The Amused Smirk of the INFP

I’ve occasionally written about personality types and traits. My main focus early on was Myers-Briggs. That interest began way before my blogging, but it did extend into my early blogging.

My most popular blog post of all time is about my INFP experience. It has taken on a life of its own and been reposted around the web. I find that amusing, as there are so many other posts are more worthy.

I was thinking about this again because a post by A.J. Drenth was sending people my way. He linked to one of my posts—in spite of it’s not being about typology, he used it as an example of how INFPs can become obsessed with truth, contrary to stereotype. His description, along with most descriptions of the INFP type, fit me perfectly. Yet I am of a less typical variety of the type, an intellectuality driven by my aspirational Extraverted Thinking (Te).

Jungian typological theory isn’t so important for my thoughts at the moment. My interest is to simply use the ideas to frame certain aspects of my experience that fit the pattern of the INFP type. I was specifically thinking about how others likely perceive me. That comes up a lot online, as self-expression is narrowed down to an extreme degree. But this is true in all of life.

My dad said something about me. He noticed how at times I’ll have a knowing smirk, as if I have a secret insight or am amused at something. I know exactly what he is talking about. It’s my attitude about life. The world seems like a strange place to me and humans are strange creatures. This attitude gives me a certain distance, a standing back and taking it all in.

Added to this, my dad pointed out that he can never capture my smirk. As soon as a camera comes out, my face goes blank. I despise smiling for pictures. I’m an extreme introvert, both in the common meaning of that word and in terms of Jungian typology. Guarded is my default mode. That might be hard to imagine for people who only know me online. Introverts are different online and also more common. An introvert can feel comfortable and even energized by online interactions for a number of reasons, such as it being a way of socializing from one’s own personal space at home.

What my dad observed of me is fairly standard for INFPs. Dominant Introverted Feeling (Fi) does induce a knowing sensibility, a probing and very human view of the world. Combined with auxiliary Extraverted iNtuition (Ne), amusement is just the way this gets translated in actually dealing with the world. INFPs can be such serious people, but there is always a layer of curiosity, wonder, and humor even to the point of silliness. I have to be seriously depressed before I stop being amused at life. Yet this side of me isn’t necessarily obvious to those who don’t know me well.

When blogging and such, I’m often in serious mode. The internet is where I do research, debate, think out loud, and test new ideas. It’s true that online my Ne can gorge on the buffet of knowledge and data. I can become downright obsessive, for there is nowhere for curiosity to end with web searches and link jumping that just goes on and on, until my mind simply collapses in exhaustion. But the most serious side of my personality, although rooted in Fi, turns aggressive and argumentative with my aspirational Te. Still, this is such a small part of my everyday experience. Looking upon the Te side of an INFP’s personality is to look upon the part of them that they know is the weakest and so it always involves conflict, Te being the polar opposite of dominant Fi.

One thing about INFPs is that they are known as being inscrutable. I’ve thought about this often. INFPs are obsessed with understanding others and looking beyond facades. And for that reason, they are talented at and prone to hiding themselves. But seemingly out of nowhere INFPs can be emotionally open and honest to an extreme. In the right mood and moment, they can let their guard down. There is always a lot going on behind the scenes.

As many have noted, Introverted Feeling can be the hardest function attitude to decipher. In explaining this, Drenth offers this quote of Jung (Psych. Types, Para. 640-641) :

“They are mostly silent, inaccessible, hard to understand; often they hide behind a childish or banal mask, and their temperament is inclined to melancholy…Their outward demeanor is harmonious, inconspicuous…with no desire to affect others, to impress, influence or change them in any way. If this is more pronounced, it arouses suspicion of indifference and coldness…Although there is a constant readiness for peaceful and harmonious co-existence, strangers are shown no touch of amiability, no gleam of responsive warmth…It might seem on a superficial view that they have no feelings at all.”

This is what makes the Feeling function so different depending on attitude, Introverted or Extraverted. In its Fi form, it may be deep and powerful, but it can go unnoticed by those who aren’t used to looking for it. To learn to sense it is similar to a river guide learning where the rocks are by keeping track of the water’s surface—the ripples and eddies, the currents and pools.

To a stranger, I probably seem quite open in certain ways, at least online. I don’t hide behind a username. It’s easy to figure out who I am, not to mention where I live and work. I’ll share personal details as if they don’t matter, because they don’t. And I throw out my opinions at a drop of a hat.

All of that apparent openness is deceiving. Those surface details will tell you little about who I really am. In my dominant Fi, I have no fear of anyone figuring me out. You won’t unlock that box. An INFP’s strength is the secrets they hold. With dominant Fi, there is an absolute sense of certainty that is everything. You could know an INFP for years or even decades and never figure out what is this core essence, the rock of their being.

There is a part of me that can’t be touched or changed. It is because of this that I can maintain a detached amusement, even amidst all kinds of events and emotions. Introverted Feeling is a still point, an anchor in an ocean. If nothing else, an INFP knows themselves, who they are and where they stand. So, INFPs have a way of exuding a sense of knowing, a personal truth that is at core of not just their sense of identity but also their sense of reality. From this vantage point, they look out across the world. And when under stress, it is where they retreat.

To Introverted Feeling, everything is personal. Reality itself is personal. It is to feel deeply, a mess of emotion, a vast field of experience. Amusement is a defense against being overwhelmed by it all. In that amused state, the INFP type is acknowledging they are a crazy person in a crazy world. It’s their way of expressing that they are in on the joke.

If you catch that slight smirk, just smirk in kind.


Worldviews, Personality and Communication

Whenever I’m involved in an interpersonal conflict, I immediately start thinking of personality differences.

I do focus on what people are saying, but I have a tendency to put a lot of emphasis on how they say it and what is behind what they are saying. I look to the motivations, the perceptions and the communication styles. I look to the beliefs and assumptions, the worldview or even the reality tunnel they live in.

In the present situation of conflict, my focus has been on someone who goes by the name hbd chick. The conflict really gets me thinking for the reason I feel very little negativity toward her. I love her blog. I respect her typically humble attitude and I’m impressed by her research abilities. But there is some difference between her and I, some difference that may be at a more fundamental level of our respective psychologies.

I don’t like conflict. I’m more of a conflict-avoidant type, but at times I feel drawn into conflict because of another side of my personality. I’m an Myers-Briggs INFP which means I’m fully capable of being insufferably idealistic and even asshole-ish in my defense of my core values. I have speculated that my problem is that I’m an FP (Fi) who was raised by TJ (Te) parents (TJ representing the aspirational and often the most annoying weakness of an INFP). I think I’ve overcompensated a bit in the TJ department and such not-perfectly-functional Te is what can really bring out the asshole in me.

I don’t like being an asshole, but I’m apparently good at it. I hold stuff in until I can’t hold it in any longer. The result is that I become critical and unforgiving.

Anyway, the odd thing is that hbd chick says that she also is an INFP and close to being an INTP. I wonder about that. If I had to guess, I get more of an INTP vibe from her. But it is hard to tell when you don’t know someone personally. Maybe the T is more of her online persona. This might explain my own dysfunctional T getting antagonized in response.

Going by her being an INFP, my criticisms of her should really annoy her. I seem to have been judging her by that T aspect I sensed in her, but she doesn’t see that as being her true self, as she says “at heart”.

This conflict is exacerbated further because of my particular annoyance in trying to find a way to interact with a guy who goes by the name JayMan, both hbd chick and JayMan being HBD proponents. His personality most definitely is different than my own. He has that T vibe without a doubt, especially TJ. He argues for the complete separation of the subjective and objective in exploring the issues of human society and human nature. I can tell you this. No normally functioning FP, in particular no INFP, would likely make such an argument.

That expresses what would be called a thick boundary type (see boundaries of the mind). I must admit I don’t play well with thick boundary types. My mind is pretty damn thin boundaried. In discussions, my thoughts go in a million directions. My thin boundaries is why I constantly see confounding factors in almost everything and JayMan’s apparent thicker boundaries are why he sees my complaints as irrelevant. He is a man who is intently and adamantly focused on what he (thinks he) knows and believes which isn’t to say he is necessarily wrong, just that he is very certain that he is right. Thick boundary types tend to feel more certain, in fact demand more certainty. In Myers-Briggs terms, this is what Judging (J) is about.

I’m of a different variety. I’m an INFP with heavy emphasis on the NP part (Ne). Extraverted iNtuition (Ne) is the single most absolute expression of the thin boundary type. I live in eternal uncertainty with a wide horizon of possibilities. Questions leading to doubts leading to wonder leads to imagining. I live my life contemplating the strangeness of reality, my head stuck in the clouds. To focus on a single theory or a single set of data would be nearly impossible for me.

My Te aspirational can make me a rabid researcher when it is in full gear, but Ne inevitably sends my mind off in new directions.

What I sense with the HBD crowd is that it attracts a lot more thick boundary types or at least those with thick boundary online personas. Either way, this means that it attracts people who want to focus on topics that focus on thick boundaries and in ways that are thick boundaried. I don’t mean extreme thick boundaries, but a tendency in that direction. The emphasis of HBD is on the boundaries between ethnicities, clans, regions, nations, etc. They have less interest in that which transcends, merges and blurs boundaries.

To my thin boundary mind, boundaries are imagined things. They are only real to the extent we imagine them to be real. The thin boundary type sees a less thick or clear boundary between even imagination and reality. It is because of this mentality that I look for how people, individually and collectively, project their imaginations onto reality.

This puts me a bit in opposition to the HBD mentality. Hence, the conflict. Cue the frustration.

Criticalness, Integralism, and Type

This is in response to the thread titled ‘Should Integralists Storm The Religous Battlefield’.

I’ve been involved in a thread at IIDB, an atheist discussion board. Its a thread about Acharya’s theories about astrotheology which is related to comparative mythology, and Acharya has posted in response some. She has received much criticism and nitpicking which is common on atheist forums. She hasn’t taken it well and probably won’t post anymore in the thread or maybe even in the forum. Recently, the same thing happened with Earl Doherty who is another biblical scholar. He posted on IIDB for a long time, but now has declared he will never post there again.

I find it a bit annoying and I don’t know if I could ever entirely get used to this kind of behavior. However, not everyone there is like this, and I do enjoy forums where there are many intelligent and knowledgeable people. I have a few thoughts about harsh criticalness.

(1) I do think some people there could use an integral perspective. Critically challenging new theories is important for scholarship, but being nice is important for human relations. Also, I feel this critical attitude is narrow and often misses the point the central issue or the bigger picture. Disproving a single claim or piece of evidence doesn’t disprove a theory or discredit the entire scholarly credentials of the theorist. There are many ways to think about a theory, and criticism by itself often lacks insight and can miss the larger context.

Anyways, if actual scholars start avoiding such a forum, that would severely hamper open discourse. In what way is this actually being helpful?

A forum like IIDB may be a more extreme example of this attitude, but its far from unusual. Scholars such as Acharya and Doherty have also received plenty of harsh criticism from mainstream scholarship as well. Peer review tends to reinforce conventional opinions and discourages innovation. Any new theory is seen as suspect. Only the alternative views of people like Robert M. Price get some respect because they came to those views after already being established in the mainstream. Even so, Price’s ideas have received harsh criticism from some of the amateur scholars on the board. There is this attitude amongst some there that if they disagree with a theory, then they automatically dismiss it. Something is either true or false, and uncertainty or mere probability is never to be admitted.

It makes me understand why Wilber has been so committed to getting his work into academia.

(2) My experience at IIDB reminds me of my experience on an INTP forum. INTP types (and NT types in general) can be very combative and nitpicky. An INTP has Introverted Thinking as a dominant function which means Extraverted Feeling is their inferior. A less developed or less balanced INTP can really suck at relating well to other people, and this is multiplied when you get a group of NTs together. What INTPs are good at is looking for logical consistency and honing in on any discrepant details. Introverted Thinking is largely hidden as its turned inward and so its difficult for other types to see the internal standard they’re using to judge. All that is seen directly is their secondary function Extraverted Intuition which allows them to see all of the possibilities. In the case of nitpicking, Extraverted Intuition is serving Introverted Thinking and thus they relentlessly seek out all potential errors.

This is what an INTP is good at. They honestly feel that they’re being helpful and they are to an extent. But if they haven’t developed other aspects of themselves, this talent can be problematic for relating well.

Atheist forums tend to attract many INTPs partly because of an NT interest in computers and debate, partly because Introverts spend more time doing solitary activities such as web browsing, and partly because NPs(Ne) love to discuss ideas endlessly. So, quite probably most of the critical people on IIDB are INTPs or some NT type, but also possibly some INFPs trying to conform to an NT environment. On top of their possible personality types, many of them have spent their whole lives studying ancient texts and biblical studies. Its what they know and its what they’re good at. They feel so certain because they’ve dedicated their lives to it and so they’re personally invested in the conclusions they’ve come to.

I have become more used to personality styles different than mine. I’m much better than I used to be at relating well with those I conflict with or disagree with. I have tried to stay evenhanded in the IIDB thread and have been mostly successful. I’ve tried to redirect the discussion back to the core issue and away from nitpicking, but that has been less successful. I’ve observed Acharya in videos and other places on the web, and I’d guess she is an NF type like me which would explain why she doesn’t have a thick skin towards criticalness, and why she gets critical in return when she is emotionally worked up.

I’m an INFP and Extraverted Thinking is my inferior, and as such my judgment of criticalness is very biased. Criticalness really gets to me after a while, and it takes great awareness on my part not to get emotionally pulled into it. I’d rather discuss possibilities rather than debate details. I’d rather find where I agree with someone rather than look for reasons that the other person is wrong. But this is a typical NF attitude and so I realize that others are different.

If I understand why someone acts the way they do, then its easier for me to accept their behavior. There is a person on the INTP forum who always annoyed me. I couldn’t understand why he was accepted there even to the point of being a moderator. An INTP finally explained it to me in a way that I could understand. This guy wasn’t a psychologically healthy person, but he was psychologically disturbed in a typical INTP way. They accepted him because they could understand him. As I wasn’t an INTP, it didn’t matter that I didn’t get along with him on an INTP forum.

I see IIDB in a similar light. Some people there are not perfectly balanced people, but neither am I. However, they’ve found their niche in the world. They can be respected for being critical on an atheist board. So, why should I let it bother me. They’re only doing what they know how to do, and I admit that they do it well. Maybe such people serve a purpose in the grand scheme of things.


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Replies to This Discussion

marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 19, 2008 at 7:39am
I just came across a typology poll at IIDB.

67% are NTs
23.35% are INTPs
37% are INTJs

20% are NFs
approximately equally divided between the four NF types
except less than 1% of ENFPs

12% are one of the 8 Sensation(S) types

So, why would an NT be so much more likely to belong to this kind of forum?
Are NT types more likely to be atheist?
Or are NT types more likely to want to debate about atheist views?

[QUOTE=ApostateAbe;5070973]I believe that the correlation between atheism and INTJ/INTP is not a trivial thing (I am an INTP).

[*]INTJ forum poll on religion: [url][/url]
[*]INTP forum poll on religion: [url][/url]
[*]Christian forum poll on MBTI: [url][/url]

The Christian forum poll is less clear, since it neglects the E/I. It does at least indicate that the N types predominate. But the members of are split between NF and NT. INTJ/INTP are 43% at a max at, but here it is a whopping 60%. The polls at the INTJ forum and INTP forum are even more striking. Majority of both are atheist or agnostic.[/QUOTE]

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 19, 2008 at 8:27am
I was just thinking about how a higher percentage of Thinking types are male.
Accordingly, the majority of people on IIDB are probably male.

There is a reason this came to mind. I’ve suspected a higher percentage of people on Integral boards are NT. And I’ve heard it said several times that there are more males than females around this place which isn’t something I can personally verify. Also, there is way more heated debate here than on forums I belong to that have a majority of NF types.

So, what is the correlation between intellectuality, heated debate, atheism, NT personality types, and the male gender?

Why shouldn’t atheism and integralism appeal to SF females?


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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 19, 2008 at 6:22pm
I was just at Richard Dawkins forum and came across a poll for gender.…

Males are 72% of the population there.
IIDB is the same kind of forum and so it would probably be similar.

I’m wondering how true this is for most people who are on the web.
I’m uncertain about what forums would attract more females… maybe spirituality/religious forums?

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 19, 2008 at 8:13am
I had two other observations of IIDB.

I did a search on Integral and came up with nothing. I did a search on Ken Wilber and only found a few comments in passing in the last several months. This is pretty significant when you consider that this is one of the more popular boards that attracts well-read intellectual types. This demonstrates how integral theory is still an extremely isolated field of study.

The other thing I noticed there seemed to cross the boundaries of thread topics. There is a heavy philosophical emphasis to the whole place with a distinct lack of much discussion of psychology. Spirituality gets talked about, but mostly just as philosophy. The philosophy emphasis creates a heavy focus on language. In every serious thread, the definitions or proper translation of words gets debated to a fine degree. Integral theorists love to argue about words, but the people on IIDB put integralists to shame in this area.

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 19, 2008 at 4:58pm
“After all, both sides fought on what they thought was the same battleground, but they were two totally different battlegrounds, on different levels.”

This is a good way to put it. I find this often happens in discussions. People not only are arguing for different perspectives, but they’re arguing from different perspectives. When you mix in all the factors that make up an individual(personality, moral and intellectual development, cultural background, etc) you can get a very mixed group of people in a discussion. I wish I knew how to bridge such differences, but I haven’t figured it out beyond trying to be more accepting.

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MetroPunk Permalink Reply by MetroPunk on January 21, 2008 at 1:40pm
the problem as i see there was exactly as you pegged in marmalade, people with different worldviews, diff levels, diff types. communication becomes difficult
an integral appproach would help (someone who can bridge the comm gap)

another problem is the nature of the concepts.
atheism is a reactionary confusion
and religion often is dogma
so two dogmatic and limited postions
limit the possible scope of discussion and possible agreement.
nature of the beastS

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Bill Permalink Reply by Bill on January 23, 2008 at 6:57pm
Well, something else to keep in mind, is that all human groups tend to have internal “policing” behaviors, and it’s common to see a kind of tribal ingrouping/outgrouping struggle happening with every group.

I can’t see I’ve ever seen a human group that didn’t practice this kind of internal policing, no matter how advanced or correct they claim to be..

So, the ‘criticalism’ you refer to isn’t just based in, for instance, personality types, or the nature of the ideas being discussed, or the educational backgrounds of the people discussing – it’s got a stronger, older base in ancient hominid group behaviors.

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 24, 2008 at 12:27am
That is a good point to bring up. I have observed this policing behavior on IIDB when newbies defend a position.
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Darn Apologists!

Darn Apologists!

Posted on Dec 26th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
*begin rant*

I did a really silly thing.  I just made a brief comment on a Christian’s Youtube video.  I really didn’t want to discuss anything, but he responded and I responded.  I knew from the get-go that I desired not such a “discussion” (if an exchange with an apologist could be called that). 

I quickly disentangled myself from the pointless spiderweb of verbiage that apologists are so capable of tirelessly weaving.  I’ve dealt with enough of them to instantly realize when its not going anywhere.  I’m a person of curiosity and I find myself utterly bewildered by someone who has made up their mind before I even say anything.  They just know they’re right.

Shouldn’t apologists have better things to do on Christmas than argue about Jesus?  Shouldn’t they be spreading Christ’s Good message of Love or maybe ladling soup to the homeless while preaching to them about their sinful souls?

This particular apologist was one of the worst varieties.  I’ve come across this exact type many times before, and they’re all very predictable.  Its almost a personality type.  This type of apologist doesn’t tend to rant unless you really get them riled up.  They’re actually very intellectual with an aloof self-certainty.  They’re mostly harmless in that they’re not that annoying except if you’re ever experienced banging your head against their brickwall.  They have this intellectual inner certainty that reminds me of Introverted Intuition, but they have this outwardly congenial nature that doesn’t allow them to ruffle easily which makes me think of an INFJ Christian I know from another site… mostly a nice guy if a bit difficult to connect with.

If you’re feeling patient, you can sometimes have a good discussion with this type as they’ve tended to read a lot and they think very deeply.  The problem is that their thinking is somewhat narrow and plodding, and they have strong beliefs which at least tend to be somewhat interesting in their uniqueness.  They usually have some favorite obscure Christian philosopher, but it won’t bother them that you’ve never heard of the person.  They’re used to not being understood even by other Christians. 
They might secretly pride themselves on their idiosyncracies somewhat, but mostly they seem humble in a laid back way.  Its hard to unsettle them or change their minds.  If you try to have a debate with them, you’ll just go round and round.  In certain ways, they’re very conventional in that they just don’t see or don’t care about what exists outside of their narrow focus (definitely no sign of Extraverted Intuition).  You’re more likely to have an interesting conversation with them if you simply limit yourself to their interests. 

They can keep up an argument if necessary, but they don’t really care to get worked up.  Even though their beliefs are strong, they keep them mostly to themselves.  They’ll often talk about more peripheral issues because that which truly matters to them is such a deep and profound experience for them.

They’re very scholarly with a typical pedantic attitude.  Even though they like certain obscure writers, they put a fair amount of weight on tradition.  They’re the type that would make a great Catholic theologian who knows the entire history of the Church.  Their thinking is very abstract and they feel safest keeping theology away from practical affairs and thus keeping themselves away from getting mired in politics.  They’re very understanding people and capable of relating well, but they’re also wary of the risks of complex social dynamics.  They’re very good at reading others and also at hiding their own inner thoughts.

To be specific, this guy I was talking to on Youtube was quick to dismiss (dispute is the word he preferred) Robert M. Price.  I briefly defended Price as he is as about as respectable as you can get, but its true that he doesn’t toe the party line of Biblical scholarship (ie conventional belief of mainstream Christianity).  This guy definitely valued the theistic majority perspective of Biblical scholarship.  People in Biblical scholarship tend to be Christians and so its no great surprise that belief in the historical Jesus is just assumed.  One would have to be extremely naive to claim that this field was one of the more objective fields in academia.

Okay… so, I knew that if I tried to defend Price any further, this Christian would just nitpick and it would ultimately be just a battle of opinons.  This kind of person can be very willful in having great intellectual stamina in going over and over the same little detail.  I imagine that he would continually demand quotes and references all the while offering few of his own… or, anyways, that is a technique many apologists use… they just assume their position doesn’t need to be proved that its so obviously true.

In some ways, I prefer the ranting apologists more… the way an INFP apologist would act. lol  There is an honesty about in-your-face prosyletizing.  On the other hand, these more pedantic types lure you in with an appearance of being reasonable, but no amount of rationality will sway them.  They just enjoy discussing ideas even though they’ve stated the exact same ideas a million times before.  I’m fine with belief as long as someone is willing to admit that their views are beliefs.  However, this type has this intricate facade of rationalization that you can’t even pierce through to the actual person behind it all.

*end rant*

I suspect this is a conflict that I experience when my Ne confronts the Ni of another.  This might go back to my dad having auxiliary Ni.  Anyways, its a challenge for me.  The Ni is hiding away from the view of my Ne, but my Fi can sense it behind the social facade (especially in INFJs).  I want to force to the surface which is exactly where Ni doesn’t want to be, where it can’t be in fact.  My Ne gets bored with the narrow focus even though I can be momentarily impressed by the depth of insight that Ni sometimes proffers forth.  I just don’t have the patience waiting around for that inisight that may or may not show itself.  My Ne has thousand directions to go in and time is a’wasting.  Curiosity beckons.

I think this is particularly magnified when Ni is the dominant for the other person as my Ne is auxiliary.  I don’t identify with my thinking per se.  Its simply how I try to relate to the world.  My auxiliary Ne holds ideas very lightly.  I too have an inner certainty but it just ain’t involving ideas for sure.  Also, my inner certainty is less aloof as INFPs are more likely to get worked up than an INFJ.  The burning passion of an idealistic core (Fi) manifests through the ungrounded infinitude of wonder and possibility (Ne).  Simply put, Ne hates conventional thinking with a passion.  It chafes against more plodding thought processes, and it mistrusts the aloof congenial nature (or facade as Fi judges it) of an INFJ.

Don’t get me started about NTs.  🙂

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Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

14 minutes later

Marmalade said

I realize I was projecting to a great degree. I don’t really know that guy on Youtube beyond my very brief interaction. I just have this sore point when it comes to apologists… or really with anyone who has strong beliefs. The only thing I’m righteous about is in relation to the righteousness of others. I’m a millitant agnostic afterall.

This does go back to my dad and my recent interaction with him. I’ll be seeing him tomorrow. I hope it goes well. I’ll steer away from all serious discussion… oh, who am I kidding… I’ll have to not say anything at all if I try to avoid serious comments. Oh well, such is my fate.

There should be a rule against INFPs becoming intellectuals. We’re just too sensitive of souls. We should be kept ensconsed in walled gardens and distant mountain retreats far from the maddening crowd. Of course, we must be permitted a library but maybe only stock it with poetry and fiction… oh yeah, and be sure to give us plenty of art supplies.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 3 hours later

Marmalade said

Actually, there is a big difference between a Ni dominant person and a Ni auxiliary person like my dad. My dad really isn’t an aloof person at all, but he does have a bit of that quality in that he is so focused outward that he often hides his true opinions. He has this deep side that rarely shows, and when it does show its filtered through Te: principles, analysis, practical evaluation, etc. He is very capable of open-minded philosophizing fueled by a sense of wonder… amd he even lets others see this side of him when you catch him in a relaxed mood.

Its kind of funny how opinionated INFPs can be (or can appear to be), but you have to give us credit in that we change our opinions somewhat easily (except for our few cherished ideals). INFPs can have a way of stating things as if they were strong opinions (when feeling worked up or defensive), but it really has nothing to do with core values.

Dominant Fi can be hidden in the way its not easily verbilized. However, Fi is so blatantly obvious compared to Ni. Or even compare the Fi of an INFP with the Ti of an INTP. When an INFP gets there Fi panties in a bunch, they can be downright annoying… very messy emotions will be splattered all over the place.

Ni is very interesting. Ni talks around an idea, but does so in a very focused way. Its like knowing a blackhole exists by its gravity alone. Ni writing style can be very convoluted and meandering. Both Ni and Ne can lead to verbosity, but Ni comes off as more philosophical and abstract somehow… maybe because it exists solely in the inner world.

Ni, by definition, can never be directly expressed and so can only be known via an Extraverted function. OTOH Ne is just there trying to get your attention. Ne is also more playful in that it wants to interact, and if one is not careful Ne can lead to superficiality and flakiness (ie being a dilettante).

I sometimes have a bit of the dilettante in me jumping from one temporary interest to the next. I have a hard time committing myself fully to anything, but of course I idealize this tendency in order to put a positive spin on my Achilles’ Heel. People who actually have strong opinions and stick to them are just plain righteous idiots… whereas I am “flexible” and able to see multiple perspectives. rotfl

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 13 hours later

Marmalade said

The interesting thing about the internet is that you get the opportunity to interact with more Introverts in a way you’d never do in everyday life.  Online interactions encourage Introverts to show the side of themselves they normally hide.  This is good and bad because its the side of them that is least socially adapted.

So, an Ni type might seem even more intellectual or detached.  And an Fi type might become even more passionate… or, yes, righteous.  An Fi type might go so far relying on their dominant that they feel they have people figured out… ahem… not that I’d ever fall into such low behavior.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 14 hours later

Marmalade said

There is another blog of mine that has very similar subject matter.  Its about a specific archetypes that are related: Trickster, the Primal Man, the Titan/Giant, the Hero, and the Savior… also, the Divine Child and Shadow.  These archetypes are especially central to the Monomyth.

Myth, Religion, and Social Development

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

How did it go with your Dad? I’ve been thinking about this for a while but haven’t discussed it yet with you, sorry.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

1 day later

Marmalade said

That is funny! I put that last comment in the wrong blog apparently. It really doesn’t fit here.

Hello Nicole. Enjoy the holidays?

You might be able to tell from my plethora of blogging that I spent a lot of time at home. I had 3 days off in a row, but because of weather conditions haven’t yet visited with any family. Hopefully, I’ll see my parents tomorrow. We’re planning to visit one of my brothers in a nearby town.

The roads have been very icy this week. Strange weather. There was thunder and lightning last night and rain all today which was of course supposed to freeze.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

2 days later

Nicole said

thanks, I have been having a very relaxing holiday, just what I wanted!

we just had some very high winds but everything seems normal this time of year – snow, freezing rain, rain, sunny weather – we get a little of it all…

Marmalade : Gaia Child

2 days later

Marmalade said

Relaxing holidays always are good for me. So, what was relaxing about your holidays. Did you stay at home?

I was thinking about some other things when I mentioned strange weather. There has been some very warm weather in the Midwest. Along with that, there have been some tornoado watches (not in my area), but I don’t know if any tornadoes have been spotted.

I finally spent some time with my parents today. It was nice to see them, but they’ll be gone tomorrow and so is a short visit. It was all the family together today which isn’t my favorite way of experiencing family. It wasn’t stressful though because everyone seemed in a good mood.

I guess everything went fine with my dad. I don’t think my dad understood why I was annoyed at him and I didn’t feel like explaining. I really didn’t see any advantage to having a discussion about it. I more or less kept conversation light.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

5 days later

Nicole said

I’m glad things went well with your dad.

Yes, it was relaxing because of being at home, but especially because I didn’t answer the phone or spend time on the computer, and playing games like Munchkin and Carcassonne with my kids. Do you know of Munchkin? Seems like it would appeal to your sense of humour 🙂

It was wonderful to have my oldest daughter Julia home for a few days.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

5 days later

Marmalade said

Munchkin? No, I don’t believe I’ve heard of it. Nor does Carcassonne sound familiar. My niece doesn’t seem too excited about games. She is more into imaginative play-acting. She probably doesn’t enjoy games because she dislikes losing. She was an only child the first 4 yrs of her life and she is used to getting her own way.

Is Munchkin a board game? I used to play a lot of games growing up. My friends and I would play almost any kind of game… board games, card games, video games. I don’t play games as much anymore. Occasionally I play a video game with my friend. Until recent years, I used to love playing Rummy but I finally became annoyed with the luck factor which is the largest part of the game.

Its interesting, though, that many kids games have large luck factors. I wonder what that teaches kids. Historically-speaking, the luck factor of games relates to divinization. The connection is lost to most of us moderns, but games have a strong connection to religion. They’re a ritual of sorts. The ritual itself is more important than the outcome of the game.

I’ll have to blog about that sometime. I’ve come across some fascinating info when studying the symbolism of numbers as it relates to games.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

5 days later

Nicole said

I used to play a lot of board games with my friends growing up, but we didn’t have many video games back them 🙂

Munchkin is a types of special card game – the other is a sort of card/board game… Munchkin is unfortunately very luck oriented (you’re right, that can get very annoying!) but Carcassonne is strategic.

That’s an interesting philosophical point about the large luck factors. You’re right this all could make a cool blog 🙂

The Story of INFP

The Story of INFP

Posted on Jul 7th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
This blog is for Nicole.  This is a summary of a story I told to someone on the Globalchatter forum in trying to explain INFP in a different way.  The thread was titled Ne’s public face.

You could think of an INFP’s Ne as a loyal servant who walks the perimiter of the grounds carrying a lantern before it and with a guard dog by its side. Maybe the guard dog is Te. The Ne is the face that greets visitors at the door like a butler. Ne checks the gates and doors, and secures the windows. It ensures that its master isn’t disturbed in doing his important work in the study, and it dutifully brings the dominant what it needs whenever called.

Ne the servant sometimes takes his job so seriously that he wanders off the grounds following the tracks of an animal that might be dangerous and picks up scat to bring back to the master, but Ne gets easily distracted and follows another track that crossed the original track. This tracking goes on and on, and the servants backpack gets overloaded with specimens…but miraculously in what seems like aimless wandering it ends up back at its master house. Tired, Ne goes back inside satisfied at having done a good job, gives the specimens to the master and goes to the Ne’s sleeping quarters.

Si is the master’s personal secretary who never leaves the house, and with Ne tired out Si takes over some of the servant’s duties. When someone knocks at the door, Si responds in fear and uncertainty double-bolting the door. Si runs up to tell the master that their is a horrible monster lurking outside, and they try to decide whether to sic the Te dog on the potential intruder. They both cower huddled together in the study frozen in inaction.

Ne wakes up, goes downstairs and answers the door. It turns out it was just a girl scout selling cookies. Ne politely buys some cookies and brings them up to the master’s study with two glasses of milk. The Fi master says he wasn’t afraid and that he was just about to take care of the problem himself.

And here is from a discussion I had with some INFJs:

Fi wants to simply clear a path through the woods, but wants the woods to remain as is. Fi wants the woods b/c the trees enclose the path. Fe sees the woods as material to build a structure w/ in which people can live. Fi wants to build also, but wants it to be unobtrusive. Also, Fi is mostly considering the individual and so it is just making its own way through the brush. Others may follow, but that is secondary. Also, I’d say Fi is making a path into the woods rather than out of the woods. Fe enjoys the woods too, but wants it as a nature preserve that can be used for human needs. Both find value in the woods.

Fe is the missionary that comes to the stone-age tribe of Fis hidden deep w/in the ancient trees. Fe invites Fi out into the open. Fi has never seen the horizon before and runs screaming back into his protective home. The Fi tells this tale of adventure to the excited tribe who listens in awe to his great feats and becomes a hero in the telling. Meanwhile, the Fe is thinking what a strange fellow.

Access_public Access: Public 5 Comments Print Post this!views (189)  

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 10 hours later

Nicole said

delightful… it makes me think of daimons, of “the novel Aristoi by Walter Jon Williams, where daimones are computerized sub-personalities developed through a combination of mental exercise and embedded computers.” and of his dark materials which has actually inspired biometric-daemons

thanks dear Ben! the more i understand my friend the more i think of him as… just a friend. we had another non-conversation today while he was busy doing anything else. when i lightly mentioned it was difficult having a conversation with him, he didn’t even respond.

but i’m ok with it!

moving on, moving forward, beginning again to begin… again – but hopefully not so soon this time. you think i can give myself the rest of the summer off? maybe even the fall? God knows I have too much on my plate until the Japan December conference is over.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 13 hours later

Marmalade said

Oh, Nicole, who knows what life has in store for you?  🙂

Julie : Waterbearer

about 16 hours later

Julie said

Well, she’s going to spend this weekend with yet another INFP ~ (moi).  I’ll try to rehearse light topics of conversation for the L O N G drive to LAX…. :)) !!

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 24 hours later

Marmalade said

Howdy Julie!  I hope you two have fun.

Nicole,  Aristoi looks like a novel that I’d enjoy.  The video at the second link was amusing.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

Well, Julie, I seem to be surrounded by delightful INFPs, and have no fears about the weekend with you :):) we will have so much fun. Ben’s another of my favourite INFPs, and there are at least a couple more Gaians who are too…

Ben, I think you would enjoy Aristoi. I gobbled it up, would love to read more about that universe… and yeah, I never know what each new day will bring so – help! or yay! or something lol

MBTI: INFPs & INTPs, Global Chatter & Theory

I was talking to someone online about INFPs and INTPs.  It reminded me of my days at which is a now defunct forum.  😦  *sigh*

It was nice to summarize my experience and understanding.  So, I thought I’d share my thoughts here with some links to cached pages from the INFP forum.

 – – –



Your query amuses me. I understand. Life is more confusing than the strict personality types can portray. It took me a long time to make sense of it all.

I guess theoretically I could be a Thinking person. It doesn’t really matter to me how I’m labelled by others, but I’ll give you the reasons I identify with INFP.

I took many online tests and I always tested as INFP. I joined an INFP forum and it was utterly amazing how similar I was to many people there. I did meet some other INFPs who were more of an intellectual bent (afterall, INFPs have Ne just as much as INTPs). I finally took the official test (including the Step II) and I tested as INFP.

I’ve had to study theory to a great extent to understand my sense of being an INFP (by the way, many INFPs love theory especially as it relates to psychology as the MBTI was developed by an INFP; I had my best discussions on an INFP forum with a mix of INFPs and INFJs).

There are two ways of understanding an extremely intellectual INFP.

First, there is Beebe’s function roles. The auxiliary for INFPs is Ne which when strongly developed can lead to an intellectual bent. INFPs use Ne to deal with the world and so intellectuality is one way INFPs learn to adapt (and to protect their Fi). This especially makes sense when you consider that the INFP’s inferior (Te) is also (according to Beebe) their aspirational. INFPs, as long as they don’t become psychologically stunted, will always feel lacking in the Te department and will be drawn towards this ability (either in developing it or attacking it).

Apparently, I inherited my grandmother’s INFP-like genetics; but, as I was raised by two Te parents (one being a dominant Te intellectual), I had Te modelled for me. I aspire to prove myself to my dad through intellectuality, but in INFP fashion I see intellectuality as an ideal of truth (i.e., authenticity; there is no greater ideal for an INFP).

Secondly, there is MBTI Step II. I’d recommend you check out this test and maybe take it as it gives a much more nuanced view of type. Each function is broken down into 5 factors. Very few people fit perfectly into a specific type, but on any given factor it isn’t unusual to be strong. A factor that goes against the overall function description is called out-of-preference (OOPs).

There were only 2 OOPs in my test. I was strongly Questioning rather than Accomodating (which the latter is a factor of Feeling). And I was strongly Methodical rather than Emergent (which the latter is a factor of Perceiving). So, to be precise, I’m a Questioning, Methodical INFP: who is precise, challenging and wants discussion; and who is more intellectually organized.

However, there is one further aspect to consider. In the MBTI Step II results, it is also shown how your results compare to others who test as the same type. It’s perfectly normal for an INFP to test as strong in Questioning and Methodical. Interesting!

Furthermore, from a traits viewpoint, type theory doesn’t make any sense at all. Most people test in the middle rather than strongly to either side. Barcode (barcode9588) points this out in her later videos and as INTP she is drawn to the scientific precision of the traits model. However, as an INFP, I think the Jungian model captures a more subtly nuanced understanding that science as yet doesn’t know how to test for.

I hope that is helpful. If you want to study it more for yourself, I can give you some website and book recommendations.

I’d be curious to know what type you’ve tested as. Are you wondering about Thinking and Feeling in your own experience?

Nice to meet you,

 – – –
Do you ever visit online typology forums? I learned the most about typology in discussions with people of the same or similar type as it helped me to understand why differences exist. Maybe it’s an INFP thing, but I appreciated seeing how people wrote about their experience as it related to type descriptions and theory.
That relates to your first question. For an INFP, subjectivity and objectivity aren’t as easily separated… and it seems somehow different than it is for most INTPs.  But, in general, my observations are that a less mature INFP will have less sense of objectivity and a less mature INTP will have less sense of subjectivity. 
The difference is that both an INFP’s auxiliary Ne and their aspirational Te can attract them to objectivity (logic, rationality, etc.), but an INTP also has auxiliary Ne and so is more rooted in the abstract.  The INFP’s Fi balances the abstract Ne whereas the INTP’s Ti magnifies the abstract Ne.  Or that is how it seemed to me when dealing with INTPs on various forums including INTP Central.
It’s hard to describe the difference and I don’t know if you understand what I’m trying to communicate.  There are different aspects to this.
First, INFPs’ greater potential for mixing subjectivity and objectivity allows for them to be (when mature and confident in themselves) more aware on multiple levels. What I mean is that INFPs can divide or spread their focus on what to an INTP may seem like unrelated areas. 
A group of INFPs discussing a topic will be just as wide-ranging as a group of INTPs in terms of ideas.  But the INFP group won’t focus as exclusively on just the ideas.  INFPs love ideas and love abstract theory.  It’s just INFPs also love relationships, emotions, and subjective values; and INFPs are equally trusting of rational thought and non-rational hunches. On top of that, INFPs (along with INTPs) love imagination and considering possibilities, and so they’ll go where ever their curiosity leads them.
For INFPs, they simultaneously think and feel out a set of ideas and the people discussing those ideas. INFPs are very aware of the subjective and inter-subjective.  They can learn to be very good at reading people, and so they look at what is assumed/implied and not just what is overtly stated.  INFPs can be downright paranoid about the unstated. They want to know a person’s motivation… the person’s true, authentic self even. A discussion is not only an opportunity to learn new information or a new perspective but also an opportunity to observe human nature in action.
This is why INFPs love MBTI. It allows them to simultaneously explore the subjective and objective.  INTPs, on the other hand, love MBTI maybe just as much but they focus on theory and data to the extent that (especially in a debate) they can almost forget that psychology is about real people (i.e., non-abstract entities; although well-developed INTPs can be extremely perceptive of others; as it’s their aspirational, INTPs potentially could develop Fe more than INFPs).
Furthermore, there is also an element in how ideas are seen to be connected and how they’re communicated.
Thinking causes INTPs to be more competitive and it can give an aggressive (or even snarky) edge to their Ne (this is more how an INFP perceives it and not how another INTP might perceive it). Feeling causes INFPs to be more collaborative and it can give a more child-like imagination/playfulness to their Ne (also, it causes the INFP to become more emotionally invested in or even identified with the ideas/views being discussed or rather what is perceived as being behind those ideas/views). Of course, the situation can be entirely different when other function roles are in play such as being in the grip of the inferior (when INFPs can become very intellectually combative and dismissive; I recently wrote a blog post about Beebe supposedly considering INFPs to be the most judgmental type –
Also, INTPs can at times be extremely nitpicky. If an INTP isn’t relaxed, it’s hard to know what they actually think because when INTPs feel uptight or on the defensive they can become overly analytical and confrontationally contrarian.  Even when relaxed, INTPs often act less immediately friendly (i.e., easygoing, inviting, emotionally open; especially a group of INTPs where they can sometimes require a hazing period for new members).  INFPs, however, want to be included and want others to feel included (i.e., touchy-feely; on an INFP forum, smiley faces and *hugs* are very common and new members are made to feel welcome). They would rather laugh with you than at you. 
INFPs are less concerned about analytical details or even the exact logic (although they can learn to highly appreciate those things if it becomes central to their value system).  INFPs have a slightly more holistic way of thinking than even INTPs because for an INFP thinking includes the subjective.  Ideas are about abstract and objective thought, but ideas are grounded in human experience and profound feelings/values which aren’t always so easily communicated.  If the INFP never fully develops their intellect and never learns to integrate their Fi and Ne, then they might feel very divided and pulled in too many directions.  Some INFPs avoid this fate by simply not developing their intellects and dismissing objective thought by idealizing something else (love, peace, God, universal health care, etc.).
Of course, both types are similar in that they use Ne to perceive connections and patterns, to create models that express their internal understanding.  The main difference to understand is between Thinking and Feeling.
INTPs will appear more formalized in their thinking (more analytically careful, more logical, more concerned about precise definitions).  As such, INTPs focus on distinctions (which applies equally to people as to ideas… meaning that many INTPs probably feel more autonomous or even isolated than INFPs).  INTPs have more clear sense of what is intellectually correct or false, and so temd to be very intellectually opinionated.  I think this can lead to a hierarchical way of thinking we’re ideas are ranked according to their superiority (this may be even more true for NTJ types). 
INFPs, on the other hand, are more accepting of different ideas as simply being different intellectual perspectives.  They’re less attached to intellect in general (but specific intellectual ideas or theories may become entangled with their deeply held values) and so are more open to trying to understand another’s perspective (as long as the other is willing to do the same).  INFPs have a clear sense of right/wrong, but it just plays out differently on the intellectual level.  Instead of focusing on distinctions, INFPs want to know how ideas (like people) relate (because ideas also are experienced subjectively… not just thought but felt and contemplated upon, and must be translated into their personal Fi understanding).  As a model of thinking, relationship leads to a more lateral (rather than hierarchical) way of determining truth.  INFPs are emotionally snesitive and so they don’t enjoy heated debate as much as INTPs.  INFPs, instead, seek out agreement and common ground.  A correct idea is only as meaningful as it’s connection to authentic understanding (which includes the authentic truth of what it means to be human).

Did I end up answering your questions?  Much has been written on these topics in books, websites and forums… certainly, my view is just one of many.  I’m not sure if I’m in a position to conclusively answer your second question about the possiblity and commonality of rational/logical INFPs.  I have met many intellectual INFPs, but extremely intellectual INFPs do seem relatively uncommon as compared to INTPs.  According to theory, no INFP is primarily intellectual in the sense of the NT pairing.  A more practical possibility to consider, using trait theory, is whether there are people who not only are in the middle of Thinking and Feeling but who are born with or learn early on a proficiency in using both.  To tell you the truth, I haven’t looked extensively into trait theory and so I don’t know what researchers have concluded.
Anyways, all that I’ve written is based on my studies of the typology theories of others, but it also includes much of my own theorizing based on my own observations.  I can’t claim I’m absolutely correct in my conjectures.  It’s just what has made sense to me up to this point. 
If you’re interested in seeing the origins of my personal theorizing, I did manage to dredge up a few cached pages from a now defunct forum (
INFP subypes?
Page 2 (not found in Google cache)
Thinking Styles and You: Part II
Levels/Layers of Individuality
As I remember it, I started the “INFP subtypes?” discussion thread before I had heard of the MBTI Step II.  So, my theorizing in that thread probably can for the most part be explained by Step II’s more detailed factor analysis, but it was fun to look back at my developing thoughts on the matter.  I mentioned in that thread Dario Nardi’s subtypes as presented in his book Character and Personality Type.  Nardi claims he based his subtypes partly on his own observation of working with clients combined with some theoretical knowledge such as life themes, but I’ve never come to a conclusion about whether Nardi’s subtypes make sense to me (I will say I like the series of books that were made by Dario Nardi and Linda V. Berens which are some of the best introductions to type theory, and I’m very intrigued by Berens’ Interaction Styles).  I generally prefer to think in terms of Beebe’s role functions (see these articles: Evolving the eight-function model; and Type and Archetype – Part One and Part Two). 
There are a lot of other good resources out there: Personality Type by Lenore Thomson and The Lenore Thomson Exegesis Wiki, Compass of the Soul by John L. Giannini, Facets of Type and Functions of Type by Gary Hartzler and Margaret Hartzler, Building Blocks of Personality Type by Leona Haas Integrity in Depth by John Beebe, and Pathways to Integrity by Blake Burleson.  If you prefer learning by discussing with others, then I’d recommend the forum Typology Central which has a good mix of different types and is a very active community.  If you want an even more detailed understanding about personality, I’d research other models such as Trait Theory (Big Five, for example, has been correlated with MBTI) and Ernest Hartmann’s Boundary Types (there are some books and research papers on the topic, but here is a short introductory article, How “Thin” Are Your Boundaries?; also these types have also been correlated with MBTI and are similar with many other psychological categorizations).  The closest to an overview on my thoughts on personality types can be found in my post Psychology and Parapsychology, Politics and Place.

INFP: Most Judgmental Type?

Vicky Jo works in the field of Jungian typology.  She is an INFJ, and she often writes about the distinction between INFJ and INFP.  She mentions that John Beebe has experienced in his own practice that INFPs are the most judgmental types he has as clients.  Let me explain why this might be from the perspective of my being an INFP.

First off, Vicky Jo also says that Beebe considers Fi the least understood function-attitude.  So, there may be good reason that INFPs are or appear judgmental.  John Giannini claims our whole society is oriented towards ESTJ and he claims that Jung thought this societal tendency started back in second century Christianity.  We INFPs have been oppressed for a long time.  Yes, we INFPs are prone to being judmental… especially we male INFPs as ESTJ is the ultimate ideal of masculinity.

INFPs can judge quickly because we are so capable of accessing people quickly.  An INFP looks past the superficial and looks straight into the souls of other people… or that is how it can feel like to the INFP.  If an INFP feels they can’t sense the true self of the other, they won’t trust that person and probably will suspect the person is hiding something.  INFPs are very aware of facades and social personas which are seen as meaningless at best and deceptive at worst.

INFPs are sensitive, territorial, personal, self-aware,  and perceptive… and so defensive of what we know at a deep level.  INFPs are so “self” aware that we often feel we’re more aware of others than others are of themselves.  INFPs have a strong sense of the individual, be it the INFP’s sense of their own individuality or the individuality of others.  And INFPs are very aware of relationships between individuals, hyper-aware even… all the while being super sensitive about group dynamics which often are responded to negatively if they feel intrusive.  An extreme INFP can be neurotically aware of everything around them… every little nuance in the environment will be felt… or else the INFP will become shut down completely and focus entirely inward which will probably just make them all the more sensitive to every tiny perceived intrusion.

The INFP thinks of self in terms of self-honoring, self-loving, self-honoring and self-respect, but a different type may perceive an INFPs self-focus as selfish (as INFPs aren’t always known for being outwardly responsible types).  INFPs hold authenticity above almost all else, and any perceived inauthenticity is utterly unforgivable.

INFPs know their values strongly and are very clear in their feelings.  They’re judgmental of others in the same way that they’re also judgmental of themselves.  An INFP’s moral code, their deepest value is felt as an absolute truth.  They would sacrifice everything including their life if challenged at this most fundamental level.  If this deepest level of their self is transgressed, their only choice is to fight back or else feel broken.  Considering how difficult it is for an INFP to fight back and win in an ESTJ world, many INFPs feel broken.

INFPs are the idealists, the artists, and the lovers of the world.  INFPs hate conflict (although may feel invigorated by a righteous cause).  Black and white thinking is a particular issue with INFPs, and as Te is their inferior/aspirational it’s easy for an INFP when stressed to fall into black and white thinking themselves.  For an INFP, there is an absolute right and wrong and INFPs are very talented at discerning subtle moral complexities… but this ability gets undermined when they get pulled into their inferior, when they are ‘in the grip’.  There is a contradition within INFPs.  They can be the most empathetic, most understanding, most compassionate type you will ever meet… but get on the wrong side of them or catch them in the wrong mood, and you will see the face of absolute judgment or even righteous vengeance.  I had a discussion with some INFPs about how our type would make the best terrorist.  An INFP would gladly die for a cause that they felt worthy… heck we INFPs could even romanticize the whole concept of dying for a cause… because we INFPs want a cause that is worth dying for or else what is the point of living at all.

The odd thing about INFPs is that normally we appear as extremely laid back (when not stressed).  When feeling safe and in our own comfort zone, we are the prototype of laid back.  INFPs don’t want to cause waves unnecessarily.  We save our energy for the important things which are rare.  Most things just don’t matter.  We care about the deep issues and not the everyday superficial conflicts (although these everyday events certainly can demoralize the INFP).  Because INFPs want to go with the flow, we tend hide our deepest values until someone encroaches on them… and, when that happens, they will know in the clearest of terms (or maybe not).  INFPs can hold a grudge and you may not even know why (even if you realize such a grudge exists).  An INFP might not even consider you worthy of an explanation or they just assume you should know as they know… and if you don’t know, then that is your problem.  An INFPs isn’t necessarily trying to play mind-games and INFPs do value honesty, but their strong sense of privacy can create an aloofness (or at least what appears as aloofness to other types).

INFPs are so hidden and we can express ourselves so subtly that it’s easy for other types to be completely confused.  INFPs can seem solid or still in how unexpressive we are, but realize there is often deep ocean currents within… the stillness of the surface is a mirage.  INFPs are so capable of looking past the facades of others for the very reason that INFPs are so capable of putting up their own facades.  INFPs, in self-defense, often don’t want others to be able to read them.  You have to earn an INFP’s trust for them to let you enter their world and their world is vast.  And once you earn their trust, beware anyone who betrays it.

At Vicky Jo’s website, she describes Beebe’s view of Fi (“Beebe On Fi” in the drop down box):

Dr. Beebe says that Fi spends a lot of time brooding over incomparable human values for the future.

Fi concerns itself with integrity

It is about “honor” versus “policy.”

Fi is a “worrying” function.

The metaphor he uses for Fi is a variation on the seven blind men and the elephant — do you know that one? Well, John says that instead of seven blind men, it’s more like seven introverted Feeling tentacles feeling the elephant to try to figure out the form of the value.

Introverted Feeling’s intention and deepest goal is “understanding.” It wants to know where value went wrong and where it might be reinstated.

Fi concerns itself with integrity, and John says symptoms of integrity issues include depression and anxiety. He wonders if “anxiety” altogether might be a form of Fi?

He states that “Honor” is a key term for introverted Feeling. What they want more than anything is a sense of “respect.” If introverted Feeling does not feel respected, you will be estranged from them, and no longer occupy a place in their life.

At the following link, there is a video of Vicky Jo (an INFJ) talking with an INFP.  Notice how the INFP slumps a bit, leans away, hides his hands, and expresses a slight reticient nervousness.  Also, notice the loose fitting clothing he wears and notice how his appearance in general is more plain (no bright colors or striking patterns).

At this next link, there is another interview with an INFP.  This guy is more self-confident, but even so there is still a strongly reserved quality.  Also, notice the similarities to the other INFP: slumping, loose clothing, plain appearance, etc.

Some think that Ghandi was an INFP, and here are quotes that Vicky Jo picked as being representative of an INFP.

I noticed some examples on Vicky Jo’s website.  INFPs want to integrate or become the dragon rather than slay it.  INFPs simply want to experience and to help others to experience deep feelings rather than make those feelings go away as if they were a problem to be solved (go to the website and sellect “Perfect Example of Fi” in the drop down window).

Here are some other pages about INFPs on Vicky Jo’s website:

For something slightly different, I always enjoy perusing the Green Light Wiki on Lenore Thomson (in particular, check out the page on Fi). Also, you might enjoy the INFP profile by Dr. A.J. Drenth on the Personality Junkie website.

The Story of INFP

I just had the odd experience of coming across my own writing in another person’s blog.  This person was quoting something I wrote from a forum.  I can’t remember when I wrote it, but it probably was a couple years ago.

Ne (extraverted intuition) for INFPs

From an infp perspective (this is very good.. found myself laughing…and probably the most enlightening description that I found so far:):
-what is Ne
You could think of an INFP’s Ne as a loyal servant who walks the perimeter of the grounds carrying a lantern before it and with a guard dog by its side. Maybe the guard dog is Te. The Ne is the face that greets visitors at the door like a butler. Ne checks the gates and doors, and secures the windows. It ensures that its master isn’t disturbed in doing his important work in the study, and it dutifully brings the dominant what it needs whenever called.

I’ll just add that Ne the servant sometimes takes his job so seriously that he wanders off the grounds following the tracks of an animal that might be dangerous and picks up scat to bring back to the master, but Ne gets easily distracted and follows another track that crossed the original track. This tracking goes on and on, and the servants backpack gets overloaded with specimens…but miraculously in what seems like aimless wandering it ends up back at its master house. Tired, Ne goes back inside satisfied at having done a good job, gives the specimens to the master and goes to the Ne’s sleeping quarters.

Si is the master’s personal secretary who never leaves the house, and with Ne tired out Si takes over some of the servant’s duties. When someone knocks at the door, Si responds in fear and uncertainty double-bolting the door. Si runs up to tell the master that their is a horrible monster lurking outside, and they try to decide whether to sic the Te dog on the potential intruder. They both cower huddled together in the study frozen in inaction.

Ne wakes up, goes downstairs and answers the door. It turns out it was just a girl scout selling cookies. Ne politely buys some cookies and brings them up to the master’s study with two glasses of milk. The Fi master says he wasn’t afraid and that he was just about to take care of the problem himself.

Here is another description I gave differentiating between INFJs and INFPs (I’ll share the link as well even though it doesn’t lead anywhere):

Fi wants to simply clear a path through the woods, but wants the woods to remain as is. Fi wants the woods b/c the trees enclose the path. Fe sees the woods as material to build a structure w/ in which people can live. Fi wants to build also, but wants it to be unobtrusive. Also, Fi is mostly considering the individual and so it is just making its own way through the brush. Others may follow, but that is secondary. Also, I’d say Fi is making a path into the woods rather than out of the woods. Fe enjoys the woods too, but wants it as a nature preserve that can be used for human needs. Both find value in the woods.

Fe is the missionary that comes to the stone-age tribe of Fis hidden deep w/in the ancient trees. Fe invites Fi out into the open. Fi has never seen the horizon before and runs screaming back into his protective home. The Fi tells this tale of adventure to the excited tribe who listens in awe to his great feats and becomes a hero in the telling. Meanwhile, the Fe is thinking what a strange fellow.

All of that brings back some good memories.  The first place on the web that I spent time on was INFP Global Chatter.  It felt like my home on the web.  It was such an amazing feeling to meet a group of people who were so similar to me.  That is why it’s sad to see that the forum is presently down and nobody knows if it will ever be back up again.  I’m sad.  😦

Some INFPs from that forum have migrated to a new forum:

Love of Truth: Discussing vs Arguing

It’s kind odd that I don’t like direct conflict but I enjoy debate.

I blame my parents.  Both my mom and dad taught me to idealize truth and honesty.  My dad gave me the debating skills to pick apart any argument and he taught me the love of wisdom.  My mom gave me an irritable disposition that leads me to being very upfront with my opinions.  Also, my mom gave me a non-intellectual interest in human nature.  Combined together, I have an equal ability to analyze both the argument and the person making the argument.  Furthermore, my mom gave me a stubborn streak that goes directly with an ability to obsessively think about something for endless hours.  To mix metaphors, when something gets caught in my craw I don’t let go until every stone is turned.

But I can’t entirely blame my parents.  The MBTI personality type that I am is INFP which is fairly different from my parents’ personalities.  INFPs are idealists to the extreme.  In a sense, I took too seriously the lessons my parents taught me.  If it wasn’t for the fact that I see every side to every argument, I could almost make a good zealot.  Sometimes when an INFP gets hold of an issue or idea that they consider of great value, they hold on like pitbulls.  We INFPs may look like fluffy teddy bears, but we often have sharp teeth.

My intellectual side is partly a genuine aspect of my identity and is partly learned behavior.  I have an inner sense of self that is sensitive and non-rational to an extreme.  I live more by imagination than by thought, but it’s thought that I often use to relate to the world.  Right or wrong, I tend to use my intellect to justify my existence.  I just want the world to make sense.  And because of this I’m hard on myself (and everyone else) for failing to make perfect sense.  It’s kinda sad, but it’s my life and that is just the way it is.

So, when I’m in an irritable mood or when a value of mine is challenged, I can be a tireless debating opponent.  However, I’m usually only aggressive to people who deserve it.  I call them like I see them.  If someone is being mean-spirited or if someone is flaunting their ignorance, then I’ve been known to clearly point it out to them.  As I see it, either discuss intelligently and politely or don’t say anything at all.  If you have nothing relevant to add but still feel you must throw in your baseless opinion, then I will tear your view apart until you either shut up or start crying like a little sissy girl.  But as long as your comments are minimally relevant and rational, I’m perfectly fine with disagreement.  In fact, I love disagreement of the intelligent variety because it means I can learn something new.  And when learning something new I’m in a very good mood.

I realize I should be nicer than I am sometimes.  But the fact of the matter is that I’ve always valued honesty above almost everything else.  I worship at the altar of truth.  And if you get in the way of my ideal of truth, I can’t be held responsible for my behavior.  Let me just say sorry in advance.  If you ever catch me in an irritable and defensive mood, just let me vent and afterwards I’ll quite likely be one of the most warm and understanding people you’ve ever met.  As long as you’re willing to be honest and considerate with me, I’ll do the same for you.  So, be open and upfront in how you express yourself and I’ll do my best to understand your view.  Talk straight with me and don’t play psychological games.  There is no point to it.  You’re wasting my time and your own.

If all you want to do is argue, I’ll sometimes concede to that way of relating… until I become too emotioanlly drained (which can take a long time as my obsessive persistence usually lasts longer than that of most people).  If you want conflict, I can be a worthy debate opponent.  Sadly, though, it seems to me that those who seek conflict the most are the very people who aren’t talented debaters.  Be argumentative if you must but at least be interesting rather than simply annoying.  In particular, I’d rather not deal with the condescending snarkiness of know-it-all intellectual wannabes.

I should add that what I love most in life is seeking and sharing knowledge.  When I get obsessed with some idea or topic, I can spend enormous amounts of time doing nothing but research. I dig deep to find every interesting connection and every significant detail.

If I don’t know something, I admit it.  But I’m not content to simply admit my ignorance.  If it’s important enough to voice an opinion about, then it’s important enough to inform myself about.  If you ever find yourself debating me, don’t pretend to know what you don’t actually know.  I will check every fact you claim and I will look up precise definitions.  I don’t care if you have a college degree and are an expert in your field, don’t try to bullshit me.

Most importantly, don’t present opinions as facts (and the same goes for beliefs).  That is just plain wrong in my book.  Opinions are fine.  I have plenty of my own.  Just be humble enough to admit that it’s just an opinion.  If you lie to me about a fact or simply talk ignorantly, I will throw it back in your face and will publicly humiliate you with glee.  Or if you try to hide your true intentions behind facts and logic, I’ll pick at them like scabs until your motives start to show.  Don’t mess with the truth and I won’t mess with you.

All that said, I’m a pretty easygoing guy.  You have to be trying hard to get me rattled.  Basically, I really really do enjoy a good discussion and I’d rather have a friendly exchange than a heated argument.  I get excited about exploring new possibilities and I’m happy as can be when I meet someone who knows something I don’t.  As I see it, the quest for truth is an endless quest because truth is a mystery best understood in terms of questions rather than conclusions.  If like me you are a lover of truth, then we shall get along like best pals.

MBTI Types and Conventional Religion

This started out as just a post about INFJs, but I have some further thoughts about other types as well. My bias, stated upfront, is that of an INFP. The two types, despite both being introverted idealists (INF), are in many ways complete opposites: dominant introverted intuition with auxiliary extraverted feeling vs dominant introverted feeling with auxiliary extraverted intuition. That said, I can’t say I’ve ever felt direct conflict with INFJs.

I was just visiting Typology Central (an all type MBTI discussion board). I was looking at threads about religion. I noticed an INFJ in some of those threads who I know from Global Chatter (an INFP discussion board). He is an interesting guy, but it reminded me of an aspect of INFJs that can annoy me at times.

I discussed this in a post titled Darn Apologists! of mine from my Gaia blog. I’m attracted to INFJs because their Ni gives them a unique (idiosyncratic even) perspective and they can be very independent-minded especially if they’re strongly Introverted. However, their Fe can also make them very conventional. Unlinke INFPs, I’ve noticed that many INFJs belong to more traditional forms of forms of religion. They have a love/hate relationship with social groups. However, their desire to feel like they belong to something larger than themselves is surprisingly strong for an Introverted type.

To say the least, my INFP nature balks at this. INFJs can have these crazy ideas but somehow it often leads back to such conventional worldviews. Maybe its because their ideas are so abstract (Ni) that they seek to ground them through a tradition (Fe). At least, INFJs tend to be extremely nice people. An INTJ is much more of a straightforward in their logic, but I’ll take the INFJs conventionalism over an immature INTJ’s snarkiness. Its interesting that INTJs are very opposite of conventional in that they’re the prototypical conspiracy theorist. Still, maybe that is that same Extraverted Judging function (Fe and Te) being focused with the prevailing social order just in a different way.

I should add that my criticisms of INFJs comes from my fondness for them. I seem very attracted to them as I keep befriending INFJs online and my closest friend is an INFJ. Its possible that I am attracted to the very thing I’m criticizing. They’re thinking is more grounded than my own, and it can feel to me to be a bit narrow and plodding. However, this groundedness can also lead to a depth of insight and great knowledge about a particular subject. Overall, INFPs and INFJs have enough similarities to make communication easy while having enough differences to make discussion interesting.

I was again at Typology Central.  I’ve been having a private discussion with an INTP Christian.  INTPs as a whole are generally very unreligious even anit-religious.  INTPs are clear thinkers though and so its interesting to talk to this guy.

He claims that he has never had an experience of God.  God is an idea to him, but an idea that he has been convinced of.  He seems to be an Evangelical Christian which is very strange because Evangelism idealizes direct experience.  His wife is a more an experiential type.  Maybe he trusts the experiences of those close to him.

The reason I bring this up is because its extremely intriguing that an INTP would be attracted to conventional religion.  However, it makes more sense now.  An INTP has three likely ways of relating to religion.  They can outright deny it as irrational.  They can accept it as a philosophy and analyze it.  Or they can accept the experience of others which might include the collective experience of a tradition.

INFPs swim in subjective experience, but INTPs don’t.  An INTP can’t rely on their own experience.  Even if they had a potentially spiritual experience, they’d be reluctant to trust it.  This would be true of NTs in general.

This relates to my dad who is an ENTJ.  His father was a minister and he grew up observing the hypocritical difference between his father at church and his father at home.  He became agnostic and stayed that way for much of his life.  As he grew older, he was attracted to conventional Christianity because it appealed to his dominant Extraverted Thinking which desires principles of social order.

As he became more involved in his 50s, he had some experiences that felt spiritual to him.  He didn’t seem to want to call them God and so defined them as being of the Holy Spirit.  I suspect (based on Beebe’s archetype model) this is his aspirational Introverted Feeling finally manifesting.  Still, my dad submits his experience to the conventional interpretation.  The experience is nice but secondary to him.  What he really likes about church is being around people and having an important leadership role to play.

All of this is somewhat of a new insight for me.  Typically, conventional religion is described as being mainly attractive to SJ types.  My mom is an ISTJ and she definitely isn’t the questioning type and is content to follow an external authority.  However, I’m now beginning to realize there are reasons why other types would also be attracted to conventional religion.

INFPs might be one of the types that is least attracted to conventional religion, but I’m not sure.  INFPs are more attracted to religon than NTs in general.  However, INFPs are extremely independent-minded and extremely self-certain… which could describe INTPs as well.

An INFP has their own direct experience and so they don’t have to rely on other’s experience.  An INFP has a solid Introverted Feeling that doesn’t need the external grounding that Introverted Intuition needs.  An INFP finds annoying the Extraverted Feeling tendencies of many religious groups.  An INFP is unwilling to follow like sheep as SJs like to do.

The only thing that would bring an INFP to conventional religion would be their Introverted Feeling.  If their inner experience corresponded with a particular tradition, an INFP could become quite the zealous believer.  Nonetheless, even then such an INFP would still tend to keep their religious experience as a personal matter.  I doubt INFPs would make good prosyletyzers.  An INFP prosyletyzer would probably just annoy people.  I’m partly basing this on the one INFP fundamentalist I know who can be very annoying when talking about his beliefs… a total lack of objectivity and logic… pure emotion and defensiveness.