In the previous post, I explored the INFP’s first shadow function or the INFP’s fifth function in the cognitive stack. This post will explore the INFP’s second shadow function, Introverted Intuition, in depth.
The second shadow function holds the Critical Parent role. This role concerns how individuals find weak spots in other people’s arguments and judgments.
Now, to be honest, I still am not sure of how Introverted Intuition works within other individuals, thus I don’t know how it works within myself as an INFP. I have theorized how Introverted Intuition can work within the INFP while holding the Critical Parent role (And if you guys have concrete theories about how Introverted Intuition works within the INFP, do tell).
The Critical Parent role can work two ways: internally and externally. As the Critical Parent role “judges” and critiques certain ways of thinking or arguments (i.e. like a critical parent), when any personality type is using their Critical Parent function, they are breaking down and finding weak spots in their own ways of thinking or in other people’s ways of thinking. For the INFP specifically, the INFP uses Introverted Intuition to critique their own or other people’s ideas. If used immaturely, the Critical Parent can often be degrading to either the INFP or the individual the INFP is using the role against. Once the INFP has fully developed Introverted Intuition can the INFP use it in the Critical Parent role in a mature manner.
Personality Junkie says this of “Ni”, “As with all introverts, INFJs’ and INTJs’ first order of business is an internal one. They enjoy tinkering with ideas, perspectives, theories, visions, stories, symbols, and metaphors. Their dominant function, Introverted Intuition (Ni), serves as the veritable foundation for this inner playhouse.”
INFJs and INTJs have Introverted Intuition as their first function, and I asked an INFJ I know if she could relate to any of the so-called “mysticism” and visions of Introverted Intuition. From her response, what she said lines up with Personality Junkie in that she enjoys playing with concepts and coming up with metaphors. An INTJ I know also agreed a lot with the mysticism and visions of “Ni”. He noted that he does often think in images, and he constantly plays around with metaphors, concepts, and ideas.
To understand Introverted Intuition better, we can’t examine “Ni” by itself as an individual function. Most functions, especially Perceiving functions, work in pairs.
The INFP’s primary Perceiving functions are Extraverted Intuition and Introverted Sensing. “Si” deals with internal data and memories. The INFP, through “Si”, has a massive storage of ideas, facts, and memories, collected during the INFP’s entire life. Extraverted Intuition then takes that internal data within the INFP and tries to connect different pieces of data together, trying to find a pattern or a better, more interesting idea.
Within the INFJ or INTJ, however, their primary Perceiving functions are Extraverted Sensing and Introverted Intuition. “Ni” deals with the INFJ’s or INTJ’s stored concepts and patterns. I could be wrong, but if I can say that “Si” within the INFP is like a large, computer bank filled with stored facts and ideas, then “Ni” within the INFJ or INTJ is like having a chess strategy book of sorts (of course not for chess, but for everything in general).
So, within the INFJ or INTJ, “Se” takes a look at the data right in front of the INFJ or INTJ. It sees everything going on in front of the individual: the facts, data, ideas, and experiences. “Se” takes that external data, and Introverted Intuition searches through its database of patterns and concept in order to piece together the external data in front of the INFJ or INTJ.
While the “Ne”-“Si” pair within the INFP creates ideas, the “Se”-“Ni” pair helps personality types read current events and people. This is where the mysticism and vision comes from. INFJs and INTJs read a current event and can “see” and predict how things will play out. Not how they could play out, but instead how they will play out (Their predictions are pretty accurate apparently).
What about Introverted Intuition within the INFP? The INFP uses Introverted Intuition in the Critical Parent role. So, the INFP uses “Ni” to find the weak spots in their own or other people’s ideas and arguments. The INFP will seek to examine the idea or argument in front of them and try to find a pattern in it.
Because “Ni” isn’t as developed within the INFP as it is in the INFJ or INTJ, the database of concepts and patterns within the INFP isn’t as deep. However, the INFP in a moment of realization in having used “Ni” to its full extent, might say, “Oh, that idea will not work when this happens.” I know that in the past I often understand arguments and ideas better by thinking of an alternate idea or argument that is related to the current argument via an action or pattern. Though I can’t think of a specific example, here is a logical fallacy instead:
Say someone gives this argument: “If it takes one guy two hours to mow the lawn, then it should take two guys one hour to mow the lawn.” (Of course, there isn’t a logical fallacy in that specific argument, but for example purposes, let’s say there is.) I know that there could be a logical fallacy in that argument, and so “Ni” will “turn on”. I will search for a pattern within that argument to find the flaw in it. Like I said, it helps me to insert different situations into an argument in order understand the argument better, as long as the overlying pattern or concept is still in place.
In searching for the overlying flawed pattern, I will insert different situations into the argument. With the help of Introverted Intuition, I might say, “What if these were airplanes instead of lawnmowers? If it takes one plane to fly two hours to a certain place, should it take two planes one hour together to fly to that same place?”
There in lies a fallacy, thus (for example’s sake), the previous argument about the lawnmowers is flawed.
However, because “Ni” is not well-developed within the INFP, the INFP may perceive false patterns and flaws within their own or other people’s ideas and arguments when in fact there’s nothing wrong with their current idea or argument. Every personality will have moments like this, where they feel negative about their work and think they’re not good enough because of the perceived flaws.
Meanwhile, it will still be hard for us INFPs to understand “Ni”, especially “Ni” within us. After much experience and maturity will Introverted Intuition fully develop within us INFPs, and until then, it’s good to practice using our “Ni” alongside its counterpart, Extraverted Sensing. In the next post, I’ll discuss “Se” within INFPs.