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  1. #1
    Senior Member BallentineChen's Avatar
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    Default INFJ Disdain of Weakness (Shadow or Anima projection)

    I don't know if any INFJs share this experience, but I have a strong visceral disdain for people that I perceive as weak willed. However, I also know that this disdain is rooted in the weakness that I perceive in myself. At times this disdain is overtly antagonistic.

    SHADOW: the image Jung used to describe those qualities in ourselves that we repress because they are unacceptable to our ego ideal. Jung once called the Shadow the thing a person has no wish to be; it is the opposite of the conscious personality (see Wehr 59). The shadow personifies the contents of one's personal unconscious but also has a strong archetypal component.
    This thread was triggered by a fight I just had earlier tonight with my younger brother. He drives me on a semi-daily basis to the train station. Whenever he does, I notice the way he grips the bottom of the steering wheel with the tips of his fingers. How I perceive this is that it's an extremely weak grip in that 1) his grip on the steering wheel can be easily overcome as hitting something as simple as a pothole 2) the position of his hands at the bottom does not allow him to react quickly in case of an emergency. In my simmering, I cannot understand why he cannot just wrap his fingers around the steering wheel at the 9 and 3 o'clock positions. This is all amidst the backdrop of me witnessing his inability to quit smoking pot. Here, I see myself extending this "weakness" narrative from his weed addiction to his driving style.

    Now, given that I have legitimate reason to be unhappy with his addiction, I think my anger towards him is comingled with my own projection of weakness onto him. Jung described that when someone reacts disproportionately to the perceived offense, one can suspect that the shadow or anima is being projected. Before I read that I already knew that these feelings were fueled by my disdain for my own weakness, but this is the first time I'm really dealing with it on such a conscious level.

    Lastly, I remember reading somewhere that INFJs in general have a disdain for weakness, I wonder whether this is true for other people on this forum.

    At some point during this weekend I plan on talking to my brother about this. We have a somewhat complicated relationship, I really cannot spend prolonged periods with him without him grating on me, but we can open channels of communication when there are conflicts.

    In sum, how many INFJs share this disdain for weakness? Have you explored the reasons for why that might be? What did you do as a result of realizing this? Please discuss, even if an idea is tangentially, but substantively, related.
    "For a man who wants to make a profession of good in all regards must come to ruin among so many who are not good. Hence it is necessary to a prince, if he wants to maintain himself, to learn to be able not to be good, and to use this and not use it according to necessity."
    Niccolo Machiavelli

  2. #2
    Senior Member Lightyear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BallentineChen View Post
    Lastly, I remember reading somewhere that INFJs in general have a disdain for weakness, I wonder whether this is true for other people on this forum.
    Where did you read that? I don't find this to be true for me at all, it's actually the polar opposite of who I am. Since I was a child I have always felt drawn to the hurting and vulnerable in order to protect and comfort them, weakness in another person in general generates in me the desire to include the person and to make them feel less aware of their weakness. I guess that's a typical Fe reaction.

  3. #3
    a scream in a vortex nanook's Avatar
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    i would say, responsibility is the true keyword. Fi types (INFj!) are sometimes angry if someone is so easygoing that its sends the message and the apparent proof of the message: "hey, dude, look: its actually possible to be easygoing. reality does support it. god does not punish me for being careless" because this ridicules the compulsive effort that Fi makes, to be an example of responsibility. it's the self-preservative responsibility at the core (but this is unconscious/not admitted), often in first born kids or single kids, maybe imposed on the kid using doublebind, which is extended (projected) to other people. the opposite is that attitude of the last born kid: "hey, i don't have to take care of myself, i have guardian angels." i guess, all types can be conditioned to either overidentify with control (thus disintegrating the original motivation, the immediate vulnerable need to be secure) or to avoid conscious control (thus disintegrating the awareness that control is not god given, so you don't have to feel the anxiety of being unable to achieve control manually), but it will be handled and interpreted slightly different and my wording above was specific to the Fi people i have observed. females btw. but i could picture a particular ENFJ being almost the same. this particular variant might be a J-Dom thing.

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    Senior Member burymecloser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BallentineChen View Post
    I notice the way he grips the bottom of the steering wheel with the tips of his fingers. How I perceive this is that it's an extremely weak grip in that 1) his grip on the steering wheel can be easily overcome as hitting something as simple as a pothole 2) the position of his hands at the bottom does not allow him to react quickly in case of an emergency. In my simmering, I cannot understand why he cannot just wrap his fingers around the steering wheel at the 9 and 3 o'clock positions.
    Without commenting on anything else, that's actually where you're supposed to hold the wheel. Having your hands at 9 and 3 is dangerous if an airbag deploys. 8 and 4 is actually the safest position, or even 7 and 5.

    It seems like an awful stretch to connect using the tips of his fingers for driving to a weak will. He may be weak-willed, as well, but I think it's just a coincidence. Disdain for weakness does not fit my experience with INFJs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lightyear View Post
    Where did you read that? I don't find this to be true for me at all, it's actually the polar opposite of who I am. Since I was a child I have always felt drawn to the hurting and vulnerable in order to protect and comfort them, weakness in another person in general generates in me the desire to include the person and to make them feel less aware of their weakness. I guess that's a typical Fe reaction.
    I think that "disdain" could also be interpreted as the wish to "fix" things that an INFJ might see are somehow "broken" and thus, a weakness that must be alleviated.

    This could be associated with the weakness that is witnessed within yourself because you tend to notice things that seem "wrong" for you in other people as well and you would like to make it "right" for yourself and for everybody.

  6. #6
    Professional Trickster Esoteric Wench's Avatar
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    Oh BallentineChen.... You are WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY overanalyzing things. <Insert chuckling here... In part because I do the same thing all the time.>

    I can only speak to my experience with INFJs and my own experience having dominant intuition myself (be it extraverted). It's not that I (and the INFJs I've known) disdain weakness. I guess what would really bother me is people doing things without knowing the meaning behind their actions. Nor is it 'easy going' that bothers me. I'm super easy going. However, I always have a big picture perspective going on in all my actions / observations... many of which are spur of the moment kind of things.

    I've come to appreciate that my tremendously powerful analytical skills can sometimes be a burden. Sometimes I need to focus on being more S and not N. In your case, that would mean just observing what your brother is doing without drawing any conclusions or analyzing the meaning behind it. Not everything has to have a meaning. (Which is far easier for me to say than it is to do.)

  7. #7
    Senior Member BallentineChen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lightyear View Post
    Where did you read that? I don't find this to be true for me at all, it's actually the polar opposite of who I am. Since I was a child I have always felt drawn to the hurting and vulnerable in order to protect and comfort them, weakness in another person in general generates in me the desire to include the person and to make them feel less aware of their weakness. I guess that's a typical Fe reaction.
    To further articulate what I see as weakness: weakness is the refusal or unwillingness to take on the full reality of life. This can happen in the form of drug addiction or even in the Luddites that feared the risk that manufacturing technology posed to their livelihood, so they protested by destroying looms. In my perception, being strong is about grabbing life by the horns (steering wheel).

    In this context, making someone less aware of their weakness does them harm because it would inhibit their growth. I do not want my brother to see his addiction as anything but that, an addiction. If he can recognize that he recognizes that he has something that he needs to work out. I couldn't find where I read that, sorry. My memory may have manipulated what I read to fit my own narrative.

    Quote Originally Posted by nanook View Post
    i would say, responsibility is the true keyword. Fi types (INFj!) are sometimes angry if someone is so easygoing that its sends the message and the apparent proof of the message: "hey, dude, look: its actually possible to be easygoing. reality does support it. god does not punish me for being careless" because this ridicules the compulsive effort that Fi makes, to be an example of responsibility. it's the self-preservative responsibility at the core (but this is unconscious/not admitted), often in first born kids or single kids, maybe imposed on the kid using doublebind, which is extended (projected) to other people. the opposite is that attitude of the last born kid: "hey, i don't have to take care of myself, i have guardian angels." i guess, all types can be conditioned to either overidentify with control (thus disintegrating the original motivation, the immediate vulnerable need to be secure) or to avoid conscious control (thus disintegrating the awareness that control is not god given, so you don't have to feel the anxiety of being unable to achieve control manually), but it will be handled and interpreted slightly different and my wording above was specific to the Fi people i have observed. females btw. but i could picture a particular ENFJ being almost the same. this particular variant might be a J-Dom thing.
    Is this Socionic theory? I'm having a tough time interpreting what you posted but I think we're in the same ball park. I know I am definitely projecting onto him and that I am having a disproportionate reaction to his "offense." I agree that I am overreacting and it has to do with responsibility.

    Quote Originally Posted by burymecloser View Post
    Without commenting on anything else, that's actually where you're supposed to hold the wheel. Having your hands at 9 and 3 is dangerous if an airbag deploys. 8 and 4 is actually the safest position, or even 7 and 5.

    It seems like an awful stretch to connect using the tips of his fingers for driving to a weak will. He may be weak-willed, as well, but I think it's just a coincidence. Disdain for weakness does not fit my experience with INFJs.
    Yes, I used that example to illustrate my overreaction, but my idea of 3 and 9 originally come from a racing standpoint. One thing about INFJs is that all the information we collect is convergent. What this means is I see things from a holistic standpoint - I don't see one characteristic of a person as being isolated from another characteristic, but that the constellation of characteristics share a common root experiences. Does it cause me to make inferences that have been untrue? Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sky is BLUE! View Post
    I think that "disdain" could also be interpreted as the wish to "fix" things that an INFJ might see are somehow "broken" and thus, a weakness that must be alleviated.

    This could be associated with the weakness that is witnessed within yourself because you tend to notice things that seem "wrong" for you in other people as well and you would like to make it "right" for yourself and for everybody.
    Right, I think we're getting at the same thing. I guess the question I'm asking is whether anybody has dealt with this aspect of their personality (not necessarily disdain for weakness)

    Quote Originally Posted by Esoteric Wench View Post
    Oh BallentineChen.... You are WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY overanalyzing things. <Insert chuckling here... In part because I do the same thing all the time.>

    I can only speak to my experience with INFJs and my own experience having dominant intuition myself (be it extraverted). It's not that I (and the INFJs I've known) disdain weakness. I guess what would really bother me is people doing things without knowing the meaning behind their actions. Nor is it 'easy going' that bothers me. I'm super easy going. However, I always have a big picture perspective going on in all my actions / observations... many of which are spur of the moment kind of things.

    I've come to appreciate that my tremendously powerful analytical skills can sometimes be a burden. Sometimes I need to focus on being more S and not N. In your case, that would mean just observing what your brother is doing without drawing any conclusions or analyzing the meaning behind it. Not everything has to have a meaning. (Which is far easier for me to say than it is to do.)
    While I appreciate how MBTI shows us different ways people can behave in situations, I don't think that means that "balancing" out functions is a panacea. Peter Drucker emphasizes that one should not confuse motion with progress. I don't think that it's my "N" (I really dislike ascribing my actions to specific functions) that makes me draw these far-fetched conclusions. I am obviously having a subjective reaction, akin to how homophobes hate gays because they are afraid of being gay themselves. This is information provided to me that I have something I need to resolve, if I want to become an integrated individual.

    "If you imagine someone who is brave enough to withdraw all his projections, then you get an individual who is conscious of a pretty thick shadow. Such a man has saddled himself with new problems and conflicts. He has become a serious problem to himself, as he is now unable to say that they do this or that, they are wrong, and they must be fought against. He lives in the "House of the Gathering." Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow he has done something real for the world. He has succeeded in shouldering at least an infinitesimal part of the gigantic, unsolved social problems of our day."

    Jung, Psychology and Religion
    "For a man who wants to make a profession of good in all regards must come to ruin among so many who are not good. Hence it is necessary to a prince, if he wants to maintain himself, to learn to be able not to be good, and to use this and not use it according to necessity."
    Niccolo Machiavelli

  8. #8
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BallentineChen View Post
    I don't know if any INFJs share this experience, but I have a strong visceral disdain for people that I perceive as weak willed. However, I also know that this disdain is rooted in the weakness that I perceive in myself. At times this disdain is overtly antagonistic.
    I am the opposite. I think certitude causes problems in the world because my impression is that there is a correlation between being certain and being wrong. The simpler the perception of the world, the more certain it seems.

    Quote Originally Posted by BallentineChen View Post
    In sum, how many INFJs share this disdain for weakness? Have you explored the reasons for why that might be? What did you do as a result of realizing this? Please discuss, even if an idea is tangentially, but substantively, related.
    INFJs are described as being "champions of the down-trodden". They don't despise weakness, but tend to feel responsible to fight when it can't. I have no disdain for weakness. There is a great deal of wisdom to be gathered from the experience of vulnerability. People who have always been first, strongest, etc. don't know what it is like to face a real enemy. The strongest person has had the least reason to exercise courage. You can't understand courage if you do not understand fear. I have been weak and I have become strong. When I see someone weak, I also see someone strong. I want to show them what I see.

    Sometimes at first it bothers me when a false front is put on weakness, but when I step back I realize it is no different than anything else merely being the result of a different set of causes. The majority of people look vulnerable to me in some way including the ones with a great deal of bravado, arrogance, or bullying. In many ways people look more similar than different at their core, but the difference isn't so much in presentation style of strength or weakness, but in what they have learned from the experience of life.
    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)

  9. #9
    Senior Member BallentineChen's Avatar
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    So, let's see if we can sidestep the topic of weakness now, but to the topic of how people have dealt with issues that they elicit a strong, negative emotional reaction as a product of shadow projection, since this is really the source of my reaction. Weakness may not be the focus of your shadow projection, but you may be able to recognize your own focus.

    I know it's a lot to ask, but this page does a good job of describing what exactly shadow projection is. Please take some time to read it.

    I would say that my shadow, or that part of myself that I want to designate as unacceptable to my ego ideal, is what I see myself as being during my early college years. I was naive and people interpreted my soft-spoken nature as a sign of being weak. In addition, I spent a lot of time smoking pot and doing terribly academically. In sum, I see my previous self as a capable but undisciplined person. Therefore, because of my lack of will I was inconsequential. Ni Doms usually have developed inner systems, but at some stage of development they ask themselves "So what does this mean for the world." To accept weakness, to me, is to be re-submerged into that stage.

    The problem here is that because I have repressed this side of me into shadow territory, I now project it on to other people. While finding strength I have also cultivated disdain for weakness in others, in a way that is actually obstructing.

    I think the solution here is really simple, I need to confront this side of me by talking to my brother about it. In the process I suspect I will integrate, in the Jungian sense, that aspect of myself and grow from it.

    What I'm asking, which I alluded to in my first post, is whether people have had experiences of accepting and dealing with this aspect of their personality. I would like to see if we are able to steer the conversation to this purpose.
    "For a man who wants to make a profession of good in all regards must come to ruin among so many who are not good. Hence it is necessary to a prince, if he wants to maintain himself, to learn to be able not to be good, and to use this and not use it according to necessity."
    Niccolo Machiavelli

  10. #10
    Junior Member Anastar's Avatar
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    I understand what you're saying. Weak-willed people, the type of people with malleable minds that are weak to temptations and can never say no, followers that blame others for their own weaknesses.

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