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