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The Form of the Inferior - IFPs - Typology Central

The following is an excerpt from Naomi Quenk's book "Was That Really Me? How Everyday Stress Brings Out Our Hidden Personality":



The Form of the Inferior Function

Being out of character can be temporarily enjoyable when inhibitions are lessened, freeing up energy to explore unfamiliar but intriguing parts of oneself. Introverted Feeling types sometimes report becoming more sociable and outgoing. This is particularly true for male ISFPs and INFPs in their early twenties and somewhat less so for older males of these types. Women generally do not report this kind of lowering of inhibitions, perhaps because any such "positive" expression is likely to be eradicated by the negative expressions of anger and criticality that are the hallmarks of inferior Extraverted Thinking. Women may find these inferior function expressions to be more unacceptable than do men. However, over time the characteristic tolerance, flexibility, and quiet caring of Introverted Feeling types diminishes as the energy available to their dominant Introverted Feeling dwindles. "I lose my concern for harmony, my connection with my inner values," said an INFP. An ISFP said he "searches for conflict and forgets about others' feelings." ISFPs may also lose access to their auxiliary Sensing function. "I react quickly without finding out any facts," said one. INFPs may similarly lose sight of their auxiliary Intuition. One INFP said that she "cannot process information, thoughts, or ideas" and becomes "focused on detail, making elaborate plans that are unnecessary.' Initially, INFPs and ISFPs may control their urge to blurt out hostile thoughts by engaging in destructive fantasies directed at just about anyone available. Alternatively, they may employ biting sarcasm and cynicism. As these tactics fail, the negative Extraverted Thinking of their inferior function becomes manifested in judgments of incompetence, aggressive criticism, and precipitous action. For ISFPs, tertiary Intuition may be revealed in their being plagued by the negative possibilities they imagine will be the inevitable, logical consequences of their incompetence. For INFPs, tertiary Sensing provides all the 'facts' necessary to support their overwhelming sense of failure.
The comparison between dominant and inferior Extraverted Thinking is shown in Table 4.

Jung (1976a) alludes to these inferior manifestations in the following statement:

Just as introverted thinking is counterbalanced by a primitive feeling, to which objects attach themselves with magical force, introverted feeling is counterbalanced by a primitive thinking, whose concretism and slavery to facts surpass all bounds. (p. 388)


Judgments of Incompetence

In the early stages of expression of their inferior function, Introverted Feeling types often project their unconscious fears of their own incompetence. They become hypersensitive to others' mistakes. Because of the Extraverted attitude of their inferior function, the projections often extend to large segments of the outer world, encompassing much of humanity. Once caught up in this state, they see incompetence in employees, bosses, colleagues, strangers on the street, the person on the other end of the telephone, drivers on the highway, local and national institutions, and major world figures.

Introverted Feeling types in this state may complain loudly about others' gross ineptitude. ISFPs and INFPs seem to turn into the very opposite of their accepting, nonjudgmental, and flexible selves, coming across as harsh critics and judges whose standards of competence are too extreme to be met.


Table 4
Dominant and Inferior Expressions of Extraverted Thinking
As Dominant Function of As Inferior Function of:

ESTJs and ENTJs
� Competence
� Truth and accuracy
� Decisive action

ISFPs and INFPs
� Judgments of incompetence
� Aggressive criticism
� Precipitous action

Inferior Thinking often comes out in an unrelenting search for accuracy' in a precise, nitpicky logic and focus, and an almost legalistic standard of validity. One INFP said, 'I home in on precise logic and truth and am very critical, detailed, picky, frustrated, and irritable. I'm nitpicky and see only what is in front of me.' An ISFP said, 'I'm in a bad mood and show it. I cut myself off and am critical, judgmental, bitchy; I am not accepting, happy, optimistic, nice, or understanding. Usually, I am friendly and always have time for people. When I'm tired and vulnerable, I can get into this state by remembering some incredibly dumb thing I did'an embarrassing moment. Or somebody else's incompetence that reflects on my own will set me off.'

When this projection of their sense of incompetence fails to take care of whatever has triggered it, the negative energy of the inferior function takes the form of critical self-judgment. Introverted Feeling types become focused on their own incompetence, extending it both backward and forward in time and including the world at large in their conclusion. In the words of one INFP:

I become overwhelmed by an awareness that I am totally incompetent at everything I do, that I always have been and always will be and that the whole world knows it! The truth of this is beyond doubt. I am mortified at not recognizing this before, and of compounding the offense by acting as if I were competent. I am unable to verbalize my despair to others for fear I will make a fool of myself by acknowledging my former ignorance of my true lack of ability. I view my advanced degrees and other achievements as the result of people feeling sorry for me ' I was too emotionally fragile to be told the truth. ' 'Everything seems impossible,' said an ISFP. 'I begin to lose faith in my ability to do even the simplest task, and I especially distrust my ability to make competent decisions about my life.' An INFP said, 'I become rigid and think I am stupid, hopeless, etc. I often play a mental videotape of all the times I remember getting things wrong.' Another INFP described being 'very arbitrary, loud, direct, hateful. I become inflexible, rigid, and most intolerant. I make snap judgments and become quite self condemning. I think it's all over; I'm no longer worthwhile.' When feeling vulnerable, another INFP worried about whether his teachers had paid sufficient attention to his work to properly evaluate it. 'Maybe they were so wrapped up in their own work that I slipped through undetected,' he said. An ISFP said, 'I review all the mistakes I ever made in my life and then conclude that I am a bona fide failure at everything I attempt to do, despite any evidence to the contrary.'


Aggressive Criticism

We know that effective dominant Extraverted Thinking types make useful critical judgments about the world. In the grip of inferior Extraverted Thinking, Introverted Feeling types make judgments that are overly categorical, harsh, exaggerated, hypercritical, and often unfounded. In marked contrast to their typically gentle, self-effacing manner, they become so aggressively judgmental that they come across as caricatures of their opposite types, the Extraverted Thinking types. Depending on the nature and intensity of the precipitating circumstances, the excessive criticism may be immediately directed at themselves or may focus first on the objectionable qualities of others, only later culminating in severe self-criticism. Such alternating criticism of others and self is evident in some of the preceding comments describing 'incompetence.' One ISFP said, 'My humor becomes biting and cynical and I take an 'army-navy' dictatorial approach to communicating with others. I am very negative.' Another described becoming very short-tempered.' I react quickly and sometimes not rationally. I yell at people and have very little patience.' 'I'll be loud, critical, and rash, talk about people behind their backs, or be unreasonable,' said another.

An INFP becomes 'more intense. I tend to lash out at people with great anger. I am blaming and accusatory. I get vicious 'Ben Hur' type images with a lot of violent action. I feel cold, intolerant, uncaring, rigid, straitjacketed, focused, and terrier-like.' 'I snap at people and I don't care about their reactions to this. I criticize people, especially for their incompetence. I generalize this to thinking that the whole world is incompetent and has screwed up values, and I stop caring about my own values,' explained another INFP. 'I become self-critical, doubting, irritable, inflexible, and more picky. I focus on details. Usually, I am flexible and quiet and like new challenges, new ideas, and working with people.' When one ISFP becomes especially irritated with her husband's chronic indecision, she provides him with lengthy, logical accounts of his available choices, adopting a combative, lawyer-like tone. One INFP makes almost vicious attacks on people who fail to live up to his ethical standards. 'One winter I found out the gas company had turned off service to my disabled neighbor, who couldn't pay her bill. I flew into a rage, called the president of the company, and threatened to expose him to the newspapers. Even I was surprised at the language I used,' he said.


Precipitous Action

Introverted Feeling types in the grip are often overwhelmed by the urge to take some action, usually to correct some imagined mistake or incompetence of their own. But where the dominant Extraverted Thinking type uses differentiated judgment in deciding what action to take, if any, the Introverted Feeling type's actions often exacerbate the problem. A difficult situation may be created where there initially wasn't one.

At her engagement party, Sylvia, an INFP, was kissed playfully by a former boyfriend while both were alone in the kitchen. Later that night, she remembered that a friend of hers had passed by the kitchen door and might have seen the kiss. She called her friend and begged her not to tell anyone. She interpreted her friend's puzzled response as evidence that she had already told several other people. Sylvia then called four more close friends to warn them not to tell. By this time, the innocent kiss was common knowledge to virtually everyone who had been at the party. Of course, Sylvia's fiance found out about the kissing incident and was hurt and angry. Sylvia's precipitous 'fixing' created an unnecessary problem that required a great deal of real correction.

The urge to take action can also be seen in attempts by Introverted Feeling types to take control. One INFP reported that when things seem out of control, he attempts to put them in order, organize them, and piece together data in an orderly, logical, linear fashion. An ISFP responds to such episodes by taking charge of people and ordering them around. Others make lists, organize the list contents logically, and methodically check off the items once they are accomplished. Undertaking large household cleaning projects, reorganizing, and moving furniture are also ways of responding to increasing stress. They are usually accompanied by concerns about one's abilities, perhaps indicative of attempts to ward off inferior Thinking by acting in a decisive, controlled way.
 

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''a primitive feeling, to which objects attach themselves with magical force'' This is what happens to me all the time. No wonder then that i have such huge sense of wonder all the time.
 
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