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.

63 thoughts on “How INTJs cope with Trauma

  1. I’m an I.N.T.J (female) who recently discovered her personnality type, I was wondering if I was mistyped until I found this article because I act like my brother ( E.N.T.P) when we are in public and I’m in stressed. In addition I have been bullied and received sexual assault when I was younger so I’m scared to tell my family about my thoughts about suicide and stuff that I can barely manage when they told me that I just want attention and that I should smile… Now I’m in high school and I barely go to school, tired of hypocrisy and prefer in safe place alias my room.

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    • I’m sorry that you’re dealing with so much emotional pain. It sounds like your family may be gaslighting you. I don’t know if therapy is an option for you, but that can be an additional safe place if you’re able.

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  2. hi. I’ve been going through a bit of something for the past 4 years. I’ve just lost the person I was. My passion for living and doing things but most importantly knowing has just died. Nothing just matters anymore. I can get out of this and start fresh but how do I fix myself after that.
    it just seems like I’ve died. I’m drowning and still can’t find a reason to struggle against it. I don’t think I’ll be able to be the person I used to be even if I start fresh. I’ve read many articles, but I still can’t figure out how to fix myself.

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  3. Great read. I didn’t even read all the comments, yet, but it seems we are consistent. I do find solace in the idea there are “others” who think/feel as I do. I have hit mid life and after surviving I do find younger INTJ’s have a great resource in the Internet. Hopefully connecting with other INTJ’s will help them to avoid pitfalls and to more easily navigate this world we must live in.

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  4. Thank you SO much for this article! I am just getting into MBTI and typing and this whole thing described my entire life. I do have one question, if that’s ok? Like I said, I am new to all of this but originally typed myself as an INTJ, however began doubting it because I don’t feel I use Te enough and tend to be overly emotional, the point that I am starting to wonder if I am Fi doninant-an INFP. I think the function stack might fit me a bit better, but at this point I’m not sure if I’ve biased myself to the point that I cannot remain objective. In your opinion, would you say it is possible for other types to experience this kind of stuff, or is the stuff in your article exclusive to INTJs? Thank you!

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    • “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”

      As an intj woman, I cried for 2 seconds at this. It hurts. Now back being numb again. And a bit worried about having to just go through this.

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  5. Earlier, I was a little lost with the definition of the Ni function. I needed examples. So, when I found them, it was, “Wow, I think so.” Before this discovery, I was not sure whether I would be Ni-dom for sure.
    In this case, there are two options for INFJ or INTJ.
    All the time when I choose, and I’m INFJ, I feel it is not it. That my real type is INTJ. On the Internet, I was flooded with many information about the sarcastic and cold INTJ. But under all this I have found that it was only steroids and it was exaggerated. I think I have a loop because I do not know when it happened, but for many years I isolate myself when I do not have to go anywhere (now ENTP pulls me out of the house). Once I was a student who excelled in the best grades and consistently prepared for everything. Sometimes up to 23 at night. Now also is not the worst, but everything is directed by my Fi. “I do not want to” instead of getting to work, I lie down and browse the Internet. I feel that I have stopped in the place and slowly begin to “choke”. I have a strong feeling that I should change. But I have no idea how. (if I’m INTJ) When I came out of the loop, I read that Te is unpleasant. I feel lonely. One of the girls once said to me, “I thought you did not like me because you were so cold and arrogant.” And it was a shock, a very strong blow, because they saw an indifferent face, sometimes adorned with a wide smile with selected people. they saw that every time I left home and met with them I was stressed by stress and anxiety, it is so bad, I can not sleep at night, I also can not sleep at night, I have to open up and talk about my feelings are so extraordinary awkward for me that I prefer to keep myself hidden. I am not a person who will cry openly and say everything I usually sit by myself and I can not calm it down It’s so bad. they see a calm and confident girl, with big bursts of joy next to friends, and everything is cooking inside, I have no idea what to do.

    I have a question.
    Is Min Yoongi aka. Suga with BTS is actually INFP? He himself rated the result at 0.5 / 5. When I was learning about their names and getting to know their personalities, I felt a bond like that, “He’s like it.”
    Same with Kim Namjoon aka. RM, Rap Monster. INFP came out to him, but I am very confident that he is INFJ. His songs and behavior have something that I appreciate very much. Particularly an example of this in my opinion Ni and Fe is his song (“Change” RM, Wale).

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  6. Randomly found this article after telling some people I know that I cannot find a reason to live, yet suicide seems like a bad bet, I mean either there is nothing after death (atheism), or some sort of paradise you’re not allowed in if you commit suicide (chritianism), then comes reincarnation and the laws of karma, which bases the next life upon the good or bad done and suicide sure does not give good karma.
    This above is the only reason I am still alive, my darned logic.
    I have started feeling responsible for my abusive mother at six years old and I think it was the beginning of my Fi developpement. I would always wonder what I had done wrong and how I could better the situation, trying to figure out how to make her happy.
    It evolved into desillusionnement, coming with the first suicidal thoughts. “It would be so easy” still haunts me today.
    I have the impression to have gone through at least three phases of apathy, and I would be in number four right now, unless it was all one big mess.
    I am so tired.
    Does it ever ends?
    The worst is, this time it is the health care system that is the root of my problem, you know, like I tried getting help, no one understands and I cannot seem to figure out how to explain.
    It just helps so much that people keep telling me that it is my fault…
    I do also act shadow ENTP and I hate myself when I do, when I don’t go Se grip.
    What do I do with myself now is what I wonder.
    I have this strange certainty that I have ten years to go until recovery… still waiting on an explanation for this one…
    It is difficult to explain how I feel to F’s, and F’s are all I have around me right now. Mostly Fe’s.
    I guess I am lonely even if I don’t stop seeing people. I am probably doing it wrong anyway.
    Shadow ENTP finds this hilarious.

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    • I’m sorry that things have been so hard. Not everything gets easier, but you do get stronger and more capable of dealing with it. And recovery isn’t a straight line. It’s organic. You may not see changes every day, but one day 10 years from now, you’ll look back and realize that things were changing. It’s hard to see in the dark, but that doesn’t mean that things aren’t happening.

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  7. Diagnosed with PTSD. Tested for 80 hours by federal and I yested deep into INTJ corner.

    I’m not the same person after my snap.

    Your article just created more questions for me. Answers leading to questions in. my case.

    I want to understand how my INTJ and PTSD work with eachother better.

    Coping skills and other things therapists, yes plural, have told me go against my intj.

    going out, meeting people, socialize, .. no.. not good for me at all. tjat was a train wreck and I was a danger to others.. very dangerous
    Violent

    Things are different now. Stable life.

    My default mental state is dark, brooding. I am also a misanthrope. Very bad combination.

    I used to be a healthy INTJ. Im now a broken one.

    The worst part of PTSD and INTJ.. we are thinkers… we live in our heads… durring a trigger event…. your mind dwells on pain, rage, hate, disgust, and an overwhelming negative energy of desire to lash out and dump all that rage and hate into the first person to cross you. You dwell on the thoughts and your logic say that your btain is screwing with you, but your over amplified emotions (a weakness for intj) just overwhelming….

    My suicide was not about I wanted to die… I wanted these intrusive feelings of rage hate and despair to stop… just 1 day,, something… Even a coma would have been nice at the time for a break from my emotions.

    I didn’t kill myself obviously, but I do remember what the gun oil tasted like.

    Currently life is better, but I am on a learning quest to understand what PTSD has done to me.

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    • Shadow phase was interesting, but I am not sure which one I am. Shadow Entp is close.

      I am in a state of existential disillusionment more often than not also in thoughts…

      The only thing that saves me from losing my battle is that I have a daughter. My first kid and I am 40.

      My only regret is that I didn’t have her sooner in. my life.. im sure I wouldn’t have ended up in this state of mind with a baby in my life.

      That unconditional love that hits every dad in the face the second he touches his child….. saved my life in a sense.. it’s given me a future that I thought was meaningless for 2 decades..

      First time in my life, life has meaning and purpose.

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