INTP Functions

Short Preface

“INTP” is not a label. Nor is any Jungian type. These letter combinations are simply tools for better understanding one’s actions, subconscious and conscious thinking patterns, filters for receiving information, and processes for making decisions.

Human personality is way more nuanced and intricate than four letters can possibly represent or capture.

If you’re an INTP (or even if you’re not), maybe some of these experiences will sound familiar. Or maybe they won’t. 🙂 Let me know in the comments what parts sounded similar to or completely different from your experience!


Introverted Thinking (Primary/Dominant Function or Driver)

Introverted thinking is something that rarely shows up in public for me. However, if I don’t have the chance to exercise my introverted thinking (Ti) and realign with it frequently in solitude, I begin to feel dead inside.

Thus, I love to spend time alone thinking internally or out loud. And almost without fail, I feel refreshed after doing so.

Many a fiery emotional episode in which extroverted feeling (another function) took the reins has been quelled by the soft, steady rain of thinking in seclusion – reflecting on a situation objectively and connecting with my “inner self”.

Introverted thinking is very difficult for me to express in public, because I am in an extroverted setting, and I therefore call on my extroverted functions for support, which necessarily requires the suppression of some other systems, including introverted thinking.

This is unfortunate, however, because thinking is my strongest function. When my most seasoned warrior is out of commission, things get awkward. Which means that basically every social setting has the potential to be awkward for me and/or for others, because Ti is MIA. I transform into a very boring conversationalist, because what is there to talk about if practically no thoughts of any depth are accessible?

For this reason, I communicate with others the most deeply and articulately in writing, and second-best in a one-on-one setting with one soul which has been discovered to be deeply kindred with my own. Once this discovery of connectedness, similarity, and unity has been made, the need to act extroverted evaporates.

Once barriers have been removed and we begin to feel like the same person – or at least two deeply merged personalities – then the extroverted shields and props begin to crumble, and introverted thinking can make an appearance, leading to deeper sharing.

The problem is, it is often very difficult to discover such similarities in another person in the first place, if sharing the depths of one’s soul and one’s most complex thoughts is not the default mode for the INTP.

The INTP often faces a dilemma, in that they can sometimes only share with another once some form of sharing has already taken place – enough to create a bond.

What has been helpful for me here is that I am often “bolder” online or in instant messaging than I am in person, so on the few occasions that I am introduced to someone online or I have the opportunity to engage in lengthy conversations with someone through instant messaging, establishing a connection is more likely. This is how most of my (relatively few) deep connections have come into existence.


Extroverted Intuition (Secondary Function or Co-Pilot)

Extroverted intuition is a handy tool in social interactions. It aids me in reading the meaning of words, unspoken messages, and the body language of others in social settings. Usually (though likely not always) I can catch or realize retrospectively when I have offended someone, even if they deny it.

However, this can also be a painful function to have near the top of the stack, because you often feel like you’re jumping inside the heads of other people, and this can result in information overload. Additionally, you can sometimes sense when other people are concealing the deep, dark, hurting parts of themselves, and that is painful to watch – especially as someone who values authenticity and freedom to express oneself and share one’s problems.

Of course, I certainly respect a person’s right not to share their struggles. But if they seem like a captive to their problems or they appear to fear rejection or judgment from me, it hurts, because I want them to feel free to share with me and to know that I’m safe and I’ll understand. But sometimes, I don’t know how to tell them that without making them feel uncomfortable or putting them on the spot (again, social verbal ineptness from weird function stack).


Introverted Sensing (Tertiary Function or 10 Year Old)

Referred to sometimes as the “10 year old” (see Personality Hacker), the tertiary function is often less mature, and should generally not be the driving factor or primary influencing force in major life decisions.

Introverted sensing is the part of me that loves candlelight, the smell of warm, homemade apple cider, the beauty of quiet, sparkly winter nights, and perhaps even the nostalgic, chilling feeling of imagining myself living in a different era.

However, you can probably see why this corner of my world wouldn’t be the most reliable one from which to draw information for factoring into weighty decisions. This doesn’t mean it can’t play a part at all, but it is important to be aware of which pros and cons in decision making might be based on – or distorted by – Si (introverted sensing), and to remove the distortion if possible, or otherwise assign a lesser weight/magnitude to those pros and cons.


Extroverted Feeling (Inferior Function or Three Year Old)

Extroverted feeling is my inferior function. It is the part of me that craves harmony, seeks to please others, and can render me prone to fearing social disapproval or rejection.

This part of me fears both being unloved and being disrespected (the latter actually a bit more). When either of these things (emotional needs [need for love] or physical/emotional/mental boundaries [need for respect]) seems to be violated, my extroverted feeling tends to show up. And blow up.

Usually, “blowing up” manifests for me as desperately searching for a place to be alone and cry incessantly until I’m physically incapable of doing so anymore.

For some INTPs, a blowup of extroverted feeling involves shouting, lashing out, or making rash statements – external responses contrary to the nature of their otherwise generally calm demeanor. My reactions tend to be internal, but nevertheless very out of control.

Extroverted feeling is also the INTP’s weakest tool (but only tool besides extroverted intuition) for really interacting with society in a “socially acceptable” way. Hence, the stereotypical social struggles of the INTP (a stereotype which my experience and personality happen to match).

Social settings require the INTP to either not talk or “perform” or “be on” at all, or else to overexercise their extroverted feeling function, which can present as extreme awkwardness and/or excessive friendliness with little depth of conversation. The INTP is operating in a gear that is relatively unfamiliar and weak for them.

In my social interactions, I mostly smile, laugh, nod, say “Mmhmm”, listen, and ask questions (when I can think of them). My dominant Ti (mirror function of inferior Fe) is forced to take a backseat until I am alone again.


Are you an INTP? Did any of this resonate with you and your experiences? Or sound way different?

Not an INTP? What’s your personality type, and how does your function stack play out in your life?


INTP Relationships

The Struggles of an INTP Girl


© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

6 thoughts on “INTP Functions

  1. A Chicken

    “Perform” and “be on” – what wonderful word choices for describing the act of socializing. I’ve found some success in developing those performing skills, yet the robust social stamina to last an entire party or weekend away with friends seems to require so much more regular exercise and upkeep.

    The cycle of socializing and recharging feels like a cycle – spend the energy running assimilation, then digest and realign in solitude until ready to perform again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So relatable! I often can elaborate things better in writing than in speaking because in writing I have enough time to sort out my thought and put them in concise manner. Speaking is more of spontaneous act. Unless I know certain topics very well, I often cannot explain things coherently in real-time.

    My inferior Fe is what drives me to try to be socially acceptable. I don’t know if any other INTP does this, but I try to create a set of internal catalogue/guidebook (in my mind) on how to act around certain social case. It doesn’t come naturally with me, but by consciously observing and imitating how people interact under different circumstances, the guide is gradually updated. It helps me a lot in dealing with social situation, and with the help of Ne, I sometimes can invent some new pickup lines to say. That being said, there are times when it doesn’t work as intended and the Fe blows up in inappropriate setting 😐

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Chron, thanks for sharing!! 🙂 I can relate on the part about observing and imitating people’s behavior and interactions in various circumstances. 😀 Glad you found this piece relatable. 🙂

      Like

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