Are INTJs a bunch of narcissists? Well, an individual from any of the sixteen types could have narcissistic tendencies. However, I’ve read some articles and forum posts where some people have suggested that the INTJ type is strongly linked with narcissism. In fact, CelebrityTypes.com even went so far as to publish a 20-page eBook about INTJs and narcissism.
I haven’t read the book, but it is on Amazon.com. Narcissistic tendencies can be another one of those self-destructive patterns for the INTJ. So, in this article and video, I’m going to discuss the INTJ personality type in the context of narcissism, and I’ll also give you some tips if you think you’re struggling with it.
First, you need to understand that there are really two main uses of the word “Narcissism.” The first definition relates to a mental disorder called Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), which is listed in publications by the American Psychiatric Association. (They were considering removing this as an actual personality disorder a few years ago, but I think they still have it listed.)
I’ll read the criteria for this disorder, which they have listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). I’ll stop and give my take on each one, and you can see if any hit home with you. Keep in mind that you have to meet at least five of these to meet the criteria for NPD:
- Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance-I can’t speak for all INTJs, but I don’t consider myself more worthy or important than anyone else.
- Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it. Again, I don’t expect people to think that I’m superior. I shy away from public recognition.
- Exaggerating your achievements and talents. If anything, I actually conceal most of my achievements or talents. I’m a private person, and I don’t like for people to know about my projects. I do many things anonymously or through pseudonyms.
- Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate. I do have aspirations and fantasies about accomplishing great things in life, and I often ponder how my life will turn out. I guess this one fits.
- Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people. I don’t feel this at all. I don’t think I’m superior to anyone. I never try to seek out successful or prominent people for friendships. I’d be kind to anyone, and I’d be friends with anyone if we had similar interests–it doesn’t matter if they are a pauper or a prince. I do feel misunderstood as an INTJ, but that’s because INTJs are a rare type. We aren’t the best at social interaction because we find it very draining.
- Requiring constant admiration. I don’t require or crave admiration at all. In fact, If I ever succeeded in anything big, I’d like it to be on an anonymous basis.
- Having a sense of entitlement. I don’t think anyone owes me anything. I actually can’t stand people who think that everyone owes them something. I hate political views like liberalism or communism which assumes entitlement for people.
- Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations. I hate asking people for favors. Like gift-giving, it creates this endless cycle of reciprocation that I find exhausting. I often find that people ask for far bigger favors than I asked of them. It’s annoying.
- Taking advantage of others to get what you want. I don’t manipulate people, and I hate asking others for help. When I need someone to do something for me, I’ll usually offer an incentive. ”Hey, if you do Y for me, I’ll give you X.”
- Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others. I do sometimes struggle with this. I take care of my immediate loved ones, but I find that I do struggle with wanting to hang out with acquaintances and distant family members.
- Being envious of others and believing others envy you. I don’t struggle with envy. I realize that people have different gifts and blessings in life. It doesn’t bother me to be around people with things or talents I don’t possess. I don’t believe people envy me unless they give me a reason to believe it.
- Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner. I have been arrogant and haughty at times, mostly in the form of being vicious with my tongue. Guilty as charged.
So, that’s the criteria for the official “Narcissistic Personality Disorder.” I’m sure some INTJs could be “diagnosed” as having this, but I don’t think most INTJs struggle with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Perhaps a few of those hit home with you, though.
However, there is a second use of the term narcissist, which is much broader. It’s really a misuse of the word, but people love to misuse words such as “bipolar, autistic, narcissist, etc.”
People will say that you’re a narcissist if you’re merely arrogant, self-absorbed, introverted, don’t hang out with them enough, or whatever. It’s a catch-all phrase for any type of behavior that someone deems as “selfish” or “self-centered.”
INTJs often get incorrectly labeled as narcissists for the following reasons:
- INTJs do come off as self-absorbed to most people. We are one of the most introverted types. We spend a tremendous amount of time concentrating, thinking, and looking for patterns and examining ideas. Social interaction drains us, and we like to get things done. People view this as being narcissistic. For the record, there’s nothing wrong with requiring solitude or being an introvert. I wish people would understand this.
- INTJs can speak confidently about topics they know well. Many people will perceive this as intellectual arrogance or narcissism. And yes, INTJs can be jerks. I can personally attest to this.
- Most INTJs dislike small talk. People think it’s because we think we’re better than they are. It’s not that reason at all. We just don’t know what to say, and we dislike the awkward feelings of trying to relate with people.
- Many INTJs dislike things like parties, gift-giving events, traditions, etc. People who enjoy those things won’t understand us. They’ll think we’re stuck up, weird, narcissistic, or whatever.
- INTJs can become so driven to accomplish their goals that they forget about other people.
Even though most INTJs aren’t truly narcissistic, INTJs–much like any introverted type–can struggle with becoming too self-absorbed. (And yes, some INTJs could even struggle with true narcissism). Here’s what you need to keep in mind: narcissism or self-centeredness can become a self-destructive behavior for you.
If you become too self-absorbed, it can ruin relationships with people you love. If you’re too arrogant, you can really hurt people. In addition, if you overestimate your own talents or abilities, you can suffer devastating failures. Remember the wise proverb: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).
As I’ve said before, self-destructive behaviors are like cockroaches: they spread fast, and if you spot one, you probably have more. Focusing too much on “self” can lead to problems with self-esteem, depression, arrogance, and more.
How to Stop Being Narcissistic (Self-Absorbed)
Here are some tips to help you overcome narcissistic or self-centered tendencies:
- Find an accountability partner. I can remember driving one time when I was 16 years old. I was merging onto the interstate. I checked my rear-view mirror, flipped on the signal, and I merged. Suddenly, I heard a bunch of honking. I then realized that I had nearly caused a wreck. What was the problem? I forgot to check my blind spot. We all have blind spots. It’s easy to see the flaws in others, but it’s not always as easy to see our own flaws. You need to have at least one mature, loving person in your life who can be brutally honest with you. You need to ask him or her if you’re acting too self-absorbed or “narcissistic.” My wife does that for me. I can ask my wife to tell me my weaknesses or areas in which I need to improve, and she’ll give me a long list.
- Work on your communication. INTJs can sometimes dominate the conversation when they start talking about a topic that interests them. Be careful not to go on too much. Also, stop to ask other people their opinions, views, etc. If someone asks you your favorite color, don’t just say, “blue.” Instead, say something like, “My favorite color is blue. What’s your favorite color?” Try to ask the other person questions about their feelings, views, hobbies, etc. Also, INTJs can be a little blunt due to their secondary function (Te), so it pays to work on using more softer, less commanding language.
- Spend time with loved ones. INTJs have the tendency to want to isolate too much. There’s nothing wrong with having some alone time (INTJs desperately need it), but you don’t want to alienate your loved ones for months. When I’m finished working, I spend as much time as I can with my son and wife. They are the two most important people to me in the whole universe (aside from God). So, you may want to ask yourself if you’re spending too much time on leisure activities like video games, and not enough time with loved ones such as friends or family. That’s another reason why I’m reluctant to form new friendships–those take time, and I don’t have a lot of time to give others at this point in my life without neglecting my own family.
- Serve other people. One of the surefire ways to cure narcissism or self-centered behaviors is to begin serving or helping others. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in your own plans and goals that you forget about other people. The best way to do this is to find some area where you feel that you can be of service to others, and then plan to do that regularly. I have an INTJ nephew who has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, an organization that builds homes for the poor. You could find someone younger than you, perhaps a family member, and mentor them. I made a video on INTJ maturity, and a viewer left an interesting comment about how his uncle (an INTJ) took a personal interest in him and helped him to really grow and mature as an INTJ. You can also find areas of service in churches or other organizations. You could even serve people from your own home by joining an online forum and offering your advice or expertise to others. There are plenty of opportunities to serve others, so don’t neglect doing so.
In conclusion, INTJs are not narcissists in the true meaning of the word (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). Most INTJs are not in love with themselves (in fact, many have suffered with low self-esteem). However, INTJs can become too self-absorbed, which people will incorrectly label as narcissistic.
Nevertheless, there are ways to overcome NPD or self-centered behaviors. By taking time to put others first, you can remain a balanced, healthy INTJ.