Jung’s Portrait of the INFJ / INTJ Types

Jung did not distinguish between the INFJ and INTJ types. Instead he focused on what was common to these two types as both were dominated by Introverted iNtuition (Ni). Jung has been noted by many to be a forbidding and inaccessible writer and reading him is indeed difficult.

Jung’s Portrait of the INFJ / INTJ Types

by Carl Gustav Jung, first published 1921

Introverted iNtuition (Ni) in general

Intuition, in the introverted attitude, is directed upon the inner object, a term we might justly apply to the elements of the unconscious. For the relation of inner objects to consciousness is entirely analogous to that of outer objects, although theirs is a psychological and not a physical reality. Inner objects appear to the intuitive perception as subjective images of things, which, though not met with in external experience, really determine the contents of the unconscious, i.e. the collective unconscious, in the last resort. Naturally, in their per se character, these contents are, not accessible to experience, a quality which they have in common with the outer object. For just as outer objects correspond only relatively with our perceptions of them, so the phenomenal forms of the inner object are also relative; products of their (to us) inaccessible essence and of the peculiar nature of the intuitive function. Like sensation, intuition also has its subjective factor, which is suppressed to the farthest limit in the extraverted intuition, but which becomes the decisive factor in the intuition of the introvert. Although this intuition may receive its impetus from outer objects, it is never arrested by the external possibilities, but stays with that factor which the outer object releases within.

Whereas introverted sensation is mainly confined to the perception of particular innervation phenomena by way of the unconscious, and does not go beyond them, intuition represses this side of the subjective factor and perceives the image which has really occasioned the innervation. Supposing, for instance, a man is overtaken by a psychogenic attack of giddiness. Sensation is arrested by the peculiar character of this innervation-disturbance, perceiving all its qualities, its intensity, its transient course, the nature of its origin and disappearance in their every detail, without raising the smallest inquiry concerning the nature of the thing which produced the disturbance, or advancing anything as to its content. Intuition, on the other hand, receives from the sensation only the impetus to immediate activity; it peers behind the scenes, quickly perceiving the inner image that gave rise to the specific phenomenon, i.e. the attack of vertigo, in the present case. It sees the image of a tottering man pierced through the heart by an arrow. This image fascinates the intuitive activity; it is arrested by it, and seeks to explore every detail of it. It holds fast to the vision, observing with the liveliest interest how the picture changes, unfolds further, and finally fades. In this way introverted intuition perceives all the background processes of consciousness with almost the same distinctness as extraverted sensation senses outer objects. For intuition, therefore, the unconscious images attain to the dignity of things or objects. But, because intuition excludes the co-operation of sensation, it obtains either no knowledge at all or at the best a very inadequate awareness of the innervation-disturbances or of the physical effects produced by the unconscious images. Accordingly, the images appear as though detached from the subject, as though existing in themselves without relation to the person.

Consequently, in the above-mentioned example, the introverted intuitive, when affected by the giddiness, would not imagine that the perceived image might also in some way refer to himself. Naturally, to one who is rationally orientated, such a thing seems almost unthinkable, but it is none the less a fact, and I have often experienced it in my dealings with this type.

The remarkable indifference of the extraverted intuitive in respect to outer objects is shared by the introverted intuitive in relation to the inner objects. Just as the extraverted intuitive is continually scenting out new possibilities, which he pursues with an equal unconcern both for his own welfare and for that of others, pressing on quite heedless of human considerations, tearing down what has only just been established in his everlasting search for change, so the introverted intuitive moves from image to image, chasing after every possibility in the teeming womb of the unconscious, without establishing any connection between the phenomenon and himself.  Just as the world can never become a moral problem for the man who merely senses it, so the world of images is never a moral problem to the intuitive. To the one just as much as to the other, it is an aesthenic problem, a question of perception, a ‘sensation’. In this way, the consciousness of his own bodily existence fades from the introverted intuitive’s view, as does its effect upon others. The extraverted standpoint would say of him: ‘Reality has no existence for him; he gives himself up to fruitless phantasies’. A perception of the unconscious images, produced in such inexhaustible abundance by the creative energy of life, is of course fruitless from the standpoint of immediate utility. But, since these images represent possible ways of viewing life, which in given circumstances have the power to provide a new energic potential, this function, which to the outer world is the strangest of all, is as indispensable to the total psychic economy as is the corresponding human type to the psychic life of a people. Had this type not existed, there would have been no prophets in Israel.

Introverted intuition apprehends the images which arise from the a priori, i.e. the inherited foundations of the unconscious mind. These archetypes, whose innermost nature is inaccessible to experience, represent the precipitate of psychic functioning of the whole ancestral line, i.e. the heaped-up, or pooled, experiences of organic existence in general, a million times repeated, and condensed into types. Hence, in these archetypes all experiences are represented which since primeval time have happened on this planet. Their archetypal distinctness is the more marked, the more frequently and intensely they have been experienced. The archetype would be — to borrow from Kant — the noumenon of the image which intuition perceives and, in perceiving, creates.

Since the unconscious is not just something that lies there, like a psychic caput mortuum, but is something that coexists and experiences inner transformations which are inherently related to general events, introverted intuition, through its perception of inner processes, gives certain data which may possess supreme importance for the comprehension of general occurrences: it can even foresee new possibilities in more or less clear outline, as well as the event which later actually transpires. Its prophetic prevision is to be explained from its relation to the archetypes which represent the law-determined course of all experienceable things.

The Introverted Intuitive [INTJ / INFJ] Type

The peculiar nature of introverted intuition, when given the priority, also produces a peculiar type of man, viz. the mystical dreamer and seer on the one hand, or the fantastical crank and artist on the other. The latter might be regarded as the normal case, since there is a general tendency of this type to confine himself to the perceptive character of intuition. As a rule, the intuitive stops at perception; perception is his principal problem, and — in the case of a productive artist-the shaping of perception. But the crank contents himself with the intuition by which he himself is shaped and determined. Intensification of intuition naturally often results in an extraordinary aloofness of the individual from tangible reality; he may even become a complete enigma to his own immediate circle.

If an artist, he reveals extraordinary, remote things in his art, which in iridescent profusion embrace both the significant and the banal, the lovely and the grotesque, the whimsical and the sublime. If not an artist, he is frequently an unappreciated genius, a great man ‘gone wrong’, a sort of wise simpleton, a figure for ‘psychological’ novels.

Although it is not altogether in the line of the introverted intuitive type to make of perception a moral problem, since a certain reinforcement of the rational functions is required for this, yet even a relatively slight differentiation of judgment would suffice to transfer intuitive perception from the purely æsthetic into the moral sphere. A variety of this type is thus produced which differs essentially from its æsthetic form, although none the less characteristic of the introverted intuitive. The moral problem comes into being when the intuitive tries to relate himself to his vision, when he is no longer satisfied with mere perception and its æsthetic shaping and estimation, but confronts the question: What does this mean for me and for the world? What emerges from this vision in the way of a duty or task, either for me or for the world? The pure intuitive who represses judgment or possesses it only under the spell of perception never meets this question fundamentally, since his only problem is the How of perception. He, therefore, finds the moral problem unintelligible, even absurd, and as far as possible forbids his thoughts to dwell upon the disconcerting vision. It is different with the morally orientated intuitive. He concerns himself with the meaning of his vision; he troubles less about its further æsthetic possibilities than about the possible moral effects which emerge from its intrinsic significance. His judgment allows him to discern, though often only darkly, that he, as a man and as a totality, is in some way inter-related with his vision, that it is something which cannot just be perceived but which also would fain become the life of the subject. Through this realization he feels bound to transform his vision into his own life. But, since he tends to rely exclusively upon his vision, his moral effort becomes one-sided; he makes himself and his life symbolic, adapted, it is true, to the inner and eternal meaning of events, but unadapted to the actual present-day reality. Therewith he also deprives himself of any influence upon it, because he remains unintelligible. His language is not that which is commonly spoken — it becomes too subjective. His argument lacks convincing reason. He can only confess or pronounce. His is the ‘voice of one crying in the wilderness’.

The introverted intuitive’s chief repression falls upon the sensation of the object. His unconscious is characterized by this fact. For we find in his unconscious a compensatory extraverted sensation function of an archaic character. The unconscious personality may, therefore, best be described as an extraverted sensation-type of a rather low and primitive order. Impulsiveness and unrestraint are the characters of this sensation, combined with an extraordinary dependence upon the sense impression. This latter quality is a compensation to the thin upper air of the conscious attitude, giving it a certain weight, so that complete ‘sublimation’ is prevented. But if, through a forced exaggeration of the conscious attitude, a complete subordination to the inner perception should develop, the unconscious becomes an opposition, giving rise to compulsive sensations whose excessive dependence upon the object is in frank conflict with the conscious attitude. The form of neurosis is a compulsion-neurosis, exhibiting symptoms that are partly hypochondriacal manifestations, partly hypersensibility of the sense organs and partly compulsive ties to definite persons or other objects.

5 Comments

  1. Applies more to INFJ. Remember there were no INFJ’s nor INTJ’s in Jung’s day. (I mean in reality there where but not in Jung’s world). Jung’s “Psychological Types” says nothing of this.

    Jung was only looking at dominant function here. A person is most accurately described by their dominant and auxiliary, with developing the tertiary and inferior functions in later life. Ni Fe is vastly different from Ni Te.

    This description falls more in line with an INFJ not an INFJ/INTJ. As INFJ is more mystical more likely to be considered having “crankish” theories. Te is more practical type of thinking. Which leads INTJ’s away from mysticism and art etc. Ti is more suited to pure logic.

    I challenge you to find a single one of my theories as mystical. Or in fact any modern INTJ. Newton is a counter example but the man lived almost 400 years ago. It would have been highly unusual for the time NOT to believe in any mysticalness whatsoever, even among staunchest of scientists. Context matters.

  2. The two can coexist within a person, I know from experience. I am an INFJ who is prone to ponder about life, man, the world, the future, good and evil or existing without right or wrong, history, psychology, sociology, inevitability..
    I can relate strongly to the one crying in the wilderness, the prophet rambling about the nature of life and society’s present day psyche and attitutde, the artist expressing his inner turmoil, the wish, wanton and woe from perceiving the inner archetypes, nature of the soul, and having trouble appling it or giving it form in real-life, living in dreams and future possibilities detatched from the now to the point one may say he is not ‘living’.
    But yet at the same time I also have a strongly developed Thinking side, so much so that I enjoy and could lose myself in systems like codes and linguistic developments (like Grimms Laws). I have the urge or passion to know the how and why, to know the origins of things, to find out the theory, the idea, the Truth, and distill from my research the principles behind mechanisms and phenomena. I can get absorbed in thinking, neglecting all else, only getting gratification when I have made sense of something so that that theory and all it encompasses, the mechanism or system, is coherent and logic and apt for all phenomena it envelloped because the right one principle behind them all has been found.
    These both sides, be they developed cognitive skills or inherited, original ways the brain works from birth, I do use together, complementing each other. For instance, with regard to the psyche of an individual, I can tell (intuitively) that something ís, that something works in a certain way, that the person is such and such an individual, corresponding to a certain archetype, if you will, or even that all mankind shares such a psychological mechanism. In other words, I know the workings of the mechanism. Then I analyse the origins of that mechanism through logic, deducing from the ‘facts’ of the workings different possible originations and testing them in other made up scenarios until I am left with the must-be correct one. Similarly with my own deepest wishes and woe.
    In the same manner I concern myself also with history and the world of theoretical physics, the spiritual and mythology. My heart goes out to the mystical, and I want to truly know it, profoundly in all its depth, so I analyse the possibilities and find the underlying concepts, although I have difficulty explaining my findings, like a true INT-er.

    Do I make sense, or do I sound rather crankish?

  3. Haha, you sound like Jung in the sense that you use typology to complicate and nuance our world, rather than to tidy it up into neat little boxes :-)

  4. Matthew, that’s not at all true. It may be as true for any Ni type it may be false for any Ni type. I’m an INTJ and I fit Jung’s portrait. I also know of other INTJs who do. Yes, the auxiliary plays a role but Jung stresses that any auxiliary regardless of Thinking or Feeling gives a more realistic outlook to the perceiving dominant type.

  5. Rein, your style of language is very indicative of an INTJ, as is your deprecating way of stating, “I am not a true INTJer”. Many of us have made this mistake. I used to think that I was INFJ. However, I am happy to be completely wrong and you know more about who you are inwardly than we can. Everyone has a surface.

    Jung reveals his type in description of Fe, which is that of one for whom it is a blind spot or most certainly not valued. He is most certainly an INTJ who had well developed weaker functions so was well placed in the role of Counselor.

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