The INFJ

Our look at the connection between philosophy and the INFJ has probably raised more questions then it has answered. Unfortunately, that is the problem when one pursues a topic using two different schemes. Each time more detail is added to one theory, it introduces questions about the other. Thus one is forced continually to introduce topics that will only be discussed in detail later on.
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Since we are currently talking about MBTI, let us push forward by looking at more traits of the INFJ, starting with the obvious and ending with the controversial.[265]
First, the INFJ makes an excellent personal therapist. This is because there is a natural connection between philosophy and psychology. The philosopher analyzes himself. The psychologist analyzes others. Both are motivated by emotional trauma. Both mine the swamps of emotional memories for solid ground. Both work out theories to explain what they find, and both are better at labeling and categorizing than they are at solving or changing. Finally, our research suggests that many psychologists, like most philosophers, have the cognitive style of Facilitator.[266]
The personal therapist begins by focusing upon the emotional hurts of his patient. This uses the INFJ’s auxiliary mode of Extraverted Feeling. He then uses his dominant mode of Introverted iNtuition to come up with a theoretical explanation for these problems. This is exactly the same process that the philosopher uses to study himself.[267]
There is, however, a critical distinction between philosophy and psychology. The philosopher who examines his own person has a clientele of one. Whenever Perceiver facts are based upon isolated Mercy examples, as they are in his case, Mercy thought tends to win out over Perceiver logic.[268] In contrast, the psychologist diagnoses many individuals; he does not restrict his analysis to one person. Therefore, Perceiver thought and logic is much more prone to develop in the psychologist than it is in the philosopher. In addition, the psychologist is studying the feelings of someone else, whereas the philosopher is digging into his own emotional mire. This puts the logical thinking of the psychologist under less emotional pressure. The end result is that psychology usually contains more and longer-lasting logic than does philosophy, even though both use the same mode of thought.
Our analysis implies that the thinking of the philosopher and the psychologist is determined completely by their respective environments. To a certain extent this is true.[269] The Facilitator person literally watches and mediates from the sidelines as his subconscious mind is programmed by his environment. While he is aware of most memories, he simply cannot see the detailed mental processing that builds up the structure of his subconscious thought.[270] Thus, mental processing in him really does operate autonomously.
One may wonder how the Facilitator can mix rational facts with emotional 'truth' when MBTI states that Thinking and Feeling cannot be combined. The answer is again found within the mental structure of the Facilitator person. As the ‘secretary’ of the mind, he notices the present situation and adjusts the mental flow of information in order to solve the immediate problem. Thus, if the current context contains rational thinking, he will use conscious thought to facilitate the use of Perceiver logic. Similarly, if Perceiver thought is mesmerized within the present context, he will adjust mental flow in order to ensure that Perceiver strategy remains 'frozen.' If facts and 'facts' do come into contact with one another, Facilitator mode will notice the impending crisis of knowing and respond by toning down the ‘offending’ information and separating the potential mental combatants.[271] Thus, the Facilitator person, more than anyone else, is a master at compartmentalization.[272] It is normal for Perceiver logic to develop in some parts of his mind while at the same time Perceiver strategy remains completely mesmerized in other areas.
Once subconscious Teacher strategy within the Facilitator philosopher develops a general theory to explain his particular mental combination of rock and 'ice,' the Facilitator person becomes driven to preserve Teacher emotion by keeping this mixture intact. If a shift in knowledge attacks this Teacher understanding, the Facilitator person instinctively responds by adjusting the flow of information in order to remove this threat.[273] As usual, he uses mixing and compartmentalization to make the best of the existing situation.[274]
Let us turn to the next point. The INFJ is naturally talented at creative writing. Again we notice the Mercy to Teacher connection. Fictional writing uses emotional Mercy experiences to inspire an iNtuitive flood of Teacher words. What is the source of these experiences? Emotional encounters with the external world of personal pain and pleasure. Once more, we see the auxiliary of Extraverted Feeling. What is the product of the iNtuitive thought? An internal realm, peopled with imaginary citizens and concepts, described through words. This is consistent with a dominant of Introverted iNtuition.
But what does creative writing have to do with philosophy? Everything. I suggest that fiction is the poor man’s philosophy. Why do we read fiction? Because it touches our emotions; it appeals to our fears, our hurts, our hopes, our dreams, and our loves. It uses words, then, to cloak these Mercy experiences with some sort of rationale that can give integrated meaning to our fragmented existence.[275]
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Moving on, the INFJ often has a vivid imagination and can appear ‘mystical’ to others. Now we are beginning to tread on shaky ground, for mysticism does not sit well with the modern, objective, scientific mindset. But didn’t I just suggest that philosophy leads to temporary logic? Right now, most philosophy is logical, because we live in a technological world. Logic forms the basis for our Western society, and philosophy is always a product of its age. Thus, philosophy currently looks down its collective nose at mystical thought. This, however, is beginning to change. Our culture is becoming less logical and more mystical. And, as our society adjusts, so do the philosophers. We will examine this process in a few pages.
So what is mysticism and how does it relate to the INFJ? In essence, mysticism says that something lies behind the physical world and that the relationship between the sensory world and this ‘something’ is irrational and emotional. These beliefs are a natural byproduct of INFJ processing. It begins with Extraverted Feeling that inhales emotional experiences directly from the external world. This emotional identification allows the mind to ignore the external structure from which these experiences came. The INFJ then jumps to Introverted iNtuition, which ties emotional memories together to form an internal structure. That is, the INFJ goes directly from emotional Mercy experience to general Teacher theory, skipping any intervening steps. This, I suggest, is the mental basis for mysticism. It lives in a world of blended Mercy and Teacher feelings. It identifies with the Mercy emotions of human existence and superimposes upon this a grid of confabulated Teacher order. It is this direct jump from Mercy to Teacher that produces the irrationalism. Rational thinking uses Perceiver facts and Server sequences to build a comprehensive Teacher understanding of Mercy situations. It goes from Mercy to Teacher, but not directly. Summarizing in one statement, it is the elimination of Perceiver and Server confidence that distinguishes mysticism from rational understanding.
So, why does the INFJ follow mysticism? Because of the S/N and T/F splits. T/F says that living in subjective feelings means throwing logic out of the window. Similarly S/N states that Teacher-guided iNtuition ignores Sensing and its associated Server sequences.
It is the limited ‘life’ of the MBTI categories that leads to mysticism. Remember that MBTI describes the minimal requirements for mental existence. It connects one external mode of thought with one internal aspect. But, we know that mental life requires the cooperation of four mental modes. Thus, if one wants to achieve true ‘life’—the substance of which mysticism is a shadow—one must integrate four strategies: Mercy, Perceiver, Server and Teacher. How does one get beyond the limited ‘life’ described by MBTI? Through personal transformation. And, if each stage of transformation adds one extra element of ‘life,’ then we can conclude that true ‘life’ will only be found if one is willing to go through personal transformation twice.[276] Ouch! Double Ouch!!
Let me explain further by referring to the diagram of mental symmetry. ‘Life’ needs T + S + P + M. Notice how these are connected. M connects to P which goes through C to S which connects to T. These links are all precise ones that build solid content. Put these four together and you get true ‘life.’ How is ‘life’ expressed? Through the fuzzy connection that links Mercy and Teacher via the Exhorter.[277] This link has all of the characteristics of ‘life’: it is unpredictable, it involves emotion, it connects experiential memory with intelligence, and it generates imagination, energy, and motivation.
The INFJ takes a shortcut to mental ‘life’ by going directly from Mercy to Teacher, ignoring the two intervening steps. In other words, he overlooks the precise connections of T + S + P + M and focuses upon the fuzzy bridge of T + M. How can he do this? By building upon an assumed structure of Server and Perceiver content. First, he learns Server sequences by living within a physical body. He may attempt to ignore this body, but moving it around does program Server strategy. Second, he learns Perceiver logic through comparing emotional Mercy experiences.
Notice how this shortcut to ‘life’ relates to the two stages of philosophy. The goal of the first stage is to achieve mental clarity. Anyone who finds himself immersed in a ‘soup’ of undigested emotional experiences will want to make sense of his surroundings. This desire is especially true of the Facilitator person, because, as we shall see later, Facilitator strategy cannot operate when the mind is confused. Therefore, the budding philosopher will be driven to sort through his emotional memories in order to organize them and classify them. As a mental byproduct, this mental sorting will develop Perceiver thought. In addition, as I have just mentioned, living as a normal human in the natural world will program Server strategy. Thus, the Perceiver and Server content that is needed to support truncated INFJ mental ‘life’ develops as a byproduct of Extraverted Feeling.
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The jump from Extraverted Feeling to Introverted iNtuition occurs when the emerging philosopher discovers Teacher thought and Teacher emotion. In the Facilitator person, this transition occurs automatically as subconscious Teacher strategy finds a way of tying together the Perceiver facts that were discovered during the first stage. The mental goal now changes from clarity to illumination. The philosopher no longer feels driven to organize his Mercy experiences into separate Perceiver ‘piles.’ Instead, Teacher emotion now motivates him to integrate these ‘piles’ into a general structure. Unfortunately, his mental ‘piles’ will often refuse to fit together. Why? Because his initial goal was not to follow sequence or discover logic but rather to achieve clarity. Thus, his emotional experiences may be neatly sorted, but they are not analyzed or digested. And how will the philosopher respond when he cannot achieve mental integration? He will twist his facts and warp his sequences in order to make them fit together. Why? Because his goal is not understanding but illumination. This twisting occurs naturally as the philosopher becomes his own expert—gaining the emotional importance needed to redefine 'truth'—and as he begins writing—allowing him to use Teacher words to adjust the Server structure that his mind gained from physical action.
Eventually, the INFJ will be able to achieve his desired goal of mysticism—namely, to luxuriate in the emotional currents of a direct Mercy-Teacher connection. While he is searching and building, Perceiver facts and rational thinking prevent him from tying together Mercy and Teacher feelings. But, as the scaffolding of Perceiver logic and Server skill fades, the INFJ is finally able to break through the barriers of Perceiver and Server content and emerge into the emotional illumination of true mysticism. Even though Perceiver and Server processing are now suppressed, Perceiver and Server memories remain to provide a mental structure that can tie Mercy and Teacher thought together. Thus, the ‘mature’ mystic claims that his discoveries are beyond logic and reach past the physical body. In a sense, he is right, because he had to pass through logic and action in order to reach his mystical epiphany. But, by mentally suppressing the structure needed to support his mysticism, he also guarantees that he will never achieve more than a passing glimpse of true ‘life.’
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This direct connection from emotional Mercy experiences to Teacher words can be verbally encouraged. Whenever a person speaks, he is expressing internal Teacher thought—the dominant of the INFJ. If the INFJ adds a non-verbal component to his speech, this will trigger his auxiliary of Feeling. If the speech is meaningless, then Perceiver strategy will not become involved. Similarly, Server thought can be suppressed by saying syllables that lack structure and grammar. Thus, the ‘oooooommm’ of the Eastern mystic or the ‘tongues’ of the religious charismatic are excellent tools for encouraging a mystical mindset.
Let us move on to the next INFJ trait, which I will allow Keirsey to describe. He says that “INFJs can intuit good and evil in others, although they seldom can tell how they came to know. Subsequent events tend to bear them out, however.” This trait definitely goes ‘beyond logic and past the physical body.’ But, it can nevertheless be analyzed and understood. Earlier on, I suggested that emotional 'truth' divides the world into ‘us versus them’ or ‘good and evil.’ This is because Perceiver 'facts' are being defined by strong Mercy feelings. If these feelings are positive, then the corresponding 'facts' are accepted as ‘good.’ In contrast, negative emotions will create 'facts' which are labeled ‘evil.’ Thus, for the individual who 'believes' in emotional 'truth,' the struggle is not to determine truth, but rather to replace evil 'truth' with good 'truth.' This becomes a fundamental aspect of INFJ thought.
The INFJ’s dominant mode of Introverted iNtuition takes this three steps further, all the way to mental ‘life’—which again turns out to be a shadow of the real thing. Skipping over Perceiver and Server thought, iNtuition looks for a general Teacher understanding that can explain the Mercy experiences of Extraverted Feeling. Thus, evil 'facts' will grow to become an imaginary ‘living’ person who is responsible for this ‘heresy.’ Likewise, good 'facts' will be viewed as part of a good person.[278]
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Notice that the INFJ combines two unrelated concepts. First, he goes beyond individual experiences and words to a mystical kind of mental ‘life.’ This idea is consistent with mental wholeness, for ‘life’ does emerge whenever Teacher, Server, Perceiver and Mercy memories are connected. Second, the INFJ divides this life into good and evil. This concept is not consistent with mental wholeness. Instead, it is rooted in emotional 'truth.' When true mental life emerges—after complete personal transformation—then the concept of good and evil is no longer present. Instead, it is replaced by completeness and incompleteness, wholeness and fragmentation, life and death.[279]
This brings us to our final and most controversial point. Keirsey states, “If a person demonstrates an ability to understand psychic phenomenon better than most others, this person is apt to be an INFJ.” Is there such a thing as a ‘psychic phenomenon’? I would rather not answer that point. However, if we look at the mental behavior of those who claim to have psychic or spiritual powers, I would suggest that we can make three major statements.
First, whenever people or groups utilize the direct emotional connection between Teacher and Mercy thought, then they will claim to exhibit psychic traits. Four MBTI types happen to fall into this category: the INFJ, INFP, ENFJ and ENFP. The last two types describe most Exhorter persons, who are conscious in the mode which bridges Teacher and Mercy thought.
Second, the specific MBTI type will determine the form of ‘psychic’ power being claimed. The INFJ assumes that a hidden Teacher world lies behind visible Mercy experiences. Thus, he will usually claim to ‘receive messages’ from beyond. The Exhorter person, in contrast, goes from the internal to the external. Therefore, his ‘psychic’ ability usually manifests itself as a form of special influence or healing ‘power.’[280]
Third, the stability or duration of any ‘psychic’ event or ability depends upon the durability of the Perceiver and Server memories that relate Teacher and Mercy thought. If their content is unreliable, then the ‘spiritual’ connection quickly fades. On the other hand, content that is solid can support a much longer and greater ‘psychic’ episode.
Obviously, a lot more can be said about the subject. However, I suggest that these principles are sufficiently general to cover every psychic event, all spiritual activity, and every religion.[281]
But is philosophy religious? Yes, very much so. In the intermediate stages, when it uses logic and accepts the physical body, it may attempt to deny religion, spirituality, and psychic ability. However, if you examine the history of philosophy, you will find that eventually it turns its back upon logic, denies the physical body and the physical world, and fully embraces Eastern Buddhist-like religion, along with the various overt spiritual and psychic overtones. And, because philosophy struggles so hard in its earlier stages to pursue logic and to comprehend the natural world, the mysticism it achieves in its final stages is sometimes sufficient to launch a full-fledged religion—which usually turns out to be some variation on the Buddhist theme.

[265] Don’t blame me for this list. Most of the material comes from Please Understand Me by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates.
[266] It is also fairly common to find Mercy psychologists. One thinks, for example, of Dr. Spock, the famous child care expert. Mercy psychologists are often well-versed in the various Facilitator philosophies.
[267] The Facilitator is able to observe himself as if he is another person. This is because he is conscious in the ‘secretary’ of the mind, a mode which monitors and adjusts mental operation.
[268] I refer to this type of logic as ‘proof by example.’ It is also prevalent in the Exhorter person.
[269] To the extent that the Facilitator person makes the best of the existing situation, to that extent his overall direction will be determined by his internal and external environment.
[270] The Mercy person also has a very limited form of mental awareness. He is naturally gifted at deciphering a person’s emotional state but finds it much more difficult to work out methods of changing this condition.
[271] This is one of the main motivations behind political correctness.
[272] As I suggested earlier, the Facilitator philosopher respects subconscious memories while suppressing subconscious processing.
[273] He is therefore skilled at listening to someone, and yet at the same time not hearing a single word that is being said. For him it comes easily, because Perceiver strategy within his mind, which is responsible for comprehension, is often highly fragmented.
[274] Facilitator thought plays an essential role—if the rest of the mind is programmed. When mental development is incomplete, though, Facilitator strategy has a habit of winning the battle while losing the war.
[275] Our research suggests that essentially all philosophers are Facilitator persons. In contrast, INFJ traits other than philosophy can be found in Mercy and Contributor persons as well as in Facilitators.
[276] 4 = 2 + 1 + 1. The math is simple. The process is not.
[277] Wait. Didn’t I say that ‘life’ requires the four simple styles? Now I bring in Contributor and Exhorter thought. Huh? This book is examining the content required for ‘life.’ Once the mental ‘computer’ is programmed, then the composite styles do the actual running of the program. Contributor and Exhorter strategies do play a critical role in integrating the mind, mainly in the realm of choice and motivation. Whenever one chooses to follow one option instead of another, Contributor thought is responsible for this choice. Whenever motivation changes, it is because Exhorter mode is following a different mental path. Generally speaking, if the content is in place, then drive and decision follow. Thus, as a first approximation, we can ignore the role played by Exhorter and Contributor strategies. It will be covered in the next book.
[278] This mechanism is the mirror image of the way in which general understanding grows into an image of ‘God’ in the INFP.
[279] Whoa! Heavy concept. If this statement is accurate, then it has major implications. You work them out.
[280] History indicates that the Exhorter person often has what those around him refer to as a ‘magnetic’ personality, and that it can affect the health of others.
[281] This itself is a ‘psychic’ statement because it uses a general Teacher theory to integrate a host of emotional Mercy experiences.