INJ Types

I adapted the following insights from Lenore Thompson’s Personality Type book. If you wish to learn more, I recommend it as an excellent, in-depth resource with far more insights than alluded to here.

At its fundamental core, Ni is about object distortion. Taking an intuitive, individualistic ‘perception’ away from the sensory object that has personal abstract meaning to the INJ. Ni draws the focus of the INJ to recognize and interpret what they take in. The material facts remain the same, but organizing them in a new conceptual pattern changes their meaning and offers new options for behavior.

Ne types (NP) tend to think a pattern is out there in the world, waiting to be discovered and shared, thus fully exploiting its potential. For INJs, patterns are not “out there” but part of the INJ themselves, the way they make sense of information. Mental constructs, for the INJ, are merely arbitrary, derived from a particular view of life. Like ENPs, INJs see things from many sometimes conflicting standpoints, but the ENPs focus on and act on the behavioral options these arise. The INJs will simply solve problems by shifting their perspective and defining the situation in some other, often idiosyncratic, way. They may be prone to sidestepping others’ observations by shifting their perceptions and depriving the initial observation of meaning.

INJs are talented at bringing theoretical descriptions more in line with a situation’s unrecognized aspects, but they need enough judging function development between frame shifts that bring new information into sharp relief (thus solving a problem) and those that merely avoid the problem by continuing to explore its limitless potential. They have an unusual awareness of how boundary conditions determine our conceptual vocabulary and discern the unknown aspects of reality. As they shift vantage points, they may search for or invent new “terms,” or re-purpose old ones, in an attempt to give the abstractions in their head a “voice” in the outside world. (Terms like “post-modern” are an example, a way to comprise an entire way of being into a simple, descriptive word.) They need a way to communicate in simple terms what their Ni tells them, which points beyond available categories. Jung is a good example of this, in his lifelong struggle to define and invent terms for the “archaic levels of the human mind.” Even after inventing them, he continued to tinker with and define them.

Ni is not really ideas, just a doorway into the subconscious. All the INJ can do until they acquire enough information to map out the path they are taking is insist on their need to follow it. INJs have no choice but to defend their insights against others’ skepticism. They most tolerate “not knowing” long enough to understand how an existing vocabulary exists and to find ways to use it to define their meaning. Then, they need to learn to cease their dissatisfaction with what they know, else they will focus so much on imposing “order” onto their thoughts or ideas that sharing it may become almost impossible.

INJs are inaccessible in the discovery process. Until they have found a good enough fit between their inner reality and outward vocabulary, INJs may not even know what they’re after and won’t involve others in formulating their plans.

They understand context as a mental phenomenon, something born from within and shared in the outside world. Wholeness for them is not an integrated endpoint, unlike the ENP. It is raw sensing without meaning. They like to shift, and re-shift, their perspectives. Truth for them is in infinite variations, and the INJ’s tendency to sort through them in their minds makes them likely to dismiss any external perspective that stops short of what they have already considered. They can enjoy theoretical discussions and entertain multiple paradigms, but are inclined to criticize and challenge others’ ideas as short-sighted.

Like ISJs, INJs may collect objects or experiences that give form to their inner life, but they collect things that represent their sense of emergent meaning, sometimes without being able to explain why the objects matter to them. Their self-expression often involves the unknown, a state of being not yet embodied. And where ISJs tend to maintain and enjoy lifelong hobbies, INJs may lose interest when the fluid nature of unrealized means takes shape and has meaning for others.

Their inferior Se means the INJs may struggle to see themselves objectively. They consider “being physical” just another conceptual viewpoint, and may neglect material or physical needs in favor of their inner worlds. They may spend so much time resisting external influence, they prematurely dismiss others’ opinions on their self-determined path. INJs “resist” others “infecting” them with anything that seems alien to them, and may dismantle them as abstract constructs. Until they manage the difficult (for them) task of self-criticism and not just analyzing the limits of others’ ideas, INJs are impervious to criticism. Those are, after all, just alternate points of view.

For INJs, truth is a frame of reference, a way to organize information and serve their needs. Until they gain experience, the INJ won’t know the destructive nature of simply pointing out the limits of existing systems. They need some way to replace them, not just dismantle them.

When frustrated, INJs may blame the situation as being the result of others’ inability to see beyond the surface. Their instinct is to control the outer world. Without Fe/Te development, the INJ won’t know how to structure and share their ideas. They may not even know what they want to say! Instead of limiting their Ni options and bringing them into being, they use them to fight against invasion by the outer world. They will take a purely conceptual approach to reality that reflects no one’s true experience.

Ni may suppose that what lies on the surface of things is meaningless and should be ignored. Functional development can help the INJ recognize that “truth” can be experienced through experimentation as well as thought of as a conceptual ideal. INJs may convince themselves that “truth” is a complicated inner sense of awareness and they need form no attachment to the outer situation. But the more guarded they become, the more they lose their capacity to shift perspectives. They become convinced their “truth” is so profound, it cannot be expressed. Furthermore, others are unworthy of understanding it. So they focus on undercutting others’ positions instead, seeing them as shallow or incomplete.

With extroverted development, the INJ recognizes their need to be understood and to contribute to the world. They find ways to share their insights and lessen their obsession on conceptual boundaries. Otherwise, “watering down” their message feels insincere. INJs figure out who they are by giving their insights outward form.

Mature INJs relate to people instead of analyzing our counseling them, and can see how wildly divergent positions from the same moral principles. They know how to talk about cultivating inner perspectives, what it feels like when it is operating, and how they can change society. They also realize society may not be yet ready for a particular idea, so they will protect and pass it along to a future generation, hopeful their concept may one day bear fruit.

INTJs have a skeptical, scientific approach to reality. They want to know how things work and what they are likely to do in varying circumstances. Their Ni guides them into rarely ascribing to general assumptions about laws, rules, or hierarchies. They’ll use what works in the service of their ideas and discard the rest. They believe in a theory works, it doesn’t matter who supports or denounces it. If it doesn’t, why bother with it?

They gain knowledge just as a way of looking at things. An INTJ may reduce objects to a speculative viewpoint rather than focusing on its substance. They may expound energy trying to move beyond the actual logic of accepted theories, to liberate it from “limited” assumptions. They are drawn to fields that constantly forge and logically test new ideas about reality. They want to edit and pair down things to their essential components. The connections they perceive among different areas of knowledge may convince them they’re headed in the right direction, even if they can’t explain what they’re after. The need to explore what is “missing” takes them into their own mental world, to an imaginative reconstruction of ideas.

INTJs are self-sufficient. They won’t accept another’s judgment of their worth or output unless they believe the person intellectually qualified to make the assessment. Their primary relationship is with their inner world, and they will nurture it at the expense of compromise or social connections. Others may find their need to find an alternate point of view to understand something as needlessly quarrelsome.

If Te is not developed, INTJs use Fi to rationalize away their responsibility to others and idealize their abstract ideas about life, thus avoiding real relationships. Young INTJs may be emotionally immature, fending off anything they don’t understand or want to do. They enjoy sensory things beneath a controlled environment, and may demean others “excessive” interest in the things “of the world” (the sensory realm). They want to know what others expect of them and how to “categorize” a relationship (friend, lover, boss) before entering into it. As such, romantic infatuations or sexual attractions can catch them off guard, since they are “unplanned” and inexplicable by logic. It can activate their inferior Se and make them feel impulsive, out of control, and unable to take anything for granted. They believe only a settled, decided-upon relationship will get their intellectual life back on track. They will try to regain control by pressing for permanency or distancing themselves from their emotions. When there is too much outer stimulation, INTJs lose their intuitive process and become bored, emotionally exhausted, or restless. They require an intellectually challenging relationship. The communion of “like minds” is a cerebral necessity to falling in love.

Their inner world is so compelling, INTJs can neglect their physical and emotional needs for a long time. Te development gives them more of what they need—to root themselves in the material world. It allows them to better assess their relationship with others, and outside assumptions and perspectives, so they can better analyze behaviors and expressions for social clues in what is expected from them.

INFJs focus primarily on their inner world, and though they are personable and able to find common ground with others, they are receptive to others only up to a certain point. Others may mistake their sympathy and receptive listening for an overture of friendship they did not intend. Their Ni prompts them to hold part of themselves in reserve and takes them into deep psychological areas others avoid. Because they may not “know” immediately the impact of what they’re intuiting, they may tolerate a questionable situation until determining their true feelings about it.

Without Fe development, the INFJ uses their emotions defensively—by asserting their right to feel whatever they are feeling while they are feeling it, rather than taking others into consideration or assessing the appropriateness of their emotional outbursts. They may over-analyze others, while resisting others’ attempts to analyze them (thus thinking themselves superior minds and others inferior).

INFJs have a passion for abstraction and symbolic representation, but require a sense of meaning in what they do. They are particularly sensitive to others’ feelings but can also tenaciously point out discrepancies between their stated beliefs and actual behavior. They wrestle in an eternal conflict between their desire to maintain harmony with others and express their emotional truths.

Their focus may be in shaping cultural ideas of being true to oneself and determining self-identity. INFJs are genuine romantics, who can’t help noting the individual emotions and visions buried in any area of expressed truth (literature, art, history, etc). They are sensitive to nuance and suggestion, metaphor and multiple layers of meaning. They value the art of allusion. They express themselves indirectly, depending on understated implications to carry their meaning. Too direct a reference to something of great value to them puts them off. They prefer subtly to description. They may envision a “communion of souls” as the ultimate relationship.

Due to their focus on what goes unspoken, the INFJ may struggle to separate their emotions from other people’s. They can be melodramatic or hypersensitive in their younger years, overwhelmed by the task of finding their own personal truth, but unable to discern where these intense feelings are coming from. They feel split between intuition and feeling, and may reconcile it as proof of being “fundamentally human” (assuming all share it). Their sense of well-being is tied to their emotional investments and relationships. They also need a meaningful outlet for their insights, either through their work or their hobbies.

To mature, INFJs must find a way to separate what they are feeling from mirroring other people’s emotional states. Unless they find a way to express what they are intuiting in a clear way, they will cultivate an internal, intricate fantasy life that means more to them than the people who care about them. They may distance themselves from emotionally demanding relationships, and choose instead to fantasize, “cheating” through the mind. They tend to create their own reality, and may feel self-conscious and defensive about it. Unless careful, they may romanticize dysfunctional people and wind up in unhealthy relationships, because the INFJ “sees something in them no one else does.”

Healthy INFJs find ways to bring their internal melody to the outer world, integrating their perspectives and insights into the fabric of the community.