What Does Each Myers-Briggs® Type Look Like If They Get Stuck In A “Loop”?

When someone interested in Myers-Briggs®talks about loops, they’re referring to what happens when a person bypasses their co-pilot function and starts relying on their dominant and tertiary process instead. This can be a temporary situation, or it can last for quite a long time depending on the individual and their circumstances.

Some people teach that the Dominant-Tertiary Loop leads to personality disorders, but I have not found any good research to back up this claim. We can slip into a loop pattern without developing a disorder, and specific mental illnesses aren’t tied to any one personality type. It seems more likely to me that, as a general rule, loops are part of a reaction to stress or an attempt to avoid discomfort.

If you need a refresher on how cognitive functions work, click here to read “The Simplest Guide to Myers-Briggs® Functions Ever.”

We all need a balance between inner and outer world feedback, a way to learn new information, and a way to process information and make decisions. We’re got all that covered in our dominant and co-pilot functions because one is introverted and one is extroverted, and one’s a perceiving/learning function (Sending or Intuition) and one’s a judging/decision-making function (Feeling or Thinking).

When we skip our co-pilot function and go for the tertiary instead, we’re replacing the co-pilot with a function that fills a similar role because the tertiary and co-pilot are both either Perceiving or Judging functions. However, the tertiary has the same orientation (Introverted or Extroverted) as the dominant function. Going into a “loop” means we’re ignoring the world that is most uncomfortable for us and we’re opting to use a function that’s less mature than our co-pilot. This “loop” is going to look different for each type, but in all cases it means we’re not balanced. It also usually means that we’re avoiding personal growth. Read more

What Role Does The Tertiary Function Play In Myers-Briggs® Personality Types?

When we talk about psychological functions in Myers-Briggs® types, the tertiary function often gets over looked. Usually, we talk about the two that we use most often or about the inferior function that usually shows up under stress. These three functions are hugely important. Our dominant and co-pilot processes need to work together for us to have healthy, balanced personalities. And we need to understand the inferior function so we’re better equipped to recognize and deal with how we react to stressful situations. But the tertiary function is also important.

To learn more about how your inferior function works, check out my article “What Does Each Myers-Briggs® Type Look Like When They Get Stressed-Out?” And if you need a refresher on cognitive functions, or if this part of Myers-Briggs® is new to you, read “The Simplest Guide to Myers-Briggs® Functions Ever

The tertiary function is also called the “relief function.” In Personality Hacker’s car model (affiliate link), they call it the 10-year-old because that’s the level of maturity this function typically has. Psychologist John Beebe named it the “Eternal Child” after one of Carl Jung’s archetypes. Though we don’t talk about this function nearly as much as some of the others, it’s also a key part of our personality. Understanding the tertiary function, and how it relates to the other functions, can really help us understand ourselves.

Growth And The Functions

In terms of typology, personal growth happens when we’re using both our introverted and our extroverted sides, as well as our judging and perceiving sides. Working to find a balance between our dominant and co-pilot processes leads to growth and change because we’re exercising all these aspects of our personality. Read more

What Does Each Myers-Briggs® Type Look Like When They Get Stressed-Out?

Stress is something we all have to deal with. It’s part of being human. But how we each react to stress is, at least partly, determined by our personality types.

Each personality type has four mental processes called “cognitive functions” that they use when living their day-to-day lives. These functions describe how our minds work. For example, an ESTJ type is most comfortable using Extroverted Thinking to make decisions in the outer world. That’s supported by their co-pilot Introverted Sensing, which is their preferred way to learn and process information. Then they have a tertiary process called Extroverted Intuition, which they’re not quite as comfortable with. The fourth function, in this case Introverted Feeling, is called the inferior process and it’s not well developed at all.

For more information on how cognitive functions work, read “The Simplest Guide to Myers-Briggs® Functions Ever

When we’re stressed-out our minds typically go to our inferior process. (We can also “loop” between our dominant and tertiary, but that’s a topic for another post). This explains why we start acting out of character when under stress. Stress throws off the familiar, comfortable balance of our mental processes and changes how we deal with things. And because we each use a different combination of these mental functions, a stress-response is going to look a little different for each type.

Why Study Stress-Responses?

Recognizing what a stress-reaction looks like for different types can help us in several ways. If you’re in any kind of relationship with someone, knowing what happens when they’re stressed can give you a different perspective on them when they start to act out a character. Instead of being puzzled by their behavior, you can recognize it as the way they respond to stress.

In terms of our relationship with ourselves, knowing our own stress reactions can help us recognize when we need to practice some self-care. If you’re starting to go into your inferior function, then it’s time to take a look at your life and figure out what’s the cause of your stress and how you can get yourself back into balance. Read more

Fictional MBTI — Thor (ESTP)

With Thor: Ragnarok now out, it seemed like a good time for another Fictional MBTI post. Especially since Ragnarok is so good. Who would have thought a film about the destruction of Asgard and fall of the gods (that’s not a spoiler — it’s Norse mythology) could be so light-hearted and fun?

I’ve been typing Thor as an ESTP since the first film came out, which I think is pretty much the standard typing for him (please note: I’m only typing the MCU version of Thor, not his character in the comics). But that’s no reason not to give him his own blog post. I usually use David Kiersey’s nicknames for the personality types, but for Thor the ESTP nickname “Adventurer” seems more appropriate than “Promoter.”Fictional MBTI - Thor (ESTP) | marissabaker.wordpress.com

A Man of Action

Fictional MBTI - Thor (ESTP) | marissabaker.wordpress.comESTP types lead with a mental process called Extroverted Sensing (Se). Fittingly, this is the most visible aspect of Thor’s character in the films. SP types are doers. They thrive on taking action in the real world and they’re good at it. Really good. In fact, I’d venture a guess that most action heroes in fiction are SP types, especially STP types. It’s not that they can’t pause for reflection or plan ahead. It’s that they don’t really see the need since things usually work out so well for them.

ESTPs have a reputation for being thrill-seekers, and it’s not hard to see why. Their dominant Se seeks variety and physical stimulation. They like to take risks, yet they are so aware of their physical surroundings and their limits that they are probably the smartest physical risk-takers around. They have a natural awareness for what their body can or can’t do, paired with quick reflexes, and an ability to keep their wits in a crisis.” — Susan Storm, Understanding ESTP Sensing

This side of Thor’s character is at the forefront in the new film as well as his past appearances. In Ragnarok’s opening scene, he even comments that fighting against overwhelming odds without a real plan seems to always work out for him. And not only does it work out, he’s clearly enjoying himself. He thrives on challenge and risk-taking. Read more

Myers-Briggs Temperaments and Depression

Depression isn’t confined to a certain personality type, but we can use tools from the Myers-Briggs type system when trying to combat negative thought patterns. If you know what your four-letter type is, then you can easily find out what are some common stress triggers and negative thought patterns for your type that can increase risk of depression.

Myers-Briggs Temperaments and Depression| marissabaker.wordpress.com

Temperament Affects Behavior

Depression is a very complicated issue with lots of underlying causes. The Harvard Medical School points out that while people often assume depression is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, it also has to do with our genetics, temperament, stressful experiences, past traumas, other medical conditions, and certain medications. For now, we’re going to focus on temperament.

Your view of the world and, in particular, your unacknowledged assumptions about how the world works also influence how you feel. You develop your viewpoint early on and learn to automatically fall back on it when loss, disappointment, or rejection occurs.” — Understanding Depression, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School

Our temperaments affect how we process the sorts of situations that often lead to depression, such as grief or a prolonged struggle. In Myers-Briggs theory, we use the four-letter types to describe the personality temperament which is built from someone’s genetic predispositions and early childhood experiences.

*** People frequently experience depressed moods that last for a short time, which is different than clinical depression. Studying ways to change patterns of negative thinking can help pull you out of depression, but for ongoing or serious depression it is no substitute for professional counseling. If depression is interfering with your daily life, and especially if you’re having suicidal thoughts, please seek professional help.***

Your “Inferior Function”

Your Myers-Briggs type describes your temperament weaknesses as well as your strengths. Every type has what we call an inferior function, which is also sometimes called the “shadow.” It is our least-developed function that we still have some conscious access to, and it’s the one that emerges when we’re stressed. Since it’s largely unused, it’s an immature and distorted way of looking at the world and can lead to unhealthy outlooks and negative thoughts, which can in turn contribute to depression.

Naomi Quenk’s book Was That Really Me? talks about stress bringing out our “hidden personality” in what she describes as an eruption of the inferior function. When we’re caught “in the grip” of our inferior functions, we are trying to deal with stress using a mental process that is unfamiliar, and it can have a profound effect on our mood.

Not every instance of stress will trigger our inferior function, and not all grip experiences are negative. Staying in your inferior function, though, increases stress levels because you’re not really using the functions that come most naturally to you. Learning about your inferior function gives you insight into typical sensitivities that might trigger a grip experience, describes signs that you are “in the grip”, and gives you tools for returning to a more balanced state of mind.

The Grip and Depression

Depression isn’t necessarily a symptom of being in the grip, but grip experiences do increase the tendency to fall into negative thought patterns. Our thought patterns directly impact our health, and “in many cases, depression can be caused by negative thinking, itself” (LiveScience.com). The tools each type can use to climb out of the grip can also help you get a handle on negative thinking.

As an example, INFJs and INFPs are two types that frequently report dealing with depression. An INFJ’s inferior function is Extroverted Sensing, and it typically shows up as “obsessive focus on external data,” “overindulgence in sensual pleasure,” and “adversarial attitude toward the outer world” (Quenk, p.198)  For INFPs, their inferior Extroverted Thinking causes “judgements of incompetence,” “aggressive criticism,” and “precipitous action” (Quenk, p.105). It’s easy to see how these will negatively influence your thoughts. If you feel like the outer world is attacking you, it changes how you think about everything around you and your own responses to external events and people. If you fall into a pattern of thinking you’re incompetent, it’s going to pull your thoughts in a negative direction.

Naomi Quenk writes that INFJs “need space and a low-pressure environment to regain their dominant” function (p.207). A change of scenery can help, and INFJs often appreciate having someone else around after a while to offer support and affirmation. Sometimes, taking time away from other people to journal about your thoughts and look at them more objectively helps redirect patterns of negativity. Talking things over with a friend or therapist also helps, though I find it works best after taking some alone time first. INFPs use similar methods for returning to equilibrium, but alone time is even more important for them and when they do talk to people, they need someone to listen more than offer guidance (Quenk, p.115).

A certain amount of alone time is critical for many introvert types, but not always so much for extroverted types. ENFJs, for example, fall into a pattern of “excessive criticism,” “convoluted logic,” and “compulsive search for truth” when in the grip. This type often benefits from exercise and a change of scenery, as well as having someone involve them in a project that captures their interest. Having a chance to talk things over with someone who takes them seriously is critical (Quenk, p. 163).

I highly recommend checking out Naomi Quenk’s book, or at least running a Google search to learn your type’s inferior function. It’s helped me quite a bit with my anxiety and in finding strategies for turning negative thoughts around, as well as with relating to other people who are struggling with different stressors in their lives.

Myers-Briggs Temperaments and Depression| marissabaker.wordpress.com

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Fictional MBTI – Loki (INFJ)

My first Fictional MBTI post was about Loki, and though it wasn’t the most complete or polished post it quickly became the most active in terms of comments. Even now, over a year and a half later, people are still posting new insights and observations on Loki’s character. And when the latest comments are more in-depth than the original post, it’s time for an update.

Quick note: my typing for Loki is wholly based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not on the comics or on Norse mythology. Loki is a controversial figure to type (as those 40 commends on the last post can attest), and his instability further complicates things. Also, I suspect Tom Hiddleston is an NF type, which would color his depiction of Loki.Fictional MBTI - Loki (INFJ) | marissabaker.wordpress.com

INFJ Overview

The letters “INFJ” stand for Introvert, iNtuitive, Feeling and Judging. This means INFJs lead with a function called Introverted Intuition (called “Perspectives” in the Personality Hacker system). Introverted Intuition is a perceiving function that takes in and processes information, and is particularly interested in things that can’t be directly experienced. Intuition is great at pattern recognition and extrapolating future possibilities, and I’ve never seen anyone argue Loki is not an Intuitive. Read more