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MOTM August 2012
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Below is an excerpt from Naomi Quenk's book "Was That Really Me?" which deals with how we act when we are in the grip of our inferior function. This isn't the whole book, and not even the entire chapter. The book itself goes into much more detail and gives more examples that I've edited out for the sake of brevity. But this should give a good indication of whether or not you can identify with Inferior Ti or not.

Often there is some question as to whether a person is ISFJ or ESFJ. Many ISFJs may think they are extraverts if their auxiliary Extraverted Feeling is strong. Distinguishing the inferior function can be a quick way to mitigate these types of quandaries as the differences between Inferior-Ne in ISFJ and Inferior-Ti in ESFJ are fairly pronounced.

Excerpts of this book have been posted on this site before, and also over at Typology Central and of course the full book is available if you want to learn all the different types. I hope this can be stickied. I encourage you to read the entire book. Was That Really Me?: How Everyday Stress Brings Out Our Hidden Personality (9780891061700): Naomi L. Quenk: Books

Extraverted Feeling Types
E S F J a n d E N F J

Dominant Extraverted Feeling
Auxiliary Introverted Sensing or Intuition
Tertiary Intuition or Sensing
Inferior Introverted Thinking

by Naomi L. Quenk​

Important Features of Dominant Extraverted Feeling​

Extraverted Feeling (Fe) types typically radiate goodwill and enthusiasm.They are optimistic about life in general, and human potential in particular.They prefer to focus on the positive, harmonious, and uplifting aspects of people and human relations, paying little attention to negative, pessimistic, limiting, and divisive messages, situations, and conclusions.Their primary goal is to create and maintain good feeling and harmony among people.

Although ESFJs and ENFJs may recognize judgments that rely heavily on logical analysis, cause-and-effect relationships, and statistical odds, they largely ignore such factors in making decisions. Others may therefore see these types as making decisions that “fly in the face of logic.” Thinking types may be particularly puzzled and frustrated when an Extraverted Feeling type accurately describes the logical conclusions warranted by a situation but decides in favor of harmony and caring. From a Thinking point of view, using such a criterion in decision making is inappropriate.

Extraverted Feeling types are careful not to hurt others’ feelings and try to take others’ well-being into account. If they cannot avoid telling someone an unpleasant truth, they will carefully soften the message by putting it in an affirmative context. Unconditional positive regard is a strongly held value.

As a result of their natural pleasure in pleasing others, Extraverted Feeling types can mistakenly be seen as overly caring or even codependent. In reality, attending to others’ needs is usually a satisfying, legitimate way of expressing their dominant Feeling preference.

In a crisis that does not activate their inferior function, ESFJs and ENFJs focus on alleviating the concerns and suffering of others.They are comfortable letting others manage the more technical aspects of a crisis so they can devote their energies to creating a cooperative, comfortable atmosphere for crisis victims. When a situation demands more forceful methods, however, they will take any action necessary for the benefit of others.

The Everyday Introverted Thinking
of Extraverted Feeling Types

The inferior function affects Extraverted Feeling types in several different ways. These include their everyday sensitivities, projections, and ways of relaxing, as well as the dramatic manifestations that can be seen when the inferior erupts and a full-blown episode occurs, or when an ESFJ or ENFJ is chronically in the grip because of long-term stress.

Typical Sensitivities and Projections​

Extraverted Feeling types can be particularly sensitive about others’ assessment of their intellectual competence. Although they don’t usually doubt their abilities, they may worry that they have not communicated their knowledge clearly. In comparing themselves to others, they may see themselves as slow to learn and lacking in analytical facility.Though many, especially ENFJs, are high achievers, some feel they are at a disadvantage in highly intellectual and technical endeavors.

This sensitivity about their intellectual competence makes Extraverted Feeling types particularly attuned to comments that could be interpreted as reflecting on their adequacy. In the early stages of an inferior function episode, this may manifest as a projection onto others of their own feared incompetence.They may notice and comment on others’ inaccuracies and their failure to recognize reality and confront the truth.

Such projection can be seen in the intensity with which they criticize others’ behavior, particularly in the area of control. An ESFJ became furious whenever her INTP supervisor barged into her office and interrupted her to talk about whatever was important to him at the time. In reflecting on her reaction, she realized that she herself needed to resist barging in on others and demanding their attention when she had a problem to solve or was upset about something.

Extraverted Feeling types may be quick to identify other people’s illogical behavior, but they may apply a different set of criteria to their own equally nonlogical actions.An ENFJ complained that his INFP wife’s art studio was not set up systematically.“You really should put things into some logical order so they’ll be right there when you need them,” he told her. She replied that her current system suited her way of working. “But it’s just not rational,” he responded. When his wife likened the “disorganization” he perceived in her studio to his illogical way of organizing his
household chores—his inefficient way of ordering tasks and his tendency to leave tasks half done—he insisted that this was not the same thing.“The cleaning gets done, doesn’t it?” he said heatedly. “My artwork gets done, too,” she replied. He remained blind to the similarity.

Expressions Through Interests and Hobbies​

Perhaps because the demands of their daily work and home lives require them to use their less-preferred processes, Extraverted Feeling types seem to choose recreational activities that engage their dominant and auxiliary functions rather than their tertiary or inferior ones.They enjoy such activities as entertaining, playing bridge, participating in group sports, and generally socializing. A hardworking, highly regarded ENFJ district attorney loved to organize large dinner parties that brought together people from different parts of her busy life. Extraverted Feeling types are often avid readers who enjoy discussing books with friends or becoming active members of book groups.

Home improvement hobbies are also quite satisfying to Extraverted Feeling types. Sewing, crafting, building, carpentry, decorating, and gardening are often mentioned as enjoyable activities. ESFJs and ENFJs may be great joiners of civic, political, or school-related groups and tend to willingly take on leadership roles. One ESFJ, who enjoys a demanding career, takes pleasure in cooking elaborate meals for others,working in her garden so it will look beautiful, and writing lengthy letters to old friends— all activities that give her special joy because she has so little time for them.

ESFJs and ENFJs may also enthusiastically support the work, interests, and hobbies of their spouses and/or children, taking great pleasure in developing at least some expertise in the relevant areas. One ENFJ learned all he could about his wife’s research area and was as genuinely excited as she was when the results fit her hypotheses.

Eruptions of Inferior Introverted Thinking​

When one or more of the preconditions for an eruption of the inferior function are present, Introverted Thinking appears in its more exaggerated, disruptive form.

Typical Provocations or Triggers​

Extraverted Feeling types respond with inferior Introverted Thinking when they perceive they are being misunderstood, not trusted, not taken seriously, or pressured to conform to some prevailing view with which they disagree. In fact, any situation in which conflict persists and remains unresolved can activate the inferior function of ESFJs and ENFJs. Being unable to use their natural preferences can also serve as a provocation since it arouses their sensitivity about their competence. An ESFJ mentioned as triggers “too many things to do all at once; short time frames, extra responsibilities and tasks that require me to think on my own and don’t allow me to bounce ideas off of others.”

When asked what provoked being “beside himself,” an ENFJ responded, “too many demands and feeling that I’m not appreciated, that I’m being taken for granted, and that what I do doesn’t matter to anyone.”

Another ENFJ cited “impersonal treatment, criticism, and not being appreciated for my contribution.” An ESFJ said “when people disagree with my point of view and attack me personally.”Another cited “if I can’t get my point across no matter how hard I try; when I’m not allowed to talk something out to get it resolved.”

ESFJs and ENFJs recognize that disagreements can arise and that criticism is a necessary aspect of working with people. However, the way in which critiquing and conflict are handled makes a difference. An ENFJ stated that what could provoke an inferior function response for her was “criticism that is delivered in an unfeeling way—or when I find out that I have done something that hurt another person and the person doesn’t tell me until months later.”

Triggers and Stressors at Work​

Work environments that force conformity to values that are contrary to those of the Extraverted Feeling type, that place other concerns above the welfare of people, and that fail to recognize the individual contributions and value of employees are very stressful for ESFJs and ENFJs. For one ESFJ, the work demands that are most stressful are “high technology, strong competition between work peers, a lack of opportunity to show my strengths, and being placed in situations in which I am constantly using
my inferior function.”

Conflict in the workplace is also upsetting for Extraverted Feeling types.Working with uncooperative or undermining people and dealing with an overwhelming workload are particularly stressful for ESFJs. Female ENFJs often mention dealing with details, general disorganization, and lack of recognition as quite stressful. One cited “details, proofreading—routine detail tasks,” and another, “plowing through detail” as sources of work stress.

In work situations in which the particular stressors for Extraverted Feeling types continue over long periods, ESFJs and ENFJs may respond quickly and intensely to the triggers described here. This increases the likelihood that their subsequent demonstrations of “grip” behavior will be frequent and pervasive.When persistent stress causes them to be chronically in the grip of inferior Introverted Thinking, they are likely to lose touch with their natural optimism and trust in human potential and
become negative, critical, and judgmental toward everything and everyone around them.

The Form of the Inferior Function​

Some Extraverted Feeling types mention becoming uncharacteristically logical and analytical, with a tendency to think before they speak, when they are in the grip of their inferior function. Such experiences of Introverted Thinking are not generally seen as either positive or negative—merely as strangely different. Perhaps the prevailing societal favoring of Extraversion over Introversion makes Introverted forays into Extraversion (note the comments for Introverted Feeling types and Introverted Thinking types) more appealing to Introverts than the converse experience of Introversion for Extraverts.

For Extraverted Feeling types, the more obviously distressing aspects of “losing” their dominant Extraverted function seem more prominent. Falling into the grip for them is preceded by a diminution or an absence of characteristic Extraverted Feeling qualities. General optimism, enthusiasm, and interest in people give way to low energy, pessimism, and depression.

Uncharacteristic withdrawal from usual activities and becoming highly critical of others are consistent responses for male and female ESFJs and ENFJs. “I’m different in being Introverted. I don’t make contact, call friends, go to social events, meetings, the theater. I may accept an invitation, but only if someone urges me.

I get concerned about my health. I have no plans, no vision, the future is bleak. I am numb, without feeling or zest for life,” said an ESFJ. An ENFJ said, “I am quiet and withdrawn and want to be alone and reflect on what is happening.” Commented
another, “I feel phony and uncomfortable, like a fish out of water. I am unable to be my usual spontaneous self.”Another ENFJ said,“I don’t make eye contact. I can’t share what is going on inside me. I feel tight and negative.” An ESFJ said,“I want to be alone—I’m uninterested in anyone else.”

Jung’s (1976a) comment on the inferior function of Extraverted Feeling
types touches on all three of these features:

The unconscious of this type contains first and foremost a peculiar kind
of thinking, a thinking that is infantile, archaic, negative. . . .The stronger
the conscious feeling is and the more ego-less it becomes, the stronger
grows the unconscious opposition. . . . The unconscious thinking
reaches the surface in the form of obsessive ideas which are invariably
of a negative and deprecatory character.​

Tertiary Sensing and Intuition serve to support the negative judgments that are made.The tertiary Intuition of ESFJs generates vague, negative“hypotheses” that affirm their convoluted “logical” critical stance about themselves and others. ENFJs bring their tertiary Sensing to bear by coming up with negative past and present “facts” that support their complicated and largely illogical critical judgments.

As energy continues to be withdrawn from the dominant and auxiliary functions, inferior Introverted Thinking intrudes in the form of excessive criticism, convoluted logic, and a compulsive search for truth.

Excessive Criticism​

Effective dominant Introverted Thinking types critique ideas, products, systems, and methods. The inferior Introverted Thinking of Extraverted Feeling types appears in the form of a sweeping condemnation of people. In the grip of inferior Thinking, ESFJs and ENFJs may “dump” on other people, slam doors, yell, make biting comments, and say terse, blunt, or even cruel things to others. They often become physically tense, grit their teeth, clench their fists, and appear visibly agitated. Both Extraverted Feeling types frequently mention “laying a ‘guilt trip’” on those closest to them as responses to being in the grip.An ESFJ said that her automatic response to anyone’s “excuses” about his or her work is to state emphatically,“Well, it’s not good enough!”

A hostile, negative atmosphere can elicit sharp, biting, even vicious comments from Extraverted Feeling types.They seem to dig in their heels, becoming impervious to either logical or feeling arguments.As one ENFJ described,“I become cranky, judgmental, and angry. I mistrust myself and others. Normally, I instinctively trust everyone. I am different when I am not acting from trust. Often this occurs when I feel I am not trusted or understood, or when there is conflict and tension around me.”

An ESFJ reported becoming steely and caustic; another described herself as being coolly objective when her strongly held feelings were violated. One ESFJ was convinced that everyone took advantage of her good-natured, helpful ISFP husband. She persistently berated him for his weakness and loudly condemned his family and friends for their rude behavior.

“I am like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” said an ENFJ, describing his reaction to extreme stress.“My humor becomes inappropriate, meant to shock people. I’ve even been known to throw things while in this frame of mind.” An ESFJ said he becomes “angry, out of control, critical, responding too quickly to others with impatience, cutting a person off when they speak.” “I’m critical rather than seeking harmony, self-protective rather than ‘giving,’” said an ENFJ.

As their Extraverted energy further diminishes, their criticism is internalized, resulting in self-deprecatory judgments. Turning the criticism inward encourages depression, low self-esteem, and guilty embarrassment at revealing what they view as their alien and unacceptable side.

Convoluted Logic​

In the grip of inferior Thinking, the Extraverted Feeling types’ attempts at logical analysis take the form of categorical, all-or-none judgments that are often based on irrelevant data. A highly idiosyncratic “logical” model may be developed internally, but the resulting conclusions may violate good logic.

In describing this quality, Marie Von Franz (1971) stated that because Extraverted Feeling types ’Thinking is neglected,“it tends to become negative and coarse. It consists of coarse, primitive Thinking judgments, without the slightest differentiation and very often with a negative tinge”

“My thinking becomes rigid and I insist on solving problems alone, with none of my typical sharing,” said one ENFJ.“I maintain a front, even though I feel unworthy. I am verbally critical, organize more, and become rigid, perfectionistic, and angry. I want the world to go away.” Another ENFJ described being “inside my head analyzing—adding two and two and getting five and knowing it’s right.”

Elaborate, logical “plots” may be developed by the Extraverted Feeling type in the grip of negative Introverted Thinking.These take the form of complicated and improbable scenarios for dealing with or eliminating the distress or disharmony in question. ESFJs and ENFJs frequently describe making up “stories,” the goal of which is to explain some upsetting event or solve some nagging problem.

An ENFJ recalled that at the age of twelve, she was required to participate in a field day of sporting events. Convinced of her lack of skill in this area, she wanted to avoid embarrassing herself in front of her peers. She plotted various ways to break her leg or ankle, such as falling out of a tree or being run over by a car, but she abandoned her plans, reasoning that she would probably suffer more than minor injury. She also recognized that a lot of pain could be involved. Ironically, her forced participation
resulted in her placing third in the broad jump.

Often the source of the problem stimulating the “story” is meanness or criticism directed at the Extraverted Feeling type or a close associate. An ESFJ with a long commute to work was frequently distressed by other drivers’ rude, inconsiderate behavior. He found himself “making up a long and involved story about one particular rude driver, in which I imagined the kind of work he did, his family relationships, the daily events that affected him, and the possible mitigating circumstances that caused his meanness to me.” The imaginary explanation served to restore harmony and allowed the ESFJ to retain his positive valuation of people.

Compulsive Search for Truth

Dominant Introverted Thinking types value truth as the criterion for judgments and decisions.They use logical analysis to arrive at the most objective truth possible. For Extraverted Feeling types in the grip of inferior Introverted Thinking, seeking absolute, ultimate truth can become an obsession. Many report turning to experts for advice but requiring them to have the “real truth,” or at least the latest knowledge and thinking on the subject.When an expert is not immediately available, they may attempt an internal logical dialogue, often ending up recognizing that their logic is convoluted.This may make them feel frightened, out of control, and despairing of ever extricating themselves from their negative logical conclusions.

An ENFJ said:
I become stuck on an idea and don’t have any perspective about it.The
devastating truth of my conclusion is overwhelming. I try to think my way out of this tight box I’m in, but there is no escape from my conclusion. I feel compelled to find someone to tell me what to do.​

Instead of searching for a specific person who might provide them with needed answers,many Extraverted Feeling types report turning to lectures or books relevant to their current problem; these types are often avid readers of self-help books. ESFJs and ENFJs agree that when stress occurs in some area of their lives, they search bookstore shelves for answers.

One ENFJ had a wall full of books in his office. His colleague wondered how he could possibly have read all of them. The ENFJ reported that when under pressure to solve a big problem, he virtually devours the books, having many of them open at once, searching for expert advice on the problem at hand.

When a stressful area is chronic or serious, Extraverted Feeling types tend to be attracted to support groups. In the company of others having similar experiences, they can find validation for their perceptions, as well as the latest expertise and thinking about the problem area.

Lengthy Episodes in the Grip​

The types of episodes described above are experienced by ESFJs and ENFJs as temporary states during which they are vulnerable to the three forms in which their inferior function is expressed. However, when Extraverted Feeling types are chronically in the grip of inferior Introverted Thinking, inferior function behavior may become habitual.

They will then be seen as having a sour, disapproving approach to people and to life in general. Instead of their upbeat and enthusiastic usual selves, others will experience them as gloomy, unhappy people who are reluctant to acknowledge and support optimism and good feeling in others. In this state of chronic, distorted Introverted Thinking, ESFJs and ENFJs become rigidly pedantic, expressing defensiveness and hostility when their often faulty judgment is questioned. Internally, the Extraverted Feeling person applies this same negative assessment to himself or herself.

A sense of worthlessness and incompetence can become all-consuming, and the Extraverted Feeling type can project this onto others by being hypersensitive to imagined slights and negative assessments. Such a stance can lead to rifts in lifelong friendships that may never be healed.

The auxiliary Intuition of ENFJs may contribute to their reporting a greater variety of coping resources and options for dealing with stress than do ESFJs. ESFJs are particularly vulnerable in situations in which their experience level and self-confidence are already low, especially where they don’t have others to help them. ENFJs report physical stress symptoms.

Exercise is found to be helpful by both male and female ESFJs and ENFJs, as is talking to someone about issues (especially for female ESFJs). Extraverted Feeling types in general are also clear that they need time alone to reflect on what is happening, often before talking to others.

Chronic grip behavior may lead both the individual and others to believe that pessimism, negativity, and global disapproval are a part of the natural makeup of an ESFJ or ENFJ and that he or she has always been that way. Since the process of becoming chronically in the grip is often gradual, even people who have known the person in a non-stressed state are likely not to notice what, in retrospect, will be recognized as a radical alteration of personality. The person will appear to be a rather exaggerated, poorly developed Introverted Thinking type. For example, a woman
had known an ENFJ many years ago but had lost contact with her. She was surprised when an acquaintance mentioned the ENFJ as a work colleague and described her as habitually negative, critical, and pessimistic. “But when I knew her, she was a happy, optimistic person who always saw the bright side of life!” the woman exclaimed.Apparently, the intervening years had been fraught with disappointment and loss for this ENFJ, leading to chronic grip behavior.

However, there are also occasions when a lengthy time in the grip of inferior Introverted Thinking can stimulate new awareness and positive growth toward completion and individuation. Remember that Jung saw the inferior function as the doorway to the unconscious and an important part of the self-regulating capacity of our psyches.

Return of Equilibrium​

Normal access to dominant Feeling returns as Extraverted Feeling types allow new information to enter their consciousness. This may occur through either auxiliary Sensing or Intuition. Experiencing a change of scenery, listening to a friend talk about something interesting or amusing, spending time outdoors, and exercising can all aid the process of return to equilibrium. (Although most of the types find that exercise alleviates stress, Extraverted Feeling types, ENFJs in particular, consistently mention regular exercise as important in tempering both short-term and long-term

One ENFJ said he sometimes needs to take long breaks that allow him to withdraw from his usual hectic schedule and spend time in more solitary study and physical exercise.An ESFJ said that what helps is “humor and laughing and light entertainment.”

Extraverted Feeling types appreciate being encouraged to get involved in projects. ENFJs find it helpful to embark on an ambitious new undertaking, even if they have to force themselves at first; ESFJs may prefer to work on a smaller, detailed project that can be accomplished slowly and methodically.An ENFJ said that returning to herself was aided by “talking with a close friend who reminds me of my strengths and qualities, and starting work on a task with possibilities.” Talking things through with
someone who cares seems to be particularly helpful for ESFJ women, but is also helpful for all Extraverted Feeling types.An ENFJ explained,“I need to spend time with someone who gives me feedback and says I’m an okay person—the conflict isn’t because I’ve done something bad.”

ESFJs and ENFJs frequently mention the need to be taken seriously by friends and to be allowed to vent without being talked out of it. Like other types when they are emerging from the grip, Extraverted Feeling types do not appreciate being patronized or dismissed or told “It will be okay; don’t feel like that.”They are being genuine when they say they want to be left alone. An ESFJ said she returns to herself “by spending time alone, working through things in my mind, often getting away from the situation or environment physically.” Writing in a journal can also help them fulfill this function by allowing them to extravert auxiliary Sensing or Intuition on paper. They may get a handle on the problem without fearing external judgment or interference, and also get enough distance and perspective to recognize the tunnel vision with which they have been operating.


In the grip of inferior Introverted Thinking, Extraverted Feeling types engage in excessive criticism of others as well as themselves, adopt a distorted and convoluted logic, and compulsively search for exacting truth. Auxiliary Sensing or Intuition may help them reestablish their equilibrium.

ESFJs may work on a task requiring systematic attention to detail;
ENFJs’ return to equilibrium can be aided by planning new projects.

The new awareness Extraverted Feeling types gain as a result of an important bout with their inferior function often centers on achieving acceptance of the limitations reality imposes on their desire for peace and harmony. They may become better able to evaluate their own logical analyses and face adversity more dispassionately. Their auxiliary Sensing or Intuition can aid in this process. ESFJs may acknowledge previously rejected unpleasant facts, while ENFJs may permit their Intuition to flow
into darker possibilities. Both are then able to increase their effectiveness in accomplishing goals important to their value structure.

100 Posts
This helps me understand my ESFJ brother. Thanks.

47 Posts
And this what my compulsive search for truth brought me to.....

It seems plagiarized, but i don't care LoL

This is a good* read. Very detailed description

thanks LiquidLight

1,761 Posts
wait, how does this seem plagiarised if OP named the original author of the excerpt multiple times in her post?

but yeah, good read. i've only read a few paragraphs (so far) but it was very informative. thanks for posting

2 Posts
I'm an INFP who has a
ESFJ friend I reconnected with a couple years ago. Her behavior is out of character. She's become very critical, pessimistic, and has narcisstic type rages at imagined criticism, I think it's a chronic grip. Trying to help her work through it.
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