If you recently took a personality test related to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and your results labeled you as an INTP (introverted, intuitive, thinking, perceiving), you likely want to learn a little more about this personality type. INTPs are usually quiet, analytical people that enjoy being alone. INTPs like learning new things when they are by themselves, and often use their spare time to solve problems. INTPs tend to be homebodies that don’t interact with large groups of friends, but they do manage to maintain a few close relationships with people that are important to them.
To help you understand more about the INTP’s functions, we’ll cover the cognitive, shadow, and sarcastic functions below. That way, once you are done reading, you should have more personal insight into your personality type.
Psychologist Carl Jung first suggested the idea that personality types are so varied because each personality type features different cognitive functions. The MBTI is formulated from Jung’s theory, and the hierarchical list of functions that each personality type receives predicts a person’s behavioral patterns. The dominant function, which is always listed first, has the most significant influence over a person’s personality.
However, the dominant function will receive some support from the auxiliary or second function. After that, all personalities have a tertiary function that isn’t as influential as the first two but still exists. The last cognitive function is inferior and mostly takes place at the unconscious level, but it symbolizes a point of weakness. Below we’ll break down the different cognitive functions that you’ll experience if you are an INTP.
1. Dominant Cognitive Function: Introverted Thinking
The dominant cognitive function tells us how an INTP individual receives information from the outside world. For an INTP, their dominant cognitive function is introverted thinking, and we certainly see this in INTPs when they are trying to figure out how something works. An INTP will enjoy breaking down ideas, or taking things apart and putting them back together to see how they work. INTPs are very logical and intelligent and enjoy learning. They like to analyze and do their research before they take action or form opinions about anything.
2. Auxiliary Cognitive Function: Extraverted Intuition
The auxiliary cognitive function of an INTP is extraverted intuition. INTPs demonstrate this when they explore what-if questions. Most INTPs use insight and imagination as well as experience to form ideas and opinions. They’ll spend time reviewing what they know and analyzing things, and they’ll look for patterns. Often, they’ll find a pattern and feel as if they’ve found a solution in a flash. INTPs spend much time thinking about the future and looking at things from all angles.
3. Tertiary Cognitive Function: Introverted Sensing
INTPs pay attention to detail and categorize the facts they absorb from others. As they gather up new data, they’ll compare that data to anything else they already know to search for patterns. That’s the INTP way of figuring out what might happen next. So, while the tertiary cognitive function isn’t as powerful as the first two, you’ll still see flashes of introverted sensing in an INTP.
4. Inferior Cognitive Function: Extraverted Feeling
INTPs are known to be very introverted individuals. However, when they are around people that they are comfortable with, then they can be quite outgoing. However, when they feel stressed, an INTP will shut down their emotions, and that makes it difficult for them to bond with others. When they are very stressed out, they’ll avoid feelings and rely on logic.
INTPs are highly intelligent, and that means they can be very sarcastic, especially when they are around other people with which they feel comfortable. INTPs can deliver such creative, sarcastic, witty phrases that many people won’t even know what hit them. On top of this, INTPs tend to have a dry sense of humor that often baffles others. An INTP can take their sarcasm down a level if they want to connect with another person, but they don’t always care to do that. For many INTPs, sarcasm helps them cope when they are in intensely frustrating or stressful situations.
Shadow Functions: When an INTP is Unhealthy or Undeveloped
Shadow functions for INTPs generally refer to an unhealthy or immature INTP that is too involved with introverted thinking. When this happens to an INTP, he or she will become isolated, harsh, and disinterested in people they usually care to be around otherwise. INTPs enjoy being blunt and honest, but that can cause them to offend others they genuinely love. INTPs want to be left alone, and they don’t want other people trying to interfere with their lives. When that happens, an INTP will do whatever it takes to be alone.
When an INTP becomes unhealthy, it’ll be noticeable because their criticism of other people will seem brutal. The INTP will always justify their actions by saying they are honest; however, there is a line between honesty and brutality when it comes to words. Unhealthy INTPs also don’t like being told what to do, and they may show little interest in working with groups or meeting deadlines. All of that is not going to help them much in their work environments.
INTPs that fall into these patterns are unhealthy because they may have experienced an unhealthy childhood or traumatic life event that made it difficult to express their functions correctly. That usually means they were neglected and never had an excellent example for guidance.
1. Warped Extraverted Intuition
INTPs can suffer from an imbalance in their auxiliary function, Extraverted Intuition (Ne). When that occurs, the INTP becomes eccentric, analyzes too much, and disconnects from reality. They can fool themselves in this state into thinking their logic fits in with something they want to happen. When an INTP is healthy, then he or she uses introverted thinking, which is objective and reliable. However, when an INTP’s Ne is warped, they’ll try to make any piece to any puzzle fit, whether it’s correctly or incorrectly.
2. When INTPs Become Defensive
INTPs become defensive when they feel that somebody is trying to rob them of their independence. However, they can also act defensive when they wind up in a situation that makes them utilize a function they aren’t used to using, including Fe, Te, Ni, Se, or Fi.
When an INTP winds up in a situation like that, he or she may do some of the following:
- Enhanced emotional repression. If an INTP thinks his or her emotions aren’t necessary, they’ll shut out their feelings and shut out other people as well. INTPs may feel the need to isolate themselves if they feel their emotions are out of control.
- They are rationalizing away a problem to justify avoiding it. An INTP will use logic to explain a situation they may want to avoid because that situation makes them feel incompetent. That causes them to lose their open-minded capabilities and makes them overly single-minded.
Other Unhealthy Shadow Behaviors
Remember that not all unhealthy INTPs will exactly fit the description we’ve provided above. They may show other signs and symptoms as well. We’ll cover some of those other symptoms below.
1. Over-Reliance on Introverted Thinking
INTPs tend to place great emphasis on introverted thinking. However, they rely on introverted thinking so much, and they can also make the mistake of over-using it and not balancing it out with their other functions. When this happens, the INTP will seem overly critical, tired, and so worn out that they cannot process new information. The INTP will start shutting people out and assume they are always right, which most INTPs recognize as an unhealthy way of thinking. However, when an INTP’s internal framework isn’t working, it can be difficult for them to break bad habits.
Introverted Sensing (Si) is a tertiary function for the INTP, so they don’t have a lot of understanding about introverted sensing when they are very young. However, this issue also spills over into when the INTP becomes an adult, because from time to time throughout their lives, they’ll exhibit some forms of immaturity when they are trapped in unhealthy patterns.
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