Saturday, September 29, 2012

IXFJ: On the Cusp of INFJ and ISFJ


It's been a while since I last took the MBTI and came up an INTJ. I thought it was time to retake the test, as I like to do on more or less an annual basis because it's fun, and so as I was browsing the net for an online test, I found one I'd never seen before: Thompson-Maidenbaum Personality Inventory aka The Lenore Thompson Personality Test. For the first time ever, I have tested as an IXFJ (somewhere between INFJ and ISFJ), a shift from my usual INXJ (between INTJ and INFJ) and seldom INXP (INTP/INFP) result. In a nutshell, my conscious perception (Sensing: bottom-up approach to information; context emerges from the facts) and unconscious perception (iNtuition: top-down approach to information; pattern first, then related content) have scored evenly. By scoring as more of a Sensing individual, I hope it means that I'm becoming more detail-oriented and less likely to jump to conclusions. I also hope it means I'm becoming less self-absorbed and more aware of my surroundings, although that can also translate as my being more easily distractable, or becoming hypersensitive.

Here is an excerpt from the web site: "Extraversion/Introversion and Judging/Perceiving are attitudes, Sensation/Intuition are the Perceiving functions, and Thinking/Feeling are the Judging functions. The general idea is that people prefer one of each pair of functions more than the other, and the attitudes indicate how these two preferred functions operate. In the logic of the four-category system:

"J types use one of the Judging functions (Thinking or Feeling) in an Extraverted way—to take action in the outer world; and they use one of the Perceiving functions (Intuition or Sensation) in an Introverted way—to reflect and to determine meaning.

"P types use one of the Perceiving functions (Intuition or Sensation) in an Extraverted way—to take action in the outer world; and they use one of the Judging functions (Thinking or Feeling) in an Introverted way—to reflect and to determine meaning."

So in Jungspeak, what's changed about me is the way in which I reflect and determine meaning, from a Ni (introverted intuition) perspective to more of a Si (introverted sensing) one. Here is an excerpt from another web site where The four Ego Functions of Jung's Psychological theory of Types is explained:

"SENSATION means conscious perception through the sense-organs. The Sensation personality-type relates to physical stimulii. But there is a difference according to whether the person is an introvert or an extrovert.

"So we could have an Introverted-Sensation type, such as an artist, who experiences the physical world (sensation) from the perspective of the psychic or inner consciousness (introversion). As opposed to this, the Extroverted-Sensation type would be the person who is a simple materialist or hedonist, interested only in physical or pragmatic things. This type tends to be realistic and practical. At worst, one may be crudely sensual. This personality-type occurs more often in men.

"(...) INTUITION is like sensation in that it is an experience which is immediately given to con-sciousness rather than arising through mental activity (e.g. thinking or feeling). But it differs in that it has no physical cause. It constitutes an intuition or hunch, a "gut"-level feeling, or an "ESP" experience. It is the source of inspiration, creativity, novel ideas, etc. According to Jung, the Intuitive type jumps from image, is interested in a while, but soon loses interest."

My auxiliary function has also shifted from Thinking to Feeling again, meaning I'm primarily using my ability to empathize (Fe = extraverted Feeling) to connect to / take action in the outer world.

Here's where I'm at: I believe I am an INFJ, but shifting towards ISFJ. To recap up to this point: ISFJ = Dominant Introverted Sensation with an Extraverted Feeling auxiliary function. The primary function of the ISFJ, Introverted Sensation (Si) = conscious perceptual impressions: focuses on the realistic relationship of new perceptual events to existing bodies of meaningful information

So what does it mean to be an ISFJ, or someone whose primary cognitive function is Si (Introverted Sensing)? The information I've stumbled upon has changed the way I view MBTI, because Jung's original 8 types and the MBTI don't seem to be in sync. For instance, the INTJ type which is considered one of the Rational types in MBTI is an Irrational type according to Jung. The following descriptions draw negative images of the Introverted Irrational types as being "inferior". These types are INTJ, INFJ, ISTJ, ISFJ.

The Thompson-Maidenbaum site links to a detailed explanation of the cognitive functions: GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF THE TYPES - Psychological Types, C. G. Jung (1921) Translation by H. Godwyn Baynes (1923) from which I have drawn the following excerpts regarding the Extraverted Feeling function and the Introverted Irrational types.

Here is a very interesting explanation of the Feeling type: "Feeling in the extraverted attitude is orientated by objective data, i.e. the object is the indispensable determinant of the kind of feeling. It agrees with objective values. If one has always known feeling as a subjective fact, the nature of extraverted feeling will not immediately be understood, since it has freed itself as fully as possible from the subjective factor, and has, instead, become wholly subordinated to the influence of the object. Even where it seems to show a certain independence of the quality of the concrete object, it is none the less under the spell of. traditional or generally valid standards of some sort. I may feel constrained, for instance, to use the predicate 'beautiful' or 'good', not because I find the object 'beautiful' or 'good' from my own subjective feeling, but because it is fitting and politic so to do; and fitting it certainly is, inasmuch as a contrary opinion would disturb the general feeling situation. A feeling-judgment such as this is in no way a simulation or a lie -- it is merely an act of accommodation. (edit)

(...) "In precisely the same way as extraverted thinking strives to rid itself of subjective influences, extraverted feeling has also to undergo a certain process of differentiation, before it is finally denuded of every subjective [p. 447] trimming. The valuations resulting from the act of feeling either correspond directly with objective values or at least chime in with certain traditional and generally known standards of value. This kind of feeling is very largely responsible for the fact that so many people flock to the theatre, to concerts, or to Church, and what is more, with correctly adjusted positive feelings. Fashions, too, owe their existence to it, and, what is far more valuable, the whole positive and wide-spread support of social, philanthropic, and such like cultural enterprises. In such matters, extraverted feeling proves itself a creative factor. Without this feeling, for instance, a beautiful and harmonious sociability would be unthinkable."

OK, so here again it sound to me like the Feeling individual believes in certain values based on the status quo, or what one believes (s)he should believe. I have always considered myself a free thinking individualist, so I'm not sure I'm liking this description for myself (thus my INTJ / INTP readings in the past), but there might be a reason I'm functioning this way for the time being, that I'm not understanding yet.

The excerpt continues, "Such overstressed, extraverted feeling certainly fulfils æsthetic expectations, but no longer does it speak to the heart; it merely appeals to the senses, or -- worse still -- to the reason. Doubtless it can provide æsthetic padding for a situation, but there it stops, and beyond that its effect is nil. It has become sterile. Should this process go further, a strangely contradictory dissociation of feeling develops; every object is seized upon with feeling- [p. 448] valuations, and numerous relationships are made which are inherently and mutually incompatible. Since such aberrations would be quite impossible if a sufficiently emphasized subject were present, the last vestige of a real personal standpoint also becomes suppressed. The subject becomes so swallowed up in individual feeling processes that to the observer it seems as though there were no longer a subject of feeling but merely a feeling process. In such a condition feeling has entirely forfeited its original human warmth, it gives an impression of pose, inconstancy, unreliability, and in the worst cases appears definitely hysterical."

Oh my, after all these years of being immersed in the arts, I have finally appropriately died inside! To whom or what hierarchy have I given in? Have I watched too many episodes of Master Chef this summer? Am I becoming a classist / traditionalist!? Either that or, I'm just gettin' old. They say types mature and shift throughout life, which I'm guessing is true even for the more "rigid" (as opposed to "flaky") Extraverted and Introverted Rational types (ENFJ, ESFJ, ENTJ, ESTP, ISTP, ISFP, INFP, INTP).

And before you think Feeling types are the world's worst people, the negative aspects of the Extraverted Thinking type don't sound so great, either, so bear with me as I continue onto the description of the Si and of the ISFJ (the following description also fits an ISTJ who shares Si as a primary function but whose auxiliary function is Te (Extraverted Thinking)).

The Introverted Sensation Type "(...)Relatively speaking, this type has only archaic possibilities of expression for the disposal of his impressions; thought and feeling are relatively unconscious, and, in so far as they have a certain consciousness, they only serve in the necessary, banal, every-day expressions. Hence as conscious functions, they are wholly unfitted to give any adequate rendering of the subjective perceptions. This type, therefore, is uncommonly inaccessible to an objective understanding and he fares no better in the understanding of himself.

"Above all, his development estranges him from the reality of the object, handing him over to his subjective perceptions, which orientate his consciousness in accordance with an archaic reality, although his deficiency in comparative judgment keeps him wholly unaware of this fact. Actually he moves in a mythological world, where men animals, railways, houses, rivers, and mountains appear partly as benevolent deities and partly as malevolent demons.

"(...) His unconscious is distinguished chiefly by the repression of intuition, which thereby acquires an extraverted and archaic character. Whereas true extraverted intuition has a characteristic resourcefulness, and a 'good nose' for every possibility in objective reality, this archaic, extraverted intuition has an amazing flair for every ambiguous, gloomy, dirty, and dangerous possibility in the background of reality. In the presence of this intuition the real and conscious intention of the object has no significance; it will peer behind every possible archaic antecedent of such an intention. It possesses, therefore, something dangerous, something actually undermining, which often stands in most vivid contrast to the gentle benevolence of consciousness. So long as the individual is not too aloof from the object, the unconscious intuition effects a wholesome compensation to the rather fantastic and over credulous attitude of consciousness. But as soon as the unconscious becomes antagonistic to consciousness, such intuitions come to the surface and expand their nefarious influence: they force themselves compellingly upon the individual, releasing compulsive ideas about objects of the most perverse kind. The neurosis arising from this sequence of events is usually a compulsion neurosis, in which the hysterical characters recede and are obscured by symptoms of exhaustion. [p. 505]"

Comparing the Si function of the ISFJ to the Ni function of the INFJ:

The Introverted Intuitive Type

"The peculiar nature of introverted intuition, when given the priority, also produces a peculiar type of man, viz. the mystical dreamer and seer on the one hand, or the fantastical crank and artist on the other. The latter might be regarded as the normal case, since there is a general tendency of this type to confine himself to the perceptive character of intuition. As a rule, the intuitive stops at perception; perception is his principal problem, and -- in the case of a productive artist-the shaping of perception. But the crank contents himself with the intuition by which he himself is shaped and determined. Intensification of intuition naturally often results in an extraordinary aloofness of the individual from tangible reality; he may even become a complete enigma to his own immediate circle. [p. 509]

"If an artist, he reveals extraordinary, remote things in his art, which in iridescent profusion embrace both the significant and the banal, the lovely and the grotesque, the whimsical and the sublime. If not an artist, he is frequently an unappreciated genius, a great man 'gone wrong', a sort of wise simpleton, a figure for 'psychological' novels."

So, am I moving from a Ni artist/artsy-type person who likes to reinvent herself for lack of other subjects to manipulate at will, to a Si + Fe type of artist who has no self-consciousness to speak of, a sort of empty vessel for instruction (stereotypically like classical musicians)? Could I interpret this as meaning I'm losing my self-obsessed post-TV personality ego in lieu of becoming a faceless humble servant, the stereotype of the ISFJ depicted as a homemaker, or someone who does everything out of a sense of duty?

Finally, here is the depressing recap of the Introverted Irrational (INFJ, INTJ, ISTJ, ISFJ) types, the big picture for me being that it's irrelevant whether I'm an INXJ or IXFJ if they are both deemed inferior types of man according to Jung. The Extraverted and Introverted Irrational types are INTJ, INFJ, ESTP, ESFP, ISTJ, ISFJ, ENFP and ENTP. What is it about these types that Jung (himself an INTP) deemed inferior?

Recapitulation of Introverted Irrational Types (Irrational Sensation, Irrational Intuition) "The two types just depicted are almost inaccessible to external judgment. Because they are introverted and have in consequence a somewhat meagre capacity or willingness for expression, they offer but a frail handle for a telling criticism. Since their main activity is directed within, nothing is outwardly visible but reserve, secretiveness, lack of sympathy, or uncertainty, and an apparently groundless perplexity. When anything does come to the surface, it usually consists in indirect manifestations of inferior and relatively unconscious functions. Manifestations of such a nature naturally excite a certain environmental prejudice against these types. Accordingly they are mostly underestimated, or at least misunderstood. To the same degree as they fail to understand themselves -- because they very largely lack judgment -- they are also powerless to understand why they are so constantly undervalued by public opinion. They cannot see that their outward-going expression is, as a matter of fact, also of an inferior character. Their vision is enchanted by the abundance of subjective events. What happens there is so captivating, and of such inexhaustible attraction, that they do not appreciate the fact that their habitual communications to their circle express very, little of that real experience in which they themselves are, as it were, caught up. The fragmentary and, as a rule, quite episodic character of their communications make too great a demand upon the understanding and good will of their circle; furthermore, their mode of expression lacks that flowing warmth to the object which alone can have convincing force. On the contrary, these types show very often a brusque, repelling demeanour towards the outer world, although of this they are quite unaware, and have not the least intention of showing it. We shall form a [p. 512] fairer judgment of such men and grant them a greater indulgence, when we begin to realize how hard it is to translate into intelligible language what is perceived within. Yet this indulgence must not be so liberal as to exempt them altogether from the necessity of such expression. This could be only detrimental for such types. Fate itself prepares for them, perhaps even more than for other men, overwhelming external difficulties, which have a very sobering effect upon the intoxication of the inner vision. But frequently only an intense personal need can wring from them a human expression.

"From an extraverted and rationalistic standpoint, such types are indeed the most fruitless of men. But, viewed from a higher standpoint, such men are living evidence of the fact that this rich and varied world with its overflowing and intoxicating life is not purely external, but also exists within. These types are admittedly one sided demonstrations of Nature, but they are an educational experience for the man who refuses to be blinded by the intellectual mode of the day. In their own way, men with such an attitude are educators and promoters of culture. Their life teaches more than their words. From their lives, and not the least from what is just their greatest fault, viz. their incommunicability, we may understand one of the greatest errors of our civilization, that is, the superstitious belief in statement and presentation, the immoderate overprizing of instruction by means of word and method.

"The irrational introverted types are certainly no instructors of a more complete humanity. They lack reason and the ethics of reason, but their lives teach the other possibility, in which our civilization is so deplorably wanting."

And there's the small consolation to go with my humble pie. If it means anything to anyone, I have read somewhere on the net before that Japan is an example of an ISFJ country. FWIW.