Jung’s Portrait of the INFP / ISFP Types

Jung did not distinguish between the INFP and ISFP types. Instead he focused on what was common to these two types as both were dominated by Introverted Feeling (Fi). This kinship has subsequently been denied (though not refuted) by David Keirsey. Jung has been noted by many to be a forbidding and inaccessible writer and reading him is indeed difficult.

Jung’s Portrait of the INFP / ISFP Types

by Carl Gustav Jung, first published 1921

Introverted Feeling (Fi) in general

Introverted feeling is determined principally by the subjective factor. This means that the feeling-judgment differs quite as essentially from extraverted feeling as does the introversion of thinking from extraversion. It is unquestionably difficult to give an intellectual presentation of the introverted feeling process, or even an approximate description of it, although the peculiar character of this kind of feeling simply stands out as soon as one becomes aware of it at all. Since it is primarily controlled by subjective preconditions, and is only secondarily concerned with the object, this feeling appears much less upon the surface and is, as a rule, misunderstood. It is a feeling which apparently depreciates the object; hence it usually becomes noticeable in its negative manifestations. The existence of a positive feeling can be inferred only indirectly, as it were. Its aim is not so much to accommodate to the objective fact as to stand above it, since its whole unconscious effort is to give reality to the underlying images. It is, as it were, continually seeking an image which has no existence in reality, but of which it has had a sort of previous vision. From objects that can never fit in with its aim it seems to glide unheedingly away. It strives after an inner intensity, to which at the most, objects contribute only an accessory stimulus. The depths of this feeling can only be divined — they can never be clearly comprehended. It makes men silent and difficult of access; with the sensitiveness of the mimosa, it shrinks from the brutality of the object, in order to expand into the depths of the subject. It puts forward negative feeling-judgments or assumes an air of profound indifference, as a measure of self-defence.

Primordial images are, of course, just as much idea as feeling. Thus, basic ideas such as God, freedom, immortality are just as much feeling-values as they are significant as ideas. Everything, therefore, that has been said of the introverted thinking refers equally to introverted feeling, only here everything is felt while there it was thought. But the fact that thoughts can generally be expressed more intelligibly than feelings demands a more than ordinary descriptive or artistic capacity before the real wealth of this feeling can be even approximately presented or communicated to the outer world. Whereas subjective thinking, on account of its unrelatedness, finds great difficulty in arousing an adequate understanding, the same, though in perhaps even higher degree, holds good for subjective feeling. In order to communicate with others it has to find an external form which is not only fitted to absorb the subjective feeling in a satisfying expression, but which must also convey it to one’s fellowman in such a way that a parallel process takes place in him. Thanks to the relatively great internal (as well as external) similarity of the human being, this effect can actually be achieved, although a form acceptable to feeling is extremely difficult to find, so long as it is still mainly orientated by the fathomless store of primordial images. But, when it becomes falsified by an egocentric attitude, it at once grows unsympathetic, since then its major concern is still with the ego. Such a case never fails to create an impression of sentimental self-love, with its constant effort to arouse interest and even morbid self-admiration just as the subjectified consciousness of the introverted thinker, striving after an abstraction of abstractions, only attains a supreme intensity of a thought-process in itself quite empty, so the intensification of egocentric feeling only leads to a contentless passionateness, which merely feels itself. This is the mystical, ecstatic stage, which prepares the way over into the extraverted functions repressed by feeling, just as introverted thinking is pitted against a primitive feeling, to which objects attach themselves with magical force, so introverted feeling is counterbalanced by a primitive thinking, whose concretism and slavery to facts passes all bounds. Continually emancipating itself from the relation to the object, this feeling creates a freedom, both of action and of conscience, that is only answerable to the subject, and that may even renounce all traditional values. But so much the more [p. 492] does unconscious thinking fall a victim to the power of objective facts.

The Introverted Feeling [INFP / ISFP] Types

It is principally among women that I have found the priority of introverted feeling. The proverb ‘Still waters run deep’ is very true of such women. They are mostly silent, inaccessible, and hard to understand; often they hide behind a childish or banal mask, and not infrequently their temperament is melancholic. They neither shine nor reveal themselves. Since they submit the control of their lives to their subjectively orientated feeling, their true motives generally remain concealed. Their outward demeanour is harmonious and inconspicuous; they reveal a delightful repose, a sympathetic parallelism, which has no desire to affect others, either to impress, influence, or change them in any way. Should this outer side be somewhat emphasized, a suspicion of neglectfulness and coldness may easily obtrude itself, which not seldom increases to a real indifference for the comfort and well-being of others. One distinctly feels the movement of feeling away from the object. With the normal type, however, such an event only occurs when the object has in some way too strong an effect. The harmonious feeling atmosphere rules only so long as the object moves upon its own way with a moderate feeling intensity, and makes no attempt to cross the other’s path. There is little effort to accompany the real emotions of the object, which tend to be damped and rebuffed, or to put it more aptly, are ‘cooled off’ by a negative feeling-judgment. Although one may find a constant readiness for a peaceful and harmonious companionship, the unfamiliar object is shown no touch of amiability, no gleam of responding warmth, but is met by a manner of apparent indifference or repelling coldness.

One may even be made to feel the superfluousness of one’s own existence. In the presence of something that might carry one away or arouse enthusiasm, this type observes a benevolent neutrality, tempered with an occasional trace of superiority and criticism that soon takes the wind out of the sails of a sensitive object. But a stormy emotion will be brusquely rejected with murderous coldness, unless it happens to catch the subject from the side of the unconscious, i.e. unless, through the animation of some primordial image, feeling is, as it were, taken captive. In which event such a woman simply feels a momentary laming, invariably producing, in due course, a still more violent resistance, which reaches the object in his most vulnerable spot. The relation to the object is, as far as possible, kept in a secure and tranquil middle state of feeling, where passion and its intemperateness are resolutely proscribed. Expression of feeling, therefore, remains niggardly and, when once aware of it at all, the object has a permanent sense of his undervaluation. Such, however, is not always the case, since very often the deficit remains unconscious; whereupon the unconscious feeling-claims gradually produce symptoms which compel a more serious attention.

A superficial judgment might well be betrayed, by a rather cold and reserved demeanour, into denying all feeling to this type. Such a view, however, would be quite false; the truth is, her feelings are intensive rather than extensive. They develop into the depth. Whereas, for instance, an extensive feeling of sympathy can express itself in both word and deed at the right place, thus quickly ridding itself of its impression, an intensive sympathy, because shut off from every means of expression, gains a passionate depth that embraces the misery of a world and is simply benumbed. It may possibly make an extravagant irruption, leading to some staggering act of an almost heroic character, to which, however, neither the object nor the subject can find a right relation. To the outer world, or to the blind eyes of the extravert, this sympathy looks like coldness, for it does nothing visibly, and an extraverted consciousness is unable to believe in invisible forces.

Such misunderstanding is a characteristic occurrence in the life of this type, and is commonly registered as a most weighty argument against any deeper feeling relation with the object. But the underlying, real object of this feeling is only dimly divined by the normal type. It may possibly express its aim and content in a concealed religiosity anxiously shielded, from profane eyes, or in intimate poetic forms equally safeguarded from surprise; not without a secret ambition to bring about some superiority over the object by such means. Women often express much of it in their children, letting their passionateness flow secretly into them.

Although in the normal type, the tendency, above alluded to, to overpower or coerce the object once openly and visibly with the thing secretly felt, rarely plays a disturbing role, and never leads to a serious attempt in this direction, some trace of it, none the less, leaks through into the personal effect upon the object, in the form of a domineering influence often difficult to define. It is sensed as a sort of stifling or oppressive feeling which holds the immediate circle under a spell. It gives a woman of this type a certain mysterious power that may prove terribly fascinating to the extraverted man, for it touches his unconscious. This power is derived from the deeply felt, unconscious images; consciousness, however, readily refers it to the ego, whereupon the influence becomes debased into personal tyranny. But, wherever the unconscious subject is identified with the ego, the mysterious power of the intensive feeling is also transformed into banal and arrogant ambition, vanity, and petty tyranny. This produces a type of woman most regrettably distinguished by her unscrupulous ambition and mischievous cruelty. But this change in the picture leads also to neurosis.

So long as the ego feels itself housed, as it were, beneath the heights of the unconscious subject, and feeling reveals something higher and mightier than the ego, the type is normal. The unconscious thinking is certainly archaic, yet its reductions may prove extremely helpful in compensating the occasional inclinations to exalt the ego into the subject. But, whenever this does take place by dint of complete suppression of the unconscious reductive thinking-products, the unconscious thinking goes over into opposition and becomes projected into objects. Whereupon the now egocentric subject comes to feel the power and importance of the depreciated object. Consciousness begins to feel ‘what others think’. Naturally, others are thinking, all sorts of baseness, scheming evil, and contriving all sorts of plots, secret intrigues, etc. To prevent this, the subject must also begin to carry out preventive intrigues, to suspect and sound others, to make subtle combinations. Assailed by rumours, he must make convulsive efforts to convert, if possible, a threatened inferiority into a superiority. Innumerable secret rivalries develop, and in these embittered struggles not only will no base or evil means be disdained, but even virtues will be misused and tampered with in order to play the trump card. Such a development must lead to exhaustion. The form of neurosis is neurasthenic rather than hysterical; in the case of women we often find severe collateral physical states, as for instance anæmia and its sequelæ.

4 Comments

  1. I really love this website however, I find it a shame that articles focus mostly on INTP and INTJ types. I would like the articles to be expanded to other types including INFJ and INFP types, I think it would make for a lot of interesting articles in which you sort of back up why you think each historical figure is that specific type. Thanks

  2. I don’t know if your readers are allowed to make requests but… Type Robert Smith please? And Claire Boucher?

  3. Excellent article! I very much enjoyed reading it, and thought maybe I could suggest an article topic. Would it be possible for you to write an article on differentiating ISFP and INFP? I know there are many people who are very confused about the difference, myself included, and as far as I know, there aren’t any pages on that topic yet. Thanks so much

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