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Can anybody relate some insight into the mind of an INFP child growing up in a broken family? How does an INFP man view women, as an adult, if he was raised by a neglectful/promiscuous mother? Also if his father commit suicide when he was a child, and had to be raised by grandparents. Just a genuinely unstable, messy situation.

Are INFP children more likely to be hurt by this kind of upbringing than other types? Are they able to mature into a stable person, realizing that where they came from is not who they have to become themselves? Are they ever able to forgive/forget certain things in order to make their own paths?
 

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I do not know because I did not research this. In my opinion, it is detrimental to any type. It is my experience that INFPs are rather sensitive as children and susceptible to a great hurt in such families, which leaves scars and influences one even in the adulthood.
 

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Are INFP children more likely to be hurt by this kind of upbringing than other types?
Well... I'm an INFP female and the family I grew up in was not especially similar to the scenario you described, but it was most definitely a mess in numerous other ways and very dysfunctional as a result. The overly-sensitive INFP kid in me is now a 27-year-old complete wreck, to put it bluntly. I've had pretty serious mental health issues since I was about 11/12... in retrospect, probably before that as well, though they went largely undetected.

Anyway, I'd say that an INFP would be incredibly likely to be hurt or affected in some way by the situation you described, yes. Not that other types wouldn't for sure -- after all, that sounds like a pretty rough life for any kid -- but I'd say that emotionally-sensitive INFPs would be very likely to deeply internalise a lot of that hurt and possibly have trouble moving past it.

Sorry I can't really offer much else... :S
 

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Basementbugs, I'm so sorry... I have always been somewhat aware, in my INFP relationships, that you are a gentler, more sensitive kind of people. Very lovely, actually, but not enough people know how to appreciate you. In my experience, just from observing other INFPs I know, many parents who are not INFP themselves don't know how to nurture/protect their INFP children. They just seem unaware of any pain/feeling beneath all the silence... it hurts to see it.
 

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To me, living in a dysfunctional family almost made me a cynic, although mine isn't as bad as the examples you described. If you understand the Enneagram theory, I believe I'm most probably a 4w5 or 5w4, probably the former. So for a few years as a teenager, it seemed I started engaging more in the 5 personality and believing the 4 personality to be a childish, unrealistic thing. They say that a 4 needs to learn objectiveness in order to grow, but it felt like I was sacrificing my dreamer personality to attain it.

Luckily, I stopped moving in that direction, at least voluntarily. Learning about MBTI, Enneagram, and this forum has helped me accept who I am and point me in the right direction. So I guess there still is hope for us.
 

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Basementbugs, I'm so sorry... I have always been somewhat aware, in my INFP relationships, that you are a gentler, more sensitive kind of people. Very lovely, actually, but not enough people know how to appreciate you. In my experience, just from observing other INFPs I know, many parents who are not INFP themselves don't know how to nurture/protect their INFP children. They just seem unaware of any pain/feeling beneath all the silence... it hurts to see it.
Thanks. And yeah, we can be difficult people to figure out sometimes... nurturing an INFP child is certainly no small feat. Of course, it depends on the parents' types as well. My mum is a very sympathetic and understanding person (still not sure how to type her, exactly... maybe ISFP...), but my dad is an ISTJ and we've never really known how to relate to each other. He thinks he's doing the best by me, I do know this and am grateful for the ways he's provided for me, but as far as our ways of communicating with each other, it's a complete mess. "Invalidation abuse" was a term I came across once, and that perfectly fits the situation between the two of us. Invalidation can occur in a number of ways, and it can be extremely psychologically damaging to anyone who's very sensitive and emotional by nature. The lack of nurturing in the ways I needed it as a kid deeply hurt me, and my subsequent mental health issues (which my dad simply can't understand, for the most part) put a huge wedge between us and we've been pretty awful to each other at times. I often wish we could start over, because despite all the communication differences, we have a surprising number of similarities in other ways and I think we could learn a great deal from each other if my dad was open to doing such a thing. He's not, really. My mum has essentially told me to give up on trying for the sort of relationship I want to have with him, but at least in my mind, I can't let it go. I keep trying to fill a metaphorical father-shaped hole in my life in other ways, most of them rather unhelpful and some of them downright self-destructive... *sigh*

Gah, I ramble too much. Haha. Anyway, yeah, an INFP kid is not the easiest to raise, that's for sure. Probably you have to be someone who personally understands the intensity of their emotional world in order to give them the nurturing they need. (Of course, you have to help them learn how to establish independence as well; over-parenting, which is what my mum did a lot of, is not going to help a head-in-the-clouds INFP child learn how to be practical and rely on themselves when they need to.)


To me, living in a dysfunctional family almost made me a cynic, although mine isn't as bad as the examples you described. If you understand the Enneagram theory, I believe I'm most probably a 4w5 or 5w4, probably the former. So for a few years as a teenager, it seemed I started engaging more in the 5 personality and believing the 4 personality to be a childish, unrealistic thing. They say that a 4 needs to learn objectiveness in order to grow, but it felt like I was sacrificing my dreamer personality to attain it.

Luckily, I stopped moving in that direction, at least voluntarily. Learning about MBTI, Enneagram, and this forum has helped me accept who I am and point me in the right direction. So I guess there still is hope for us.
I'm also a 4w5 and I can relate to a lot of that. Objectiveness is a hard one for me...
 

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I think.....although I could very well be wrong..... that INFPs are a strange mixture of the worst and the best for dealing with horrible family situations.


The bad points:

We are very sensitive, and can easily be hurt deeply even by things that most people wouldn't consider that serious

We have the disadvantage of already not fitting in all that well in life even if we do have good family support, so finding support outside a broken family is perhaps even less likely for us to find than for some other types (I think introverted intuitives generally have a harder time culturally)

We usually aren't good at standing up for ourselves so others learn that they can take advantage of us or ignore us, allowing bad situations to get even worse.

We tend to pick up on the negativity of others around us and feel it deep inside, so even when negative things are not being directed specifically at us, we are still affected nearly as badly as if they actually were.

We often have trouble opening up and sharing our feelings, so people never know what we're actually going through

We also tend to get stuck in a state of brooding, which magnifies our despair and prevents us from getting into action to actually do anything about the things that are troubling us.

We pick up on nuances in people's tone and mannerisms that they may not even be aware of and then spend a lot of time over-analysing those things, often reading negatives into them when perhaps it wasn't that serious or was a simple misscommunication.

The Good Points:
We tend to have a strong inner world that can act as a refuge for us. I know it sounds like avoiding the problems, and to some extent it enables us to do that in a bad way. However, I think there is a very positive side to this retreat into the self as well. I think we can nurture ourselves to a great extent within our dream worlds, and although it may not be technically real, I think the effects on our minds/souls are never-the-less quite real. When you are surrounded by horror and depressing things, being able to have another life of sorts, one that is beautifull and sweet can act as a buffer and a balm, preventing the wounds from the real world from becoming as deep as they could.

We are very introspective and self aware and thus are likely to actually realize exactly what we are feeling and why which enables us to both understand ourselves and see what we need to help ourselves. Some types I think would be more likely to seem okay on the outide because they aren't aware of the damage going on underneath the surface before it errupts completely unforseen. INFPs are unlikely to be taken by surprise by their emotions like that. Knowing the problem right away I think can help us in more effectively dealing with our emotions.

We tend to be insightful about others, as well as empathetic. This helps us to see things from the point of view of the people hurting us. Understanding the other side, makes it easier to deal with others, to know when we are reacting in ways that they may never have intended, and ultimately makes it easier to forgive. Empathizing with the enemy can lead us to putting up with a lot more abuse, but it can also allow us to have very understanding and forgiving hearts.

Our introverted nature may help to some extent in dealing with unhappy homes in that we are less driven to seek interaction, and can feel pretty content 'hiding away' from negative family interactions. In situations of neglect, introverts probably don't feel quite as bothered by the lack of attention as extroverts likely would. Generally speaking, Introverts tend to be happy to keep their noses out of things so they are less likely to attract or stir up negative attention, and the time spent alone in their room while avoiding unpleasant situations is more likely to actually feel fullfilling, than for someone who doesn't like being alone.

INFPs are often percieved as 'old souls' or 'wise beyond their years' - not that all of us are, but I do feel like there is a kind of maturity that many of us have, even though it's mixed with plenty of child-likeness. I think this can also help us to process things better and sooner than some other types might.

We are also known for our ability to find the beauty in the simple things in life. Sometimes we even see beauty in the midst of sadness and horror. This, I think also, can really help pull us through. Being able to momentarily ignore the horrible reality to just take delight in childlike wonder can help prevent us from becoming too negative

Our stong ideals I think can also give us a kind of inexplicable hope and determination. It may not make sense at all in the face of harsh reality, yet many of us still can't give up our beliefe that things should and can be different, so we don't completely give in to despair. Now, I'm sure there are some INFPs who do experience the loss of this, but I'm not sure if we ever loose the posibility of it being rekindled.
 

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I think most people who are N have been in bad situations when they were young. Being treated badly often leads into thinking why someone did what they did/why it happened, and that's what N is for.

I agree with the previous posts about parents not knowing how to nurture their children overall.
I've always felt as my parents don't really care about me, since they don't really care about who I am and what I'm thinking about. They only care about that I have enough money and that I seem happy (whatever reason that made me happy).
 

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I'm also a 4w5 and I can relate to a lot of that. Objectiveness is a hard one for me...
These days I started having a vision or feeling of what a truly grown type 4 would be like. Like, they wouldn't lose the emotional awareness, creativity, imagination, and, in our case, dreams that they are known for, but that objectiveness would help put them out into the real world. So for us I imagine it like fusing our 5-selves into our 4-selves and using the 5 side to help accomplish the things the 4 side is after. It feels like inner strength or power, and reminds me of people like Gandhi or Mandela, people who had ideals and could work to make them reality.

On another note, I can understand the invalidation abuse you talked about too. My parents were never strong in the communication area.

We tend to pick up on the negativity of others around us and feel it deep inside, so even when negative things are not being directed specifically at us, we are still affected nearly as badly as if they actually were.
This is usually why I seem pretty stoic and serious at home, and why I usually look forward to going to school or a friend's house, where I can feel more 'free' to live.

Our stong ideals I think can also give us a kind of inexplicable hope and determination. It may not make sense at all in the face of harsh reality, yet many of us still can't give up our beliefe that things should and can be different, so we don't completely give in to despair. Now, I'm sure there are some INFPs who do experience the loss of this, but I'm not sure if we ever loose the posibility of it being rekindled.
This part speaks out to me. Even going through my 'cynic' phase, I didn't give up on looking for some way to reconcile my fantasies and reality. It wasn't even that I felt a powerful urge or faith that I could do it, but that I really couldn't be able to live with myself if I just settled for the way things were. I couldn't imagine myself just living a 'normal', pale, reactive life, or being content with feeling that my dreams and wishes were unrealistic and unattainable.

I really do like your post. It probably really does cover everything most INFPs feel, and it's very simple and in-depth. Like @basementbugs said, I couldn't have put it better myself. =)
 

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I guess in some way I am from a dysfunctional family, but not as severe as you describe. If the parents do not know what type their child is, they can't really give him the support he needs. In that case, I cannot blame my parents for anything, but it still leaves me with some problems.

My brother and I are from the second marriage of my father, which also fell apart when we just hit puberty. My father is 43 years older than I am.

My father has absolutely no family whatsoever, except his two daughters from the previous marriage which are thus my half-sisters. Both his parents were dead when he was around 21, I guess this must have impacted him as well on a subconscious level, and I am not surprised it made him the man that he is today.

My father dragged us all over the planet, we moved a lot, till we finely settled somewhere and then they divorced, leaving us in a new place which we hated trying to figure things out for ourselves in a way, parents are busy with themselves when they divorce.

Lost contact with my whole family such as grandparents and nephews and nieces. Very sporadically see my parents, I see on half-sister which is kind of my guardian. Relationships will always be something immensely strange to me, as this is how it was to me when growing up, it was never something lasting.

My brother dove into a world of drugs and criminal activity, the same for myself, but I stepped out because it was never for me anyway, eventually became very self-doubting, insecure, I fled towards my computer and games for a long time, it was a good escape.
I fear that my brother will never get out of it though, and our bond is basically broken. My father is an alcoholic, mental problems, old and sick, he is and will never be the man he was and he unconsciously put me through hell on his own. No one really talks to each other anymore in my family, it is just so strange, we've been through hell of a lot together..

I know that it can always get worse, at least we never had financial problems, and I did have parents. Still I feel very lost and I have some stuff to work out. But then again, everyone has problems, with themselves or with family. I guess INFP's like myself can get stuck in the past, the what-if, or just retreat from the real world.

All in all, I became very cynical and sarcastic, and this might all sound dark, but I am just generally not in a happy place. I never give up though, so everything will turn out all right in the end, "the end" just seems far away.
 

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Our stong ideals I think can also give us a kind of inexplicable hope and determination. It may not make sense at all in the face of harsh reality, yet many of us still can't give up our beliefe that things should and can be different, so we don't completely give in to despair. Now, I'm sure there are some INFPs who do experience the loss of this, but I'm not sure if we ever loose the posibility of it being rekindled.
I think this is stated perfectly, and holds very true for me. I think if I would truly lose my ideals, hope and determination, that suicide would be become a reality. I don't know if this holds true for other INFP's.

But for it to come that far, which never happened to me at least, I can't imagine what a person must have been through then. I see ourselves as very strong in general. And we have to be, otherwise we could never hold on to spread our idealism towards a better world.

I notice I always have pretty dark thoughts at night... <(^-^)>
 

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I can't believe I'm posting this, because information this deep is usually only something I disclose to my closest friends. But here it goes.

My mother was physically and mentally abusive, so much so, that I used to spend all day in my bedroom without coming downstairs to eat any meals because it meant I'd go unnoticed and unabused. I eventually went to live with my father and grandmother, my grandmother becoming a strong influence in my life as to what I wanted to be. When I was 15, my grandmother died. I found myself raising my younger brother and sister when my father went into an alcoholic depression, alternating between non-existant and then abusive parent, dealing with the death of the one person in life that loved me unconditionally, learning to run a household, while still visiting my abusive mother every weekend and holiday, and still getting good grades in school at a time when the most drastic thing kids that age are thinking about is what they want to have as their career in life. There were also alot of other dark factors that haunted my 20's and early 30's, but they never look as bad after you go through the hell my younger years saw.

Are we able to mature into stable people? Yes. My brother and sister seem to have had a harder time coping in their adult lives then I did. It doesn't mean we weren't all scarred, we were. But of the three of us, I seemed to have a determination and hope, like Aelthwyn stated, that my sister and brother didn't share. I also think my drive to protect and care for my siblings ignited a fierce determination to plow through, to try to make things "right".

Can we realize that where we came from is not who we have to become? Yes. I realize without a doubt that where I came from does not have to be what I myself become. I was repulsed by the example of my parents. Because I rejected their example, I looked for examples in other people of what I wanted to mirror. My grandmother here becomes the polarizing effect that made me determined to be who I wanted to be, but there are also a few others that influenced me strongly. To this day I still go through this process of self-betterment by emulating what I feel is worth emulating. But one thing I realize is that where I came from is definitely a part of me. It shaped me. It made me who I am. I can't escape that. I've learned to embrace it, and in so doing, I'm learning to become one with all the shattered pieces. They need to be nurtured and accepted so I can find peace.

Are we able to forgive/forget certain things in order to make our own path? We can, but don't force us to. Let us come at it in our own time, in our own way. Allow us to feel how we feel, because we have to work through it. We will never forget. That doesn't ever happen. We don't "forgive" by the definition of that word. We accept it as part of who our family members are. We may even partially understand. But I don't know if we can ever truly say, "I forgive" when the parties involved aren't sorry. For me, I expect that party to deal with the repercussions of what they did. But it is not something I forever wallow in as the suffering party. I move on. I grow, and I look for my family among those that do care for me. I do give my parents the opportunity to finally rise to something better, if and when they finally decide to, but I do not make that something my life hinges on. My sister and brother seem to be the opposite in those respects.

Pom87 stated something that rings true: losing ideals, hope, and determination makes an INFP contemplate suicide. If we believe, we can make it through the most atrocious things. But if we lose that, we go to some of the darkest places ever known, and death seems preferable than a world with no hope of anything better. I'd be lying if I said there were not times when even my hope disappeared and that became a very real probability.

Give us something to believe in, and someone to love and emulate. Give us time to grieve. Give us nurturing. We can rise from the ashes by our own strength, but we rise so much faster if even one person believes in us.

Now there is one more thing that comes into play here though...I'm a girl, and it sounds like the INFP you are talking about is a boy. How boys face family trauma is different than girls. Boys who grow up with troubled father relationships or with no father at all seem to have a harder time figuring out how to relate to other people. Not all, but many. That tie seems to be extremely important, and that should probably be factored apart from personality type.
 

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I think it was difficult for me to live in such environment because I was not able to fantasize a lot and run away in my own little inner world. I was more like a confidante, often consoling my mother - acting as a protector, practically an old soul. And the most difficult thing is that my father would accuse my mother how she was working against him by having us on her side. The words that were spoken to her and the abusive behavior toward my sister and me was too much for me to handle. I was protecting my sister who was even more sensitive being than me by not letting her know and try to hide everything. Both of us, (she is INFJ) were very introverted, sensitive, serious, but sort of older than our years children. I cannot imagine the difficulty that INFP boys would have with such father, but it did leave impact on me and on my sister in our relationships with men. Another thing was that my father in addition to being abusive while drunk, was very controlling and not allowing us to date in our teenage years - the comments he had for my mother's side cousins who had boyfriends were very female demising.
 
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