Saturday, 23 June 2018

Duality


From the movie Before Sunrise.


There's this theory that MBTI types have specific kind of relationship models (Read: problems) between individuals of different types. The one that often gets praised as the ultimate dream come true is the Dual relationships (No problems). That would be the type that has the same cognitive functions as you but in the opposite order.

So, when I was still new to things I pretty much just ignored this whole theory, because I didn't find it applicable in my own life. I'm an INFJ and I had never gotten along with an ESTP especially well. (If you don't count my brother, but you know, that's my brother, and I generally get along with all of my family.)

I also found that as much as some of the relationship types did describe well the relationships I had with individuals of that type, just as much of it didn't. For example, I know so many ISFJ's it's no wonder I have this Fe-aux bond with some of them, but then there are so many others I don't connect with like that, and even ISFJ's to whom I've been more like the benefactor I'm supposed to be to an INTP.

So, at this point I think I've formed somewhat more well-informed opinion about this theory. I don't think it's completely useless and without truth in it, but I also don't think it's the Holy Grail of cognitive function theories that some make it out to be.

In short, I think there are WAY more important things to be considered in a partner, and factors that play a much bigger role in why certain people form a strong, healthy relationship, and some don't, the most relevant (but not in any way the only factors) to my point here being:

1. The maturity level of the people involved and whether these match.
2. Enneagram + MBTI combination.

Let's say you're a healthy level (Ennegram level 1 or 2) individual INFP who just can't find the energy to sympathize with average Enneagram 6 struggles on a daily basis. Your Dual partner is an ESTJ, that's supposed to be a match made in heaven. You look for an ESTJ, but this person turns out to be an average health level (Let's say 4 or 5) Ennegram 6. There's almost no doubt that they're not your ideal partner (and we aren't even counting things like worldview and interests).

Okay, so this is totally simplified to illustrate the idea. But these are things that I have found to weigh so much more than the Duality theory. However, like I said, it's not completely without truth in it, and I think this is why:

Average maturity level individuals (Ennegram average health level or MBTI types that primarily use only their dominant and auxiliary functions) benefit most from the Dual relationship. To these individuals it may indeed seem like magic (Before Sunrise style), like you've found your other half, because functionally you have. You have little conscious experience with these functions (Like, average INFP with Si and Te, and average ESTJ with Ne and Fi). But it still resonates in you when you see someone else use these functions well. So they do complement each other.

Of course I still think they have to personally get along with the individual's Enneagram type to feel that connection.

(And I still think there is a lot more individual background, life choice, temperament, interest stuff that plays into it.)

But the reason this Dual theory is relevant and has some truth to it, is this, I think.

When it's individuals who have matured enough to use all their four functions consciously, I don't think there's much magic in Duality. Because these individuals don't necessarily need guidance for these weaker functions, or at least don't dream of someone to do these functions for them, because they already know these functions are in them, too.

And so, the healthier the Enneagram type is, and the more mature the MBTI type is, the more they begin to look like each other. And then, it makes little difference whether their partner is supposedly a Dual, a Benefactor, a Quasi-Identical, or anything else, because they don't need someone to complement them, to provide for them, or to mirror them, or anything like that. Because all these differences start to disappear, the more mature the individuals in question are.

(This still doesn't in any way mean that more mature people are more likely to find a good partner, because they still need a person with similar maturity level to be content in the relationship, and quite frankly, the more mature you are, the fewer your options become.)

So, even though these relationship models might ring more true at average levels, I still don't think they are a good way to try to determine whether someone might be a good partner for you. People are always more than the sum of their parts. There is no answer that could definitely tell you before hand, whether someone is good for you or not. (Even if I think the Enneagram+MBTI combination and maturity level together are a much better indicator, once you know yourself well enough, you wouldn't know these things without getting to know the person at least a little deeper, so it's kind of a retrospective interpretive tool.)

I've had really meaningful and successful relationships with individuals of types that were doomed according to this relationship theory, and really bad relationships with individuals I should have gotten along with according to it. And I still have yet to find an ESTP who would sweep me of my feet, or even become a long term friend. And it's not for the lack of ESTPs in the world.

That's just my two cents.



Monday, 14 May 2018

Just a thought on gender and MBTI


I recently read this great book:


I think it really summed up all the nonsense about gender differences in popularised science, and it improved my understanding about neuroscience and psychological research.

What seems to be the most popular idea about gender differences is the theory about the "systemizing" male brain and "empathizing" female brain. Or how women are naturally attuned to details, while men understand the big picture. The author of this book tries to show how little credible support these theories actually have in science, and since I already (I'll admit) found it hard to believe in these kinds of claims, everything in the book made perfect sense to me and reinforced the idea that people see these differences because they want to see them.

So, while I was reading this book, which does a really good job at debunking myths and showing what really goes on behind convincing looking test results, I couldn't help but think how much more scientists would have on the table if they could just stop and take MBTI (the Jung version) seriously for a minute.

I know many people have said this before me, so I'm not alone thinking like this. I have no reason to believe that "a male brain" sees the big picture and "a female brain" is focused on the details, because everything in my life so far disproves it. I've never heard a stereotype about how male and female brain works, looked around me, and said: "Hey, I really see it in people!". While the more I learn about cognitive functions the more people's patterns of behavior and thought processes make sense to me.

As for me, I'm an INFJ so as an Introverted Intuition -dominant type I am, for sure, much better with the large scale of things, long term planning, understanding abstract concepts, and other supposedly "male" things rather than minute details. And I definitely suffer from tunnel vision too, rather than from being short-sighted. (I also don't have any trouble reading maps, thank you very much, since I'm a visual learner.)

It just so happens, that my mother is an ENFJ and my father is an ISFJ, so... guess which one is the high-earning, pioneering, workaholic and which one is the nurturing empathizer. (I know, that's a stereotype too, just an MBTI one, and there's no reason why it couldn't be reversed in another ENFJ and ISFJ. I just pointed it out to further illustrate my point.)

Also my brother is an ESTP. Guess which one of us excelled in tasks like cleaning and cooking when we were little, and which one still plain doesn't see the trash at the door that needs to be taken out, when literally walking past it. (I've learned cooking and cleaning okay since then, though.)

While you're at it, guess who's better at math, my brother or my sister. (An ENFP. Not too bad with her Extroverted Thinking.)

Of course, there are things about me that are supposedly "feminine." Understanding of other people's viewpoints has always been my forte. (Again, not surprising for an INFJ.) And there definitely are things about my mom and dad that people could see and go: "Oh well, you're a woman after all" or "Men are so like that". Like the fact that my mom can't park the car very well into small spaces (She's not a visual or a kinesthetic person.) or that my dad often can't simultaneously listen while doing something else. (Something I've noticed in a lot of Si-users.) Also my brother is so much better at sports than me. (How shocking for an ESTP to beat an INFJ.)

But... what I see as the problem is when only the latter things get recognized. People go on and on about how "men are like this" and "you're like that because you're a woman"... while completely ignoring all the things about that man or woman that are thought of as belonging to the other sex. Seriously, they don't even see it. (My mom and dad are no exception to this by the way... I can't count how many times I've heard phrases like "female logic" from dad and men's "one-track mind" from mom.)

I think it's really curious how the stereotypical behavior only ever gets recognized when it's coming from the sex people expect it from. They are totally oblivious to any stereotypical "male" qualities in a woman and stereotypical "female" qualities in a man. (Unless they're looking to bully someone.)

I think the people in my family are pretty well-balanced individuals, and it wouldn't be hard to come up with an equal amount of so-called "feminine" and "masculine" qualities in each of us. I think this is the case with the majority of people. But for some reason, not that many people seem to like this idea.

I get it. It gets on their ego. (But that's kind of what makes it even more annoying to me.)

Some people, when they look at me, just always emphasize certain things about me, things like, my kindness, my warm understanding, the beauty and sensitivity of my writing (not my words), my patience with children, my compassion for other people, or my love for Jane Austen and fairy tales.

Because those things make sense in a woman in their eyes, right?...

And, what, my ambition, my originality, my compelling plots and my knack for suspense, my career-mindedness, my love for epic fantasy and Doctor Who, and my passionate debates about Sherlock Holmes get passed as... little feminine quirks?

Oh, and by the way, the fact that I dare to care about this, means I'm emotional and weak. (Eh, I actually didn't intend for this to turn into a rant...)

Naturally, I'm just talking about a certain group of people here.

I guess reading that book just got me thinking again, how it doesn't make any sense to be so decided about finding an innate difference that explains it all, in male and female brains. How it's just annoying when people in your life are so predisposed to see only certain things about you, that fit into their idea of a man or a woman.

And how ridiculous gender stereotypes seem in the light of MBTI, which has harmful stereotypes of it's own, but even the stereotypes of MBTI presents a more complex understanding of human nature than popularized neuroscience!

I guess that last bit was my point all along.

This isn't my most coherent day. :D

Friday, 27 April 2018

Stereotypes


I've made fun of MBTI stereotypes before in this post, but recently I've been thinking about it again; how annoying it gets, when people forget about how complex everyone is, or how your MBTI is hardly your whole personality. Actually you could say that MBTI is not about personality at all, at least, not about what people often think personality is. MBTI is about cognition. How you take in information and process it.

Of course this will lead to common characteristics. Just the other day, I too found myself saying: "I think Si-users are often tidier than Se-users". And maybe it's true in general, though I can't say for sure because it's just what I remember seeing around. In any case, what I shouldn't forget is, that it's not the whole truth. If I started typing someone based on things like how tidy their room is, I would definitely make a lot of mistakes.

And people do make these mistakes. Like once upon a time on a forum someone asked me: "Are you sure you're not an ESTP?" And apparently this was based on their perception of my general activity level in life, things like how often I played sports. Like, liking to move was way too much of an Se thing for an INFJ.

Being an Se-inferior doesn't mean you don't like sports. Being a Ti-inferior doesn't mean you're stupid. Being an Fe-inferior doesn't mean you can't put yourself in someone else's shoes.

Just like Being an Si-dom doesn't mean you have a good memory, and being an Fe-dom doesn't mean you're kind.

INTs are cold, hard logic types who look down on emotions, right?

Well, I know an INTP who talks about his emotions more than any of my Fe-friends. He also worries about the world more than my Fi-friends.

ES-type's brain would explode if they had an original thought, right?

I know an ESFP who won a poetry contest and her poem was praised for the beauty of language and insight into human nature. Sounds like typical NF-stuff?

I also know an INFP who goes for a run or hits the gym every day, and an ESFP who can't even be persuaded to go for a walk.

I know an INTJ who praises good movies for their emotional impact, an ESTP who writes cheesy love songs, an ISFJ who is LOUD and charismatic. Also an ISFJ who is one of the meanest people I know, and an INTJ who couldn't hurt a fly, no matter how "efficient" it would be. An ESFJ who went against all the traditions and beliefs of her family, an ISTJ who failed math, an ENFJ with a resting bitch face, an ISFP who couldn't draw a stick figure, an ESTJ who is the most quiet and humble person in his family...

Also, the most devoted theists I know happen to be INTs.
While the most vocal atheists I know are INFs.

Funny world, huh?

Empathy is a human trait, not an Fe-trait. Athletic abilities are not exclusive to Se-doms and auxs.  Absolutely anyone can be good, or bad at these things. And it enforces harmful, narrow views about human nature in general when people use the theory to say "You are this, so you can't also be this". Humans are way more complex than that.

I suppose some people would question, at this point, what the MBTI theory is good for then, if you can't predict people with it?

Well, it's not that you can't. It's just that this isn't the kind of stuff that has anything to do with your MBTI type.

MBTI doesn't answer the question of what you like, or are good at, or believe in.

The way I've come to see it, is that MBTI is about why you like the things you like the way you like them, why you are good at the things you are good at the way you're good at them, why you believe the things you believe the way you believe them. Why you generally do anything the way you do it. Not what you do. The way you do it.

So yes, I think MBTI is absolutely a good tool at understanding people. You just have to use it the way it was meant to.



Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Si vs Se imitation



Once again, I have my ESFJ 1 to thank for bringing something to my mind. We were discussing some typings of fictional characters on various blogs, and she brought my attention to some frequently mistyped characters, and I remembered this old dilemma: Which is THE imitating function, Si or Se?




Well, one answer is, they both are. Just in different ways.

The other answer would be Se, in this context. Because it's pretty much always the Se kind that people mistake for Si kind. The Si kind might not even get recognized as imitation.

I understand this mistake is easy to make with all the vague function descriptions out there, but it's also pretty easy to correct if you look at the actual individuals of Se and Si types in real life.

I've had friends of both types who are gifted at imitating in their own ways, so I will use them as examples. Obviously the kind of imitation they do will depend on which are their strong learning channels, so I'll compare two of my friends who are both auditive types.

I had an ESFP friend at school who was really good at imitating voices. She could perfectly pretend to be a certain cartoon character, or a comedian, or the president. Everyone would recognize it right away. This is your ”classic” imitation, I'm sure anyone can recognize it.

My ESFJ roommate is also gifted in the same area, but it might not be as obvious at first glance. Her forte is learning languages fast. I think she made me fully realize the difference between Se and Si a few years ago, when she asked me to give her singing lessons and I gave her a few songs to listen and rehearse, so I could make out the basics of her voice material. Then listening to her, I realized she was able to change her singing technique dramatically according to the original singer of the song (without even realizing she was doing it, or knowing anything about singing). But she didn't imitate the voice of the singer, as my ESFP friend would have. She just sort of moved her own voice along exactly the same ”route” as the original singer, if that makes sense.

So in this case, Se imitates the voice itself, the sound, the colour, the texture. It completely becomes what it hears. Si on the other hand, just repeats exactly what the other voice does, but in it's own way, with its own voice.

It makes sense if you think about the functions: Se adapts according to the environment, Si adapts the environment according to itself. Or at least, that's their viewpoint.


Saturday, 2 July 2016

What I Love About Enneatypes: Type Two


I'm aware that all the things I'm going to mention have their natural downside. That's how it is for every type and every person. I just want this post to focus on the good things. This is all coming from my subjective INFJ 9 viewpoint. It's what I personally love about type Twos, so it's also tied to our interaction, and the Twos I've had in my life.

Some of my favourite fictional Twos:








1. Their smile

Twos smile the most, and they do it best. They always have stars in their eyes when they smile. Twos have the most radiant, friendly, gentle and sensitive smiles of all enneagram types. I've admired these smiles my whole life, long before I knew these people shared a personality type in any theory.




These smiles have an amazing power, that I, as a typical expressionless-to-gloomy Nine, could never have and can't stop being in awe of. People are drawn to these smiles, a smile from a Two can really save someone's day. Sometimes Twos don't have to do anything else, just smile, and people will love them for it. They have natural, soft, and cheerful charisma. It's like they're sprinkling fairy dust from their eyes when they smile. And I'm really saying that with zero sarcasm.




Obviously, I'm one of the people really drawn to Twos' smiles. I'm like the founder of the fan club.


2. Expressiveness




Twos are often really good at expressing their feelings, and talking about them. For me, it's such a relief, because I can be good at conversation but first I need something to work with. If the other person doesn't give something out, I'm as useful as an empty seat. Twos put a lot of their thoughts and feelings out, so our conversations are always smooth. There are no awkward silences, because silence is okay, when it's as natural as talking. Me and Twos just seem to be really comfortable with each other. They're more talkative and I'm more silent but it's still always okay for the conversation to reach either end of the spectrum. Actually, it's okay because of that, I think. Somehow our comfort zones really complement each other.




Also, their face might be the easiest for me to read in general, because they almost always react with expression, their face is alive all the time. It's easy to feel connected to them, because they really communicate with everything in them. Even though they might not like the sound of being like ”an open book”, to me it's all positive. It makes all communication so much easier, because I don't have to do anything to "set the mood" which I'm no good at.




3. Agression




This is related to the previous one, but it's special from my point of view. Twos can lash out at people, they can ran from the room with doors slamming, they can give you silent treatment for days... and expect everything to be okay right after. It's totally normal for them, they do it all the time, and for some reason it looks refreshing to me. Well, obviously because I can't do any of that. I struggle getting in touch with my agression in the first place. But it comes so naturally to Twos, and I guess it gives me a feeling of security, seeing how freely they can express their anger without fearing losing anyone. (Not saying they never fear it, of course.)




On the contrary, actually. They can do it, because they expect people to come running after them. They want them to. I guess I see that as an expression of a sense of self, and I admire that. I know people also think this is petty and childish, because it hurts their pride, but this is how I see it.


4. Considerateness

Other types may be aware of people's needs and be good at responding to them, but Twos are more than that. They are always ahead. When they think you might be thirsty, they've already prepared something for when you'll want something salty. I don't want to reinforce the image of Twos as housewives but that came to my mind first. Think of it analogically if you want.

I know some people can find Twos pushy, but I admire how they're always actively seeking ways to make people's days brighter. They bring so much colour around them, because they aren't about bare necessities. They don't just try to help. They try to make people happy. They don't just help people with what's on the table. They always bring something more.




They don't spare compliments either, but even so they usually do honestly mean what they say. They acknowledge that people need friendly words, reaffirmation, thanking, and everything that other types might easily leave unsaid.


5. The epitome of the Golden Rule




I don't just mean to say that Twos generally treat others well. I also mean that they put a lot of effort into treating others pretty much exactly the way they would want to be treated, whether they do it consciously or not.

Not that they don't feel good about helping others without receiving anything in return. Just that their ideal would be that they'd get the same treatment as they give. I think this is really great about Twos, once you realize it: They're putting their wishes out there in a way that hurts no one. (Unless it's about disintegration of course.)




I guess this is coming from the typical Nine inablity to put anything of oneself out there. So, as the reoccuring theme in this post seems to be, the way Twos put themselves out there, resonates with me. Because it's non-confrontational, gentle, other people benefit from it, and yet it's nontheless an expression of the Two's own self, needs, and personality. All in the same package. Brilliant.


So please, my lovable Twos, be proud of yourselves, and don't worry so much about what other people think of you. The ones that count, do love you.



Friday, 20 May 2016

What I Love About Enneatypes: Type One


Something like this was requested by my very awesome enneagram One roommate, so I'm probably going to do this about every other enneagram type in the future as well. One seems like the logical place to start anyway.

I'm aware that all the things I'm going to mention have their natural downside. That's how it is for every type and every person. I just want this post to focus on the good things. This is all coming from my subjective INFJ 9 viewpoint. It's what I personally love about type Ones, so it's also tied to our interaction, and the Ones I've had in my life.

Let's feature some of my favourite fictional Ones in all their oneness:







1. Follow-through

You asked an enneagram One to do something and they agreed? Consider it done. About five minutes ago.

No, but seriously, once Ones set out to do something they are generally very effective at finishing, and rather fast as well. I guess that's because they are so decisive. They don't just know their goal, they seem to know every step like each one of them was a goal itself. Not all of them notice this at all, because it's so natural for them to know which option out of many is the best one. It's their natural outlook on life.

I'm a social variant with a One-wing (stereotypically the most likely Nine to be a workaholic), so I'm actually on the ”work first” side as well, but Ones are obviously better with fast results than I am. That's why I generally love working with them, especially when not every member of a group can be trusted to do their part. The Ones will definitely do their part, most likely finish it first, and probably help others to finish theirs after that.


I relate to that slightly, but to a much lesser degree, because (as expected of an SO 9) most of my attention goes to improving things like group dynamics and interaction, finding compromises and making sure that nobody is left out etc. So whenever a functioning One is around in a situation like that, everything feels so much easier! They make me feel that things are going to work out. They are just so good at making them work out.





2. Justice

Ones judge people by their actions. When they're healthy, it's a really good thing in prejudiced environments. They couldn't care less about were you come from, or what other people think of you, or anything else about your ”status”. It's only what you do that matters to them. They generally have the same rules for everyone (even though they are the hardest on themselves) and rarely play favourites. They are ready to forgive and give second chances once you change your actions for the better. Healthy Ones won't shame you forever because you made mistakes once.







Again, Ones seem to balance me out in things like these. I'm easily too understanding, too forgiving, and want to have different rules for everyone, based on individuality, their wants, needs, strenghts, weaknesses, preferences and worldview, to a degree that simply no one has the resources for. Luckily, I've learned to call out my One-wing in these situations often enough over the past few years, and get the Nine idealism in check to identify a more solid agenda for myself when it's needed. I probably wouldn't have if I hadn't had so many enneagram Ones around.


3. Opinionated

”Very few things are ”whatever” to me.”

This is what my roommate says to me about once a week at least, because she has trouble comprehending my ”neutrality” sometimes.




I'm drawn to people with strong personality. Can't help it, it's just facinating to me, how some people can express themselves so clearly. Ones are definitely in that group of people. They're not explosive or all-over-the-place, on the contrary, they often seem tense or even rigid but even so, they have really strong personalities. And that's because they are so opinionated.

It's my comfort zone to interact with people like this. Ones are generally sure about everything, and they take pride in it. For some reason it kind of warms me up. I know some people feel quite threatened by it actually, but I'm a listener by nature and enjoy taking their viewpoint exactly because it's so solid, so clearly defined which I'm not. Somehow, even when they're unsure, they're able to make it seem like they're sure.





Also, talking with an accepting, healthy One for long enough, always makes me remember that I'm a lot less neutral about things than I generally appear to be. They inspire confidence in me, they make me feel like it's not just okay to be outwardly opinionated: it's important, so people actually know the real you.

They are also great critique partners/editors for a Nine, because their viewpoint is so clear. They can make me see it if I'm trying to accomodate too many viewpoints at once. My danger is being too accepting and theirs is being too stuck in their views so exchanging them always helps to get things into perspective, at least for me.


4. Energy

Not like duracel-bunny-jump-to-the-roof-and-roll-across-the-floor-can't-sit-still kind of energy. One's energy just is a constant, strong stream that never seems to run out. I guess you could say their ”active recovery” is beyond comprehension.

I've seen Ones having burn-outs that compare to no one of any other type, and yet they need exactly five minutes to rise from them. Especially when they've been down an unhealthy path, and then suddenly figure out where the right path is. It's like they're completely reborn in a second. It never stops amazing me.

Healthy Ones are very good at consistency, and balancing out work and play. Average Ones are mostly only good at work, and I know it's no good on logn term, but I can't help but admire some aspects of it, because they seem to pull it off so efforlessly. I'm not saying it's easy, but it's natural for them.




I'm quilty of workaholicism myself, but it's different. I work in energy spikes. I'm an absolute wreck everytime I finish something big and I need pretty much an equal amount of time to recover. Sometimes more. I can do nothing but school work one week, but then I'm most likely not going to do anything but read (fiction) books the next week.

I'm also easily overwhelmed if I have to do a lot of projects at the same time. I can't just do a portion of this and a portion of that one day, and another next day, without becoming very stressed out, like Ones can. I have to dive really deep and preferably do everything there is to do for one project at once (I know, rarely possible) before I can really even think about the next.

I know the way Ones work is more logical and more practical. So, to me, it seems like they can make their brains work in the way they find the most logical. I guess this is why Ones are so good all-rounders. While, for me, it seems everything I do is away from something else. To be really good at one thing, I have to absolutely suck at something else. Ones have an amazing ability to make no compromises, and I'm not sure how they do it. I'm not saying that Ones are always good at everything, but they do seem to have a really great ability to be good enough outside their comfort zone. Because work kind of is their comfort zone... They often get similar results, whether they hate or love what they're doing.

I guess work is work for them. I basically have to love what I do to be any good at it.





5. Integration

Ones integrate to Seven! Which means that at their best they're spiced up with exactly the right amount of spontaniety. They become fun-loving and silly, but I don't have to worry that it's going to get out of hand, or that I won't be able to keep up with it, like with so many other types (Actual Sevens!). Ones rarely need anyone to slow them down. Nor do I. When we get spontaneous together, it's still perfectly harmonious for my taste.



It's taking random moonlit walks, or going to a grill in the middle of the night.

It's watching, eating, or drinking something really bad and then having so much fun reviewing how bad it was.

It's staying up all night marathoning an anime series.

It's visiting a random town you've never been to, just for the heck of it.

It's coming up with random challenges, like ”let's make it a point to try every cake this cafĂ© has, so we can't just order what we always order the next 20 times we come here.”

It's having a lot of fun in subtle ways.

So what if you both have small comfort zones, when you can be happy in the bubble together?





These are my feelings for enneagram Ones at the moment. Stay awesome, don't be too hard on yourselves, and embrace that inner Seven!



Saturday, 30 April 2016

ISFP vs INFJ Art


I feel like people often look at some art and go like ”Wow. I don't get this. Must be Ni.” I also feel like it often is ISFP art people confuse for INFJ art. (Also sometimes vice versa.)

I think it's mostly because Ni has this weird reputation of being so difficult to understand. There seems to be a weird notion going around that if something is all-over-the-place-weird it must be Ni. Or that Ni is so subjective that the only person who can understand an INFJ's art is them.

Uh, no. And here's why.

INFJ: Ni: I have a neat idea. Fe: How do I express this in a way people are most likely to understand?
ISFP: Fi: My reality is like this. Se: What are the means that do it the most justice?

INFJs are auxiliary Fe users. The inspiration for their art is in Ni but they express it most of all through Fe. So, what they care about is finding the most effective way to convey their message. They use objective values to appeal to people's feelings in a way the idea gets across.

ISFPs express their Fi values through Se. So they're looking for the most authentic match for their inner experience from the outside, sensing world.

You could almost say ISFPs sculp, or bend the reality to take the shape of their inner world. INFJs just sort of navigate their inner world through the reality.

That's why it's actually more likely that the outer expression of ISFP art is harder to the masses to understand than INFJ art. INFJ art is generally going to look more ”conventional” because they use objective criteria in their expression. ISFPs use whatever means they can in their expression. All that matters is that it comes as close to their actual subjective reality as possible.

I think if there ever was one time I doubted if I'm an INFJ it was when I saw art or listened to music that was supposedly by INFJs. Now I'm pretty sure most of it was by ISFPs. It was very Se-heavy, very impressionistic. As an Fe-aux, Se-inferior, that stuff often seems too all-over-the-place for me, like they're trying to express too much at once without enough cohesion. It's in my nature not to be able to take in that much without a common thread.

Cohesion is a key word for INFJs. It seems to me that most people don't understand this. INFJs are labeled as ”thinking out of the box” way too much and I think the way INFJs think out of the box is widely misunderstood in the first place. People seem to think it's generally ”wild” and ”random” almost like Ne but with an eerie touch or something.

A lot like this:

Now, that's Fi+Se, that's ISFP. (And being a sensor still doesn't mean you don't think out of the box.)

In fact the INFJ ”thinking out of the box” generally looks way more ”modest” in some sense. That's because their expression is so grounded in objective values. When there's something ”unorthodox” about it, it's usually subtle, because it's still reflective of Fe values. It's like a twist in a common trope if you think of fiction.

Here's an example from my gallery:




I picked a simple one to illustrate my point. Here the thing is basically just this: Candles don't usually float and a flame is usually not heart shaped. The theme of this picture was ”love”. Love is often portrayed as a candle, so I wanted to draw a candle that describes love not only by being a candle but by what kind of candle it is. The rest of the interpretation is up to you, the point is how clearly it uses common values to its advantage in the expression.

Also, I drew this after seeing how many people portrayed the theme love (in the 100 theme challenge, which this is part of) as something that makes you lose your mind and sleep, and is just overall chaotic. I wanted to draw it as something that brings light and warmth and makes you see more clearly. My point is: Even when I went against the common opinion I still used common opinions to express my idea of love. This is what you should generally look for in INFJ art.

Another example:



This is probably the most typical kind of picture for me, since it's one of my characters and the picture represents a certain point in her story.

Let's analyze why this is typical INFJ art. It's tied together with a really clear theme: The colour red. You don't even have to be aware that it represents blood, it's a clear enough theme anyway. And here's what it does: It blurs the details in the Moon, the sky, the water and the cape and brings out their similar qualities in a way that makes them blend together to make a background for what is the focus in this picture: the girl, the most clearly outlined element in it. That's typical Ni+Ti. Ni sees the similar patterns and Ti helps to articulate their expression by compromizing details.

Then my Fe ways: I draw big eyes and facial features because that way the expression has the most weight, and that's what I'm most often trying to convey: emotion. Unlike Fi, my focus is not on expressing how it feels, or what it essentially ”is”. I try to express what it looks like and what it does. In short, I draw in a way that favours the clarity of facial expression over actual human anatomy, because the point of my art is to make people understand how the characters are feeling. That's how Fe works for me.

ISFPs are more likely to be experimental in their ways of making art. They're also more likely to challenge what art is, by their own expression. INFJs might totally stand up for an unappreciated art form or something like that, but they're more likely to express their own ideas in a way they think majority can already understand.

I guess I could conclude by saying that the general impression of INFJ art is that it manipulates details to draw attention where it wants it and the general impression of ISFP art is that the principles it works according to are not detectable in the outside world.

At least that's how it seems to me.