ENFPs and Trauma

Meredith asked: “I have a friend who’s was a total ENFP but then he went through a traumatic experience and now he doesn’t seem like an ENFP at all. Could he have changed to an introverted type?”

Probably not, although, yes, if the trauma you’re referring to was physical head trauma, a stroke or anything that could cause brain damage and literal personality changes. However, I’m going to assume that you’re talking about something that was psychologically traumatizing.

First of all, everyone (hopefully) undergoes change in their character, and some more than others.

An ENFP who is depressed will very much likely either appear as though absolutely nothing is wrong, or will retreat into either an Fi/Si loop, or their shadow functions (INFJ).

Thus, if a damaged ENFP ends up taking the meyers briggs test, they will probably score as an INFJ, rather than an ENFP. The way to recognize them as an ENFP is to observe how their thought process regularly works, not how it works when they’re at their lowest, most vulnerable points.

ENFP in an Fi/Si loop Obsess over emotional experience and past trauma. Will either not want to let go of the past, or will pretend that it doesn’t exist and never face it (thus, will never get over it). Will spend much of the time feeling intensely their own pain. Will be more prone to procrastination, lack of motivation and will have trouble being passionate or finding meaning in life. Will neglect important tasks until the last minute, have difficulty believing in a better future and will likely appear introverted rather than extraverted.

ENFP Shadow: INFJ. Be stubborn about perceptions of how the future will be, and lock onto a vision that won’t happen (Ni). Can be quite critical and disgruntled about the expectations of the group to the point of rebellion and disengaging (Fe). May make statements or believe in ideas that are contradictory and illogical (Ti). Excessively seek physical stimulation or following the urge to do nothing; zero in on isolated details, acting impulsively on them (Se)

Individuals have varying ways of dealing with trauma. In general however, I’ve noticed that there are certain coping methods that are specific to ENFPs (though other types do all of these as well). Some of the methods are more healthy than others, but either way, here’s the list of most common themes:

  • Try to live vicariously through others by serving them (often to the point that they get hurt more).
  • Act recklessly and impulsively because nothing seems to matter any more.
  • Rebel against society by either acting out or by rejecting standard rules of morality.
  • Stop taking anything seriously, try to make everything in life a laugh.
  • Become sarcastic to the point that they can converse easily with INTJs.
  • Become overwhelmed by their emotions and fall into depression.
  • Find a creative outlet (such as music, art etc) and pursue it with vengeance.

9 thoughts on “ENFPs and Trauma

  1. I am an ENFP and I suffer from social anxiety and am rather sure that I also have an attachment disorder (- to live in my head is pure joy).

    In short, I grew up in a house where there was psychological abuse and the two closest to me were INFJ and INTJ. The two often say that I was a whining child and that, having grown up, I had lost my empathy (which was an unusual trait in my family). To this day, they are convinced that I am introverted, dramatic and happy. And they are always surprised when I interact with others.

    Even I do not suffer exactly of depression (well not anymore) I can relate to the fact that I became sarcastic to the point that I can converse easily with INTJs. But the interesting part is that against to react like an INFJ I am more like an ENTP.

    So I am not sure if I just evaluate intro something else or just develop a way to adapt myself to others (like a manipulator or something) to protecting myself…


  2. Hello, I used to think it was an INFP to have shown quite isolated moments in recent years [Fi] and rancorous [Si] – which may look like the so-called Fi-Si loop of INFPs – but i’m very hiperactive… and to analyze my past, can It is said that I had very similar traits with ENFPs. Seriously, I was just a shy person, but loved to play, yelling, running, fighting, attention, etc. I really felt free then, but after a trauma I had in school I ended up developing social phobia/ social anxiety, had moments I tried to socialize with other people because they really saw that needed it, but it seems it was never enough. I was afraid of trials because I did not have the necessary status to be accepted in such a group, which made me get away from the socialization and entering the world of the internet where I felt more free to talk, which made me find a friend INTJ that made me have a more realistic view of things – yes, it seems that he made me a more ”Machiavellian” worldview [Te]. Today I do therapy, physical activities and try to get more confidence and objectivism to destroy such currents. I am also 4w3, which is a natural tendency to introversion and individuality. It seems like I’m a real ”ambivert”. haha

    Anyway, I liked your text, but I do not understand why you have put Fi-Si loop, if it is almost a characteristic of INFPs… it would be more interesting to have put Ne-Si grip? While I think that traumatic events can make the introverted functions become more negative and more exposed.

    Anyway, sorry if English had errors, I’m not totally fluent. Thank you for your attention and I hope that answers if possible.


  3. I am an ENFP who lost a 19 year old child – I can relate to a couple of the items listed. I constantly get the you laugh at everything you’re always laughing and or I am in serious depressed mode. This child was killed in a car crash driven by her step mother at a speed of over 108 miles per hour – the incident killed my child her 18 year old best friend and the step mother whose toxicology came back positive for xanax, alcohol and cocaine. So lots of complex grief. Trying to get past it and let my true colors come back but it is extremely difficult. Any suggestions how to make life more . . . than the “new normal”?


    • I’m sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine. I wish that I was somebody who was good at comforting people, but I’m not.

      Traumas of that sort do not heal easily. Your life will probably never be the same again, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be a happy one, or that it can’t be wonderful. It’s been several years since I exited the traumatic events that gave me PTSD, and I don’t know that life after trauma can ever go back to the way it was. I too have a “new” normal. It’s not the same normal as I once had, but it’s a good normal. It’s a normal that is not absent of complex grief, and it’s a normal in which I am not the same person as I used to be.

      But frankly, the more I get used to this new normal, the more I realise that you cannot go through traumatic events and expect to to remain the same person that you were prior to those events. I’m in a bit of a different boat than you are, as my psychological response to trauma has been to disassociate from my past life rather than trying to hold onto it. I don’t necessarily think one is better than the other. It’s not healthy to hold on to the past too much, and it’s not healthy to deny that it happened.

      Slowly, I’m working towards trying to fully accept that my past actually happened to me and to understand how I responded to it. My suggestion to you is to do similarly. Slowly try to understand why your “new normal” is different from your old normal. Love your daughter, keep loving her always, but study your grief. Listen to yourself on a subconscious level and try to figure out exactly how your mind has responded to your trauma. Learn to understand who you are now rather than letting your Si function circle over the memory of what used to be forever.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Whoa. Thank you so much for this.
        I’ve been struggling against depression too (with help of anti-depressives and therapy). Well, the thing is that… I’ve been stuck in my ‘Si’ for two years. That’s a lot! And read this make me realise that. (Sorry again for my English).
        Until the last year, I was too scared to move on and take the risk of that the things that happened to me, could happening again. Now I understand all the process I’ve been passing.
        Thank you for the advise posted here. It worked warmly to me too.
        And thank you for all you work here, about the MBTI.
        I’m studying more about my mbti type (ENFP) in your website and in another places.
        It really helps me. I can finally say that day after day, I’m recovering my spontaneity, my ideas, my energy, my happiness and the love for myself.
        I wish full recovering for you and for the author of this question. And best wishes too.
        I will follow your advise above.
        Thank you so much and congratulations for the website! :)

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry for your loss as well. As I have also never experienced anything like this myself, I don’t have any real advice for you. All I can offer is that anybody – Fi or Fe user, introvert or extrovert – who suffers such a loss can use all the support they can get. So I do encourage you to seek help when you need it. That’s a perfectly normal response. I hope that your life continues to come to such a place that you are not weighed down by the past.

      Good luck.


    • I am an ENFP who as had to deal with the same type of greif and to put quite simply, what would your loved one that passed want you to do? I used their passing as a reason to destroy myself because I missed them so much! What I’ve learned is that I can’t make they’re death about me and just do what I can to honor them. I truly hope this helps and you find your path, oh yeah, it helps me also to be grateful for what I do have instead of dwelling on what I don’t have! LOVE!!!


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