Myers-Briggs Personality Differences

How the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory Works

The Myers-Briggs Inventory (MBTI) focuses on four pairs of basic personality traits in human beings. The inventory, based on the theories of Carl Jung, was created by Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs in the 1940s. According to their work, every person’s personality falls somewhere along a line between the extreme ends of each pair. The pairs are:

Extraverted (sociable) > Introverted (private)
Sensing (practical) > Intuitive (creative)
Thinking (logical) > Feeling (emotional)
Perceiving (flexible) > Judging (organized)

The traits in each pair are like opposite sides of a coin. Extraversion (sociable) is the flip side of Introversion (private) and vice versa. While some people are at the extreme ends of a trait continuum, most are somewhere in between. However, even those who score at one end or the other are capable of thinking and behaving like their opposites some of the time. Myers and Briggs believed that the traits by which a person is classified are simply his or her preferred modes of thinking and acting.

You’d think that having identical traits would make people more compatible. It can actually cause problems. Two extraverts may fail to take time away from social activities to enjoy each other in a relaxed way. Because they’re always with other people and never alone, the partners drift apart. On the other hand, two introverts may tire of each other’s company and start getting on each other’s nerves. The chances are, they need the influence of outside friends and activities.

Introversion vs. Extraversion

Extraverts seek out the company of others. They’re energized by parties, meetings, and other group activities. They’re outspoken and often prefer talking to listening. When the phone rings, the extravert is likely to jump up to answer it. If left on their own for long, extraverts get jittery and start looking for company.

Introverts get worn out by too much interaction with others. They prefer their own company or being with one or two close friends. They’re independent thinkers and don’t need others to help them make up their minds. Only when they have strong feelings about something are they inclined to speak up or ask advice. Introverts may seem moody at times and go off by themselves. Close friends can be offended. It’s usually nothing personal.

Sensing vs. Intuition

Sensing types are matter-of fact and literal. They get impatient when conversations dwell on the meaning behind people’s actions. They don’t take much stock in undertones or innuendoes. This practical type is more interested in what he or she sees than what might be under the surface. When they talk about the price of something, they know it to the penny. They’re detail-oriented.

Intuitive people are more imaginative and rely on their instincts. Intuitive types don’t need hard data to make all their decisions. They often act on their hunches. The interesting thing is that they’re usually right. They’re interested in new theories and ideas. They’re witty and fun to be around.

Thinking vs. Feeling

The thinking person makes decisions based on objective information. The feeling person is swayed by emotions. Thinking types often believe that those at the feeling end of the scale are too soft. Feeling types often find thinkers callous and overly concerned with hard facts.

Feeling types go out of their way to help others. They’re compassionate and understand emotions. If they hurt someone’s feelings, they’re quick to apologize. They dislike conflict and avoid it whenever possible. They know how to make others feel good.

Perceiving vs. Judging

People of the perceiving type are flexible. They usually don’t plan tasks from beginning to end. They start work and then make things up as they go along. They frustrate co-workers and friends with their tardiness and their habit of  meeting deadlines by the skin of their teeth. They’re easily distracted from what they’re doing. If an interruption is interesting enough, they’ll drop the task at hand and turn their attention to the diversion. Perceiving people are general easy-going and without strong opinions.

Judging types are organized, neat and punctual. They get disturbed when they find themselves in a chaotic environment. The judging type is systematic in his or her approach to life. They dislike big surprises, even pleasant ones. They like to undertake one project at a time, finish it, and then go on to another. Unfinished work frustrates them.

Understanding Type Differences

According to Myers-Briggs theory, one trait is no better than its opposite. They’re just different. Studying MBTI types can give you helpful insights into why you and others think and act the way you do. The perspective you gain by appreciating personality traits helps you to enrich your relationships and understand yourself better. And it gives you a preview of where rough spots are likely to occur—challenges you face as an individual and issues you sometimes have with family and friends.

Myers-Briggs Personalities—When Opposites Attract

Is the old saying right—that opposites attract? Is this good or bad?

Anne and Fred

Anne has always been emotional. Strong, silent men make her feel safe and protected. So that’s the kind of man she ended up with. She married Fred, a successful contractor. The problem is, after they’d been together for a while, Fred’s macho qualities lost some of their appeal. Anne didn’t know how he felt about things. The emotional climate of the relationship grew chilly. Whereas Fred once listened to Anne’s problems attentively, he now criticizes her for being too “clingy.” Who’s got the problem, Anne or Fred?

Anne’s attraction to strong, silent men is partly due to her insecurities. She never learned how to stand up for herself—to view herself as a strong, independent adult. Fred, on the other hand, was discouraged from showing his feelings as a child, or even having them. He was brought up to be a take-charge male. Anne looked for someone who supplied the parts that were missing in her. Fred did the same.

 Matt and Laura

Matt is an easygoing guy, liked by many people. However, he’s usually late to social engagements. When decisions are needed, he’s apt to put them off. Then he meets Laura. She’s smart, productive and on top of things. He admires this. The two begin dating. Laura has gotten into the habit of picking Matt up because her car runs like a top and his doesn’t. If their date is for 7 pm, she’s there by 6:59. When she arrives, Matt hasn’t shaved and can’t find a clean shirt. Soon Laura gets critical of his chronic tardiness. She feels taken for granted. One day she says, “Why don’t you get your car fixed? Why do I have to pick you up all the time?” Who’s got the problem?

Matt grew up a happy-go-lucky kid. His parents were lax in their discipline and cleaned up his messes. He seldom got his homework turned in on time. As an adult he expected others to continue taking up the slack for him. Laura was the middle child in a dysfunctional home. Often, she was the one in the family who prepared lunches for her sisters and her to take to school. She made sure they met the school bus on time. She learned to take care of not only herself but other people, too.

Heredity and Environment

These four people adopted ways to get along in the world that were consistent with their upbringing as well as their genetic tendencies. Anne—never an assertive child—needed a man who would replace her parents. Fred needed to feel strong and manly. Matt depended on others to make up for his irresponsibility. Laura had the habit of bailing Matt and other people out as a reaction to her over-responsible childhood

The problems of many couples are due to their personality traits, not whether one is right and the other wrong. The partners simply look at the world and respond to events differently.

Myers-Briggs Personality Traits

When couples take the Myers-Briggs inventory, they’re often amazed at their differences. In the case of Anne and Fred, Anne’s scores are heaving weighted on the feeling side, while Fred’s are weighted on the thinking side. Thinking types are rational and have cool heads. They base their decisions on logic, not feelings. Feeling types are soft-hearted and easily moved. Fred thinks that Anne is a cry-baby. Anne wonders whether Fred has any feelings.

On the Perceiving/Judging scale, Matt has mostly perceiving points. Laura scores high on the judging scale. Perceiving types tend to do things at the last minute. They like to keep their options open. Judging types prefer closure. They’re conscientious about their commitments. Matt thinks that Laura is too controlling. Laura thinks that Matt is irresponsible.

Instead of trying to understand their basic personality differences, couples tend to get into the blame game. This only escalates their conflicts. Rarely does either party change. Myers-Briggs personality typing gives partners a fresh look at themselves and each other. It helps them appreciate their unique strengths and their differences. When they have a better understanding of how each functions in the world, they can put their relationship on a higher plane—with no name-calling or blaming.

 

PSTD in INFJ Women After Sexual Assault

Several readers have asked whether INFJ women are more prone than other Myers-Briggs types to getting PTSD after sexual assault. The readers have themselves been victims of rape. I’d never considered this idea before, but I think they’re onto something.

In my opinion, INFJs tend to have stronger emotional reactions to events than other types. Sexual assault is a particularly damaging experience and PTSD is common among rape victims. Many suffer for months, years or even a lifetime.

Role of Myers Briggs Preferences

The combination of I, N, F and J functions in INFJs sets the stage for PTSD.

1)    Introversion causes them to isolate after an assault—the last thing a rape victim needs to do. Rape victims must have support and protection but they’re afraid to seek it.

2)    Intuition prompts INFJs to seek meaning in personal situations. In most cases of rape, this is a fruitless exercise because rapists are hostile to women in general, not one woman in particular. Most rapists have assaulted women before and they’ll do it again unless stopped by the legal system.

3)    The feeling function of INFJs often prevents them from taking an objective view of events—an admittedly difficult undertaking in cases of rape. It’s a highly personal crime.

4)    The judging function disposes INFJs to seek closure on issues. After rape, a woman wants to be vindicated and have the attacker brought to justice. This seldom comes about, and as a result there is no closure.

My Experience

On a business trip to St. Augustine, Florida, I stayed at a Holiday Inn. After working all day, I wanted to relax before retiring to my room so I went to the lounge for a gin and tonic. (I was still drinking alcohol at the time.) A hotel security guard in his fifties sat next to me at the bar. He struck up a conversation. I stayed for a second drink and then a third. Before finishing my last drink, I said, “I need to turn in. I have a busy day tomorrow.”

The guard said, “Let me escort you to your room.” I thought that at my age that I hardly needed an escort—but he was, after all, a security guard. Being more polite than I am now, I consented. Gallantly he offered to carry my drink, walking behind me in the hall.

After dropping my keycard into the slot and pushing the door open, I turned to take my drink from the guard. Without warning he kissed me. Surprised and confused, I laughed nervously and said goodnight. I went into my room, shutting the door behind me, took my clothes off and got into bed.

After sleeping a short time, I heard the doorknob turning. The guard had used his passkey to enter. He walked to the bed without a word, climbed on top of me, raped me, and left. I lay there groggy and confused. The attack seemed unreal. Strangely, I fell asleep again—a fact that amazes me to this day. I think the guard may have slipped a date-rape drug in my drink while walking behind me in the hallway.

Waking at dawn I felt foggy but knew that something was terribly wrong. I ran my hands over my body and felt grease on my thighs. It looked like suntan lotion. Slowly the hazy events of the night before came back.

Feeling surreal, I threw on some clothes and walked on the beach for an hour, trying to figure out what to do. I decided to report the attack to the Holiday Inn manager. This was a mistake. It gave the manager time to cover the hotel’s tracks and alert corporate lawyers. Then I went to the police. That wasn’t much better.

Back home in Gainesville, I spent the next few weeks isolating myself, fearful and depressed. I was ill, throwing up frequently and suffering migraines. I seldom left the house, never answered the door, and rarely picked up the phone. The least noise made me jump. Finally I called a friend and told her what happened. She put me in touch with the Gainesville Rape Victim Crisis Center. They told me I had acute PTSD.

For six weeks, I attended a support group at the Crisis Center. The four other women in the group had stories as bad or worse than mine. One woman had been raped by an orderly while on a hospital gurney in an elevator. He stopped between floors to assault her, then begged her not to tell anyone because he had a wife and family. He almost persuaded her.

Reader Responses

One reader responded: “I also suffer from acute PTSD. I was curious if you were aware of your personality type before your traumatic events. I am trying to see if the PTSD changed my personality or if I have just become more self-aware and mature. I never thought about my INFJ traits compounding my PTSD.” Referring to her chronic stress syndrome, she added, “In my condition, just saying ‘hello’ or working up the courage to go outside alone again have been almost insurmountable obstacles.”

Another INFJ woman wrote, “Is there anyone out there with suggestions about how an INFJ can possibly deal with a violent assault on top of the issues assigned to us as INFJs?”

My own experience with rape makes me think that I might have recovered from my PTSD faster had I been another Myers-Briggs type. The combination of introversion, the introspection that goes with intuitiveness, and the tendency to react to situations emotionally probably made matters more difficult. Support groups helped me deal with the trauma. I needed to recognize that I did not invite the attack. I was simply walking through someone’s gunsights.

I’m still susceptible to triggers that catch me unawares. A couple of years ago, a male acquaintance came to my house uninvited. I met him in the front yard. At least, I had the sense not to invite him in. As we were standing on the lawn, he put his arms around me. I went into my old mode of getting confused and laughing nervously. I asked him to leave because I had things to do in the house.

PTSD Symptoms

For the rest of the day, I tried to avoid dwelling on the situation. I went to dinner with a friend that night. Returning home around 9 pm, I felt a migraine starting. Then I got nauseated and threw up several times. I thought I might have food poisoning. I finally realized that my old PTSD was back, triggered by the man’s advances.

Although my symptoms were gone the next day, I was dismayed that I’d learned so little from the rape a few years earlier. I decided to see a therapist. After several sessions, I’d gained more insight into my PSTD. I could see that my defenses still needed work.

Recovery

My therapist taught me to turn my rational brain off and my primitive brain on when a man violates my boundaries. It’s important to defend myself without analyzing the situation. (I tend to overthink troubling issues.)

Fortunately, I’ve had chances to practice. Predatory men aren’t hard to find. Now, when a man puts his hands on me and makes me uncomfortable, I no longer laugh nervously or get confused. I take a deep breath and say, “Please don’t touch me.” Of course, this usually triggers a dismayed protest of innocence. Predators can be good actors. All I need to say in response is, “You heard me.” He rarely comes back for seconds.

Getting Support

Women who have been raped need support—particularly the support of other women who have undergone sexual assault. They need to realize that they are not to blame. Most of all, they need to inhabit their personal power and become more assertive.

As females past our teen years, we are not children. We are women with a right to be strong and free.

(Note: I haven’t written about teenage girls because it’s outside the range of my personal experience, both as a female victim and as a mental health counselor. I am convinced, however, that rape is unusually devastating for these young women. They fear exposure, shame, and the risk that people won’t believe them.)

INFJ Meets INFP

INFP (introverted-intuitive-feeling-perceiving) and INFJ (introverted-intuitive-feeling-judging) types are a lot alike. They have rich inner lives and treasure their solitude. Also, their intuition is highly developed, giving them the ability to see what’s going on under the surface. They understand why people do the things they do. Because they see through facades and games, deceivers and players can seldom fool them for long. INFPs and INFJs examine every piece of evidence for its fundamental truth and then seek the wider context into which it fits.

As idealists, both types drive themselves to achieve their goals, which are frequently humanitarian. If they don’t have the luxury of choosing careers that meet their needs, they spend much of their spare time helping others. Their values are strong and their principles firm—unless they find a valid reason to change them. Their biggest question is, “What’s my purpose?”infp_injf table

INFPs and INFJs set such high standards for themselves that they’re often disappointed in the results of their work. Because they don’t give themselves enough credit, they make good partners. Each supports and encourages the other.

They protect their privacy. When they’re not allowed enough time alone, they feel drained. They need solitude to recharge their batteries and get their energy back. As friends and partners, they understand this and are usually generous about giving each other space.

Both are somewhat prone to depression. Their introversion inclines them to be loners, giving them the tendency to brood over problems without checking the facts with others. Their feeling preference inclines them to exaggerate the importance of conflicts or hurt feelings.

Both types are generally well liked due to their warmth and sincerity. They make good listeners, put others at ease, and are valued as friends and confidantes.

Intuition (N)

The intuitive skills shared by the INFP and INFJ form their strongest bond. They usually agree on important matters. Due to differences in their perceiving and judging functions, however, they don’t always carry out practical tasks in the same way. The INFP may start a painting project, then leave it half-finished—intending to finish at a more convenient time. INFJs aren’t happy until the job is complete.

As intuitive individuals, they sift through their experiences to discover their meaning. How does the evidence fit into the big picture? People with a sensing preference, whose intuition is less developed, tend to accept things at surface value. They see no point in overthinking matters. As a result, they may fail to appreciate the insights and predictions of INFPs and INFJs—sometimes at their peril.

Work

INFPs and INFJs frequently find careers in fields requiring verbal skills. They cooperate and communicate effectively with others. Often they hold medical or social service jobs. Their sharp intuition helps them solve problems, their feeling function encourages people to trust them, and their introversion gives them time to contemplate the complex factors in situations. They prefer careers that don’t emphasize details but focus on patterns.

Counseling and mental health therapy are common careers among INFPs. INFJs do this work, too, but they can be less patient with clients’ progress. Because of their judging function, they often make the best writers. They use their verbal skills to build constructs, put them on paper, and get them published.

While both types get along with others, group projects frustrate them. They get annoyed by co-workers who don’t live up to their standards or fail to see the big picture. They generally remain polite, but inside they may be seething. When an INFP and INFJ collaborate on projects, they may have conflicts over deadlines as the former dawdles and the latter pushes to finish on time.

Taking on too much to please others is a problem they have in common. Also, they may give colleagues the impression that they agree on the details of a project when in fact they do not. They need to assert themselves more and learn to be honest, giving negative feedback when it’s important. They need to make sure their own needs are met, too—asking for a raise, for example, when it’s deserved.

INFPs make effective mediators in the workplace—especially in situations where they have no self-interest. They are less likely to take sides than INFJs. They want to hear everything. INFJs can draw conclusions too quickly.

Romance

When INFPs fall in love with INFJs, the natural reserve of the former makes it hard for them to express their affection in words. It’s a little easier for the INFJ, who can also be shy but is better at taking action. Both can be eloquent in their physical expressions of love. As lovers, they are tender and creative. This helps keep the relationship anchored.

The two types are sensitive and easily hurt. One or the other can easily misinterpret a casual statement, offhand action, or forgotten promise and feel rejected. When one says, “I’ll be late tonight” as he or she leaves the house and means nothing more than that, the other may give the statement a sinister interpretation. To avoid bruised egos, they need to remember the importance of frequent reality checks.

Both tend to overdramatize situations and ignore the simple facts. When a disagreement comes up, they can get out of touch with each other. They have to release their ego investment and back-pedal in order to find common ground.

They tend to be absent-minded, too, which can be annoying for everyone. Where are the house keys? Did anyone let the cat in this morning? What time were we supposed to be there? Both are likely to shrug and say they don’t know.

Fortunately, they’re tolerant of each other because they share the inability to recall the concrete details of life. Such mundane matters don’t hold their attention.

Family Life

As parents, both types listen attentively to each other and their children, although INFJs are slightly less patient because of their judging function. They’re more likely to interrupt a conversation to see where it’s going. The INFP is content to listen without closure. INFPs wait to think about what’s been said before deciding what to do.

They avoid conflicts. Under normal conditions, they’re courteous and respectful, seldom raising their voices. When a problem comes up, they talk it over. The difference is that INFJs have a stronger need to decide who’s right and who’s wrong, while the INFP’s main goal is to preserve good will in the family. Both get rattled by conflict, but the INFJ is more likely to stand his or her ground on critical issues.

When it’s time for a vacation, INFJ parents are generally the chief planners. Their inclination to arrange details before checking them out with the family can cause problems, but after they’ve set off, the parents have no problem giving everyone time alone. After all, they want that, too. When the family re-gathers, they relax and have fun.

Nurturing their children comes naturally to INFPs and INFJs. They are patient, devoted, and protective parents. However, when friction arises over, say, a child’s behavior, they tend to keep their objections to themselves longer than they should. Eventually the INFJ in particular is likely to blow up.

Famous INFPs and INFJs

INFPs and INFJs whose four Myers-Briggs functions are healthy and well developed can accomplish great things, although they are generally humble about them.lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was an INFP—moody, quiet, gentle, witty and determined. As his law partner described him: “He cared little for simple facts. He cared for the underlying principle of truth and justice.” Other famous INFPs include J.R.R. Tolkien, Virginia Woolf, Vincent van Gogh, and John Lennon.jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was an INFJ. A historian described Jefferson’s character as having “a too-good-for-this-world streak that showed itself in many ways, from his mountaintop house, to his dislike of face-to-face argument.” Other famous INFJs include Carl Jung, Mahatma Gandhi, Agatha Christy, Leonard Trotsky, and Michelle Pfeiffer.

*   *

INFJ Meets ENTJ

INFJs and ENTJs are on the same wavelength in many ways. They enjoy spending time together and sharing creative, stimulating conversations. Superficial topics bore them. Both have excellent intuition and can size people up accurately on short acquaintance. They share the ability to comprehend complex situations that baffle others.

ENTJTraitsWhile the two types can become close friends, INFJs should be mindful of the ENTJ’s rough edges. This type can be blunt, with little tolerance for mistakes. Sometimes their tempers flare because they don’t recognize the effect on others. As the ENTJ’s friend you may take offense at some of his or her remarks. Refusing to engage in an argument is the most effective way to deal with this.ENTJTraits

ENTJs have a high regard for their own positions. INFJs must be the ones to establish limits in the relationship, firmly but tactfully setting their boundaries. Most ENTJs have sharp enough intuition to recognize the need for tact if they want to keep the INFJ’s friendship.

Because ENTJs can be so intimidating, many people hesitate to be open and honest with them. This deprives ENTJs of important information. Surprisingly, they respond best to those who stand up to them quietly but firmly. ENTJs have little regard for people they can push around. Eventually, most friends and co-workers learn that the ENTJ’s bark is worse than his or her bite.

While ENTJs may seem like pillars of strength, most have a sentimental side that they try to conceal. They believe that emotional displays are a sign of weakness. When ENTJs are sad or worried, they seldom talk about it. Sensitive INFJs can usually pick up on their troubled feelings and offer compassion while not intruding with solutions.

The major difference between INFJs and ENTJs lies in their need to influence or control others. INFJs lack the ENTJ’s leadership drive. In a work setting this need not be a liability, because the INFJ is comfortable letting the ENTJ take charge as long as the two parties agree on objectives. INFJs don’t have the same ego investment in running the show. They like credit if it’s due, but they won’t ask for more than their share. At home, the issue of control may become troublesome. The INFJ is likely to tire of the ENTJ’s tendency to micromanage and, when things don’t go as planned, to lose his or her temper.

Falling in Love

ENTJs are usually drawn to attractive partners. This preference is a reflection of their high standards. Most ENTJ men prefer beautiful women and most ENTJ women like handsome, confident men. To get along with an ENTJ in a relationship, an INFJ needs a well-developed sense of self. It helps to have a sense of humor.

If you’re an INFJ man, you may find ENTJ women intimidating. They are hard for many men to accept. In fact, women of this personality type can be quite nurturing and caring. Their femininity isn’t expressed in traditional ways. When their confrontational style surfaces, the most effective way to avoid conflict is to deflect arguments with humor and good will.

The partners of ENTJs will find themselves on their own much of the time. An INFJ shouldn’t expect to take top priority in the partnership. While it may seem possible at first, it won’t last. The INFJ will be expected to fit into the partner’s ambitions. Some of the INFJ’s intimacy needs will have to be met by family and friends. Otherwise, the INFJ is likely to feel emotionally short-changed.

ENTJs tend to see their partners as extensions of themselves–as supportive characters in their life scripts. They expect them to honor their commitments and respect the ENTJ’s need for autonomy. Failure to do so will make the ENTJ angry.

Family Life

ENTJs and INFJs share a love of family life. They invest themselves fully in their children, see that they get a good education, and emphasize responsible behavior. As conscientious parents, they make sure their children do their homework and sign up for extracurricular activities.

Friction can arise between the parents when the ENTJ parent takes charge too much. ENTJs prefer a domestic autocracy, with them at the head. An INFJ entering a long-term relationship with an ENTJ, including plans for marriage and children, should have a strong self-image and be able to set clear boundaries.

An ENTJ’s family can expect to have their playtime and vacations structured. The children won’t be encouraged to lie on the beach doing nothing. ENTJs don’t approve of pursuits that have no goal. In their view, leisure activities should be productive. Not only that, it’s preferable that they be scheduled. INFJ partners are likely to share this view to some extent, but they’re less intense about it.

Work

ENTJs are career-focused and fit well into corporate life. They’re quick to solve problems and have an uncanny sense of where business decisions will lead. They aspire to leadership roles and enjoy competition.

INFJs share the ENTJ’s gifts of highly developed intuition and creativity, but they aren’t interested in the power needed to run things. Because they find conflict unpleasant, it’s hard for them to be forceful. Also, they treasure their private time too much to participate fully in the social aspects of business.

In business settings, the two types complement each other. INFJs make good advisors to ENTJs. INFJs have the social sensitivity needed to help ENTJs avoid problems in the workplace that might result from heavy-handed decisions. They can express their hesitation about the wisdom of an ENTJ’s decision and have their opinions respected. By complementing the ENTJ in this way, the INFJ acts as an effective buffer.

Famous Examples

thatcherroosevelt-3Eleanor Roosevelt, an INFJ and the wife of U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was a renowned humanitarian and U.S. Peace Ambassador. Margaret Thatcher, an ENTJ, was the first female Prime Minister of Great Britain.

It’s Hard To Be an INFJ: The Author’s Personal Story

Since posting “It’s Hard To Be an INFJ” on this blog, I’ve received hundreds of e-mails from other INFJs. Their main theme has been how disconnected they’ve felt surrounded by extraverts and more sensible, earthbound types. Their posts and my responses appear after that blog.

This is my personal account of what it feels like to be an INFJ.

Growing up

As a child, I felt like an outsider. I’ve felt this way most of my life. Even though all evidence suggests that I was successful and respected by my peers in school, I knew that I was an odd duck. I never liked large groups of kids. I preferred being alone or in the company of one friend—a typical preference of INFJs. Most introverts tend to feel insecure about their preference for privacy because of the high value our culture places on extraversion. People who enjoy being alone are considered odd.

As a student in elementary and high school, I did well academically and had two close friends. For an INFJ, I was surprisingly active in extracurricular activities: acting in community theatre, studying the piano accordion and sometimes performing publicly, editing the school paper, and so on. I was like two people—one who appeared successful and the other who always felt a little lost.

When I left home for college at the age of 17 and began to date, my relationships with boys were fragile. If I fell in love, I couldn’t figure out how to hang onto the boy. He usually tired of my neediness and left. If a boy I didn’t care for kept pursuing me, I couldn’t figure out how to escape without hurting him. With my overactive feeling function, relationships with boyfriends put me on emotional rollercoaster rides.

Personality Traits

Like most judging types, I’ve always been highly focused. I’ll stay up all night working on a project, never miss a deadline, and be punctual for appointments. I like closure, not uncertainty. I make decisions quickly. Thanks to my highly developed intuition, they tend to turn out well.

My opinions on social and political issues are pretty unshakeable, without shades of gray. I recognize the problems my inflexible positions can cause, however, and try to open my mind to other perspectives. When I have strong feelings about an issue, I share them with only one or two trusted friends. I am generally not a leader of causes in public. I write about them passionately, though.

My intuitive, feeling, and judging functions, acting in concert, make me quick to respond to emergencies, especially those involving injury or danger to people or animals. Even at age 82, I still rush into threatening situations. I always emerge unharmed because my intuitive function steers me away from personal danger while my emotions give me the courage and force to act.

Career Experience

Like me, many INFJs are writers. We make good investigative journalists, science editors, and nonfiction writers. The social sciences interest us more than physics, mathematics, electronics and other theoretical and physical sciences. The social sciences engage our feeling function. On aptitude tests, we excel on the verbal portions. However, our thoughts usually have a strong visual component. What we describe in words we see in pictures. We’re more concrete than abstract. Highly creative INFJs are drawn to careers like acting, painting, designing, and so on. However, they are more concerned with pursuing truth than creating art.

Because of their creativity, many INFJs are successful entrepreneurs. They’re good at coming up with fresh ideas, taking risks, introducing new products, marketing to the public, and trouble-shooting. All the while, they maintain their idealism and desire to make life better for those around them. If they get too caught up in the profit motive and are seduced by materialistic goals, they end up demoralized. They suffer from stagnation, burnout, and loss of creativity.

In my early 60s, I earned over $250,000 a year for three years in a row. (I saved most of it and am now enjoying the fruits of my intuitively guided investments.) The problem with all that money was that I became too attached to it. It made me feel very important. Ultimately, my confidence and self-esteem relied on my six-figure income. Approaching retirement, I realized that money could be a trap. I needed to release this attachment and start volunteering. I began to give more money to causes I believed in—mostly animal welfare, education of children in developing countries, and women’s rights. Now, at 82, I have all the money I need to feel safe and enjoy myself. When I work, I don’t accept money for my professional services. Charging money would spoil my pleasure.

Life Can Be Hard

Life can be difficult for those of us who share INFJ traits. First, we’re often misunderstood—perhaps because we make up only one percent of the population. There aren’t enough of us around. Although we often don’t recognize a fellow INFJ when we meet, we’re likely to become fast friends once we recognize the common ground we stand on. Here’s how each of the four traits challenges us:

Introversion: Our preference for privacy can isolate us. We retreat into our thoughts too much and can find ourselves in a cycle of brooding.

Intuition: While well-developed intuition is a gift, it seldom makes us popular. Because the intuitive individual can seem almost clairvoyant, he or she can make others feel uncomfortable. Our forecasts usually turn out to be true, but in the passage of time they’re usually forgotten so we go without credit. We may become so confident of our insights as the years pass that we’re shaken by the rare occasions when they’ve led us down the wrong path.

Feeling: The truths that underlie our accurate insights can wound us. For example, if I have a hunch a friend is lying to me, the chances are I’m right. Knowing this and having it confirmed can be more painful than it is for people whose dominant function is thinking. Although our feelings often bring us joy, when they’re negative we suffer, particularly when rejection is involved. Many of us are prone to depression.

Judging: Our judging function can lead us into premature decisions with uncomfortable consequences, especially in relationships. Many a marriage has foundered because an INFJ didn’t take enough time to understand his or her partner fully before the wedding. (I’m an example of this—more than once.) As the saying goes, “Marry in haste, repent at leisure.” In groups of people, INFJs may appear aloof, even arrogant, because they’re concentrating on sizing up others before they can relax.

We’re in Good Company

INFJs are in good company. Famous INFJs of the past and present are Mahatma Gandhi, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Carl Jung, Simone de Beauvoir, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa, Noah Chomsky, and Oprah Winfrey.

*  *  *

 

Abilify®—Is It Worth It?

My doctor recently gave me a prescription for Abilify, a fast-acting antidepressant for patients with major depressive disorder. I couldn’t shake a depression that had kept me in bed for most of a month. Although I’d been taking a maintenance dose of Zoloft for years, it wasn’t potent enough to prevent this episode. I needed a drug that would supplement the Zoloft.

Abilify was developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb for patients with major clinical depression resistant to treatment with standard antidepressants. (It’s used for other psychiatric indications, too.) Abilify is intended to serve as an add-on treatment.

After 5 days of 10 mg of Abilify nightly, I felt my depression start to lift. I was regaining my motivation to move around and get things done. By day 7, I was pretty much back to normal, working on writing projects, talking with friends, and running errands. My enthusiasm for life was returning

By day 8, I was a bit too enthusiastic. My mood was slightly manic. My speech was pressured. At the same time, my body felt clumsy and my balance shaky. I took two falls in a week. Also, I was becoming surprisingly forgetful. In the middle of a conversation, I’d lose track of the topic. When going to another room to get something, I’d forget what it was by the time I got there. According to clinical studies, impaired memory is sometimes reported by Abilify users. My other symptoms weren’t listed among adverse events associated with taking the medication, but they felt like side effects.

abilifytabs

Since my mood was lightening, the doctor suggested lowering the dose to 5 mg by splitting the pills in half. Then, if the improvement continued after several days, I could take one quarter of a pill. After that, I could stop altogether.

While the effects of Abilify were gratifying, the cost of the drug was daunting. My pharmacist told me a 30-day supply would cost $834.00. When he saw my shock, he asked whether I had insurance. I said no. He suggested that I apply to Bristol-Myers Squibb online for a discount coupon. I did that and found that the application could take up to two weeks to process—too long for me. I bought a 7-day supply of Abilify for $199 from my pharmacist and ordered the rest from a Canadian pharmacy, where the cost was only $165 for a 30-day supply. It would arrive by the time my initial supply was used up.

Abilify comes in six dosage strengths, ranging from 2 mg to 30 mg. In the U.S., a one-month supply of any of the four lower doses is the same—about $800. The two higher doses sell for about $1200. In Canada, the same branded product costs 80% less.

Why Canadian Prices Are Lower

The reason Canadian prices for Abilify are so much lower is that Canada, like many other countries, imposes price controls on retail medications. In the U.S., the sky’s the limit. Pharmaceutical lobbies in Washington have persuaded Congress that the high prices are justified by the cost of research and development. While this is true, the profits are often many times the amount needed to reach this goal. It’s true, too, that drug companies need to be compensated for their risk in developing new drugs that never come to market because FDA approval can’t be obtained. When this happens, they rely on the profits from other branded drugs to make up for their losses.

After Abilify sales had been tallied for the last 10 months in 2013, Bristol-Myers Squibb was found to net $16.4 billion. Only $3.7 billion of this was needed to recoup research costs. The company is undoubtedly currently maximizing profits before generic products are introduced in the U.S. in mid-2015.

Why Are Abilify Tablets So Tiny?

photoThe tiny size of Abilify tablets may have been a measure of Bristol-Myers Squibb to deter users from sectioning high-dose tablets into pieces; pill-splitting is a money-saving exercise. A doctor may prescribe 5 mg of an expensive drug per day, but write a 15-mg prescription so the patient can score the tablets in thirds and cut costs. Sectioning is difficult with the tiny Abilify tablets. Using a pill crusher is an option, but even this is tricky for a patient trying to divide a 30-mg pill into sixths to achieve separate 5-mg doses.

Bristol-Myers Squibb warns consumers to “take tablets whole.” There’s no pharmacological need for this, as the density and composition of each tablet are uniform throughout. The Discmelt formulation of Abilify is the exception.

Is Abilify Worth It?

Who wouldn’t pay a lot of money to recover from a severe clinical depression? It’s like death to many of us. We’re convinced that it’s permanent. Knowing that a rescue drug is available is priceless.

If I need the Abilify again in the future, I’ll buy ten 10-mg tablets from Canada ($55.00) and take one pill a day for six days. I’ll cut two pills in half and take the half-pills for four nights. I’ll quarter one and take the quarters for four nights. (This will leave one pill just in case.) Abilify will then most certainly be worth it.

INFJ Meets ESTJ

All things considered, the attraction between the ESTJs and INFJs isn’t surprising. Because ESTJs are conventional people, they prefer colorful partners to make their lives more interesting. They aren’t drawn to other ESTJs. INFJs have creative minds and supply the friendly, playful traits ESTJs are missing. The INFJ, in turn, is rewarded by an appreciative audience.

An INFJ may find ESTJ friends too direct and outspoken. They tend to overlook polite ways of dealing with others. Often, they forget to say “please” and “thank you.” To build a good relationship with an ESTJ, it’s best to let the person know up front that these courtesies are important to you.

You’ll avoid frustration in friendships with ESTJs if you make an effort to understand how their minds work. They aren’t like you—a person who would rather act on hunches than gather detailed information. ESTJs are guided mainly by rules, principles, and traditional values. INFJs adopt novel approaches to problems and bypass convention. INFJs are rare enough (one percent of the population) that most ENFJs (over ten percent) haven’t met enough of them to understand them.

Type Differences

Type Differences

Getting To Know an ESTJ

Don’t expect much spontaneity from a new ESTJ friend. For them, work and play are kept separate. Activities are scheduled, and work comes first. Play must be earned. Even then, it should have a goal, such as walking to lose weight or attending concerts for cultural improvement. Since INFJs need a purpose in their leisure activities, too, you’ll have this in common.

You’ll find that ESTJ friends are quick to take charge and give advice, whether it’s asked for or not. When something goes wrong, the first thing the ESTJ wants to know is what happened, why, and who caused the problem. Only then is he or she ready to think about a solution. As a result, the INFJ may find this type judgmental and hard. The compassionate INFJ’s position is that mistakes are part of the game and it’s best to move on to a remedy.

ESTJs generally expect to share expenses on outings. They’re not comfortable letting others pay their way. The exception is when the ESTJ is a female. She’ll allow a date to buy dinner or pay for a movie because it’s the conventional thing to do. Her way of reciprocating may be to buy a new dress that pleases her companion. ESTJ men often give candy and flowers. They remember birthdays with cards or gifts. These actions serve to replace the flowery expressions of love they have a hard time expressing.

Working with ESTJs

ESTJs function best with structure. They want to know what’s required of them and what the deadlines are. Unlike INFJs, they don’t improvise easily. Because ESTJs are so focused on the concrete aspects of things, they sometimes lose sight of their underlying purpose. When asked to judge entries in a science fair, for example, an ESTJ may be so caught up in the technicalities of the assignment that the overall goal of encouraging children to explore scientific interests is forgotten.

Under stress, ESTJs make decisions too hastily. They don’t give themselves time to reflect on alternatives. Even when things start going wrong, they’ll stick with their original plan and resist new information, vetoing suggestions for change. Their motto is, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”

ESTJs who supervise INFJs may wonder why their employees dislike them. The reason is that INFJs have a horror of being micromanaged. They like to figure out their own ways of doing things. However, because bluntness is not their style, they tend to nurse grudges rather than confront ESTJ supervisors directly. Differences in the two types can be a source of irritation, although the INFJ will suffer more from any misunderstanding than the matter-of-fact ESTJ.

Loving an ESTJ

In a new relationship with an ESTJ, you’re likely to find him or her spontaneous and easy-going at first. As time goes on, the ESTJ will revert to type and become more matter of fact. If you disappoint the person in some important way, he or she is likely to get angry and self-righteous. This is because ESTJs expect others to honor their standards.

INFJs who are troubled and seek sympathy from an ESTJ partner are in danger of feeling short-changed. The partner is more comfortable looking for a practical solution than listening with a sympathetic ear.

When conflicts arise in a relationship, efforts to explore underlying causes are generally ignored by the ESTJ. Insights are not the person’s long suit. If an argument gets heated enough, the ESTJ may explode and need help rebuilding their control. Tactfully, the INFJ can remind them of what’s really important. If the INFJ suggests counseling, the ESTJ will probably resist.

Don’t expect romantic emotional displays from an ESTJ. The ESTJ will feel that his or her loyalty is the only proof of love that’s needed. Eloquence is not their style. They aren’t given to creative lovemaking, either. Once a routine for physical intimacy has been established, the ESTJ will resist attempts to introduce new techniques.

Living with an ESTJ

If you move in with an ESTJ, you’ll find that there’s a place for everything and everything is in its place. Your ESTJ partner will want clear arrangements about who does what. If the ESTJ volunteers to walk the dog, you can depend on it. No prodding will be needed. If you have children together, the ESTJ will send them off to school with lunch money, permission slips, and anything else they need for the day. If you’re behind in your own commitments, you can be sure you’ll be reminded of them.

When you get frustrated by your partner’s lack of sensitivity, take comfort in the knowledge that ESTJs show their love by actions more than words. They’re loyal and keep their promises. If you feel that your needs are being ignored, the best approach is to explain tactfully and clearly what you’d like from them. They’ll probably try to improve communications. The more you can help an ESTJ relax and expand his or her views, the more you’ll enjoy each other.

Famous ESTJs and INFJs

ESTJs known for their quick tempers include Lyndon Johnson, Bette Davis, and Herbert Hoover. In heated situations, they responded best to people who would hear them out and then suggest new insights. INFJ leaders famous for their ability to listen thoughtfully to others include Nelson Mandela, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Ghandi.

Lyndon Johnson--an ESTJ

Lyndon Johnson–an ESTJ

Nelson Mandela--an INFJ

Nelson Mandela–an INFJ

*   *   *

 

INFJ meets INTP

INFJs are often drawn to INTPs because of their intelligence and ability to apply logic to every situation. Eventually, though, INFJs tend to find most INTPs distant because of their unemotional approach to life. The INTP is attracted to INFJs because of their compassion and spontaneity. But the qualities that drew them to an INFJ in the first place can eventually get on their nerves. To them, it’s sloppy to let feelings override logic. Because they’re so reserved, INTPs may have few friends.

This personality type is more attuned to impersonal systems and technical subjects than intimate topics. If you’re an INFJ who’s an animal lover, don’t expect the INTP to share your emotional bond with pets. Are your favorite causes fueled more by compassion than logic?  The INTP is unlikely to be enthusiastic about them. INFJs are idealists and INTPs are rationalists.

infj intp table

Privacy and Space

If you are close to an INTP, it’s important to give him or her plenty of space. INTPs need more time alone than other types. They don’t like being interrupted when they are focusing on something they’re doing. If their feelings are hurt, they won’t want to talk about it right away as INFJs do. They need time to process their feelings. Being pestered for a discussion of the problem only makes them more upset.

Small talk is not the forte of INTPs. They want to discuss things that are important, amusing or thought-provoking. They’d rather sit in silence than chat politely. Should the conversation turn to something they’re interested in, though, they can become long-winded and even boring. When apparently easy-going INTPs are challenged about their beliefs, they can be downright hard.

Friends sometimes get the impression that the INTP is aloof and judgmental. That’s because INTPs are impatient with faults both in themselves and others. When they’re critical of something you’ve done, they probably haven’t meant to hurt you. In their problem-solving mode, they’ve forgotten to consider your feelings. Their perfectionism causes them to be hard on themselves, too. Personal failure is likely to make them depressed. Because they have trouble opening up to others, they suffer alone. They may not even be clear about what they feel or why they’re depressed.

Work and Play

The INTP’s mind may be organized, but his or her personal environment is not. INTPs make clear, logical plans to put things in order but seldom get around to it. Nothing changes and the mess remains.

INTPs need plenty of private time to read, think, work at their computers or watch television. They’re partial to solitary activities although they enjoy companionship at times. When they play games, they prefer bridge, Monopoly, chess or other challenges to their problem-solving skills. They talk very little as they play, preferring to concentrate on their moves. They’re also competitive. When they get involved in a project, they’re more interested in the planning phase than in the actual execution. If the project involves drudgery, their motivation evaporates and they put it off.

Falling in Love

When INTPs fall in love, they fall hard. Passion consumes them. They step out of character—writing poetry, reading to their lover, and buying gifts. They ignore obstacles to romance such as distance, weather, and prior commitments. However, their common sense usually returns within a year. Even though they remain committed, they may seem to pull away and become more matter-of-fact. They still appreciate their partners; they just don’t talk much about their feelings. They’ve returned to their familiar pattern of solitude.

When INTPs fall out of love, the decision is almost always final. A line has been crossed. The INTP allows the relationship to deteriorate and end, with no attempt to revive it. Break-ups can be messy, damaging the lives of many people.

Bottom Line

INTPs strive for logical purity. They are clear and quick-thinking, never accepting ideas that don’t make sense to them even though everyone else might regard them as the truth. They’re good at connecting unrelated thoughts and put considerable effort into analyzing and solving problems. They don’t want the help of others. For this reason, most have a distaste for meetings. They’d rather come up with ideas on their own and make plans independently. They also have a strong need to continue learning about areas that interest them. They’re committed to the life of the mind. Many prolong their formal education for years.

If you are a high-maintenance INFJ, be prepared to look beyond an INTP partner to meet all your emotional needs.  INTPs don’t like to feel crowded.

*  *  *

 

 

 

INFJ meets ISTJ

As an INFJ, I don’t relate to ISTJs easily. They often seem to lack imagination, playfulness, and insight. They’re conventional and I’m not. ISTJs tend to be uncomfortable with me, as well. I think they find me too emotional and eccentric. The problem lies with differences in our intuition-sensing and feeling-thinking functions.

Here’s how Myers Briggs experts summarize the ISTJ:

infj_istjISTJs rely on logic, rules and consistency. Their outlook is traditional. They value loyalty and hard work, are uncomfortable with change, and tend to disapprove of unconventional behavior. They’re more grounded in facts than emotions. Because of this, they may be unaware of their own feelings and the feelings of others. They avoid talking about their emotions. As a result, many INFJs find ISTJs cold and oblivious of social nuance. If you’re an INFJ and want to talk about feelings with an ISTJ, you need to spell them out and describe how they affect you.

ISTJs are more at home with practical realities than abstract thinking and their conversation reflects this. They’d rather get their ideas across with anecdotes than couch them in broad abstract terms. The INFJ who wants to create a conversational bridge should use concrete examples to make his or her point.

ISTJs can be stubborn and resistant to change. The good news is that when they do change their minds, they commit themselves to their new view. It’s vital to pick your battles with an ISTJ carefully and agree to disagree when that seems advisable.

If you’re an INFJ, you’re likely to have co-workers, friends or even romantic relationships with ISTJs. You may even have an ISTJ child. How do you keep the peace?

The depth of some of these relationships may be limited by your personality differences. If you find ISTJs’ thinking limited, they’re probably baffled by what they consider your outlandish ideas. While you may find an ISTJ cold or lacking in compassion, he or she may see you as overly emotional and undisciplined.

When I’m in conflict with an ISTJ whom I like, I go slowly in order to reach a compromise. Resolving problems can be hard, given our personality differences. I try to remember that ISTJs aren’t necessarily doing things wrong. They’re just not doing them my way.

I’ve had ISTJ lovers, and these relationships always ended badly. My father was an ISTJ. Maybe I was looking for men like my dad. As a young woman, I admired the strong silent type, but I always ended up disappointed because the man wasn’t tender and sensitive enough. I expected him to act in a way he couldn’t. Maybe one or two of them did care about me deeply but I couldn’t appreciate it.

When the INFJ has an ISTJ child, that’s a different challenge. It’s one I don’t face because I have two daughters and both are INFJs. But my sister, an ENFJ, has one ISTJ daughter, who now has children of her own. I’ve watched my sister and her daughter grow to understand each other more fully over the years. Their secret is they’ve valued their commitment above all else and have handled disagreements with tolerance and compassion.

Not a bad idea.

*   *   *

1 2 3 6

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

More Posts