The Hourglass Personality


This is an article on the Emotional-Heavy INTJ or the Fi-Heavy INTJ that used to live on another website that no longer exists. Rather than being in an Ni-Fi Loop this personality builds an entire identity around an emotional aspect that may be atypical, but not necessarily in an unhealthy way. This personality has developed modes of rational thinking but is also deeply connected to the human experience. He or she approaches life philosophically and is always seeking wisdom. I didn’t write a lot of it, but I am bringing it back to life from its internet death because it is a crucially important subtlety. I have tailored it so that it applies to me personally.

Some of Us Are Enigmas

Sometimes we aren’t sure what type we fall under. Even when getting deep and exploring all aspects of MBTI, we can still get torn on where we fit. Worse is when we read what mainly sounds like neat little stereotypes and ideal presentations of the cognitive function stack, which only makes things more confusing. A difficulty some people face is when they score INxJ with no clear preference for T or F. Perhaps they are considering INTJ as their best fit type, but they seem to resonate more strongly with Fi, the INTJ’s tertiary function, than they feel an NT should. This is called the Fi-heavy INTJ.

First, it is rare for someone to score 100% on any personality dimension. You may prefer thinking, but this doesn’t mean you are void of any feeling preferences. For instance, I would consider myself a tactful person rather than a blunt person in social situations. This is because I find bluntness to be aggressive, and aggressiveness can inspire further aggressiveness and therefore danger. If I inspire a bar fight by I’m definitely not going to win. Perhaps this is strategy on my part, but preferring tact over bluntness is still a Feeling preference. In Step II of MBTI, these dimensions are measured via several facets and it is entirely possible that one may score a few facets on one side and a few on the other. Most people would consider me tender over tough, which is one of the feeling over thinking facets. But in the end I prefer more thinking facets than feeling facets, which makes me a person who prefers thinking over feeling.

Typical INTJ

So let’s talk about the INTJ. In cognitive function stack theory, the typical INTJ looks like this:


You have all functions here going in descending order from most utilized to least utilized, but this person has a relatively healthy balance that will shift over time as they develop the lower functions. Generally, however strong your preference for one function is, the opposing function will have the same degree of weakness. The stronger your Ni is, the weaker your Se will be and so on.

Stereotypical INTJ

Sometimes you’ll see INTJs who look like this, and these are the ones who earn all the stereotypes:

These people are very heavy on the auxiliary Te and command it so well you’d think they might be ENTJs. (Hint: if your “auxiliary” Te is stronger than your Ni, you are an ENTJ.) And their Fi is correspondingly weak. These people aren’t exactly balanced, nor are they representative of all INTJs who, in real life, have varying degrees of preference for each of the dimensions INTJs share. But they aren’t uncommon either, and tend to be the voice for the INTJ presence you see online.

The Hourglass INTJ

These are the people who identify with neither their feeling nor their sensing functions and thus make the mistake of assuming INTJs do not have feeling or sensing functions.But sometimes, you’ll get this:

When this happens the size of the preferences assume an hourglass shape and it is because the person in question is so strongly introverted they have developed their introverted functions far more than their extroverted functions. Fi ends up being stronger than Te even though it’s supposed to be in the tertiary position and I think this explains why many INTJ’s are Enneagram 5w4’s – maybe they even have a Bohemian flare. Introverted Feeling is still your tertiary function, because your auxiliary function has to be the opposite attitude of your dominate. No one is truly an “Ni, Fi, Te, Se” type, per se. It’s more that your personality is looping in the back towards your introverted functions (or looping in the front if you are an extrovert, thus skipping the inner introverted functions).

This is common in those whose preferred attitude is so strong (in this case: introversion) that they forgo the healthy development of their auxiliary function in favor of the dominate and tertiary, which share their preferred attitude. You see this referred to as the “Ni-Fi loop” sometimes, but in this case I’m referring to an entire personality that is developed by favoring these functions. A healthy INTJ needs to develop their Te. The auxiliary function is what makes a person able to adapt to the attitude they do not prefer which makes them a more well-rounded and functional person. But sometimes, things happen to get in the way of this. A.J. Drenth of Personality Junkie touches on this a bit:

INTJs who were abused, mistreated, or whose Fi was otherwise deeply affected may also develop strong interests in F matters, especially understanding their own personal past. They may spend significant time trying to analyze their childhood, trying to make sense of what happened and understand who they are as individuals (Fi). In such INTJs, one can often trace a connection between their Fi feelings and their Te objectives. In many cases, the things that are most disturbing to INTJs, both to their Fi and Ni, are the things they hope to understand and remedy. So it is not merely shortcomings in rational systems (Te) that motivate INTJs, but also negative experiences or feelings (Fi).

Personally, I think I started to develop my Fi as a teenager and I think it was mostly in response to some self-imposed trauma. I don’t know many other kids that were as driven as I was at that age and I don’t know how many other kids could honestly say that they would rather die and suffer than not make their homework as good and as perfect as it could possibly be. I was introduced to a little bit of philosophy at 15 and starting with the Greeks I understood myself as a combination of 1) Body 2) Mind and 3) Spirit. According to a quote by Aristotle, I sought education as a means towards excellence in itself, “not as a means to be used by others or by the state”. But seeking knowledge to the heights of avarice, I was also aware of other psychological needs I often recited things that either comforted or inspired me: The To Be or Not to Be Soliloquy, f.ex., comforted me when death seemed an alternative to the struggle for perfection.

I found that could push myself further when my drive was rooted in artistic expression be it with Beethoven’s 9th or Nietzschean ideals of the Ubermensch. The narcissistic expression and self-aggrandizement didn’t exactly make me a healthy teenager and my friends always muse at the fact that I only scored a 3/10 on my psychological evaluation with the Swedish Military. I guess I was supposed to be dating girls rather than be doing weird things like going to the Opera with my brother.

But these things balanced me and made me appreciate the arts and poetry and it put me in touch with the wholeness of my humanity and ultimately helped me transcend and escape existentialist rationalism. I’ve always been fascinated with and looked up to Sybok, a character in Star Trek, who abandons and transcends the limited, logical Vulcan social order of emotional repression in order to discover enlightenment and God.

The Many Subtypes

There are a lot of ways an INTJ can be or look and in Socionics there are both rational and creative subtypes. There’s no one central INTJ identity (besides having a preference for introversion, intuition, thinking, and judging). That’s going to look slightly different for everyone. Maybe you’re a person who doesn’t have a strong preference for feeling or thinking. Keep digging and see what fits you best.
If you are a person who feels you may be a high-Fi INTJ, here are some articles you should read on why that may be:

When You ALMOST Know Your Personality Type

One of the Biggest Challenges in Personality Development

About Esotariq

Quantitative Finance Professional with a passion for happy living, self-improvement, nutrition, and minimalist running over maximalist distances.