By Dr. A.J. Drenth
Introverted Thinking (Ti) and Extraverted Feeling (Fe) comprise a single function pair. They are interdependent functions and always occur together in TP and FJ personality types. As discussed at great length in my INTP book, Ti and Fe exist in a constant state of tension with one another. This is especially palpable for ITPs, for whom these functions serve as the dominant and inferior bookends of their functional stack. And while the ways and objectives of Ti and Fe may commonly seem at odds with each other, they can also work together in a mutually-enriching, complementary fashion. In this post, we will explore Ti-Fe interactions with a particular focus on how they manifest in INTPs, ENTPs, ISTPs, and ESTPs.
For TP types, Ti is the more conscious member of the function pair. Because of its predominance, TPs tend to see themselves as highly autonomous agents. They enjoy bucking Te rules and protocols in favor of doing things in their own way and on their own time. They deplore the idea of being controlled or reined in by external strictures or structures, contributing to their predilection for anarchist or libertarian sorts of fantasies.
At the same time, most TPs tend to wither without some degree of social contact. If isolated for too long, or if their work seems devoid of a socially meaningful objective, they can start feeling depressed or listless. In my own experience as an INTP, I have learned that working in public spaces (e.g., coffee shops), provides an added measure of Fe fuel for me to do my Ti work. To be clear, it’s not that I am extensively engaging with people in these settings—far from it. But simply having a few people around seems to provide a helpful sense of comfort, stimulation, and motivation.
One can observe similar Fe motivations in TPs participating in team sports, fraternities, politics, bars, country clubs, or American business culture. In each of these arenas, we see droves of TP types (typically males) who, while relishing their Ti work, also enjoy rubbing elbows (Fe) in a lighthearted way with their comrades. In such contexts, Fe rarely involves strong expressions of emotion or moral conviction (as might be seen, for instance, in INFJs), but centers on cultivating and maintaining a positive, neighborly atmosphere.
This may partly explain why so many TP men are concerned with their public image (Fe), since their perceived Fe relations serve as a source of moral support and motivation for their Ti work. It may also explain why many TPs feel lost without a romantic partner, as their partners represent another source of Fe enrichment. Relationships and/or children help TPs feel that their Ti work is both necessary and helpful, thereby enhancing their sense of self-worth and purpose. Of course, the superficial nature of inferior Fe can prove problematic when TPs are paired with Feeling types (especially Fi types), who seek a more intense form of love or intimacy. In some cases, such differences may prompt TPs to spend more time at work or in other public spaces, where they can more readily experience a reciprocation of their own “easy come, easy go” Fe.
In light of the above, we can see that Fe connections often serve as comforting “background noise” for TP types. For many TPs, however, the significance of Fe extends beyond the mere pleasure of social exchanges. Namely, TPs often envision some form of idealized Fe as their explicit life purpose. They may, for instance, dream of becoming famous (i.e., gaining Fe acclaim), finding their soul mate, converting others to their preferred religion/ philosophy, or procuring universal peace and harmony. Such grandiose visions often entail a thirst for some combination of personal glory and collective salvation, or what some might call a “savior complex.” Psychologically, this might be understood as the psyche’s desire to perfectly marry Ti agency with Fe harmony.
In sum, the feelings and images associated with the Extraverted Feeling function not only contribute to TPs’ everyday psychological wholeness, but may also serve as ideals that motivate their Ti work. This is especially true for ITPs, for whom reconciling Ti and Fe constitutes a foremost psychological challenge.
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