The Hidden Letters in the Myers-Briggs MBTI ® Type
During a break at a workshop I was recently attending, Jeanie a friend of mine, who has long identified herself as an INFP type, recently asked me to help explain a curiosity: "I've never understood why as a "P" there is something about organizing that both appeals to me (organizing stuff I care about) and annoys me (other stuff). My daughter is an INFJ so her interest in organizing things makes sense and I am quite confident I'm not a "J" so my organizing interests and talents seem not to fit."
Jeanie was perplexed by another apparent paradox: "I know I'm an 'N' and I'm supposed to extravert that mental function and according to what I read I am supposed to be attracted to lots of ideas. But I find doing that just too overwhelming; I feel overloaded and crave simplicity. Besides if I read about or otherwise get exposed to too many ideas I end up thinking about what I could do with them and then I just get a longer to-do list." Basically these interested ideas that Jeanie is naturally attracted to end up not to be enjoyable because she feels pressure to do something with them. She's learned that in order to relax and enjoy her daily life she needs to protect herself from over-exposure.
Apparently the workshop had stimulated her INFJ daughter, Julie, to reflect on a frustration she has experienced and wondered if that was related to type or not. She's found that in her little group of friends she seems to be the one who always organizes things and none of her friends seem that motivated to pitch in and help - gets frustrating at times.
While INFP and INFJ are both "NF" types their core motivation can be somewhat different. The dominant mental function of INFP is Introverted Feeling, whereas INFJs dominant mental function is Introverted Intuition.
An INFP who has introverted Feeling at his or her core will seek harmony with others and harmony within. In her description of the two personality types whose dominant mental function is Introverted Feeling (INFP & ISFP) Danielle Poirier indicates they ". . . strive to find happiness, balance and wholeness for themselves . . ." On the other hand INFJ types having introverted Intuition at their core typically reflect on "patterns, relationships, symbols, meanings, and perspectives and strive to understand the essence of things or people" (see 16-personality-types2.html ). INFP and INFJ, although similar in letters, have two different kinds of engines driving their being. The two types also have a different outer world orientation which is reflected by the 4th letter in the type code J or P.
J and P Personality Types - the last letter in the 4 letter type code
In Personality Typology we find generalities about J types, like INFJ, that they like to use their judgment function with the outside world - ordering, organizing, structuring, directing, etc. They are considered the Judgers; J's seek closure and completeness. We also find generalities about P types, like INFP, that they like to use their perception with the outside world - keeping open, adapting, exploring, experiencing, etc. They are considered the Perceivers; P's seek openness and are comfortable with incompleteness. As generalities these descriptions are reasonably accurate.
However when you look at the diagrams below and note which mental function is at the core, the engine of each of the two types we've been discussing, you'll see INFJ types are actually Perceiving types because Intuition, a perceiving function, is their dominant. And INFP types are actually Judging types because Feeling, a judging function, is their dominant. So while in general INFPs might appear more adaptable and be open and exploring, on the inside they are oriented towards Judging - making decisions, sorting things out, controlling, and protecting. All introverted "P" types are actually closet "Js."
Left hand portion of the circle shows the Introverted nature; right hand portion the Extraverted nature. Shaded portion indicates dominant attitude of the MBTI Type.
Another factor helping explain why my INFP friend seems to like organizing things is one of the hidden letters in her type code: Thinking. And in particular extraverted Thinking. In my descriptions of the Jung-Myers mental functions I indicate that extraverted Thinking's focus is order, organizing and ordering things in the outside world. Because extraverted Thinking is in the inferior (or 4th) mental function in an INFP, this is in Jeanie's unconscious mind, in essence operating in a fashion most hidden to herself but since it is extraverted somewhat open to others. This ordering and organizing drive that Jeanie has may not operate across the board in the manner of those for whom extraverted Thinking is their dominant mental function. Jeanie may only use it in situations involving helping people or causes that she cares about. Her introverted Feeling, her driving mental function running the show, may give directions to that extraverted Thinking, - organize this, do this, do that - because "you care about this person" or "this is important to your values." She may not have this compulsion to order and organize almost everything as one often sees in ENTJs but for stuff and people she cares about that latent "T" organizing talent is there to be activated.
OK what about Jeanie's apparent disinterest in learning about a diversity of ideas and concepts, wanting instead simplicity and being free from distractions? Part of that could be her more active extraverted Thinking wanting order and organization. But I think another part goes directly to her core being, introverted Feeling, and wanting harmony. Absorbing many different ideas, some of them competing, creates disharmony. All this stuff that one's extraverted Intuition is by nature "open" to can't be allowed inside because it becomes disruptive. Inside she needs integration, she needs harmony. Her tendency to couple the absorption of ideas with a to-do list of something she ought to do with this new knowledge (which is a by-product of her Extraverted Thinking combined with Extraverted Intuition) ads another element of disharmony - pressure to do something. The to-do list and its attendant task-orientation is common characteristic of TJ types and I believe comes from the Extraverted Thinking function. Her Introvereted Sensing, another hidden function, could be adding a thrust for Simplicity so the mantra would be lets keep our inside world both harmonious and simple (or at least not complex).
In knowing and working with a number of INFP and ENFP types who use the MBTI in their professional practices I've noticed a difference in their loyalty to the instrument. As a rule once an INFP, has adopted the MBTI ® as his or her instrument of choice to measure Personality Type, s/he would be more likely to remain loyal to that instrument and its attendant Myers theories. Harmony has been achieved with this set of ideas and it fits into the whole. But the ENFP cousin is an entirely different matter. You see extraverted Intuition drives that ship. That person is constantly exploring new ideas and concepts and frequently promoting the "flavor of the month." ENFP types seem much more likely to explore and adopt a number of other personality instruments and type instruments that either compete with or compliment the Myers-Briggs MBTI ® instrument. While ENFP also has introverted Feeling and a need for inner Harmony it is trumped by or impacted by the driving extraverted Intuition.
Looking at the INFJ personality type.
The ideas and understandings created in the inner mind of an INFJ are often rich in complexity, having nuances not appreciated by many other types. In their "minds eye" they see things others miss. Having a Judging style relating to the outside world means they like to organize things and people. The combination of a clear vision of things in the minds eye plus a penchant for action and organization can be a powerful one, two punch.
When it comes to organizing activities and events, one of their hidden type letters, extraverted Sensing, aids in this process. Although the description being "detail-oriented" is inaccurate because this type's main driver is introverted Intuition (see Danielle's descriptions of INFJ and INTJ), their unconscious extraverted Sensing can cause them to focus on and attend to here-and-now details of whatever program or endeavor they are committed to.
This extraverted Sensing, because it is an unconscious function for an INFJ, and because it probably isn't that well developed tends to be used in a focused manner. An INFJ can get tunnel vision - seeing and emphasizing certain details - but completely overlooking others.
Jeanie's daughter Julie's frustration with her peers seeming lack of interest in carrying part of the weight for organizing things likely has multiple causes. She may not realize that her inner vision is more complex and more completely organized than her peers so what she ascertains from their shared experience is unique. And if this vision is part of what motivates Julie her peers don't have that same rich vision so not the same level of motivation. And when it comes to action related to vision, Julie is likely to focus more on certain details than others would. It is likely she both notices them and ascertains their importance to a higher degree than her friends. Fin
The Missing Letters Play a Role in All 16 Personality Types
The type face diagrams I use to depict each personality type illustrates the pattern played by all four Jung-Myers function and attitude pairs: E-I, S-N, T-F, J-P.
Left hand portion of the circle shows the Introverted nature; right hand portion the Extraverted nature.
Shaded portion indicates dominant attitude of the MBTI Type.
Judging Functions: Thinking (T) and Feeling (F) Perceiving Functions: Sensing (S) and Intuition (N)
Attitude or Orientation: Introverted (I) and Extraverted (E)
You can see by the diagrams that INFP, although an Introverted Type, does have an Extraverted Face. Since the primary function this type shows to the outside world is a Perceiving function (N - Intuition) P is the fourth letter for this type's 4 letter code. But as we observed earlier the dominant introverted function is Feeling, which is Judging function, so in reality an INFP is a judging type since that is her dominant mental function. We also see how the hidden letters of S and T come into play.
ENFP shows its dominant face to the outside world. What you see is what you get. Like INFP the primary function this type shows to the outside world is a Perceiving function (N - Intuition) so P is the fourth letter for this type's 4 letter code indicating their outside world perspective. But unlike INFP, the extraverted Intuition is also this type's dominant mental function. So ENFP is a Perceiving type - both in terms of the outside world perspective and its dominant mental function. The hidden letters S and T are employed in a manner similar to an INFP; however the influence of extraverted Thinking is likely to be a more apparent to others and may be more consciously exercised by an ENFP (whereas in INFP it is more subtle and hidden to the INFP).
The two letters in the smallest fonts - the hidden mental functions - are usually exercised in an unconscious or semi-conscious manner. The smallest being the least conscious and most likely least developed of the four mental functions shown in the diagram.
But wait there's more. That tiniest letter in its attitude (this would be the extraverted T for the INFP and the introverted S for the ENFP) really isn't the most buried and least conscious/least developed of all. It is that fourth function in the same attitude of the dominant function that is the true blind spot and achilles heal of the type. This would be introverted Thinking for the INFP and extraverted Sensing for the ENFP. Each of these are the true polar opposites of their dominant function in their attitude. Examples.
INFPs cup of tea is her introverted Feeling; her blind spot is her introverted Thinking. Asking an INFP to "think logically" in terms of her internal guidance system is saying abandon the most important part of you (your Introverted Feeling) to use a part of yourself that feels foreign and uncomfortable and is simply not you.
An INFP actually works better with Thinking when doing it in the external world - perhaps talking things out with a friend. In this external sphere there isn't an inherent conflict with introverted Feeling.
ENFPs cup of tea is his extraverted Intuition; his blind spot is his extraverted Sensing. Asking an ENFP to accurately attend to many details in the external world is futile. It is saying put aside the most valuable part of you - your Extraverted Intuition - so you can operate on your least experienced and least conscious part of yourself - your extraverted Sensing.
Breathe out and breathe in at the same time - doesn't work. Gotta do one or the other.
This rule of thumb would be true of all types. Whatever is a person's dominant function used in the preferred attitude (I or E) its opposite mental function is best used in the opposite attitude where it does not conflict with and compete for energy with one's dominant mental function. If Fe, then Ti; if Se, then Ni; if Ni, then Se, etc. This is part of the Yin-Yang of personality type - the balancing of opposites into a whole.
Continued - THE TYPE FACE DIAGRAMS - THE PATTERNS OF PERSONALITY TYPE
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