For a while I thought I was ISFP, but this article would've helped me a lot if I had seen it during that time to decide that I was an INFP. Not mine obviously, but let me know if you like it too
THE ISFP “ARTIST” VS THE INFP “HEALER”
I once read that Carl Jung, when writing on the subject of Fi-dominants, didn’t bother to discriminate between Fi-Ne types and Fi-Se types. Truly, the task of distinguishing them can be formidable. Fi is deeply personal, protective, and inherently symbolic, which makes it difficult for outsiders to understand. The boundaries of introverted feeling are easily blurred with attributes of intuition, and many people don’t realize how truly idealistic many ISFPs are—despite being counted among the “artisan” temperament rather than the “idealists.” Less often, the quirkiness of INFPs is too often depicted as their primary trait, so more subtle INFPs are passed off as ISFPs or even another type. The problem is compounded by the fact that it is rare to represent strong INFP and ISFP characters in the same work of fiction, due to their external similarities, so it’s nearly impossible to compare them.
The INFP/ISFP contrast is particularly meaningful for me since I recently had cause to doubt my sensing preference. I knew I was different from my strongly INFP sister, but all the INFP descriptions fit me well and there were few resources that said anything besides, “INFPs are more abstract” and “ISFPs are more hands-on.” That doesn’t mean a lot to me, or to many Fi types, who need to see things contrasted at their CORE rather than by passing behavioral observations. So here’s my two-cents, after much soul-searching, careful study and a few revelations. It’s not comprehensive, but it is pretty universal.
The Restorative Draught: Action or Ideas?
There come times when happy, peaceful members of the Fi-dominant tribes will be subjected to the fires of their own introversion. Normally introversion is awesome, but the dominant-tertiary loops for introverts are basically soul-sucking (extroverted dom-tert loops seem to be more annoying to outsiders than the individuals themselves). Anyway, the origins and solutions to these traumatic experiences set INFPs and ISFPs apart pretty well, so listen up.
Occasionally it happens that an ISFP will suddenly feel remarkably, shockingly inconsequential. It’s as if a veil has been dropped from their eyes, and they are forced to confront their own tinyness and irrelevance in the hugeness of life. No matter how much they do or how beautiful they feel it is, it simply doesn’t matter. They are ants, whose lives affect no one and whose worth is only personal and imaginary. In the epic superhero movie, they’re the random dude who dies in the background without anyone noticing—or worse yet, they don’t even make the screen. This is the weak perspective (Ni) of the ISFP, insidiously suggesting that are one dull creature among seven billion others.
This idea sends the ISFP into a depressive spiral of questioning their self-worth—the Fi-Ni loop. They become unresponsive, irritable, evasive, snappy, and morose. Outsiders can tell something is up, but have no idea what—and often neither does the ISFP. He simply knows that nothing seems to matter anymore. His struggle for authenticity abhors the idea of turning to another to affirm his own value, but he’s desperate to shake loose the grip of this cruel perspective. Help can only come from the undeniable world of objective experience.
In order for the ISFP to regain a sense of meaning, value, and inner peace, he needs to engage in physical activities—to act—to take in data from the external sensory world via Se. Manual labor, hiking, yardwork, sports, acting—anything physical and absorbing, especially if done out of love for someone else—these will reorient the ISFP to who he truly is and remind him of why he matters. Reality is irrefutable, so the experience of causing true happiness for others helps him to shake off the lies of his subconscious. The ISFP has the capacity to be the everyday hero because he always acts consistent with his beliefs. When he forgets what he believes or why, his actions will remind him.
The INFP can also fall prey to insidious lies. It can happen that the INFP sees a fault, in himself or others he loves, and the discrepancy with his ideal image of himself or the other can be jarring. The result is that the INFP loses faith. With unshakable certainty, he feels that his ideals are unrealistic, stupid, impossible. He will search every detail of that past for some indication that all is not hopeless, for a lifeline to clutch to, but in the grip of this tunnel-vision focus, history seems to be a never-ending cycle of failure. Nothing will ever get better. It is the same depressing outcome every time—that, or the INFP and/or his loved ones are doomed to worse failures each time.
Powerless, disillusioned, hopeless, often angry and cynical as well, the INFP will seclude himself from others so as to distance himself from anything that reminds him of this failed ideal. Unfortunately, this often means that if he chooses to emerge for any reason, all he will see is further proof of the depressing reality his unhealthy Si has persuaded him of. He can’t see any way of changing the outcome. The INFP will seem constantly angry, injured, even tragic to confused outsiders, who might tune in that “something’s off” if the INFP lashes out and makes a harsh judgment about the very ugly world they see. Where is the person they’re used to, normally so hopeful, optimistic, and full of ideas about how to change the way things are?
This Fi-Si loop, which drains the world of meaningful opportunities, can only be escaped when the INFP chooses to engage with new ideas again. It is imperative that he once more attempt to find new ways of looking at the world, new ways of applying his dreams, new ways of expressing himself and new options for action. In light of new information and new ideas, the details that once seemed so heavy and hopeless to the INFP will fall into their proper place as they gain perspective again. The INFP inspires because of his ability to see beyond mankind’s flaws. Once he begins to reconnect with the broader world of ideas once more, he can break through the trajectory of “what usually happens” and forge a new reality.
The Missing Piece: Perspective or Focus?
I suggest y’all read SimulatedWorld’s description of the types found here for some really pretty writing on these, but here’s what I’ve noticed. This article is getting long, so I’ll be brief: ISFPs can take on a powerful charisma and become deeply inspiring whenever they develop their perspectives (Ni). It’s important for the ISFP to know where they fit in the bigger picture of the world and its history, and to know how their actions impact the mankind on a wider scale. Ni fits in super well with Fi’s penchant for seeking a moral order to the universe, and if the ISFP can connect with that, they can take on a timelessness much like INFJs. ISFPs rarely make the list of powerful heroes, but when they do they are unforgettable, and it’s usually because they’ve developed their Ni. They go from comfortable, private homebodies to adventuring crusaders with an admirable level of humility. Their stubbornness becomes stronger conviction, and their sincerity becomes magnetic. I try not to type real people I haven’t met, but in the fictional world think Harry Potter, Mulan or the Prince of Egypt.
INFPs need to develop focus, or Si. They have a million ideas, but they lack the focus to pick a route and follow it. Introverted sensing gives the INFP to act instead of constantly daydreaming, wavering, or doubting themselves. It feeds them the details that enable them to say “Hey, I’m comfortable with this now, it is necessary, and it’s going to work. This is how I choose to act.” This sudden laser-like focus can help them concentrate the voluminous quantity of intense mental energy they possess, and they become an unstoppable force carried on the weight of their convictions. Think Frodo, Scarlet Witch, or Christine Daae.
Windows to the Soul
I’m not certain that facial typing is a valid process, but I have no doubt that the expression of the eyes speaks volumes about a person—especially for introverts. Both INFP and ISFP eyes can exhibit strong intensity due to Fi, especially when anguished, but it’s the casual, everyday gaze that distinguishes them.
INFP eyes tend to focus and unfocus, and even when they’re staring right at you it may seem like they’re looking past you (Luna Lovegood is the PERFECT example of this). Due to Ne, their minds are rarely fully in the present and their eyes reflect this.
On the other hand, ISFP eyes are more likely to lock on to their interlocutor’s, wander away, and then snap back. Their gazes may be more piercing, even when they’re relaxed. This is due to their SeNi combo, which keeps the ISFP tuned into reality but searching for deeper clues.
-Both types deflect conversation away from themselves so as to avoid giving personal information. In one-on-one conversations, where the danger of “prying” is highest, they tend to ask lots of questions of their fellow conversant. Of course, the conversation changes depending on who they’re speaking with, but ISFPs are more likely to ask questions prompted by Se—about what people did, what they noticed, what happened. INFPs may go digging for the other’s ideas or opinions, unless they feel too uncomfortable or are afraid to seem “odd.”
-When simply walking about in no particular mood, with their “blank” introverted feeling faces on…INFPs usually come off as spacey, innocent, sweet, cheery, sullen, or cynical. ISFPs usually come off as bland, laid-back, cool, thoughtful, friendly or annoyed.
-Due to Se’s carefree, “live-in-the-moment” attitude, ISFPs will be more likely to use slang, whereas INFPs will sometimes soundly oddly formal or poetic.
-Many ISFPs have an “aggressive switch” that INFPs will not have. INFPs can be bouncy and goofy and active, but when the ISFP’s normally calm, friendly, gentle self gives way to Se, an almost ESTP-like character. Hence the higher likelihood the ISFP will be perceived as “cool.”
Final note: I have used words like “odd” to describe INFPs above, but that is not to say they are universally weird, out of place, or awkward, any more than other types are. It is simply to indicate that they often strike one by surprise by a word or gesture. I admire this quality, and most other people find this endearing because it is always genuine. I urge INFPs not to feel any kind of shame or “misunderstanding” when they surprise people, but own it! You are refreshing and delightful!
Treasure Island Types
Again, this isn't my article, please go to the website above the author (an ISFP) probably would like your feedback, I only copied and reformatted it here for ease of access.