INFJs are the rarest of the sixteen personality types, with most statistics putting them between 1-3 percent of the population (sometimes even lower than 1%). They are also the only other personality type to share the INTJ’s dominant and inferior functions: Introverted Intuition (Ni) and Extroverted Sensing (Se).
That’s probably why I find INFJs to be so relatable. Interestingly, INFJs are tied with INTJs as being the most searched personality type online. (Perhaps people find them to be the most interesting type, or perhaps INFJs spend too much time Googling themselves).
Katharine Briggs and Carl Jung were both INFJs, and if it were not for them, you probably wouldn’t be watching this video (or reading this article) right now. In fact, you’ll find that most INFJs are interested in personality theory, especially MBTI. They often find it very validating to learn about their type, especially since most of them feel like aliens walking among humans.
Since INFJs make up the smallest percentage of the MBTI population, you probably won’t know many of them in real life, but they are in abundance online. If you watch videos of INFJs, you’ll probably find that most come off as very analytical, deep, monotone, and serious, yet also very warm and meek.
Many of them take a deep interest in the workings of the human mind and personality, and perhaps that’s what makes them such great counselors or psychologists. In fact, INFJs often gravitate toward careers that help them to connect their insights to other people’s problems or development, such as teaching, ministry, counseling, etc. As a side note, I’d say that INFJs are probably the best at intuitively reading people very accurately.
INFJs also tend to do well in school, ranking 2nd highest in grades among all 16 types (MBTI Manual, 269). In case you were wondering, INTJs came in at number one =).I’ve also known INFJs to be very poetic, deep, and friendly.
INFJ Dark Side
Even though INFJs have all these great qualities about them, underneath that innocent Extroverted Feeling (Fe) facade lay a hidden dark side—so dark, in fact, that many people believe that Adolf Hitler was an INFJ (that’s scary dark!). Let’s examine the INFJ’s dark side.
INFJ Low Self-Esteem Issues
INFJs are perfectionists at heart, and they set incredibly high standards for themselves and others. Unfortunately, falling short of that standard can lead to struggles with low self-esteem, depression, and so forth. I think that INFJs may be harder on themselves than any other type.
INFJs may begin to focus on their flaws too much, which can lead to low self-esteem or body image issues such as anorexia or body dysmorphia. In fact, in a previous video, I quoted a thesis dissertation written by Sarah A. Williams (and published by D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY). This thesis reported data from personality assessments given to 55 patients in hospitals and eating disorder clinics in New York. The point was to see if there was a correlation between eating disorders and personality type. The study found that “INFJ (18.5%), INTJ (10.63%), and ENFJ (6.59%) were predominant in the study population.”
Although the study had a very low sample size, I think it speaks volumes, especially when you consider that INFJs are the rarest of the sixteen types, yet the were the most common types struggling with those issues.
INFJs Feel Misunderstood and Alien
Being the rarest personality type isn’t always easy, and INFJs know this well. They often feel alienated from others, which can lead to a lot of loneliness. Many INFJs spend considerable time trying to seek meaning for their lives and understanding and acceptance from others.
Furthermore, INFJs often feel misunderstood, even among close friends or relatives. That’s probably one reason why INFJs discover MBTI in the first place—they are trying to understand why they are so different. Like INTJs, many probably think they have some disorder or something wrong with their brain. (They don’t).
However, INFJs can also turn off others when they complain too much about being misunderstood (something I’ve seen people mention on forums), and they can even develop a bit of “superiority complex” due to their statistical uniqueness.
INFJs Counselor Role
INFJs are called the “counselors,” and they can be very good at connecting with people and offering sympathetic and practical advice. However, INFJs can also become overwhelmed by the emotions and problems of others. INFJ’s secondary function, Extroverted Feeling (Fe), can suck up the emotions of others, leaving the INFJ feeling emotionally exhausted.
This is ironic since INFJs can so easily pick up on the emotions of others, yet often struggle to understand their own emotions (their feeling function (Fe) is directed outwardly). For this reason, some INFJs resent the “counselor” stereotype, and they actually become exhausted of hearing of other people’s problems and emotional issues.
Unfortunately, INFJs are so good at reading people and making them “open up” that they can use that information for malicious purposes. INFJs can also become judgmental or self-righteous, and can secretly judge the people who are sharing private details. They may even offer unsolicited advice on how to fix things in your life, which gets back to the natural “counselor” trait that most INFJs possess.
INFJ Relationship Problems
INFJs can also experience problems in their relationships, perhaps due to the tendency to create idealized versions of their mate, which can lead to disappointment when their mates don’t live up to that projected ideal. Furthermore, INFJs tend to overanalyze their relationships and can have trouble expressing their inner thoughts. They tend to dislike conflict or confrontation, which may lead to passive aggressive tendencies if the INFJ hasn’t learned to communicate their feelings. INFJs tend to be highly sensitive to criticism (as do most “feelers”).
According to a study cited in the MBTI Manual, INFJs ‘Ranked highest in being dissatisfied with “Marriage/intimate relationship” ‘ (78).
INFJs are also notorious for doing the doorslam, meaning the INFJ will abruptly cut off a relationship (family, romantic, or friendship) once they realize that it is toxic or not living up to their high standards. They may suddenly disappear with little warning, or send an “it’s over” text message or email. (INTJs also doorslam, and I talked about that in a video on this channel.) I’m not saying that it’s always wrong to leave a relationship in such a way, but a doorslam isn’t always necessary.
INFJs can also struggle with conflict avoidance, worrying about disrupting harmony. They can become people-pleasers or resort to telling “white lies” to protect people’s feelings. However, they can become somewhat judgmental or stand up for something they believe in. Being idealists (a trait of the NF temperament), they often latch onto causes such as animal rights, veganism, social justice, etc.
INFJs Under Stress
Under stress, INFJs can behave much like an INTJ, as they both share the same dominant and inferior functions. INFJs may initially withdraw from people in an attempt to recharge or regain control of a situation, but under continued or extreme stress, they tend to go to their inferior function: Extroverted Sensing (Se).
While in the Se grip, INFJs will act more like their shadow type–the ESTP (Se-Ti-Fe-Ni). Like INTJs “in the grip,” INFJs can binge on sensory stimuli such as watching movies, listening to music, consuming large amounts of food, drinking, sexual activity, and more. They may also become uncharacteristically moody and snap at people or have temper explosions.
INFJs will also act impulsively while under the “Se grip.” They can make big purchases or important decisions on a whim, without their typical prior research or planning, which could lead to a disastrous outcome.
INFJ Cognitive Function Issues
- Introverted Intuition (Ni): While in the dark side, they can overanalyze things, identify patterns that don’t actually exist, become paranoid, or become obsessed with the future.
- Extroverted Feeling (Fe): Fe in the dark side can lead INFJs to become doormats or people-pleasers. They hate telling people something bad, and might go to extremes to avoid confrontation or disrupting harmony. They can also become too involved in other people’s problems, which can prove draining.
- Introverted Thinking (Ti): Being feelers first, INFJs might struggle with making logical choices, especially when younger (the tertiary function doesn’t develop until age 30 or so). They may prioritize decisions based on group harmony rather than objective data. Because their logical function is introverted, INFJs may reject or minimize logic based on external, verifiable sources, and instead make logical deductions based on their internal knowledge systems.
- Extroverted Sensing (Se): INFJs are dominant intuitives, which means that they spend a tremendous amount of time in their own heads trying to unravel the mysteries of people and things. As a result, they often become detached from the physical world. They might miss important details in the environment, neglect their physical needs, and more. Under stress, they can indulge in sensory stimuli.
-Myers, Isabel Briggs. MBTI Manual: A Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, 3rd Edition. Palo Alto, CA, 1998.
-Williams, Sarah A. The association between Myers-Briggs personality type and eating disorders. D’Youville College. Buffalo, NY, 2010. Web. 8 Jan. 2017.