By Johannah Banham
Greetings, personality junkies. I am a 53 year-old INFP, married the past 33 years to an INTJ. I have been studying MBTI typology as a hobbyist for the last seventeen years. Since A.J. and Elaine describe and analyze the workings of type theory with more clarity and greater depth than I can, I hope to offer a perspective based on many years of observing people through the lens of type (in other words, I am old).
We moved around a great deal during our first 20 years while my husband was an officer in the U.S. Navy. We zigzagged twice across the country and once to Guam, ultimately settling in the northwest corner of Washington. We have 12 children (yes, biologically ours; and yes, 12) who range from age 9 to 28. Here are some of my observations of how the types use their respective inferior functions, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.
INJs. Some INTJs and INFJs employ their inferior function, Extraverted Sensing (Se), by way of physical activity. They often exert themselves without regard to injury or pain. One teen INTJ loves to run when stressed, and because there is so much on her mind, she won’t feel any physical pain, even when running six miles. An INFJ acquaintance spoke of running countless miles per week. I once remarked that she must love running to which she replied, “Actually, I hate it.” INJs may also employ their Se in activities like gourmet cooking, baking, photography, drawing, or learning a musical instrument. I have watched them take turns among all these, often exhausting themselves with the detail required to excel.
ISJs. ISFJs and ISTJs use Ne as their inferior function. I’ve known several ISJs who enjoy travelling, which seems at odds with their Si love of home, hearth, and routine. My ISFJ mother used to say “I need some air!” and took us out for a drive. We made many car trips across the country to see family members (an ISJ priority). I also know an ISFJ who buys unusual clothing accessories as a way of striving for Ne unconventionality, as well as an ISTJ who enjoys exploring alternative medicine (presumably for similar reasons). Under stress, ISFJs may speculate (Ne) as to why they are treated badly or are unappreciated. ISTJs may look for new interpretations of accepted theories or take sides with the conspiracy theorists.
EFJs. EFJs love matchmaking. I have theorized that matchmaking is a form of categorizing, but I’m unsure whether it’s an Fe exercise of strong people skills or an abstract sorting activity of inferior Ti. EFJs also like researching debate topics, even if they tire of it sooner than an ITP might. I’ve seen more than one EFJ mother urging her children to join debate teams. EFJs can be overconfident in their own thinking skills, certain they are applying excellent logic, if only others would listen more carefully. This can lead to frustration when others fail to understand. Extraverted Feeling lacks the confidence that Introverted Thinking has that truth can stand alone, capable of defending itself.
ETJs. ENTJs often find words for their unexpressed feeling (Fi) in reading poetry and heroic literature. Both ENTJs and ESTJs seek to live by strongly-held Fi ideals (think of Patton’s chivalrous side). ETJs can also get sulky and mired in Fi self-pity. While this may come as a surprise to those accustomed to ETJs’ typical rational demeanor, it can be understood as a Fi grip behavior. Fortunately, ETJs tend to bounce back from such moods rather quickly. In mature ETJs, I have seen a heightened desire to invest time and effort into the lives of others (Fi), especially through teaching.
ESPs. Extraverted Sensors use Introverted Intuition (Ni) as they inferior function. They may utilize Ni to search for deeper meanings or insights in books, movies or songs. They may also be gripped by the idea of reading others’ minds, sure they “just know” what others are thinking or what will happen in the future.
ENPs. These mostly forward-looking (Ne) types can travel through life darting glances in the rearview mirror (Si)—sometimes nostalgic, sometimes regretful. When NPs look back, they often do so with a tinge of sorrow, not with the untempered joy that ISJs experience from old memories. Si also contributes to an inner bodily awareness. And being relatively unconscious in ENPs, they may be relatively oblivious to their own health or bodily needs.
ITPs. Extraverted Feeling (Fe) is invested in knowing the norms and conventions of social engagement. Hence, ITPs can be sticklers for rules of etiquette, even if they apply them somewhat haphazardly. Mature ITPs often have go-to friend or relative to whom they can turn for advice regarding social or emotional concerns. Fe also contributes to sociability, or at least the sense that one should be sociable. Consider the INTP programmer with a lunchtime walk-and-talk group of co-workers, or the octogenarian ISTP who enjoys weekly breakfasts with a group of retired schoolteachers.
IFPs. IFPs employ Extraverted Thinking (Te) when they look to calendars, to-do lists, and time management methods to shoehorn some structure into their lives. IFPs are happiest not having to tell others what to do, but sometimes life demands it (e.g., parenting). Feeling embarrassed in drill sergeant mode, IFPs may make use of charts and lists to communicate responsibilities to others. IFPs may also get hot with anger toward bullying behavior and be driven to confront the offender (Te), only to struggle with guilt afterward for what they consider an immature outburst. To an IFP, Extraverted Thinking (Te) feels a lot like becoming the Incredible Hulk, only to find afterward that no one noticed.
- Son, 28 (twin), INTJ
Son, 28 (twin), INTP, married to an ESFP
Son, 26, ENTJ, married to an ENFP
Daughter, 24, INFJ
Daughter, 23, INFP, engaged to an INFJ
Son, 21, ENFP
Son, 19, INTJ
Daughter, 17, INTJ
Daughter, 16, ENFP
Daughter, 14, ISFJ
Daughter, 10, ENFJ
Son, 9, ENTJ