INFJ Dark Side

Descriptions of the INFJ personality type often emphasize our peaceful natures and ignore any hint of a “dark side.” For example, one commenter on my INFJ Loki post argued my typing is inaccurate because he couldn’t imagin an INFJ “carrying on a constant fight with everyone around you for the majority of your existence.” He knows INFJs are generally peaceful and conflict-avoidant, and couldn’t buy an INFJ as this type of villain.

People also describe INFJs as disconnected from the world, and unlikely to feel involved in the reality of what’s going on around us. All too often, people incorrectly assume this means we don’t care about what other people do or things that happen. This isn’t true. As Amelia Brown points out in her post The Dark Side Of The INFJ Personality Type, INFJs can be stubborn, judge others harshly, and abruptly cut people out of their lives. We do notice, and care, what’s going on enough to have a pretty decisive reaction in some cases.

Though INFJs are generally peaceful, gentle, and dislike engaging in confrontations, we’re not completely harmless (just ask my siblings). Every personality type has a dark side, and INFJs can be just as scary as anyone else.

INFJ Dark Side |
Photo by Karen_Nadine on Pixabay

Disclaimer: some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click on the link and make a purchase on that website.

Obsessive, Overindulging, and Defensive

Let’s dive into the sciencey-part of Myers-Briggs® theory for a moment. An INFJ personality type’s* dominant function is Introverted Intuition (Ni), which means the less-developed function which emerges in times of stress is Extroverted Sensing (Se).

INFJ Dark Side |
found on Pinterest

Naomi L. Quenk’s book Was That Really Me? How Everyday Stress Brings Out Our Hidden Personality* is an excellent resource for how each type reacts to stress with their inferior function. Types with dominant Se use it effectively, but INFJs are not comfortable when forced to use their sensing side. On a small level, making a “sensing mistake” that involves facts or details can make us “annoyed or defensive.” On a larger level, times of stress trigger what Quenk calls a “grip experience,” where the inferior function takes over (all quotes in this section from chapter 11 of her book).

For INFJs, stress causes an “obsessive focus on external data,” an “overindulgence in sensual pleasure,” and an “adversarial attitude toward the outer world.” The first one can make us irritable and obsessive. The second often takes the form of overeating, shopping for things we don’t need, and generally becoming self-centered. The third is a defensive response to feeling like the entire world is spinning out of control.

Their hypersensitivity to potentially dangerous surroundings can promote uneasiness about people as well. … An INFJ said she “becomes suspicious. Usually I’m tolerant, curious, and compassionate, so ‘out of character’ for me means I’m unaccepting and frustrated with the world.” …

The altered state of any inferior function is typically accompanied by a lessening of social controls and therefore more frequent expressions of anger. However, the character of that anger may be different for different types. For INTJs and INFJs, the “cause” of distress is often one or more “objects” in the environment. The anger directed at either things or people may therefore be more focused, intense, and extreme than with other inferior functions (Quenk).

It would probably surprise people who think INFJs are harmless to learn their stress-induced anger can actually be “more focused, intense, and extreme” than other types. But it’s no surprise to the INFJs.

When An INFJ Gets Angry

INFJ Dark Side |
found on Pinterest

Stress isn’t the only thing that can bring out an INFJ’s angry side. Back in 2014 Jenn Granneman of “Introvert, Dear” wrote an excellent article that addresses this issue. “How INFJs Deal with Conflict: 10 Confessions” is no longer available online, but here’s a quote:

Don’t underestimate my gentle nature. I’m not all warm fuzzies and smiles. If you cross one of my deeply held inner values, I become extremely outspoken and crusading. If I see someone else being hurt, I’ll have a strong urge to be their protector and defend them. An angry INFJ can deliver a wrath and intensity you’ve probably never experienced before. Think Jesus in the temple with whips, turning over the money changers’ tables.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

An INFJs generally peaceful nature can evaporate quickly when a deeply held value is crossed. We are, however, very good at bottling up our emotions until we can’t take it any longer. Until someone actually pushes us to the point where we feel like we have to say something they’re often clueless about how we really feel about them or their ideas.

An INFJ won’t share their real self and inner thoughts with a casual acquaintance, and we’ll go along with most conversations and suggestions just to avoid conflict. That can continue until the other person says or does something that crosses a line the INFJ has drawn in their minds, e.g. an INFJ woman being friendly to a guy she doesn’t really like up until the point where he actually asks her out.

I imagine it’s pretty puzzling for people who think they’re getting along just fine when suddenly an INFJ blurts out “I don’t agree. And by the way, here’s everything else you’ve done over the entire course of our relationship that irritates me.”

Dealing With Emotions

One of the great things about knowing your Myers-Briggs® type is learning about your type can help you with working on your weaknesses. I can use my Se as an excuse for angry outbursts, or I can recognize what’s going on and learn to deal with it more effectively. You can find helpful articles to read like INFJ Strategies for Dealing with Emotions by Cheryl Florus and 10 Stress-Busting Tips for INFJs by Susan Storm, or use resources like Personality Hacker to dig deep into your personality type.*

Naomi Quenk says INFJs and INTJs need “space and a low-pressure environment” to deescalate from a grip experience. It’s more helpful to take some alone time when feeling angry than to try and talk through it in the moment, partly to avoid sensory overload and partly to keep from snapping at people trying to give “helpful” advice. also, a “chance of scenery or activity can help break the negative, obsessive focus.” Try doing some yoga, going for a walk, or watching a film. Ni types can also exercise their Se through a hobby like photography, gardening, sculpting, or cooking.

INFJs do have a dark side. We don’t have to let it control us, be we should be aware of it. And other people would do well not to underestimate that side of the INFJ.

*indicates affiliate links

If you’d like to know more about the INFJ personality type, check out my book The INFJ Handbook. I just updated it with a ton of new information and resources. You can purchase it in ebook or paperback by clicking this link.

54 thoughts on “INFJ Dark Side

  • Its actually true. I have been all of my life ‘ confrontation-averse’ and always sought amd made peace. But recently one poor fool viciously abused me. After three months in shock, i destroyed him. And i mean ‘destroyed’ . I had no idea i had it in me. But i do. I also discovered that i instinctively knew his weakness.

    Liked by 1 person



  • Correct. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of being with a true NPD and I don’t throw that word around lightly. I have so affirmed my boundaries now, people are quite shocked. One example today, a woman who I read had very little respect for me, but I let it ride because she wasn’t obvious in her manner. Well, finally the day arrives. The rude, lying witch thought she could override me. Thought her time was more precious than anyone else’s despite me bending over backwards to accommodate her. I had some choice words for her. I know I hit low. All was true. I felt I may have been a bit rough, because she has just lost money through it. But you know, how long will “kindness” be construed as a doormat? Toxic people can kiss may white lilly arse!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good for you asserting your boundaries! That’s something I really struggle with and I admire that you’ve learned to balance kindness with not letting toxic people walk all over you.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Thanks Marissa. My only prayer is that it doesn’t backfire on me. Its why I’m practically a recluse. No-one knows about me (which is what I want),but at the same time, I deal with people via email and whatsapp. They don;t even know me but pass judgment (heck they dont even know what I look like – people usually judge on that and I used to be a beauty queen hahaha. Shows I don’t care about that.AT ALL. Tired of shallow people. If you really care though, most genuine people have a deep story to tell.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Hi Marissa, thanks for writing this post. I have come up as INFJ in a couple of tests (including one delivered by a certified MBTI professional), but always have thought this was because I was subconsciously sabotaging my test responses to be what I wanted to be rather than what I really am. Guess I’ll never know for sure! However one reason I was convinced the test results were wrong is because I live with what you refer to as an adversarial attitude towards the world, and have since I was a very small child, growing up in a dysfunctional home with one abusive parent and another parent who ‘enabled’ the abuse. As healing and grace slowly happen, it would be interesting to see if more INFJ characteristics become my norm – or not!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for commenting and sharing part of your story! Our childhoods can definitely affect how our personalities show up, especially in situations like yours. I’m so sorry that happened to you and I pray for blessings on your journey of healing and grace


  • Hmm…

    I used to score as INTP, then INTJ (years ago), but the last few times I did tests I got INFJ. Which surprised me, but the shift seems to have come after a significant reduction in stress (praise the Lord for online pharmacies!), healing from a lot of damage dating back to early childhood, and trying to be more open about how I feel and not conceal everything all the time. I would say I definitely fit the descriptions about INFJ responses to stress…

    And yes, I am a big fan of Elsa, which is what lead me to your blog… with childhood trauma, constant fear, living in isolation, she is the most relatable Disney princess I have ever seen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve recently discovered that I am INFJ and this is the first article that I’ve read on it. There was a statement about what it looks like to anger one of us and it’s referring to how Jesus reacted when he finds the money changers and tax collector’s set up in the church. It’s one of the few times in the bible that you can see Jesus’ rage and with due cause. It’s also the exact example that I give when I explain mine to someone. Little did I know how it would connect me to this moment. I’m beyond humbled.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is something that christian’s should engage in. People excuse the sinful behaviour as “oh it’s because I’m INFJ”. No, it is because you have a sinful heart and need to believe in Christ and repent. MBTI draws people away from their dire need for Christ and the gospel instead of towards it.


    • Since that’s how you feel about Myers-Briggs I wouldn’t tell you to use it. However, I’ve seen plenty of evidence that both Christians and non-Christians can use Myers-Briggs as a growth tool rather than an excuse. We don’t need to ignore useful tools just because it’s possible to misuse them.

      Christians I’ve worked with use MBTI to help understand themselves, including how to better use the gifts God gives each of us and to see where our weaknesses lie. From my experience, it’s not widely used as an excuse to ignore our need for Christ. Rather, I’d argue the more self-aware you are, the more you realize how much you need God.


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