sees a situation she perceives as patently wrong or immoral, she may throw herself headlong into the fray with little regard for the long-term implications of this behavior. While her resourcefulness and tactile adaptability are valuable gifts, it is possible for her to misjudge or overestimate her own on-the-spot problem solving ability and to actually make problems worse by getting involved in situations where her presence exacerbates the problem and then fails to introduce any genuinely useful solution. As long as Fi feels it is sticking up for what's right, Se may misrepresent the ISFP's generally good intentions through arrogant displays of physical bravado, or excessively grand gestures of love, or some bizarre combination of the two. I've known male ISFPs who, due to upbringing in an environment unfriendly to their fundamentally sensitive nature, have grown to overcompensate for this perceived "weakness" by exaggerating their Se in order to show their friends and families that they can be "manly" too--they may hit on every woman in a 20 mile radius, start fights at the drop of a hat, or constantly feel pressure to "perform" and impress their "audiences" at every juncture.

    While Se does tend to lend itself to a certain flair for performance and its impact on an audience, constantly living in this mode of interaction is an approach better left to Se dominants--when an Se auxiliary type attempts it, he may wear himself too thin and block out the more important internal identity that defines his sense of self. While development of Se is certainly a useful and necessary component of the ISFP's total cognitive balance, forcing too much of it too quickly will almost invariably result in a feeling of squelched identity. "Who am I really?", Fi may rightly ask. It's vital for the young ISFP to remember that, while it's healthy to experiment with new sorts of situations and approaches to life, he needs to spend more time reflecting on the significance of these events to himself, in order to carve out their part in his total self-understanding and sense of internal balance.

    Tertiary: Introverted iNtuition (Ni)

    As time and maturity set in, ISFPs often begin to feel that something is missing in their perspectives. They know how to judge right from wrong, and they know how to respond instinctively and make an impact on others, but they may still feel as though something is missing--something they can't quite identify or articulate. It's tertiary Ni that fills this gap--by adding a sense of intuitive depth to their range of cognitive options, ISFPs can begin to see beyond the immediacy of the moment consider the implications of their values and actions on a grander scale.

    I have one ISFP friend who, seemingly on a whim, left home to hike the entire ~2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail on a personal mission to prove to himself that he could endure the challenges involved. This is classic ISFP behavior: when he returned, my social group could scarcely believe he was the same person. Where before he had been angry, impulsive, and dissatisfied with his life, now he radiated a sense of calmness, of comfortable acceptance of his own identity--a master of his own destiny. When asked what had changed, he simply replied that after hiking 2,200 miles and staring death in the face on numerous occasions, living purely off the land and finding his own way to his own end, the ordinary challenges of everyday life just didn't really seem significant in the grand scheme of things anymore.

    What my friend had done was developed his tertiary Ni: no longer content to consider only the immediate implications of the interaction between his values and his present surroundings, he had become able to reconsider the assumptions his mindset would naturally make regarding the overall significance of everything surrounding him. He had developed an entirely new level of perspective and the effect was obvious and inspirational to everyone around him.

    When ISFPs apply Ni is a less productive way, typically by neglecting Se development and slipping into an FiNi loop, the result is generally a combination of bitter cynicism toward the intentions of everyone around them, and feelings of hopeless isolation and detachment from the real and concrete experiences by which they discover their sense of meaning and purpose. Burdened with too much Ni too soon, the ISFP may decide to simply "drop out" of life in general--convinced that nothing will ever grant him the sense of personal fulfillment he desires because nothing is truly significant in a global sense, he may resign himself to cynical commentary on the hopelessness of it all. "Why even bother? Nothing is ever going to change. Nothing I do is ever going to make any serious difference to anybody--so what's the point? Why should I even bother? I already know what's going to happen, and it's not anything I want to be a part of--so I quit."

    The solution generally involves learning to get wrapped up in the excitement of the moment, in finding some activity that not only brings the ISFP closer to her idealized sense of internal harmony, but that will remind her that things can always change on a moment's notice, and we should always be ready to respond and adapt our approach to the external world in kind. When a proficient Ni combines with this properly developed Se, it grants the ISFP a newfound sense of the long-term significance of her actions: rather than indulge in self-pity and doubt the value in anything she does, as FiNi would encourage on its own, a balanced handle on Ni will create the realization that every day of her life, the ISFP has a chance to change the world for the better. Even the smallest act of kindness, compassion, or personal expression can impact someone's life--or even many people's lives--on a much grander scale than we may ever directly know.

    Inferior: Extroverted Thinking (Te)

    Rounding out the weaker end of the ISFP cognitive hierarchy, we come to Te. Directly at odds with Fi's sense of individual freedom, undeveloped Te threatens everything the ISFP considers central to the core of his values: personal ethics, freedom to change or remove external structure abruptly, and ability to express oneself freely and redefine (or completely ignore) convention. In short, when the ISFP has not yet integrated Te, it seems to put a damper on everything he considers important about himself and his way of life.

    It's not uncommon to see young ISFPs, especially, using the concept of Te itself as a general scapegoat for all that's wrong with the world. This happens most frequently when something is getting in the way of their sense of spontaneity and they start to feel trapped or locked into one particular methodology or way of seeing things. Many ISFPs would do well to remember that the purpose of this attitude is efficiency and organization, not necessarily the personal attack or deliberate blow to their identities that they may often perceive it as. When an external source of Te threatens her own subconscious identification with it, the ISFP would generally prefer do anything she can to escape the situation rather than resorting to full-on confrontation. Unless they (or their loved ones) have been deeply and deliberately attacked or injured, ISFPs rarely hold grudges for long periods of time; however, when they are irritated, we can expect occasional small measures of minor revenge, ranging from not showing up for obligations ("You don't care about my contributions? Fine, have fun doing the work without me!") to passive-aggressive needling at the suggestion that she be forced to do anything against her will that doesn't feel like the right course of action at the moment.

    When inferior Te explodes, it tends to result in the ISFP temporarily indulging in all the behaviors he normally hates and thus works hard to keep locked away in his subconscious. As with INFPs, this often surfaces in the midst of creative projects that the ISFP finds important, and it happens most often when creative partners are not deemed to be holding up their weight in terms of contribution to the project, or are trying to steer the creative flow in a direction that strikes Fi as clearly "wrong", or not in the spirit or essence of the feeling or mood he's trying to convey. Here is where we find the nitpicking perfectionist hiding inside the otherwise easy-going, friendly observer: strike at something too close to her heart, and you may quickly find an unexpected blowup when the normally quiet and compassionate ISFP is forced to assume a decision-making leadership role that, truth be told, she'd prefer would never have to occur because people should know how to conduct themselves in a reasonable and compassionate way.

    "I don't want to be the bad guy, but if you keep pushing me I'm going to have to set things straight." Well aware of the uses of Se in terms of aggression and intimidation, most ISFPs tend to hide that side of themselves away except in situations where they believe it's necessary to protect their internal selves from similarly aggressive behavior from others. Nonetheless, when a situation becomes seriously threatening, if something is just too obscenely wrong or cruel or indecent to allow, Se's anger may trigger an even worse response from the far less comfortable Te. When the situation has gotten so bad that he's no longer content to respond to it through his normal instinctive sensory reaction, he must actually stop to deliberately plan and strategize an effective response for rearranging resources (mostly human resources, since that is what he prefers to work with) according to some external law or measurable standard that may stomp all over whatever others feel as individuals is important to the situation at hand. If you force Te out of an ISFP, it typically means you've done something he finds so unacceptable that he has to disrupt his natural flow of harmonious action and reaction in order to get something extremely threatening under control--and that's really not something he wants to do often.

    Since this response is something he normally despises in others, seeing it from himself creates feelings of hypocrisy and the resultant guilt tends to generate a very negative association with any sort of Te usage at all. It takes a long time and a lot of experience for the ISFP to learn to communicate his grievances calmly and productively enough to lead a group effectively while balancing the competing goals of respecting everyone's individuality and simultaneously generating measurable results. Sometimes the two goals conflict and a decision has to be made--the generally idealistic and amiable ISFP may have serious difficulty putting his foot down on anything or standing up for his own viewpoint, even when others are actually taking advantage of his natural kindness and patience. Since they know they tend to be unable to control themselves when this sort of situation arises, they do their best to simply avoid confrontations until they've learned to develop a sort of detached diplomacy, by which they can comfortably voice their concerns--and even criticisms--without sounding too harsh for their own standards or letting their feelings boil over and exaggerate the criticisms being offered.

    Eventually Fi, Se, Ni and Te should balance out into a very calm and understanding individual who knows how to apply just the right touch of administrative control without stepping on anyone's toes or allowing any disputes to turn from productive exchanges of ideas into hostile personal attacks. As he learns that sometimes personal feelings have to be sacrificed--or at least delayed temporarily--for the sake of moving forward with more widespread goals, his worldview will naturally right itself and come to broaden its understanding of harmonious, fair and balanced decision-making. Armed with a healthy sense of skepticism and concern for practicality, the well-balanced ISFP will find his goals and ideals aligning more closely with the immediacy of physical reality than he ever thought possible.


    ISTP: A Jungian Cognitive Function Analysis


    ISTP, or Introverted Sensing Thinking Perceiver, is a label borrowed from MBTI nomenclature and now applied to the Jungian Cognitive Function set {Ti, Se, Ni, Fe}.

    Dominant: Introverted Thinking (Ti)

    "Above all, I like to maintain a consistent outlook that fits well with the things I like to do and the way I like to do them. I'll stay out of your way and, as long as I offer you that courtesy, I expect the same in return. I like to work with things where I can figure out the best approach myself and then tweak and adjust the pieces and see or hear or smell an immediate change or improvement. If something isn't doing what I want it to, I need to be able to get my hands on it, figure out what makes it tick, and rebuild it how I want to without having to worry about it making sense to anyone else or getting approval from how they'd do it. More than anything, it's important that we let each other have the freedom to do what we want, when we want to--if I don't see that it's going to have any real impact or I don't think it makes any practical sense, I'm not going to do it."

    ISTP is an often poorly understood type that embodies a number of seemingly contradictory characteristics and seems to confuse a lot of people. It's been suggested by some that ISTPs are so different from INTPs that they should not be seen as even having the same dominant function at all--but I contend that there quite a number of similarities between the two in principle, even if the outward expressions of these principles are approached in very different ways.

    Above all, dominant Ti values a highly refined sense of universal correctness, fairness, and internal consistency. While ISTPs may not make this belief as overtly obvious as their oft-argumentative INTP cousins, they ultimately believe that fair is fair and there's no getting around the idea that some things are inherently more fair, more consistent, and more reasonable than others. The thing that makes this difficult to discern is that ISTPs are, by far, the least interested in debate of all four xxTP types. They'd much rather actively demonstrate their principles and ideals through concrete action than spend time sitting around trying to convince other people that they're right. While they may easily grasp the reasoning behind various abstract representations of logical reasoning (especially when tertiary Ni is developed), they simply don't see any reason to talk about it when they could be creating, building, or participating in something that generates realistically tangible representations of the structural and symmetrical relationships that fascinate their sense of global systemic consistency.

    Inconsistent reasoning and poor logic irritate the ISTP just as much as they do the INTP; the ISTP is simply much less concerned with using abstracted hypothetical explanation to demonstrate why. Actions speak louder than words. Why should he bother with empty words and arguments when he can simply show you demonstrably what it is that represents the personal sense of structural completeness around which his values are centered?

    Fiercely independent, resourceful, and self-reliant, ISTPs will tend to disregard or ignore outright any rule, law, or external expectation that doesn't fit their internal set of principles regarding what's inherently fair and reasonable. They are characteristically skeptical of any external attempt to compel them to behave in any particular way, as they feel that often the people designing and imposing these rules are neither logically-minded nor genuinely experienced in the areas of life that their frivolous rules and laws will impact most. Very few things upset the ISTP's core sense of fairness more than unreasonable attempts to restrict his freedom of action or impose the will of others upon his own.

    Like most Ti types, ISTPs tend to have an interest in systems and the relationships and frameworks that make them fit together the way they do. They will pour extraordinary amounts of time into the study of these systems, but rarely through book study, never without hands-on experience, and not necessarily because they accomplish any particular goals--mostly just because internalizing and possessing complete understanding of all the variables that make up a complete system is inherently satisfying on its own.

    Auxiliary: Extroverted Sensation (Se)

    While INTPs will tend to apply Ti's structural curiosity to more hypothetical or theoretical systems like higher mathematics, philosophy, or programming, the ISTP's dominant Ti tends to filter through Se to produce an interest in physical and mechanical systems that can be observed, experienced, and demonstrated through tangible physical processes. ISTPs are fascinated by how things work, and they want to be able to hurl themselves head-on into the full experience of how those things work by getting their hands on them and associating present-moment physical sensations (Se) with an ever-growing sense of universal truth (Ti) about how the pieces of the puzzle fit together. They tend to specialize in areas where they can use their keen present-tense awareness of sensory cues to bolster their natural ability to deconstruct and solve structural puzzles: ISTPs are often involved with auto mechanics, building/repairing electronics, designing and building architecture, performing or recording music, and so on--anything where they can get their hands on it and figure out for themselves how it works, then use that to make it do something interesting or exciting.

    In addition to this, Se tends to promote an interest in the physically thrilling, high-adrenaline activities often recognized as a calling card of SP types. Indeed, ISTPs seem to take great satisfaction in understanding the variables that relate their quick sensory responsiveness to the underlying structure of the tangible, physical world around them, to the art of kinetic movement itself and how it creates reactions from the external sensory environment. It's easy to see why so many of them enjoy building and working on cars/motorcycles/aircraft, audio/visual equipment, guns/swords and other weapons, or musical instruments--these are the very objects that grant them the exciting experiences (and accompanying opportunities to practice their sensory responsiveness) that make them feel most excited and imminently alive.

    But Se also serves another very important purpose: Connecting the ISTP to a real sense of what will impact other people's tastes and impressions in an immediately recognizable and universally understandable way. Well-balanced ISTPs are almost invariably "the cool guy/girl" in their social groups--they know where to be, what to wear, what to say, and how to say it; more importantly, they are confident enough in their natural talent and adaptability in these areas that, unlike ESTPs, they are keenly aware of how little they actually have to say in order to maintain that impression.

    The peculiar relationship between Ti's desire for obscure systemic knowledge and Se's desire to maintain an image of smooth, nonchalant, effortless awareness of what's current and desirable leads to a rather fascinating conflict for many ISTPs: Constantly caught between "Ti nerdy" and "Se cool", they straddle the line between different worlds.

    One of my favorite of examples of this phenomenon comes from the short-lived TV series Freaks and Geeks, where James Franco's ISTP character, Daniel Desario, is forced to join his high school's AV Club as punishment for pulling the fire alarm to get out of taking a test. At first he is angry about the news: AV Club? Isn't that a bunch of nerds? Oh God, nobody can possibly keep thinking I'm cool if I'm stuck doing this kind of boring crap (Se)! But later in the episode, another character sneaks into the AV room after hours and discovers Daniel in the back with the movie projector, poring over a schematic diagram of its functions and experimenting (hands-on, of course) with how it works. No matter how uncool Se may say AV Club is, he can't escape Ti's fascination with the inner workings of a complex mechanical system.

    As ISTPs develop increasingly stronger Se, their awareness of others' immediate impressions of them combines with an uncanny knack for reading body language to grant them a surprisingly proficient awareness of the motivations of others. While they may not be able to expressly articulate what another person is thinking or planning, they often show exceptional talent with "gut feelings" that someone is not genuine, or is dishonest, or not confident, or hiding something. As a case in point, Doyle Brunson (that old guy with the cowboy hat you see playing poker on TV), often credited as "The Godfather of Poker", seems almost certainly ISTP in his exceptional command of body language and the astounding accuracy of his instinctive assessments of opponents at the live poker table.

    On the downside, ISTPs can suffer anger issues with people they see as illogical or wrong-headed, and Se may lead them to physically demonstrate this anger through direct threats of physical violence, or worse--actually following through with them. Because the ISTP needs to be building his own understanding in order to continue with an activity, once he feels he is no longer learning or experiencing anything of value, he may become highly unreliable and abruptly drop out of projects or leave important obligations unfulfilled. The ISTP's polarized energy level may shift wildly from extreme excitement/frenzied action over a new and exciting activity to lengthy periods of non-productive burnout and back again, which can make her seem totally inert to outsiders who have not yet witnessed her in the active, excited phase.

    This may lead to a tendency to drop people, things, groups, and interests as soon as they cease to generate immediate fulfillment--and as the ISTP is fundamentally introverted, he may not care at all how others perceive this inconsistent dedication/difficulty with commitment and may seem to abruptly disappear from all areas of life for weeks or months at a time, before randomly showing up and jumping back in as if nothing had ever happened. Most of my ISTP acquaintances are people that I see frequently for several months, and then not at all for several more--I've come to realize they don't mean any offense; it's just the way their cycle works.

    Tertiary: Introverted iNtuition (Ni)

    Interestingly, despite their (somewhat accurate) reputation as apathetic loners, ISTPs typically feel strongly enough about their principles that they may even resort to vigilante justice in order to set things right with the world when legitimate establishments of law enforcement have failed to produce a just or consistent result. They're typically quite mindful of not stepping on other people's toes, but if you step on theirs, be prepared for a swift and unexpected backlash. Somewhat like INFJs, who share all of the same function attitudes, ISTPs in the grip of Ti+Ni may fantasize about using their superior strength and physical prowess (Se) to take revenge on people who unjustly bring harm to the innocent. "Eye for an eye" is often seen as the purest and most physically real affirmation of the sense of justice that factors so heavily into the ISTP's personal value judgments.

    When undeveloped, tertiary Ni most frequently manifests itself in terms of semi-paranoid distrust of "the man" or of authority figures or anyone who may have the power to force the ISTP into any situation or role from which he does not have the option to escape when he wants to. This kind of cynicism may even lead the ISTP to claim some sort of supernatural foresight; he may doggedly insist that he "just knows" something to be the case despite total inability to explain why or display any physical evidence thereof. He may come to believe anything he does is simply playing into exactly what some unseen, evil "puppet master" of sorts wants him to do, and thus may insist that the situation is hopeless because he already knows how it's all going to end up.

    When applied more positively in a more developed state, tertiary Ni should bolster the ISTP's natural fluency with sensory cues by giving him deeper insight into the symbolic or suggestive meaning of the constant flow of outward sensory information he is normally attuned to. Rather than simply note what is and move on to noting something else that is, he will begin to consider the assumptions inherent in the set of rules he assumes must govern the way he interprets and evaluates that information, which, in time, will grant his "gut instincts" far more substantial meaning and accuracy by linking them to a deliberate purpose with much more far-reaching implications.

    Ni should ideally help the ISTP to feel even more completely free: she will realize she can adapt not only her present actions, but also her entire outlook and attitude according to whatever the immediacy of the moment demands: nothing can ever shake her composure because she can simply change her mindset to fit her surroundings.

    When Se is poorly developed, and a TiNi loop results, the ISTP loses all desire to connect or exchange information with others in any meaningful way. He becomes extraordinarily self-centered, acting out his subconscious Se desires through increasingly impulsive (and possibly even dangerous or violent) outbursts, insistent that he is the only one who "has it all figured out", that all the small-minded fools surrounding him are running a pointless rat race for nothing, and that he does not and should not ever have anything to prove to such unworthy and insignificant creatures.

    He may delve further and further into bitter cynicism and conspiracy theorist behavior, as Ni develops increasingly outlandish interpretations to justify Ti's all-important desire to view the self as the only remaining bastion of consistency and truth in a purposeless world that cares for neither. Nihilism and hopelessness invariably result.

    Ultimately, tertiary Ni should grant the well-balanced ISTP a unique sense of worldly wisdom. Already generally subdued by nature, his calm, quiet confidence will be nearly unshakable, as he will find the ability to separate himself from the tribulations of everyday problems enough to realize that eventually, everything is going to be fine, so we may as well just focus on dealing with what's in front of us and trust that everything else will fall into place the way it's supposed to. Development of tertiary Ni often coincides with a time in the ISTP's life where he retreats into a period of serious self-reflection and emerges with a far more calm and stable sense of philosophic purpose and global awareness.

    Inferior: Extroverted Feeling (Fe)

    As the weakest point in the ISTP's cognitive hierarchy, Fe presents some substantial issues for the "lone wolf" persona in which he so often finds himself entrenched. Insistent on figuring things out for himself and living life his own way, the ISTP is prone to ignoring his emotional and interpersonal needs as long as he can possibly get away with it. He may become increasingly stressed as he realizes that without some form of permanency or obligation, some sense of connectedness to a group or purpose larger than himself and his own personal needs and desires, he feels as though his life is simply running in circles and never reaching any meaningful conclusions.

    Inferior F types (IxTP, ExTJ) tend, by nature, to be utterly clueless when it comes to expressing or even acknowledging their emotional needs, and may resort to displaying them through rather bizarre, confusing, and even childish behaviors. For most ISTPs, Se serves as the only comfortable link to the external world, the only way they understand how to bridge the gap between their internal ideals and the expectations and aesthetics of others. Thus, Fe is often expressed in a way that becomes slanted by Se's tendencies: ISTPs care a lot more about their family and friends than they are able to express verbally, and since actions speak louder than words, in moments of extreme stress, they may demonstrate their cultural and familial obligations by physically attacking or forcibly removing anyone or anything which threatens the sense of moral fiber upon which their families, social groups, or communities are founded.

    This may simultaneously impress and disturb others, as friends and family are often surprised to see that the ISTP even cares enough about them to do anything protective in the first place, but also upset that s/he chooses such directly physical means of expressing the importance of his relationship to them. The ISTP may often be seen as emotionally unaware and even incapable of emotional expression, and while she may resent this suggestion, she often does little to nothing to counteract it until the perfect moment arises: in a flash of daring bravado, a selfless act of unexpected chivalry or intense but unexpressed loyalty will allow the ISTP to release the build-up of subconscious tension and guilt over her insensitivity to the collective needs and ethical expectations of her loved ones. She simply cannot respond to or consciously acknowledge these needs easily because they seem to threaten the sense of individually-defined identity and freedom that she holds so dearly.

    The central conflict for ISTPs struggling with inferior Fe is their insistence upon absolute personal freedom at all times, and the seemingly disingenuous nature of participating in familial or cultural ritual when dominant Ti can't see any reasonable or logical purpose for it. Accepting objectively derived concepts of morality or interpersonal obligation threatens the prized ability to change or escape any undesired situation on a moment's notice. The ISTP feels threatened by expectations of others upon him to behave in ways he does not find reasonable; however, he must confront the fact that he does require some relationships with others to feel completely fulfilled, and that eventually most people will tire of his simultaneous expectations to be accommodated and refusal to accommodate their needs in return.

    Again, it's most important to remember that for ISTPs, actions speak louder than words. Expecting them to verbalize their feelings on a regular basis is likely to meet with condescension and resentment; however, leaving them enough space to do as they please will almost invariably produce enough appreciation that, in time, their occasional shows of good faith will develop into a more complete awareness of the needs of their friends and family, as they will gradually realize that coming to collective moral agreements for defining and strengthening interpersonal bonds actually makes all the logical sense in the world.

    Learning to accept and embrace some degree of cultural expectations will grant the ISTP both a more objective method of self-evaluation, and a much more balanced sense of consistent reliability. (It also doesn't hurt that, as they get older and social expectations change, accepting more responsibility actually makes them look a lot cooler and more aware of external reality!)


    ISTJ: A Jungian Cognitive Function Analysis

    ISTJ, or Introverted Sensing Thinking Judger, is a label borrowed from MBTI nomenclature and now applied to the Jungian Cognitive Function set {Si, Te, Fi, Ne}.

    Dominant: Introverted Sensation (Si)

    "I'm a realistic, no-nonsense kind of person. Some people think that makes me old-fashioned--and I guess sometimes I am--but it's not because I think older ideas or approaches are inherently better. I just see a lot of wisdom in being prepared and knowing how you're going to approach any given problem and get the result you want. I figure, if you've been there and done it yourself, you don't need anyone else's advice because you know for yourself how to get the job done. That's the only way to keep things under control, really. People sometimes think all I do is work--but that's not true. I like to have fun, too--I just like to make sure my work is done first so that I can relax and enjoy myself comfortably. I enjoy building real knowledge and useful skills that relate to the things I find myself naturally good at. There's simply no sense in wandering around trying to jump into a million different areas--it's important to know what you do well and stick to it reliably. I've got to have a sense of direction--usually guided by what I've learned through my own experiences--and it's very important to me to keep my word and dependably do what I say I'm going to do, when I say I'm going to do it. If I don't help make life stable for others, how can I expect it to stay that way for me?"

    Often stereotyped for their sense of duty and reliability, ISTJs are most often perceived by others as practical-minded people who like to structure things just right to stay within realistic limits and keep things within their comfort zones. It's not that they have no interest in play, as others may incorrectly assume from their oft-stoic demeanor--indeed, ISTJs lend themselves to a very particular brand of subtle and esoteric humor that others may often miss entirely--it's just that they know exactly how they like their surroundings to be, and they do everything they can to maximize the stability of the conditions and experiences in which they prefer to immerse themselves.

    As a dominant Pi type, it's extremely evident to the ISTJ that he needs to be careful what sorts of information and experiences he allows himself prolonged exposure to. Often especially impressionable as children, ISTJs discover quickly that they have an unconscious tendency to concentrate both their work and play time toward highly specified areas in which they can amass the greatest amount of raw data possible. Unlike INTJs, who may spend years of their lives trying to determine what exactly it is they are passionate about and what role they want to fulfill, ISTJs tend to learn early on that they have very specific tastes and preferences and that life goes much better for them when they design and structure it around maximizing their exposure to the particular kinds of sensory information that bring them the most consistent success--and from that consistent success springs the life-long sense of fulfillment they derive from routinized structure and repetition of the activities they know from experience that they can perform proficiently.

    It's hard to articulate exactly what it is that ISTJs will describe as what they enjoy about their life's work, but it tends to relate to the feeling of familiarity related to the repetition of certain "rituals" involved in the process of working with things that bring them sensory enjoyment. An ISTJ into literature might describe the smell of an old book as one opens its pages for the first time in years, or the texture of the worn paper rubbing against his fingers as he carefully turns them. An ISTJ who's passionate about fine wine might extol the virtues of that first sharp taste of alcohol when the liquid makes contact with his tongue. ISTJs may surprise friends and family with the depth of knowledge and experience they build in relation to their often esoteric and unexpected hobbies and interests. Every time they experience a familiar sensation, the more pleasing and complete and comforting that sensation becomes--and the more their internal database becomes aligned toward desire for more sensations of a similar nature.

    There's a scene in the short-lived TV show Freaks and Geeks where a (presumably ISFP) girl is describing her love for the Grateful Dead album American Beauty--"I wish I could forget I'd ever heard it, just so I could hear it for the first time again!" This attitude would likely strike an ISTJ as peculiar and even downright nonsensical. Experiencing something new just for its own sake is like making the first paintbrush stroke on a new, blank canvas. It's not totally worthless, but the best things in life get better with time--every time we listen to our favorite record, or watch our favorite movie, or bond with a friend or loved one, all of our compiled experiences with the familiarity of those sensations come together to produce an even more complete communion with the sensory enjoyment of that specific kind of experience. The more we build sensory data related to that which we already know we enjoy and understand, the more richly and deeply we appreciate everything it has to offer, and the more we can internalize the fundamental nature of this sensation and mark its place more clearly on our private maps of previous impressions. New things are fine, and they have their place, but they simply don't compare to the depth with which we can appreciate that which we've come to know intimately over years of attachment and connection.

    This taste for depth of understanding through sensory familiarity leads ISTJs to, often unintentionally, build extraordinary internal banks of knowledge, facts, possessions, and skill sets related directly to the flavors of experience by which they come to define not only their areas of interest and life's work, but by extension their entire identities. Outsiders may be totally unaware of the rich world of internal experiences the ISTJ is constantly busy building and reinforcing--if seen and understood only through Te, their preferred means of interacting and organizing their external world connections, one may have no idea what personal pursuits and interests truly define the ISTJ's (typically very private) sense of self.

    Auxiliary: Extroverted Thinking (Te)

    "You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don't do too many things wrong."
    --Warren Buffett, ISTJ

    Unfortunately, dominant Si on its own does very little to grant the ISTJ any form of meaningful communication with others. Since its method of comprehension and its means of interpreting experiences are so inherently personalized, so dependent upon the individual's private reactions and the idiosyncrasies of his own worldview, some form of objective judgment, evaluation and organization becomes a necessary tool in the formation of relationships to people and institutions outside the self, and thus aids in the eventual acquisition of more of the highly specified sensory input upon which the dominant function thrives.

    Here the ISTJ carves out a place for the attitude by which most outsiders--even close friends and family, in many cases--come to define and understand his nature. Te enters the mix as a much-needed universal metric by which to categorize, organize, evaluate, measure, and test for consistency. Painfully aware that his own impressions, in most cases, are too subjective to even communicate meaningfully to others, the ISTJ must master a secondary language and form of communication by which he can establish the sort of structure and order by which his relationships to the external world can be conducted meaningfully and depended upon to continue bringing him the sorts of experience to which he is accustomed. Through strong Te, the ISTJ supports Si's need for routinized sensory input by aligning himself with an objectively observable and empirically demonstrable construct for standardizing the way we as a group understand and enforce logical categorization and evaluation.

    Often, Te as an auxiliary function may be applied as a sort of bureaucratic "mask" for dealing with people the ISTJ neither likes nor has any interest in communicating with on a legitimately personal basis. (Indeed, she may enjoy a private laugh at the ironic contrast between her private self and her "public face", and the entertaining realization that the outsider believes this Te "mask" actually constitutes the totality of her personal identity.) ISTJs are not unaware that others may view them, due to their Te handling of virtually all external interactions, as uptight sticklers for regulation--and they're not above playing into this image, both because they do see a lot of value in keeping things structured and regulated, and because they often find it immensely funny when others completely misinterpret their private selves based on the public masks they display for purposes of cooperative productivity. (This particular brand of dual-identity humor also seems to strike INTJs in a similar way.)

    In terms of practical application, Te promotes an overarching concern for making sure things are done right. The ISTJ will go to painstaking detail to make sure that which she's responsible for is performed correctly and thoroughly, and that it meets the expectations and standards of the people who know how to do it the right way. "Measure twice, cut once." Chronically cautious and eternally vigilant, ISTJs will not stand by and watch a job be done incorrectly when they know how to do it themselves. If no one else can be counted on to do things the right way, ISTJs will step in and shoulder all of the responsibility themselves. When they have a job to do, very little can distract them or get in the way of timely completion of their goals.

    As with all TJ types, Te also creates a high sense of accountability and responsibility for one's own situation and well-being. Te balks at the idea of inefficient distribution of resources, and ISTJs are no exception. Strong-willed and determined to make ends meet purely through their own individual hard work and perseverance, ISTJs may even go so far as to reject charity or free resources from others when they see no reason they can't simply redouble their efforts and work harder to generate their own means of financial support. They won't stop until the quota is met, the deadline satisfied, the standards upheld. All of this ties directly back into Si's desire for stability: Te represents a universal set of logical standards and evaluations from which no one is exempt. Nobody gets exceptions to the rules, because the rules represent the lifeblood of the system under which all interactions with others are governed: if we can't count on the rules to be enforced uniformly and consistently, we can't count on anything, and if life can't be predictably structured and molded into useful constructs and interactions between parties, Si can't expect to receive the specific kinds of sensory input to which it's become accustomed. Then we're lost without a map--up the creek without a paddle. And that's the last place in the world an ISTJ wants to be.

    Tertiary: Introverted Feeling (Fi)

    Buried deep within the private realms of the ISTJ's psyche, we find the tertiary function, Fi. Of great interest is the fact that most ISTJs are far more aware of their own Feeling functions than the people surrounding them--often, even some close friends and family may describe the ISTJ as cold and unsympathetic, descriptions which, unfortunately, both hurt the ISTJ's very private feelings and reinforce his desire to keep those feelings further isolated from the world around him.

    Nevertheless, Fi in ISTJs seems to often produce a sort of romantic, chivalrous attachment to what they see as all the best things about the various ways things have been in the past. Again, it's important to note that they don't value older methods or ideals purely for the sake of tradition; they simply recognize that few methods or approaches would have any lasting impact if there were not some clear utility or wisdom in them. Traditions would likely not have become traditions in the first place if there were not some inherent value in the sort of universal virtues and common sense right-and-wrong that they represent so succinctly. Through Fi, ISTJs find a sense of personalized aesthetic value and moral fiber: transient goals, objectives, and even laws may come and go; however, the deeply held personal values by which they can hold themselves accountable to the timeless nature of virtue and Goodness itself can always be counted on to remain the same. That which is right shall always be right, and that which is wrong shall always stay that way. Fi grants the ISTJ the power to break from and object to man-made rules and laws which conflict with the very fiber of his inner being. It reminds him that sometimes, the right thing to do is simply the right thing to do, regardless of what any official authorities may have to say about it. Fi expects no reward or recognition for its observation of these moral precepts inherent in the fabric of the human condition: it simply calls a spade a spade, and it expects that any good and decent human being should understand the obvious value in that sentiment.

    When Fi takes too strong a role in cognition and overtakes Te, forming an "SiFi loop", the ISTJ may completely and totally withdraw from virtually all surroundings and circumstances which are not immediately familiar and comforting to his sense of stable interpretive meaning. All forms of external interaction seems to involve uncertainty, which makes them inherently unsafe--avoidant behavior becomes the norm, as the ISTJ with poor Te finds himself both unable to confidently take command of any situation or assert his organizational abilities toward any productive end, and irrationally sensitive to any form of experiential input which does not align with the sense of dependable routine which defines the boundaries of his comfort zone. The SiFi loop ISTJ will continue to narrow his perceptual intake further and further, convinced that anything he doesn't already know completely will only attack and further corrupt or damage his easily impressionable sense of personal ethics and ideals. Inferior Ne--as we will see in the next section--leads to a flood of dangerous and threatening external possibilities which must be contained and avoided at all costs.

    Ideally, tertiary Fi should assist Te in providing the ISTJ a sense of grounding in that which she knows to be right and just. The two may combine and manifest together in ways others find unfair or overly controlling; however, the ISTJ remains resolute in that which she knows has always been and will always be the way that a virtuous person conducts herself. Imagine, if you will, the friend who forcibly obtains her drunken cohort's car keys--she may not technically have a legal right to do so, but Fi understands that sometimes the objectively measurable law is not enough. You may hate her for it now, but in time you'll see that it's for your own good, and the ISTJ's willingness to put up with your unpleasant response in the mean time serves only as a sign of reinforcement to Fi's certainty that it's setting aside petty desires for popularity in order to stick up for what true friends know is genuinely important--and there's a lot to be said for that.

    Inferior: Extroverted iNtuition (Ne)

    Lastly, we find the feared and hidden iNtuitive function, seemingly at odds with everything by which Si defines its sense of personal and perceptual limitations. While Si would lead us to seek information in the vein of that which we already know we are comfortable with, and to build more depth of experience in those areas, Ne comes along and suggests the exact opposite: that we explore as much new and unfamiliar territory as we can find, and that as soon as we begin to develop any sort of familiarity with it, we abandon it and move on to another new train of untapped information. Ne creates that nagging sense of incompleteness in the back of the ISTJ's mind: when undeveloped, it's responsible for the feeling that no matter how much we think we've mapped out, there's always an infinite number of unexplored pathways that will ultimately change the meaning and significance of everything we think we've learned thus far. While Si is most at home extending its depth of understanding in a few specific comfort zones, Ne seems to strike at the very heart of this approach by insisting that we change course as often as possible, just in case we happen upon something interesting and unexpected.

    To the young ISTJ, this attitude comes off as reckless, hedonistic, and outright frightening. In the midst of such apparent chaos, Si can find no sense of purpose, no tangible objective or clear direction, and no apparent rhyme or reason among anything it already knows. Ne represents the subconscious desire to throw out the map and be glad it's gone, to get lost just for the sake of forcing ourselves to explore and find the way back through experimentation and guesswork. In the grip of the inferior function, the ISTJ may feel his entire world is collapsing around him: nothing is certain, and all manner of terrifying possible future scenarios may be lurking just around the corner. This can manifest itself in the form of a number of uncharacteristic impulsive behaviors: the ISTJ may feel he must abandon everything he has worked to build his life toward, to start over elsewhere with a completely clean slate, to throw out the masses of extensive impressions Si has spent years building and start again from nothing. Few things could be more intimidating.

    As the ISTJ gains wisdom and experience, he will gradually learn to integrate Ne into his preferred Si mindset by recognizing it as a part of his cognition which he can, in time, learn to predict and anticipate. I've known ISTJs who, much to the surprise of their friends and family, will occasionally disappear for a (meticulously planned) weekend in Atlantic City, indulging in one big burst of all the things they normally work so tirelessly to block from their experiential palates. The key for IJs dealing with inferior Pe functions seems to be finding controlled outlets in which they can grant themselves measured doses of the sort of "off the rails" experiences their subconscious desires point toward while staying within a structured framework that prevents total ruination in the event that things get out of control.

    As this process continues to mature and refine itself over time, the ISTJ will eventually find herself increasingly more comfortable with more risk and more exposure to the new and unfamiliar experiences her inferior function desires. Because occasional indulgence in unfamiliarity will result in the internalization of new kinds of experiences, the unfamiliar will slowly become familiar as she increases the breadth of her taste for different kinds of impressions and ideas. The more this continues, the more it will naturally occur to the ISTJ that all areas of life are somehow interconnected in terms of a larger picture she does not yet fully understand--and the more this picture and the interconnectedness it represents become an area of interest, the more she will naturally satisfy dominant Si's needs by absorbing ever more information related to that singular subject area--and by extension through inferior Ne, all subject areas.

    By forcing herself occasionally out of her comfort zone, the ISTJ will find that the more she seeks out new areas of study, the more the entire world will assimilate itself into her comfort zone. The very thing she fears most will become her greatest strength: the more the unknown becomes the known, the more the concept of "unknown" will, in itself, disappear and ultimately become unknown! The well-balanced ISTJ becomes something of an accidental polymath: well-versed in many areas, yet blissfully unaware of the separation between them. The resultant individuals almost invariably strike their communities as people of vast wisdom and experience--fair-minded and venerable, worthy of the utmost respect and admiration.


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