These excerpts are from my book on personality types: 16 Kinds of Crazy: The Sixteen Personalities.
I am constantly getting answers to questions I haven’t asked yet. I hear something, think about it, and “know” what will happen next. My mind connects the dots and comes up with strong impressions based on conditional outcomes. What I see ahead doesn’t have to happen, but it will unless something changes it. People and events are on a specific trajectory.
Most people don’t see things my way. I know that. What I share of these internal impressions results from unconscious “knowing.” This is hard to describe. My mind brings diverse pieces of data together and arrives at a finding without me fully understanding it.
It’s like eye-shine in nocturnal animals; it results from a reflective membrane behind the retina that acts like a mirror. It improves vision in low light, but produces a double image that compromises clarity. That’s how my intuition works. I absorb information from the world and focus on what impression it gives me, more than on the object, information, or person itself. My insight can either be accurate or so low-resolution it adds nothing or even compromises the truth of whatever stands in front of me.
I rarely think about the object itself, just what it represents. My mind ponders a lot of intellectual or abstract threads, like how do these things connect and what does it mean? I dwell more in the philosophical realm than in reality. Is the material world full of illusions? Is humanity an idea of the mind that reflects the divine? What’s the problem of evil?
I examine the evidence and create long-term predictions based on the most likely outcome. I don’t put much effort into this. My subconscious does all the work. I needn’t focus on things for them to form into mental patterns that give me a strong impression of what lies ahead, or what the motivation is behind a set of actions. Whatever I see may not happen this week, or next year, but it will occur unless something I can’t currently see interrupts its path. I trust my insights, but only know how good they are if they come true. Until then, my conclusion about it is a working theory.
My brain sorts through all information it receives and narrows it down to one way to interpret it that feels right. Whatever I don’t know, whatever is missing, gets filled in to create a full image. This takes ten seconds or twenty years, however long I need to weed through data, ideas, and arguments to find the best natural vantage point. Changing my position multiple times helps me find the right angle to bring the future into focus. I consider and eliminate all potential outcomes to reach “the truth,” based on how the pieces fall into place. I dismiss any alternatives that don’t fit the pattern. This can frustrate others, but I know what doesn’t fit my point of view. Sometimes, I already thought of what others suggested and discarded it after contemplating it. It’s not the most likely answer.
Filling in the blanks to form a complete picture without knowing all the details makes it easy for me to speculate about what I can’t know for sure. I treat what comes out of my unconscious mind as trustworthy. Facts exist as additional data or a foundation to build assumptions on. I don’t need personal experience with something to have a theory take shape around it.
My vantage point is distinctive and differs from your reasoning. I know no other way to be. All the thoughts I generate are full of symbolic meaning. I focus on what’s hidden over what’s obvious. It’s unnecessary for me to know much about a person or incident to give a predictive statement about it. I know the end of the story before I reach the middle. An impression forms in my mind. How that person reacted tells me what transpired or what’s behind it. Few things surprise me; they feel like they’ve already happened.
The more information I know, the more accurate my “guesses” are. A friend comes to me baffled about why her boyfriend insists on calling her six times a day. I flash through everything I know of her situation and human nature. She’s cute, fun to be around, and popular, but lately is standoffish. He demands a lot of her time. A pattern comes to the surface. He’s intruding on her life to shrink her circle of friends and bring her under his influence. Calling her keeps him informed of who she’s with, and present in her mind. Next, he will object to her seeing people who find him “intrusive.” Soon, he will advise her on how to dress, behave, where they will live, and whether she sees her parents and friends. He’s toxic.
My insights represent how the situation has formed in my mind. It’s rooted in what I know, with my intuition filling in the rest. I may be right or wrong, but my conclusion comes from a strong sense of insight. My assumption feels right. If a pattern is strong enough, I need no time to form an opinion.
Others can count on me to give them advice based on what I see in them (their potential) and in what the future may hold for them, depending on their decisions in the present. I’ll warn them if their present actions threaten their future security. “Don’t share that on social media,” “You need a disclaimer,” “This person isn’t looking out for your best interest.” My impressions of people or situations center on what they will become if they stay on their path.
I don’t need to wait for time to prove myself accurate before I make decisions based on my theory. If a preview tells me a movie has ruined my favorite childhood book, because the screenwriter misunderstood the text, why would I watch it? I know it’s trash.
Once a strong impression evolves into a judgment, it won’t alter easily. Like Mr. Darcy says in Pride & Prejudice, “my good opinion once lost is lost forever.” If I discover someone is toxic, I avoid them. They won’t change. I’d be a fool to think otherwise. We have no future.
What I see ahead influences my decisions more than the past or the present. Whenever I encounter anyone or anything new, I test it against what I envision for myself to see if it fits. This forms into strong ideas about what I want in a partner, a career, or for my life, which takes the guesswork out of my decisions. I needn’t consider anyone or anything that doesn’t fit into my ideal.
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INTJ: The Tactician
I judge everything according to its objective usefulness by focusing on whether it has a positive or negative influence on society. This involves framing it in logical terms, and not seeing it through an emotional lens. How I feel about it matters less than determining if it serves a purpose. I may be an atheist and still see how religion serves society as a behavior modifier. It teaches a moral system to its adherents that alters their deeds. If the result is beneficial (has a positive impact), a system is useful even if I disagree with its ideas. People need guidelines to influence behavior in moral directions.
A society without a system of ethics descends into self-destructive anarchy, but a moral society creates honest citizens. Ethical people pay their taxes, which supplies the government with the funds to support its laws, protect its citizens, and defend itself. It’s in society’s best interest to dissuade criminal activities by using the threat of punishment. People who abide by a belief system rely on it when making decisions. If there is no religious or moral belief to influence their judgment, they must determine it for themselves. A rational way to accomplish this devoid of religious ideologies is to ask, “If everyone did this, would society crumble?” If the answer is yes, the action is objectively wrong.
Let’s use internet thievery as an example. If everyone downloaded music illegally and never paid for it, the industry would go out of business, because without the funds to pay artists for their content, there would be no artists. To make an album requires expensive equipment and mass distribution. The industry supplies millions of jobs on different levels. If these jobs ceased to exist, the social impact would be enormous. Instead of paying taxes, they might wind up drawing out of the system and causing it to bankrupt itself.
Thinking about it this way puts it into a larger logical context. It focuses on cause and effect; the chain reaction between a decision and its larger consequences. Such patterns interest me. I believe it’s important to make decisions based on their larger impact. An action may seem moral but involve broad repercussions. Any decision must include a future fallout compared to the instant gain.
Martin Luther’s Reformation began as an ideological debate over discrepancies between the Church’s teachings and scripture. The Church was massively wealthy, and the common people extremely poor. This caused widespread resentment. A movement arose around his arguments that turned into peasant riots. People saw his criticisms of Catholicism as an opportunity and justification to loot the churches. Luther understood the threat anarchy posed to Germany and the future of his Reformation, and called for the authorities to intervene. Over a hundred thousand peasants died.
What led him to this decision? Luther saw how violence would not only threaten his movement, but create anarchy in Europe and destabilize its society. Europeans might connect his teachings of religious freedom with the murder of Catholic innocents and make it difficult for Reform to spread. Violence was not only a gross misrepresentation of his movement, but might cause a crackdown on it. Reform was in its infancy; it had to survive. Luther focused on the big picture and made a rational decision. If he wanted his Reformation to stay alive, he had to denounce its hijackers.
Luther wasn’t the only one to see potential in the Reformation. In England, Thomas Cromwell saw it as a chance to break the Catholic Church’s hold on his nation. This would destroy the chain of aristocrats reserving powerful positions for each other to keep out self-made men like him because they were born without a title. He used the Reformation as a tactical move to get rid of centuries of nepotism. This brand-new regime let the lower classes advance through hard work.
Cromwell and Luther changed the world in different ways. One built an ideology that influenced millions of people’s beliefs; the other used it to equalize society and allow the middle class to rise. The association between Protestantism (the Reformation’s result) and “a work ethic” stemmed out of a combination of Luther’s beliefs and Cromwell getting commoners to advance themselves for the first time in history. These two men saw life through inner-connectedness, how one event tied into another. How you could pull at a thread and unravel a tapestry.
I think in these terms. I see the entire tapestry and its threads, how events and decisions impact one another and unravel, and how I can use that to my advantage or don’t want that to happen.
I see life in terms of long-term investments. The judgments I form come from identifying what I want and developing the hard work and self-discipline required to get it. If I intend to attend Harvard, I learn the GPA I need to graduate with to get them to accept my application. Knowing that gives me a goal, which outlines further steps. I evaluate any weakness in my grades, determine whether it’s necessary to bring up an average, and if so, do it. I hire a tutor, devote more hours to intense studying, or take extra credit work.
Relationships require a similar investment in terms of time and effort, based on the agreement between people to provide for each other in mental, physical, even sexual ways. The best relationships involve a system of give and take; each person puts in as much as they take out (support, conversation, wisdom, etc). I find a balance between what’s expected and what my energy can provide. I see a relationship as an investment of mental resources. It’s a pleasure, but still takes up my time and energy.
If my future happiness relies on being sound of mind and body, exercising and watching my weight will pay off in the end. Any investments seem like a wise way to plan for the future. I evaluate the facts, consult with my hunch about what might work the best, and then devote my time, energy, and money to it.
Most things require effort and patience. I excel at both; as long as I am working toward my future, I know the career or life I want is one step closer. My dreams need to become real, but no one can achieve that except me. I lay out the steps to make them happen, hopefully in a way that earns a profit. Intelligence and a good work ethic override talent in my mind, because nothing beats results.
Part of my success comes from seeing what compromises will create a win-win scenario. Knowing how the world works makes this easier. It’s simple. If people “like” me as a person, it’s easier to go about my business and get things done. A lack of cooperation slows work output, because the situation becomes about emotions, not achievement. There’s no point in antagonizing people. I don’t cause trouble for its own sake or rise to the bait.
I evaluate people based on their intelligence and abilities. This has nothing to do with their personality and everything to do with how useful they are at completing tasks efficiently. I factor in the facts related to the situation. A 105 pound girl who stands five feet tall won’t be able to lift a 100 pound crate in a warehouse, but the six foot 220 pound man who also applied for the job can. His body mass makes him physically capable of shifting heavy loads.
My judgment about someone’s objective worth comes from an assessment of their talent, skill, intelligence, and reliability. There’s no ignoring biological reality. Not everyone has the same IQ, the same capacity to learn difficult tasks, or can problem-solve. Not everyone is special, talented, or useful in a monetary sense. Some people are astrophysicists and others can’t count out change.
Not everyone contributes more than they take from society. My appraisal doesn’t devalue their worth as human beings, but it represents their skill set and mental or physical capabilities.
To determine the worth of anything, I ask how self-sustaining is it? Does it work the way it should? Serve its purpose as designed? Is it draining resources or contributing to the survival of the whole? If you are paying more into a business department than it gives in returns, it’s a bad investment no matter how many jobs it creates. All departments and investments need to pay for themselves. The forms of payment differ based on what it is; you don’t expect a dog to be a financial investment, but it returns your investment in the companionship it provides. If you want the enjoyment of good friendships, you put time and effort into them. A system needs to pay for itself. Otherwise, it’s a charitable donation. If a program helps you for a time and disappears, it’s because the investment did not pay off. The costs associated with it were too much for the company or department to bear. Taking out more than you pay into something bankrupts it. An idea needs to sustain itself over time, or it’s not a good one.
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INFJ: The Mystic
I have a knack for understanding where people come from, where they’re going, and their motivations. People interest me, so I focus on understanding them from the inside out—taking apart their psyche and peering into their perspectives. I needn’t know much about a person or unique situation to trust what emerges from my subconscious. It peels back the onion’s layer to show me the core.
Insights come to me as a pattern that becomes a premonition. Images take form in my mind. I can’t explain how, but I know you will experience pain and loss, but come out stronger for it.
Trying to explain my perceptions is difficult. I sense things about you. What you hear is my conclusion, but you can’t see the process that led to it. I know you should stay home, that this relationship isn’t good, or that someone is hiding behind a façade. I feel things about people and places others don’t notice. Sometimes, a strong connection to a loved one warns me of an event before it happens. Once, I woke up in the middle of the night and knew before the phone rang a few minutes later that my grandmother had died. Places can give me a feeling about their past. While house hunting, I bought a different home than the first one I toured. That one gave me a sad vibe. I knew an awful event had transpired there.
I trust my insights. When my friend got into a relationship with a “nice guy,” I knew his complaints about me were an attempt to push us apart and take possession of her. His tactics to control her were obvious, even if she couldn’t see it.
How this happens is that an image rapidly forms in my mind. My intuition fills in the blanks. After lunch with a stranger, I peg her as a melancholy soul. Her deep sadness and longing floated around her, even if nothing she said supported that conclusion. Whatever data people give me leads me to an assumption. In my eagerness to connect to a kindred spirit, I may approach a stranger like an old friend. I already feel intimate with them without them needing to share themselves with me.
Life is a series of doors that open when I reach them. I know the right path for me. The reason is not always clear until I reach my destination, but I feel pulled in a specific direction. Unseen forces lead me toward my future.
My Inner World
Despite my awareness of their feelings, I don’t stay present with people. An impression forms in my mind reflective of their true self, or I create a personal symbol to represent their essence. A friend coming out of trauma reminds me of a phoenix rising from the ashes. My attention drifts off their actual words to what they aren’t saying, or the broader implications. My intuition leaps ahead and knows the end of a story before the middle. Invisible signs click into place and give me a larger impression.
The world floods me with so many impressions and insights it’s easier to cultivate a rich inner landscape than connect to people. Being around them puts me at risk of absorbing their feelings. If this happens, I do not know where theirs end and mine begin. I hate it. Keeping my social circle small limits intrusions on my thoughts. I tend my inner garden by looking for hidden messages, multiple layers of meaning, the truth, nuances, and symbols. There’s no way to explain these things except through metaphors. My inner self is so bizarre and impressionistic, I keep it to myself since I can’t simplify its complex concepts and themes. I may grasp the truth or a unique way to look at a situation but not how to phrase it. Visual art is one way to express what I envision.
Symbols form in my head to represent a thought, impression, or emotion. If my meaning is not clear to you, I assume your inability to understand my complex ideas is your fault, not mine. I cater my ideas and messages to my audience by shifting my perspective to see how they will react to it.
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