Dominant-Tertiary Loops and Common Personality Disorders
People often ask, why can't my top two functions both be introverted (or extroverted)? The answer is that they can, but that this invariably causes personality imbalance/disorders, and if this is the case for you, you may not be the type you think you are.
Lately I've been noticing that a lot of typological mistakes and misreads are the result of a couple of incorrect assumptions about functional structure. I'd like to dedicate this article to describing the phenomenon known as Dominant-Tertiary Loops, where the natural secondary function is suppressed, poorly developed or otherwise not valued as highly by the individual's ego as the tertiary function.
First let's remember that the standard function arrangements of the 16 types merely represent the ideal balances for each of sixteen different ways to conceptualize ourselves and reality. In reality, they don't always show up in exactly that order of emphasis. Let's look at an example:
To start with I'll use my own type, ENTP. Here's our functional breakdown:
But what happens if Ti is poorly developed? This most commonly happens because the tertiary function's common directional orientation with the dominant can make it seem more comfortable than the secondary! Our perception (obviously) relies on Ne, but with Ti not doing its job, we're forced to relinquish judgment to the tertiary (and less able) Fe.
We end up with Ne+Fe as the most dominant attitudes. If you don't see why this is a problem, consider the significance of intro/extroversion:
A balanced psyche requires significant influence from both internal and external stimuli--too much introversion and we retreat entirely into ourselves and ignore all outer world influence to an unhealthy degree; too much extroversion and we are not able to remain in touch with what is important to our subjective internal selves, and become far too dependent upon external conditions and attitudes of others.
All too commonly I see people make the mistake of assuming that using T more than F automatically makes an xxTx type. In a healthy, balanced individual that's true, but when an ego becomes more dependent on the tertiary than the secondary, that's no longer the case.
For instance, I once mistook an INFJ for INTJ because he had poor secondary Fe and relied primarily on Ni+Ti. At the time I used only MBTI sliding scales and didn't know functions yet, so since I saw primarily N and T I figured he would be an NT type. To the casual observer he would appear to be using N over S, and T over F, so he must be an NT type, right? Wrong! He is not an NT type unless his iNtuition and Thinking are oriented in opposite directions.
One really interesting result of this confusion is that each dom-tert loop type starts to look very similar to the dom-tert loop form of the type sharing only its first letter! For example:
INTJ: Ni (Te) Fi Se
ISFP: Fi (Se) Ni Te
This is exactly why many unbalanced personalities have difficulty fitting themselves into a single Jungian archetype. Unsurprisingly, if the INTJ above would improve his Te, and the ISFP would improve his Se, each would balance out the monopoly introverted attitudes currently have on his perspective and lead himself to much greater personal balance and contentment.
For example: A certain user on typologycentral agonized over her type for months, creating numerous long threads and repeatedly changing her mind. My initial impression was ENFP, which I shared but which she promptly rejected. After reading about function attitudes she described Te and Ne as her most prominent functions--at this point I changed my guess to ESTJ, which may seem like a bizarre jump if you don't understand dom/tert loop functions, but it's really not:
ENFP: Ne (Fi) Te Si
ESTJ: Te (Si) Ne Fi
So if you pick up mainly Ne and Te in someone, don't presume that he's an NT type--in fact, he's probably not. Depending on which is dominant, he is most likely either ENFP (Ne+Te with poor Fi) or ESTJ (Te+Ne with poor Si).
Ironically, this user's primary personality imbalance was poorly developed secondary Fi--it turned out she actually was an ENFP providing a perfect example of over-dependence on extroverted attitudes. She reported placing far too much emphasis on the approval of others and couldn't introspect enough to figure out which type was really her. Without a strong introverted function she was left a poor sense of individual self, and showed it through her dependence on the opinions of others to determine her type. She was looking everywhere but the right place--inside.
So how does this over-dependence on introversion (or extroversion) manifest itself in each type? I believe this phenomenon is responsible for (or at least involved with) a lot of common personality disorders:
ENTP/ESFJ: Ne/Fe or Fe/Ne--Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This type often behaves impulsively and manipulatively, needing constant approval and admiration from others, running around investing in new thing after new thing but never developing the self-confidence of a strong subjective perspective. Fe used negatively may use its awareness of the cultural standards of others to intentionally offend or upset them, in order to service Ne's curiosity about the patterns in their responses. If Ti/Si were working properly, it would give the user a balancing sense of personal, subjective importance and free him of his dependence upon the adulation and unconditional acceptance of others. (Horrible example: Patrick Bateman from American Psycho.)
INTP/ISFJ: Ti/Si or Si/Ti--Schizotypal Personality Disorder. I see this most commonly in INTP dom/tert loops (Ti+Si), resulting in totally giving up on attempting to obtain the social/interpersonal connections that inferior Fe drives them to unconsciously desire. Schizotypal people are seen (and typically see themselves) as having such unusual thoughts and behaviors that widespread social acceptance is nearly impossible. Ti thinks, "I cannot find any logical explanation for social rituals" and Si reinforces this self-isolating, risk-averse behavior by constantly reminding the user: "Remember how badly this went last time you tried?" If Ne were doing its job, it would remind the user to continue experimenting to find a new approach. In the ISFJ version, Si becomes ultra risk-averse and refuses to try anything new or unfamiliar. If Fe were doing its job, the ISFJ would learn that some risk is necessary in order to uphold obligations to others and avoid living in total solitude. Deep down, these types really do want social connection and ritual (Fe), but have found themselves so poor at it that they simply give up trying.
ESTP/ENFJ: Se/Fe or Fe/Se--Histrionic Personality Disorder. This tends to manifest itself in terms of exaggerated, aggressive sexual behavior and physical impulsiveness. Since reflecting the outer world is the only thing that matters, whatever will shock, impress, or otherwise affect others enough to include the user in their social rituals is what has to be done. Real empathy is rare as this type requires constant thrills or conflict--in the ENFJ version, this often results in excessive sensitivity to perceived "rudeness" or failure to respect the user's preferred cultural custom (Fe), combined with tertiary Se responding aggressively through implied threats of brute force. (e.g., Vito Corleone: "I'll make him an offer he can't refuse"--gives a surface appearance of respecting the cultural standards of negotiation, but implies that refusal to accept this "offer" would be quite unpleasant for the recipient!) If Ti/Ni were doing its job, the user would find a sense of balance and comfortability with himself, granting him the ability to discover what is subjectively important to him, rather than constantly shifting with the tide of cultural and social trends.
ISTP/INFJ: Ti/Ni or Ni/Ti--Schizoid Personality Disorder. These types are socially incompetent for lack of trying, because they see little to no value in significant interaction with others. They live in their own abstract worlds, constantly second-guessing themselves as Ti poses a framework for a problem and Ni shoots it down as too definitionally precise. Without any real external input, these two functions will dream up all sorts of elaborate systems and implications for them, only to repeat their own self-defeating behavior, never bothering to emphasize putting any of its intense ideas into practice. Frequent disregard for rules, laws and other forms of behavioral standards is common, as no function provides any significant sense of external influence. If Se/Fe were doing its job, the user would recognize the value of connecting with others and of paying attention to their needs, preferences, habits and appearances.
ESFP/ENTJ: Se/Te or Te/Se--Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (not the same thing as OCD)! I've seen people mistake ESFPs in Se+Te dom-tert loops for ESTPs because they can be so insistent upon controlling their surroundings. These types epitomize enneagram type 8, as they are aggressive, blunt, confrontational and not the least bit afraid of hurting anyone's feelings. Inside they require the approval of others to a much higher degree than they let on, as Te insists on controlling and organizing external surroundings to ridiculous proportions, while Se pushes any naysayers out of the way with aggressive force and a take-no-prisoners attitude. Territorial and looking for any reason to display their power, these types are some of the most difficult to deal with of all dom-tert loops. If Fi/Ni were doing its job, these types would stop to consider that their actions have negative implications for others, and that aggressively taking charge is not always the best solution in every situation.
ISFP/INTJ: Fi/Ni or Ni/Fi--Paranoid Personality Disorder. These types are your typical conspiracy theorists; they cling deeply to their personal values and can find a conspiracy to assault or attack those values everywhere they look. Chronically distrustful of others' intentions for no legitimate reason, these types are certain they are the only ones who really know "the truth." The inferior function, Te or Se, can sometimes lead to an unconscious desire to attract the attention of or lead/organize others in efforts to expose the nefarious conspiracies they invariably see everywhere. If Te/Se were doing its job, these types would be able to look around them and observe empirical evidence that most of their theories are probably not reflected in reality, but as they rely almost entirely on internal validation, Ni will go to any lengths to justify Fi's emotion-based suspicions. (I mentioned Dale Gribble from King of the Hill in a previous article--he's a perfect example.) There's also this guy Victor on typologycentral who's such a perfect example of this it's absolutely ridiculous.
ENFP/ESTJ: Ne/Te or Te/Ne--Borderline Personality Disorder. The ENFP I described above may have been one of these types. They simultaneously desire to control and dazzle others with their extraordinary leadership and grandiose performances. For the ENFP, this tends to take the form of insisting on consistent, scheduled attention from others for his/her artistic or creative gifts, while for the ESTJ it tends to manifest itself in terms of indignation when others refuse to follow every detail of the user's "visionary" leadership style. This combination, ironically, makes the user extremely dependent upon others for meaning, never really finding a sense of internal balance, no matter how hard he works to create and delegate. While Te leads these types to desire structure and discipline, Ne continually contradicts it by insisting on impulsive displays of creative freedom. Often self-denigrating over the inability to control Ne's impulsive explorations, Te will go to any lengths to keep the user in a position of power and influence, where others must defer to his authority. If Fi/Si were doing its job, these types would recognize that what they're looking for cannot be found outside themselves--they must learn to sometimes live for themselves and only themselves, and forget about external results for a moment.
INFP/ISTJ: Fi/Si or Si/Fi--Avoidant Personality Disorder. Often scarred by some intensely negative past experience with opening up too many of their private emotions, this type compulsively avoids social situations and interaction with others. They are fiercely sensitive and may exaggerate or misconstrue perceived negative emotional intent in the words or actions of others. They will sometimes project their negative feelings onto others (Fi), as Si tells them that if I were to behave this way, I would have to be very upset, so anyone who behaves that way must also be. These types often have a chronic problem with trusting the intentions or motivations of others, refusing to share private information with even their closest friends and family. They are so deeply sensitive that they refuse to risk being hurt by attempting deep connections with others--you'll see this a lot in ISTJs with Asperger's. If Ne/Te were doing its job, these types would maintain a heathy grip on the importance of letting go of the past and trying something new in the name of accomplishing a greater goal, but some of these remain total recluses for most (if not all) of their lives.
I guess that about covers it for today. If anyone wants to share their experiences with any of these or suggest a different personality disorder to associate with any group, knock yourselves out.
Until next time,