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 Se or not.
Ni-types can be difficult to properly identify. Many struggle, wondering if they are INTJ, INTP, ENTJ or INFJ. The ability to recognize the inferior function can be a great help in this endeavor. There are pronounced differences between Inferior Extraverted Sensing in INJs and the Inferior Feeling of ITPs and ETJs.
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: Books
Introverted Intuitive Types
I N T J a n d I N F J
BASIC TYPE DYNAMICS
Dominant Introverted Intuition
Auxiliary Extraverted Thinking or Feeling
Tertiary Feeling or Thinking
Inferior Extraverted Sensing
by Naomi L. Quenk
Important Features of Dominant Introverted Intuition
Introverted Intuitive types are the most intellectually independent of the types. They have a theory to explain everything, prefer innovative solutions to established ones, and are adept at seeing situations from an unusual perspective. Their skill at taking a very broad, long-range view of things contributes to their reputation as visionaries. Regardless of whether their auxiliary judging preference is Thinking or Feeling, their dominant Intuition tends to be sharp, quick, and often uncannily correct. It is as if they have antennae that enable them to detect things long before other people do.
People often count on INTJs and INFJs for insightful analyses and forthright judgments. They are adept at appropriately discounting distracting details and homing in on the essential meaning of complex, confusing situations.
Introverted Intuitive types report being puzzled by others’ perception of them as rigid and intractable.This perception may result from their tendency to express their views directly and forcefully.This is especially true for INTJs. Misinterpretation of their forthright communication style as inflexibility may make others reluctant to present alternatives or argue their own point of view. But, as described in Chapter 3, dominant Perceiving types are unlikely to be wedded to their decisions, since they give greater weight to data (perceptions) than to conclusions (judgments). Experience bears this out for the most part. INTJs and INFJs readily modify their incorrect conclusions when they receive convincing contradictory new information.
The spiritual, sometimes mystical, bent of Introverted Intuitive types has been frequently noted.At the very least, they seem to be aware of subtle cues or nuances long before others notice them. INFJs are especially sensitive to unexpressed anger and conflict, whose presence is usually denied by others.This contributes to the sense of separateness from others that many Introverted Intuitive types report, which may lead them to doubt their own mental stability.
Introverted Intuitive types, especially INTJs, readily see the big picture in crisis situations and know how to direct others to take the most effective action.
Introverted Intuitive Types at Work
Work can provide INTJs and INFJs with the ideal opportunity to fulfill their typological nature.They are highly energized when they are able to use their creativity and independence of thought and action to achieve important goals.They enjoy variety in the projects they work on and prefer complex problems to simple ones.“Planning and strategizing that will help fulfill a vision—in silence or with a small group, and after I’ve had some time to reflect and gather information” is how one INTJ described what is most energizing for her. Another INTJ stated that he liked “an opportunity to put all my facilitation in place to solve a problem, reorganize a section, and then run it—some autonomy and complexity.” An INFJ described as most energizing “creativity, variety, people, time alone, helping people grow and develop.”
Introverted Intuitive types want to see their vision of the future enacted at work.This desire for completion contributes to the intensity and single-mindedness that others observe. One INTJ described as energizing “working on projects that have a beginning and an end, which I can work on autonomously, especially those that have a visible, tangible, beneficial impact on the organization and individuals. Finishing tasks and multitasking, making improvements, getting recognition, and keeping people happy.”
An INFJ in her early twenties said,“I place all of my heart and soul and expectations into my work, so I like to see these expectations fulfilled or exceeded.”Another INFJ is energized by “thinking up the best process and ways to work with my staff to accomplish tasks.To be able to juggle tasks and complete them.”
INTJs and INFJs very much want to be recognized and appreciated for their contributions at work, but they may not receive such appreciation. Co-workers may misperceive their desire for autonomy and their single-minded concentration as arrogant and controlling. They may be seen as overly critical and hard to please. Their typical long-range vision can also be an obstacle if others at work do not trust the Introverted Intuitive type’s ability to accomplish his or her often complex and interconnected objectives. However, in environments that support the needs and talents of Introverted Intuitive types, others readily recognize, appreciate, and encourage their devotion to excellence and accomplishment.
Important Features of Dominant Extraverted Sensing
The qualities associated with Extraverted Sensing that are relevant to our discussion of its form as an inferior function are
• Focus on external data
• Seeking sensual/aesthetic pleasure
• Delight in the outer world
The Everyday Extraverted Sensing
of Introverted Intuitive Types
The inferior function affects Introverted 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 INTJ or INFJ is chronically in the grip because of long-term stress.
Typical Sensitivities and Projections
Introverted Intuitive types easily gloss over facts and details in their everyday behavior but can be hypersensitive about this. When they become aware that they have made a “Sensing” mistake, or an error of fact is pointed out to them, they are likely to become annoyed and defensive.
Like their Extraverted Intuitive counterparts, they may compensate for their uneasiness in this area by becoming expert in some highly specific area.This can sometimes resemble a fetish. An INFJ who had little interest in most aspects of housekeeping knew all the ingredients of different household detergents; an INTJ was pleased with his ability to identify any kind of cloud formation.
INTJs and INFJs sometimes assert as “fact” information that may have no basis in reality but that strengthens a conclusion they have arrived at using Introverted Intuition alone.When the validity of such facts is challenged, they may become defensive or simply change the subject.
In the next chapter, we will discuss how Introverted Sensing types worry about dire possibilities occurring in the future. In contrast, Introverted Intuitive types focus on relentless realities in the present. They have a readiness to distrust the outer world and to assume that the environment, things, or people will fail them. An INFJ dreaded an impending vacation trip because she was sure the highway signs would be inadequate or confusing.
An INTJ father prepared to teach his daughter long division because he was convinced that her teacher would not instruct her correctly. Another INTJ questioned whether the electrician installing new wiring at his office had used the proper grounding. To deal with these kinds of concerns, INTJs and INFJs may acquire detailed knowledge about the issue at hand—carefully studying highway routes, modern arithmetic teaching methods, electrical wiring, and so on.
Discomfort with the environment can also be seen in an overconcern with keeping track of things. One INTJ reported having to check his pocket two or three times to be sure his keys were there. Introverted Intuitive types try very hard to avoid losing things or getting lost in unfamiliar surroundings. They can become disproportionately upset when their efforts fail, frequently blaming others for their own carelessness.
INTJs and INFJs readily project their own distrust of the environment onto others.They may comment on other people’s failure to notice details or assume that everyone experiences the anxieties they experience when dealing with an unfamiliar environment. They may therefore be overly cautious in giving people directions and provide too many—often irrelevant—details. One INFJ instructed his 28-year-old son as he was about to head out on a long trip in the car,“And when you smoke, you use the ashtray.”
In giving a friend directions to her new house, an INTJ detailed the following:
Take Central Avenue to Fifth Street and turn right. Go two blocks to Smith Street and make a left at the next corner, Avenue M. Go three blocks and turn right into Mulberry. That’s my street. About halfway down the block you’ll see a blue house with a two-car garage and a “For Sale” sign on the lawn. Next door to that house is a small cottage with a peaked roof. My house has no address number on it, but it’s diagonally across from the blue house. . . . Oh, and did I mention that my house is the only two-story house on the block?
Expressions Through Interests and Hobbies
For Introverted Intuitive types, relaxing their dominant and auxiliary functions may occur through such sensual pleasures as eating, exercising, and gardening. One INTJ especially enjoys and appreciates sunshine in spring, autumn, and winter. Another likes to “go somewhere beautiful—mountains, ocean, water.” INFJs often mention the pleasant luxury of taking an afternoon nap. Other Introverted Intuitive types describe craving very hot curries, or escaping by becoming totally absorbed in a mystery or adventure novel.“Escape literature” seems to be a particularly effective way for Introverted Intuitive types to suspend their intense inner focus and vicariously enjoy adventures in the external environment.
An INTJ reports that at times she feels exceptionally relaxed and able to focus totally on observing her environment. At these times she is able to step away from her usual goal-oriented approach and does not feel she must immediately do something with her observations. Often doing aerobic exercise precedes and stimulates this relaxed state. An INTJ who is a passionate bird-watcher tries to arrange his worldwide consulting work to take advantage of bird-watching opportunities. Other Introverted Intuitive types take up hobbies that require careful attention to details and memory for facts, such as photography, woodworking, furniture refinishing, or cooking.
Introverted Intuitive types mention going for walks or drives and noticing interesting details, such as the shapes of houses, the designs on garage doors, the arrangements of trees and flower beds in parks. One INFJ described taking walks by himself and noticing how many different shades of green he could identify on a nature trail, or closing his eyes and trying to identify as many different sounds as he could.
Using Sensing for relaxation seems to be particularly enjoyable because there is no pressure to achieve any particular goal.“Gardening is an activity I love. I don’t worry about performance or doing it perfectly,” said an INFJ. “I like pulling weeds, smelling flowers, removing dead flower heads, admiring the colors. All of this nurtures me.” Another INFJ enjoys the aesthetic aspects of gardening, the shapes and colors of the flowers, as opposed to the straightness of the planting rows. And an INTJ’s hobby is making flower arrangements. She tries to achieve an overall look with the colors of the flowers, rarely wanting to learn the names of the various blossoms.
Eruptions of Inferior Extraverted Sensing
When one or more of the preconditions for eruption of the inferior function are present, Extraverted Sensing appears in its more exaggerated, disruptive form. .
Typical Provocations or Triggers
Dealing with details, especially in an unfamiliar environment, can trigger inferior Extraverted Sensing in Introverted Intuitive types. In fact, these types frequently mention that feeling overwhelmed by details often provokes characteristic inferior function reactions. Unexpected events that interrupt planned activities can also unsettle INTJs and INFJs enough to arouse their inferior function. One INFJ said that “sometimes it can be something like having to get from the airport to a hotel. It can happen if I’m driving a rental car in a foreign city, and even if I’m in my own country.”
Another INFJ reports having the following response when she has to deal with unfamiliar details like taxes and finances:
I feel like I become instantly stupid. I truly don’t seem to be able to take in explanations and process them. I have such anxiety I can’t get through it. I feel panicky inside and desperately look for help from someone who can talk to me on my level so that I can slowly begin to understand.
An INTJ finally turned the accounting for his small business over to an accountant when he found himself becoming tense, irritable, and depressed whenever he had to work on the books.
Of the four dominant Introverted types, it is Introverted Intuitive types who most frequently mention “too much extraverting” as a common trigger for inferior function responses.They describe being provoked by such things as crowds; people overload; noisy, busy environments; feeling that their personal space is being invaded; and frequent interruptions. When faced with such provocations, they retreat inside themselves and become intolerant of intrusions by others.They either express irritation at people’s questions or do not respond at all to attempts to communicate with them.
An INTJ described having been raised in a large family with no private, personal space for anyone. All family members were expected to behave in the same way, as prescribed by a narrow set of acceptable behaviors.“ Even though we had separate rooms,” he said,“we had no freedom to decorate them in our own way or use them for anything but sleeping. I had a sense of frustration and rage at the absence of private territory. In hindsight, I was too often ‘in the grip.’”
Triggers and Stressors at Work
Work settings that do not permit sufficient autonomy or that offer few opportunities to work alone and intensively, and that do not provide the opportunity to be creative, think independently, and accomplish goals, are extremely stressful and undesirable for Introverted Intuitive types. INTJs and INFJs hold very high standards of excellence for themselves and others, so issues of competence at work are quite important.
INTJs in particular are intolerant of and impatient with inefficiency and with others’ avoidance of problems.They like to get to the heart of an issue immediately, which sometimes makes others uncomfortable. An INTJ finds it stressful “when there are multiple ‘agendas’ at play so that there is no sense of purpose or direction about an issue that may be a legitimate problem.” She added, “I don’t suffer fools or foolishness well. I like to focus on real issues.”
Other INTJs mention as stressful “noise, confusion, lack of order and direction,”“working with others and not being able to get alone,”“being led by the nose, not having a degree of autonomy.” INFJs are distressed by similar work characteristics, often focusing on the inability to achieve their vision of growth and development for people.
Being unable to work at their own pace and within their own structure is also stressful. An INFJ cited as work stressors “lack of organization and vision by management.”And another INFJ is stressed by “unclear goals and expectations and others’ unwillingness to fit into my flexible time line.” Both INTJs and INFJs find that dealing with details (often seen by them as irrelevant to the task at hand) is extremely stressful.
In a work situation in which the particular stressors for Introverted Intuitive types continue over long periods, INTJs and INFJs 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 Extraverted Sensing, they are likely to lose touch with their natural confidence and pleasure in their Intuition and come across as picky, fault-finding, narrow-minded, and unimaginative.
The Form of the Inferior Function
INTJs and INFJs appear less likely than other Introverted types to get much pleasure from a lessening of introverted “inhibitions,” although some INTJ males describe becoming more extraverted in a positive, sociable way. An INFJ said he is “surprisingly more extraverted, especially in the company of strangers; more expressive and less contained.” Female Introverted Intuitive types mention increased sociability less frequently, possibly because they, like other women who are Introverts, are encouraged (or required) to develop social skills.However, for the most part, the obsessiveness and discomfort that accompany extraverting their Sensing function is experienced as overwhelmingly distressing for both male and female INTJs and INFJs.
As dominant Introverted Intuition loses its position of primacy, INTJs and INFJs start to lose their characteristic wide-ranging, global perspective. Their field of operation narrows considerably, and their range of acknowledged possibilities becomes limited and idiosyncratic. They may make more factual mistakes and become careless with spelling and grammar. “I am unable to cope with simple decisions and problems,” said an INTJ woman. “I’m frustrated by the physical world—I lose things, drop them, hate them. I don’t know what to wear or what to eat. I’m impatient with people and can’t read or concentrate.”
An INTJ said she obsessively looks for the “right” factual piece of information that will solve the problem. “I notice things not put away around the house—things that are broken or things to do.”
As their hold on their dominant and auxiliary functions further diminishes, the qualities of inferior Extraverted Sensing manifest in an obsessive focus on external data, overindulgence in sensual pleasures, and an adversarial attitude toward the outer world. For INTJs, tertiary Feeling may abet the process in that the “facts” (real or invented) on which the INTJ obsesses are often used as “proof ” that others discount, devalue, or dislike the INTJ. Similar “facts” may be used by the INFJ’s tertiary Thinking to prove that the INFJ is inadequate or a failure.
Sensing (obsessive focus on external data, overindulgence in sensual pleasures, and an adversarial attitude toward the outer world) in the following comment:
What the introverted intuitive represses most of all is the sensation of
the object, and this colours his whole unconscious. It gives rise to a compensatory extraverted sensation function of an archaic character. The unconscious personality can best be described as an extraverted sensation type of a rather low and primitive order. Instinctuality and intemperance are the hallmarks of this sensation, combined with an extraordinary dependence on sense-impressions. This compensates the rarefied air of the intuitive’s conscious attitude. (p. 402)
Obsessive Focus on External Data
Effective dominant Extraverted Sensing types are open to the widest variety of information from the environment—the more the better for them. Fully experiencing the outside world is their greatest pleasure. For an INTJ or INFJ in the grip of inferior Extraverted Sensing, data from the outside world can seem overwhelming. Facts and details in the world demand the attention of the Introverted Intuitive type in the grip, so he or she obsesses about them. This may be experienced by both INTJs and INFJs as a state of intensity and drivenness.Their attempts to control the details in their environment are often expressed in such activities as feverishly cleaning the house, moving furniture, and organizing records and other materials. They may show an adamant concern about minute details and an unrelenting effort to control everything in their immediate vicinity.
An INFJ described her obsessiveness and withdrawal from her usual interests this way:“I stew about what’s going on. I can’t sit still and am restless. I am mentally fatigued and find myself compulsively putting things in order and trying to control everything around me.” An INTJ said that when he is in this state, he feels like a top spinning faster and faster. If he is working with tools and getting frustrated and angry, he has learned that it is best for him to stop or he will get hurt or break something.An INFJ described “obsessing about details.” He gave as an example:
When I’m using power tools that can cause injury, I will spend an inordinate amount of energy making sure that I’m not going to inadvertently hurt myself when I turn the thing on. I will triple-check to make sure my fingers are out of the way, etc. Usually I take in the world more globally and have less concern about details until I need them.
“I’m more likely to have accidents,” said an INTJ.“I’m robotic, forget things, say things backwards; I’m obsessed with a thought and can’t get it out of my mind. I try to control situations and people and engage in strange behavior, like checking on things,” said an INTJ woman. And another INTJ woman said,“I can become obsessed by detail. I’m less able to function and make decisions—sort of paralyzed.”
An INFJ said, “I alphabetize my compact discs; or suddenly it’s time to do that thing I thought about doing two months ago. I drop everything and do it; or I fixate on smells and sounds.”“I organize or clean. I feel pressured and can’t think clearly,” reported another INFJ. “I nitpick about things in the environment. I bombard people verbally and obsess out loud.”
An INTJ recalled the following from his childhood and adolescence:
When my studies were not going too well I would start to develop detailed tables of data, or drawings to support technical/science answers.These were frequently in too great detail, taking a lot of time and usually out of all proportion to the task and the length of the answers sought—or even irrelevant to the original questions.
Often the external input that becomes the object of obsession is something someone said or even failed to say.When the last client on an unusually busy day left without saying her usual “See you next week,” an INTJ therapist became convinced she had made a mistake during the psychotherapy session. She spent many hours going over the content of the session. She felt the only reason the client had not terminated therapy that day was politeness, so as not to hurt the therapist’s feelings.
A common focus, particularly for INTJ and INFJ women, can be an aspect of their physical appearance.They may become convinced that they have prominent skin blemishes, that others are noticing that they don’t dress very well, or that they look fat. In combination with the “overindulgence” manifestation described below, a powerful effect can occur.
Overindulgence in Sensual Pleasures
In effective dominant Extraverted Sensing types, the enjoyment of sensual pleasures is natural, spontaneous, and quite consistent with their focus on the reality of the immediate environment.
In Introverted Intuitive types in the grip of inferior Extraverted Sensing, this quality takes the form of sensual excess rather than sensual pleasure. It is interesting that a number of INTJs and INFJs described themselves as becoming “self-centered” and “self-indulgent” when they are in the grip—a descriptor often projected onto well-functioning Extraverted Sensing types by INTJs and INFJs (and by other types as well).
Overdoing gratification of the senses is a commonly mentioned behavior for INTJs and INFJs in the grip of their inferior function.They may overeat or binge.They see themselves as obsessively doing harm to their bodies. A typical “tactic” is to overindulge compulsively and immediately thereafter—if not during the episode—berate themselves for their uncontrolled, shallow, destructive behavior.
An INTJ described the experience this way:
There is a clear preliminary state where I am totally apart from the real world. I am not even an observer, and I can completely ignore anything real. It’s a nice fantasy, that’s all—just absorbing. But later I become excessively indulgent, getting totally immersed in physical experiences—eating, exercise, pulp fiction,TV. But I don’t enjoy it. It feels like a dangerous roller coaster, but I’m immobilized and can’t get off.
An INFJ said,“I have to get away from reality. I do too much of something— one thing. I eat more or stop eating; I shop for useless things.” Another said,“I eat too much, spend too much, watch TV or read excessively to escape. I’m late for everything.” An INTJ said her pattern is to overeat, feel guilty about it, wake up in the night and feel worse, get too little sleep, causing her to feel more vulnerable, and then eat more. Another INTJ feels bad about her overeating but not guilty: “I hate it when people brag about how much they exercise!” she said.
Adversarial Attitude Toward the Outer World
Effective dominant Extraverted Sensing types approach the outer world with eager anticipation of all the wonderful experiences awaiting them. For Introverted Intuitive types in the grip of inferior Extraverted Sensing, the immediate reality of the outer world spells difficulty and danger.They expect obstacles and problems to plague them as they move through a strange and potentially hostile environment.
Their hypersensitivity to potentially dangerous surroundings can promote uneasiness about people as well.“I can have negative forebodings and feel that people are against me,” said an INTJ. An INFJ said she “becomes suspicious. Usually I’m tolerant, curious, and compassionate, so ‘out of character’ for me means I’m unaccepting and frustrated with the world.”
An INTJ said,
“I start tripping over things and feel out of control in the external world. I feel like I’m under a dark cloud. I get hung up on some false fact and distort it. I get stressed out about time—too many things and not enough time. I attack others with words and then feel guilty.”An INFJ described herself as “shutting down, communicating very little. I misplace things, especially keys and watches. I’m very harsh, critical, not diplomatic. I lose my temper, obsess about details, organize, reorganize, yet nothing gets done.”
Anticipating the worst can often elicit anger and blame in INTJs and INFJs. “I’m moody and gloomy, with sudden deep anger,” said an INTJ. An INFJ also describes experiencing deep anger: “I am emotionally aroused and am terribly critical of others. I accuse people of never helping me. I become dogmatic and blast people with facts. If no one is around to attack, I write a scathing letter to someone.”Another said,“I internally check off all the events that happened leading up to the ‘conflict’ and then I verbalize this list with a sense that the impeccable logic of it will convince others I am right and I will be vindicated.”
The altered state of any inferior function is typically accompanied by a lessening of social controls and therefore more frequent expressions of anger. However, the character of the anger may be different for different types. For INTJs and INFJs, the “cause” of distress is often one or more “objects” in the environment.The anger directed at either things or people may therefore be more focused, intense, and extreme than with other inferior functions. Introverted Intuitive types may be unable to recognize alternative possibilities so that their perspective becomes extremely narrow. This tunnel vision and externalization of blame can produce ruthless results.
One INTJ said, “I get into verbal raving and am out of control. I regress emotionally and act childish. I feel anxious, exposed, childlike.” Another INTJ said,
“If I bump my head on a cupboard, I get mad at the world for putting a cupboard there. Others think I’m cursing at myself— but it’s really at the inconsideration or stupidity of the cupboard being there.” An INFJ observed, “I am angry, unreasonable, totally irrational, closed-minded, and impatient. I feel vulnerable and then become angry at others for it. I can’t communicate with anyone. I am hard, callous, unfeeling, and I have no energy to be bothered with anyone else.”
Lengthy Episodes in the Grip
The types of episodes described above are experienced by INTJs and INFJs as temporary states during which they are vulnerable to the three forms in which their inferior function is expressed. However, when an Introverted Intuitive type is chronically in the grip of inferior Extraverted Sensing, inferior function behavior may become habitual.
Obsessiveness about details in the form of micromanaging others both at work and at home may cause great distress to other people in these environments. “Irrational” accusations by the INTJ or INFJ can alienate others, causing them to avoid the person or attempt to remove him or her from a position of authority. Family members of an Introverted Intuitive type in a chronic grip state may be unable to find ways to sidestep the ready anger and criticism expressed by their loved one. Co-workers are likely to be similarly at a loss.
If and when INTJs recognize the extremeness and persistence of their out-of-character behavior, they are likely to try to confront and solve the problems that beset them, especially in a work situation. INFJs, who report a high level of stress in many areas of life, tend to rely on their spiritual and religious beliefs to help them cope and rise above persistent stress.
Chronic grip behavior may lead the individual and others to believe that fierce anger, excessive control of others and the immediate world, and distrust that approaches paranoia are a part of the natural makeup of the INTJ or INFJ, and that the person has always been that way. Since the process of becoming chronically in the grip is often gradual, even people who have known the person in a non-stressed 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, and distorted version of an Extraverted Sensing type.
This can sometimes lead to a productive, valuable outcome, however, as illustrated in the last story in the next section.There are also occasions when a lengthy time in the grip of inferior Extraverted 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 or our psyches.
Return of Equilibrium
Introverted Intuitive types need space and a low-pressure environment to regain their dominant Intuition and auxiliary Thinking or Feeling function. Like Extraverted Intuitive types, they are not amenable to suggestions and deny the possibility of alternatives. Stuck in a negative, omnipresent “reality,” they are unable to process contradictory information.
They may respond to those who offer it with anger and rejection, adamantly insisting that no alternatives exist. In fact, INTJs and INFJs agree that the worst thing others can do when they are in this state is to give them advice or try to fix the problem for them. INTJs and INFJs agree that a period of solitude and silent, nonintrusive acceptance from others is important in their return to equilibrium.
INFJs may welcome more direct support, empathy, affirmation, and acceptance, but they are unlikely to let others know what they need when they need it. INTJs typically just want to be left alone.They need to give themselves the time to recover, often finding that accomplishing a simple, nonthreatening Sensing task is beneficial. Sometimes removing all stimulation helps the most. One INTJ said that after too much sensory stimulation and too much people-dealing what she does is “lie in bed with earplugs and a pillow over my head—remove all stimuli—often even fifteen minutes of this is enough.”An INFJ said that when stressed, she wants the room to be dark to eliminate external sensory stimulation.
All types engage in self-criticism at some point during or after an episode of the inferior function.However, the focus of that criticism varies according to type. Introverted Intuitive types are especially hard on themselves, later viewing their obsessive concerns or angry intensity as a sign of unacceptable personal imperfections. One INFJ said that when she is in this state, she needs others to remind her that she is as human as the next person and that she should not be so hard on herself.
A change of scenery or activity can help break the negative, obsessive focus.This may entail getting outside, exercising,walking in the woods, or seeing a movie. As with other types, often a good night’s sleep helps. And exercising, particularly alone, is consistently mentioned as helpful by INTJs and INFJs.
Some examples of methods Introverted Intuitive types use for returning to normal include submerging themselves in peaceful, quiet, natural surroundings, being outdoors and looking at nature, canceling activities, lightening their schedules, making more space for being alone, and taking time out to “recharge” and sort things out.
One INTJ said:
A Sunday afternoon nap is a wonderful escape. I make an obsessive list of all the things I’m thinking about, do some light reading or reading I “should” do, and go right to sleep. If I write in a journal just before I go to sleep, I will often dream, and that calms me and helps me find a solution to my troubles. In addition, my cat purring and sleeping next to me is a great way to put life in perspective. I know my equilibrium has returned when I can’t find my list of things to do and I don’t care!
INTJs may call upon auxiliary Thinking by strategizing to help extricate from obsessiveness. One described forcing himself to get control of at least one situation. This calms him down enough so that he can start to regain a broader perspective.
Another INTJ is able to focus on details that are actually productive. “I normally can’t proofread well since I fill in the blanks and errors myself, but when I’m in the grip, I can find the smallest error,” she said. Gretchen’s story in the preceding section also illustrates productive use of inferior Extraverted Sensing. Similarly, another INTJ said that what helps her is “to stop and sort things—think the situation through logically and make some decisions. I usually decide to drop one whole task or responsibility, or ask for help of a practical nature.
Auxiliary Feeling helps INFJs by encouraging acceptance of their less serious side. They can then give in to the urge to cry during “trashy” movies. Or they can read bad novels and recognize that doing so is normal and acceptable. Recognizing that others are hurt and distressed by their out-of-character actions often signals to INTJs and INFJs that the process of extricating from the inferior is occurring. Both types report that they know they are coming out of it when they become bored and frustrated with themselves.
Expressions of understanding, sympathy, and empathy aid the return of equilibrium for some, but usually not for all Introverted Intuitive types. INTJs may find it embarrassing to have others recognize their “weaknesses,” or may find such expressions condescending. Gentle humor can be helpful, especially for INFJs. An INFJ said she found it helped to remind herself to be as kind to and accepting of herself as she would be for another person in the same situation.
In the grip of inferior Extraverted Sensing, Introverted Intuitive types obsess about details in the outside world, overindulge in sensual pleasures, and externalize blame to outside objects. Their auxiliary Thinking or Feeling can be the vehicle through which they regain equilibrium. INTJs develop a strategy for analyzing what they are experiencing, achieving distance and objectivity from it, while INFJs examine the important meanings and feeling connections involved and are therefore able to regain their normal wide-ranging perspective.
As a result of important inferior function experiences, Introverted Intuitive types may become better able to adapt to changing surroundings, incorporate sensual experience into their lives in a satisfying way, and moderate a perhaps overly ambitious, visionary stance into one that is more realistic and possible