I love you, Bertrand.
I struggle to one day be so clear-thinking.
Unlike most people, INTPs do not come preprogrammed with acceptable social behavior patterns.
Rather, they learn to fit in through conscious observation and deliberate mimicry. While other people talk, the INTP watches and wonders, “Am I nodding too often? Should I speak up, or remain silent?Should I fold my arms, put my hands in my pockets, or try to gesture? Should I touch this person in afriendly, casual way? Where? How much are they smiling? Am I smiling too much? How long should I laugh? How close should I stand?” If it ever becomes possible to control one’s own muscles using computer programs installed in the brain, then INTPs will have onboard control programs such as big_smile.cpp and concern.py, allowing them to arrange their faces into appropriate shapes as required by the situation. They will be considered sociopaths.
Like actors on a stage set, INTPs are playing a role. They know that being true to themselves doesn’t fly too well with average people, and since they want to be liked and accepted just like everyone else does, they slowly accumulate a little store of acting knowledge to help them get by. (It would be interesting to find out if taking real acting courses could improve an INTP’s social standing.) James (2000) has noted that INTPs tend to be human chameleons, imitating the people they meet like a mirror. If a person is friendly, funny, boisterous, and waves their hands around a lot, the INTP will start gesticulating, speak in a louder voice, and smile and joke more to match the other’s behavior. Then, two hours later, the INTP will run into a tough, hurry-hurry-hurry-we’ve-got-work-to-do-snap coworker. Miraculously the INTP will now become brisk, businesslike, and speak in clipped tones.
Finally, they will bump into a cool, silent, terse person, and will themselves become cool, silent, and terse.
Most of the time this mimicry is unconscious and is basically the result of playing a role deeply enough that it becomes embedded. Chameleons don’t have to think about changing their skin color to match leaves and branches—it just happens. INTPs can maintain good relations with a diverse circle of acquaintances because they can mold their behavior to fit in with what is socially required in each one.
Not that INTPs are good actors. They only act because they have to, and only put forth as much effort as is required to get by. An INTP, for example, does not have a giant palette of varied emotional responses that seem totally genuine. Instead, they are controlling their bodies like a puppetmaster controls a puppet, and the resulting clumsy imitation of reality is just not lifelike. But it’s enough to get by, as long as there isn’t too much pressure. If the pressure increases or the situation warrants it,
however, an INTP will switch back to their regular selves for as long as necessary, perhaps stunning their acquaintances with a display of cool, clear, cogitant reasoning.
|—||The Secret Lives of INTP’s (via mutterseelenallein)|
Return of Equilibrium
As the preceding stories illustrate, equilibrium is often restored rather dramatically after an intense expression of emotion. However, when more short-lived experiences of the inferior are involved, Introverted Thinking types find that changing activities can aid the normalization process. What is most important for both ISTPs and INTPs is spending time alone, including exercising primarily alone. Introverted Thinking types need to be alone and physically separated from others, doing something they find enjoyable or relaxing. �I need alone time, to remove myself from the situation and to think about the problems, and then I need a close friend to help me analyze it,� said a young ISTP woman. Trying to identify the problem and wrestling with its solution are typical approaches for Introverted Thinking types, who find that reframing the cause of the distress is often helpful. �I need time to think through the issues,� said an INTP. �Others can help by affirming that my response is okay because the situation I�m in is unreasonable and stressful. They should not ask if I�m okay.� Light problem solving that engages but doesn�t strain their Thinking, such as reading a mystery novel, can be helpful. Both types agree that they require time by themselves, that others need to leave them alone, and that it is most unhelpful for others to try to help them in any way, to ask how they feel, or to try to minimize their distress.
Often there is little that others can do. Internal acceptance and calm are what is needed most.
Others can help most by staying out of the way and forgiving the out-of character behavior. A trusted person�s physical presence is not intrusive, but psychological space should be respected. It is also helpful if someone close to them can gently encourage them to talk about their feelings after sufficient time has passed. However, many Introverted Thinking types report that the very worst thing someone can do is ask them how they feel about things.
ISTPs� auxiliary Sensing can be helpful in encouraging them to perform a reality check on the stressful situation. This occurred when Carl, the ISTP businessman, discovered that his doctor recognized his distress. This made his situation real and forced him to deal with it. Some INTPs can calm themselves down by playing unusual games of solitaire that don�t depend on luck for success. Such games engage their auxiliary Intuition.
The repetitive handling of the cards (tertiary Sensing) also has a calming effect. One INTP said that it helps to get engaged in a project he enjoys, and others describe engaging in distracting, absorbing forms of recreation. Being excused from usual responsibilities and having someone else deal with the outer world helps Introverted Thinking types achieve equilibrium.
Like many other types, ISTPs and INTPs find physical activity of some kind, especially hiking, to be a good way to detach themselves from a grip state.
|—||Naomi Quenk (via thelithiumcat)|
The thing with INTPs and getting bored with subjects is that, I think, we like to survey the information and distil it down to its essences and component parts. When that’s done, it feels as though one can just use that to figure out all the other stuff you’d get taught if you went deeper into the subject.
For example, take Marxism. I’ve got it cut down to ‘a teleological theory of binary class conflict that criticises, though not always to conspiracy theory extents, the so-called bourgeois upper-class’. With any problem, I can take that and look for the key thing which is essentially: ‘is there an opportunity for the bourgeoisie to control the proletariat, preferably in a manner consistent with false class consciousness?’ I can derive what is probable from there.
This creates a problem in interest when I’m required to learn specific studies and key terminology to support what I say. All of that feels superfluous, even though the studies are in-depth pieces of research, not just ad hominum name-dropping, and the specific terminology allow one to be more precise in one’s language and open up new areas of thought. It’s boring to stick around because, to use a slight analogy, I’ve already solved the puzzle.
|—||Fernando Pessoa (via falsefalsetruefalse)|
So, I’ve found that I really enjoy the company of people I can have debates with. Well, let me amend that, *intelligent debates. This actually was a huge part of why my last relationship failed. I can’t stand “Yes Men”, or people who avoid confrontation to the point that they won’t even state their own opinion. When I ask for an opinion, I really truly want yours, even if its completely contradictory to my own. I don’t have to agree with you to respect you.
For an INTP, most tasks will fall into three categories:
1. Highly interesting.
An INTP will focus their whole mental resources onto such a task and will exhibit neither forgetfulness nor distractedness. This is often the case at the beginning of employment when an INTP is learning the ropes of a new job. It is also the case at the beginning of a course or when a new concept is presented in class. INTPs are very interested in learning new things, the newer the better. Practicing a concept that they already mostly understand does not really interest them. Working endless variations of the same thing does not interest them either. Nor does achieving mastery of a subject interest them; they already know they could do it if they really felt like it, and to an INTP that is enough. By the time they’ve gone through the practice examples in the book, the magic may already be gone. To maintain this state continuously, an INTP needs to have either a very tough problem, a very novel problem, or a very enjoyable problem.
2. Boring But Easy.
When the magic is gone, a task becomes boring. If the task is boring but easy, the INTP’s response will be to let the reptile brain handle the front desk. This is where “unable to focus on tasks at hand, cannot sustain attention in activities” comes in. During my work at a thrift store, I was charged with the easy but monotonous work of cleaning up merchandise left strewn around by messy customers. At first the work was interesting and kept my full attention. But after awhile, I figured everything out and there was nothing new to learn. Since the work was essentially mindless, I let my reptile brain take over while I mentally checked out in order to invent a faster system for organizing clothes. It is this type of mental detachment that is described so aptly by this symptom criterion. Few other types are capable of this kind of escape. At another job, my coworker asked if I was on drugs because I was so “out of it.” She hastened to add that she knew I wasn’t, because I was too mentally alert, so apparently it was my deep state of concentration on inner matters that evoked the comparison. I was certainly not “focusing on the tasks at hand” or “sustaining attention in activities.”
3. Boring But Hard.
This is the absolute worst kind of task. Not only does it require the INTP to pay attention, but it offers zero intellectual stimulation. My worst experience of this was the time I worked as a cashier at a grocery store. Since continuous chitchat was required with customers and checking had to be accurate, I was required to give 100% attention. The job was mentally unrewarding and worse yet, my mind was stuck chained to my body. Unfortunately, some schoolwork is like this. INTPs may be so bored that they are tempted to check themselves out even when it increases the time and effort it takes to do an assignment. While not beneficial, this inappropriate mental checkout is not proof of a brain disorder—rather it is the natural result of a mind being forced to perform an extremely uninspiring repetitive task at length. Think of it this way: a child can play for hours with a set of building blocks, but an adult gets bored with them pretty quick. INTPs generally need more stimulation than is provided by the average page of schoolwork. The baby blocks aren’t fun for long. This is more often a flaw in the school system rather than a flaw in the INTP’s ability to concentrate on a task at length.
Conclusion: For an INTP to be happy, a job should be really, really interesting or really, really mindless. INTPs will not focus on a task or sustain attention in it if they find they do not need to, or if the task is excessively mindless.
- Anna Moss