The INTP: Heaven and Hell
Having an INTP personality type certainly looks easy. That is because they exhibit a wonderful display of three undemanding attributes such as unconditional neutrality, straightforward emotions, and juvenile curiosity.
This description while accurate does not tell the whole story because, in reality, these three tendencies tend to balance on a fine line that is mightily close between good and evil. Let us crawl into the mind of the INTP to see what really lies behind their aloof facade.
As a dominant thinker (introverted-thinking, Ti), the decisions of the INTPs are instinctively based on logic. Because introverted thinking operates on rationality, the INTP’s natural decision-making process does not involve emotive considerations. Everything that the INTPs encounter in their life is weighed against unbiased measures and is dealt with as a concept (this is true even with human-related issues).
The extremely analytical minds of the INTPs are their greatest assets. For it means that whenever they derive a conclusion, they can easily explain their reasoning to others in a language that everyone comprehends. This is simply done by breaking down their thought process – a very strong and objective fundamental on which their conclusions rests.
What a terrific tool having the mind of an INTP and their holy introverted-thinking: it is flexible, serene and highly effective. But in a world of many variables, a mechanism as such has every chance of tripping over when the number of possibilities gets too much for them to process effectively. This brings us to the problematic side of the equation where INTPs run into a major flaw deep inside their analytical system.
This problem is undoubtedly known to many of the INTP breed’s indecisiveness, in which is the inability to make swift decisions. It haunts the INTP in cases of any magnitude or importance meaning, that trivialities which have none to very little impact are treated like their life depends on it.
This is because INTPs being the truth seekers they are, break down every issue to its very essence by default, regardless of the importance. They merely want to solve the puzzle, that is all, even when the only thing at stake is their intellectual pride. Thus, an INTP can spend excessive amounts of time deciphering cases – two kinds of cases in particular which are the ones that are plainly unclear and the ones that are made up of too many variables to consider all at once.
INTPs are as far removed from their feeling function as the MBTI theory allows one to be. That is to say, their extraverted-feeling function comes in fourth and last place in their stack of cognitive functions. But do not be mistaken, feelings and emotions play a much bigger role in the life of the INTP than many people – both they themselves and others are lead to believe.
Because of their extraverted-feeling, an INTP inherently cares about what other people feel. It is not the first point of concern, but harmonic influences of others are constantly present nevertheless. This exact feature, alongside the INTP’s extraverted-intuition, is perhaps the main reason why the INTPs are popular among others. Their Ne-Fe combo spells a warm demeanor and agreeable communicative style. It is especially true for the more mature, well-developed INTP and their likable, witty, open and laid-back characteristics.
These are great and, precisely the characteristics that people like to see from others. For we humans, crave to understand the thoughts and emotions of other people. This kind of information is hard to extract from people whose feelings are (1) plenty and sophisticated, and (2) kept private. The exact opposite of these two features are true for INTPs: their feelings are so simplistic and reactive to external influences, that there is not much of a guessing game required from other parties. It is in sharp contrast as to what goes on in the minds of dominant introverted-feelers (IxFP types), for example, those who look at the world in zillion different shades of emotions that are impossible for them to express all the time.
The INTP, on the other hand, is not a skilled player in the game of feelings and emotions. They are very unlikely to pressure others with their will or to be unfaithful to others. INTPs simply do not attempt or even desire to partake in motive complexities as such.
How wonderful you say? But could there be a downside as well to the wide and empty space between INTPs and their emotions? Yes, emotional indifference might lead to precarious situations.
Since the feeling of an INTP is largely dependent on that of others, they risk being conducted by the emotional string of others as well. The mood of their spouse, friend or teacher, impacts the atmosphere – the one source from which INTP derive their emotions and leaves them in a very vulnerable position.
In this book, The INTP: Personality, Careers, Relationships, & the Quest for Truth and Meaning, author A.J. Drenth refers to the INTP’s inferior extraverted-feeling as a childlike function which is really what it is: a baby, mostly asleep, but when awaken expects some food to eat. A baby depends highly on others to provide food. This is why the love felt and expressed by another person, towards an INTP, is often enough to claim the INTP’s heart.
Furthermore, when INTPs are asked about their own feelings in regards to a person of romantic interest, they may not be able to answer. Not because they want to conceal the news, but because they honestly cannot acquire the required information. They would have to dig very deeply into an unknown territory of their soul.
Unlike their logically constructed concepts and theories, the INTP’s feelings stand nowhere near as firm. Thus, positive emotions that are construed in the mind of the INTP by others can easily be wiped out as well. In other words: once triggered, the emotional fate of the INTP briefly lies outside the territory of their own influence.
An INTP lives and breathes knowledge and information. Their curious nature makes them interested in an incredibly wide range of different topics. Some of these topics survive the initial phase of impulsive interest and are usually taken to the INTP’s cognitive lab for a few rounds of thorough examination.
This is where the factor of interest comes into play. It namely plays a major role in the INTP’s assessment as to whether something is worth further investigation. Rightly so, because thorough students will dig deep once they have their mind set on something, for INTPs crave the ultimate understanding of topics which consumes most of their time.
As a result, the chain of books, lectures, theories, speculations, and a whole lot of ‘Why?’ questions, do not stop as long as their interest in the subject allows them to continue their obsessive investigations. That string of information is the one and the only path toward masterful expertise – the apex of the INTP’s intellectual quest.
As we already know for INTPs, interest is key. But it is a very black and white characteristic as well, for interest alone defines whether he/she is all-in or all-out. Consequently, as excited as INTPs can be about a subject, they are just as prone to disengage entirely due to a severe lack of interest as well.
When disinterest strikes, the topic is completely rejected. INTPs perceive it as “irrelevant”, “futile”, “illogical” or “too easy” and as a result, INTPs remove themselves from it. This is not always possible, as it turns into a real problem when judgments as such concern the important things in life (e.g. work, social contacts, routine tasks, maintenance of material, health care, etc.), for this reversed curiosity turns the imperatives of life into a burden.
These tendencies of neglect manifest itself both internally as well as externally. In a social setting, the INTP’s first thought is to condemn the tedious event, than physically withdraw themselves from the unstimulating action. This is generally perceived as anti-social behavior, but through the eyes of an INTP, it is a logical step to take and it is not to be taken personally. (Although, for an INTP, the people themselves will slowly but surely adopt the status of futility in case they continuously bring up nothing but akin subjects.) Because remember: anything is a concept to the INTP.