“There really is something wrong in Denmark folks!”
The INFJ, a personality profile found in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality test, is frequently misunderstood as detached, moody, silently angry, and even depressed. INFJs themselves regularly make a direct connection between their personalty type and dysphoria. Thus, this type often self-identifies as depressed. We tackle this assumption held by other and INFJs alike by reviewing the origins of type theory, followed by a review of common observations of the INFJ with rebuttal.
What is the MBTI Test?
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), or “MBTI Test,” was derived from Jungian psychodynamic theory in the 1920s (also known as, “Shadow Type”). It measures preference for how individuals orient themselves in both their internal and external worlds.
The test itself measures four dichotomous preferences:
- Introversion vs. Extroversion
- Sensing vs. Intuition
- Thinking vs. Feeling
- Judging vs. Perceiving
As a result, 16 personality outcomes are made possible. In the case of the INFJ, we then say that the individual has a preference towards Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, and Judgment (organization).
Confused? No problem! For a functional example and detailed description of possible outcomes in the workplace, check out both the video below, and our article, “Using Personalty Psychology For Improved Relationships At Work (5 Tips).“
Do Personality Inventories Measure Mood?
Let’s be clear. Personality inventories are not designed to measure mood. That is the job of a comprehensive psychiatric assessment completed by a mental health professional.
In fact, personality inventories, in general, avoid reference to psychiatric characteristics and outcomes. When describing personality, especially from the perspective of nativism, it is critical that we defend the value on each measurable type, in order to show its functional place in the world.
However, do note that there are theoretical outliers. The Big Five personalty theory, a continuum based model, introduced the concept of, “Neuroticism” as a measurable personality trait. The other four factors, Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, and Agreeableness, do not carry the same negative connotation.
Characteristics of the INFJ
The INFJ is the most rare of all types. They represent only 1% of the general population. Their odd combination of intuitive reasoning working within the structure of their outwardly organized approach to life, at first, appears in contradiction. There is no doubt that others experience the INFJ as rather complex.
As described in our article, MBTI – The Personality Test That Changed Everything:
The INFJ is the voice of the marginalized. They are adept at connecting with those most in need and are often ardent defenders. They have a particularly suspicious nature and are selective about who they choose to have in their life. INFJs are adept at non-verbal communication.
It should also be noted that INFJs are known to get excited about stories of poetic justice, likely driven by their deep conviction to help the downtrodden, combined with their dislike for personal glory and political power (Joe Butt – Type Logic).
Finally, INFJs often display introverted thinking, a trait that causes others to experience them as aloof. It should be noted that some INFJs work against this by normalizing transparency of their internal processes, especially when they find themselves concerned that others see their quiet as uncaring or detached.
INFJ Depression – Observations and Response
From the outside looking in, many judge this rare type as removed (especially when engaging in groups) and depressed. From the emotive extravert’s point of view, the INFJ is desperately in need of emotional help.
This could not be further form the truth. We thought it would be helpful to address a set of common observations leading to the belief that the INFJ is clinically depressed. Each is followed by a response informed by the personal experience of the author, who is in fact both a clinician and an INFJ.
1 • Observation: INFJs don’t seem to know what to say when others express painful emotions in their presence.
Response: The INFJ experiences your pain with quiet intensity. It is important that they understand what you are saying before speaking. Their silence is calculated in defence of authenticity.
2 • Observation: INFJs spend too much time alone. When they are observed in public, their social interactions appear like an act. It is clear they have a preference towards socially isolation.
Response: INFJs have a small social circle. They spend time alone to recharge their batteries. Many have learned to turn on extraversion to function in the world in a more adaptive way. They are also proud of this skill (being around others with authentic engagement).
3 • Observation: When in emotional pain, INFJs are rarely seen or heard. They don’t seem to trust concern from others.
Response: It is important that you continue to express your concern. Be assured that the INFJs need for space is not a symptom of depression. It is in fact their need to recharge and process their emotional experience in a comfy cocoon.
4 • Observation: INFJs are depressed at base. The diagnosis, “Depressive Personality Disorder (DPD)” was specifically designed for the INFJ individual.
Response: First, the existence of DPD is both not supported in the research, nor a functional way to describe anyone experiencing dysphoria. Second, there is no connection between personalty type and psychiatric disorder. While this was once believed by the broader academic community, it is refuted and no longer acknowledged as fact.
Why the World is Better with INFJs
Knowing your MBTI profile helps with both intra-personal and inter-personal understanding. Each type possesses inherent value at home and in the workplace.
The INFJ is to be celebrated for their quiet determination to help those most in need, at any cost. Their ability to understand the psychological complexities of others, provides empathy and understanding of those around them. Finally, the INFJs adeptness at responding efficiently to emergencies with decisive conviction, is an asset deeply desired on any functional team.