Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The INTP Experience - Chapter 2: Overload

**This article has been moved to its new, permanent home at THE INTP EXPERIENCE. See you there!**


Furtheron said...

Very interesting perspective and thoughts... I'll have to think on this - one thing I'm an ENTJ and can relate to a lot of aspects in this - not all but more than an odd one here and there - just makes me consider that the labelling of INTP/ENTJ etc. may not be at all the issue, feelings, emotions are at the centre of a lot of this, it is all about relating to and with them, they are you reality whatever the external

jason evans said...

Futheron, a fair number of people get uncomfortable with Myers-Briggs because they feel it is labeling. I feel the opposite. To me, it's a way to identify a subset of the population which approaches the world in a way to your own. By first understanding how you are the same, you can begin to understand how you're different from other types. That makes the translation with them easier. The different temperaments can speak a different language, and miscommunication is the cause of a great deal of grief in our lives. For example, rationals and idealists are drawn to each other, and yet, in fundamental ways, their miscommunication causes much consternation to both.

I've been very gratified by how many INTPs land here on these articles and find them helpful. At the very least, they know that others are in the trenches with them.

Lee said...

J, I think it is great that you share your insights on this. Even though I am not INTP, I can see the value of having INTP's "land here" and perhaps feel less isolated by your words. "Miscommunication" in life is definitely an undercurrent for all of us! I'm glad you're you ~.

Jackie Jordan said...

Personality typing always makes for an interesting read. You “architects” are builders of systems with a pragmatic overview, slightly different than us INTJ’s. We know before we know, and you know once the facts have been tested and proven. I’ve been interested in personality typing for a very long time and actually gave my mate a test before we committed into a relationship. “Hey, it works for IBM!” Your reference to collecting pebbles is thought-provoking and reminds me of an old song from a jazz singer in New Orleans, Allen Toussaint.

” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88jiupuTz1o

jason evans said...

Lee, what a sweet thing to say. :) Thank you!

Jackie, I'd like to focus more on the subtle differences between INTJ and INTP. Each time you give me one of these examples, it really clarifies where the divergences occur. You are so right about how INTP wants to see the evidence. I can see the value of the other approach, however. We need that kind of know-it-first, make-it-happen-second, in the world.

Jackie Jordan said...

Yes, Jason, I have been known to focus on the differences rather than the similarities. The similarities in question are, in my opinion, much more profound than our divergent qualities. First, “introverted” types are what they are, reserved, conservative and often shy. Next, having an “intuitive” nature, I find, is the most important quality of our profile, to have an astute sense of knowing what is unseen and what is possible. And the “thinking” type – no need to expand on this. And, “judging” versus “perceiving” – you are right about “knowing” through experimentation and pragmatic understanding before proceeding. The “judging” type bypasses this step because we feel comfortable with our logic, whether the facts have been physically proven or not – the scientist enjoys the intrigue of a well thought plan, and craves the results, good or bad. We simply keep what works. Deep down, I wish I was a “P” – life would be much less disappointing.

jason evans said...

Jackie, I think I have some INTP vs. INTJ friction going on between my daughter and me. She is very rational, but tends to jump to conclusions (or just know) certain things to be true or false. However, sometimes because I have more experience and information, I happen to know that she is wrong. It perplexes me that she doesn't look to observation and evidence first before reaching a "conclusion." To me, getting it right objectively (i.e., through observation) is more important than reaching a conclusion. I think it's the judging vs. perceiving functions butting heads.

J said...

Thank you for these posts, Jason. I am 30 and have been struggling with unhappiness and a sense of isolation for a long time, always chalking it up to clinical depression.

After recently finding out I am INTP, my issues in life have become much clearer, and it's incredibly heartening to happen upon writings such as yours that not only make me feel less alone in the world and in my experiences, but also provide practical advice -- something my loved ones often try to do but fail at (bless their hearts) because they don't understand my INTP-dom, and I don't understand where they are coming from.

I'm always dissecting people's advice and finding ways that it is not applicable to me or my life. "Yes, but that's different," or, "Well, that's not really what I'm talking about," are common refrains.

It's frustrating for all involved because usually I'm not interested in discussing my feelings in the first place. But they try to draw me out, I explain what I'm going through, they give advice, I don't heed it because I find holes in the logic, and we all walk away unsatisfied with the interaction.

In fact, because I am an "entertainer" to my close friends, some of them have had a hard time believing I feel down or alone or socially anxious at all, making me bury the emotions deeper, filing away that aspect of my life in some dusty cabinet in my brain for My Eyes Only.

And it's not just friends, but some doctors and therapists over the years as well, whom I could never put my faith in because I always felt they were trying too hard to "read between my lines" and were not listening to what I was actually saying. Like a typical INTP, I analyze myself to death and while I might not have known what was wrong with me, I definitely did know what wasn't. Therapy often entailed talking about stuff that I knew weren't large concerns for me, and it felt like a huge waste of time and energy because I get so powerfully bored talking about trivial interpersonal conflicts and the like.

Anyway, as a result, it's been all too easy to feel alone even when surrounded by caring people, driving me further down and then further still.

You astutely mentioned before that it's easy for us INTPs to "change our self-indentity." True to form, after reading your post I instantly felt that perhaps I am not a depressive, at least not per se -- rather, I am frequently experiencing this INTP "overload" you talk about and not knowing what to do about it. This feels so much more incredibly accurate and I feel a hundred pounds lighter already. (So many feels!)

I can't thank you enough for that distinction.

Signify said...

That was extremely helpful to me (I'm an INTP). As far as emotional communication, could you do an article of one of the biggest banes of our existence: the initiation and maintenance of a romantic relationship?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for these articles, as an INTP youth I related completely to the issues you delineate, and your (partial) solutions to them were enlightening.

jason evans said...

J, I really hear what you're saying, and I can absolutely relate. In fact, being heard is where the problem starts when we open up to others. We as INTP's must listen, analyze, and respond in a very particular way that others don't. As soon as we open up, we find ourselves stuck deeper and deeper in a swamp of translation. All of the no-that's-not-quite-what-I'm-saying piles up. It's enough to cause us to just stop talking.

You're not depressed unless you are having the biological/physical effects of depression also. Not that we don't have reasons to become depressed. ;) I'm so glad my thoughts and our virtual dialogue have made you feel better! All of what you are going through makes sense and is valid.

jason evans said...

Signify, that is a great suggestion! I'm going to give it some serious thought. I think I have one particular problem in mind.

In these articles, I feel this immense drive to get it mostly "right." I feel like we as INTP's deserve a break. Like the X-Files, the answer must be out there.

While I collect my thoughts, could you share some of your experiences and struggles? Anyone else care to share?

jason evans said...

Anon, my pleasure. :) We're all in this together. And maybe the hardest solutions are partial solutions, because we see the partiality so clearly while others don't. To them, the answer is tidy and complete. We have a great amount of trouble accepting missing pieces.

Anonymous said...

You've made a very good analysis on the INTP personality. I caught myself laughing out loud when you described precisely my way of thinking and how I see most things. Very goog.

pv said...

It is eerie how similar my experiences are to yours, and your descriptions are so accurate and well-written. Thank-you. I like your pebble analogy and feel like I am executing that plan right now.

I'll add that I have experience "long-term" (a few continuous years) happiness before, but I must elaborate later.

jason evans said...

Anon, many thanks!

PV, I know it's very INTP of me to want to understand the fundamentals of what is going on with all of us. It's like INTP nirvana to feel like I hit close to the mark, so thank you for saying so! I'd love to hear your additional thoughts.

SzélsőFa said...

and finally, i had the time to read it through.

what can i say?
as an istj, i too, had to learn to make use of the pebbles instead of going for 'the big one', in which process much of the pebbles, anyway quite worthy are missed and/or lost.
it was a learning process i've gone through.
you outlined and explained the factros and basic feelings behind this so well.
keep up the good work!
i only wish there was an istj somewhere out there with a similar drive to explain and care about his/her fellow istj-s. :))

SzélsőFa said...

and just one more thing - All personality types misinterpret the message of emotions.

this part of the post was also thought provoking. i kind of realized that in the past years i have been deliberately working against the process of learning to not to lean on our emotions.
i thinnk you are right, but isn't it funny that there am i, and i bet, there are many others, too, out there, striving to get more close to their own emotions, trying to fight their own personal isolation?
finally, this process i described, got me to a much deeper happiness, so i am quite content with the changes, content with being closer to emotions :)))

isn't it funny most people try to get away from their emotions?

katelyn said...

I just had to laugh at how similar my experiences are to yours. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. As a fellow INTP, it's just what I need to hear. I'm not as insane and alone as I think I am!

jason evans said...

Szelsofa, as woman with a T function rather than an F function, you can have a tendency to feel out of place with many women. We T people just don't put as much faith and trust in emotion. And you're right about everyone miscommunicating. It's particularly troubling, however, for INTP's, because we put so much conscious thought into communicating effectively. It's something hugely important to us.

jason evans said...

Katelyn, no, you're not alone. I understand what it feels like.

pv said...

I wrote out my experience. But then I thought about it and it is my personal solution to happiness and decided not to post it. The gist of it is similar to everyone else’s needs to be happy, and I don’t want to get ahead of your articles. Just like you described, I often reminisce about happier times, analyze, and search for solutions. I get frustrated and disheartened at the daily grind sometimes, and a poor attitude only makes it worst. My pebbles are driving/working-on my car, a spades game with my co-workers, my camera, some forums, and a couple of good friends. I feel pretty blessed to have these while I look for my bigger picture.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the insites i have learned alot from this but it hasnt helped me much. I feel my problem is its hard to feel conected becasue i cant find a reason to. this is just my subjective exp but what happens is like you said I have these short feelings of conection and happiness but at some point in the situation i often find my self thinking. thinking things like the only im happy is chemicals in my brain and whats the point of this conversation. After this i feel isolated again. My problem is when i relize im tryin to be conected or happy i fail. the seconed problem i have is as i grow older these thoughts pop up more often in situations. the third problem for me is i see emotions and conection as a destraction form life,if that makes any sence to you. my last problem despite all my thoughts i still feel a need for conection. Overall i accept life for what it is or seems to be so at the end of the day i just dont care thats life.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 21 year old male undergraduate and I discovered that I was an INTP about 6 months ago, and I was elated to finally discover a possible explanation for many of my peculiarities. I loved your two articles and thought they very insightful. I have been intending on going to law school when I graduate. I would love to hear your insights/advice on pursuing a law degree/career as an INTP.

jason evans said...

PV, I feel similarly. I don't have much to add, because between the two of us, we pretty much laid it out.

Anon from 4/4, the most important point of your comment comes near the end. Despite all of the analysis, dissection, and attempts to prove to yourself that connections are illusory and irrelevent, you still feel a need for them in the end. Despite our INTP nature, we can't escape that humans are a communal animal. The seed of that drive can't be extinguished or excised from our DNA. For INTP's, unfortunately, the clash between the need for connection and difficulty finding it creates a lot of challenges for us.

jason evans said...

Anon from 4/8, congratulations on the discovery! You are better off than I was. I didn't have this way to understand myself for many years later.

My INTP nature fits very well with a legal career. Your observational skills and analysis of systems will allow you to find solid paths to success for your clients. You will be able to read people and choose the best way to approach them (or defeat them). On the flip side, sometimes a superficial understanding of things can be expedient. Our drive to understand all can make us a bit idealistic compared to others. We can get a little caught up needing the objectively best answer rather than the quick and dirty answer that might be wrong, but gets results.

All in all, I think that INTP and law are a good match. Since law is human creation, our perceiving functions lets us be flexible. INTJ's might clash more with law. They might feel better as scientists.

Matt said...


I'm 31 and a fellow INTP. I very much enjoyed both of the articles you've written. It's comforting to know that INTP folk face many of the same challenges.

Reading your articles is a confirmation of what I've experienced for much of my life. Over the last few years I've been learning to love and accept myself and my quirky nature as it is.

And, (to continue your pebble analogy) at the same time - not only collect pebbles, but also try to (in my own INTP way) shine and polish and treasure the pebbles that I have already collected.

Over the last couple of years I have found myself more spiritually inclined (not religious really but spirituality that is present throughout human history). It seems that the catalyst for this exploration has stemmed, at least in part, from the inherent isolation that has always been with me.

I wonder if you or other INTP's have had similar inclinations? To each there own, though, eh?

Many thanks and all the best to you.

Anonymous said...

Its funny how things come to you when you need them most...like your two articles to date. I've hit mid-life...yep, 50 this year...and struggling with being me in a world of "others" LOL. I feel like I am twenty something again trying to find my way with people, but its harder. I try to connect, even go out of my way to do what they like, or travel to see them, invite people to lunches, movies, walks...but its not reciprocal...and lately it seems like those closest to me can't wait to "correct" me or "show me the RIGHT way to do things"...I learned a long time ago to let people be, as long as it its not hurting them or anyone else, I have learned to enjoy or at least appreciate their way..so...its not recipricol. And as much as I want to say at the top of my lungs to "bugger off"...cause i don't walk around correcting and critisizing you...I am polite and let it go....feeling very disconnected in mid-life. looking forward to your next article.

jason evans said...

Matt, that's a very interesting point about spirituality. I think I know what you mean. I am decidedly not religious. However, I feel like I do have some strange sense of spiritualism. Perhaps it's because we as INTP's are relentless at finding the connections between, and reasons for, all things. We feel like it's there, if only we can understand it adequately. Perhaps the embodiment of those connections is spiritualism.

Anon, I definitely understand the lack of reciprocity you feel. I can relate. You feel like if you break the ice and let people see through the front door of your mind, they'll be enticed to walk in. Then, they don't. It's hard, my friend. I know it is.

lolcats said...

18, f, INTP. Against all my political views, it's clear that I'm apparently the one percent!

I had the pleasure of being linked to this article through an INTP forum on Reddit. Now, I seldom write comments on blogs, but you seem to read all of yours and this is a recent submission, so I'll push on through.

It probably sounds like a parrot next to the rest of the comments, but this post feels like a godsend. It couldn't have come at a more pertinent time. You've perfectly described what isolation is like, and time and time again there's that small satisfaction in knowing that it's *not just me*: there is someone else out there who may just be going through the same thing. The isolation isn't fun but it has it's own twisted comforts.

So, a weak cry from the depths of cyberspace: thank you.

I will be eagerly watching this blog for more material, especially about INTP-dom.

It would be interesting [but ultimately fruitless, something we all hate] to explore something mentioned in an above comment ['However, I feel like I do have some strange sense of spiritualism.']. Perhaps a small tidbit in another post? I wish I could contribute more somehow.

Anyhoo, that's my two cents.


jason evans said...

lolcats, that weak cry from the depths of cyberspace is no small thing. I know I appreciate it! I imagine that all of the INTPs landing here do also. :) Even more, I'm very glad if my observations can help you on your journey. We need to look out for each other. Seriously.

I'm working on a third article that should be done soon. That's a good idea for another. I do think that we have some tendencies toward interesting emotions (presumably formed by our mix of cognitive functions). Perhaps spiritualism and nostalgia are born from them. We seem to constantly circle back, as if they are particularly difficult and intriguing puzzles needing to be solved.

OwlGames said...

I have had to learn this the hard way, but this is a very good explanation of it that I have not found anywhere else.
One exception to the isolation for me was when I found my significant other, also an INTP, it changed everything.
Other than that I agree with this wholeheartedly.

Greg said...

My mind is blown! Please create a relationships post ASAP? Min is about to self-destruct.

jason evans said...

Owl Games, that's one point that I should be clear on. I have no experience with INTP-INTP relationships. I suspect that young INTPs are not going to be drawn to other INTPs for romance (primarily). Not enough fire and chaos. However, I do believe that older INTPs who have been through the washing machine a few times would find another INTP to be a great match.

Greg, now that is motivation! I will get on it and finish the thing.

Greg said...

Yes, please do. I look forward to reading it!

Runehawk said...

Thank you. Can't wait for part 3

jason evans said...

Greg and Runehawk, I've been so mentally exhausted lately (i.e., from work) that the third article is taking longer than it should. I promise to wrap it up!!

Phineas Q said...

I lol'ed epiphenously (i.e., superlative marks) at "I submit to you that feeling bad is bad and feeling good is good". The implicit acknowledged absurdity speaks volumes, perhaps peculiarly so for me.