Below is an excerpt from Naomi Quenk's book "Was That Really Me?" which deals with how we act when we are in the grip of our inferior function. This isn't the whole book, and not even the entire chapter. The book itself goes into much more detail and gives more examples that I've edited out for the sake of brevity. But this should give a good indication of whether or not you can identify with Inferior Si or not.
ENTPs may often have trouble distinguishing themselves from their INTP cousins. Recognizing the differences between Inferior Introverted Sensing (Si) and Inferior Extraverted Feeling (Fe) is sometimes easier than the top-down approach which can become convoluted with stereotypes.
Excerpts of this book have been posted on this site before, and also over at Typology Central and of course the full book is available if you want to learn all the different types. I encourage you to read the entire book.
Amazon.com: Was That Really Me?: How Everyday Stress Brings Out Our Hidden Personality (9780891061700): Naomi L. Quenk: BooksExtraverted Intuitive Types
E N T P a n d E N F P
BASIC TYPE DYNAMICS
Dominant Extraverted Intuition
Auxiliary Introverted Thinking or Feeling
Tertiary Feeling or Thinking
Inferior Introverted Sensing
by Naomi L. QuenkImportant Features of Dominant Extraverted Intuition
ENTPs and ENFPs have a passion for new ideas and especially enjoy the pursuit of possibilities in the world.They prefer what might be to what is, approach the outer world with trust and optimism, and see the environment as welcoming, safe, and exhilarating.They are bored by facts, details, and repetitive activities, especially those that are irrelevant to their current interests.However, an incoming fact may stimulate their intuition and lead to new theories or models.
Extraverted Intuitive types seem to have a natural trust in the environment as supportive of all things possible. They may therefore ignore sensory data that might portend danger or take risks that others might avoid. As a rule, new challenges are more appealing to them than what is known and verified.They have an uncanny instinct for spotting trends and future developments, often before others are even mildly aware of them. Some may, in fact, predict future programs or outcomes and be told they are really “out in left field.” Months, sometimes years, later they may see those ideas come into their own.
Their enthusiasm for a current project can be so compelling that they may be oblivious to time and energy limitations, often ignoring their own and others’ needs to take breaks from the activity for food and rest. At an extreme, they may become so physically run down that they are forced to stop their work or risk serious illness.
ENTPs and ENFPs tend to enjoy the company of like-minded Intuitive types and may be somewhat disdainful of their opposite types, finding them drab, predictable, and conventional.They may see Introverted Sensing types as overconcerned with health, safety, and comfort. Their noninferior mode of responding to mild or moderate crises can verge on the dramatic, sometimes accompanied by a wealth of either affect or critical intensity that may seem excessive to others.Extraverted Intuitive Types at Work
Interacting with other people and having opportunities to use their creativity in a flexible, open, exciting environment form the basis of what energizes Extraverted Intuitive types in the workplace. Whereas their Introverted Intuitive colleagues (INTJs and INFJs) want the highest degree of freedom to use their creativity in working independently, ENTPs and ENFPs want that same freedom to use their creativity in interaction with or as applied to other people. An ENTP described what energized her as “new projects, researching a new subject, meeting new people, interactive events, and enthusiasm from others.”An ENFP said he was most energized by “interacting with people in training and creating new material for training.”Another cited “social contact,working out difficulties and challenges regarding human nature and relationships.”
Teamwork is very important to female ENTPs and ENFPs, and ENFP women often mention “helping others” as energizing. An ENFP woman said she is energized by “empowering and enlightening others—contributing to the growth, development, and self-awareness of others; making a positive difference or impact.” Another ENFP woman cited “exciting new projects, high-quality work with interesting people, interacting with my team, helping people develop, and getting others enthused.”
Excitement, enthusiasm, and a spirit of fun in the workplace are highly desirable for Extraverted Intuitive types.An ENTP said he is energized by “working on new projects, developing new courses and ways of doing things, finding time to relax or play while I am working.”An ENTP woman mentioned “creativity, working in a group setting, competent people, adventure, and nonstructured work.” Two other ENTP women listed between them the following energizers: “talking to people, connecting, new problems, brainstorming, freedom, autonomy, open space, people thinking, respect for ability, visioning, fun, big picture, new challenges, competence acknowledged, winging it, interaction, stimulating, debate with no set outcome.”Important Features of Dominant Introverted Sensing
The qualities associated with Introverted Sensing that are relevant to our discussion of its form as an inferior function are
• Solitude and reflection
• Attention to facts and details
• Awareness of internal experience
The Everyday Introverted Sensing
of Extraverted Intuitive Types
The inferior function affects Extraverted Intuitive types in several different ways. These include everyday sensitivities, projections, and ways of relaxing, as well as the dramatic manifestations that can be seen when the inferior erupts and a full-blown episode occurs, or when an ENTP or ENFP is chronically in the grip because of long-term stress.Typical Sensitivities and Projections
Extraverted Intuitive types report varying degrees of concern about whether others see them as having substance, stability, and depth.They can therefore overdo attention to facts or be somewhat defensive about their knowledge and use of facts and details.
One ENFP becomes so deeply involved in the details of a new project that she obsessively searches out supporting evidence in the form of ever more facts, which are often irrelevant to the goals of the project. An ENTP lawyer acknowledged that she often feels unprepared with data to support her legal arguments, so she makes sure she has at least a few facts she can bring forth at appropriate moments to convince others of her thoroughness. An ENFP teacher says she always overprepares for lectures, bringing enough material to fill twice the amount of time she actually has to present.
When a strongly held value or principle is involved, ENTPs and ENFPs will carefully collect important facts and details. However, people who disagree with their viewpoints may accuse them of overvaluing certain facts, which in turn may lead the ENTPs or ENFPs to doubt their own perceptions and judgments. As a general rule, it is relatively easy to shake people’s confidence in the area of their inferior function. When put in this position, Extraverted Intuitive types seek confirmation of their factual basis from others. For example, an ENFP whose company was planning a major move became increasingly concerned because critical financial facts were being ignored by management. When her expressed concerns were discounted, she began to doubt her perceptions, even though a few of her colleagues shared them. Only after the move actually resulted in a financial crisis did she (and others) accept the validity of her fact-based perceptions.
Less mature Extraverted Intuitive types may sometimes present themselves as “experts” about some factual area, eager to educate others about it.This can prove embarrassing if they try to impress a true authority in a particular field. An ENTP at a basic training session for volunteer firefighter complained that the level of information being presented was “too elementary for someone of my level of knowledge and experience. After all,” he explained, “I’ve already witnessed a forest fire and helped put out a couple of brush fires!”
Some Extraverted Intuitive types recall being sensitive about their factual knowledge even as children.An ENFP described an incident when he was about 9 years old.“My school class was doing a project on ponds and streams and the indigenous wildlife. I stated that a creature known as the great crested newt could be found in this habitat. My teacher denied the creature’s existence, and then I felt belittled in front of the class. I returned to school a few days later armed with reference books from the town library and copious notes and photographs to prove the creature’s existence. I felt vindicated and seldom went to the library to borrow similar books again.”
Overconcern with selected areas that involve facts or sensory data can also occur. One ENFP was characteristically picky about making selections from a restaurant menu. He invariably requested some alteration in the standard fare, adding or deleting a vegetable, grilling rather than broiling, and so on. His companions at these events would be subjected to a lengthy explanation of his finely discriminating gourmet tastes.
In mildly stressful or fatiguing situations, an uneasiness about facts comes out in projected form as a pickiness and obsessiveness about what would otherwise be judged by the Extraverted Intuitive type to be irrelevant detail. Often there are irritated complaints about others’ failure to attend to “important” details like typos, misplaced footnotes, motel beds that are too soft or too hard, or fussiness about food. One ENTP was surprised to learn from his wife that every time they discussed household finances, he would ask the same questions about their insurance policies—using exactly the same tone of voice.Expressions Through Interests and Hobbies
For many Extraverted Intuitive types, the least-preferred function may be expressed through the development of expertise in one or two specific areas that require the use of Sensing. One ENFP who doesn’t care much for cooking is known for her superb pie crusts; another takes great pride and pleasure in doing all her own business accounting; and one ENTP has a passion for meticulous gardening and landscaping.
An ENFP described her interest in horse shows, especially turnout classes, as an adaptation of her inferior Introverted Sensing: “It involves a lot of preparation of the horse in the very early hours of the morning. I am alone and have to spend a large amount of time paying attention to very specific details to make sure everything is perfectly in order to be competitive.” Another ENTP described his lifelong hobby of model railroading: It connects me to facts and reality. I literally create a world in a very direct way, and I run that world. I operate it and manipulate it. It is also pure relaxation of my usual intense cognitive activity. When I stop working on my railroad, I can’t remember a single thought, only what I actually did. Another appeal of his hobby is its connection to his grandfather, who was an acclaimed master woodcarver.The hobby thus provides a strong sense of connection to his past.
Some ENTPs and ENFPs whose work lives involve primary use of their inferior and tertiary functions may welcome the opportunity to use their dominant and auxiliary functions in their hobbies. An ENFP listed his hobbies as “sports/exercise (especially team sports), travel, and going to clubs and concerts to listen to music and chat with friends.” He sees these hobbies as primarily addressing Extraverted Intuition and auxiliary Feeling. “I believe this is because I work in a highly ISTJ environment as an engineer and thus I work in my tertiary and inferior functions a lot. It can be exhausting.”Eruptions of Inferior Introverted Sensing
When one or more of the preconditions for eruption of the inferior function are present, Introverted Sensing emerges in its more exaggerated, disruptive form.Typical Provocations or Triggers
Fatigue and pressure from overcommitment often trigger inferior function reactions in ENTPs and ENFPs. Not surprisingly, given the typical expressions of their type, they mention physical exhaustion as an inferior function trigger more frequently than other types. Often the enthusiasm of Extraverted Intuitive types encourages them to overextend themselves and neglect their physical needs for food and rest.The result may be a physical illness that forces them to stop overdoing things and also may serve as a trigger for an inferior function experience.
An ENFP aptly described this when he said, “I think of myself as a high-stimulus person, and I enjoy having many things on the go at once. My ‘issue’ is knowing where to draw the line between so much to do that it becomes impossible and ‘just enough’ to keep the challenges interesting and attainable.” Both ENFPs and ENTPs mention taking on too much, but ENFPs seem particularly distressed by this tendency, often attributing it to their poor time management. Said one ENFP,“Too often, it is me not allowing enough time to finish a task or not leaving early enough to be on time.”
An important and frequent trigger for inferior Introverted Sensing is having to deal with a lot of details or attend to practical matters for long periods with no breaks. This is an especially effective provocation if the Extraverted Intuitive type’s efforts meet with failure. Dealing with bureaucratic red tape can be particularly noxious for Extraverted Intuitive types, who are likely to dig in their heels and refuse to capitulate to “ridiculous rules.”
For some ENTPs and ENFPs, violation of important values can constellate a reaction. Explained one ENFP, “It happens when I feel the pain of others who are the victims of someone’s extreme aggressiveness.” An ENTP economist’s severe inferior function reaction was triggered by working on a theoretical model that had negative social implications.Triggers and Stressors at Work
Not surprisingly, the very opposite of what makes Extraverted Intuitive types excited about work is cited by them as very stressful. One major stressor is dealing with an overwhelming workload. This stressor may be particularly problematic for ENTPs and ENFPs because of their difficulty in distinguishing between the challenge and excitement of multiple demands and a totally unreasonable workload. Other stressors consistently mentioned by both male and female Extraverted Intuitive types include the following: too much structure, routine, rigidity, planning, specifics, being watched, being forced to work alone, staying in the same environment, no change, repetition, being unable to deviate from an agenda, being over-controlled by others, a prescriptive approach. Dealing with details is particularly stressful for female ENTPs and ENFPs. An ENTP woman cited as stressors “doing planning and detail and not having the right equipment, although I can adapt very quickly to crisis situations.” An ENFP woman listed the following: “details, managing my schedule, boundaries, rules, judgmental attitudes, too much paper, problems that don’t go away.”
Lack of stimulation and a constraining atmosphere can quickly cause Extraverted Intuitive types to lose energy and become demotivated at work. An ENTP said that what he finds stressful is “lack of space, routine and mundane activities, people looking over my shoulder, unproductive meetings, unnecessary reports.” Another ENTP added “boundaries, a judgmental atmosphere, constraints, negativity or apathy from others.”An ENFP described as stressful “long hours of work (more than fifty-five per week), a bad organizational climate, having to work for long periods by myself.”
Detailed work, deadlines, and excessive structure can all sap energy for these types, and the longer they operate in such an environment, the more likely it is to take its toll on their productivity and well-being. An ENFP described “spending an extended period of time on systematic, procedural, detail-oriented data and working with chronic, argumentative, antagonistic individuals” as quite debilitating.
In a work situation in which the particular stressors for Extraverted Intuitive types continue over long periods, ENTPs and ENFPs may respond quickly and intensely to the triggers described here.This increases the likelihood that their subsequent demonstrations of “grip” behavior will be frequent and pervasive. When persistent stress causes them to be chronically in the grip of inferior Introverted Sensing, they are likely to lose touch with their natural enthusiasm for future possibilities and their trust in their ability to successfully overcome obstacles. They may doggedly focus on minor facts and details and habitually complain about others’ factual and detail errors.The Form of the Inferior Function
Many young male and female ENTPs and ENFPs report becoming uncharacteristically quiet and reserved when they are out of character and find this in marked contrast to their usual openness and sociability. Like other young Extraverted types, they do not seem to find anything positive in moving to this Introverted approach, but are rather puzzled and surprised by it. “I become very quiet and reserved,” said an ENTP young man, “and I don’t talk to people like I normally do.” An ENFP young woman said, “Sometimes I withdraw from everyone, sit alone for hours, and just think. Let stuff stew in my head alone.” Older Extraverted Intuitive types also do not report much pleasure in being withdrawn, quiet, and reserved, and in losing their natural Extraverted Intuitive qualities. Said an ENFP,“I become very quiet, unsure about my thoughts and expressing them. I think a whole lot.”
As the connection with dominant Intuition diminishes, so do Extraverted Intuitive types’ characteristic enthusiasm, optimism, and energetic approach to life. When their hold on their dominant and auxiliary functions continues to taper off, the qualities of inferior Introverted Sensing manifest in withdrawal and depression, obsessiveness, and a focus on the body. For ENTPs, tertiary Feeling emerges as strong, uncontrollable, and emotional criticism that accompanies the obsessive “facts” that overwhelm them. The tertiary Thinking of ENFPs contributes to their obsessive “facts” the sarcastic, legalistic “logic” that proves others’ failings.
Two qualities of the negative, inferior forms of Introverted Sensing (obsessiveness and a focus on the body) are reflected in Jung’s (1976a) description of the inferior Introverted Sensing of ENTPs and ENFPs:They take the form of intense projections which are . . . chiefly concerned with quasi-realities, such as sexual suspicions, financial hazards, forebodings of illness, etc. . . . [The Extraverted Intuitive may] fall victim to neurotic compulsions in the form of oversubtle ratiocinations, hair-splitting dialectics, and a compulsive tie to the sensation aroused by the object. . . . But sooner or later the object takes revenge in the form of compulsive hypochondriacal ideas, phobias, and every imaginable kind of absurd bodily sensation. (p. 370)Withdrawal and Depression
Effective dominant Introverted Sensing types are in their element when they spend time alone in reflection. Processing their stored information is familiar and pleasurable, and they are energized by their Introverted Sensing activities. For ENTPs and ENFPs in the grip of inferior Introverted Sensing, the inward focus of energy is unfamiliar and disturbing.The diminution of Extraverted energy results in feelings of sadness and despair.Tertiary Thinking or Feeling may emerge as well. For ENTPs this comes out in a conviction that no one understands them or cares about them; they may become emotional and vulnerable in this state. ENFPs may demonstrate perverse logic and accuse others of not being rational, insisting that logic is the only acceptable criterion for making a decision.
In this condition, one ENTP describes feeling isolated, convinced that no one loves her or ever has. Another reports feeling hollow, turned off, “fixated on a narrow linear trap.”Another ENTP is plagued by an uncharacteristic emotionalism. “When things don’t go well, I resort to emotion to get my point across,” he explained. “There is a sense of feeling numb and frozen with no way out,” said an ENFP.“I have tunnel vision and lose my sense of time.” Another noted that when he is under too much pressure, his verbal skills deteriorate until “I become almost mute.”
Many ENFPs describe turning inward, eventually becoming grumpy and depressed and putting people off. Their Feeling side seems to disappear. One ENFP said,“I realized I had become numb and frozen inside— there was no light, no energy—just a wasteland of a landscape, and I was plodding through it.” Another ENFP described “deep depression and hopelessness.The most extreme unrealistic scenarios become real and factual. I will be broke, I will die of some dread disease, I will lose all respect among professional colleagues.”
Both ENTPs and ENFPs report a loss of enthusiasm and motivation accompanied by low energy. They are prone to an uncharacteristic, uncomfortable pensiveness and are unable to find pleasure in the things they normally enjoy. This may lead to self-neglect and, ultimately, illness. This kind of approach to life is particularly alien to them, for they are usually enthusiastic, fun-loving, and full of energy.
An ENFP said, “There is a lot more going on inside my head. I want to be alone to think and it becomes one-track thinking. Everything else is clouded by this one issue—I can’t stop thinking about it. I lose confidence in myself and doubt myself in every realm of my life.”
One ENFP noted that twice a year, in winter and summer, she regularly experiences ten days to three weeks during which she retreats into herself and broods. Others describe periods of becoming withdrawn, critical, unfriendly, and cold. Isolation can exacerbate this reaction. An ENFP who was forced to spend a lot of time alone while recuperating from a badly broken leg was put on antidepressant medication after a month of increasingly lengthy periods of sobbing and despair.Obsessiveness
Effective dominant Introverted Sensing types are adept at dealing with many facts and details and at putting their knowledge to practical use. In the psyche of ENTPs and ENFPs in the grip of inferior Introverted Sensing, this appears as an obsessive focus on one or two facts or details. This is in marked contrast to their typical perspective, which includes the broadest range of possibilities in the world.
The tunnel vision that accompanies the expression of all the inferior functions is particularly dramatic for ENTPs and ENFPs because they no longer have the Extraverted Intuitive energy necessary to envision a future that differs from their present obsession. All sense of possibilities is eliminated.
An ENTP said that sometimes the details involved in a major project overwhelm her so much that she slips into an obsessive focus on how much time is left to work on the project: “I get it down to minutes and keep repeating the time frame over and over.”
An ENFP said, “I can become compulsive when I begin to bring order into my kitchen or when I’m balancing the bank statement. I’m generally pretty relaxed about order and usually have piles of books and stuff that needs to be returned to file cabinets.” Another ENFP said, “I examine, analyze, question stupid things. I also get overly organized, planning and cleaning things rather than getting to the task appropriately. I work overtime to create organization for myself. I count things (like sides on a piece of furniture) over and over. I remember and get obsessed with facts and details, remember dates, memories of being bombarded with ‘unwanted greatness.’ I have an overwhelming need for all data to make every ‘little’ fact relevant.”
When their Intuition is not working, sensory data become the all encompassing objects of perception for Extraverted Intuitive types. But as their statements indicate, their lack of expertise in this area usually leads to an inappropriate selection of sensory data.And because “the future is now” in a very distorted way, they take the data at hand and project it into a vague, oppressive future.They may focus on a thought, such as “I’m alone now and will always be alone,” rather than the dominant Intuitive type’s more typical response of “I’m alone now; I wonder what interesting things I can find to do, and what exciting people I’ll find in the world.” In this state, the depression and hopelessness described earlier readily occur.
It seems that when inferior Sensing focuses on a single fact, dormant dominant Extraverted Intuition intrudes and generalizes it. Because their Extraverted Intuition is not functioning in its usual well-developed way, ENTPs and ENFPs cannot recognize the fact in question as one possibility among many. No perspective exists for the person beyond the one fact.
Extraverted Intuitive types in this state report being unable to respond to alternatives presented to them by others. The present fact—be it pain, depression, or whatever occupies the central focus at that moment—is projected into forever.
Extraverted Intuitive types report one or more of the following ways of obsessing: being overly picky, getting upset about little things, becoming irritable, escalating small irritations into major issues, getting finicky over unimportant things, being nervous and jumpy with people, and becoming fussy, crabby, short-tempered, and rigid.“I am usually a very happy and relaxed person,” said one ENFP.“Sometimes I want people to just get to the bottom line, and then I want to analyze for them where they went wrong and just get on with it.This is quite out of character for me and I feel bad when I’ve been like this. People tell me that when I’m in my negative mode I become terse and clipped in my interactions with others.
I give orders and delegate in a very autocratic manner.” An ENTP described becoming outraged by minor errors, irritated by detail, intolerant of interruptions and people—“the very things I usually welcome.” Another told of feeling overwhelmed and out of control, being unable to sort out priorities, and thus becoming inflexible.
An ENFP described becoming curt with people, insensitive, literal, logical, and critical, and being especially insensitive and pedantic about language and vocabulary. Other ENFPs report doing obsessive record keeping, organizing data from their checkbooks, making endless lists of things to do, and putting minute details in order. “I become incredibly organized; everything is step by step when I’m under stress. I also act to get things done, not worrying as much about the impact,” said an ENFP.
Many ENFPs report fanatically mowing the lawn or cleaning house and being unable to stop themselves, even though they typically view these activities as relatively unimportant and avoid them. The ISTJ husband of one ENFP reluctantly admitted that he rather liked it when his wife was highly stressed because it was the only time the house ever got thoroughly cleaned! An ENFP described the following reaction as very distressing:I cannot respond to another’s conversation. I pace, the traffic is loud, the clock is loud, sounds I never noticed before are deafening and very slow. It’s almost as though time is standing still. My usual self is calm, patient, and friendly. I would classify not responding to the conversation of another as exceedingly rude behavior. And I’m generally oblivious to noise.
Another ENFP becomes picky and critical of himself and others. Usually, he sees the bigger picture, is flexible, and allows others to be who they are without trying to control or change their behavior.
On the day before the final examination in a workshop, when anxieties typically run high, a minor typesetting error was discovered in a table of data in the test manual.The instructor commented that there were two or three other errors in the text that would be corrected in the next printing.
One ENFP heatedly stated that he wanted the publisher to prepare a document listing all the typos in the text and to send it to him so he wouldn’t have to buy a new text when the errors were corrected.Focus on the Body
When effective dominant Introverted Sensing types describe the nuances of their internal sensory experiences, one can marvel at the exquisite, evocative images that emerge. When an Extraverted Intuitive type in the grip of inferior Introverted Sensing focuses on inner sensations and internal experiences, it often translates into exaggerated concern about physical “symptoms,” whose diagnostic meaning is always dire and extreme. In the grip of their inferior function, ENTPs and ENFPs frequently over-interpret real or imagined bodily sensations as indicative of illness.
When they are in full command of their dominant and auxiliary functions, these types easily ignore or minimize messages from their bodies. So when they do focus on the body, it is done to the exclusion of everything else and with little experience of what is “normal” for them. A particular symptom can have only one cause, which must be life threatening or incurable: A pulled muscle is taken as a sign of heart disease; indigestion signifies an impending heart attack; and a headache is believed to be a brain tumor. It seems that when their Intuition isn’t working, they react to messages from their bodies rigidly and absolutely.
An ENTP had been in a rare bad mood for several days but was unable to identify any cause. One morning while shaving, he noticed that when he turned his eyes to the left, the white in his right eye crinkled.He had never noticed that before and was terrified that something was terribly wrong with his eyes. Before making an appointment with an eye doctor, however, he decided to observe other people’s eyes to determine just how bad his were.To his relief (and chagrin), he found that everyone’s eyes moved the same way his did. He had simply never bothered to look at eyes—his own or other people’s—at all closely before.
An ENFP fell and injured a small bone in her back, which she could feel as a bump. She asked a friend, who was a nurse, what the bump could be and was told that it was probably a cyst. She quickly translated the cyst into cancer and imagined herself on Medicaid dying alone in a squalid hospital ward. In fact, all that was necessary was a visit to a chiropractor to have the bone put back in place.
During a particularly stressful time, another ENFP woman insisted that her husband have an otherwise innocent-appearing wart removed because she feared it was malignant.An ENFP man reported that in times of great stress he becomes obsessed with illness. Once, when he had a routine liver function test, he became convinced he was dying of liver cancer before the test was even performed. Another ENFP told of owning a blood pressure cuff he rarely uses—except when he becomes very stressed, at which times he takes his blood pressure three times a day.
One ENTP described taking any fact and blowing it out of proportion—for example, imagining an illness in his child as a fatal disease. Others report having a low pain threshold, fearing the dentist, and reacting to stress with a number of somatic symptoms. In fact, though physical symptoms as an expression of stress are common across types, it may be possible that “somaticizing” is more prevalent among Extraverted Intuitive types. One ENTP had digestive problems for fifteen years. During a period of extreme stress, he developed a life-threatening bleeding ulcer. An ENFP and an ENTP discovered in a discussion that they both have medical conditions that force them to attend to their bodies—something they did not do prior to having the conditions. As a result, they more readily attend to their other physical needs as well.
There is an interesting contrast between the imagined negative outcomes of minor bodily symptoms reported by Extraverted Intuitive types and the catastrophizing that is an expression of the inferior Extraverted Intuition of Introverted Sensing types. Although there is some seeming similarity, the processes through which the two negative expressions occur are actually quite different. For Introverted Sensing types, the future is always somewhat suspect, so stress encourages them to imagine and anticipate a future filled with negative outcomes. Extraverted Intuitive types, in contrast, are typically optimistic and welcoming of future possibilities. But when they get stuck on a present fact or situation, they lose sight of the future, imagining it as an endless repetition of the negative situation that is occurring right now.
One way in which Extraverted Intuitive types may try to return to being themselves when chronically stressed is to vacillate between the extremes of frenetic Extraverted and Introverted Sensing. Because both extremes are likely to be exaggerated and undisciplined, little of substance is accomplished in either state. When they finally succumb to negative Introverted Sensing, it may take the form of moderate to severe depression and a sense of hopelessness about the future. One ENFP said, “I get in a downward spiral. One time I went into a stress-induced depression. I almost left my job and made it back through therapy.”
Perhaps because ENTPs and ENFPs thrive on the threshold of chronic stress, they seem to have a high tolerance for situations that might prove debilitating for many other types. ENTPs in particular report very few sources of stress in their lives, and both types report a low incidence of heart disease and hypertension, ENTPs having the lowest incidence of all the types. This is in marked contrast to their opposite types, ISTJs and ISFJs.
Extraverted Intuitive types are likely to leave work situations in which conditions become intolerable, but usually not because they are overloaded or forced to work very hard. Rather, such conditions as working with incompetent people (especially for ENTPs) or being forced to adhere to unacceptable work values (especially for ENFPs) are likely to trigger quitting the noxious situation. Sometimes becoming ill or depressed and recognizing how different they have become can force these types to take action. Some of the flavor of what constitutes a noxious work setting is captured in this statement by an ENTP who said that stress was a very important factor in quitting her job:“I reacted by leaving an organization and becoming an independent consultant. I can select the work I want and the people I work with. I can arrange my own schedule.There are no stupid rules and regulations. I enjoy helping organizations function better, but I don’t want to be part of one.” She had earlier described the most stressful work demands of her previous job as “working with incompetent people, not having control of my own schedule and activities, and running up against a lot of stupid rules and regulations.”Lengthy Episodes in the Grip
The types of episodes described above are experienced by ENTPs and ENFPs as temporary states during which they are vulnerable to the three forms in which their inferior function is expressed. However, when Extraverted Intuitive types are chronically in the grip of inferior Introverted Sensing, inferior function behavior may become habitual. Little of their typical enthusiasm, open-minded acceptance of new ideas, and uncanny visioning of future trends will be seen. Instead, they will be irritable, critical of everyone around them, and obsessed with minutia.They are likely to find fault with everything and everyone, especially close family members and co-workers. If their obsessiveness involves a focus on imagined illness, they may be unable to shake their conviction that they are seriously ill, despite medical reassurances. Depression may result from this or simply as a consequence of their unnatural focus on negative realities in the present.
Chronic grip behavior may lead the individual and others to believe that he or she is typically irritable, impatient, and cranky, vacillating between withdrawal and frenetic activity. Since the process of becoming chronically in the grip is often gradual, even people who have known the person in a nonstressed state are likely not to notice what, in retrospect will be recognized as a radical alteration of personality. The person will appear to be a rather exaggerated, poorly developed Introverted Sensing type.
However, there are also occasions when a lengthy time in the grip of inferior Introverted Sensing can stimulate new awareness and positive growth toward completion and individuation. Remember that Jung saw the inferior function as the doorway to the unconscious and an important part of the self-regulating capacity of our psyches.Return of Equilibrium
Extraverted Intuitive types seem to need time to reflect, fully experience themselves, and even “wallow” in their inferior state. ENFP men in particular for all Extraverted types to attend to their Introverted functions, is particularly appealing to Extraverted Intuitive types in the grip of their inferior function.
As is the case for most types, Extraverted Intuitive types in the midst of a grip experience need others to back off and avoid patronizing them. It can be helpful if some of the overwhelming details are attended to, but attempts to assist by taking over and “solving the problem” for them are not appreciated.Talking to trusted friends helps, especially for ENTP and ENFP women, as long as the friends don’t offer advice (or, if they do offer it, they don’t expect it to be taken), make judgments, or try to talk them out of their negative state.
Movement out of the inferior function often is aided by a positive engagement of the Sensing function, especially in situations in which a neglect of behavior associated with Sensing has provoked an inferior function experience. Physical exercise, such as jogging, engaging in some quiet sensing, or visualizing a place of peace and silence can be helpful. ENFPs in particular mention exercise as helpful. For most Extraverted Intuitive types, attending to physical needs, such as sleeping a lot, eating good food, and getting massages, also accompanies the gradually diminishing effects of the inferior.
The role of the auxiliary function is apparent for ENTPs, who find it helpful to try to analyze what is happening, either alone or with a close friend who is able to accept the ENTP’s emotion and help him or her sort out priorities.An ENTP said,“I make myself stop and really consider what it is that’s worrying me—do a reality check of how I might achieve it.This stimulates me into positive actions to start dealing with the situation, rather than just worrying about it.” Another ENTP suggested that others “talk to me as I am, combining the normal me and the anxious me.”
For ENFPs, who may be communicating uncharacteristic coldness and indifference, what is needed from others is warmth, kindness, and approval. It is interesting to note that ENFP women in particular seem to call on their tertiary Thinking to help them, perhaps reflecting the value of being forced to develop Thinking in their work lives.
One said,“I sort of talk myself out of it—often aloud, reasoning and feeling my way back to a more comfortable and productive position.” And another said she needed “time out—to rationally evaluate the reality (the truth of the situation—not just as I see it.), assess things, and decide what I need to do.”
A third ENFP woman described needing others to help “by applying logic to my irrational, exaggerated obsessions—bringing me back to earth.” Extraverted Intuitive types often respond to an inferior episode by resolving to pay more attention to details, especially the kind involved in their recent negative experience. They may also gain a new respect for their bodies and their physical limitations.They report being better able (at least for a while) to maintain a more balanced perspective regarding their often overly ambitious expectations of themselves.They may create a plan to attend to their bodies with such things as an exercise regimen, and to develop their inner judgment with such things as formal meditation or regular quiet time.They may also resolve to notice and deal more quickly with the overload that can signal an impending inferior function episode.Summary
In the grip of inferior Introverted Sensing, Extraverted Intuitive types tend to withdraw and become depressed, obsess about details, and become focused on their bodies.When they are obsessing about one or two inner facts, their dominant Extraverted Intuition may intrude in the form of a theory projecting the few facts into the distant future. Auxiliary Thinking or Feeling accompanies their return to equilibrium. ENTPs use logical analysis to do so, and ENFPs reconnect with their inner value structure and its relationship to their dominant Intuition.
As a result of important inferior function experiences, Extraverted Intuitive types acknowledge the limitations of their physical and mental energies, resolve to take better care of themselves, and integrate a greater report needing time alone. Meditation, which can be a useful way appreciation for details, facts, structure, and careful planning.