The INTJ dark side: What’s it like? What are some unhealthy traits that INTJs will exhibit when they go to the dark side? How do INTJs react while under stress?
Each of the sixteen types has a hidden dark side. In a previous article, I talked about the INFP dark side. Now, let’s talk about INTJs.
INTJs have a lot of great strengths. We’re known as one of the more intelligent MBTI types (according to IQ test results, anyway). We are big picture, conceptual thinkers. We are great at solving complex problems. We know how to analyze something using objective logic. Our intuition can give us unique insights into things.
Some of the greatest scientists who ever lived were INTJs. In fact, Isaac Newton was an INTJ, and he is often referred to as “the father of science.”
Nevertheless, we have our struggles and weaknesses–our dark side, if you will. Below are some of our dark side traits.
INTJ Dark Side
Overanalyzing Things to a Fault
INTJs have the ability see every possible outcome in a given situation. The good news is that this skill allows us to create contingencies and prepare for major mishaps. However, the downside is that we often talk ourselves out of things. Because we can see every way in which a business, career, or relationship could fail, we might not pursue it. Hence, we might miss valuable opportunities to meet new people or expand our horizons.
Furthermore, knowing all of the different things that could go wrong in any given situation creates a certain level of anxiety or stress. We can become fixated on the possible “bad” outcomes.
In social situations, this could mean fearing that person X might ask us something uncomfortable, or that we might not come off as “normal.” In business or our career, we might stress over the possibility of failing.
Either way you slice it, overanalyzing things can be rough.
Bouts of Paranoia
INTJs can be secretive and extremely private people, and they often worry about people knowing too much about them. They will go to great lengths to conceal the personal details of their lives, even from friends or extended family members. INTJs commonly use anonymous accounts online, may use pseudonyms, and so forth.
One reason they do this is to reduce the chance of people knowing “too much” about them, which could lead to undesirable circumstances (the information could be used against them in a negative way). We strongly dislike it when others know our business, and we generally dislike being asked personal questions.
While extreme paranoia isn’t a common trait for healthy INTJs, they can struggle with it when they go to the dark side. INTJs can begin to feel as if the world is against them. They can feel as if everyone has betrayed them, and everyone is hoping for their demise. They might feel as if everyone they know is trying to manipulate them, find out information about them, or use them.
In severe cases, paranoia may occur alongside other mental health issues. For example, the late mathematician John Nash Jr. was an INTJ, and he suffered with paranoia and schizophrenia.
Bobby Fischer, arguably the greatest chess player who ever lived, was also an INTJ (and Enneagram Type 5). Fischer often struggled with paranoia, and he would go to great lengths to see if people (or the Russians) were spying on him or manipulating him. Fischer’s paranoia was emphasized in the film Pawn Sacrifice.
INTJs are Quick to Put People into Categories
INTJs can be quick to categorize people they meet, often putting people into a “like” or “dislike” box soon after a conversation. For many INTJs, the vast majority of people they meet will probably go into a “dislike” or “uninteresting” box. Once an INTJ puts you in the dislike box, it can be extremely hard for them to ever put you into a “like” box.
People will often ask questions such as, “Do INTJs hate everyone?” or “Who is ever good enough for an INTJ?” In many cases, it’s not that the INTJ hates you–it’s just that he or she didn’t find much in common with you (or spotted an undesirable trait). The INTJ probably still likes you on some level, but they have decided not to spend too much time with you.
Social Anxiety Struggles
INTJs are not known for their impressive social skills. In fact, most INTJs struggle with social awkwardness and social anxiety. However, when an INTJ goes to the dark side, he or she can cut off everyone and go into total isolation mode. While even healthy INTJs require periods of solitude to research, read, and think about their intellectual interests, unhealthy INTJs can isolate themselves so much that they begin to feel intense feelings of loneliness or extreme depression.
Becoming social again is a real challenge for INTJs who have isolated themselves. They might even resent the human race and become misanthropes.
Furthermore, social interaction is often a complicated thing for INTJs. They are constantly weighing the cost-benefit of social interaction, and they can be greedy with their time. Frequent social invites alone can be draining, even if the INTJ turns them down. It’s common for an INTJ friend or relative to disappear for weeks or months at a time, only to reappear and re-engage the relationship as if there were no absence.
This can cause frustration for people who don’t understand the INTJ’s strong need for solitude. Hearing comments from loved ones such as, “You need to get out more,” or “You never come around to visit enough,” can be quite common (and frustrating) for INTJs. In fact, many INTJs simply do not feel the need to socialize with people often, even if they admire or love them.
INTJ Extreme Independence
INTJs are considered to be the most independent of all the sixteen types. Unfortunately, this independence can become quite extreme. For example, there have been times where I have gone to great lengths so that I’d never have to rely on anyone or ask for help. I’ve purchased expensive tools and manuals so that I could fix my car without having to take it to a mechanic. I’ve learned to cut my own hair. I’ve spent hours researching things that could be done in minutes by a professional. I’ve even researched ways to create my own energy, grow my own food in a garden, etc. so that I could be totally disconnected from society.
Interestingly, many INTJs also type as Enneagram Type Fives. One of the hallmarks of this Enneagram type is extreme independence. Here’s a quote from the website dietnosis.com:
Because [Enneagram Type Fives] feel the world will demand too much of them or that they will be powerless to act in the world in its current state, they strive for separation from the world and self-sufficiency in their lives. They practice minimizing their physical and emotional needs.
In my darker periods, I’ve fantasized about leaving this entire world system behind and living in the woods in a small cabin (or a deserted island). In the past, I’ve tried to create systems so that I’d never have to ask anyone for anything, almost to the point of absurdity. I hate for people to give me anything, because I feel an obligation to one day return some favor.
Make no mistake about it–INTJs can be very independent and extremely stubborn, especially while in their “dark side.” Thankfully, I’ve learned that it’s often more efficient to delegate certain tasks to the professionals, but I still have my moments.
INTJ Superiority Complex
INTJs can develop a superiority complex while in the dark side, viewing everyone else as “stupid” or “beneath them.” INTJs can feel as if they are the only one who truly knows what’s going on in the world, and everyone else is illogical, irrational, and oblivious to the “truth.” Of course, that’s completely true!
Some people don’t prioritize objective logic in their reasoning, but that doesn’t mean they’re stupid. They still have a lot of strengths and gifts to offer the world, and we need to keep that in mind when we go into superiority complex mode. Every type has strengths, abilities, and unique manifestations of intelligence.
Furthermore, INTJs can be wrong, as hard as it might be to believe that (kidding again).
INTJs and Stress (The Se Grip)
Under stress, INTJs tend to go to their inferior function: Extroverted Sensing (Se). While in the Se grip, INTJs will act more like their shadow type–the ESFP. They can binge on sensory stimuli such as watching movies, listening to music, consuming large amounts of food, and more.
INTJs will also act impulsively while under the Se grip. They can make big purchases or important decisions on a whim, without prior research or planning. They might even engage in risky behaviors such as recreational drug use, illicit sex, driving fast, sky diving, etc.
INTJ Cold Behavior
INTJs often behave in ways that many people consider to be “cold.” For example, INTJs have been known to abruptly cut off (or doorslam) friends, dating partners, or even extended family members. We are often accused of having no empathy or feelings.
While in the dark side, INTJs also have razor-sharp tongues, which can lead to cutting remarks, unforgettable snark, and sarcasm to the extreme. They’ll inform you about all of your faults, past mistakes, and so forth, especially if you say or do something to upset them.
When an INTJ lies, they tend to do it via omission of facts. They will tell you only what they think you need to know, and lead you to a false conclusion by omitting certain details. INTJs can even create sophisticated lies in advance, creating contingency answers for any follow-up question you might have.
INTJ Low Self-Esteem
INTJs are often described as having extreme confidence in themselves, and this can definitely be true. After all, the main driving force by the “NT” temperament is to understand the world in which we live. INTJs spend considerable time researching their interests, and they can become quite knowledgeable on various topics, especially since INTJs will look at every alternate viewpoint before making their own decision. This analytical process leads to a lot of confidence in their areas of expertise.
However, many INTJs are also perfectionists at heart, and they can set insanely high standards for themselves. When they fall short of their standard, they can be hard on themselves and struggle with low self-esteem. I’m not saying that all INTJs suffer from low self-esteem (some are narcissists who could use a little humility), but it can happen.
INTJs struggle with low self-esteem in the following ways:
- Feeling as if they aren’t very attractive. INTJs might focus on their physical flaws and can even get into unhealthy patterns such as eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorder, etc.
- Feeling like a worthless failure. INTJs often set high goals for themselves, and can feel like a loser when they fall short of their goals.
- Feeling socially inept. When you struggle with social interaction and feel misunderstood (and that no one wants to take time to understand you), it can lead to feelings of low self-esteem.
- Self-loathing or self-harm. INTJs might even get into an unhealthy pattern of harming themselves or “punishing” themselves for their failures or perceived flaws. They can hate the world, hate themselves, and hate everything. They can become depressed, nihilistic, and more.
Isaac Newton struggled with low self-esteem due to social isolation and his perfectionism. He had few friends throughout his life and never married. He would even make lists (INTJs love making lists) of his “sins” that he had committed. If you ever get the time, you should read over his sin list–some things he listed are quite comical.
Martin Luther, the INTJ initiator of the Protestant Reformation, would go so far as to practice self-harm. He had incorrect views of God due to the corruption of the Catholic Church. He felt as if he had to do all of these rituals and works to please the tyrannical god that he had imagined in his own mind.
Here’s what Luther wrote about this time in his life:
“I tortured myself with prayer, fasting, vigils and freezing; the frost alone might have killed me…”
Source: Luther’s Works, Vol. 24, eds. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann [St. Louis: Concordia, 2002], 62.
Luther’s quest for spiritual perfection would drive him to punish himself by starvation and temperature extremes. Later on, Luther eventually read the scriptures for himself, and he quickly realized that he had the wrong views about God. It changed everything for him.
Conclusion on the INTJ Dark Side
INTJs can struggle with many things while in the dark side. I’m not saying that all INTJs struggle with the things above, but they can be a challenge for us.
What about you? Have you noticed any dark side traits that I didn’t mention? Can you relate with any of the points above? Have any of you non-INTJs noticed something “dark” about your INTJ acquaintances? Feel free to comment on the YouTube video.