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  1. #1
    Senior Member Tayshaun's Avatar
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    Default INFPs, is that you?

    Keirsey, in PUMII, in his paragraphs describing Healers [INFP], says the following:

    "Healers find it difficult to believe in themselves and to trust themselves. Deeply committed to the positive and the good, yet taught to believe there is evil in them, they can come to develop a certain fascination with the problem of good and evil, sacred and profane. They are drawn toward purity, but can become engrossed with sin, continuously on the lookout for the wickedness that lurks within them. Then, when they believe they have yielded to an impure temptation, they may be given to acts of self-sacrifice in atonement. Others seldom detect this inner turmoil, however, for the struggle between good and evil is within the INFP, who does not feel compelled to make the issue public."

    a little further, about mating, conveying the same idea:

    "INFPs cling to their dreams, and often find it difficult to reconcile a romantic, idealized concept of conjugal life with the realities of everyday living with another person. Even at the best of times, they seem fearful of too much marital bliss, afraid that current happiness may have to be paid for with later sacrifices. The devil is sure to get his due if one experiences too freely of happiness, or, for that matter, of success, or beauty, or wealth, or knowledge."

    What do you think about these statements?

    Are you tormented by this inner, private, Manichean conflict?

    Is the image of the guardian angel popping over one shoulder and the inner-devil over the other appropriate?

    After a break-up do you often feel like you deserve to suffer?

  2. #2
    Member Alesia's Avatar
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    I hate Keirsey's description of INFPs as healers. I just don't feel that way at all.

    As far as good and evil, he really exaggerates that. Personally, I am always on the lookout and have an automatic sense of "good" and "evil". If I see the good side, I'll also be very cognisant of the bad side, and vice versa.

    I've been atheist for about 25 years now, and have totally gotten away from thinking there is evil within me. So, no, I don't think that way. And I try to be rather intellectual with "good" and "evil". I look at it as "ways that help better the quality of human life" and "ways that help lower the quality of human life". I've become very practical in my midlife. That's the Sensing quality that's gotten developed. But on a basic feeling level, I still get the evil and good thing, and do indeed get attracted to trying to figure out the "evil". Mostly in an attempt to understand it, so that I can "fix" it.


    As far as marital bliss. That statement has always confounded me. It's weird. I'm like WTF? Where did he come up with that one? But finding it difficult to reconcile and idealized romantic life with the everyday realities? Yep. Guilty. But aren't we all like that?
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  3. #3
    Senior Member JivinJeffJones's Avatar
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    Last edited by JivinJeffJones; 09-13-2007 at 02:24 PM.

  4. #4
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    Although I'm not infp, what JJJ says rings true in me. I can especially relate to, "When I do something that I think is good I feel like I'm breaking even, or finally avoiding hypocrisy. When I do something bad I feel like my true self is showing." Every time I do something I think is wrong, I feel compelled to tell Lee about it so he won't be under any illusions and will know that this is how I really am.

    I've always felt that I was struggling to overcome a desire to be "bad" or an inclination or attraction to evil. I remember being very aware of it when I was 4 or 5. I particularly remember a certain green frog bean-bag doll that I had. I anthropomorphized all my dolls, and sometimes I hated this doll for being ugly. One time I felt a rage of anger at its ugliness. I squeezed it as tightly as I could, and beat it with my fist, and imagined it crying for mercy as I choked the life out of it. Its imagined cries just made me angrier and I growled at it and beat it some more because it was ugly. I remember that it felt good to be mean. That I enjoyed hating and pretending to kill something simply because it didn't please me. Terrified of what I saw in myself, I immediately switched roles. I became good-faith and snatched the frog away from mean-faith. I petted him and fixed his injuries and loved him and soothed his fears.

    I guess this was a normal kind of childish imagination, trying on roles and playing pretend in order to discover oneself--I don't really know. But I know that it was a very real expression of what is often going on inside me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tayshaun View Post
    "INFPs cling to their dreams, and often find it difficult to reconcile a romantic, idealized concept of conjugal life with the realities of everyday living with another person. Even at the best of times, they seem fearful of too much marital bliss, afraid that current happiness may have to be paid for with later sacrifices. The devil is sure to get his due if one experiences too freely of happiness, or, for that matter, of success, or beauty, or wealth, or knowledge."
    I think INFPs can sometimes experience a lot of anxiety.

    For example, INFPs want to excel and please the people around them, so they tend to overestimate what they can do and they overcommit themselves. But at the same time they are also procrastinators and can be wildly lazy. So with a cloud of pressing commitments, missed deadlines, and disappointed teachers/bosses/friends hanging over their heads much of the time, they can routinely be feeling a lot of pressure and anxiety.

    Good events like a promotion at work or a high score on a test can actually increase the anxiety. Already overcommitted, something like a promotion just means more commitments. It just sets them up for a bigger fall. Same thing with marriage. For INFPs, marriage can be blissful in the abstract and stressful in the flesh. It brings added responsibilities and obligations, and failure isn't an option.

    Here's another quote from "Type Talk" by Kroeger & Thuesen that describes this kind of pressure INFPs might find themselves under:

    "The potential for self-doubt and self-criticism is always close to the surface. Even when told they have done a “good job,” INFPs know the only true judge is themselves, and may punish themselves for work they consider less than perfect. In general, while INFPs love to learn, grow, excel, and please others, they are always their own worst critics; they often remind themselves that they could have done better. It is a lifelong struggle between self-approbation and self-depreciation. In the end, INFPs almost always tend to sell themselves short."

    From discussions about this issue on INFP message boards, it seems that not every INFP feels the same degree of anxiety. Some INFPs barely register it. Others register it practically all the time, and it reaches a peak precisely when things seem to be going best. Failure can almost become a relief, in that the anxiety abates. (But that's when the self-flagellation begins, of course. )

    Anyway, that's where I've seen this particular quote arise in INFP discussions. It's not necessarily about good and evil; it's more about stress and anxiety.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tayshaun View Post
    "Healers find it difficult to believe in themselves and to trust themselves. Deeply committed to the positive and the good, yet taught to believe there is evil in them, they can come to develop a certain fascination with the problem of good and evil, sacred and profane. They are drawn toward purity, but can become engrossed with sin, continuously on the lookout for the wickedness that lurks within them. Then, when they believe they have yielded to an impure temptation, they may be given to acts of self-sacrifice in atonement. Others seldom detect this inner turmoil, however, for the struggle between good and evil is within the INFP, who does not feel compelled to make the issue public."
    This is trickier. INFPs do like to consider themselves as amateur philosophers, psychologists, and even priests. So they do like to play around with debates about good versus evil on a purely intellectual or philosophical basis. And the more you try to parse what constitutes good or evil, the more you tend to explore both concepts and the paradoxes connected with them, and maybe even try to morph them into each other.

    On a more personal basis, concerns about good and evil may have a direct influence on stress levels in an anxiety-ridden INFP. To use a very mundane example: Taking a short-cut on a big work project may make the work project more manageable in size but may increase overall anxiety connected with the project at the thought that the shortcut may be discovered later and held against the INFP. By extension, you can imagine how anxious some religious INFPs may get about even very minor issues of good vs. evil (masturbation, whether it's okay to dislike someone or if we have to love everyone at all times, etc.)

    Thus the issue of stress and anxiety may perhaps feed into an INFP's personal fascination with good and evil. If good behavior reduces ambient stress and bad behavior increases it, then that becomes a strong incentive for getting caught up in a constant examination of one's own actions and motives and constantly questioning oneself about issues of good vs. evil.

    Then there's the psychological concept of duality: The more you try to be good, the more attractive evil becomes. Hermits try to lead a pure life in civilization, but temptations increasingly leap out at them and drag them under. So the hermits go off into the desert to get rid of the temptations, but then they start having visions of the devil appearing to them and tempting them. Apparently it's impossible to be perfectly good (or perfectly evil). The human brain needs balance. It probably has something to do with the unconscious and the untamed desires hidden there. But that's kind of a tangent, in that it's not specifically an INFP thing.

    Just my own opinion, of course.

    FL

  6. #6
    Senior Member JivinJeffJones's Avatar
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    Last edited by JivinJeffJones; 09-13-2007 at 02:27 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JivinJeffJones View Post
    Great post, FL. Now get out of my head.





    _____________

  8. #8
    Senior Member logan235711's Avatar
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    actually, I've heard from many INFPs that this is probably the overall best description out of what is out there : ) Also, I think the good/evil thing isn't really close to how INFPs view it at all, it is more of like having an attraction towards the darker emotions that exist in all of us and wanting to explore those sides as well, many times, even fully living in those emotions which can be dangerous for many as they can begin to be consumed at times. :

    Quote Originally Posted by J. H. van der Hoop, Conscious Orientation, pp. 87-91, translated 1939 by Laura Hutton

    The introvert of feeling-type finds support and guidance by shaping his own feeling-attitudes in accordance with an inner ideal. Here the activities of feeling are hidden, and from the outside there is, as a rule, little to tell us that we are dealing with a person of feeling-type. Feeling aims more especially at an inner harmony, trying to discover what under various circumstances should be the right relationships between people if life is to be beautiful and well balanced. Reality, however, reveals in most cases that this ideal is not attained, and introverted feeling is particularly vulnerable in regard to such experiences. This vulnerability — which may become as intense at that of the sensitive plant — is one of the most characteristic peculiarities of this type.

    Just as with the introvert of thinking-type, we find here, too, a marked contrast between inner security on the one hand, and uncertainty in external behavior on the other. But whereas with the introverted thinker this opposition gives rise to thought concerning the problems of life, with the individual of feeling-type it leads to deep feeling, and to a strange mixture of inner tenderness and passionate conviction. These people are absolutely certain as to the soundness of their ideals, but this is accompanied by a helpless feeling that it will never be possible to realize them in this world. They do not, however, reject the world, for feeling means the making of ties and is directed towards social contacts. In spite of ever-repeated collisions with the world and with other people, they can never give up their wish to love them both.

    They conceal their sensitiveness behind a mask, which may be childish or simple, or again conventional, remote, or it may be friendly. But behind this mask the search goes on for someone who will understand, and for a community which will embody their ideals. However disappointed they are, they still in their innermost being believe implicitly in what their feelings tell them. Even if they are not able to express it clearly in words, they are inwardly quite certain as to what accords with them and what does not. Outwardly, their feelings are not very obvious, for when these are affected, these people tend to withdraw into themselves, and if they do express anything, it will only be much later, after they have had time to work it all over within themselves.

    In ordinary life their mask conceals what they really are. But there is, nevertheless, something very individual about them, sometimes remarkably so, which will come to expression particularly in certain moments, in relation to certain people. This happens more especially in two situations: when they achieve real contact with another person; and when, in a state of high emotional excitement, they stand up for a threatened ideal.

    In the first case, a very profound relationship of mutual understanding may suddenly come into being, all the wealth of their minds being unlocked to the confidant; sometimes this contact will later be broken off just as suddenly and unexpectedly, in defence of their own vulnerability. And where his feelings are aroused, the person who appeared to be so impersonal, remote and somewhat insignificant may suddenly burst out with a personal point of view, expressed with such conviction and such force of feeling that it compels respect.

    Such people may also resist with extreme obstinacy anything that does not accord with their sentiments. This resistance may be justified, in so far as it is based on a motive of fine feeling; but the means used to give it emphatic expression is ill-suited to the external world, and in this respect incorrect. The consequence is that they are nearly always misunderstood, and they tend more or less to resign themselves to this situation. This contrast between a clear intention, directed towards harmony, and uncertain modes of expression, giving rise to misunderstandings, is found again and again in the lives of these people.

    In childhood they are gentle and dreamy, and somewhat reserved, but with occasional violent outbursts of emotion. In familiar surroundings they can be unrestrainedly gay; but more often they are likely to exhibit violent resentment if circumstances do not correspond to their feelings, and it then seems to them that harshness and indifference prevail in the world. As a result, they seem to show signs of disappointment at a very early age, and a certain distrust of life. Owing to their inability to express themselves clearly, and to bring their ideals to reality, there may arise a feeling of impotence and inferiority. They are apt to seek the fault in themselves, and may suffer much from a sense of guilt on this account. Here, also, feelings have a tendency to extend their influence, with the result that their whole being may be plunged into depths of unhappiness; but at other times a genuine emotional contact with someone will once more fill them with a quiet and enormous delight. Now they will look at the world again with new eyes, and a feeling that is almost religious will embrace both nature and man.

    Later, also, the happiness of these people will depend on the emotional attachments which they are able to make, though they find it less necessary than do extraverts of this type to be in immediate touch with other people. The expression of other people's feelings in poetry and music, and the realization, through the reading of stories and biographies, of the depths of their spiritual experience, may have the effect on these people of making them feel more at home in the world. In this way, there develops in them a life of the spirit, which is carefully concealed from strangers, and which may be expressed, for instance, in a secret piety, or in poetical forms, which are revealed only with great unwillingness.

    This feeling-type is particularly found among women. Whereas the woman of extraverted feeling-type has it in her to create an atmosphere of harmony around herself, in the introverted woman of this type all the riches of her mind will be developed into a love which is inwardly directed towards the highest ideals of harmony. Without saying or doing much, such a woman will emanate a feeling of rest and security. It is difficult to describe an influence of this kind, expressed as it is in such indefinite forms. But on the immediate environment it may be very effective. A mother of this type may have an even greater influence on her children than the devoted and radiant mother of extraverted feeling-type. These women are often able to implant and foster something of their own ideals in their children, exercising in this way a quiet force which helps to keep a respect for moral authority alive in the world.

    All the modes of expression for the deeper impulses of the spirit in religion and art find great support in such people. Whether they are artists or scientists, they are still primarily attracted by problems of the emotional life. They express themselves in such occupations with great care and precision. Here again the persistence and devotion of the individual of feeling-type become evident. When they do give form to their inner feeling — in a poem, for example — they will carefully weigh every expression; at the same time, they will often neglect generally accepted social forms, which for them have no significance; or they will employ conventional and simple forms as a mask, from behind which a more genuine and finer feeling will occasionally come quite unexpectedly to light.

    Although in these persons the will, under the direction of strong moral conviction, represents an important factor in the psyche, it is less evident than in the other rational types, owing to the fact that the controlling activity is directed more inwards, and feeling is expressed more indirectly. It is most evident in the strong sense of duty characteristic of these people, and in their faithful discharge of their duties. Their activity frequently suffers as a result of moods of discouragement. When this is so, they lose themselves in pessimistic feelings, giving up their efforts to make themselves better understood, or to alter things in their environment. After a time they recover from such moods, since they tend, as a rule, to regard them as a fault in themselves.

    This contact with their own moral judgment represents an essential factor in the lives of feeling-introverts. They are not bound by the judgments of others — as is the feeling-extravert — for the standard by which they judge their own behavior is an inner moral law, intuitively felt to be binding. While the extravert of feeling-type will repress, for the sake of harmony, things both in himself and in the external world which do not accord with his ideal, the feeling-introvert will remain more aware of such conflicts. In him, however, the limiting and excluding activity of the demand for harmony may be detrimental in a different way, everything not consonant with that harmony being regarded from a negative point of view, as opposed to what is ideal and good. It is impossible for these people to see the world or themselves objectively, and their continual comparison of things with ideal requirements gives them an exaggeratedly critical point of view. Since this also applies to their own lives, there is an undermining of their own self-confidence, as well as of their confidence in the world, which may seriously affect their happiness in life. It is necessary for these people to recognize that things which do not exactly accord with their ideals may yet have a value which may be developed.

    In these cases, also, the instinctual life is to a very large extent subordinated to the regulating force of feeling. Since the relationship between moral conviction and instinctual impulse is here worked out more within the mind, there is less danger of pretence for the sake of the external world than with extraverts. Instinctual feelings are subordinated to the ideal. At the same time, there may be a too forcible suppression of the instinctual life, in which case it will lead not so much to a split in the emotional life as to a certain joylessness, and to the feeling that life is passing without bringing any true fulfilment. There is too often a need to associate all pleasures and joys with some moral value, and to condemn them if this higher satisfaction is not obviously found in them.

    Intuition is also subjected to the authority of introverted feeling. Intuitions here bear more on the inner aspect of feeling than on its expression in other people. They may give form to the laws of feeling, but in images rather than in concepts. Where intuition is developed, it is of great assistance in finding expression for introverted feeling, both in practical life and in art. Intuition may also provide a link with religious life, which, in this case, will be specially developed in its feeling-aspect: inner moral unity with God and with his fellow-man has greater significance for the man of feeling-type than ecstatic experiences or philosophical problems. The dominance of feeling is revealed in the constant search for a harmonious relation and in the weight given to views on morality, love and justice.

    Thought is, as a rule, not very essential in the lives of these people. They accept the thought-forms as taught to them, and make conscientious use of them; but this is not vital to them, as the judgment of feeling is. In their thought-processes, they argue from preconceived attitudes of feeling, and frequently do not embark on any logical thinking at all, leaving the realm of logic to others to deal with.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by logan235711 View Post
    [...] Also, I think the good/evil thing isn't really close to how INFPs view it at all, it is more of like having an attraction towards the darker emotions that exist in all of us and wanting to explore those sides as well, many times, even fully living in those emotions which can be dangerous for many as they can begin to be consumed at times. [...]
    The quote in Tayshaun's OP was about overly-conscientious INFPs who get freaked out about finding petty character flaws within themselves: We're constantly testing ourselves for wickedness, and when we yield to temptation, we get into self-sacrifice and atonement. So I addressed my reply to that. A lot of INFPs seem to fall into that trap.

    But it's also true that a minority of INFPs simply enjoy dabbling in their darker emotions. I would explain that by the fact that many INFPs enjoy seeking out ecstatic experiences; hence the INFP attraction to religion (which takes us out of the mundane routine and can induce altered states) or to ecstatic love or other deep emotion.

    Some INFPs can become kind of addicted to ecstatic experiences and not really care where we find them. Thus you get the example of hippie INFPs exploring altered consciousness through drugs and sex in the 70s. Exploring drugs and sex can in fact become a quicker and surer way to an ecstatic experience than religion or love.

    The linked website (at bottom of post) equates INFPs with a tendency to Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD), which is basically a habit of emotional thrill-seeking: Lots of emotional explosions, absence of any kind of self-control, often mixed with heavy indulgence of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I can see INFPs tending that way if we're undiscriminating about where and how we get our kicks. (I think I might have erred in that direction a bit in my own youth.)

    But I wouldn't consider "exploration of darker emotions" or HPD to be a defining characteristic of the INFP profile. It's just one way we can tip over into self-destructive behavior if we don't grow up and if we remain immature and childish in our pursuits.

    AS for my own opinion on the issue, I think that INFPs don't need to stick solely to the good and the positive in life. I think the whole of life should be enjoyed. In another thread, I said:

    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    To me, the INFP profile is not necessarily or automatically about being sensitive, or being politically correct, or being spiritual, or engaging in social activism. It's more about exploration, originality, testing the limits (at both the spiritual and profane extremes), or just engaging in some good old silly fun.
    But at the same time I take it for granted that one has to use common sense. Sooner or later we all have to grow up and become adults.

    Link: PTypes - Correspondence of PTypes, Keirsey, Enneagram, Psychiatric, and Astrological Types

    FL

  10. #10
    Senior Member logan235711's Avatar
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    yep yep extremes, moderation, comfort in self

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