How INTJs cope with Trauma

How INTJs cope with Trauma

There is no defined route traveled by every traumatized individual, and variations range so widely even within the INTJ realm that all we can really observe are the patterns.

Acute trauma

In the case of one-time, or first-time traumatic experiences, INTJs meet a crossroads. Here, they either fall into a state of moral devolution or kickstart into an early state of emotional development.

Emotional development

An INTJ who copes well with trauma will begin to develop the Introverted Feeling (Fi) function.  In a regular INTJ, Fi development does not occur until middle age, but in traumatized INTJs it may start as early as age 8. In such a scenario, young INTJs often become extremely mature for their age, and this can readily be observed in Ender Wiggin, whose introspective and ethical reasoning well surpass that of his superiors.

An INTJ in the Fi development stage will become intensely focused on questions of morality. They may not focus as heavily on their agenda, but will constantly be asking ethical and introspective questions.

How INTJs cope with Trauma

As a result of their moral focus, they will develop a firm set of principles from which they will not budge. Often, one of the first principles that INTJs will adopt is a strong adherence to individualism or non-conformity.

Outwardly, this can make them seem stubborn or cowardly, merely because many people don’t see non-conformity as a moral principle. Once again, Friedhelm Winter is called a coward for his refusal to fight or kill more than necessary during his period of Fi development. He is expressly non-conformist in his values, and doesn’t hesitate to assert that.

INTJ in the Fi development phase will gradually learn to care deeply about how their actions and words affect other people Keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be able to prevent their Extraverted Thinking function (Te) from offending others. It merely means that they will learn to be sensitive to how their behavior affects others.

In their introspection, these INTJs will come to have a strong awareness of their own emotions, but will still need to determine what other people are feeling through a more logic based approach. Their constant introspection will likely lend to their being more emotional than at other periods of their lives.

Friedhelm Winter is only seen crying twice in Generation War, once after his brother dies and the other while he is in his Fi development phase.

You can read more in depth on INTJs with a well developed Fi in my Sympathetic INTJs post.

Moral Devolution

How INTJs cope with Trauma

The INTJ who deals poorly with trauma will not develop quickly in their lower functions, and may actually devolve into a state lacking moral standard and disregarding of other people’s feelings. Instead, they will focus on achieving their agenda regardless of moral cost.

This INTJ is emotionally immature in nearly all respects, but will see themself as emotionally superior to others because to them “sentiment is a chemical defect found in the losing side” (Sherlock).

Thomas Barrow is a perfect example of someone whose Introverted Feeling function (Fi) devolves as a result of past trauma (though he did start to develop more in the most recent season). Mr. Barrow to you Thomas has few moral principles, and disregards other people’s feelings with decision.

It’s also common, as with Thomas, for INTJs in this state of mind to view themselves as a victim, and everyone else as constantly conspiring against them.

As these INTJs neglect their Fi functions, they will embody INTJ stereotypes exponentially more over time. On the other hand, INTJs who deal well with trauma and develop their Fi function are often relatively indistinguishable from the stereotypes, such that they get mistyped as INFJs.

Some unhealthy INTJs even go so far as to neglect not only their Fi function, but all of their functions. When this occurs, they lock into their shadow functions (ENTP) as is common to Gregory House (also one of the leading causes for him being mistyped as an ENTP).

For a closer look at the INTJ shadow functions, read this post.

Still other INTJs will fall into the grip of their lower functions, acting impulsively and neglecting their long term visions (which only ruins their lives more). They may lose track of reality as House does or lapse into depression.

Recurring or System based Trauma

We’ve covered the paths an INTJ can take following acute or first-time trauma. Now we’re going to delve into what can happen when an INTJ faces chronic, long-term trauma.

The following two coping phases occur most commonly in INTJs who are psychologically traumatized repeatedly and consistently over time, causing functional problems that are contributed to by the fact that their Ni function has a way-too-big picture of the universe.

Major Fi development only lasts for so long, and when it’s over, the INTJ will start to balance out all of his/her functions and will begin to focus more on his Ni visions again. If trauma is recurring, the INTJ will likely do one of two things:

  1. Remain a healthy INTJ with a well-developed Fi (example: Ender Wiggin)
  2. Become existentially disillusioned (examples: Hamlet, Friedhelm Winter)

Existential disillusionment

How INTJs cope with Trauma

Where an INTJ’s Introverted Intuition function (Ni) is well developed, they will have a naturally BIG-PICTURE view of everything. Just to be clear, when I say “big picture,” I’m not talking about being positive and viewing life in a “this too shall pass” framework. I’m not even talking about looking to the future instead of dwelling on the present.

I’m talking so big that the INTJ will constantly compare everything to the entire universe, comparing the ideal and reality.

What sets the Ni dominants apart from Ne users and other Ni users is that Ni dominants will constantly look at life in terms of the entire universe, and as a result, they will see both the ideal and the reality as well as the wide chasm in between. Yet, they will view it objectively.

This kind of visionary mindset is hard to paint an accurate picture of without an example, so I’m going to delve into my own experience a bit here.

A few months ago, my cousin was in the hospital undergoing a life-threatening surgery. My ENFP sister, in her Ne big picture view, was feeling guilty about the fact that she had been complaining about her broken phone when there was something bigger at stake.

Meanwhile, my Ni big-picture view was sitting there thinking, Okay, first of all your phone never mattered in the grand scheme of things. And secondly Peter’s illness is probably going to benefit their family in the long run because they’re going to learn something from it.

Then, all my Ni-framework theories and universal worldview started to play into it, looking something like this:

All of spacetime has always existed infinitely, which means that all points in time exist simultaneously in the same dimension. So technically, I could say “right now,” and still be referring to a different right now in the spacetime continuum than the “right now” that we’re in. Regardless of whether Peter were to die in this present moment or in the future, he would still perfectly fine in the past, and will be a part of our lives infinitely regardless of whether he’s alive at the specific point in spacetime that we’re currently in.

That, I thought in the split second after my sister made a comment about how guilty she felt for not taking the big picture into account and paying attention to the fact that our cousin was likely dying.

At that point, I started getting annoyed with my own callousness.

Because INTJs have such a big picture view of the world, we become simultaneously the most starry eyed of idealists and the bitterest of cynics.

When I would get frustrated at the school system in high school, mom would tell me to look at the big picture. “You have to do the schoolwork so that you can get a job later,” or “You’ll be out of the system when you graduate.”

The real problem was that I was looking at too big of a picture. I was looking at the school system as an ideological system of manipulation from which I had no escape. Graduation was merely an entrance into a lifetime of navigating yet another ideological system.

This is where existential disillusionment starts. As idealists who are also rationals, able to see that there is no escape from the systems of manipulation in which they are trapped, traumatized INTJs are frequently stripped of their faith in the future. They then fall into a state of existential disillusionment.

Quite frequently, existentially disillusioned INTJs will subconsciously reject much of what they learned during their Fi development stage and resort to a state of complete apathy towards everything.

Most people haven’t seen The Monocled Mutineer, but Percy Toplis does this in response to war trauma. He first develops his Fi function, and when the trauma doesn’t end, he stops caring about anything.

Likewise, early on in Generation War, Friedhelm Winter develops his Fi, stands firmly by his principles and then gradually lapses into a cynical inability to feel. This happens most commonly when an INTJ’s big picture view grows so large that they recognize not only the oppression of the abusive system in which they dwell, but that nothing they do will allow them to escape the system and thus, hold onto their Ni ideals and Fi principles.

How INTJs cope with Trauma

Friedhelm’s principles go firmly against Nazism and killing, but because he is stuck in the war with no way out, he eventually realizes that he has no control over anything in the grand scheme of things. He could desert the war effort, but the war would continue. He could choose not to kill, but the killing would continue.

At this point, INTJs usually realize that the only way out of the world’s systems is death and that they can either die or endure. If they choose to endure, they may choose to uphold their present principles, or in Friedhelm’s case, to reject them and simply flow with the system in order to survive.

Hamlet is another great example of this type of trauma coping. He understands that he’s stuck in a situation that is probably not going to end, that the only way out is death, but is reluctant to actually kill himself because he doesn’t know what happens after death. He chooses to endure, but rejects many of his prior beliefs, resorting to completely new and extreme inferences such as “all women are whores.”

Either way, there is a strong possibility that their previously gained ability to care about their own emotions and others’ will be lost to an emotional deadness.

Existentially disillusioned INTJs are often some of the few INTJ who commit suicide, and usually not because they’re sad about their problems. If anything they’re apathetic to their problems, but disillusioned with the corruption of a system that they’re stuck in or the fact that they can’t uphold their ideals and principles. Examples: Friedhelm Winter, Arvid (Swing Kids).

Other INTJs will literally desert the system altogether, perfectly aware that doing so will result in death or pain. Examples: Percy Toplis

All of the Above

We can’t forget the INTJ who cycles through all of the above.

Bruce Wayne starts off dealing with his parent’s murder unhealthily. He’s stuck in the grip of his lower functions wallowing in his own pain. He falls into a state of moral devolution, wanting to seek revenge on the man who killed his parents and ultimately rejecting much of the good in his life.

“I’m not one of your good people Rachel… All these years I’ve wanted to kill him.”

Rachel’s comments to Bruce about morality, followed by Falcone’s criticism of his need to prove something launch Bruce back into use of his upper functions. He’s forced to re-define his Ni big-picture view, and immediately sets off on a journey to develop his Fi function.

When he returns to Gotham, he’s a healthy INTJ with an extremely well developed Fi function (to the point that he’s frequently mistyped as an INFJ).

His healthy phase lasts until Rachel dies, after which he lapses into a state of existential disillusionment, and from which he never fully recovers.

“You see only one end to your journey.” ~ Alfred Pennyworth

The unfortunate thing about recurring traumatic experiences is that no matter your personality type, you’re never the same after you’ve gone through them, and if those experiences repeat enough, there isn’t always a recovery.

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41 thoughts on “How INTJs cope with Trauma

  1. Thank-you very much for this article.
    I like to have a label for my own emotions/behaviours in order to better understand them.
    This article gave me one: an apathetic, existentially disillusioned INTJ female resulting from prolonged child abuse (among other things).

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  2. Hi, I’m an 25-year old young professional and I’m also a male INTJ. First off, I would like to thank you for making this blog because this is the reason I’ve come to know and understand myself more – why I am the way I am.

    I’m a “miracle child”. When I was just 3 months old in my mother’s womb, I nearly not made it because my mother is suffering from extreme anxiety because an uncle of mine was threatening to kill her after my mother knew his illegal transactions. Unfortunately (yes, “unfortunately”; that’s deliberate), I was able to make it through conception and my life started.

    Way back when I was young, I don’t have any friends. No one wants to be with me. I’m always kicked out whenever I tried to join them. I was extremely bullied to the point that the only deed lacking is for them to kill me. They punctured very sharp pencil tips on my skin and punched me to death. For no particular reason, it didn’t make sense why no one wants to be with me. I am always insulted and humiliated. Even adults don’t like me – always throwing insults whenever I have to speak my mind out. I’m always being pointed as the culprit for a notorious act that I didn’t do. They don’t even inquire further. Thinking that I’m the real culprit, I was severely punished for that. Even my family is oblivious. They don’t understand me at all and I can’t get along with them well. I remember at an early age of 5 years old that I have already suicidal thoughts. At such an early age, I developed trust issues and can’t trust anyone.

    It was then implanted in my mind that no one wants to have my company and I’ll always be alone. I learned to enjoy my solitude and do things ahead my age that normal kids won’t be interested. I enjoy discussions about politics, religion, and science even I’m just a 10-year old back then. In my solitude, I’ll read, write, draw, experiment, and develop my other interests. I read so much that I’m just surprised that most of the things I know are not known by children of my age. I was a consistent dean’s lister in our class and always came Champion for any quiz bees in school and outside school. Yet despite my achievements, it didn’t make sense to me as to why I’m doing this when no one appreciates you. All those times, I kept on seeking for acceptance yet realizing the futility of my efforts, I became withdrawn into my own “shell”.

    As I grew up, things didn’t get any better. I continue to harbor more insults and hilarity; the more I withdraw into my maze of solitude. Like before, no one wants to be with me in group school activities. My male peers are starting to have girlfriends then but because I always feel unwanted, I’ve come to ignore my Fi completely and can’t fathom the triviality being in relationships.

    When I was in college, I was raped by a senior member of our organization (he is 5 years my senior). He threatened to kill me if I will tell it to anyone. I was enraged and furious the first time he did that to me. I kept thinking why it happened to me. I felt dirty and degraded. That moment, I just want to die and keep praying to God (yes, I’m a Christian INTJ) to just kill me the next day. I dreaded each day that I’m alive. The sexual assault continued a few more times and each time, he threatened my life if I won’t acquiesce to his advances. He kept telling me that he’s the only one who cares for me.

    Then just 2 years ago, there’s this Korean girl who’s my classmate who asked help from me for a certain requirement and also confessed her feelings to me. I helped her with what she’s going through but didn’t entertain her confession because I’m not interested in relationships (much more, romantic ones). Times passed, I saw how intelligent, kind, and thoughtful she is and this is the time where my Fi started to develop. In other words, I gradually developed my feelings for her and we became a couple. I told her everything, including my dark past. I showed how important she. I was very loyal to her. Things went well that time until a year later, she decided to break up with me for an unknown reason. I can’t really understand given that I’ve been good to her. Until just 5 months ago, it made sense to me why she broke up with me; she’s already cheating me with another man while we’re still in a relationship. I discovered that she’s already pregnant and will be married soon.

    As an INTJ, I tried to make sense of things. I spend time thinking and analyzing how can she did that to me when I’ve shown her kindness. I didn’t eat for 30 hours because I was just thinking why. This is where I entered into a state of existential disillusionment. I completely lost my trust to people and the moral principles that I have as a Christian didn’t make sense anymore. I became a “living dead”. I became apathetic to anyone, even to my closest friends. My hypothalamus can’t synthesize “love” anymore; thus, I’m unable to form any neural synapses for a relationship.

    I was very kind and law-abiding as a boy but after I was disillusioned, I became extremely moody, impudent, and rude. Now, I always yell or shout at people whenever I see an act of indiscipline. I may look like a normal professional but inside, I’m a “terrorist” just dreaming a mass annihilation happened so that all the ambiguities of this world will just fade away. There are times, when I just recreate the world inside my head because it is only there I can live my ideals only to be so disappointed upon coming back to reality. There are times that I have a hard time distinguishing between reality and mere imagination. I want to change the social structure because the system is just full of flaws and I can’t stand that such system can unfairly affect someone.

    I’m perceived by people as “good-looking like that of a celebrity” because I’m a mix of Spanish, Mexican, and Filipino heritage coupled with an exceptional intelligence. Because of this, currently, a number of people are drawn to me. Some want to make friends and others openly confess their admiration for me. Yet, those compliments didn’t make sense. I even loathe those compliments because they sound like sarcasm to me probably because I already lost my ability to trust people in any way. Many girls and confessing their feelings yet I’m just not interested. I’ve grown to realize that relationships is just a convention made by society that doesn’t offer any guarantees. It’s just a system prone to instability.

    Like I said, I was a consistent A-student I also was able to develop my interest in many aspects as painting, drawing, sculpting, writing good literature, and computer programming. I also love photography and won many contests already. I also love Math and Science (in fact, I’m a Physics fan). I can speak 9 languages (Tagalog, Bisaya, English, Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, and Korean). I was a scholar of a very prestigious Science scholarship for my country. Yet later I realize that despite my capabilities, I’m just nothing. My own existence in the space-time continuum is just susceptible to the flawed nature of the universe. Until now, I can feel the void inside of me. The world just didn’t make sense anymore. I’m still in a state of existential disillusionment. Way back when I was young, I already had suicidal tendencies and as I grow older, it just gets worse. I have a hypothesis that I’m suffering already from chronic depression. Each day, I just get more depressed.

    Many people are wondering and asking me that why despite my “good looks” (their perception, though I honestly believe that it’s not me but it’s just how they see me), intelligence, and financial stability that I’m always alone and not satisfied. What they didn’t know is that I’ve gone through traumatic experiences and it has changed my character so much that it already overshadowed the good things. I can’t even tell them since people have a hard time understanding an INTJ’s reasoning. I learned to live inside my head and I don’t need acceptance and affirmation anymore. An abstract system such as trust and loyalty is something that can’t be relied upon.

    But despite that, I sincerely thank you, Mr. Walton, for providing a very detailed blog as to how an INTJ’s mind works because this is one of the few times that I felt understood. As I read this article, tears are slowly falling from my eyes because the memories from years ago has dawned on me once again.

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    • I’m a female INTJ, but my story is rather similar to yours. I, too, almost died before I was born — my mother’s immune system attacked me, mistaking me for a virus or a tumor. It’s not an uncommon situation, but in my mother’s case I believe it was psychosomatic because when I was finally allowed home from the hospital she tried to kill me again. (She admitted this to me when I was 17.) Long story short, my childhood was a horror show of abuse, neglect, isolation and despair.

      I spent my 20’s nearly crazy from anger and grief, hiding from the world, believing I was too ugly to be seen in public.

      The reason I’m telling you this is because I’m in my 30’s now and I’m better. Not entirely, of course — I’ve been deeply scarred by everything that’s happened to me — but they’re scars now, instead of open wounds. I no longer feel constant psychological pain. I no longer think that the solution to every problem is to just kill myself. I don’t trust people, true, but I’m not terrified of them, either.

      How did I get better? I deconstructed my feelings and dealt with them. Every day, I deliberately sat, and meditated, and wrote about what had happened to me and why. I broke down the family chain of abuse. I studied personality disorders and categorized every member of my messed up family. I cried oceans. I screamed into pillows. It was excruciating and it’s the only reason I’m alive today.

      To all turbulent, depressed and anxious INTJ’s out there: you can get better. It’s worth the work. I’m living proof.

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    • I am an INFJ (girl) who is about to get married to an INTJ (boy), we are both Christian as well. My Fiance went through a tramatic experience almost a year ago now. I’ve been reading articles on INTJs for months trying to find ways to help him. Your story is has many similarities to his. He was horribly bulied in school and abused, misunderstood and saught out sancuary in his inner world, read books on quantum physics (all between ages 4-6).

      His family, thankfully, always understood that he was different and always did their best to support and protect him, but as you know there are somethings that people can’t protect you against, no matter how hard they try.

      He stopped getting straight As because he saw no point in putting in the extra work to only gain a 5% chance of being better off, that is how he put it.

      I met him in college. We started dating after 6 months and then got engaged after a month of dating.

      We had some friends that I wasn’t very fond of. I used to be fond of them, but they had started to change in a way I wasn’t comfortable with. I started to make attempts to limit my time with those people, but my Fiance wasn’t ready to let go of them.

      They knew that he was different, but instead of embrasing that difference and trying to learn from each other; they tried to make him like them. They started to make him doubt himself. He also failed a class that caused his graduation to be set back (though this was not to a fault of his own, but rather another one of those misunderstandings that happen so offten with INTJs). He became depressed.

      He went to visit one of those friends. That friend raped him and my fiance had to fight to get him off.

      My Fiance became distant. He didn’t tell me what had happend, only that it was bad. I did my best to cut him out of our lives. We told our other friends that something bad had happend and who did it.

      Five months later my Fiance told me everything. I then suggested that we repot it to the police and tell our other friends who still spent time with the perpetrator. My Fiance agreed and said that he wanted to tell our friends first, so we did. There was a variety of responses from our friends. One accused us of lying, though to my knowledge the rest believed us. One of them told us that he would still be friends with the perpetrator. One said that he cared verry deeply about us all, the perpetrator included and basically said he would still be friends with the perpetrator as well.

      The one who accused us of lying begged that we meet with the perpetrator and try to work this out with out telling the copes “keep this in the ‘family'”. My Fiance really cared for the friend who asked for this and agreed to it only for the sake of easing that friend’s pain. This did not go well.

      To sum up, we reported it to the cops and the school and cut off all of those “friends”.

      This has understandably had many affects on my Fiance (and myself). We have been going to couseling on and off for the past 6 months, trying to find a way to deal with everything that has happend, all of the betrayals.

      As I said earlier I came here to try to find help for my Fiance and this article is very good. But in reading your post I hope to accomplish more. In your story I found so much of my Fiance in you and I want you to know that my heart goes out to you. I know you don’t believe in love, but please believe that there are people out there that care. I know that such a belief does not come into being over night, but please try to believe it. Try to believe it for a little bit each day. Maybe, someday you’ll be able to believe in it more.

      I love my INTJ and I believe in him and I know that he is capable of great things.

      I believe that you are capable of great things. I don’t want you or anyone else to give up on who you are. I hope you never forget who you truely are. I hope you never forget how strong you are or how much you can do with nothing. I hope you never forget how far you’ve come. I hope you never forget to be proud of it. Because you have done amazing things and you will always be able to reach higher. I believe in you.

      God be with you on your journey.

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  3. “The real problem was that I was looking at too big of a picture. I was looking at the school system as an ideological system of manipulation from which I had no escape. Graduation was merely an entrance into a lifetime of navigating yet another ideological system.

    This is where existential disillusionment starts. As idealists who are also rationals, able to see that there is no escape from the systems of manipulation in which they are trapped, traumatized INTJs are frequently stripped of their faith in the future. They then fall into a state of existential disillusionment.”

    INTJ female here and it’s amazing how much I can relate to this currently. Recently, a well thought out plan (One in which you mentally plot out the next 10+ years) for myself and my ENTJ boyfriend failed. As I deal with the corruption of the ideals of those involved that caused the failure (family), I automatically associate that with any other system I interact with on a daily basis (and even other systems I’ve dealt with in the past). I thank you for the insightful post and hopefully I can calm down a bit so I can get my tendency towards apathy under control.

    One question to add: Could the existential disillusioned INTJ have issues with temper/mood swings during that time? Reason being, I focus so much on the failures of the systems that I can become very short and moody with others who aren’t even involved just because I am lost in my own head.

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    • Yes, there are many different forms of disillusionment, and often disillusionment leads to many different forms of depression. Good luck to you, and I’m sorry your plan fell through.

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  4. Wow, I thought that I was the only one, or one of few but I see that isn’t the case, unfortunately. Thank you for writing this and helping me feel a sense of normalcy for how I reacted to things in childhood and teenage years, also the comments… I can’t read all of them, some of them hit too close to home. Lately I have developed the feeling of existential disillusionment. Right before reading this I was thinking that people are not inherently good, as I had thought or wanted to believe but that they are inherently evil. I am aware of how damaging this worldview can be but I can’t shake it, in a way it feels like it will protect me, it feels comforting and like now I know why I went through everything I’ve gone through.

    Keep up the good work.

    Hopefully this is just a phase in my life, albeit a persistent one.

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  5. “INTJ in the Fi development phase will gradually learn to care deeply about how their actions and words affect other people”
    My dear INTJ in his mid 50’s thinks he is totally responsible for hurting every person around him and thinks the best solution is suicide. Please help me thanks.

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  6. Thank you for having this website up, it makes me feel less overwhelmed with feeling outcast from other critical thinkers. As I don’t tap into my emotion as well as others, so they constantly focus on the emotions instead of reason and logic.

    I had a drug dealing psychotic father who strapped me to the bed to keep me quiet, who raped my sister and would take me on rounds to collect debts and subject me to seeing people being mutilated. I don’t know what personality type my father was or my mother, but he took pleasure in other people’s pain. He once bit someone’s nose off infront of me as a 5 year old an spat it out like chewing gum.

    During this development stage of physical and emotional abuse, I started asking questions, questions WAY far in advance than a 5-6 year old would ask. I believe that’s where my current intelligence and analytical skill has come from because no one I know seems to be able to analyse and be objective the way I am.

    In my teenage years I degressed, remember things from my past that I had blocked out and I felt trapped in a system at school. I rebelled hard, I went from straight As to deciding to falling asleep in exams because I just didn’t care. I was expelled from school because they couldn’t handle my argumentative and reluctance to adopt anything they had to offer. I ended up in a state of depression which made me want to take my own life, I had completely been stripped of all morality at this point and nothing made any sense what so ever. Morality was empty in my mind and the point of living evapourated in my boiling hatred for everything, because I get infuriated with things that make no sense but operate as if they do.

    After I went through CBT, and group therapy it had no affect on me other than giving me more resilience to tolerate other people. I was able to pick myself up and redefine my worldview. As I grew older I started to be able to look from other people perspectives. I studied psychology and gained an insight into the emotions of others instead of dismissing them as clouding reason and logic. I felt life spring back into and everything made sense, I went on to meet my fiancee and have a son and they have become my shining jewels of the improvement and steps I took to better myself.

    I thought I’d leave this comment here because I want everyone to know, change is extremely hard but if you’re willing it can happen. I became better, my worldview shifted, my perception shifted. But I retained my unquenchable thirst for observation, analytical processing and problem solving. I am not what I was all those years ago, I am able to help others with my new found insight. Life is one big lesson, learn from it.

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    • Thanks for sharing! I’m sorry you had to deal with that, but I’m glad you pulled through and have now a fulfilling life. You are a very strong person!

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  7. In my case as an INTJ, after I became existentially disillusioned, everything started losing meaning. Morals no longer held significance, because to me, it was just another system that society had constructed. This was all very horrifying, because I craved for significance in life.
    I was able to somewhat cope with this by thinking if life had no meaning, I might as well make up my own. Essentially, I became an existentialist.
    However, I still struggle with my disillusionment and I reject most feelings and morals.

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    • Interesting. For me it was the opposite.

      As I became existentially disillusioned, I perceived morals as very essential and life as having no meaning largely because morals cannot always be practiced to their full potential. I suppose the difference is that I believe ethical correctness exists regardless of society, but that society constructs moral rules to account for people disagreeing on what those ethics actually are. In that, I couldn’t fully become an existentialist despite still dealing with disillusionment.

      From my perspective, something must have a meaning in order to lose it. Because of that, it was losing my sense of meaning in life that essentially convinced me that life does in fact, have a meaning.

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      • You have a good point.

        Also, I made a mistake when writing my comment–by morals, I meant conventional morals. I think it was due to thinking that everything was just a system constructed by society that I started developing the moral principle of non-conformity.

        I guess my perspective differs from yours because I view the the life that I live as a system made by society. This has meaning, because society has assigned that meaning to it. Looking at other species, they just mindlessly eat and do whatever else they need to survive. But when looking at species that have more developed brains, (such as elephants and humans) they start developing emotions and seemingly meaningless behaviour, such as burying their dead. I think that extra brain space made us want to give meaning to what previously didn’t.

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        • Conventional morals–important clarification. I think also, that part of our difference may also stem from differing definitions of what constitutes “meaning,” which considering that philosophers have been arguing about this for centuries, could potentially take a very long time for us to explain to one another.

          From looking at your words, it sounds like you believe (and correct me if I’m interpreting you poorly) that meaning can be “given” or “assigned,” to aspects of our lives, but that it’s not necessarily inherent in anything. Or, I could also interpret this as meaning being something that is not metaphysically “real” per se, but rather an abstract concept which humans have constructed and assigned to given aspects of “reality.” Yes?

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    • Being existentially disillusioned is obviously an issue most INTJs have to struggle with at least once in their life, isn’t it ?

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      • In response to Arvid–yes, I believe that meaning is an abstract concept that humans have constructed and given to reality.

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      • Just a notification the I would very much love to read such a post as well. Ready to patiently wait for it, considering the previously mentioned gargantuic size of the queue.

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        • Gargantuan may be an understatement. When the time comes that I re-open Ask an INTJ Anything, feel free to submit this as a question…since, by that point, I will probably have lost track of this in the myriad of other questions I’m considering.

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  8. I am a female INTJ who dealt with emotional abuse as a child. My parents had a really bad relationship, the type to scream at each other and throw things around the house, on top of that they were both alcoholics. At one point, they divorced, and the family suddenly collapsed when I was around 10. My older bro, and my two older sisters moved out of the house and I remained with my mom. She became a wreck, was constantly drinking, bringing men to the house and stuff, would leave me alone at nights and sometimes she would engage in pointless verbal fights wih me. I had a scholarship on this really impressive high shcool back then and I remember scoring Aces with any sense of fulfillment.

    By the time I was thirteen I started to think that maybe If my mom just suddenly died my life could be different, then I rationalized that the problem wasn’t just my mom. She could abuse me because I didn’t stop her, and I didn’t stop her because I loved her, so the core of the problem was me, my feelings explictly talkin, then after I realized this I gradually stopped feeling anything from her and feeling or caring in general became as absurdly dangerous as it was repulsive to me, but it didn’t stop there, it extended to everyone else. Then, I resented my grades. I remember winning contest of grammar and other stuff at school and thinking what was the point of being so smart if I couldn’t fix the problems I had at home, if I couldn’t stop my mom from drinking herself silly, if I couldn’t make my brothers come back home, if I couldn’t make my father stop lying to me. Things in school became meaningless as well as every other plan I had as a child.

    By the time I turned fourteen I attempted suicide by reaching the conclusion, that I probably would not overcame, all the emotional abuse (among other things that I had seen my mom do or things that I had seen other people do to her) I had been through, in a lifetime. Much to the realization that Smarts or intelligence could get you so far in real life problems. For better or worse, I stopped myself before slicing my second wrist.

    I grew up in quite a piece of work. Don’t know if it’s because of my personality or the abuse, I think at some point I became the abuse. I have learnt to embrace my childhood and teenager traumas till the point I stopped feeling regret over them. I now think that they were early lessons of the true characters of people. A very grim picture of the true evil face of humanity which have been forever imprented in my mind.

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      • Walton, I have many other questions. These questions have helped nome degree resolve some questions for me, but when you stated in a different page, that two weeks worth of study doesn’t make you an expert, this was an understatement. I’d like to contact you directly and receive your answers directly, as i am somewhat shy to discuss them to the public eye.

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        • I’m not especially capable of responding at length to queries at the moment. However, if you would like to message me via tumblr or google+/google hangouts I would be happy to talk to you. Just let me know when you’ve done so because I’m very bad at remembering to check my social media pages.

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    • As a man who has dated two INTJ women who had traumatic childhoods (though nothing compared to yours), I appeal to you to begin the long journey of re-connecting with your feelings. Nothing can take away the horror of what you lived through. But I think you understand as well that living from this moment forward, only in your thinking head, is not fulfilling, and will harm your future friendships and relationships. You WILL, inevitably, attract people into your life, and not all of them will be angels. But you will find your own broken angel, and if you haven’t started the lifelong journey back to connecting with yourself, you will hurt him more than is necessary. Keep reading. Speak with professionals if you can. Recognize the journey will be hard and long. But know that there are people out there who want to love you, if you can only come part way.

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    • I’m astounded. There are so many paralells between out stories.
      Female INTJ,
      Sh** show of a family life,
      Parents finally divorcing when I was 13,
      Feeling trapped,
      Feeling responsible,
      Feeling nothing,
      Wanting to die,
      Did well in school, then didn’t care, barely got by.

      I have never fully fit the INTJ profile, nor the INFJ. I’ve always said I straddle the two.
      This article is the first time I’ve encountered an explanation for my ability to feel and empathize with others.
      Brilliant. Thank you so much.

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  9. Hi, I’m quitely sure to be a Ni-Se user thank to your articles – so thank you. I’m not quite sure to be a pragmatic INFJ or a sensitive INTJ but… Just like you say, traumatic experiences change us. I don’t need to know right now.

    I know that almost everybody had lived a traumatic experience. It would be quite intersting to imagine reactions through the MBTI’s prisme and see how it can affect the reading of the type.

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  10. I’m so glad I found this. I couldn’t figure out how I could possibly be an INTJ while feeling like this. I’ve questioned it and searched for answers relentlessly. And then I read this. This made my entire childhood and young adult life make sense. Finding this couldn’t have come to me at a better time, I really neede to read this. This has helped me figure out that there is some kind of possibility of coming back from such an abnormal amount of apathy towards humanity and all that it entails.

    Thank you for existing and for having this page. I was falling down fast and couldn’t find a way to stop it. This has helped tremendously.

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  11. I’m not sure the state i’m in. I am a victim of child abuse and I always was trying to get out somehow, I finally did, and I was sympathetic to people for a while, but I started lasping into depression. I stopped caring about the majority of people and things but at the same times held on to a moral code I had developed of what I will and will not do.

    I currently only care about a select few and really only feel (much) around them now. The rest of the time I am sarcastic and cold. (granted I am still sarcastic and cold around the select few) But I now have plans on what I want to do with my life and how I want to improve it for me. I also want to make sure that situations that happened to me don’t happen to other people so they don’t have to suffer like I have suffered.

    I’m curious to whether I coped well or not personally. I also wonder if i’m a mature INTJ or not. I am mainly asking and typing this because you have a better grasp of MBTI than I, and i’m curious to hear what you think.

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    • From the limited information about you that I have, it sounds like you went through an Fi development stage, followed by a certain degree of existential disillusionment and detachment from your Fi function.

      It also appears that you’ve started to re-initiate the use of your Fi function, but that it’s been happening slowly while you’ve gradually adjusted to your life after trauma. I’d say that you coped normally and that you’re still adjusting. It seems to me that you’re in a relatively healthy, mature state after all you’ve gone through, but also that you’re still dealing with a bit of existential disillusionment.

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    • I’ve taken typing quizzes on multiple websites and I always get INTJ. But percentage wise on each of the 4 categories I’m usually less than 50%. Hardly anyone is 100% Thinking over Feeling.

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  12. I can see that I do a bit of all of these, but I think mostly I’m in the middle of Fi development. I’ve also gone through stages where I focused on different aspects of it (such as contemplating suicide simply because of my big picture view and completely apart from emotion).

    And your experience in the hospital was great. The entire thing. That is so much like how I think, though it takes me longer because I try to put everything into words in my head, which slows me down a lot and irritates me to no end.

    I agree with George Donnelly, that you did a great job with this post and hit the nail on the head.

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  13. As another INTJ here. I endured so much physical and psychological child abuse that at some point in my early teens I was so mature in terms of values and core belief system that I couldn’t identify with my peers. Most people comment that this is a good thing, but I had a feeling of sitting between two worlds. To old for my peers, but to young on the outside for the other, adult world. I would often celebrate birthdays with adults, because I felt more understood (anybody have that same experience?)

    Anyway, at some point it go so bad that I almost committed suicide, but thought to myself: “If I do this, then he wins! Nope, that shit ain’t happen’in. I’ll be the last man standing!” Now in my mid 30s, I’ve completely processed the past and it has made me extremely proud and resilient.

    So yeah, great article articulating what I couldn’t express in words that easily! Man hug from me as a thanks – just don’t tell anyone that I did that. Wouldn’t want to be seen showing feelings as an INTJ : )

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    • A female high feeling INTJ here.
      So relate to what you say about not fitting in with my peers as a teen. I was always more comfortable with adults.
      When I reached drinking age (19) my friends went wild, wanting to hit every bar, pub and dance club in a 100 mile radius. It held no interest for me. Slowly my same age peer group shifted to friends 5 to 8 years older.
      I eventually married a man 13 years my senior. We’re about to celebrate 28 years.
      Since I was 15 my mother has told me, “You are more mature than I am”. She was right too!

      This is the first thing I’ve ever read that speaks to how I’m wired and why.
      Bloody brilliant article.

      Virtual hug
      CA

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  14. Holy freaking hell.

    I sat down to read this article utterly calm and prepared to work but midway through I just exploded into a major emotional moment.

    You captured it, man.

    I say this as an INTJ who dealt with a lot of trauma in his childhood (from start to finish). I went through that Fi development stage, tho I wouldn’t have been able to conceptualize it as such before reading your article. I see fellow INTJs (in their 30’s to 40’s) today in my networks who seem dead inside and I wonder precisely what the heck happened to their Fi.

    I also say this as an INTJ who has dealt with serious existential disillusionment, as you call it. I continue to deal with it. And it is a cycle – of optimism and trying followed by disillusionment and intense self-questioning and research.

    You knocked this out of the park. I had to stop 3/4 of the way through due to emotion overload.

    This is one I’ll be re-reading a few times – after I calm down!

    Thank you.

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      • I agree. Good article. I owe a well-developed Fi, in part, to somewhat traumatic family problems. Their continuation has led me to feel…apathetic at times…and this post was an additional reminder that that sort of apathy is something to watch out for.

        Liked by 1 person

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