Types of INFJs

It’s been requested and since I aim to please, here it is. While it’s exceedingly easy to parody one’s own type, it’s a bit more difficult to make fun of INFJs. In fact, I’d rather not even try. For one, they’re a lot smarter than I am…and they know all my secrets so I have to be gentle here. Secondly, they’re mysterious social chameleons who live among us like agents in the Matrix. They are everyone and they are no one (not the first geek reference and it won’t be the last so just get used to it) so how do you go about pointing out their shameless stereotypes? I’d have a much easier time if this was a post about ESFPs.

ESFP: Party Animals. End of post.

ESFP: Party Animals. End of post.

The Genius

I almost always initially mistake this guy (and I say guy because they’re usually men) for an INTP. In my defense, it’s an easy mistake to make. INFJ includes Introverted Thinking (Ti) in the stack of functions; the function an INFJ uses for Thinking versus Feeling. It also happens to be the Dominant function of INTP. INFJs of this caliber like to pick careers heavily populated by Rationals and other Thinking types: Scientists, Engineers, Networking and IT, Doctors, etc. Some of them even opt for positions of leadership in the brutal, dog-eat-dog world of business and financial investments.

Alright, no need to brag, Niels.

Alright, no need to brag, Niels.

Unlike other NFs, INFJs can actually manage to pull this off with relatively minor collateral damage to their psyche and personal well being. How? Well, first of all, they’re hardwired to multi-task a series of tasks which collectively form the ‘big picture’. INFJs are ‘visionary’ people who aren’t terrible with the details, either. They can compute math in their heads without getting a migraine, are driven to answer philosophical questions using the tools of hard science (and money helps, too), and have excellent communication skills. They may not able be remember their own name in the process..or what day of the week it is but they sure as hell will solve the world’s energy crisis or the problem of world hunger.

Only an INFJ would compare science to sex

Only an INFJ would compare science to sex

The thing that makes INFJs of this type so much more interesting than all the other smarty pants of other types is that INFJs do it for completely different reasons. It’s usually not so much for the wealth, fame, glory or power. Primarily, it’s the pure altruistic passion for it. A great analogy would be how Professor Xavier from X-Men (also an INFJ) feels its his calling to use his superpower of telepathy and his genius to unite mutants and the rest of mankind. It’s less about ego and more about doing the right thing. That’s why you see INFJs of this sub-type shy away from positions of leadership despite being perfectly qualified for the job. Not only that, they also naturally garner loyalty from a fellowship of wannabe apprentices, whom they invariably treat like equals. Followers of this type don’t just love the work the INFJ does, they also sincerely love the INFJ; a phenomenon rarely seen with geniuses of other types. This sub-type loves their work but possesses neither the self-bravado nor feels the need to trample others under their oxford, suede leather, highly tasteful shoes.

The only problem with the INTP Wannabe sub-type is that they’re easily sidetracked by Extraverted Feeling (Fe) so throwing them off their game is as easy as complaining to them about your personal problems. Unlike an INTJ who really doesn’t give a shit what your boyfriend said about your weight that made you feel insecure..the INFJ actually heard you, understands how you feel, and wants to help you. He just can’t do that and save the world at the same time. Something’s gotta give and it’s either gonna be the world..or your feelings. That’s why INFJs who don’t work specifically as therapists try not to wear the therapist’s hat at work. That’ll just have to wait until 6 PM…but not before the obligatory hour/hour and a half of drinking alone at the pub across the street from the lab/office.

The Philosophical Artist

“I handed [the girls] tissue and panties and said you’re going to be wet in one way or the other” – Actual Marilyn Manson Quote

Initially, I didn’t believe it when this website claimed that Marilyn Manson was an INFJ so I did some research (for science, of course). With the assistance of elongated baths, copious amounts of wine, and an iphone streaming youtube, I proceeded to watch hours of Manson interviews where the shock rocker was permitted to speak candidly and I could analyze every nuance of what he chose to focus on, how he said it, and what it could tell me about his use of cognitive functions. Surprisingly, the INFJ guess wasn’t too far off base. It wasn’t just his signature gentle candor which convinced me. It was the conceptual ‘vision’ Manson seems to demonstrate time after time which suggests that there is more to this man’s prerogative than the thrill of controversy or the art of entertainment.

More than once, Manson described his career as a ‘mission’ for humanity; a way of holding up a ‘mirror’ to society and reflecting back to them the depravity and perverseness. That, my friends, is what I call philosophy, comparable to anything produced by the likes of Rousseau or Tolstoy. The thing about INFJ actors, musicians, writers, and artists is that each sees his/her own art seriously as something profound and more than just a form of escapism.

As if I didn't love Benadryl Cumberbunds enough.

As if I didn’t love Benadryl Cumberbunds enough.

INFJs, like all NFs, naturally take to the arts like a duck to water but the difference is in the motive and the source of inspiration. XNFPs produce art through various mediums in order to showcase the fantastic sounds/imagery encased in their minds. It’s kind of an over-glorified form of sharing. INFJs, on the other hand, want to open the world’s mind to new ideas. Those ideas originate from the truth-seeking function, Introverted Intuition (Ni) so it’s more like teaching than sharing. By contrast, XNFPs derive inspiration from the fiction-creating function, Extraverted Intuition (Ne). That’s not to say that other NF art isn’t philosophical. It’s just tends to be much more so when its source is the mind of a Ni-Dom.

The Sexpert

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If you’ve spent any significant amount of time with INFJs online like I have, you find out pretty quickly that as a whole, they’re obsessed with sex. This is shocking, considering that we typically view INFJs as the (seemingly) sanctimonious do-gooders of the MBTI world. There is nary an INFJ forum, group, or website out there that isn’t positively laden with posts about sexual connection and links to articles on fetishes/tricks and otherwise sexual debauchery. The very same type which claims Jesus Christ and Mahatma Ghandi as one of their own also delves shamelessly into every aspect of human mating habits. In fact, they are experts at it…sexperts.

I bring this sub-type up because it stands in stark contrast to XNFPs, who rarely broach the subject and when they do, it’s usually just to say something like “It’s nice if you have a real connection with someone.” and they leave it at that. INFJs, on the other hand, possess a notable preoccupation with sex. Interestingly enough, however, they make it very clear that they don’t engage in casual sex. They insist that they don’t go to bars and wake up in a stranger’s bed, wearing a strap-on and someone else’s t-shirt. They tell me the Swingers lifestyle of promiscuity is for Sensor types. Sex without emotional connection is the ultimate (and only) taboo of the INFJ ilk. But if you happen to be an INFJ’s chosen soul mate, prepare yourself to be amazed, they tell me. I don’t know if they study anatomy textbooks, watch a lot of instructional porn, or just have a natural knack for sensuality but if you have a Loveline type of question, there’s an INFJ with an answer.

So is this an actual subset of INFJs or this some kind of secret side to all INFJs that we just don’t get to normally see at work or in casual friendships? For science, I purchased and read the erotic series of a very well known INFJ author, Anne Rice. Her Sleeping Beauty series under the pen name Anne Rampling as well as her 1985 erotica novel Exit To Eden are so gratuitously laden with fetish fantasy that they make 50 Shades looks like children’s novels.

Anne Rice: The Queen of Kink

Anne Rice: The Queen of Kink

Pre-dating 50 Shades by 20 years, most of it entails the same dominant/submissive theme with bondage and mind games. The writing itself is far superior and it’s characters are more fluid with their sexual orientation; intermittently engaging in sexual activities with the same sex without stigma or pretense. What’s even more interesting is the mixture of pain and pleasure, teasing through humiliation, and the switching of roles from dominant to submissive and vice versa. Of course, the main characters also become emotionally attached to each other, which serves as the true climax of the story. You see, for INFJs, sex and emotional attachment are irrevocably intertwined so these stories really couldn’t go any other way. Just when you think INFJs are the most perverted human beings out there, they introduce a true romance element to it; the converging of two souls, if you will, making the world of kink palatable for the rest of us.

The Prophet

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I’ve mentioned before that throughout history, INFJs have served as oracles, prophets, shamans, and chiefs of human tribes. I suspect this goes back as far as there have been humans. Even when we were hunter/gatherers, someone had to lead the spiritual journey and tell the old stories of the ancestors. That someone was the INFJ.

INFJs make the ideal spiritual leader because A: they seem to know everything and B: they are gentle, confident, and reassuring. Before we had things like physics, geology, math, psychology, and western medical science, we needed some explanation for the phenomenons of the natural world. Ni would have looked like magic to people who didn’t have any other explanation for pattern recognition capabilities. It’s been said many times before that INFJs seem wise beyond their years. As children, INFJs are the shy, calm ones who precociously develop bonds with adults and encourage their peers to come to mature, diplomatic understanding between each other.

As they grow older, this knack for harmony develops even stronger and takes on a more esoteric quality. By the time they’re old, INFJs seem positively ancient, like the very trees they meditate under. People naturally gravitate towards INFJs for exceptionally wise advice and for good reason. If you come to an INFJ with a problem, they already know what you’re going to ask and have already analyzed all the possible outcomes and seen the consequences of your actions. What they advise you to do will be the most reasonable and morally righteous course of action which will spare the most suffering and preserve the good karma of your soul, invariably. Very few who have taken the advice of an INFJ to heart have regretted it and for this reason, INFJs are everyday prophets.

256THYSSEN- V 8

But flipping tables and whipping infidels is also a possibility

While all INFJs have some proclivity for being sage, some are more prophet-like than others. Throughout history, there have been a few notable INFJs of this variety, including the one we define time itself by his birth and death: Jesus Christ. The Son of God was most definitely an INFJ, which raises the question of whether or not he really was the Son of God (or God Himself) or if he was just an especially influential Ni-User (I’m open to both possibilities). Jesus walked, talked, and prophesied like an INFJ duck. Most telling, his style of leadership shows us what kind of person he really was. He’s described as washing the feet of his followers, breaking bread with them (which he miraculously produced out of thin air), fishing with them, and even working as a damn lowly carpenter. What kind of extremely important, self-proclaimed King of Heaven with mystical, God-like powers and tons of influence makes furniture for a living? An INFJ, that’s who. Because although they are rare and extremely important people, they still have the attitude of a servant and a penchant for DIY projects.

Which brings me to my next point about this sub-type. With the exception of Jesus and Buddha, they are rarely, if ever, rich or famous. They usually work behind the scenes and are greatly under-appreciated. Today, the Prophet typically works in the field of Psychology or as a Life Coach. Some don’t even do that but they are a prophet in their own, small way in their tight circle of friends and family. Wealth, fame, and glory fall decidedly low on the priority list of true Prophet sub-types since they have the humility to live moderately and quietly as equals among their people. So even though they are far superior to others in terms of intelligence, talent, and spiritual understanding, they go too often uncelebrated and go without the endowment of society’s fame and fortune. They do, however, win the “Employee Of the Month” certificate and have primo parking spaces.

Way to go Linda!

Way to go Linda!

The Creme de la Femme

Years ago, I walked into an office for a job interview and noticed a young woman behind the front desk with her tits practically popping out of her bright yellow blouse. “How do you get away with that?” I asked her out of curiosity, hoping she wouldn’t take offense to my frank question. As someone with a Journalist’s personality, I tend to throw people off by digging for answers from total strangers with borderline rude questions.

“Actually, my boss likes me so she doesn’t care.” She replied, thankfully haven taken no offense (and apparently having read my mind). “She?” I parroted.”Your boss is a woman and she doesn’t care?” I was extremely curious. How did she manage to not offend a female boss with obvious cleavage in the workplace? The answer, I found out over the years, was that this young woman, (we’ll call her Chelsea) could get away with such things because A: it’s part of her charm and B: she’s such a likable person that even the most insecure, jealous, catty women out there find her disarming. That young woman started as a receptionist making $17.50 an hour and climbed her way up into Operations, running grant programs and helping kick-start manufacturing facilities in less than five years. She’s organized, she’s helpful, she’s calm under duress, she’s charming..she’s an INFJ. She’s also a friend of mine.

Chelsea is a sub-type of female INFJ I like to call “Creme de la Femme”. She is by far the most feminine woman I’ve ever met in my life. She’s owned and embraced her gender and embodies it with purpose. The tight dresses and high heels are more than just about personal enjoyment; they’re a source of power. If you were born a woman in a man’s world, according to her philosophy, then you might as well use it to your advantage.

Step #1 Dress like Christina Hendricks

Step #1 Become Christina Hendricks

And she does..with some gusto. It’s earned her work connections, promotions, the love and trust of everyone around her and positive male attention. Luckily for me, she gave me a few pointers on being female that I’ve taken to heart which is good because at the time, I dressed more like a ten-year-old boy.

In other words, like Kristen Stewart

In other words, like Kristen Stewart

So here’s some tips as taught to me by my friend Chelsea:

  1. Grow your hair out long: and keep it down. Spend the requisite hour/hour and a half every morning to curl it, straighten it, whatever. I don’t always do this because my hair is pretty damn awesome even without all that. The thing about this is that it’s like leveling your feminine prowess from 5 to 25 at least. Men like long hair. It’s a fact. They don’t mind your cute pixie cut but long hair is a readily recognizable statement of femininity.
  2. Wear dresses: preferably tight and curve hugging with lots of cleavage, though sundresses will also do the trick. Women don’t wear dresses anymore and that’s a shame because it’s the dresses which help empower us.
  3. Wear heels: this is a tough one for me because I can almost never justify buying another pair of shoes to myself but it’s a must. Keep it simple: 3 inch heels in tan, black, and red. One pair of wedge sandals and a couple of pairs of ballet flats to give your poor feetsies a break. Ballet flats are also great for making sure you’re not taller than the short men around you. Being taller is a no-go unless the image you want to present is that of intimidation.
  4. Smell nice: I fuck this one up all the time, either by overdoing it or not doing it at all. The key is a light scent which can be picked up if someone within 6-8 inches of you..not when they’re two hallways down from your office.
  5. Enjoy the girly things: go ahead and wear florals and pinks and other pastels. I prefer green myself simply because it goes well with my hair. Plan a gorgeous decorating scheme for each of the rooms of your house, inspired by a favorite antique. Go shopping. Get your nails done and have the Korean ladies do some fun little design with an airbrush and tiny plastic gems. Watch youtube videos on how to create a ‘smokey’ eye look and let your friends marvel at your flawless blending technique. Be shamelessly feminine in lots of other small ways as well. My friend Chelsea doesn’t simply write with a black ballpoint pen..she writes with a pink pen with plastic flowers taped to it. Combined with a bunch of pens, they make a pretty bouquet of flower pens in a little vase on her desk. She’s also an avid Disney and Sailor Moon fan. No apologies.
  6. Smile: I know it sounds stupid simple and perhaps even a bit contrived but smiling at people tends make them like you a bit more. This is coming straight from the Fe-User horse’s mouth, no pun intended. Extraverted Feelers know how to make other people happy so I’m going to take their word for it.
  7. Be assertive..but only when you have to be: believe me when I say Chelsea has no problem being assertive when she has to be but for the most part, she’s pretty easy going and non-judgmental about most things. Learn to pick your battles and when you do decide to pick one, make sure it’s important enough to be battling over. This is essential, especially for dealing with men. Men tend be nicer, treat you with more respect, and want to do things for you when you’re not constantly trying to challenge them. Imagine that. It’s the lost art of being a woman. You’re more powerful when you’re mostly kind but also willing to stick up for yourself.
It's like a pink glitter bomb exploded in her office

It’s like a pink glitter bomb exploded in her office

Types of INFPs

Shut up and listen to my meaningful noises

Shut up and listen to my meaningful noises

INFPs are generally described in key buzz words which are supposed to somehow encapsulate the broad spectrum of idiosyncrocies. Words like “Dreamer” and “Idealist” come to mind. If you googled INFP, the first thing Personalitypage.com will tell you is that INFPs have a rich inner world and care more about people than the average folk. It also says that we have trouble dealing with reality and logic. While all these things are true in the abstract, I just want to make it clear that our stack of cognitive functions operate so paradoxically that what churns up tends to manifest in different people differently, making for a bunch of interesting types of INFPs who are a product of their environment and their particular habits. Here are the different types of INFPs (as I see them). Yes, they are somewhat caricaturized but that’s generally how all my posts about people play out so just take it all in stride. If you are an INFP, you may find yourself fitting neatly into one of these categories or you may find pieces of yourself, all sides of the same coin (if the coin is basically a hexagon).

The Fish Out of Water INFP

Maybe I should leave the house on occassion...meh, nah.

Maybe I should leave the house on occassion…meh, nah.

We all know this guy (or girl). He’s the INFP friend who has no idea that he is an INFP or that he’s not supposed to be like other people. He’s always super awkward and out of place, as though he were an alien transplanted into a world of gregarious, every day humans and is trying desperately to emulate those around him and fit in. What ensues is absolute hilarity, since INFPs, when uncomfortable in social situations, tend to act inappropriately or comically. INFPs are so full of depth and hidden meaning that they just don’t know how to cope with their own feelings about the world around them.

INFPs that face failure in the real world tend to get down on themselves, living in a state of paralysis and self-concious inadequacy. Annie from Bridesmaids seems to be one of these INFPs who has failed so hardcore in her life that she accepts less than nice treatment from partners and roommates, feels insecure in her friendships, and absolutely HATES her job. She can’t even get the tail light in her car fixed. A failed Idealist is ultimately a failed human in every aspect. Luckily for Annie, she’s also a pretty nice and accepting person and the people in her life who care about her end up pulling through for her. In a way, the story of Annie is the story of all INFPs; a story about finding meaning in one’s own life and being able to reach out to those around you for help in finding that meaning.

Fringe of Society INFPs

Garbage fruit is so transcendent

Garbage fruit is so transcendent

There’s a lot of variations of this type depending on what specific books, comic books, movies, games, counterculture, art, music, and shows they’re into. One thing they all have in common is that they all live in a colorful fantasy world from which they refuse to emerge, even for practical reasons. A lot of these people don’t have jobs and if they do, they’re not normal jobs that will cover living expenses. As a result, most of these types tend to be teenagers who live with their parents or young adults living with several roommates. Some are college students without jobs that require their hair to be a normal color and others work as tattoo artists, hairstylists, and other such careers that allow them to look like a cartoon.

We're REAL vampires, Maury.

We’re REAL vampires, Maury.

The interesting thing about this type is their pure dedication to fantasy. You see these people on shows like Taboo, talking about what it means to be a real life human cat or live in the forest and eat fruit out of people’s garbages. Their disconnection from reality is rather extreme but admirable in a way. While some INFPs fret about savings accounts, careers, and other pragmatic things, these INFPs have learned to stop giving a fuck about what society wants and they just go for it. Of course, it doesn’t earn any brownie points from society when you go out in public with a purple tail and launch campaigns to save the unicorns but if it’s your thing, who cares what anyone else thinks?

The IT/Gamer INFP

Like my friend Ian

Like my friend Ian

Here’s a subtype that is commonly mistaken for their Rational friends, INTP and INTJ. This type is a unique type of INFP because they’re largely influenced by Thinkers and as such, have adapted a proclivity for all things IT, mechanical, electrical, and RPG. What’s more is that they tend to see themselves as “Intellectuals” rather than humanitarians or architects of fantasy. While this INFP walks, talks, and acts like a Rational duck, they’re still not a duck primarily because their motivations are still centered around personal values and people. What’s more is that these particular INFPs have more of a sense of aesthetics than an INTP or INTJ typically would, which generally manifests as some kind of high tech art. If INTPs and INTJs are the gaming programmers creating maps and aggro algorithims, INFPs are the conceptual designers and artists creating the characters and storylines. This type of INFP also has a sentimentality towards technology which Rationals generally don’t have. One described his soul as “being one with the computer”, citing that he feels most centered and at home in the server room. While Rationals love their machines, they don’t generally think in those terms. They are more about the puzzle and the challenge, not so much about the human..er..machine experience.

The Lazy Writer

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Some of the smartest and most gifted INFPs, this is one that also can’t be bothered with ambition or consistency in anything. They are deep, well-intentioned, and can hold eternally interesting conversations about anything, impressing you with their expansive knowledge and wordy and pretentious vernacular. This is the type of INFP to go off about the particulars of integration of Asocism and Egalitarianism in the modern Atheist paradigm. They’re like intellectual hipsters, arguing why the mainstream interpretation of Austrian economics is so passe’ and they’ve evolved their stance to exclude many of  the writings of Milton Friedman in order to preserve its ideological integrity (don’t ask me how I know this). They’ve developed excellent debate skills, when they can manage to keep their emotions under control, partially because they’re obsessive INFPs and partially because they’re good at confusing ordinary people.

The problem with this type is that even though they have good ideas..no, they have great ideas..they’re still not really going anywhere with their lives. All they can do is write prose and get themselves worked up, without ever having published anything or done anything in any real sense. Somehow, they just float through life, living on caffeine, cigarettes, and xanax, waxing poetically and feeling intellectually and ideologically superior to everyone else. The few that manage to actually do something become legends (usually posthumously) and the rest…well, they have blogs. *pulls up scarf to obscure face*

Joan of Arc INFPs

Princess-Diana-2274244

The most noble of INFPs, these ones can be described as having something of a Joan of Arc complex. They are humanitarian minded and self-sacrificial. Some might even say that they’re martyrs in a sense. Joan of Arc INFPs (or JOAs for short) just care so much and so badly want to help others, to the point in which they’re willing to sacrifice their own comfort, material posessions, safety, and well being for their cause. They’re usually very idealistic about their goals, even if they don’t make sense “I want to feed every starving child on earth”. While that all sounds wonderful, this type rarely considers exentuating factors which might undermine their goals, you know, like logic, political and environmental influences or even..I don’t know…personal choices. But none of that matters because it’s not even the goal per se which matters but the efforts which are extended to meet those goals. Every little bit counts, right?

Really, I'm just collecting minions

Really, I’m just collecting minions

You can tell a JOA because they’re shy and soft-spoken nurturer types like ISFJs, except globally minded as opposed to being purely family-oriented. They’re usually members of the Peace Corp. or the Red Cross and if they’re not building schools in Guatemala, feeding children in Calcutta, or serving as a Peace Ambassador in Benghazi, they’re doing something else humanitarian like counseling/therapy or saving animals or the environment. They’re the sweetest and most likable of INFPs, with an open mind and just a touch of quiet self-loathing and neurosis in order to be interesting. They’re loyal and supportive in their personal relationships and passionate, sometimes even subversive in their public persona. Because JOAs are so popular, this can introduce a dynamic to the INFP personality which most INFPs don’t ever have to deal with in their lifetimes. They have to thwart affection from others while at the same time, embrace it. JOAs are forced to establish boundaries between themselves and other people in order to restore balance and preserve their precious privacy without being cold and violating the humanitarian principle. Matters become ten times worse when the INFP is also physically attractive. This can make for a particularly stressed, frazzled INFP that ends up relying on the under-developed structure of Te and becoming internally conflicted as a result. Heavy hangs the head which wears the humanitarian crown.

Metaphysical INFPs

My chakras are not aligned,  so my esoteric energy can't flow

My chakras are not aligned, so my esoteric energy can’t flow

Metaphysical INFPs are the close cousin of JOAs in that they utterly ignore practical logic for idealistic reasons. These INFPs are into everything Rationals typically find ridiculous: religion, spirituality, astrology, numerology, chinese astrology, MBTI typeology, enneagram, fortune cards, palm readings, crystals, chi energy, law of attraction, yoga, meditation, you name it. This INFP is into it. Why are some INFPs into this stuff? Because they’re all compelling tools to use for a harmony and balance, something INFPs hold sacred. Think of this way, the Jedi of Star Wars relies on a duality of light and dark forces to guide their way through life and develop their powers. Such is the way for INFPs, who utilize symbols and belief systems to do the same.

While INFPs are rarely religious fundamentalists, I think its fair to say that most are instrinsically spiritual. In fact, they tend to prefer the metaphysical and humanitarian spiritualism over religious fundamentalism. Why? Because religious ferver in major religions like Islam and Christianity are more SJ territory in that they are clearly defined by a set of rules and principles, powered by unwavering obedience without question. This tends to offend INFP sensibilities because it doesn’t make case-by-case allowances for the rejected, the unsavory, or the disenfranchised. The black and white dichotomy which emphasizes one or the other, instead of the balance of yin and yang works contrary to the inner strive for balance which is present in virtually all INFPs. Religious fundamentalism is an open-shut case without room for other possibilities. Even when INFPs are religious, they still like to keep their options open.

Which brings me to crystals and palm readings all that other crap. While INFPs pick and choose what they want to believe in or reject, some are just more inclined to it than others. This is where you get the yogis and the variation of JOAs who travel to Buddhist temples and surrender their lives to the discipline of achieving Nirvana. Among the INFJs, I could see an INFP resigning themselves to long periods of fasting and meditation to achieve the ultimate spiritual enlightenment. It would be a very INFP thing to do, which is why I’ve included this subtype in this blog.

Tortured Artists

I'm just a Poe boy from a Poe family

I’m just a Poe boy from a Poe family

This is pretty much what everyone thinks of when they think of INFPs. They picture someone wearing black and feverishly writing dark poetry with a pistol in their other hand or musicians writing a soulful piece before slicing their wrists open. We tend to think of INFPs as being talented and deep but whiny and self-destructive. Not that there isn’t some truth to the stereotype but its a little more complicated than that. INFPs which dedicate themselves to the arts, be it music, art, or writing, tend to be self-indulgently dark, yes, this is true. But I’ve known some INFP artists and they’re actually quite optimistic but that optimism is notably tempered with conflict. What do I mean by that?

Let’s just take Kurt Cobain for instance. We all know he committed suicide. Well, some say Courtney Love conspired with assassins and anti-semites to get rid of Kurt and take his money but that’s another story. For the bulk of Kurt’s life, he wasn’t particularly known for being “dark”, at least not by the people who actually knew him. A more apt description for him would be sentimental and perfectionist. He was sentimental about life and other people and demanded of himself, complete authenticity and originality. INFPs commonly describe themselves as “perfectionists” due to their relationship with their inferior function, Te which demands perfection as Fi sees it.

Just because I'm a coke whore doesn't make me a murderer, man

Just because I’m a coke whore doesn’t make me a murderer, man

Contrary to popular myth, it wasn’t Kurt’s authenticity or his demand for perfection which killed him. It was drugs, plain and simple. An INFP can be conflicted and an artist with a mission without going balls to the wall self-destructive. Drugs usually do that job. They do that by destroying your body, your mind, and your spirit. They make you vulnerable, they exaggerate every personal demon you’ve ever had and they destroyed Kurt and Edgar Allen Poe and Jim Morrison despite their natural inclination to love art and a life lived for art. Don’t mistake an INFP for the drugs that ruined them. Also, don’t blame Courtney Love…or do…as long as you have irrefutable proof.

The Romantics

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A little known fact about William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is that it wasn’t just the greatest love story of all time. It was the love story because it was written by an INFP, about two INFPs, for INFPs. INFPs are by far the most romantic personality type on the spectrum and I don’t mean in a conventional dinner, wine and candles sort of way. I mean in a I will fucking die for you sort of way. In other words, they are intense. While some INFPs are content to write, make music, and live alone with their four cats, others are all about finding and keeping not just a partner but a soulmate, someone to connect with and “get this drift” as Alanis Morisette would say.

Also an INFP

Also an INFP

To a Romantic, all partners are not created equal. There is someone special out there for you and they were destined to fall into your arms and love you forever, unconditionally. But because INFPs are so reserved, you won’t necessarily know you’re dealing with a Romantic until suddenly, out pours a tidal wave of depth and emotion which is great if you feel the same way and really, really bad if you’re like most people and you approach love gradually, with cautious optimism. Though everyone loves the idea of a impassioned romance, few have the gall to be as impractical and inappropriate about it as an INFP. They can’t help it, they just have so much feeling inside them that it’s bursting to get out.

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In truth, INFPs just really like to feel intensely because that means you’re alive and everyone wants to feel alive. They can derive that intensity of emotion from any source, be it a book, a song, a piece of art, a situation, or a romantic partner. It’s just that some INFPs are more inclined to be more romantic towards another person than other sources. While the INFP believes that he or she has found “the one” and is convinced that “the one” is the only option they can accept, the truth is that INFPs are far less discriminating than that. You know how many “The One”s there are out there? Probably millions, that’s how many and it can change from person to person throughout a lifetime. Still, you wouldn’t know it because an INFP will convince you that you are the most special human being on earth and the Gods themselves ordained you special.  I don’t think that really makes it any less true, it’s just that the reality of relationships and reconciling differences can dim the fires of the INFP passion in a hurry. What it breaks down to is that INFPs are the firestarters and initiators of romantic relationships, bringing passion and spontaneity to them while others tend to stabilize the relationship, making it more fit for long-term success. At least, that’s probably how it should be. Can you imagine if Romeo and Juliet actually lived and got married and had to live with each other? I don’t think they could sustain on passion alone, they’d have to dig into some other INFP resources to make that one last. And as long as you know how to be considerate, warm, supportive, respectful, and communicate well and yes, feed the flames of passion, that shouldn’t be a problem.

The Elusive INFJ

They’ve been called a lot of things: The Unicorn, The Special Snowflake, The Oracle, The Protector, The Physic, The Counselor. But whatever you want to call the rarest 1% of the population, it’s hard to deny that they’re the most elusive type among us. In fact, it’s a fairly safe bet to assume that no one is actually an INFJ but in their own deluded, self-aggrandizing minds. MBTI buffs, particularly of the NF variety, love to self-efface from the vague descriptions online and wave the INFJ flag. That’s precisely why, whenever someone who is unfamiliar with the MBTI tool and cognitive functions takes the test in front of me and gets the INFJ result, I take astute interest in them.

Would you like a cookie?

Would you like a cookie?

Are you actually an INFP?

The thing I always want to know first is ‘Are you actually an INFP?’. Why? Because INFPs frequently mistakes themselves for an INFJ. First of all, INFJs and INFPs are really, really similar in appearance and by appearance, I mean they take on the same mannerisms, tend to behave the same ways, and reach the same conclusions. They’re also the two most frequently misunderstood NFs (Introverted Feelers). The reason why is a bit complicated and has a lot to do with how cognitive functions work. Without getting into the boring details, INFPs (understandably) mistake the fact they lead with a Judging function (Fi) with being a Judging type. This isn’t the case, however, for reasons which are even more complicated and involved and I don’t care to make your eyes cross by getting into the mumbo jumbo of how functions work together. If you really want to know what the difference is between INFJ and INFP, it’s discussed in great length here. If you’re still confused, this test will give you a better clue if you’re torn between the two.

INFJs Are Not Who You Think They Are

It’s true. They’re social chameleons, like Mystique from X-Men, they can observe and take on the shape and form (behaviors and mannerisms) of any other type. At work, INFJs may look like INTPs (laid back geniuses) and socially, they may resemble ENFPs (charismatic idealists) or ESFJs (social organizers). Actually, they can seem like any type, depending on which side of their multi-faceted, multi-layered personality they want to show you in whichever social context you happen to be in. You may even think an INFJ is your type, since they like to frequently use the social tool called ‘mirroring’, which is basically observing and copying your mannerisms in order to gain rapport with you. For this reason and a lot of others, INFJs are notoriously difficult to type. The only sure way to know is to have someone take the test and confirm that they are an INFJ. You will be surprised to find who is actually an INFJ. I like to think that I know people pretty well and I still tend to miss identifying true INFJs.

INFJs Can Predict The Future

Well…kind of. Actually, it’s that they lead with the most mysterious function, Ni (Introverted Intuition) which is able to instantly make connections; both past, present and use them to establish patterns, which will produce knowledge of the most likely outcomes. INTJs also have this ability but in a different context. For those of you who play video games, it’s kind of like this: two classes may have the same abilities (for example, close combat melee weapons) but one class masters dueling swords while the other uses a broadsword. That’s kind of how cognitive functions work for types: INFJs and INTJs both use instant connections to establish patterns and determine likely outcomes..but the INFJ is an expert in determining what people will do whereas INTJs are better at determining what logical events will happen.

If you want to know, at any given point, what a person will likely do when put into X situation, ask an INFJ. They will be right about 97% of the time. That’s because INFJs understand people almost instantly and on the deepest level you can conceive. INFJs build a multi-layered, subconscious profile on everyone that comes into contact with them. This ‘profile’ is not something consciously done or even understood by the INFJ but rather, it’s a function which operates in an automated way: kind of like your body’s circulatory, limbic, and metabolic systems. You don’t have to tell your body to breathe. It just does. So it is with INFJs and their people-related connections. They just know people, inside and out and since events are often caused by or related to human behavior in some way, INFJs often give the impression that they can predict events like an INTJ. Remove the human element from the equation however, and you’ll find that INFJs are less adept at this particular brand of foreboding. Now, this isn’t a good thing or a bad thing. I’ll use the analogy of a video game, specifically a Role Playing Game. If the task or duty at hand requires you to the desired knowledge or reaction out of other players or NPCs, then you would want to switch your character into the INFJ class. If the task or duty involves understanding non-human systems (engineering or IT comes to mind), then you’ll want to switch your character into the INTJ class. Both classes can do each other’s jobs with relative efficiency but if you want the extra advantage, you’ll want the class that specializes in one or the other.

Really, I just needed an excuse to show off my Summoner pet

Really, I just needed an excuse to show off my Summoner pet

INFJs are Psychic

Again…only kind of.There’s a good reason INFJs are frequently appointed in tribes throughout history and around the world as the Shaman or the Healer. In modern, western civilization, INFJs often work as counselors, therapists, coaches, and other occupations which serve as the go-to person for a wide variety of human problems. INFJs are basically emotional sponges.What does that mean exactly? Well, a lot of types can develop abilities which center around reading body language and listening for inflections in tone and manners in speech. NF empaths, in particular, are sensitive to the emotions of others and have the ability to cross-reference their own to correctly identify emotions (like INFPs do). INFJs, however, are by far the most natural at this. They are literally like a sponge. They absorb the emotions of others in their raw state in real time. This ability is vastly different than that of the INFP, which can only make self-effaced (albeit highly accurate) guesses. INFJs literally feel what you feel and they feel it exactly at the moment that you’re feeling it and most shockingly, sometimes even before you know you’re feeling it. The reason is a unique combination of Dominant Ni and Auxillary Fe (Extraverted Feeling). It’s the perfect storm of functions which allows INFJs to ‘take the emotional temperature’ of others and use Ni pattern recognition to correctly identify their emotional state and respond accordingly.

Another reason INFJs seem to be psychic is that they are simply better listeners. Yes, I’m generalizing here but it’s true. INFJs are the best listeners. The reason, again, is explained by having Ni as a dominant function. Ni is a perceiving function which takes in information. It’s primarily an input system rather than an output system. Because of this, INFJs often seem passive and non-reactive. They are constantly observing and listening, generally responding with open-ended questions, reflective dialogue, and only answering questions when directly asked. Any counselor or therapist worth their salt will tell you the value of ‘reflecting’ another person’s feelings and information back to them. Conversations with INFJs are often one-sided and peppered with frequent bits of validation like “I see how you could feel that way” or “That must have been really hard for you” or the classic “Tell me more.” INFJs are focused on you and want to know more about you. You’ll learn a lot more about other people if you ask to listen and more importantly, to understand. Most types struggle to listen to truly understand. It’s a self-absorbed world out there; with everyone clamoring over each other to get a word in, talking over each other, or simply just waiting for their turn to speak. With everyone focused in on themselves, it’s little wonder why INFJs have more knowledge of what’s going on than everyone else. As far as I know, that’s not a psychic phenomenon so much as just simple logic. Not to say that INFJs couldn’t be psychic, I’m sure a lot of them are…but that’s on a whole other level.

INFJs are Nice

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This leads me to the next generalization that I’m going to boldly make. INFJs are nice..generally speaking. There’s really two levels to this: individual and global idealism. On an individual level, I just explained that INFJs are basically emotional vampires who absorb the emotions of others. I can’t emphasize that enough, since it actually means that your emotions literally become their own. In other words, if an INFJ hurts you, they’re also hurting themselves…so they’re going to do everything they can to avoid hurting you. This is how INFJs got the label ‘Protectors’ since they protect the hell out of your feelings. INFJs are also highly driven by the motive to ‘help’ others, often rescuing disenfranchised souls and homeless animals. That cliche novel or movie about a perfectly well-adjusted guy bringing home a hooker to give her a hot meal, a safe place to sleep, and attempting to help her get out of the life on the streets…that’s about an INFJ.

Perhaps even more important is the concept of global idealism, which INFJs, and NFs in general, are famous for. INFJs truly do want to make the world a better place for people (and/or other living things). This global outreach entails an inner value system with its own set of rules which are prioritized from the core (most important) and taper out to lesser values (less important). An INFJ’s inner value system is a paradox to their seemingly passive, gentle, observant nature because it is rigid, adamant, and possesses the highest standards for what an individual INFJ considers ‘moral’. INFJs, generally speaking, are primarily concerned with one thing: doing the right thing. It’s their modus operandi. It’s their prime directive, if you will (Star Trek fans, anyone?). It’s the secret ingredient of the INFJ’s personality makeup and it completely explains why they lack ego, balk at superficiality, act with caution, and getting back to the subject at hand…that’s also why they’re nice.

INFJs are Assholes

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This is also true. In fairness, all types are assholes and some just have a series of personal habits which create a combined sum of excessive assholerly. But allow me to clarify that I just mean that when an INFJ decides to be an asshole, this is the particular way he/she goes about it:

For the very same reason INFJs are nice, they’re also assholes. They know everything about you (with a positive inflection) and they know everything about you (negative inflection). That can be a bad thing. Imagine if everything an INFJ has on you (which is a lot) were to be used to turn the tables on you. It can happen..and it does. INFJs are plenty assertive when they need to be. The following is a list of things sure to piss off an INFJ:

  1. Bullying/being mean to someone they care about. – The other reason INFJs are called “protectors”. If you’re going to be cruel, thoughtless, or unfair towards someone that an INFJ really cares about, you’re going to have a bad time.
  2. Dishonesty – INFJs fucking hate liars. It’s really best to be honest with an INFJ..since they know the truth, anyway. In fact, if you do lie, they’ll let you keep speaking just to see how far you’re willing to go with it. Also, being vague and/or short with your responses or omitting pertinent information is tantamount to lying to an INFJ since the motive is deception.

An honorable mention is superficiality, which is really more of a pet peeve or an annoyance than an actual trigger. Aside from that, violating personal boundaries or values will put you on the shit list. But since they’re too individualistic, I’m not going to try to list them here. So what happens when you make an INFJ mad? Well, of course, there’s a spectrum of reactions which are unique to the situation and I’ll attempt to categorize them according to anecdotal information I’ve acquired from several dozen INFJs:

  1. The Door Close – This happens for various reasons. It could mean an offended INFJ or perhaps just an exhausted/conflicted INFJ. This is when they unceremoniously place a lot of emotional/physical/psychological distance between you and them. Also known as the ‘Door Slightly Ajar’ or the ‘Door Gently Closed’.
  2. The Door Slam – The infamous INFJ door slam is when you’ve been shut out completely from existence, often without explanation.
  3. The Button Pushing/Door Slam – Rarely used. When an INFJ becomes infuriated and spiteful and decides to draw upon their vast expanse of knowledge of all your deepest, darkest insecurities and use them against you with deadly precision. They use Tertiary Ti (Introverted Thinking) to locate the exact, right words to say and the exact, right things to do/not do which will hurt you the most. Usually followed by the door slam. Always highly regretted maneuver.
  4. The Quietly Judgmental Detective – Asking open-ended questions to determine if you’re lying and if so, just how bad of a lying sack of shit you are. Usually accompanied by laser death eyes and a surly, judgmental look.
  5. The Disappointed Mother/Father – Guaranteed to make you feel like shit. This is what happens when you disappoint the person you really like and admire. INFJs are really good at letting you know that they think just a little less of you..and that’s so much worse than anger.

INFJs Are Complicated

If you like human puzzles, INFJs are right up your alley. Remember that emotional sponge thing I mentioned earlier? Imagine having that ability and not being able to turn it off. There is no on and off switch for being absorbent. This is why warm-hearted, sincerely interested INFJs suddenly withdraw from you without explanation. For them, it can be exhausting to be around other people. The only way to truly escape inheriting the emotions of others is to get away from people entirely, which explains the beguiling push-pull behavior. INFJs are hot and cold, never seeming to approach you in the same, exact way twice. At their core, INFJs yearn to be around other people, to be understood, and appreciated. But they also shoulder the responsibility/burden of caring about all the souls they encounter and always doing the right thing. It’s the weight of the world, resulting a low-level baseline of stress that is omnipresent, only to be temporarily relieved by solitary processing or true understanding by another.

INFJs Are Deep and Sensitive

Probably my favorite thing about INFJs; they’re deep. There’s no discussion too deep for an INFJ and no judgment passed if you’d rather be discussing the meaning of life than the caloric content of your lunch. INFJs are all about emotional connection and the meaningful exchange of ideas. Most significantly, INFJs crave the deepest connection with someone that can possibly be attained. INFJs learn at a young age what most people start realizing much later on, which is that its better to have a few quality relationships in life than a large quantity of casual acquaintances and fair weather friends. Despite being naturally popular people, INFJs don’t crave or seek attention from the masses. Depth can only be established one on one and each relationship is seen as a large emotional investment to be taken seriously.

The inner world of an INFJ is sentimental, poetic, and highly idealistic, no matter how he/she appears to be from the outside. There’s a innate sense of self-preservation and secretiveness that is associated with the type, since they’re highly sensitive to mockery and rejection. INFJs don’t share unless they know for sure that you aren’t going to hurt them. Their own personal feelings, which so rarely see the light of day, are deep and intense that if they were entrusted with the wrong person, it would be devastating. I vaguely recall a quote that someone said (and I’m probably butchering this quote) “If you want to know how someone wants to be loved, observe the way they choose to love others”. I believe that to be true for INFJs as well. Somewhere, deep down inside, they wish someone would do for them the same that they constantly do for the rest of the world.