Some people come to this site after having read David Keirsey‘s portraits of the ISFP and the INFP. These people understandably think that out of those two portraits, the INFP portrait is the better fit for Bob Dylan.
Having read the portraits ourselves, we agree: Going by Keirsey’s portraits, INFP really is the better fit for Bob Dylan. But from a Jungian perspective, Dylan is still ISFP. Here’s why:
- ISFPs do not merely live “in the world of the senses”, as Keirsey’s portraits of the SP types would have you believe. Nor are they exclusively “sensers”. SP types also have an intuitive function (Ni), which is tertiary in the ISPs and repressed in the ESPs.
- So ISFPs have tertiary Ni, that is, they have Fi-Se-Ni. By contrast, INFPs have secondary Ne, that is, Fi-Ne-Si.
- Now as we know from Myers, Jung and van der Hoop, types who have Ne as one of their two top functions (such as INFPs) tend to find self-expression easy and typically pass through many different ideas, and perspectives on those ideas, over time.
- By contrast, we know from the same authors that the concepts distilled by Ni tend to have a hard time finding an outwards expression that adequately conveys what is going on inside. And likewise, we know that Ni types tend to cycle through fewer ideas over a lifetime than Ne types.
- (Exempt from this are ESP types. They repress Ni and so can resemble Ne types in working through lots of ideas. Likewise, ISJ types repress Ne and so can resemble Ni types by staying true to a few select ideas over a lifetime.)
- So Ne types tend to find self-expression easy and Ni types tend to find self-expression difficult.
- Of all the 16 types, the ISFP is perhaps the type that is the most at odds with expressing themselves adequately, because of their Fi-Ni axis. But their difficulty with traditional modes of self-expression will frequently be made up for by ingenious modes of alternative self-expression. (Through music, art, design, etc.)
- So Bob Dylan is not a “senser.” Regardless of whether he is INFP or ISFP, the man would still have a conscious interplay of both intuitive and sensing functions (as opposed to the types who repress either their intuition or their sensing).
- So the real question with regards to Bob Dylan is if Ne-Si or Se-Ni is the better fit for his personality. And as you can tell by now, we think the best fit is Se-Ni because his ideas are more singular and deeply ingrained and because difficulty with verbal self-expression is a perennial theme for Dylan.
Note that we are careful to pertain the comparative “looseness” of INFPs to ideas, rather than values. The values of an INFP are usually every bit as deeply held as those of the ISFP, but as noted, their perspectives and ideas tend to be greater in number as well as more loosely entertained.