Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving
by Joe Butt
Date of Revision: 17 Oct 2009
INTPs are pensive, analytical folks. They may venture so deeply into thought as
to seem detached, and often actually are oblivious to the world around them.
Precise about their descriptions, INTPs will often correct others (or be sorely
tempted to) if the shade of meaning is a bit off. While annoying to the less
concise, this fine discrimination ability gives INTPs so inclined a natural
advantage as, for example, grammarians and linguists.
INTPs are relatively easy-going and amenable to almost anything until their
principles are violated, about which they may become outspoken and inflexible.
They prefer to return, however, to a reserved albeit benign ambiance, not
wishing to make spectacles of themselves.
A major concern for INTPs is the haunting sense of impending failure. They
spend considerable time second-guessing themselves. The open-endedness
(from Perceiving) conjoined with the need for competence (NT) is expressed in
a sense that one's conclusion may well be met by an equally plausible
alternative solution, and that, after all, one may very well have overlooked some
critical bit of data. An INTP arguing a point may very well be trying to convince
himself as much as his opposition. In this way INTPs are markedly different from
INTJs, who are much more confident in their competence and willing to act on
Mathematics is a system where many INTPs love to play, similarly languages,
computer systems--potentially any complex system. INTPs thrive on systems.
Understanding, exploring, mastering, and manipulating systems can overtake
the INTP's conscious thought. This fascination for logical wholes and their inner
workings is often expressed in a detachment from the environment, a
concentration where time is forgotten and extraneous stimuli are held at bay.
Accomplishing a task or goal with this knowledge is secondary.
INTPs and Logic -- One of the tipoffs that a person is an INTP is her obsession
with logical correctness. Errors are not often due to poor logic -- apparent faux
pas in reasoning are usually a result of overlooking details or of incorrect
Games NTs seem to especially enjoy include Risk, Bridge, Stratego, Chess,
Go, and word games of all sorts. (I have an ENTP friend that loves Boggle and
its variations. We've been known to sit in public places and pick a word off a
menu or mayonnaise jar to see who can make the most words from its letters on
a napkin in two minutes.) The INTP mailing list has enjoyed a round of
Metaphore, virtual volleyball, and a few 'finish the series' brain teasers.
INTPs in the main are not clannish. The INTP mailing list, with a readership now
in triple figures, was in its incipience fraught with all the difficulties of the
Panama canal: we had trouble deciding:
* whether or not there should be such a group,
* exactly what such a group should be called, and
* which of us would have to take the responsibility for organization and
maintenance of the aforesaid group/club/whatever.
A Functional Analysis
Introverted Thinking strives to extract the essence of the Idea from various
externals that express it. In the extreme, this conceptual essence wants no form
or substance to verify its reality. Knowing the Truth is enough for INTPs; the
knowledge that this truth can (or could) be demonstrated is sufficient to satisfy
the knower. "Cogito, ergo sum" expresses this prime directive quite succinctly.
In seasons of low energy level, or moments of single-minded concentration, the
INTP is aloof and detached in a way that might even offend more relational or
Intuition softens and socializes Thinking, fleshing out the brittle bones of truths
formed in the dominant inner world. That which is is not negotiable; yet actual
application diffuses knowledge to the extent that knowledge needs qualification
and context to be of any consequence in this foreign world of substance.
If Thinking can desist, the INTP is free to brainstorm, calling up the perceptions
of the unconscious (i.e., intuition) which are mirrored in patterns in the realm of
matter, time and space. These perceptions, in the form of theories or hunches,
must ultimately defer to the inner principles, or at least they must not negate
Intuition unchained gives birth to play. INTPs enjoy games, formal or impromptu,
which coax analogies, patterns and theories from the unseen into spontaneous
expression in a way that defies their own comprehension.
Sensing is of a subjective, inner nature similar to that of the SJs. It supplies
awareness of the forms of senses rather than the raw, analogic stimuli. Facts
and figures seek to be cleaned up for comparison with an ever growing range
of previously experienced input. Sensing assists intuition in sorting out and
arranging information into the building blocks for Thinking's elaborate systems.
The internalizing nature of the INTP's Sensing function leaves a relative
absence of environmental awareness (i.e., Extraverted Sensing), except when
the environment is the current focus. Consciousness of such conditions is at
best a sometime thing.
Feeling tends to be all or none. When present, the INTP's concern for others is
intense, albeit naive. In a crisis, this feeling judgement is often silenced by the
emergence of Thinking, who rushes in to avert chaos and destruction. In the
absence of a clear principle, however, INTPs have been known to defer
judgement and to allow decisions about interpersonal matters to be left hanging
lest someone be offended or somehow injured. INTPs are at risk of being swept
away by the shadow in the form of their own strong emotional impulses.
Sir Isaac Newton
John Quincy Adams
Dwight D. Eisenhower
William Harvey (pioneer in human physiology)
C. G. Jung, (Freudian defector, author of Psychological Types, etc.)
Tom Foley (1989-1995: Speaker of the House--U.S. House of Representatives)
Jeff Bingaman, U.S. Senator (D.--NM)
Rick Moranis (Honey, I Shrunk The Kids)
Midori Ito (ice skater, Olympic silver medalist)
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