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Meh.
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I posted a while back here and got some really great answers. Let's see if we can repeat that :)

My father, an INTJ, currently has to deal with my mother going through an episode of mental illness (possibly psychosis, possibly signs of early dementia). My brother and I both live too far away to be of any practical help so support has mainly been through email and/or skype.

Now after the initial shock has settled down, I'm trying to find out how he's dealing with it all emotionally. We've always been taking care of these situations with the two of us so usually I had a really good idea of how much it affected him. Now, with the distance, I don't.

I have tried about 7 different ways by now to ask how he's dealing with it all. But I keep meeting a wall of silence. I don't want to push too hard to avoid complete nuclear shelter like shutdown, but I also know that Ni doms sometimes really need someone drawing them out of their little cave of thoughts and depression.

Any advice on how to get him to express some bottled up emotions without invading too much would be very appreciated.
 

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Maybe he saw it coming and felt all of the stress before it happened? Or maybe he's just emotionally numbed to the situation and doesn't realize it. Beware of him possibly breaking down later...
 

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I have a past with a family member who suffered from a mental illness. I remember that I shut down my emotions and took control of everything like a boss right after the first shock. The thing is "mental health" means everything to INTJs and I still have a problem with accepting that somebody who I love "lost his/her mind". I think he needs time to digest what happened so he can eventually realize that sometimes we can't control everything. He could blame himself and/or question any solid diagnosis for couple of years. It is important to make him feel that he is not alone. Good news: Your input and stimuli will reduce his cyclical thoughts to some extent. Just keep supporting him, his silence is totally normal and does not mean that you are not reaching him.
 

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Well, I usually keep my emotions to myself, especially if I'm having sadder emotions. I tend to withdraw, but when my best friend (who is actually an infj) realizes this and asks me gently if I'm okay, I'll probably tell her what's going on because I know she'll understand. I don't blab on, but I think the few words that I tell her help us both.
 

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Meh.
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the responses.

I know from past experience that he's not much of a talker (NO.. REALLY?... how suprising for an INTJ) But hey, neither am I (INFJ)
but him obviously ignoring the questions tells me it's worth asking them in a way that makes him feel comfotable to open up.
 

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Thanks for the responses.

I know from past experience that he's not much of a talker (NO.. REALLY?... how suprising for an INTJ) But hey, neither am I (INFJ)
but him obviously ignoring the questions tells me it's worth asking them in a way that makes him feel comfotable to open up.
I think you shouldn't poke him to react as you want. Let him sit in the fridge overnight so he can ferment his own thoughts. Always remember that he is not an INFJ. He needs to solve "thinking" aspect before he start to feel something as you expect. All you need to do is supporting him as a companion right now.
 

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I would just keep letting him know you are there for when he needs to talk. Illness of any kind is very difficult to deal with, I was in a caretaker role for close to a decade. He may break down eventually and seek someone to talk to, but you probably won't be able to force it out of him until he has a chance to collect his thoughts.
 

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Meh.
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I think you shouldn't poke him to react as you want. Let him sit in the fridge overnight and ferment his own thoughts. Always remember that he is not an INFJ. He needs to solve "thinking" aspect before he start to feel something as you expect. All you need to do is supporting him as a companion right now.

Yeah... I knew that would be the most likely answer. But that's like... saying to an INTJ: Let the person come to their own logical conclusion.. it'll happen.. eventually..

guess I'm just finding it hard to accept that he refuses to speak of his emotions in this situation. His wife will most likely never recover and possibly even get worse and worse in a very short span of time. ..

Am I correct to generalize this to: larger emotional impact = longer processing time + larger emotional impact = less likely to verbalise eventual conclusions on emotions?
 

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Am I correct to generalize this to: larger emotional impact = longer processing time + larger emotional impact = less likely to verbalise eventual conclusions on emotions?
Maybe, but if you are right, what are you gonna do about it? I'm not your father of course, but in my own experience as an INTJ, well-meaning people staging emotional interventions on the premise that it can't be good for me to sit and fester . . . well, it just never worked out well for me. You know when you get a really deep sliver somewhere and the only sensible solution is to wait until it works its way closer to the surface before you start slashing at it with a needle? Like that.

So deep emotions + premature attempts to bring the emotions out = further collateral damage = emotions go even deeper + scar tissue forms from the failed surgeries = whole process might take longer still.
 

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Meh.
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Maybe, but if you are right, what are you gonna do about it? I'm not your father of course, but in my own experience as an INTJ, well-meaning people staging emotional interventions on the premise that it can't be good for me to sit and fester . . . well, it just never worked out well for me. You know when you get a really deep sliver somewhere and the only sensible solution is to wait until it works its way closer to the surface before you start slashing at it with a needle? Like that.

So deep emotions + premature attempts to bring the emotions out = further collateral damage = emotions go even deeper + scar tissue forms from the failed surgeries = whole process might take longer still.
Sit on my hands and practice my talent for restraint?... :)
 

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Yeah... I knew that would be the most likely answer. But that's like... saying to an INTJ: Let the person come to their own logical conclusion.. it'll happen.. eventually..

guess I'm just finding it hard to accept that he refuses to speak of his emotions in this situation. His wife will most likely never recover and possibly even get worse and worse in a very short span of time. ..

Am I correct to generalize this to: larger emotional impact = longer processing time + larger emotional impact = less likely to verbalise eventual conclusions on emotions?
The thing is INTJs need solitude for an efficient "thinking" process. He will think and rationalize things with own his logic, then emotions will emerge. If you keep poking him for "the second phase/feeling" you will paralyze "the first phase/thinking".

Not poking him about emotinal aspect + Simply supporting him = Shortest processing time + Efficiency

He is not feeling anything, thats why he can't share anything with you right now.

He "will" feel and share. Not now, later. Let him finish "the first phase/thinking".
 

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Meh.
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I might have forgotten that me asking him how he's dealing with it is about him and how he's dealing with it.. And not to satisfy my emotional need to know that he's ok.

Point taken.

Sitting on my hands it is..
 

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I also know that Ni doms sometimes really need someone drawing them out of their little cave of thoughts and depression.
You said this in your first post and it strikes me now. Maybe the issue for you is that from the outside you can't distinguish between the normal-and-healthy (in us) INTJ lag between event and emotion, and a gone-too-far depression? I agree with you about that, that once we get into an emotional cave it can be difficult for us to get ourselves out and sometimes someone else standing at the doorway with a lantern is a Good Thing. The trouble is, how do you on the outside know which is which?

I'm afraid to tell you, I'm darned if I know. But I've seen this with a few people I like myself, and I can tell you what did seem to work. I explained it to them. 'When you go deadly silent like that I just don't know if something awful has happened that I should come and help with, or it's just your regular life.' Usually they were surprised, but unoffended. So I'd say something like 'look, I can assume nothing's wrong and leave you alone if you'd prefer, but can you please let me know if that changes? Because I won't be able to guess it myself, and I don't want you to think I'm not here.' Most of the time they agreed.
 
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I might have forgotten that me asking him how he's dealing with it is about him and how he's dealing with it.. And not to satisfy my emotional need to know that he's ok.

Point taken.

Sitting on my hands it is..
I suspect you also want to talk to get your own feelings out. Watching a parent go through something like this is one of the hardest things to do. If you want to chat feel free to pm me, I lost my mother to cancer after an extended battle a number of years ago.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You said this in your first post and it strikes me now. Maybe the issue for you is that from the outside you can't distinguish between the normal-and-healthy (in us) INTJ lag between event and emotion, and a gone-too-far depression? I agree with you about that, that once we get into an emotional cave it can be difficult for us to get ourselves out and sometimes someone else standing at the doorway with a lantern is a Good Thing. The trouble is, how do you on the outside know which is which?

I'm afraid to tell you, I'm darned if I know. But I've seen this with a few people I like myself, and I can tell you what did seem to work. I explained it to them. 'When you go deadly silent like that I just don't know if something awful has happened that I should come and help with, or it's just your regular life.' Usually they were surprised, but unoffended. So I'd say something like 'look, I can assume nothing's wrong and leave you alone if you'd prefer, but can you please let me know if that changes? Because I won't be able to guess it myself, and I don't want you to think I'm not here.' Most of the time they agreed.
That's exactely it. Usually, when I'm there: I can tell. I can tell by his behavior when he's withdrawn into that cave and sort of needs to be reminded that there's an outside world and that there are people that can help him figure out what he's feeling. (Hey.. he helped me figure out math, I can help him figure out what he feels. That used to be the deal) And I have actual evidence of strong emotions on his side: He nearly choked up during our skype conversation a month ago.

That might have been too much overt emotion for him to feel comfortable with thus now retreating until emotions can be explained by logic? I'm just a bit concerned that he's rolled the rock in front of the cave and won't come out until summer hits in the northern hemisphere.
 

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My intj hubby is so big on solving problems for people that problems that he can't solve (especially if they deal w emotions) have him on full out shut down mode. It's just torture to him that there is no solution in cases like that. I have found that there is really no way for me to get him to talk about it on an emotional level. That's where I have to make my own feeling preference shut the eff up and realize he needs some space. It's so hard, but if I just leave him alone about it and ask questions as to what he is thinking about (like steps he wants to take, etc) it will get him to open up more, though still not very emotional. Wanting to deal w the emotions is a problem i have to get over bc (at least for my man) they are so in the background that he doesn't really even want to address them. Oh, and I try to be nice and do practical things for him.
 
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I would just keep letting him know you are there for when he needs to talk.
Best thing anyone can do is as quoted above.

OP, pushing for mush can sometimes result in "Give them what they want" mode. This can send the INTJ into an even darker agony and loneliness. The worst thing is, you won't even be made aware of this because we've already given you the response you were looking for.


If the INTJ in question wants to confide in you, he will (albeit slow to occur). Your presence and support does much more than you think. Simply knowing you hold his well-being in high regard can be comfort enough and may prompt him to continue handling matters effectively.
 

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Sitting on my hands it is..
^^ Do that.

Sounds like he's in crisis control mode. If his reactions were similar to mine (bi-polar husband who eventually killed himself), he won't be willing to deal with the emotions until long after the event is finished. Can't be logical, pragmatic, and in control while also being emotional, uncertain, and vulnerable. Like two sides of a coin, you can only ever see one side at a time.

Suggest you help him deal with the practical stuff. Does he need help identifying long-term care options? Is he taking care of himself, physically? Would it help if you could arrange for someone to cook or clean or do laundry on occasion?
 

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That's exactely it. Usually, when I'm there: I can tell. I can tell by his behavior when he's withdrawn into that cave and sort of needs to be reminded that there's an outside world and that there are people that can help him figure out what he's feeling. (Hey.. he helped me figure out math, I can help him figure out what he feels. That used to be the deal) And I have actual evidence of strong emotions on his side: He nearly choked up during our skype conversation a month ago.

That might have been too much overt emotion for him to feel comfortable with thus now retreating until emotions can be explained by logic? I'm just a bit concerned that he's rolled the rock in front of the cave and won't come out until summer hits in the northern hemisphere.
That's difficult. If he kind of fails to identify when a crisis is getting him down, and is used to relying on you 'seeing' it and reaching across, then both of you are now dealing with a difficult thing. It's a variation in your original patterns which you've had worked out and which you both understood.

Do you think he'd be amenable to hearing that much from you? Not so much 'I know you're suffering, dammit - fess up!' but more just a pragmatic sort of pointing out how the dynamics are different here, and therefore this presents a new problem for you. Most INTJs can be lured by a problem ;-) It's like honey cake at the door of the cave.

I'm joking. But perhaps it really hasn't occurred to him. And in at least one sense it is true that if you present an INTJ with the pragmatic aspects of an emotional 'thing' they'll step up and help. So you say something like 'dad, I know how we used to work when it was about stuff like this, but you see now that I'm not seeing you every day in the flesh it's much harder for me to really know what's going on. I still don't want to intrude, but can you help me to troubleshoot this? Because we need to work out some way for us to communicate together that worked just as well as it used to work.'

I don't know. Just a thought. You're really dotting all the right i's and crossing all the right t's where your dad is concerned, and I have to tell you I do wish we could help you out more.
 
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