I once had an INFP friend tell me, without any doubt, that he understood me. Naturally, I told him to prove it. And he did. He nailed it. He understood my emotions, my motivations, how my past affects my present. But he missed one thing.
He didn’t realize that while all those things are true, they aren’t the deciding factor on how I think and act.
They affect me, sure, but I am logical and rational above all else. Feelings are secondary; motivations only hold if they fit into my schema of survival. I’ve told him this many times, but I don’t think he believes it. Naturally I took that disbelief into account: am I more influenced by emotions than I think? are my actions impacted by unjustifiable thoughts? am I controlled by unconscious factors? The answers I came up with were, respectively, yes, yes, and no. I’m not a robot, as much as I might wish I were sometimes, but all my unconscious motivations are run through a serious of rigorous (often habitually subconscious) tests of rationality and reason. Is this going to benefit me? Is this going to last? Is this going to have a negative impact on anyone? What is the ratio of positive to negative? Will the negative impacts have worse implications down the line? Do I want this? Do I need this? How does this tie in to my eventual plan for success and fame and fortune and happiness? Etc.
If a thought, feeling, or motivation doesn’t pass the test, I don’t act on it.
Granted, I make mistakes. I do stupid things–though I usually do them well–and say stupid things and I make bad decisions that don’t benefit anyone either short term or long term. In short, I am human. (Ugh.) Anyway, I have a lot to say about Myers-Briggs. It’s one of the things that fascinates me (at least until I get bored of it) so I’ve spent a fair amount of time researching it. It, of course, is just a theory, a way of categorizing people that’s generally fairly right but, since people are people, has exceptions. No two people are exactly the same and that’s the beauty of humanity.
So, that being said, I is for INTJ.
First, we are not villains. Fiction has given us a bad rap. Meet your INTJs:
I mean, I get it. The intensely driven, seemingly emotionless, incredibly intelligent, easily obsessed character is a shoo-in for the perfect villain. I’ll confess, my favorite villains are (or could be, with more fleshing out) INTJs, specifically INTJs done right, given personalities and motivations and not just a desire to watch the world burn. Though those can be interesting, too.
I fully believe that the Joker used to be an INTJ. Before he got those scars. Let’s see if I can explain.
INTJ is broken down into introverted intuition, extraverted thinking, introverted feeling, and extraverted sensing (Ni-Te-Fi-Se). Our dominant function is introverted intuition, which is how we can disappear into our heads and come out with a seemingly random solution to a problem that’s almost guaranteed to work. This is paired with extraverted thinking, our auxiliary function, which essentially means that we take any and all objective information (information outside of our own minds) and weave it together to draw conclusions. These two are why we make good wizards and mages. Our tertiary function, the one that’s usually slightly underdeveloped, is introverted feeling, which is concerned mostly with personal feelings, values, etc. This one makes us uncomfortable. Since it’s not as developed as the other two, we push it down, ignore it, hide it from the world. This is why we’re made out to be sociopathic robots. Finally, our inferior function, extraverted sensing, is the reason we’re overwhelmed in large, boisterous crowds. It’s the reason we abuse substances. We try to work without it, but it occasionally pokes its head in and makes us crazy.
So that’s an INTJ.
An ENTP is broken down into extraverted intuition, introverted thinking, extraverted feeling, and introverted sensing (Ne-Ti-Fe-Si). It’s the shadow of an INTJ (and vice versa): The letters are in the same order, so the two have similar strengths and weaknesses, but the introversion and extraversion are switched. From what I understand, when a person enters a period of extreme stress, he’ll act as his shadow functions. Therefore, a stressed ENTP would draw inward, and a stressed INTJ would lash out. So the Joker, after enduring trauma, snapped, and became his shadow type.
(Disclaimer: I know nothing about the comics. This is all based on The Dark Knight. And Heath Ledger’s Joker. It’s also all speculation.)
My best friend, I believe, is an ENTP. She’s never quite been able to figure out what she is since every test gave her a different answer, and for a while she thought she was an INTJ. She and I are similar, but not similar enough. She’s too much of an optimist and a risk-taker. After realizing this, she tried switching a few of the letters–INTP, INFJ, etc.–but, like Goldilocks and the beds, none of those were quite right. So when I found this whole shadow function thing, I was intrigued. Being an ENTP would make her simultaneously my twin and my opposite which is, I guess, pretty accurate. We think in the same meandering patterns, which makes us excellent at brainstorming together, but we see different sides of issues, so our reasoning for something working or not working balances out. She’s more right brain and I’m more left (Lenore Thompson‘s theories of cognitive functions), but we’re both creative and both rational.
I checked reddit INTJs’ opinions on ENTPs and it seems to be a mixed bag, mostly “wow they’re tiring” or “I hate them.” My initial response is, of course, people who comment on the internet are dumb. But I know that’s not a perfect answer, so I’m looking into it some more. I think I’m on to something, but I don’t know exactly what.
Anyway, she was dead set against this typing at first: “But I’m not an extravert,” she said. And she’s not. She recharges alone, or with a certain few people. But she focuses her energy on the outside world, rather than spending hours introspecting, which is how Carl Jung meant the words. This may have come from her being raised as a PK, or it may just be her–which brings in the question of nature vs. nurture as it applies to personality types, something I have no answers for yet. But I’m working on it.
An INTJ with an unanswered question.
But we’re not villains, really. We’re just people. With traits that make us easily typed as sociopaths and evil geniuses.
Second, INTJs go on rabbit trails. If you haven’t noticed.
Our extraverted thinking and introverted intuition work together to show us every side of every issue and then the merits and downfalls and future implications of each side. We attach random facts to other random facts and try to make a spiderweb of sense until we find answers that please us. The closest representation of this I’ve seen is Sherlock’s mind palace.
This is seriously how my mind works, for those of you who thought this was purely fiction. Granted, it doesn’t often work this fast or this well. But it’s the general idea. So, when not given an important case that needs solving before people die, we tend to meander, explaining as we go because we learned long ago that most people can’t keep up, not because they’re any less intelligent (though it’s tempting to think so, and sometimes true), but because we jump from idea to idea very quickly.
Third, we get bored easily.
We can go from obsessed to uninterested in less time than it takes you to read this sentence. This switch can be flipped due to a few reasons: we learn what we wanted to know, we see whatever we’re working on is pointless, or we get distracted and lose our momentum. Which is what happened here. I left to go furniture shopping and now I’m bored. So, I’m sure there will be more INTJ posts in the future–I really do have a lot to say on the topic–but I think this post is already long enough. And if I’m bored, I’m sure you are too, dear reader. So thank you for getting this far. I’ll talk to you soon.