by Andy Davis.
The INFJ personality is often linked with traits in perfectionism and procrastination. There are numerous explanations for this, but the theory that seems most likely to me involves a dysfunction in the auxiliary extroverted Feeling (Fe) cognitive function.
Undeveloped or suppressed Fe can cause two relevant problems:
- It can promote the tertiary introverted Thinking (Ti) function into the auxiliary ‘advisor’ role, where it tends to create a ‘feedback loop’ cycling between the dominant introverted Intuition (Ni) and Ti.
When this happens, the individual can begin second-guessing their perceiving Ni using judging Ti. This can undermine their Ni and lead to an increasing sense of self-doubt. As a result, they’ll work even harder to reach a confident conclusion – but the harder they rationalize the problem, the less certain they become.
In short, the Ni-Ti “loop” can drag the individual further and further away from ever being satisfied by their conclusions.
- Under-developed conscious Fe allows greater influence from the polarized introverted Feeling (Fi) function that resides in the subconscious – especially so when under the sort of stress which could occur when deadlines loom and failure to submit work becomes an ego-threat to our self-identity.
For an INFJ, Fi dwells unconsciously at the 7th cognitive position in our functional stack – the ‘critical parent’.
The judging role of the Fi ‘critical parent‘ is best described as the nagging voice in the back of our minds that reminds us of our standards, ethics and principles etc. It’s the root of our perfectionism – which can be either a powerful latent trait or a debilitating barrier to productivity, depending on circumstance.
In this case, when the fear of failure arises, that ‘critical parent‘ arises from our subconscious mind to hamstring us with self-critical notions which seek to persuade us that our work isn’t good enough – unhealthy perfectionism.
Caught in the dilemma between a looming deadline and a powerful self-critical doubt, it is far to easy for the INFJ to employ a psychological defence mechanism like avoidance: which will manifest as procrastination by focusing our attention elsewhere.