The following is an excerpt from Naomi Quenk's book "Was That Really Me? How Everyday Stress Brings Out Our Hidden Personality":
(Further types will be posted in the future.)
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 Older Extraverted Intuitive types also do not report much pleasure in being withdrawn, quiet, and reserved, and in losing their natural Extraverted Intuitive qualities.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. The comparison between dominant and inferior Introverted Sensing is shown in Table 16.
Dominant and Inferior Expressions of Introverted Sensing
As Dominant Function of As Inferior Function of
ISTJs and ISFJs
• Solitude and reflection
• Attention to facts and details
• Awareness of internal experience
ENTPs and ENFPs
• Withdrawal and depression
• Focus on the body
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 over-subtle 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.
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 into 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.”