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  1. #1
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    Default When ISTJ goes wrong

    This is a very long post, but it needs to be to give you the full low-down on the situation here that I want some input on. So bear with me.

    I know two guys called Dave and Adam. I've known them both long enough to be able to type them as ISTJ with total certainty. On top of that, they've taken tests and always come out as ISTJ.

    But neither of them are at all dutiful or hard working. They're both completely workshy, lazy bums. In fact, they almost are bums - they certainly both look like bums, and the state of their apartments beggars belief.

    Dave is about 45 and suffers quite badly from OCD, which has kept him unemployable for about the last 20 years. He lives a very lazy life, wallowing in his own filth at home, sleeping, eating far too much of the same crappy food every day, watching TV, rarely venturing out of his front door unless complelled to by some kind of appointment with his shrink or the promise of free food somewhere, or perhaps a film that he wants to see - he's been an ardent film buff since his childhood and INSISTS on going to the cinema at least four times a month, and prioritises it over his household bills; he always goes to the cinema alone and always sits in the same seat in front of the same screen.

    He won't go on holidays, he procrastinates everything in the universe. He started to be warned by his doctor years ago that he had to control his eating otherwise he'd become diabetic, but he didn't listen - "But I like this food. This is the food I've always had and I'm used to it, I don't want to change my diet" - and even though he's now diagnosed as diabetic, he just cuts out sweet stuff but carries on eating FAR too much of everything else (a large mixing bowl full of cereal for breakfast every day, for example - the same cereal every day for the last 20 years).

    He rarely washes and he hoards things - some good things like books (though he compulsively buys them every time he goes past a second hand book shop, he has to spend about an hour at least in there and comes out with a load of books that he'll never, ever read and that he can't afford) and some bad things like trash (literal trash - "But I don't want to put it out - it's MY trash!"). He only started using deodorant a year ago, and I've only recently, after years of trying, managed to get him to try using a sponge in the shower and actual shower gel. When I've been out with him, people have often taken him for a bum and me for his social worker. He just laughs and thinks it's funny.

    He hasn't a friend in the world apart from me, because nobody else will put up with him, even his own family. He's completely insensitive and very rude, he doesn't give a damn about other people's feelings and he's greedy and very selfish, and constantly critical of everything and everyone - I've never heard him give an unreserved compliment. If he goes out and sees any people, especially if they're not people he knows well, he 'needs' to take a few days of sitting in bed at home to recover from the 'stress' of it.

    Dave has a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering; he has a MENSA IQ and he can do The Times cryptic crossword in 9 minutes. He does calculus for fun. But he's absolutely unemployable, and he's wasting away his life. When I've tried to talk to him about this he's said that he believes himself to be a person who is predestined to misery, and that he's frightened of happiness because he doesn't know what to expect, and that he'd rather stay comfortable in his misery because "at least I know where I am".

    Adam is much the same as Dave, except that he doesn't have OCD. I don't know what's wrong with Adam that makes him act the way he does, and I know that it can't all be down to the OCD with Dave.

    Adam is about 35 and has a degree in philosophy from Cambridge, as well as being an incredibly talented musician and artist. He spends most of his time on the X Box, playing the same three games day in, day out. He won't go anywhere that he hasn't already been before unless physically dragged there. He won't DO anything. He lives with my brother Jack (ENFP), who is a driving instructor and has offered to teach him to drive for free, but Adam is yet to motivate himself to apply for his provisional licence. He also insists that they go to the area near where his mother lives (about 200 miles away) for the lessons "because I know the roads there".

    Adam developed a crush on a girl called Judy about 11 years ago and despite never standing a snowflake's chance in hell with her, and despite her now being married with three kids, he still refuses to accept this or move on, and still talks from time to time about how he'll sort himself out once him and Judy get together - he's convinced that her marriage will fail which, even if it did, still wouldn't mean he had a chance with her.

    Adam finds himself to be so unable to face doing any housework (Jack does it ALL, all the time, and before Jack lived with him it just simply didn't get done and the place was disgusting) that when a piece of meat went mouldy in his fridge once, rather than remove it and clean the fridge, he simply left it there until it became so putrid that it made him retch every time he opened the fridge door. At this point, he simply closed the door, taped the fridge door shut and left it there for three years, just accepting that as far as he was concerned, he didn't have a fridge now.

    Now, both these guys are ISTJ - they have all the traits and without a doubt Si and Te are their main functions. Everything they do and say seems to be hallmarked with the letters Si and Te, and yet somehow this hasn't led to any sense of duty or work ethic. They both sneer at people with jobs and careers and at phrases like "sense of honour" or "personal dignity" - they think it's a pile of old crap... though my guess is that it's their very overly critical fathers that they're actually trying to 'defy' by saying those things, I think that a large part of why they live the way they do is because they're still locked in a sort of 'rebellion' against their fathers (though Dave's is dead long ago and Adam's hasn't seen him in years).

    So WTF is up with all this? Anyone else ever known an ISTJ that went wrong? Anyone figure out what it was in their temperament that made them go this way? Both of them used to be bright college students that were always good for a laugh, they used to be fun and loyal friends with promising futures. It hurts their family and friends to see them letting themselves be reduced to living squalid and unhealthy lives in misery but nothing anyone tries seems to get through to them. Advice/thoughts please!

    And thank you, if you made it to the end of this post!
    Ils se d�merdent, les mecs: trop bon, trop con..................................MY BLOG!

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  2. #2
    No me digas, che! Recoleta's Avatar
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    Hmmm...I really have no idea. I have never known another ISTJ that "went wrong." Yes, their responses certainly sound very ISTJ to me, but I think whatever problems they have go far beyond simply their type. I do know that when I am under huge amounts of stress I sometimes snap into the oppostie of my typical personality. I feel very overwhelmed so I become impatient with people and I just drop my responsibilities for a little bit (I usually seek out solitude for a few hours or a day)...the thing is, after my little "meltdown" I always bounce back and am ready to refocus.

    In the cases with your friends, I think something would have had to get a hold of them deep down to change them so dramatically. Like you mentioned, it could have been their relationships with their fathers. ISTJ's typically already try their hardest when doing something, so if they were only met with criticsm from their fathers from a young age it could make them really defiant because they figure, "My best is never good enough even for the one person who should be supportive of my efforts, so why should I even try?" (Although, this does not account for them doing well in college). My guess would be something really big had to change internally/mentally for them...and chances are you will never know what brought on that turning point. Have you ever tried asking them directly when and why the turning place took place? I think if you want to help them it might be best to stop looking at the symptoms (the lazy attitudes etc.) and just ask them, "Why do you choose to be this way? If they trust you, they may open up. Even if you are met with hostility, chances are, they will take what you said to heart and at least reflect about it for a little while when they are on their own.

  3. #3
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    Yeah I have asked them why they do it and they both give the same answer "I'm comfortable the way I am, I'm used to it, I don't want to change".

    When I ask them why they chose to be that way in the first place, before it became 'familiar', Adam says because with his dad not around any more he felt free to let himself go. Dave says something similar - that he reached a point where he was actually sectioned and while he was in the nuthouse he realised he'd wasted his time trying to please his father and that it was an impossible task, that he'd been living with guilt for 'failing' constantly and become obsessed with it. In his words, "So I dumped all the guilt, and it set me free" - free to be a lazy, selfish slob, apparently... He doesn't see that what he thinks is him "being free" is actually gradually killing him and wasting his life - he doesn't see that it's him he's hurting, no matter how much I try to point it out.

    I think both of them have a mental age still of about 18. I mean they still bitch about "Why should I have to tie my hair back and wear a tie at work?" They think they should be allowed to "be individuals" at work and turn up looking like bums.
    Ils se d�merdent, les mecs: trop bon, trop con..................................MY BLOG!

    "When it all comes down to dust
    I will kill you if I must
    I will help you if I can" - Leonard Cohen

  4. #4
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Since we live in different countries, my background of experiences with ISTJ males (of which I have known a number) might not mesh completely with the ISTJ males you have known.

    I generally have seen two sorts of ISTJ males, dependent mostly on age/generation but not entirely.

    My FIL seems to be very much the quintessential ISTJ in the ways we theoretically understand them. He was born in the 1940's, he is an engineer, he is quietly "put together," he likes things orderly and in their place, he is polite, productive, courteous, constantly is faithful/dutiful to his responsibilities, and so on. He reads Consumer Reports. He analyzes constantly. He is careful with his finances. He would never get a divorce, he would not abuse his kids, he is an "upstanding member of society" because he simply has an inner value standard that does not permit a great deal of selfish behavior. Usually his vices are being too uptight/unforgiving, or not being flexible enough inwardly, or not opening himself up enough to others with his feelings, etc.

    But many of the Gen X and younger ISTJs I know seem to fall in a different category when externally at least they appear differently. On the surface, they are much more casual about things. One thing I noticed in many of them is a love for whimsical/droll humor, or anti-establishment humor. Many of them actually love cartoons (Pinky and the Brain, Warner Brothers, Ren and Stimpy, etc. Most do not seem to like Spongebob much, but perhaps he's a little too goofy/NF for them...) And they get very much into popular video games and can blow off a great deal of time doing unproductive entertainment-oriented things.

    Still, they often have conservative values inside, in terms of their faith and their political beliefs. They still often will get very vehement and judgmental of others who violate their religious and political beliefs ("Of course God is real, gays are disgusting and a violation of the natural order, why should we support people who are poor probably because they did not plan well enough in their youth, let's be very tough on crime and maintain capital punishment regardless of circumstances, etc.")

    As SJs there is also the context of "authority" which overshadows everything they do. They position themselves either in accordance with or against it, but their reactions very much come down to, "Am I a follower or am I a rebel?" It is not uncommon to see SJ males as "being rebellious" in their teenage years, just in order to throw off the yoke of authority, then once they settle down and feel that they are independent, to turn right around and now become conformers in society. ISTJs are these quiet rebels, as opposed to the more extroverted types.

    (NT males, in contrast, either never turn around; or often they never really care either way. They just IGNORE society as much as they can and only become angry if it is forced on them and they cannot escape its influence. Otherwise, though, it is more of a "live and let live" credo.)

    So I think it is part of a hallmark of the culture they have grown up in. ISTJ men also hold awful grudges by nature, not just against those who have personally betrayed/lied to them in some way (this accusation might not be agreed upon by the other people, but it is how the ISTJ perceives it!). They have an awful time with forgiveness, and they tend to respond by just digging in their heels, or behaving in ways that repudiate and embarrass the parental figure who did not live up to their values.

    So I usually NT males behaving this way simply because they think society is stupid and they would do their own thing regardless. With ISTJ males, it is usually a form of active rejection for their own hurts growing up; they are RESPONDING to their past in some way. There is always some overlap of these motivations, true, but in general this is how it plays out.

    I just read the very last post you made -- and it seems to support this. Dave is very much retaliating against his dad, although he is choosing to portray it as "throwing off the past." But in the process, he is still a prisoner of it because it is still dictating his actions.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  5. #5
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    Yes, there's an element of that - both of them seem to have categorised themselves as 'anti-establishment' somewhere in their teens and got into the habit of what they see as 'non-conformism', a somewhat immature interpretation of it that excludes all things that 'everyone else' does such as washing, manners and contributing to society, seeing doing these things as 'selling out'.
    Ils se d�merdent, les mecs: trop bon, trop con..................................MY BLOG!

    "When it all comes down to dust
    I will kill you if I must
    I will help you if I can" - Leonard Cohen

  6. #6
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by substitute View Post
    Yes, there's an element of that - both of them seem to have categorised themselves as 'anti-establishment' somewhere in their teens and got into the habit of what they see as 'non-conformism', a somewhat immature interpretation of it that excludes all things that 'everyone else' does such as washing, manners and contributing to society, seeing doing these things as 'selling out'.
    Doh! Thank you for summing up my rambling post in a few sentences. "Anti-establishment" is a good form of it.

    I think if you look at functions, you also see it come up in the weaker functions.

    ISTJ = Si + Te + Fi + Ne

    A weak Ne usually leads to cynicism and paranoia. Unrealistically negative motives are often read into everything. Everyone has some ulterior purpose, and the only way to avoid it is to avoid the establishment, reject it outright, and be suspicious of society's demands.

    Also, in stress points, an ISTJ who does not trust his or her ability to Te sufficiently (i.e., break down and accomplish tasks as they go, be constructive), will try to remain introverted by relying on their weak tertiary Fi.

    So you get them operating out of Si + Fi.

    Si is their past map of the way the world "is." In a confusing world of possibilities, the ISTJ needs the inner map to anchor them. It's usually based on how they were raised and/or the cultural values, which then they cling to to defend against all the new information coming at them later in life, especially in a society where things are changing.

    Meanwhile, the lenore thomson wiki describes tertiary Fi as saying:

    "I can't possibly go along with this, because it would mar my soul. It's not 'me'. I am a good person, and in order to maintain my integrity, I need to steer clear of this. This is the responsibility of those other people: it emerges from their souls, not mine, so it's their problem." The Secondary Function (Te) would say: "Do something. Take responsibility even if no one gave it to you, and go after some tangible gain right now, within the limits of the situation and your current understanding. That will improve your position, after which you can re-assess and plot a new course."
    So a Te-weak ISTJ might be tempted to just label themselves as good, and dump all the social demands on other people, who "have the problem," and meanwhile never become overly constructive in their behavior or take responsibility for their own actions. They are hesitant to deal with things as they come and take risks, because they do not trust themselves to cope with the risks.

    I also don't know if the disruption of the father/son learning pathway in western society over the last 50-60 years impacted this. The Baby Boomer generation still had the benefit of learning from their parents' generation. They learned a host of practical issues, such as paying bills, fixing things, accomplish tasks (all the "handiwork" associated with ISTJ). The Gen X generation was mostly left to fend for itself. The pathway was disrupted, and faith in one's Te abilities was diminished; practical tools, processes, abilities, and knowledge was never passed down, in terms of how to accomplish tasks.

    Thus your ISTJ friends figure out on their own how to do the "fun" things but have no clue how to do the "difficult" things, and because their inner Si map doesn't know how to do those things, they rebel and cling to their map.

    That is just a speculation, though....?
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  7. #7
    Per Ardua Metamorphosis's Avatar
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    Jennifer's first post sounds spot on. Also, it seems to me that eventhough ISTJs are guardians, their guardianship only applies to either 1. finances (like, enough to live on) and 2. other people and their finances


    but this is only based on limited experience
    "You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit."

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    than to serve and obey them. - David Hume

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    Neither Dave nor Adam are at all 'guardianish' with their finances - they've both cycled through the whole out-of-control-debt situation, the frozen accounts, the county court judgements, the cutting up of cards and the existing with no credit for years until their record is wiped clean and then as soon as they get another credit card they begin the process again. And it's always buying stupid stuff that they don't need and don't use, like these mountains of books or Star Wars Lego stuff that just sits in its boxes in storage, they just hoard stuff like there's no tomorrow and never, ever seem to learn from their mistakes.

    Jennifer, that second post of yours was very enlightening. I'm pondering on it now!

    Dave definately has very weak Ne and he's certainly paranoid. It took years of knowing him before he told me about his OCD (even though it was so screamingly obvious I've no idea how he can have thought I didn't know already), because he said he's afraid that if he tells people then they'll "use it as a weapon against me". He's screwed himself over countless times in situations where if he'd just told someone that this odd thing he was doing or needed was to do with his OCD, everything would've been fine, but he's refused to tell them and just let them think he's a complete loon or a selfish, impossible bastard for fear that if he told them that he, say, wouldn't go out the back door because he'd seen a dog turd there a few days ago and it played havoc with his OCD, then they'd start planting dog turds all around his house or something!
    Ils se d�merdent, les mecs: trop bon, trop con..................................MY BLOG!

    "When it all comes down to dust
    I will kill you if I must
    I will help you if I can" - Leonard Cohen

  9. #9
    Senior Member wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by substitute View Post
    Neither Dave nor Adam are at all 'guardianish' with their finances - they've both cycled through the whole out-of-control-debt situation, the frozen accounts, the county court judgements, the cutting up of cards and the existing with no credit for years until their record is wiped clean and then as soon as they get another credit card they begin the process again. And it's always buying stupid stuff that they don't need and don't use, like these mountains of books or Star Wars Lego stuff that just sits in its boxes in storage, they just hoard stuff like there's no tomorrow and never, ever seem to learn from their mistakes.

    Jennifer, that second post of yours was very enlightening. I'm pondering on it now!

    Dave definately has very weak Ne and he's certainly paranoid. It took years of knowing him before he told me about his OCD (even though it was so screamingly obvious I've no idea how he can have thought I didn't know already), because he said he's afraid that if he tells people then they'll "use it as a weapon against me". He's screwed himself over countless times in situations where if he'd just told someone that this odd thing he was doing or needed was to do with his OCD, everything would've been fine, but he's refused to tell them and just let them think he's a complete loon or a selfish, impossible bastard for fear that if he told them that he, say, wouldn't go out the back door because he'd seen a dog turd there a few days ago and it played havoc with his OCD, then they'd start planting dog turds all around his house or something!
    Only in Europe.
    There the government feeds the miserable.

    Before the late 60s these men would have been committed either to a labour camp or to an institution of a kind.
    The antisocial attitude was a crime those days. The committed often hanged themselves in their cells.

    The choices are different in our day. You can choose to work or not to work. If you choose not to work the price for the release is not immediately exacted.
    You pay later.

    I should say socialism is the first cause. I do not say we should go back to the old days. A comment on the prevalent policy has nothing to do with the question.

    The second cause is the ISTJ circumstance. It is not irrespective of the first cause. In good or bad, the ISTJ is affected by the environment more than any other type.

    If the society allows these guys go awry, they do.

  10. #10
    Per Ardua Metamorphosis's Avatar
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    That's an interesting point.

    Would you say that ISTJs are more effected by their surroundings (societally speaking) than other types?
    "You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit."

    Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office
    than to serve and obey them. - David Hume

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