The good, the bad and the ugly of Fe

So, before I delve deeper into the complexities of my most recent inferior Fe grip experience, I thought I’d go over my insights into how having to deal with (or “crutch”) inferior Fe has shaped my personality development and decision-making over the course of the last 29 years.

Over the past few years I have definitely experienced both the “positive” and the “negative” sides of my inferior function. I wholeheartedly agree with people’s description of it as childish, all-or-none, black-and-white. There are no shades of grey when dealing with the inferior, in both its good, bad and ugly forms. And since my conscious mind recently confronted my subconscious Fe with a “what the H-E-L-L were you thinking????” it has since retreated in shame back down where it belongs. The challenge for me is to find ways to integrate its most positive features while controlling its negative side.

As far as I can tell (my interpretation) all the various theories on “authentic living”, “stages of consciousness”, “enlightenment”, “meditation”, “achieving happiness” seem to revolve around finding ways to best stabilize and manage your mood, so that you are not constantly having to deal with the ups and downs that characterize everyday living. Having desires and seeking pleasures that appear to satisfy the mind (release dopamine), such as sex, love, food, addictions, affairs, obsessive behaviors, setting and achieving arbitrary, unsatisfying goals, offer only temporary relief since they serve as short-term crutches to the mind and sub-serve the subconscious mind. They simply serve to mask the stress of our everyday lives and as such give us short-term “highs” in the presence of our “desired object” as well as pretty devastating withdrawal “lows” when this “desired object” is taking away. The goal of “authentic living” or “conscious living” is to try to manage and even eliminate these temporary “stress-relievers/maskers” driven by our inferior functions, by working on the problem itself– identifying and trying to reduce the source of stress in our lives. By keeping our conscious minds safe from stress and by rearranging our lifestyles/daily activities/hobbies so that time is spent “completing the cognitive process stack” (for me, by blogging, even if no one is listening), there is no longer a need to “crutch” the inferior function since it will be used in a positive, and not negative, way. Happiness truly comes from within (keep the mind happy and bathed in the right amounts of dopamine, adrenaline, serotonin, etc and you will be happy).

It seems counter-intuitive, but for me a day watching television is way more draining than a day spent reading or working. I used to feel bad about my work-oriented lifestyle, like maybe I was “missing out” on life or something, since everyone else’s weekends were packed with outdoor activities and parties. The reality is though, that although I will occasionally enjoy these activities for the people and conversation they might bring, they are actually pretty draining on my psyche.

Ok, after my Ne-driven distraction, back to the main purpose of this blog.

INFERIOR Fe (my buried “narcissistic” self)

The UGLY

emotionalism– ie crazy amounts of emotions that you can’t control but must hide at all costs (usually by locking yourself in your room). Crying/being upset in response to any criticisms again your ideas (since you spent so much time on them), being upset for judgments against your character (especially if you are told you are too “cold”), deeply-felt heartbreak after the loss of someone you were close too (I guess this would apply to any close, emotionally-bonded family member, friend, lover).

obsessive-thoughts and detachment from reality– creation of a separate fantasy-world around “desirable object”, allows you to re-create those “happy feelings” you have when around the object, allows you to escape the realities of your stressful life.

expression of feelings to “desirable object”– once I’d given LO all my most cherished scientifically-related thoughts, I also ended up giving him most of my feelings towards him as well (in email). I read somewhere that an Fe user might regret? not expressing their deeply felt love towards someone– this was definitely how I felt at the time– I thought he deserved to know how he’d made me feel (and I think it helped a lot with the recovery process by relieving my mind of all those bottled up feelings).

loneliness and abandonment– especially after having a good time with “close” friends, feeling abandoned by your “desirable object”

The BAD

Admiration seeking (want/need to be “the best” at your chosen profession)– Ti-Fe can get on a goal-setting, goal-achieving role where work and success can seem like your sole purpose for living (although you start to feel less and less “happy” about achieving each successive goal– characteristics of an obsessive/addictive behavior).

It is fickle and it has tunnel-vision. For instance, I love helping people that I like and am bonded to, but am very slow to offer help to strangers. It will also get pretty upset at any perceived transgression or criticism and if significant enough, this might lead me to hold a grudge for a long time or drop you entirely.

It’s inferior position makes it hard to find people I’m interested in pursuing a friendship with. Usually they have to be intelligent, witty and capable of carrying on a good conversation (and appear to like the conversation I have to offer). If not, in my interactions with strangers/acquaintances I probably appear “cold”, “detached” and “uninterested/bored”.

If people don’t show interest in continuing the friendship/don’t respond to an email, I won’t repeatedly attempt to contact them to keep the friendship alive.

I get bored with people very easily. I find my mind far more entertaining at times.

It’s very self-centered (I’ll be helpful only if it makes ME happy– I guess dominant Fe users are happy helping EVERYONE)

Emotional neediness (a need to show love and be loved)– although consciously seeking independence and freedom, deep down I know that I crave at least one other closely-bonded person in my life (at all times….). Because of this, I effectively haven’t been single (in my mind) for 11 years.

Empathy– this is good and bad, since at times people’s emotional outbursts can really affect you and cause you to feel similar emotions. This happened when LO broke down and revealed a previously hidden emotional/sentimental side. He seemed truly upset that I was leaving, and this ended up strengthening the bond for me and making the whole thing even more upsetting.

Although Fe confers empathy it does nothing in terms of giving us any innate abilities to express sympathy. I have absolutely no idea what to do when confronted with someone who is crying. I’d want to be left alone, so I usually project that on the person. I also can’t for the life of me “conjure” up the right emotion or know how to make someone feel better. Being around emotions stresses me out and I usually get up and leave.

Not being able to feel “love”– For instance, I don’t think I’ve ever felt what it’s like “to love”, rather I only consciously realize that I’m “in love” when I perceive some interest from another person. I always feel like I’m falling in love with someone who fell in love with me first (explains some of my bad choices)! I’ve therefore never had the– “that guy is intelligent, funny, well-adjusted– I’m going to ask him on a date” moment. Neither do I ever feel attracted to men, unless there is some emotional-bonding first. I’ve realized that my actions let me know when I truly love someone.

Passionate outbursts– Fe can lead to some pretty interesting and potentially misinterpreted outbursts that come with a lot of emotion, especially when people are discussing topics that you’ve thought about a lot and hold close to your heart (especially if you think people are wrong in their opinions). These are usually “speaking before thinking” moments.

The GOOD

Almost instant identification of someone you could be friends with (rare, but it happens).

Empathy– allows you to understand other people’s emotions (especially if you’ve felt them yourself). You may also begin to “feel” like they “feel” (ie I can easily get depressed or in a bad mood if sitting next to a depressed person.

Allows you to carry on a pretty interesting conversation especially if it’s a topic that interests you or something related but that you’d never thought of. And especially if there appears to be some interest on the other end.

Innate “emotional bonding” behaviors– food sharing, eye contact, smiling, ability to tell jokes, teasing, laugh at other people’s jokes, gossiping, hugging, flirting, sharing thoughts/ideas/feelings (although I find all of these very INTENSE and when expressed (or returned) come with a lots of positive emotions and “meaning”)

Allows you to express your love for someone with “actions” rather than “words”. For instance, I enjoy doing chores around the house just because I know it frees my busy husband from having to do them.

Any compliments about your intelligence, work, focus and even appearance will make you feel really good, especially if you like/trust the person giving them (even if you consciously don’t think you need/like compliments and never know how to respond, usually saying something self-deprecating in return).

DEEP CARING

Allows you to participate in organization or activities that indirectly help people (and it may even prompt you to take on some leadership positions, especially later in development).

Any other experiences with inferior Fe?

edits 5 July 2012– (good or bad?)– an affinity for cheesy, simple popular music (love songs, heartbreak, etc) movies and novels (especially when in love or experiencing heartbreak). I guess unless one of your main interests is music. I just can’t be bothered doing the added research unless someone suggests something interesting to me (same with novels).

(very ugly)– an ability to get your sense of self/self-worth tied up in another person that losing that person leads to a great sense of despair/depersonalization. Until you realize how stupid you are for giving that person too much power over you and you start to build yourself back up again (slow process!!!)

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About intpblogger

I'm a 29 year old female currently wrapping up my PhD in Neuroscience, which looked at the molecular underpinnings of learning and memory. I've just recently stumbled upon the fascinating world of personality types and how our type guides our perception of the world, the people around us and the decisions we make. I'm especially interested in the process through which neuromodulators, released during periods of stress, bonding and romantic love/limerence influence our personalities (and how this might differ between types). My posts will be based on a mixture of thoughts, personal experiences, ideas and things I've read along the way. Since I've traditionally stuck to the molecular/cellular side of neuroscience and possibly scoffed at social psychology in the past (ashamed) I only "discovered" Myers-Briggs theory and myself a week ago, after a seemingly long period of a what I would call an "identity crisis". But more on that later. As an INTP (I think), I'd like to think I have some unique insight to share with all of you, but I don't necessarily think I hold all the answers nor will I be able to express them as clearly as some would wish. So, I welcome all clarifications, challenges, criticisms, different perspectives, thoughts, personal experiences from other INTPs as well as all other personality types that choose to join me on this journey. The idea here is to gain insight into my mind and the mind of others through the mutual sharing of ideas, thoughts and experiences. Onwards.

11 responses to “The good, the bad and the ugly of Fe”

  1. xenogirl says :

    Please know how incredibly helpful it is for me to be following your blog. Your descriptions of the INTP process and life experience are so similar to mine. It is quite rare for me to identify with someone! Your insights are especially interesting because of your expertise in neuroscience. Thank you… please keep writing.

    • intpblogger says :

      I’m happy that you are finding it helpful! I find it fascinating/eerie that people from different places with different life situations and jobs can end up with such similar worldviews (I guess because we are all “programmed” the same way)! And yet we can’t seem to understand the people in our immediate environments!

  2. bioshell says :

    Hi! I found your blog by reading another one about INTPs. I have found myself in a very a similar situation to yours. I found out about types just a few months ago and I’m sort of obsessed about it now (typical INTP?). Actually I don’t know for sure I’m INTP, all the test say so but I’m not sure since I’m not really a ‘deep thinker’, although I’m no dummy ( I have a BSEE and a BS in Math). – I’m currently thinking a lot about a girl at work. She is smart (BS biochem) and beautiful, but most fascinating for me was that she is really introverted and sort of shy; just like me. I never really met a girl like her. Well, things are not going well for me since I lack relationship skills and she doesn’t find me interesting, but I just can’t stop functioning right now, she’s all I can think of. I just finished school and I’m going to look for another job soon. The thing is I’m missing on job opportunities because I just want to be around this girl as much as possible- she moves to another state for grad school soon. Even when I see no possibility of making her like me, I still ‘feel’ I need to be there and just look at her. After reading your blog I can see that I’m not alone in this type of situations and it makes me feel somewhat less strange. I keep wondering, why do I feel that being in love is even more important than my career? I feel like I have nothing when I feel that I have to be in a relationship but I’m not. Whenever I decide that I’m better off not looking for love, I am much more focused on my interests and career. what is it about love? Anyway, I found your blog really interesting, it is helping me to understand a little about myself. -As a side note, a few years ago I dismissed the personality type as junk science when my psychology-major bother suggested it,and now I think it’s incredibly interesting, there is something to it.—-Sorry if I don’t make sense, english is not my first language and writing is not one of my stronger skills.

    • intpblogger says :

      Hi bioshell,

      Yes, I can definitely relate since love did preoccupy my mind for the good part of a decade. As INTPs we think that love will make us whole, so it’s a big driving force in our lives! However, I would suggest you read Personality Junkie and read how the inferior function messes with our usually logical decision-making skills! The psychological state of “romantic love” or even a very intense crush (limerence), driven by adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin (as well as sex hormones) is self-induced and temporary- you are definitely going to want to find someone who is interested in your ideas if you want a fulfilling and long-lasting relationship! I think our brains are naturally low on those neuromodulators (or we have less of the receptors that bind them) so we spend our lives trying to find ways to make our brain make more, in order to feel more “human”. Sharing your ideas with people that are intelligent, interested and can debate or discuss with you seems to be work well. This probably means you will be more likely to find love in your work environments.

      Don’t worry the social and relationship skills will come in time, I found I developed them gradually through working with people.

      As for the “deep thinker” ability, I think our quest for love kind of co-opts those abilities in our young adult years by high-jacking our thinking and perceiving functions and using them to create a rich fantasy life that keeps us too busy to think about anything else. I’m now filled with things to think about that I would never have considered even a few months ago. But, I would never have come to them without my personal experiences, so there is something to be said about going with your feelings and just living life! (although life can be quite painful at times)

      I think I would also have dismissed personality types a few years ago! But now I am quite addicted to it!

      Good luck!

  3. jason evans says :

    We as INTPs are clumsy with Fe. It’s like swinging a big baseball bat that is too heavy for us to handle the right way. We can swing and hit a homerun, or we can obliterate something we didn’t mean to. We can also drop it and crush our toes. That’s where this all or nothing, big-swings-on-the-spectrum come from. Our lack of refined skill at feeling functions.

  4. jason evans says :

    Whoops. I hit return and the comment posted. Anyway, I have a theory that we don’t develop our preferred cognitive functions first, then have inferior functions as a result because we used up too much bandwidth to be good at them. I think it’s the opposite. We seek solace in the things we are good at, because we flee the things we are bad at. It’s a negative-driven developmental process. I can definitely relate to how you feel about people and how your relationships form and blow up. Also the hard-to-manage intensity and the mistakes that leads you to.

    • intpblogger says :

      I agree. I definitely think that we have access to all our preferred functions from the very beginning of our development. The inferior functions are more likely to trip us up at a younger age because we haven’t really figured out what stresses us out the most (causes the “negative” response). Once I figured out that people and emotions were a problem for me (as well as being wrong, or making mistakes), I completely abandoned the idea of making any new close friendships (plus, the people you can relate to as an INTP get fewer and farther between as you grow more specialized and esoteric) and concentrated on my books, studying and work instead. Maybe, like you said, INTPs learn all they know about the world through a process of negative-reinforcement and by staying away from the distracting and painful world of people??? However this type of learning is very unlikely to keep us happy and is actually more likely to lead to a state of cynicism, skepticism, self-doubt and boredom with the world due to the lack of positive neuromodulators floating around (as I’ve come to realize). We need to extravert our thoughts and ideas to the world and form intellectual/emotional connections with people that actually seem to care about what we have to offer. We derive our positive energy (positive neuromodulators) from people who actually like discussing our ideas with us (and therefore like “us”, because that’s what we are deep down inside), need our knowledge/help and want to be around us so that we can dissect our minds together. Unfortunately I had to learn that the hard way! I can definitely say that “mindmates” are truly addictive for the INTP and can lead to a state of co-dependency if the relationship is left unchecked (ie I’m not sure it’s a good idea to give all your thoughts to just one person and thereby allow that person to be the “source” of your positive energy (even though your own mind is the source of all the energy– somehow the mind will always make that silly connection because of its innate need to attach love to objects in the external world). However, this is very hard to resist since once the mind has identified said person they act as a magnet and you can’t stop yourself from wanting more and more conversations with them). Plus, like you mentioned in one of your posts, it’s easy to get caught up in the “moments” and think that the other person is just as enthralled with the scientific discussions as you are (they are likely picking up something completely different from the interaction, especially since we are subconsciously good at meeting the emotional needs of other people!). Unfortunately, potential mindmates don’t come around too often, in my experience, even in academic science (full of ENTJs that want to control me and my ideas!). So, I’ve now resorted to “spreading the Fe love around” and using it, like you said, to collect those small pebbles from spreading my ideas and knowledge around, helping out the younger generation of scientists, nurturing my close friendships, reconnecting with family and just enjoying the more subtle “bonding” or “connecting” experience that you get with people that you might not entirely “click” with. Anyway, I think it’s safer that way and probably way more rewarding in the long run.

  5. iverpotter says :

    Great blog, am pleased to have found it. I can relate entirely to the scenario described here. In my case, the more observations I make about modern life (and surely observing / gathering data is the INTP staple) the more I tend to withdraw back into myself and away from the sources of the perceived stress and irritation. Entirely logical. The conclusions dictate the behaviour. It’s ok for a while but soon the chronic lack of exposure to positive energy begins to bite and I become isolated and tired of myself. I then have to reconcile the issue of being “correct” in my own mind but unhappy with the “experience” of the outcome. Highly frustrating.

    • intpblogger says :

      Completely agree. I do the same thing. I am much more comfortable and productive in my own little bubble (my friends like to say I am living under a rock), but protecting ourselves from the stress and negative emotions that come from interacting with others (and I find neg. emotions surface only when dealing with other people, not usually from daily events, the news, or small annoyances) also means we are cutting ourselves off from the positive emotions of group interaction/team-building/bonding/feedback, etc. It is a constant back-and-forth struggle for me, between wanting to concentrate independently on my own work (because I need to be calm and emotionally balanced to work efficiently and effectively), and venturing out into the world to get the positive feedback and affection/praise I subconsciously need… I’m learning to take criticism and the negative emotions it generates in stride though, acknowledging that it is just my brain trying to come up with solutions to address the criticisms and better myself for next time. And they are usually short-lived, although they typically hang out in my brain for more days that the positive ones!!!

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