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  1. #1
    Wake, See, Sing, Dance Cellmold's Avatar
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    Default Mother Teresa ISFP not ISFJ.

    I was thinking on some of the misunderstandings surrounding Fe and Fi when I saw the perfect example: the typing of Mother Teresa.

    I have seen her held up as an almost prototypical ISFJ. But from my understanding of the functions, everything she did came from her own personal values interpreted through her faith, as opposed to collective consideration of the feeling environment she was already in.

    I'll give an example and explain my reasoning:

    In 1952 Mother Teresa opened the first Home for the Dying in space made available by the city of Calcutta (Kolkata). With the help of Indian officials she converted an abandoned Hindu temple into the Kalighat Home for the Dying, a free hospice for the poor. She renamed it Kalighat, the Home of the Pure Heart (Nirmal Hriday). Those brought to the home received medical attention and were afforded the opportunity to die with dignity, according to the rituals of their faith; Muslims were read the Quran, Hindus received water from the Ganges, and Catholics received the Last Rites. "A beautiful death," she said, "is for people who lived like animals to die like angels—loved and wanted."
    Source: Mother Teresa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Now Fe is not about building a community of people by gathering those least loved, or about collective considerations. It is about obligations, obligations to it's particular environment of feeling, in this way Fe is actually more environmentally variable than Fi because Fi does the opposite, it feels no obligation except to it's own personal values and it brings those with it as an internal rigidity which it will not dispense with. The values might be intensely individual but the method has a consistent pattern. The above quote is entirely this way of valuing.

    Fe would be more likely to assert that those of different faiths should all receive the last rites, as opposed to the different methods of each faith, after all that is the feeling obligation of that environment. Mother Teresa on the other hand goes outside this obligation and instead her faith is second to her drive to help others and empathise with them.

    I recall reading Lenore Thompson's book on typology and she uses an anecdote about Mother Teresa to reinforce this point. In the except, Mother Teresa is giving a speech to a congregation, it is a hot day and quite dry weather. A man from the congregation gets up from his seat, fills a glass of water and takes it to her. She waves it away and directs him to give it to a lady in the first row, he does so and then goes back to fetch another glass for her. Each time she waves it away until most of the small group has a glass of water. The point is that the Fe obligation in that environment was to her as an important figure of consideration, who was giving a speech and so she was the person it was correct, or rather appropriate to give a glass of water to.

    But she disappointed this obligation and instead gave the water to everyone else, because it was her value to help others before herself. This is not necessarily an Fe consideration, which is more about appropriateness and obligation, based on the feeling environment they are in. It's why Fe can sometimes appear false to Fi, as they often change to suit their feeling environment, whereas Fi is more apt to keep their own personal environment.

    Another example of this divide, again posited by Lenore Thompson, is in the play The Fiddler On The Roof. At one point Tevye comes into conflict with his wife Golde over the marriage of their daughter Tzeitel to a wealthy butcher. But Tzeitel finds this unappealing and is actually in love with her childhood friend. Now Golde the Fe dominant, is not the person to whom Tzeitel takes her issue as Golde is obligated to the feeling environment that considers appropriateness and it is appropriate that Tzeitel is married to a rich man for both the family and her own future.

    Instead she goes to Tevye, (whom Lenore types as a Te user of some kind although I'd have to see the play myself or read it.), and he reasons that while the wealth could be useful, if she does not love the man then it can only cause conflict and issues later on which would ruin both the flow of money and his daughters well being. In this instance Fi offered a consideration outside the feeling appropriateness of the environment that Golde could not see or would not adhere to.

    Thoughts?
    'One of (Lucas) Cranach's masterpieces, discussed by (Joseph) Koerner, is in it's self-referentiality the perfect expression of left-hemisphere emptiness and a precursor of post-modernism. There is no longer anything to point to beyond, nothing Other, so it points pointlessly to itself.' - Iain McGilChrist

    Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
    "Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
    Piglet was comforted by this.
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  2. #2
    i love skylights's Avatar
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    Fiddler on the Roof... I actually would type Tevye as the F, and Golde as STJ, probably ESTJ. Tevye has a wide emotional range and is swayed by heart concerns, typical of an F. Golde is the non-nonsense bastion of tradition, not Tevye. Tevye asks Golde if she loves him - again outward emotion and asking for outward demonstration of emotion from another. Though Golde's monologue in the song we learn that she has never really stopped to consider if she loves Tevye. There is nothing F about that, much less F dominant. Golde through the play is sharp, witty, decisive, unyielding. Teyve has a sense of being the patriarch, and of what the community values and what is traditional and "right", but he's easily persuaded by how his daughters feel and by the others' heartfelt concerns.

    I do not think obligation in the pure sense of feeling forced is particularly accurate when it comes to Fe. I think that feeling a sense of duty to the collective or community tends to be more Si, e6, and Social variant. Appropriateness is a Fe consideration, but it derives from reading the Feeling states of others and determining what would be comfortable and pleasant to them versus disturbing and upsetting to them. I do think that Fe users can feel a strong desire to take certain actions or follow certain traditions/protocols, but I think it is something that comes from a combination of perception and reasoning, not something that is an internal mandate that does not include consideration of individuals.

    I do not know much about Mother Teresa and her life, other than the degree of social building and organizing that she did seems unusual for an IxxP. Her focus on love as action is more Fe to me than Fi, and her structuring, motivating, and organizing seems very J. She did not seek to change and redefine based on ideals like NJs typically do but rather worked bit-by-bit, step-by-step, moment-by-moment, a more S approach. The glass of water example seems like it could either be Fi/Te both being kind and making a point or Fe/Ti being kind and making a point. If anything, putting others first is probably more Fe, because Fi is always self-referential and uses oneself as a measuring stick for others, whereas Fe has the ability to focus on others without self-referencing first. I could not argue with evidence against ISFP, but she doesn't strike me as ISFP off the bat, and I don't think the reasoning above correlates to Mother Teresa's personality.

  3. #3
    Wake, See, Sing, Dance Cellmold's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skylights View Post
    Fiddler on the Roof... I actually would type Tevye as the F, and Golde as STJ, probably ESTJ. Tevye has a wide emotional range and is swayed by heart concerns, typical of an F. Golde is the non-nonsense bastion of tradition, not Tevye. Tevye asks Golde if she loves him - again outward emotion and asking for outward demonstration of emotion from another. Though Golde's monologue in the song we learn that she has never really stopped to consider if she loves Tevye. There is nothing F about that, much less F dominant. Golde through the play is sharp, witty, decisive, unyielding. Teyve has a sense of being the patriarch, and of what the community values and what is traditional and "right", but he's easily persuaded by how his daughters feel and by the others' heartfelt concerns.
    That's because he is Fi not Fe though. I don't necessarily agree with Thompson's assertion that he is a Te type, but I see him being persuaded on the grounds of personal values as opposed to conforming to correct attitudes of feeling. And Golde from what I've read is quite family driven, but being headstrong, sharp and witty doesn't make someone a T type. I don't think she's particularly logical, she relies upon adherence to tradition and is rational, but from a feeling standpoint.

    Quote Originally Posted by skylights View Post
    I do not think obligation in the pure sense of feeling forced is particularly accurate when it comes to Fe. I think that feeling a sense of duty to the collective or community tends to be more Si, e6, and Social variant. Appropriateness is a Fe consideration, but it derives from reading the Feeling states of others and determining what would be comfortable and pleasant to them versus disturbing and upsetting to them. I do think that Fe users can feel a strong desire to take certain actions or follow certain traditions/protocols, but I think it is something that comes from a combination of perception and reasoning, not something that is an internal mandate that does not include consideration of individuals.
    Well obligation and duty can be different, it's not that Fe is duty bound, more so the urge to commit to the feeling appropriateness of the environment. IFJ's experience this differently to EFJ's of course. I see your point about Si but my whole point was that Fe ISNT committed to a community as such so I suppose we agree on that?

    Quote Originally Posted by skylights View Post
    I do not know much about Mother Teresa and her life, other than the degree of social building and organizing that she did seems unusual for an IxxP. Her focus on love as action is more Fe to me than Fi, and her structuring, motivating, and organizing seems very J. She did not seek to change and redefine based on ideals like NJs typically do but rather worked bit-by-bit, step-by-step, moment-by-moment, a more S approach. The glass of water example seems like it could either be Fi/Te both being kind and making a point or Fe/Ti being kind and making a point. If anything, putting others first is probably more Fe, because Fi is always self-referential and uses oneself as a measuring stick for others, whereas Fe has the ability to focus on others without self-referencing first. I could not argue with evidence against ISFP, but she doesn't strike me as ISFP off the bat, and I don't think the reasoning above correlates to Mother Teresa's personality.
    Well I think stripping away the 'vibes' of type and looking at cognition or as close as possible, she perceived an injustice, jumped to it and saw potential to stymie it. But I suppose i'm just showing another angle to look at.
    'One of (Lucas) Cranach's masterpieces, discussed by (Joseph) Koerner, is in it's self-referentiality the perfect expression of left-hemisphere emptiness and a precursor of post-modernism. There is no longer anything to point to beyond, nothing Other, so it points pointlessly to itself.' - Iain McGilChrist

    Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
    "Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
    Piglet was comforted by this.
    - A.A. Milne.

  4. #4
    i love skylights's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AffirmitiveAnxiety View Post
    That's because he is Fi not Fe though. I don't necessarily agree with Thompson's assertion that he is a Te type, but I see him being persuaded on the grounds of personal values as opposed to conforming to correct attitudes of feeling. And Golde from what I've read is quite family driven, but being headstrong, sharp and witty doesn't make someone a T type. I don't think she's particularly logical, she relies upon adherence to tradition and is rational, but from a feeling standpoint.
    Yeah, exactly, personal values. I couldn't decide whether I thought he was ExFP or ExFJ. Perhaps like you said more a ExFP with Te emphasized to lead his family. Golde still seems STJ to me. She doesn't seem to do much heart deciding so much as head deciding. Yente the matchmaker seems much more the FJ to me.

    Well obligation and duty can be different, it's not that Fe is duty bound, more so the urge to commit to the feeling appropriateness of the environment. IFJ's experience this differently to EFJ's of course. I see your point about Si but my whole point was that Fe ISNT committed to a community as such so I suppose we agree on that?
    I think partially. I agree about Si/Fe but disagree about the last rites thing. I don't think Fe is necessarily more inclined to push specific beliefs on others - I think it depends on how the people individually interpret what is right. Some FJs I know are really keen on freedom of belief. I do think you are right that FJs will tend to "standardize" outward protocol more, but I think that is more a Je thing and FPs may do it too because of Te. But that's kind of the thing to me about Mother Teresa, she's such a caretaker, someone who sees others' needs and provides them...that active provision of needs based on actual need, not on personal value/belief (Fi) seems more Fe to me than Fi.

    Well I think stripping away the 'vibes' of type and looking at cognition or as close as possible, she perceived an injustice, jumped to it and saw potential to stymie it. But I suppose i'm just showing another angle to look at.
    Yeah. I totally appreciate your opinion and thoughts here so I hope you don't get me wrong. It really made me think. It just seems to me like Fe gets misunderstood as a sort of blanket enforcer, but I think it's just as dynamic - if not more - in terms of personal adaptation as Fi. I don't think Fe is so much the function that says the respected leader in the group should get the water so much as it is the function that decides who giving water to could help the most.

  5. #5
    Sugar Hiccup OrangeAppled's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skylights View Post
    If anything, putting others first is probably more Fe, because Fi is always self-referential and uses oneself as a measuring stick for others, whereas Fe has the ability to focus on others without self-referencing first. I could not argue with evidence against ISFP, but she doesn't strike me as ISFP off the bat, and I don't think the reasoning above correlates to Mother Teresa's personality.
    I honestly don't think this is true, and I think it's one of the huge misconceptions in MBTI, one resulting from oversimplification.

    There is no greater ability of Fe to directly grasp a foreign feeling; I'd argue Fi is still much better at that, hence the tendency to defend "outsiders" misunderstood by the majority. Fi is not self-referencing any more than Fe - it's using the inner world as the gauge, which is a "shared" experience as well (we can all attest to similarities in our inner world as valid as those in the external - hence, common symbols and themes in dreams, etc). Using the external to gauge a feeling is NOT any less of a self-referencing. It's a matter of how the self is defined. If you define the self in relation to the object, then you are still self-referencng when you relate matters to the object you defined yourself with.

    Because Fe types align their feeling to some external measure, they also align others to it in order to gauge it. Fi is deeper than that - it uses its own feelings as a prototype, discerning what is the fundamental meaning, and then extrapolates from that to see how different feelings connect to the same fundamental meaning. The self is referenced, but that's because the self is defined by the inner experience. The self is references by the Fe type too - but the self is defined by the external experience; this is why not all Fe types feel the same, because their external experiences vary (and there is always subjective interpretation, regardless of function preference; all functions are individual thought). This is also why huge commonalities can exist between Fi types, because the basic human inner experience is similar at core, even across contexts of culture & time (which makes Fi concepts much more profound, where Fe concept are more about function in a specific setting).
    Often a star was waiting for you to notice it. A wave rolled toward you out of the distant past, or as you walked under an open window, a violin yielded itself to your hearing. All this was mission. But could you accomplish it? (Rilke)

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    i love skylights's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    I honestly don't think this is true, and I think it's one of the huge misconceptions in MBTI, one resulting from oversimplification.

    There is no greater ability of Fe to directly grasp a foreign feeling; I'd argue Fi is still much better at that, hence the tendency to defend "outsiders" misunderstood by the majority. Fi is not self-referencing any more than Fe - it's using the inner world as the gauge, which is a "shared" experience as well (we can all attest to similarities in our inner world as valid as those in the external - hence, common symbols and themes in dreams, etc). Using the external to gauge a feeling is NOT any less of a self-referencing. It's a matter of how the self is defined. If you define the self in relation to the object, then you are still self-referencng when you relate matters to the object you defined yourself with.

    Because Fe types align their feeling to some external measure, they also align others to it in order to gauge it. Fi is deeper than that - it uses its own feelings as a prototype, discerning what is the fundamental meaning, and then extrapolates from that to see how different feelings connect to the same fundamental meaning. The self is referenced, but that's because the self is defined by the inner experience. The self is references by the Fe type too - but the self is defined by the external experience; this is why not all Fe types feel the same, because their external experiences vary (and there is always subjective interpretation, regardless of function preference; all functions are individual thought). This is also why huge commonalities can exist between Fi types, because the basic human inner experience is similar at core, even across contexts of culture & time (which makes Fi concepts much more profound, where Fe concept are more about function in a specific setting).
    I agree with what you are saying in terms of process, and thank you for clarifying something that has long escaped me in terms of words. You got my mental wheels going this morning, lol.

    So like you said, there are deeper concepts of Feeling on the part of Fi, ones which are beautifully universal. I also think you make a great point about Fi being able to grasp a commonality with a misunderstood "outsider" - I think that is one of its most noble strengths. I see what you mean about Fe and Fi both belonging to the individual and thus technically all functions are self-referential, but at the same time there is no use in classifying them as introverted versus extroverted if we do not acknowledge that there is a difference between whether they tend to move inwards or outwards, and that it does yield a difference in how we relate to others and their feelings. I think when it comes to others, Fi users tend to apply Feeling the way we do to ourselves - considering the other as a whole and gauging for internally-produced "Feeling tone" and plumbing for sense of self and internal well being. In this way, I think we can be more other-attentive than Fe, which is less likely to plumb the depths.

    At the same time, Fe users in day-to-day experience tend to spend far less time refining and unearthing their exact feelings and spend far more time focusing on the external feeling landscape, which necessarily involves other people and their feelings. The Fi user in everyday experience spends far more time dealing with their inner feelings or an other's internal feelings and is generally less focused on the constant nuances of the Feeling exchanges going on in the world around them. I am not saying that Fi users are less capable of empathizing or sympathizing, but that we leave one set of feelings less and inhabit them longer, for both better and worse. In my opinion, that does make us more self-focused and less other-focused when it comes to Feeling. That is not the same as not being less able to relate to others - it is a measure of attention spent focusing outside a self. Certainly the Fi user could spend a great amount of time focusing on the other's self - but again it is more likely to be plumbing depths of feeling and to be spending time going deep with one person instead of checking in with many. So I am not saying that this tendency makes Fi users less able to connect or empathize, but it does generally cut down on the degree to which Fi users maintain consistent focus on many others. ExFPs can do better with volume than IxFPs, but even then they tend to bounce from self to self and are less likely to spend time considering the overall environment of feeling exchanges and how all of those are interrelated.

    Could a Fi type do what Mother Teresa did? Sure, and maybe she is Fi dominant. I never got a chance to meet her and can't know for sure. But does a lifetime of direct dealing with thousands of people and establishing increasingly larger and more complex organizations and hospitals strike me as a Fi-suited life? No, it doesn't, nor do the examples in the OP strike me as clearly Fi over Fe, for the reasons I explained above.

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    She was a bimbo what you think about that?

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    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    I honestly don't think this is true, and I think it's one of the huge misconceptions in MBTI, one resulting from oversimplification.

    There is no greater ability of Fe to directly grasp a foreign feeling; I'd argue Fi is still much better at that, hence the tendency to defend "outsiders" misunderstood by the majority. Fi is not self-referencing any more than Fe - it's using the inner world as the gauge, which is a "shared" experience as well (we can all attest to similarities in our inner world as valid as those in the external - hence, common symbols and themes in dreams, etc). Using the external to gauge a feeling is NOT any less of a self-referencing. It's a matter of how the self is defined. If you define the self in relation to the object, then you are still self-referencng when you relate matters to the object you defined yourself with.

    Because Fe types align their feeling to some external measure, they also align others to it in order to gauge it. Fi is deeper than that - it uses its own feelings as a prototype, discerning what is the fundamental meaning, and then extrapolates from that to see how different feelings connect to the same fundamental meaning. The self is referenced, but that's because the self is defined by the inner experience. The self is references by the Fe type too - but the self is defined by the external experience; this is why not all Fe types feel the same, because their external experiences vary (and there is always subjective interpretation, regardless of function preference; all functions are individual thought). This is also why huge commonalities can exist between Fi types, because the basic human inner experience is similar at core, even across contexts of culture & time (which makes Fi concepts much more profound, where Fe concept are more about function in a specific setting).
    I think you present a more accurate and developed understanding of Fi here, but also present the oversimplification of Fe that is also present throughout MBTI.

    I agree that Mother Theresa could well be a Fi-dom, based on all the ideas presented in this thread and based on the description of Fi, but both Feeling functions exist on a continuum in terms of depth. There are Fi-doms who have a more simplistic self-referencing way of approaching the world just as there are Fe-doms with a simplistic external referencing approach. What your describe is a highly developed use of Fi placed against a simplistic use of Fe. Fe can also be developed into a much higher resolution that values the same positive outcome for others, but able to apply it in an individualistic and varied way. Fe could also desire that all people achieve a sense of peace at death and embrace a varied, individualistic approach to achieve that goal because it is looking at the principle as the normative element rather than the process.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
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    (from Blue Velvet)

  9. #9
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Default Fi vs. Fe Empathy

    This is one more anecdotal thought about the nature of Mother Theresa's empathy and how it might relate to the question of Fi or Fe. My goal here is to not place any value judgment of one function being superior, but to try to make an even comparison. I'm basing this on my own experience growing up in a strongly empathetic family with my Fi-dom sister, and I'm Fe-aux, so it's a comparison, although not coming from a Fe-dom fwiw.

    I would describe the Fi empathy like a spotlight that has an absolute depth and intensity wherever it is directed. My sister can feel the complete value of each living thing from a plant to a goldfish, to another human being. When she feels for a being it fills her entire being and her focus on its experience and needs is absolute. I would describe my empathy as more evenly distributed, although also constant, being something like houselights. Both emit the same amount of light, both internalize the same amount of experience from the outside world. The drawback to the intensity of Fi empathy is that it by nature has to neglect some because a person's conscious focus has a limited size, so the attention it gives to one is not available to another. The strength of this is that acknowledges completely that one Other. The strength of Fe-empathy is that it attempts to overlook nothing and to allot the right amount of love as it is needed. The drawback is that it is less likely to fully experience a single goldfish in its demise.

    Edit: Also, the (in)accuracy of each type of empathy comes from Fe's ability to disconnect more efficiently from Self, so that it can build a framework of understanding based on another's terms alone, but it is limited by not bringing absolute passion and focus. Fi is more accurate by filling its entire perspective with that of another, but can be inaccurate when it brings assumptions of one's own experience into the empathy. Fi has more tendency to anthropomorphize an animal's experience, but what is more accurate is that the experience can only be full empathy if it fills one's entire panorama of experience - which Fi is better at doing.

    For my own experience as an introvert, I feel empathy rather intensely for one individual at a time. As a teacher I have to work one-on-one because groups overwhelm me with all their contrasting signals, but then I'm not a Fe-dom. Each individual holds my entire attention while I work with them, and in that way could appear like Fi, but I am able to put them aside for the most part when they leave. I noticed growing up that my sister had a harder time detaching from a friend with problems to give herself a break. It was easier for me to listen to a lot of people with problems because I could give them a certain amount of empathy, but then detach after the conversation and after I did what I could.

    What Mother Theresa did in her life shows elements of both. There is some group distribution of her empathy, but it also has an individual focus, so I can see why this is a really interesting debate for determining her type. My gut feeling is that she is a Fi-dom, but my knowledge of her is somewhat limited. I could certainly see an ISFP doing her work and they are considered the most compassionate of all the MBTI types.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

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    Senior Member Ene's Avatar
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    A few quotes from Mother Teresa that may help with the inspection. I have her book Total Surrender. I love her heart. She had a heart for "the people" all the people, especially the poor, the sick and the downtrodden. She had a "global" view and while she was able to zero in on the one, she would then move on to another. @fia from what I read in her book it was much like working with the one child and then another child. She wanted to make sure ALL the fish were fed.

    She says of herself, "Mother Teresa said "By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus" She lived her entire life for the "purpose" the call. She completely surrendered herself to the love of God.

    According to Wikipedia, "By 1996, Mother Teresa was operating 517 missions in more than 100 countries.[52] Over the years, Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity grew from twelve to thousands serving the "poorest of the poor" in 450 centres around the world. The first Missionaries of Charity home in the United States was established in the South Bronx, New York; by 1984 the order operated 19 establishments throughout the country.[53] Mother Teresa was fluent in five languages: Bengali,[54] Albanian, Serbian, English, and Hindi.[55]"

    That doesn't sound like zeroing in on a single fish. You can't when you have that much responsibility. I also know that she had a "call".
    She rose before dawn everyday and physical adversity only served to fuel her passion for helping the world's poor.

    I may get stoned for saying this, but I don't think she was ISFJ or ISFP either but if she had to be one of those, I'd say ISFJ. I think she was definitely FJ.
    A student said to his master: "You teach me fighting, but you talk about peace. How do you reconcile the two?" The master replied: "It is better to be a warrior in a garden than to be a gardener in a war." - unknown/Chinese

    http://www.typologycentral.com/forum...=61024&page=14

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