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 Fe or not.
ISTPs are often a tough type to nail down as they are frequently mistyped as INTPs, ESTPs, INTJs or INFJs. Additionally many temperament stereotypes attributed to NTs may apply to ISTP as well further confusing things. Recognizing the difference between inferior-Ni (in ESTP) or inferior-Se in INJs can help to properly differentiate your type.
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: BooksIntroverted Thinking Types
I S T P a n d I N T P
BASIC TYPE DYNAMICS
Dominant Introverted Thinking
Auxiliary Extraverted Sensing or Intuition
Tertiary Intuition or Sensing
Inferior Extraverted Feeling
by Naomi L. Quenk
Important Features of Dominant Introverted Thinking
Introverted Thinking types maintain the utmost objectivity. They approach people and events as dispassionate observers, with the goal of arriving at the most comprehensive truth possible.The process of objective analysis is a source of great enjoyment for the Introverted Thinking type, with its outcome often of much lesser importance. Introverted Thinking types typically do not take constructive criticism and disagreement personally.They often welcome tough, unrelenting critique as an aid to achieving the highest levels of accuracy and objectivity.
Because they do not take criticism personally, ISTPs and INTPs are often surprised to discover that others are hurt or offended by their constructive criticism. Others often see them as distant, unfeeling, disinterested in people, and arrogant—all characteristics that they disavow. The fact that they may appear to have these qualities is a function of their basic typological approach, which applies objective analysis to most things, including people.
In a crisis that does not provoke their inferior function, Introverted Thinking types take the same detached, objective approach typical of their non-stressful problem solving.They don’t tend to report the internal (and undetectable) turmoil described by the Introverted Sensing types, and they appear to experience little or no emotional response to objectively experienced crises.Introverted Thinking Types at Work
Achievement and satisfaction at work are as central to the identity of Introverted Thinking types as they are for their Extraverted Thinking counterparts. In general, however, ISTPs and especially INTPs report less satisfaction with their work situations than do ESTJs and ENTJs. A corporate environment that emphasizes management of people, observable team efforts, and outer-world results often forces Introverts to use their less-preferred form of energy. This can be particularly difficult for Introverted Thinking types because they are most energized when they can work independently and with intense focus on challenging problems.
ISTPs’ auxiliary Sensing function motivates them to prefer clear, stable structures and responsibilities at work. In that context, they enjoy active involvement in concrete, tangible efforts. One ISTP likes “breaking down problems into manageable steps and finding solutions that work for everyone,” another likes “solving problems and building things,” and a third favors “a variety of issues requiring my attention; a fast-paced environment with lots of problem-solving requirements.”“Solving problems and building things” is most energizing for an ISTP in his early twenties.
INTPs’ auxiliary Intuition emerges in their desire to be creative, independent, and resourceful in solving problems.An INTP said,“I love doing good, competent work that makes a difference for my clients. I enjoy the collegial and intellectually rigorous environment.” An INTP in her early twenties mentioned “having a challenge that I successfully overcome.”
INTPs enjoy devising new systems and putting ideas together in different ways. Both of the Introverted Thinking types want the highest level of autonomy and the freedom to solve problems in their own way. As one ISTP explained, “I want the freedom to use my time in my own way, to spend as much time as necessary thinking.”Important Features of Dominant Extraverted Feeling
The qualities associated with Extraverted Feeling that are relevant to our discussion of its form as an inferior function are
• Comfortable inattention to logic
• Sensitivity to others’ welfare
• Sharing of emotionsThe Everyday Extraverted Feeling
of Introverted Thinking Types
The inferior function affects Introverted Thinking 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 ISTP or INTP is chronically in the grip because of long-term stress.Typical Sensitivities and Projections
Introverted Thinking types may notice and comment on what they consider to be inappropriate, irrelevant, even histrionic communication styles and behavior, which they often attribute to Extraverted Feeling types or Extraverted Intuitive types with auxiliary Feeling (ENFPs).They may treat such people with disdain and in turn may be seen as hypercritical, dismissive, and lacking in social graces.
An INTP father was chastised by his wife and children—all of whom had a preference for Feeling—because, when he was told by his son that he had crashed his bike into a wall, his first question was,“Is the bike badly damaged?” The family members agreed that he should have first asked whether his son was hurt. The father replied that he had already determined by looking at him that his son was not hurt and therefore had chosen the condition of the bike as the next logical priority. This father was quite puzzled by his family’s perception that he cared more for a bicycle than for his son. He assumed that his love for his family was self-evident.
Introverted Thinking types may assess behavior based on subjective values as “noise in the system” that interferes with the accurate appraisal of situations and is therefore a waste of time. Extraverted Feeling types can seem out of control to them.The higher value that ESFJs and ENFJs place on harmony over logically determined truth arouses distrust in the Introverted Thinking type, who then doubts these types’ intellectual abilities.
Like their Extraverted Thinking counterparts, Introverted Thinking types may therefore interpret other peoples’ need for frequent personal validation as weakness and insecurity.
Because Introverted Thinking types value logical Thinking and objective analysis of situations, they do not see much value in idle conversation and social small talk. They may feel inept and awkward when situations require this of them, and their discomfort, inexperience, and lack of understanding of this kind of social interaction often leads them to “put my foot in my mouth and say exactly the most inappropriate thing,” as one INTP expressed it. “I then feel really inadequate and foolish and I can dwell on my ineptness for days,” he explained.
As for expressing their own Feeling side,Von Franz (1971) states that the feeling of the introverted thinking type is extraverted. He has the same kind of strong, loyal and warm feeling described as typical for the extraverted thinking type, but with the difference that the feeling of the introverted thinking type flows toward definite objects. (p. 41)
Those definite objects may be people, causes, spiritual arenas, and so on. In their raw, inexperienced form, these Feeling expressions come out as clichés and sound sentimental and excessive. Sensing this, Introverted Thinking types hesitate to express them and may do so only in the relative safety of close one-on-one relationships.Expressions Through Interests and Hobbies
Many ISTPs and INTPs have a passion for challenging but primarily solitary physical activities.They may be avid mountain or rock climbers and serious hikers or backpackers.They describe having a deep emotional and spiritual reaction to wilderness experiences and their oneness with the universe. The mountain, trail, or rock can become the “other” in their experience of intense feeling.
One INTP mountain climber writes emotionally evocative poetry describing his reactions to his climbing experiences.An ISTP police lieutenant loves listening to music of the Romantic era, especially Wagner. Another ISTP enjoys reading romance novels and an INTP reads spiritual literature. Another INTP covers both auxiliary Sensing and inferior Feeling in her relaxation activities. She described her pleasure in a “sensory trip” to a nearby small town, where she quickly checks out the bookstore, listens to music, sits in the park, eats ice cream, and reflects on the week. She also engages in deep conversation with an ESFJ friend and makes special cards to express her appreciation or love to special people.
Tertiary Sensing often shows in the hobbies of INTPs. They mention gardening, cooking, knitting, and playing golf or other sports that require individual skill. ISTPs may engage tertiary Intuition through such activities as visiting museums or reading art books. One ISTP’s elaborate model train boards create complex, evocative scenes, complete with stories about the tiny figures and their lives in the towns he depicts.Eruptions of Inferior Extraverted Feeling
When one or more of the preconditions for an eruption of the inferior function are present, Extraverted Feeling appears in its more exaggerated, disruptive form.Typical Provocations or Triggers
Being around people who are expressing strong emotions can serve as a trigger for Introverted Thinking types, especially if those people are criticizing the personal characteristics of the ISTP or INTP. Dealing with incompetence also serves as a major trigger. And, as is the case for Extraverted Thinking types, ISTPs and INTPs can be pushed into the grip when their own strong values and feelings are not recognized or affirmed.
Others’ insensitivity to an Introverted Thinking type’s need for silence and solitude—“not enough time to recharge,” said one INTP—can also provoke the experience.The short-term, intense stress of a crisis situation, especially if others are expressing strong emotions and the ISTP or INTP is expected to respond to the emotion, is also a stimulus to the inferior function. Introverted Thinking types may themselves react with an uncharacteristic display of emotion or readily take offense at such times.
Other triggers are feeling controlled by arbitrary situations that limit their freedom of choice and action, and feeling that others are intruding on their space. Being treated unfairly and feeling unheard, unvalued, and excluded from important decision-making discussions can also push these types into their inferior function. An INTP covered many triggers to inferior Extraverted Feeling in her description: “other people becoming very emotional, excessive control from other people, others encroaching on my responsibilities, having to rely on others who—I feel—are not competent.”
In projecting their inferior Extraverted Feeling onto others, Introverted Thinking types can readily see others’ easy expression of emotion as hysterical and out of control. Because of their fear of being consumed by strong, uncontrollable emotions, they assume that any expression of emotion is similarly out of bounds. ISTPs and INTPs may try to leave a situation in which highly charged feelings are being expressed, and if that is not possible, they may react with a full-blown episode of their inferior function.Triggers and Stressors at Work
Introverted Thinking types find being micromanaged, supervising and working with incompetent, uncooperative people, and dealing with an overwhelming workload to be major sources of stress and dissatisfaction at work. Deadlines and an excessive workload can interfere with their need for time to focus in depth on the problems they are trying to solve for their organization. Incompetent people inhibit their reaching a solution or acquiring necessary information, and onerous, rigid supervision wastes their time and insults their sense of competence. One INTP listed as stressful “paperwork, especially if the purpose is unclear; overly directive managers and situations in which my autonomy is compromised; pointless meetings; and large ‘networking’ events.” An ISTP said, “Don’t tell me I can’t do something and try to restrict my freedom.”
Both types, especially INTPs, find it stressful when they don’t have sufficient time to be alone and introvert, which makes multiple meetings and meandering agendas particularly noxious for them. Both types are as stressed when strong emotions are displayed at work, an event that often engages their inferior Extraverted Feeling.An INTP described her stressors as “emotionalized situations and interpersonal conflict.” An ISTP said he finds it stressful “when individuals get hung up on their personal preferences—refusing to let their emotions take a backseat, which becomes an obstacle.”
In a work situation in which the particular stressors for Introverted Thinking types persist over a long period, an ISTP or INTP may be pushed into the grip very quickly and powerfully by the triggers described here. His or her subsequent demonstrations of “grip” behavior are likely to be frequent and pervasive.When persistent stress causes these types to be chronically in the grip of inferior Extraverted Feeling, episodes of intellectual inefficiency and poor use of logic can become habitual. Their typical and “normal” moderate dissatisfaction with their work situation can also become chronic. They may complain continually about others’ incompetence and the irrationality of management.They are likely to feel singled out for victimization and may imagine elaborate but baseless “conspiracies” being hatched by co-workers or supervisors that are designed to make the ISTP or INTP look bad and exclude him or her from decision-making roles at work. One INTP described this as “feeling paranoid.”
INTPs tend to find more areas of life to be stressful than do ISTPs, and they have fewer available ways of coping with stress than any other type. However, ISTPs report the second-highest frequency (ISFPs being first) of hypertension and heart disease. INTPs, like INFPs, report these conditions relatively infrequently.The Form of the Inferior
Like Introverted Feeling types, Introverted Thinking types often report becoming uncharacteristically sociable, outgoing, and expressive of feelings as part of their inferior function experience.This is reported by both males and females of these types and by individuals of all ages. However, the loss of social inhibition is likely to emerge eventually in easily expressed anger, being loud and perhaps inappropriate and obnoxious. Introverted Thinking types seem to report less pleasure in losing their inhibitions than do Introverted Feeling types, perhaps because they are uncomfortable extraverting their normally introverted critical Thinking. It may be that their naturally unspoken critical stance emerges more quickly than it does for ISFPs and INFPs.
As the Introverted Thinking type’s conscious control of differentiated Thinking starts to diminish, use of that dominant function along with auxiliary Sensing or Intuition becomes increasingly difficult.The internal struggle for control may be largely unobserved by others. But as time goes on, others may notice a certain slowness, vagueness, and distractibility replacing the sharp acuity that they are used to seeing in the ISTP or INTP.
Introverted Thinking types report becoming illogical, inefficient, unfocused, and scattered.An INTP described becoming “emotional, edgy, disorganized, obsessive about details, confused, closed. Usually I am easygoing, centered, and creative and see lots of options.” An ISTP reported becoming “confused, disorganized, unable to focus. I lose track of my organizational strategies and get messy.” A young ISTP described himself as “slow and dimwitted, forgetting stuff all the time.”And a youthful INTP said, “I lack the mental energy and clarity that I ordinarily maintain. I’m not able to concentrate at all. I become completely illogical.”
As inferior Extraverted Feeling becomes more prominent in the demeanor of the Introverted Thinking type, it comes out in the form of logic being emphasized to an extreme, hypersensitivity to relationships, and emotionalism. For ISTPs, tertiary Intuition may aid and abet these forms, appearing as a conviction of some imagined “pattern” of others’ uncaring neglect of the ISTP’s needs and feelings. For INTPs, tertiary Sensing takes the form of an obsessive review of the facts and details that prove that others neglect the INTP’s needs and feelings.
Jung (1976a) touched on a combination of these characteristics as they can be seen in their inferior form:Because of the highly impersonal character of the conscious attitude, the unconscious feelings are extremely personal and oversensitive, giving rise to secret prejudices—a readiness, for instance, to misconstrue any opposition to his formula as personal ill-will, or a constant tendency to make negative assumptions about other people in order to invalidate their arguments in advance—in defense, naturally, of his own touchiness. (p. 350)Logic Emphasized to an Extreme
Effective dominant Extraverted Feeling types are quite comfortable making decisions that are not logical. Introverted Thinking types in the grip of inferior Extraverted Feeling may become passionately insistent on the application of logic, becoming quite emotional about their approach. As an extension of their loss of control over the Thinking function, the Introverted Thinking type begins to engage in excessively logical, unproductive thinking. There may be an obsessive quality to this thinking. One ISTP feels compelled to “prove” the accuracy of his perception of things. An INTP said, “If a problem comes up that I’m unable to resolve, I work at it anyway and can’t let go of it, even if I know I can’t solve it.”
Other Introverted Thinking types report becoming less articulate, speaking rapidly and disjointedly, and using sharp, clear, but “paranoid” logic.They may find that they forget things, misplace objects, and engage in futile projects that don’t accomplish anything and are marked by disorganization.
One INTP described becoming rigidly stuck on a false belief that at the time seemed totally supported by logic. Later, he was able to reassess his conviction as an inferior “Feeling judgment masquerading as logic.” “I am very impatient, demanding, and extremely logical,” said another INTP.“I am obsessively analytical,” said another.Hypersensitivity to Relationships
Effective dominant Extraverted Feeling types value their relationships with others.They carefully consider the well-being of others in making decisions and devote energy and enthusiasm to personal and social interactions. In the grip of inferior Extraverted Feeling, the Introverted Thinking type experiences increasing hypersensitivity to “Feeling” areas.And just as Extraverted Thinking types struggle to maintain controlled efficiency and competency when in the initial grip of the inferior function, so ISTPs and INTPs valiantly try to hide their formerly alien concerns with being liked and appreciated. In this unfamiliar state, they overinterpret or misinterpret others’ innocent comments or body language.“I nail someone and babble forever about my feelings and all the terrible things ‘they’ are doing to me,” said an ISTP.However, to the Introverted Thinking type, the perceived slights are accurate and authentic.
Something as innocuous as someone failing to say hello upon entering a room, or briefly interrupting a conversation to greet a passerby, may be interpreted as an indicator of dislike and disapproval. ISTPs and INTPs tend to feel discounted when others do not listen to them attentively. “I tend to be emotionally hypersensitive when I’m ‘not myself.’ It’s extraordinarily different from my usual state of logical ‘emotional detachment,’” said an INTP.
Others are usually slow to catch on to the altered state of the Introverted Thinking type, as was noted earlier for Extraverted Thinking types. Distress, anxiety, and annoyance are typically expressed with minimal cues—a raised eyebrow, a distant look, or other subtle body language may be the only signal. Further, family, friends, and colleagues, who are in the habit of trusting the person’s careful, objective analysis of people and events, are likely to take the ISTP’s or INTP’s conclusions as objectively true. They have little reason to doubt, for example, that the boss doesn’t appreciate the INTP and won’t let him do a particular project. They about things may be judged irrelevant to the problem at hand and therefore as interfering with logical decision making. In contrast, Feeling types typically consider such data entirely relevant to their decisions.Their primary decision-making criteria include personal values, feelings, and consequences for important people and institutions.
Due to limited experience, therefore, Thinking types’ emotional expression lacks the differentiation and subtlety of feeling seen in well-differentiated Feeling types.When positive feelings are involved, they may seem maudlin and sentimental.
One INTP said she becomes “mushy, sentimental, very outwardly emotional, and unpredictably so.”A young ISTP said,“At times I feel really emotional when I’m by myself thinking about things that normally wouldn’t bother me.”With greater intensity, inferior Feeling comes out as raw, extreme emotion. Feeling judgment seems to become increasingly exaggerated and obsessive, reaching a point where it no longer serves a judging purpose but becomes unbridled emotionalism.
“I am ‘hysterical.’ I believe that nobody likes me and I am worthless . . . [and] have nothing to contribute to society. Whereas normally I am very happy to be alone, when I am ‘not myself ’ I seek affirmation from everyone. I call all my friends until I feel better,” related an INTP. An ISTP said, “I talk about inner feelings and show emotions. I don’t usually do that; I also express criticism toward others—I usually keep it to myself.”
When the contents of this normally unconscious, primitive function rise to the surface, they appear as a loss of control over emotional expression. There are reports of irritability and difficulty in holding back frustration and anger. In early phases, the Introverted Thinking type may become fidgety, trembling, and sarcastic, stomping around and making verbal attacks, exaggerating and accusing others. In more extreme cases, there may be physical outbursts that include breaking things and attacking people.
An INTP college student was deeply involved in a research paper when some of his friends invited him to go to a carnival with them. He refused, but they persisted anyway.When one grabbed his pen and paper and teasingly refused to return them, he began yelling at her and grabbed her arm. Both he and his friends were surprised and frightened by the swiftness and intensity of his reaction.
Although expression of anger is common, especially in younger ISTPs and INTPs, often there is increasing self-pity and a sense of feeling neglected, unappreciated, and even victimized.With greater loss of control, Introverted Thinking types can burst into tears with no warning. One wrong word can trigger an emotional outburst accompanied by rage, crying, and rising emotionality. Some describe feeling as if all their emotions are all mixed up, released with uncharacteristic spontaneity.“I start to notice my own feelings and become moody and impatient; I deny to others that anything is wrong, but all the while I feel like I am drowning in emotions,” said one ISTP.Another described being “very emotional and unable to keep my reactions to situations under control.”
Not only are their own emotions problematic, but so are the emotional reactions of others. Some Introverted Thinking types say they cannot truly understand something in the Feeling arena if they haven’t actually experienced it. As a result, when they are in the grip of their inferior function, they find that emotions from others are upsetting and only intensify the magnitude of the situation. The three manifestations of the inferior function typically appear together. One INTP feels martyred and cannot help snapping, whining, and complaining to people. She reports becoming very emotional and a little irrational, unable to organize or problem-solve with her usual efficiency and competence. Another INTP describes feeling numb, frozen, or enraged, as well as exhausted and unable to concentrate.
Some describe an inability to keep their emotions to themselves, even though they wish to reveal little of their internal processes. In this state, said an ISTP, “I act out my displeasure rather than keeping it to myself as I am inclined to do. The actual acting out is usually brief, but feeling stressed out about it may last longer.” An INTP described the shame she associates with experiencing extreme feelings; she also described blaming others for not appreciating or loving her enough. Paramount is a sense of being misunderstood, with no way to correct the misunderstanding. Other ISTPs and INTPs report similar reactions.Lengthy Episodes in the Grip
The types of episodes described above are experienced by the ISTP or INTP as temporary states during which they are vulnerable to the three forms in which their inferior function is expressed. However, when an Introverted Thinking type is chronically in the grip of inferior Extraverted Feeling, inferior function behavior may become habitual. Both the individual and others are likely to believe that angry, emotional accusations, somewhat outlandish and complicated explanations of others’ behavior, inefficiency, and poor use of logic are part of the natural makeup of the ISTP or INTP. Others may assume that the individual has always been hypersensitive, hypercritical, and overly emotional. 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 to be unaware of what, in retrospect, will be recognized as a radical alteration of personality.
The Introverted Thinking type will appear to be a rather exaggerated, poorly developed Extraverted Feeling type, as illustrated in several of the stories in the next section. However, there are also occasions when a lengthy period in the grip of inferior Extraverted Feeling can stimulate new awareness and positive growth toward completion and individuation. The last story is an example of what Jung meant when he described the inferior function as the doorway to the unconscious and an important part of the self-regulating capacity of our psyches.Return of Equilibrium
As the preceding stories illustrate, equilibrium is often restored rather dramatically after an intense expression of emotion. However, when more short-lived experiences of the inferior are involved, Introverted Thinking types find that changing activities can aid the normalization process. What is most important for both ISTPs and INTPs is spending time alone, including exercising primarily alone. Introverted Thinking types need to be alone and physically separated from others, doing something they find enjoyable or relaxing.“I need alone time, to remove myself from the situation and to think about the problems, and then I need a close friend to help me analyze it,” said a young ISTP woman. Trying to identify the problem and wrestling with its solution are typical approaches for Introverted Thinking types, who find that reframing the cause of the distress is often helpful. “I need time to think through the issues,” said an INTP. “Others can help by affirming that my response is okay because the situation I’m in is unreasonable and stressful.They should not ask if I’m okay.”
Light problem solving that engages but doesn’t strain their Thinking, such as reading a mystery novel, can be helpful. Both types agree that they require time by themselves, that others need to leave them alone, and that it is most unhelpful for others to try to help them in any way, to ask how they feel, or to try to minimize their distress. Often there is little that others can do. Internal acceptance and calm are what is needed most.
Others can help most by staying out of the way and forgiving the out-of-character
behavior.A trusted person’s physical presence is not intrusive, but psychological space should be respected. It is also helpful if someone close to them can gently encourage them to talk about their feelings after sufficient time has passed. However, many Introverted Thinking types report that the very worst thing someone can do is ask them how they feel about things.
ISTPs’ auxiliary Sensing can be helpful in encouraging them to perform a reality check on the stressful situation. This occurred when Carl, the ISTP businessman, discovered that his doctor recognized his distress This made his situation real and forced him to deal with it. Some INTPs can calm themselves down by playing unusual games of solitaire that don’t depend on luck for success. Such games engage their auxiliary Intuition. The repetitive handling of the cards (tertiary Sensing) also has a calming effect. One INTP said that it helps to get engaged in a project he enjoys, and others describe engaging in distracting, absorbing forms of recreation.
Being excused from usual responsibilities and having someone else deal with the outer world helps Introverted Thinking types achieve equilibrium. Like many other types, ISTPs and INTPs find physical activity of some kind, especially hiking, to be a good way to detach themselves from a grip state.Summary
In the grip of inferior Extraverted Feeling, Introverted Thinking types have difficulty functioning at their typical level of cognitive acuity, are hypersensitive to relationship issues, and can be touchy and emotional. Equilibrium is often reestablished via their auxiliary Sensing or Intuition. ISTPs acknowledge one or more important realities bearing on their situation; INTPs find a new idea or perspective that interrupts and modifies their exaggerated sensitivity or emotionalism.
As a result of important inferior function experiences, Introverted Thinking types can acknowledge the importance of the “illogical and unexplainable” and accept their vulnerability to their own and others’ emotional states.They may then have access to and be able to express the depth of their feelings for others.