by Andy Davis.
When participating in online INFJ social media communities, it’s sometimes apparent that there are many individuals who superficially identify themselves as being INFJ but, beyond acting out basic stereotype behaviours, they do not demonstrate any of the actual cognitive function processes that make INFJ unique.
The superficial stereotype outlines often promulgated online to describe INFJ personality can easily be misconstrued to match the symptoms of emotional unhealth in other types.
Likewise, if an emotionally unhealthy individual undertook MBTI type assessment and answered the questions based on how they acted (whilst emotionally unhealthy), then it is quite possible for such testing to miscalculate them as being INFJ.
For personality testing to be accurate, it must be answered on the basis of preferred cognitive functions (not actual behaviours), and on the basis of being in an ideal, healthy emotional state.
Regardless of how they stumble upon INFJ stereotype descriptions, people in emotional crisis are typically driven to seek out validation and to associate with others undergoing the same crisis.
Doing so is a subconscious defence mechanism; the feeling of belonging provides solace to a fractured sense of self, whilst also empowering a state of denial which avoids them accepting and confronting their emotional problems.
Subconsciously seeking to identify as a (wrong) type serves to validate what they’re experiencing. It frames their turbulent and unhealthy experience positively and, in doing so, is far more psychologically tempting than the harder path of accepting that behaviours are fundamentally unhealthy and unnatural for them.
For instance, a true INFJ enjoys solitude for contented, restorative contemplation. They don’t desire a huge social network of friends, but they do enjoy rationed amounts of socialization. This is defined by their HEALTHY use of cognitive functions.
In contrast, an unhealthy person is liable to mistakenly attribute anti-social and/or social-anxiety behaviours to conforming with an INFJ stereotype.
However, personality type outlines (stereotypes) define healthy functions, whereas the mistyped person is experiencing identification through the unhealthy use of their own functions.
What that actually means is that they’re actually typing themselves based on the negative manifestation of behaviours and feelings emerging from subconscious “shadow” functions.
These “shadow” functions are the subconscious polar opposite of the ideal conscious cognitive functions that the individual should prefer.
As an example of misidentification to the INFJ stereotype:
Compared to a true INFJ, the mistype will be lonely and depressed in their self-enforced isolation; during which they’ll toxic overthink or spiral in negative self-worth. They’ll mistake those unhealthy cognitive processes for “complexity” or “being dark inside”. They’ll become anti-social: avoidant and/or fearful of interactions with others. If they do have to socialize, they’ll “wear a mask” – but it’s to conceal depression, angst, low self-worth and/or inner-conflict etc… rather than to be selective of sharing positive emotional intimacy.
In short.. the INFJ behavioural stereotypes can be very deceptive to people on a subconscious level.
In the short-term, mistaken self-identification offers them some immediate (but ultimately self-deceptive) comfort. However, in the longer-term, it’s a psychological defence mechanism that forms an absolute barrier towards identifying and accepting that their behaviours, feelings and inexperiences are a deviation of how they SHOULD be.
Successfully denying that they have a problem to solve has the consequence that they’ll never begin a truthful self-examination that could lead to emotional healing.