The most commonly cited characteristic of the INTP is an unemotional demeanor. Thorough descriptions of the archetype will qualify this characteristic by noting that INTPs will (on rare occassion) release enormous volumes of emotion in innocent childlike outbursts.
These emotional outbursts are generally attributed to the INTP’s inferior Fe function. While such terminology does provide a convenient shorthand, it does little to clarify the INTP’s emotional experience. Fe is a label, not an explanation. We might still want to know:
- Why do these outbursts occur?
- Are emotional outbursts a sign of some behavioral deficiency that can be “trained up”, or is something else going on?
- What is the connection between these outbursts and the INTP’s typical emotionless demeanor?
I don’t know that my experience on this issue generalizes to all INTPs, but I suspect many people will recognize parallels…
But before I get to that, it is worth noting that my second question above presents a false dichotomy. Though I will suggest that there is some else going on, it is also certainly true that such outbursts are - to some degree - a function of simple deficiency.
Anyone who avoids expression of emotion will naturally lack proficiency in doing so. As such, we should distinguish between the simplicity (or complexity) of emotional expressions and their intrinsic intensity. The former may be matter of proficiency. The latter demands further examination…
Psychotherapist Irvin Yalom suggests that the human condition is characterized by four basic existential “givens” (concerns) that everyone grapples with on some level:
These are the kinds of concerns that haunt INTPs. It is also the kind of stuff that other personality types prefer to keep as far as possible from conscious awareness.
When I feel emotions building up inside of me it is almost never a spontaneous reaction to external events. Usually it is a groundswell of emotion building slowly in reaction to some huge cathartic epiphany.
It is not every epiphany that can be described as huge or cathartic. I have little epiphanies almost every day. When epiphanies are huge or cathartic it is because they produce cascades that ultimately arrive at Yalom’s four concerns.
Sticking with the theme of personality types - Just recently I realized that I had mis-typed an important person in my life. I had assumed ENFP when in fact she is an ENFJ. Immediately other pieces fell into place. A friend who I had typed as an ENTJ…actually an ENFJ. A former coworker with whom I had a complicated relationship…also an ENFJ.
In that moment all manner of remembered joys and frustrations came into clearer focus…and those understandings cascaded into further epiphanies.
Why had some personal relationships lasted while others self-destructed?
Why had some experiences triggered feelings of isolation or meaninglessness while others triggered a sense of freedom and will?
Other types often tell INTPs that they should express their emotions more readily, but they don’t really want to know about INTP emotions.
They want us to express shallow “pro-social” emotions. They want the emotional equivalent of small talk, to which they can offer some trite reassurance and feel like they have done their good deed for the day.
They don’t want to be burdened with existential anxieties and they are rarely open to the implications of a cathartic epiphany. If you try to explain it in your own terms you only provoke resistance.
The reality is that existential concerns are scary. They threaten the comfortable bubbles that most people spend their lives within.
Next time someone tells you to show more emotion, you might ask:
Are you sure you can handle my emotions?
This text was taken from http://plumbingthedepths.tumblr.com/post/20466133202/deep-emotion
The reason why I like Myers-Briggs personality test is because I feel that I’m understood by at least someone. I don’t mean that in a teenager-y kind of way, like no one understands me, everyone’s against me, etc. etc. But simply this: my greatest concern in life is that I won’t be understood; and I rarely am fully understood. When I feel like I’m really understood I get this short-term feeling of complete satisfaction; I feel completely satisfied in the presence of the person who understood me. It’s difficult to explain. But when I read about my personality, which is INTP (introverted, intuition, thinking, perceiving), I feel like there actually is people out there who know why I am the way I am, and if I was ever to talk to them I wouldn’t have to explain myself.I strongly dislike explaining myself. When I’m in a situation where I have to explain my train of thought to someone (especially emotional people) I feel the anxiety building up in the upper part of my stomach, and I just want to leave the conversation (which I mostly do).
Sometimes I find that these explanations are a bit extreme, but on the other hand, they’re mostly quite accurate and helpful.