After Joel and I released a podcast on the INFJ personality, we received an overwhelming response from (the Myers-Briggs type) INTJ for more information on understanding their type. (Perspectives/Effectiveness in the Genius System).

That makes sense – these two types (the INFJ and the INTJ) are almost certainly the most misunderstood by both others and by themselves.

I’d almost argue that INFJs are a little easier to understand. That might be because my mother is an INFJ and I grew up around her, but there’s something about the acute pain an INFJ experiences that is an entrance into understanding them. As if the pain, itself, was a foot in the door of entering in and seeing the whole picture.

To find an entrance into an INTJ is much, much more difficult. Everything they exhibit is more subtle and muted, and the rabbit’s hole goes very deep.

As an ENTP, INTJs are my “Power Pair,” and there’s no doubt that I’ve found myself surrounded by them my entire life. I’ve lived with them, worked with them, fought with them, coached them, made love to and been rendered jelly while kissing them… you get the picture.

For all of my experience with INTJs, there are a couple of crucial components without which I don’t think you can really understand this type:

1) An INTJ is almost invariably smarter than the vast majority of people in analytical, existential, and linguistic intelligence.
INTJ-Myers-Briggs-Personality-Type-seeing-into-the-futureThere are other types that outperform INTJs in IQ tests (for example, INTPs), but I would venture to say that in all the ways society chooses to acknowledge ‘intelligence’, INTJs as a group outclass just about everyone else. Sure, other types outclass them in intra- and introspective intelligences, and of course kinesthetic/body awareness intelligence. But most cultures diminish the importance of these styles.

To truly understand an INTJ it’s important to realize that they are almost always ‘the smartest person in the room’ in the ways that we all have been socially programmed to recognize “smart.” This is a double-edged sword.

2) They are built like arthropods, and have an exoskeleton.

And it’s not purely a defensive strategy. Unlike the INFJ type that uses a ‘hard candy shell’ as protection against the world, an INTJ’s exoskeleton is a necessary part of their makeup. But like all things we come out of the hatch with, it can be used defensively. I’ll explain in a moment.

3) They are a LOT more sensitive than you realize.

What’s the point of an exoskeleton? To protect the squishy, nougat-like center, of course.

If you don’t see past the hard exterior and acknowledge just how vulnerable the inner world is, you cannot understand this type.

Before we talk about all that, let’s look at The Car Model for the INTJ personality type:

INTJ-Myers-Briggs-Personality-TypeThe Driver is Perspectives.

Perspectives is the process that helps INTJ’s watch their own minds form patterns, get inside the minds of others and allows them to see implications far into the future.

The Co-Pilot is Effectiveness.

Effectiveness makes decisions based on practical application, answering the question “What works,” creating metrics to determine milestones, and closing loops.

The 10 Year Old is Authenticity.

Authenticity, when done well, is all about “What feels RIGHT.” It’s how we get in touch with how things are impacting us on a subjectively emotional level, and it’s where we create conviction.

The 3 Year Old is Sensation.

Sensation, when done well, is how we stay present in the moment, and process the extraordinary amount of sensory detail that is coming at us at all times. It’s also where we get in touch with what gives us an adrenaline rush and how we improvise with our bodies.

(If you’re a Myers-Briggs geek, the primary cognitive function for this type is Introverted Intuition, the secondary is Extraverted Thinking, the tertiary is Introverted Feeling and the inferior is Extraverted Sensing.)

If you look at most profiles about the INTJ personality type, they’ll focus on the Mastermind quality of the INTJ. Long range strategy, designing truly complex systems that can be replicated, finding the weaknesses in infrastructure… INTJs are the walking think tanks that streamline the world.

But there’s only so much think tanking the world wants done, and the overwhelming majority of INTJs are just looking for a job that doesn’t make them want to stab their eyes out.

This is important to recognize – most INTJs are only somewhat satisfied in their career choice. You’ll see them peppered throughout universities as professors, in I.T. and programming departments as developers, engineers, etc. Regardless, most INTJs are not utilizing the full wattage of their problem-solving, think tanking abilities. So there’s always this feeling, however deep and unconscious, that their talents – or even they, themselves – are being ‘wasted’.

Because of their introverted nature, there’s a strong need to be acknowledged and given credit, but without the indignity of having to do cartwheels. Remember when I said they outclass almost everyone in three very socially recognized forms of intelligence? It can be a source of frustration that not everyone automatically sees the full extent of this, though they are often considered by people who know them to be ‘very smart’. This gives birth to a couple of other things that just become “INTJ Problems.”

First, as a society we tend to glamorize raw computing power, but we don’t have a lot of love for people who come up with solutions that mean we have to change stuff. So, we tend to marginalize problem-solvers… unless those problem-solvers are putting dollar bills into our pockets. Most true solutions mean going through a painful transitional cycle, and the more far reaching the problem the longer the transition. We also tend to favor efficiency over effectiveness, which will drive an INTJ crazier than anything.

Creating sustainable models are the crack cocaine of INTJs, and living in a world that’s so short-sighted can make them jaded and cynical.

Second, there’s a major tendency to ‘double down’ on being so much smarter than everyone else, and therefore being dismissive. No one – and I mean NO ONE – puts as much thought into things like an INTJ does, according to the INTJ. And to some extent that’s true – it’s a rare bird that thinks as long and hard about anything as they do. But this dismissive attitude, combined with a perpetual feeling of being marginalized, creates the perfect context to generate pride as an emergent.

Once an INTJ gets stuck in the ‘no one else sees what I see, thinks as long and hard as I think, understand like I understand’ loop, the inclination to stay in the realm of ideas and conceptualizing becomes almost too attractive.

I mentioned before that an INTJ is like an arthropod, with an exoskeleton and a very squishy center.

Like INFJs, INTJs use the Perspectives process to be able to see things as others see them and get in the heads of other people. But unlike INFJs, they don’t couple this with a Co-Pilot that checks in with others emotional experience. They couple it with a more analytical process – Effectiveness – which gives them some psychological and emotional distance from others. This is their exoskeleton – a hard, outer shell that gives them room to think about long-range implications. They create their own ‘space’ – or, intellectual work room – that allows for truly exceptional thinking.

However, their 10 Year Old process is Authenticity, a process which encourages them to be sympathetic of the subjective human experience. Whenever they engage in this mental process there’s a part of them that knows they’re a sitting duck… because they are. Perspectives allows them to see how others see, Authenticity encourages them to mirror back how others feel. Because an INTJ is able to occupy both the headspace and the heartspace of another person, they become at that person’s mercy.

The exoskeleton that Effectiveness provides creates necessary and healthy boundaries to ensure they don’t get ‘squished’ by others.

(When they don’t have permission to use and exercise Effectiveness – some have reported that many attempts to become leaders or to get projects accomplished were frustrated by either parents, the school system, or other influencers and so they just ‘stopped trying’ – they use Authenticity as a defense the only way they know how: they call upon the emotion of pride to get them through as a barrier between themselves and the object that can hurt them.)

Before you’re allowed entrance, you must be vetted for trustworthiness. Like INFJs, there is a sense of others being able to do real damage, and ensuring they aren’t inviting in a ‘bull into the china shop’.

Once you’re in, though, you’re IN. I’ve held grown INTJ men as they wept for a lost love because I was ‘in’. I had been invited into the inner sanctum of that squishy space, and I was allowed to experience first-hand their amazing sensitivity.

Without the exoskeleton, there would be no protection against the world. As I mentioned before, unlike an INFJ who can use a ‘hard candy shell’ defensively and must learn to be a conduit for others emotional experience, an INTJ’s exoskeleton isn’t naturally meant for retreat. But if misused it can become a defensive strategy, particularly against suggestions to get into action. To illustrate how an actual exoskeleton works:

INTJ-Myers-Briggs-Personality-Type-exoskeletonSince exoskeletons are rigid, they present some limits to growth. Organisms with open shells can grow by adding new material to the aperture of their shell, as is the case in snails, bivalves and other molluscans. A true exoskeleton, like that found in arthropods must be shed (moulted) when it is outgrown. A new exoskeleton is produced beneath the old one. As the old one is shed, the new skeleton is soft and pliable. The animal will pump itself up to expand the new shell to maximal size, then let it harden. When the shell has set, the empty space inside the new skeleton can be filled up as the animal eats. Failure to shed the exoskeleton once outgrown can result in the animal being suffocated within its own shell, and will stop subadults from reaching maturity, thus preventing them from reproducing.

-Wikipedia, “Exoskeleton”

I’m about to go massively abstract, so please bear with me.

A big part of the perpetual learning most INTJs do is to build on that exoskeleton – or, in other words, be more and more prepared for a world that isn’t very kind to creatures who lack awareness.

In order to experience real growth, an INTJ needs to feel certain that they won’t be “left to the elements” during the process. Meaning, if they think they’ll be massively exposed they’re simply not going to venture out into a world that could crush them like a grape.

But if they burrow in and never allow themselves to experience life, they risk “suffocating within their own shell,” so to speak.

Growth, itself, can be slow because there’s always a question of how much, how quickly?

Much of the growth an INTJ does is internal – remember, the new exoskeleton is being built underneath the existing skeleton. That means a lot of growth is happening where you can’t see it, and so outside forces will give the INTJ feedback that they aren’t making fast enough progress simply because it’s all under the surface.

That said, it can be truly difficult for the INTJ to be willing to shed the old exoskeleton in favor of the new one, which is by definition softer and more vulnerable. If they do have the guts, though, this is generally a time period of extraordinary growth for the INTJ. For example, all of a sudden a once shy INTJ can become outgoing with an insane social schedule. There is a time period of ‘experience gluttony’ as they grow into their new shell, and once the growth happens, often they settle down and appear to level out.

These moments of growth are incredibly important, and if they don’t give themselves permission they will ‘suffocate’ under the weight of their old shell.

In the most healthy versions of INTJs, the growth phase will also encourage massive implementation, building something that can be measured. They position themselves in consulting or team-leading roles where others can bring their ideas to the ‘outside world’ and they can vet the ideas outside of mere concepts.

The less healthy the INTJ, though, the more they stay in the world of conceptualizing, think-tanking, idea-generating, etc. There is no end to learning, and they will always be in need of more of it. The extraordinary amount of content and material consumed by an INTJ can be staggering to think about, and while impressive, if the INTJ never graduates to implementation (either by themselves or through a team) they sink further and further into a world that can’t be visited by others. They disqualify themselves from intimate connections, relationships and from being able to have the impact on the world they crave.

The key to growth for INTJs can be found in the Co-Pilot process of Effectiveness. Many INTJs find themselves unsure of what exactly they want to bring to the world, and feel they have to have a complete picture of what it looks like before they can move forward. I’ve heard INTJs say things to the effect that they can’t go socializing until they ‘get their life together’, but still not have a clear idea of what that would look like.

Unfortunately, that lack of clarity is in and of itself a defensive strategy. The less well defined the goal, the more murky the definitions, the further away from action they allow themselves to be.

When an INTJ truly steps into their genius, they have clearly defined mile markers. Effectiveness is all about creating a linear strategy to get to a goal, and creating metrics to determine what ‘done’ looks like. The most empowering action an INTJ can take is 1) being aware of their own personal stall tactics, and 2) clearly outlining metricized markers on the way to a goal.

There’s a host of quotes about what can’t be measured can’t be managed, or improved upon. While that may or may not be empirically true, it is true for the INTJ, and is the key to INTJ fulfillment and happiness.

When an INTJ gets into action and begins reaching mile markers, their concepts are no longer abstractions. They can be vetted, improved upon, test/iterated. But most importantly, the INTJ is making an impact on their environment, which may be one of the most satisfying things they experience.

INTJ-Myers-Briggs-Personality-Type-intimacyIf you’re in a relationship with someone of this personality type, one of the best ways to build intimacy is both intellectual and emotional honesty with yourself. If an INTJ suspects that you can be exploitative – that you can dick with someone’s emotions or be intentionally cruel – they will shut you out as quickly as possible. Being vulnerable is precious to an INTJ and they appreciate it when you express it. Staying present, working through an issue, and being unwilling to be cruel with an INTJ is the surest way to their heart.





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Showing 182 comments
  • Frederick

    Antonia, i think you posted the car model image of an ENTJ 🙂

    • Antonia Dodge

      D’oh! Just updated it. Thank for catching that. 🙂


      • Jerry John INTJ

        I think i love you Antonia

        • Davis

          Second that!!

        • Otmane Akalay

          Why so mean ? You should be grateful for the knowledge the lady provided you. You have the right to disagree with her but you can’t deny that her analyse is well structured and well backed up with sound arguments. You, the dude who replied and every INTJ who spout emotional judgments without logical proof are a disgrace to every INTJ out there.

      • John Arnold

        I’m an INTJ through and through. That being said I feel I should stream line your article. Socially I will not let someone be allowed to influence my decisions. If I see someone becoming reckless I will warn them and cut them off. I will in no way engage in there activities. At work I’m an extremely hard worker that would prefer to work alone. However I have to have the support of those who are above me, or I will snap. Titles mean nothing to me, if you don’t add value to me I don’t acknowledge you in any way regardless of the title. I feel miserable unless I’m at least involved in the think tanks and the management of the company. Emotionally I have to be in control regardless of the circumstances around me. I show emotions generally it’s only to improve my environment around me. I’ve found it best to cut people off if I since they have selfish interest. As far as spiritually I have a fifth since to see evil in both me and others. I can since destructive spirits. One of my biggest assets is my problem solving skills in every area of my life. The problem is I do not going around trying to solve every problem, it’s only when I’m asked, so it’s very rarely used. My only wish is that the World would see the use of INTJ’s. If washington was flooded with INTJ’s change would happen quickly.

    • Leslie S.

      Wow…..I’m heartbroken but that makes complete sense, looking back on it. This guy’s in my heart. Even after all the mess.

  • Julian lee

    Thank you Antonia.

  • Meg

    Ding dig ding! Nailed it. This could be the first INTJ description I’ve ever seen that doesn’t pander to stereotypes. Thank you!
    I don’t agree, though, with the dichotomy you propose between efficiency and effectiveness. In fact, the most elegant and effective systems are in the long run also highly efficient. I would say a more accurate polarity to effectiveness is expediency. Doing something just because it’s the quickest solution drives me crazy. Little makes me sadder than when in have to settle for expedient.

    • Randy J

      I do agree with Meg on that. =) Either way, impressive article.

      • cdhames

        Agreed. Great article on INTJ, but I also thought the contrast between Efficiency and Effectiveness was incorrect. I do realize that there’s an academic difference between the two, but in practical scenarios, in my mind they are the same. One can drive the other.

    • Antonia Dodge

      Thanks for the feedback!

      I think the picture in my head when I use “efficiency” may be similar to the picture in your head when you use “expediency.” My bias is that most people who see themselves as efficient are actually expedient, so I use the word that they’ll identify with to help illustrate the difference.


      • Antonia Dodge

        I just had a discussion with another INTJ on this, and wanted to add greater clarity.

        I agree that the word ‘efficiency’ isn’t dichotomous with ‘effectiveness’. At times, though, they have different focuses and desired outcomes.

        For example, a live person answering customer service calls is less efficient than having an autoresponder or robot take the call, but customer feedback indicates that it vastly improves the customer experience. It isn’t ‘efficient’, but it IS effective. It’s an overall cost/benefit analysis along with sustainability that drives effectiveness, whereas efficiency generally only takes in the immediate or short-term cost/benefit analysis

        Hope that helps.


        • Renee

          I say that I am into efficiency and effectiveness; they are not dichotomous; but if one were to trump–it would be effectiveness. But it would be effective in the most efficient manner. 🙂 BTW Great Essay!! I’m an INTJ female. Challenging indeed. Love is hard to find. 🙂 Underemployed. Frustrating.

          • Antonia Dodge

            The most important thing is to remember how valuable you are. It can be frustrating and lonely being a ‘bird of paradise’, but it only means representing your perspective and outlook is that much more crucial.

            I’m not an INTJ, but I am a fellow NT female. I get how easy it is to be marginalized. Do whatever it takes to go up, over, around and through all barriers to reaching your full potential. Don’t let the bastards grind you down. :p


          • bronto

            i got it to make sense by thinking like this:

            efficiency: making the highest amount of some change

            effectiveness: making the right change

        • Kelli

          This is the best description that I have seen of INTJs and how to grow in both a career and in our personal lives. Thanks.

          Do you have any suggestions for INTJ females because this type seem to be predominately male?

      • Unsettled

        One can efficiently rearrange deck chairs on a sinking ship. Yes, that type of thing drives me crazy.

      • nandu

        its like reading my past and future. seriously it made me felt good about myself. I hate my all family and pathetic friends. I m kind of a loner. fairly shy and able to mix completely with society when necessary ,I think I have it . I was bullied when young , did that made me this intj A type or …???

        Anyway I am not lying about my personality type . I have done personality test from google and the result was intj a type. (the architect).

        I am currently doing my Btech in engg. and I am in 1st year. I find it hard to fully trust anyone (even my family) . I sometimes feel afraid that if I became a psychopath or something. I think of me as a very practical person. (like if m going any place I literally make plans of every turning in the way) . I feel suffocated sometimes.

        I am just hoping that my btech completes fast and am hoping to enjoy this adulthood but cant do it all or whatever. I want to be alone or be with people like me or just alone

    • Justin

      Thank you for noting the difference between efficiency and effectiveness. I’ve tried to explain the difference to people I don’t know how many times and they just give me blank stares. Many (most?) people tend to see the two as equivalents. Something that is more efficient IS more effective. Let’s think about paperwork in a bureaucracy. You may be able to streamline (efficient) the paperwork but this may result in some important things being cut out (less effective). Having a less efficient process can keep some things from being overlooked. Of course efficiency often leads to greater effectiveness its just that people often get carried away and apply it to all situations.

      • Zoomie

        I find it hilarious that the INTJ comments would include a discussion of the definitions of “efficiency” and “effectiveness.”

        • Re

          I have to comment about that. Reading the article that was my only stumbling block. Lol. Efficiency and effectiveness. I was like, ” that is so not true!” Then the discussion here it was like, ” oh thankfully others like me get it” and why I balked over that statement. I see it as efficient (needed outcome) is the most effective. Time/money in finding the effective solution have no bearing as the efficency of the long term outcome is always the most effective. Or let’s say you need to change how paperwork is handled in a courthouse in regards to the consequences of long man hours and mistakes. Errors and cost. You need to find an effective way that is efficient. The outcome is to limit mistakes and alleviate the cost of long hours that could also be seen as the culprit of the errors hence increasing efficiency. Hope i make sense. I get wrapped in my own head.

          Oh definately the best info and description minus that one error. 😛

          “suspects that you can be exploitative – that you can dick with someone’s emotions or be intentionally cruel – they will shut you out as quickly as possible.” So amazingly deadon! Couldn’t understand why i can just shut off instantly. Being an INTJ I survived long term marriage to a egomaniacal narcissistic sociopath because of who I am. I could think further ahead, know different scenarios and how to handle each, I knew what he was plot

          • Re

            Cont. Plotting before he did. My family were amazed at protective steps I took befire fleeing and though I was nuts until he played his cards and my steps basically nullified what he tried to do. He did exactly as I knew he would and measures I put in place made his actions irrelevant. I have to say this…it is very dangerous to deal with sociopaths do not try to outsmart them. Thankfully he never truly cared to know who I was and I caught on very fast, but was already married. I was able to stay relatively safe by the grace of G_d.

          • Boss

            I had exactly the same situation, married for 26 1/2 years to a person with antisocial personality disorder (psychopath). I think INTJ personalities are the only ones who can defeat those types of people. Agree that it is more prudent to run from these personalities. Glad you got out and are fine, as am I. Do not allow them to take up head space goung forward. Best of luck.

          • Fathertime

            It’s 11:30 P.M. Wife just came down to get me to bed. I find the discussion of the definitions of “efficiency” and “effectiveness interesting. It never has been a thought of concern before. And efficiency” and “effectiveness are not the same. If you are supposedly going the direction to solve a problem, But you are going the wrong direction efficiency will not help you. As we say in the Antique business We can sell at a loss but make it up in volume. {An old joke}Ha Ha . The better word is expediency. The best of all worlds would be effectiveness with efficiency. Efficiency is not is not always the fastest or expedient.

        • Debbie

          Zoomie, thank you for your absolutely INTJ comment. Ditto.

        • Roy

          Hihi…that’s a wrench that an ENTP threw in the works 😀

    • Benjamin

      I, too, agree efficiency is misused here.

      • Caroline

        Efficiency in this context means the most expedited, most easily comparable to something that already exists in order to determine risk based on the outcome of the other comparable (by the standards of others), thus low risk and when comparing the resources against one another, resource as a priority trumps long-term desired outcomes. It’s a short-term way of thinking (like the rearranging deck chairs on a sinking ship analogy used above)

        Effectiveness takes into account the entire system. This perspective is needed for seeing this on a whole new level. It’s necessary for exploring (pushing) frontiers, while staying within a budget, garnering any necessary goodwill (in the organization or towards the audience) and any other necessary considerations.

        Unfortunately, as advanced fields become more advanced, the wheel spinning method of other ways of thinking *seem* like they garner real results faster, simply on the basis of the system being more difficult for “people” (those who hold the purse strings) to understand. I’m sure you all toil with this every day, INTJ or not. I read a lovely quote that said that the ENTJ is the best problem solver, and the INTJ is the best problem preventer (obviously we can problem solve too… but it is so very frustrating that someone let it get that far in the first place… when the problem was so very evident on the horizon!).

    • Ryder

      Late in the game…. have to agree with Meg re: effectiveness vs expediency.

      HOWEVER… there are times when the expediency of a thing is the key to its effectiveness. I’m fortunate to work in an environment where even though I’m regularly called upon to work miracles with almost no time or resources, the fact that such issues can be navigated at all to success is one way to be effective. Think MacGyver, with less awesome hair.

      “This is an impossible situation… kobayashi maru… let’s get Ryder on this.”

      Survival is always “effective”. Once people find an INTJ that operates well in this realm, it’s hard to escape… but the rewards are immediate. Works for me.

  • Randy J

    Great article. I thought it was an accurate description on a life of an INTJ. You’ve done your research. I applaud that.

  • Rob

    That was surprisingly refreshing, thanks for that.

  • Anthony G

    Another good article. The car model seems pretty spot-on.

  • Michael

    Really like the exoskeleton metaphor. About sums up my personal growth process pretty well squishy insides and all. Lol

  • Leon

    This was a beautifully written, highly evolved essay. I shared this with my Myers-Briggs group I meet with in person. I like how you don’t simply accuse people of ego but just see what are the conditions that allow ego to grow, and people understandably fall victim to it. It thus helps me be more sympathetic. I hope you can do a similar essay or Podcast (or any kind of essay or Podcast you like) about INFPs and their growth!

  • Hans


    BANG. Top shelf. Home run.
    When I first began delving into MBTI it took me about a month to drop it from lack of interest, simply because I wasn’t finding anything below the surface. Narratives about INTJ seem to be copied-and-pasted over and over ad nauseum across the web. After discovering Personality Hacker (via Camronn Huff’s great speech at TED), I was able to start delving into functions, and this was better at beginning to describe how I seem to operate in the world. This article is the first instance I’ve come across that actually seems to GET IT. I sat in a crowded cafe with tears welling up, slack-jawed, reading and re-reading it. Thank you, Antonia. Chunks of this article could be used to form the bases of more articles, books, independent studies, you name it. I would replace the term “effectiveness” with “productivity” however. It’s a better description I think. Everyone in the office where I work barks on and on about efficiency. I’ve stopped trying to describe to them that if one is engaged in something unproductive but doing it with great efficiency, they’re making matters worse. Way over people’s heads. Way way over. Either that or their time-horizons are so short that the idea of structural change is repellent. Some measure of ostracism. My response? Back into my shell, starting my own business, my early-childhood view on most of humanity being a deep threat reinforced. Same pattern, over and over and over. I could go on but I’ll spare all of you.
    Again, Antonia, thank you. Much much appreciated. Mr. Huff’s suggestion to “stop hiding” is spot-on, but it comes with a heavy price.

  • Eric

    Great article! As an INTJ, I must say that this is a very accurate analysis.

    • Johnetta Queen

      I hope you see this one day… I also know that even though I’m excited to have identified with so much of what you just said, I must not expect some huge response from you… Because it’s a year later and as you read this reply, you’re of course not in the same frame of mind you were in when you wrote the original comment… You could be eating a sandwich or doing anything else in general so I don’t expect you to run to me with hugs… (a very INTJ thought, huh?) LOL. Crazy how we foresee things to the point that we annoy others… But I do want you to know that everything you just said is so me… And I totally get the whole idea of want but I do want you to know that everything you just said is so me… And I totally get the whole idea of being crazy-frustrated because things seem way over peoples heads… It’s not an ego thing, I wish I could explain it to others who are not INTJ’s…

  • Chelsea

    This was great. I really appreciate your perspective and descriptions of the INFJ (my type) and INTJ.

    How about writing a description like this for each type? I think your analyses would be some of the most accurate, unbiased and helpful ones out there. Or would you consider the genius descriptions to be the same thing? Is there a way to read all of them, even if they are not your own tested type?

  • Lautaro

    Hi, Antonia. I’m an INTJ and your mind-reading skills really surprised me. Great job!

  • Keith

    As an INTJ who is relatively new to MBTI, I found myself saying “YES! ABSOLUTELY!” several times while reading this article. Thanks for an excellent analysis. I’ll be reading this multiple times in order to grasp it all. (In true INTJ fashion, I suppose. Lol)

  • Kathryn

    I enjoyed so much of this. This part made me smile and reminded me of my younger days: “There is a time period of ‘experience gluttony’ as they grow into their new shell, and once the growth happens, often they settle down and appear to level out.”

    And I’m mulling over this next one, in a good way, like a fine wine: “Creating sustainable models are the crack cocaine of INTJs, and living in a world that’s so short-sided can make them jaded and cynical.” So descriptive and concise. But short-sided …I read short-sighted at first glance. Because it is the lack fore thought to our future and our children’s future that disappoints me in humankind.

    And especially the closing remarks, “If an INTJ suspects that you can be exploitative” I would say that is my cut-off in so many relationships, business or personal.

    Thank you, good read!

  • Paul

    I’m an INTJ. Well done on putting a different spin on the usual MBTI profiles for my type. I enjoyed your exoskeleton analogy!

  • Tom

    Hi Antonia,

    I really enjoyed your article and applaud you for your insight. As a true INTJ, I’ve read many articles on the subject, but somehow yours felt different. Warmer, like you really understand. I really enjoyed that, since indeed we are rarely truly understood. Thanks!

  • Sally Hammons

    Hi Antonia,

    As an INTJ – I too found myself shouting ( in my mind of course) yes, this is accurate, and the salient point stood out over and over. You clearly have the hands on experience with INTJ’s – I was struck by the great description of ‘once you’re in, you’re IN’. So true. Despite being casually treated or left aside, after committing to someone it is true, I commit in total.

    Thank you for this article.

  • Trudy

    I’m an INTJ female, in other words a walking paradox. I’m pretty sure I started off with no exoskeleton, as I was foolish enough to trust everyone. I must have believed that all people were moral and ‘good’ because a persons way of thinking can always be justified when one looks at it from a different perspective. I could see things the way they saw it, I could understand. So I couldn’t hate, no matter what anyone did. I don’t know if that makes sense.

    I’d like to add at this point that I am not an INFJ. I know I probably sound like one. I assure you that I am not, I’m just here to add a word of caution to your otherwise accurate and thought provoking article.

    There is a lot of truth in how sensitive we are, although most people think I’m a psychopath nowadays. I realized after reading your article the exact reasons why I became such a hermit. Perhaps we all need the exoskeleton, as a way of surviving in a volatile world that isn’t made for people like us. I’d just like to warn other INTJs not to shed that exoskeleton lightly, because other creatures are likely to attack precisely when they see vulnerability. In fact, shedding ones exoskeleton is hardly ever a good idea, it is best to die from “suffocation within ones own shell” than to give others the treat of tasty meat.

    • Joel Mark Witt

      Hi Trudy.

      I’m sure Antonia will chime in here at some point in the next several days – but I wanted to make a quick comment.

      I’m guessing that as an INTJ female it’s probably difficult to navigate the world. I have a few friends who are female (and male) INTJs and I have seen the pain they have experienced from getting terribly hurt. And I’ve seen them hang in there, not close themselves off, and in fact learn how to embrace their personality.

      I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’d love to see you experience a life of openness that doesn’t require you shield yourself and in fact other people appreciate the INTJ perspective you bring… especially as a female. It will be a very thoughtful and unique perspective. The world needs more unique and thoughtful people like you.

      As far as “not hating”… well the goal is to be in harmony with everyone right?

      BUT… just because you can see someone’s perspective doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. You have every right to construct boundaries for how people treat you. You get to set any of those limits and structures for yourself. Not close yourself off – but verify before you trust. You have every right to do that.

      Thanks again for your comment here. Hang in there. Comments like these always inspire me and Antonia to figure out leverage points and “hacks” that can help going forward.

      • Trudy

        There’s a good reason why INTJs are generally smart enough to distance from the rest of the world. I don’t regret that I live in my world of theory and I enjoy the inner world I’ve created because it is much more interesting then the mundane reality that people seem to find compelling enough to entertain.

        I won’t lie, I sometimes have the urge to make an impact on my environment instead of just adding to the mass of knowledge inside my head. When this happens, I simply distance further.

        There also seems to be an unbridgeable gap between other people and myself. It’s like (excuse me for being offensive here) every person I meet seems to be more idiotic than the previous acquaintance.

        At first, I thought this was because people were slowly losing their minds and all sense of reason or thought. Then I realized that it was my mind that was expanding at a faster rate, which gave me the illusion that the rest of the world was slowly descending into an ape-like state.

        The benefit of not having an exoskeleton is that you pick up everything. I understood every idea, every person. I picked up ques that seemed to be so deeply hidden that the idea itself was non-existent. But I could see it, and see it clearly. It was like I had no filter against knowledge because I had no filter against the world.

        And the price for such an ‘ability’?

        Hmm…to sum it up in one word. They call it pain. I call it I-can’t-breath-my-head-feels-like-it’s-gonna-explode-my-insides-are-sick-what-the-hell-is-happening-the-world-is-destroying-me.

        What I’m trying to say is that we have shields for a reason. I wouldn’t lightly advise any INTJ to shed it. Perhaps shed part of it at certain times under certain conditions. Just be careful of the implications.

        • Antonia Dodge

          I realize that there is a number of people and circumstances that are brutally unkind to other creatures, and it’s not easy to heal from trauma.

          That said, these two posts read to me “I’d rather commit suicide than be killed.”

          That’s a false dichotomy. There isn’t only pain available, with us just having to choose our weapon or way of going out.

          Growth takes courage, resilience and sometimes massive discomfort. Which is why not everyone does it.

          Obviously this article resonated with you strongly because you keep referencing my exoskeleton metaphor. Well, the same person who had enough insight into the INTJ personality to create such a resonating article is simultaneously suggesting that shedding the exoskeleton isn’t a ‘nice to have’, it’s a must for any semblance of a satisfying life.

          We get really used to the monster we know, and certain forms of pain can be more of a safety blanket than pleasure would be. We seek homeostasis, and if homeostasis on our individual lives is self-protective slow dying then any suggestion otherwise will feel wrong. It’s the organism protecting itself from anything alien and attempting to hemorrhage it out. Which is, of course, the prerogative of the organism.

          But that doesn’t mean they’re right to do it. It just means they can.

          I’ve been coaching for a long time. One of my coaching mentors one time told me that coaching falls into three categories: Healing, Achieving and Transcendence.

          This article was intended to encourage INTJs to achieve. But I don’t think you’re at the ‘achieving’ time period of your life. I think you’re in Healing. Meaning, you have some wounds that need attending.

          Healing is some of the most intense and uncomfortable of all the growth we do. It’s also a necessary first step if we don’t want to waste the one go-around we know we get.

          Basically, a person who needs healing telling others not to shed their exoskeleton is like a POW telling others not to become entrepreneurs. Of course that’s going to seem ridiculous to you. You have conserve resources just to get to the next day.

          If I’m accurate in my assessment (which is based on two posts from an online stranger, and so has a broad margin of error), then I sincerely hope you can find the healing you need.

          The world needs you at your best so the rising tide can raise all ships, and other little INTJ girls need not be traumatized into becoming protective women, but rather know from the get-go how truly extraordinary they are.


          • Trudy

            Thank you for your comment. Perhaps it’s true that I need to heal. How does one do this? I feel too robotic to understand my feelings, as if my feelings are not a part of me anymore. But maybe they are just suppressed, and I need to get in touch with how I’m feeling in order to move on.

            Reading over that, I sound like a pseudo-psychologist. I’m sure they often say what I just said above, but I wasn’t being sarcastic. I genuinely wanted to know.

            Thanks in advance

          • Kathryn L.

            Hello Trudy (and Antonia),

            I am another one of those elusive INTJ females. I lived my first 35 years deep inside my exoskeleton – one that resembled barbed wire more than anything else.

            I have been on a path of healing for the last ten years. Part of that path has been learning to appreciate by strengths and to respect my weaknesses instead of simply wishing that I was someone else or somehow fundamentally different. I remember judging myself very harshly against other women. At times, when I looked at them, I felt like a clumsy little kid trying to catch butterflies.

            Because of my inability to see my own value I made a lot of bad choices and I let in a lot people who were needlessly cruel. Once I decided that I would rather be alone than miserable, I realized that I could be alone and not miserable. As I cultivated a more loving relationship with myself, the standard for who I would let into my life was raised. First slowly, then exponentially. I am now married to one of the most wonderful people on the planet – he gets me, he appreciates me, and he protects me not only from the outside world (when I need it), but also from myself when I fall back into my more self-destructive patterns.

            My path has involved a lot of self-development, a lot of leaps of faith (in safe environments), and surrounding myself with really good, decent people who are willing to take the time to get to know me. I’ve stopped throwing myself into situations and have learned to allow myself to be invited in by people who want to get to know me. Now the time that I spend alone seems more like a vacation than isolation. And when I do spend time with people, it’s with people who get me and actually can see what I have to offer.

            It’s a journey.

            Love, K

          • Thing

            Antonia (greek?),

            I don’t get it. I am more miserable than anyone I know. People tell me I am smart, the smartest person they ever met, but I am the most miserable person I know. I am 40, my mind is mush. I can barely remember what I am doing at any given moment. I was smart when I was 19 or 20. But if I am miserable I can’t be very smart.

            I have kissed women like you, and held them in my arms, felt the shock, had them tell me I am crack, they are addicted to my hugs, they never met someone like me, no man ever held them as I have, made love to them like I have, “you dont know how men are” they tell me, yeah I dont, never made love to a man lol.

            But you seem to be saying you know how I can end my own misery and I read your article and I am none the wiser. How can a 40 year old single never married man who failed at life be happy ? I am unhealthy. My veins in my legs are messed up my blood pressure is high I can barely get an erection. All I wanted is life was a wife a house a kid a car. All that is long gone. What can I bring to the world ? Nothing. Can I ever have love again ? No. I can’t go back in time and instead of being me be someone else that could get a woman (that I wanted to be with) and be a success in the world. I am 40 and it is long gone. Who are you, and why do you say you have the answers? And if you do please tell me what they are and not some crap about an exoskeleton.


          • Antonia Dodge

            This ended up in my spam filter for some reason. I just read it after I already responded to the previous comment, and though there’s a bit more context here, my previous comment is still the best advice I have.

            Also, you might want to consider a therapist or a coach. I’ve had both, and they truly revolutionized my life.


          • Francesco

            Probably because of “get an ere*tion”.

            Great article, btw!


          • teacheratlarge

            You must build your world, so that the world will want to be on board with it. This world does not conform to what has been figured out. I think I’m awesome. I just don’t think the rest of the humans agree. I don’t need their agreement. I lost all of mine too. I’m 44 and my kids barely talk to me. I don’t know where the next dot is that I’m supposed to go to, so I created one. I hate the assumptions made about me, but I’m not in control of that; I’m in control of me. I’m the best I know and only God competes with that.

  • INTJ Female

    Finally an article that gives a true descripition of the INTJ personaltity. Being a female of one of the rarest personality types is challenging. I love the way I receive information and process it. I am who I am.

    I am writing this comment because I am in search of some advice. My biggest challenge is socializing. I know in order for me to live out my purpose, I am going to have to socialize and let people know about my ideas. I am used to living in my own world to speak. If I want to socialize, I have my family and my two close friends. I feel as if that’s enough, but I am also missing out in life. How as an INTJ( who despises small talk) become more outgoing?

    • Trudy

      Hi, I couldn’t help but notice your comment as I was checking for a reply to mine. I just read something which could help you. It shows why socializing shouldn’t be a problem. I feel that this captures an INTJ (or at least me) perfectly:

      “INTJs can be good at “saying what others want to hear”; they can make great speechmakers or master manipulators.

      The INTJ is honestly happiest being brutally honest. But they’re also very strategic thinkers, which makes them quite adaptable and versatile; and calling people on their bullshit isn’t very strategically advantageous in a vast majority of situations. An INTJ in an area of life that requires a lot of social interaction or simply one that sees this as a way to get what they want will acquire the ability to appear like other types, to tell what others want to hear them say, and to give a rousing speech. It’s an ability some INTJs like to be able to put in their toolbox. Their quick thinking and objective observations can even give them a sharp wit and deadpan sarcasm, and their research abilities, natural confidence, and intelligence will make them good public speakers. Some INTJs can make cool, rational observations about the feelings of others and figure out exactly what buttons to push to get the result they want, although depending on their moral opinions, they might avoid doing this.

      Incidentally, it’s also part of why INTJ characters make great villains. Just sayin’. (Moriarty, Voldemort, Hannibal Lecter, Bryan Cranston, Reddington from The Blacklist… all evil dudes. All INTJs.)”

      So in summary, use your ability of understanding how the subject operates in order to press the right buttons to get the desired result. This never fails. If you’re really into achieving your “life’s purpose”, you may manipulate the subjects.

      If an intimate relationship is required, I suggest you find someone more like yourself. This way, all you have to do to achieve the desired amount of friends or the perfect partner, is to be yourself.

      Still, why an INTJ would want to “become more outgoing” I fail to understand. Just be yourself, if you are trying to be an Outgoing (and hence more extroverted) INTJ, then you are not being an INTJ. We are Introverts, which allows sufficient time in our heads, which is our precise advantage. But look on all these chat forums too, and all you see are ‘poor socially inept INTJ trying to make a friend’. Leaves a bitter taste in ones mouth. But to each his own, I suppose!

      • Hellen

        Well, this explains a lot! I fell into a job as an executive assistant which necessitates a lot of interaction with others in order to get things done. I have become quite good at “faking” extroversion and employing tact at work over the last couple of years… to the point where I have re-taken the Myers Briggs test to see if my type has changed, but I always get INTJ.

        “Their quick thinking and objective observations can even give them a sharp wit and deadpan sarcasm.”

        Oh yes! In fact I’ve begun to wonder if I need to reign it in a bit as I may be taking it too far on occasion and not everyone realises I’m joking.

        “Some INTJs can make cool, rational observations about the feelings of others and figure out exactly what buttons to push to get the result they want, although depending on their moral opinions, they might avoid doing this.”

        And yes, this too. Somehow it seems unfair to take advantage of people like that. It’s like playing chess with someone who doesn’t know the rules, you might win but it’s not a fair fight.

    • Antonia Dodge

      The article mentioned the ‘cognitive functions’ or mental processes you use best as an INTJ: Perspectives and Effectiveness.

      Perspectives is your introverted process (its technical name is Introverted Intuition), and it’s your strongest muscle. It’s what helps you see into the future, into others’ minds, and pattern recognize amazing things.

      The second process is Effectiveness, which is technically called Extraverted Thinking. This is your extraverted process, and the highest leverage process for your personal growth.

      Effectiveness isn’t meant to be ‘social’, it’s meant to get goals accomplished. As you mentioned, it’s about articulating your ideas to others. Some INTJs do this by becoming more social and reading how their friends/family respond, while others do this by becoming teachers and refining their communication process by lecturing. Others write books, etc.

      It’s really a matter of what you’re ultimately trying to accomplish. Feel free not to see it as ‘becoming more social’ (unless you’re also trying to solve a double problem of loneliness), but rather specifically seeing it as ‘communicating my concepts’. Your solution will be topic and context dependent, which gives you more creativity and breathing room in how you go about that.

      I’ve seen great things come about from INTJs from formats like Toast Masters, writing workshops with other people, Improv, hosting themed parties, and teaching both credited and non-credited courses at community colleges.

      Good luck. 🙂


    • Nnett

      Ignore the advice about manipulations and saying what others want to hear, because that will whip you around into a dead end and do nothing for your personal growth.

      If you’re still in school, take on a job with your school newspaper or some other activity that will force you to talk to people. Journalism is fantastic, because you have to think before you launch, you need to do research on your article to know what questions you’re going to ask, and it is easy to hide behind the reporter’s notepad. When I turned in my first article and the sports editor said ‘You need to put in some quotes,’ my verbal response was ‘You mean I have to talk to people?!’ By the time I graduated, I had won seven awards from the Illinois College Press Association. Later, whenever I felt nervous talking to people, I just wore my ‘reporter’s mask.’ Now, I am able to draw out other introverts in conversation.

  • Charles

    ENTP huh? I see it. Well done.

    (INTJ here)

    • Antonia Dodge

      Thanks. 🙂


    • Kayla

      I almost never leave a comment since I generally consider it a waste of time, but I was intrigued by your analysis of INTJs. Specifically your explanation on why INTJs act contrary to what is perceived as their “core traits.” I thought it was interesting because I am now commonly mistyped by others as an extrovert because I adjusted my behavior and developed my interpersonal skills to be more effective in my professional life.

      I also liked your efficiency and effectiveness observation. It takes a lot to disturb my emotional equilibrium but being surrounded at work by people who I think are ISTJs that focus too much on specific performance metrics instead of our ultimate goal really annoys me. It’s such a waste of time. It’s tiring trying to get them to understand a system at an enterprise level and how long term strategy shouldn’t be ignored. As you can see, I’m still working on that thing called communication. I’m going to make sure my next job has more NTs. I noticed that I am turned off by certain types more than others. ISTJs didnt usually bother me when I was younger. I appreciated their candidness. Probably because I felt no need to get their buy in on things we disagreed on.

      Anyways before I can continue my hypothesis and totally derail this comment, thank you for the article and interesting insights. I look forward to reading more of your writings.

  • Thing

    It sounded like you had something helpful to say and then it turned into this exoskeleton thing that I got lost on. Is there help or not for a miserable, depressed, suicidal, already dead, defeated, probably impotent, obese, ugly, balding, socially inept INTJ male 40 year old ? It almost sounded like you had some idea.

    You really hooked me when you talked about how kissing and being held by an INTJ was. The few women I have been with felt the same way. They said hugging me was like crack and they are addicted and how different I am from men. And so many things, and they sounded like you.

    • Antonia Dodge

      Hey, man.

      I have a couple of radically honest things to say before I respond to your comment. First, I’m recovering from the flu, so forgive me if I’m more cotton-headed than usual. Second, I saw your comment on reddit (a friend linked me to the post), which is a variation of this comment only meant more anonymously. I wanted to let you know that because normally I’d just let your comment float for a day, but it sounds like you need a response a wee bit faster. (I don’t want this article to be the tipping point to you say goodbye, cruel world.) So, again – cotton headed, but can’t be helped.

      Also, I don’t know you, so obviously take everything I’m about to say as shameless intuitive leaps. Meaning, I may be dead-on right or completely, utterly wrong. I’ll have no idea, so you’ll have to vet it for yourself.

      The combination of your two comments (this and the one on reddit) sound like the article I wrote was almost but not quite exactly what you need exactly when you need it. Which would be really, really frustrating. I’m guessing you’re seeing ‘diagnoses’ but not ‘prescription’, and that’s because the prescription portion that I included has to be abstracted. While INTJs are rare, they’re still 1 of 16 types among 7 billion people. There are going to be a LOT of you, and your challenges will vary. The root of the challenges stays the same, but the individual challenges are your own.

      Is there help for a miserable, depressed, suicidal, already dead, defeated, etc… person of any type/gender/age? Unless you’re writing to me from beyond the grave (in which case, email me with full reports on the afterlife, pronto), then you’re not ‘already dead’ or ‘defeated’. You may be miserable, depressed, suicidal, but you’re not dead. And words are VERY VERY important when you hit the kind of wall you’re describing.

      I’m going to appeal to the systems thinker part of you – the part that understands that nothing is a simple “do A, get B.” Everything within you is a node in a system, and so all of the things you’re experiencing – depression, obesity, social ineptitude, etc. – is an emergent. You also happen to be a part of a bigger system. Where you live, work, social influences, family, socio-economic situation, etc. which will influence the nodes of the system that is sadbasturd, as well as influencing the emergent properties of that system.

      That is, the ‘prescription’ is going to basically be looking at each node in the system that is ‘you’ and figuring out how to tweak them to get the emergence you want.

      When looking at systems, it’s also vital to remember that nodes influence each other. They have relationships, and one node can jack up another node. It appears that the node which is fucking you up the most is depression, or ‘mental attitude’. But your mental attitude and your body health are nodes that have strong ties to each other. That is, your depression and your obesity are intrinsically tied together, and they’re going to feed each other. Social ineptitude also has chips in that pot, as does your sense of self-worth.

      Let’s say one node changes in the system. Let’s say you not only start working out, but you actually create physical milestones of weight/health and you start reaching them. The first domino that has to get knocked over for that to even happen is that you have to believe you’re worth the time and effort that working out demands. So, if you actually work out, that means one node in the system – your self-worth – is calibrated where you want it. Or, at least better calibrated than “already dead.”

      The self-worth node already on its way up, your physical health node begins shift and it can’t help but influence your attitude node. Which, of course, influences your social node, and your aliveness node. Now, ALL nodes within you are changing and recalibrating. By all the laws of systems thinking, your emergent properties must change as well.

      I’d also recommend you take a hard look at the system that is your ‘context’, in particular the people you spend your time with. Who are the 5 people you spend the most time with? I’ve heard a lot of arguments that you will be the median of those 5 people. Are they exuberant? Positive? Optimistic? Happy? Full of life? Ambitious, wanting to get to the next phase of themselves? If not, start looking for other influences.

      Look for the nodes that are ‘low hanging fruit’ to change, and start there.

      I mentioned repeatedly in the article that getting out there and doing things, creating goals with metrics you can meet, is the key to the whole enchilada. You won’t find what you’re looking for inside of yourself. If you could, you would have already found it. You’ve been there looking for it long enough, there’s no way you could have missed it.

      So, go build something. Get up and start working out. Make something in the outside world. Start a business, whatever your current context allows. But you have to stop waiting for it to show up inside. It’s not something you have to mine inside of yourself, it’s an alchemical equation that only shows up when you start taking action.

      When you’re really depressed, all of that sounds like lip service. So much easier to say than do. And it is, otherwise you would have already started doing it. But unfortunately it’s still the answer.

      If you want to start really easy, start with morning smoothies. I know that sounds like bullshit, but it seriously works. And start listening to our podcasts, especially the most recent one about getting over the winter blues.

      Someone said on reddit that I idealize INTJs. I don’t, actually. But I DO think they have more in them than is being brought to the world, and I HATE the waste.

      Good luck.


      • Thing

        It sounds to me like you want an apology for my post on reddit. I won’t do that. It pains me that no one recognizes it for what it is, a salute to Cartman. The Politically Correct religion is something I wish to fight against. It bothers me. It makes me angry. Don’t let your imagination get away from you and think I am some about to go on a shooting spree nutjob’ either.

        I have heard the “join a gym” thing before from multiple therapists and friends. You unfortunately suffer from the same delusion that everyone in America does, (are you American?) if you go to the gym enough you can look like The Rock, or Ronnie from Jersey Shore. But they look like that by taking massive amounts of drugs, like Winstrol, Deca, EQ, HGH, Test, and whatever else. You were sold the lie of how you can change your body at the gym. It is complete nonsense and shame on you for buying it, and then regurgitating it. Also, I have worked out religiously for years and all it bought me was bragging rights that I could bench 305 max, and a bad back, and high blood pressure.

        My post probably doesnt address your feelings at all so here is my attempt, because I dont want another person to hate me today. Tomorrow would be ok, just not today. I really appreciate your attempts to help. Again I have had a few women in my life and the stuff you said about melting at an INTJ kiss really really hit home. I wish I could remember better all the incredible things women said to me. I do remember I could feel them melt. I think there is something special to an INTJ or maybe to me in particular that all of the affection and kindness and sweetness that doesn’t come out in my face or my words ALL comes out when I hold and kiss and touch.

        Your response sounded final to me but I wanted to ask more questions. I can see from your board here you are busy. But I will ask anyway;
        Start a business huh ? I am a computer programmer for 20 years and no I can’t make apps and no I am not going to invent some website that does nothing, like facebook and google. And no I do not know how to make a game.

        Create goals…like what ? Everything I wanted is long gone.

        • Antonia Dodge

          It sounds to me like you want an apology for my post on reddit.

          Well, no. Not at all. I was addressing both posts, which were slightly different, and I wanted to share that I knew of the existence of both. As an ENTP I tend to do what my INTJ friends call ‘over share’ information, or what I simply call ‘share’. I’m not sure where you picked up a request for an apology, there’s no need for one.

          I won’t do that. It pains me that no one recognizes it for what it is, a salute to Cartman. The Politically Correct religion is something I wish to fight against. It bothers me. It makes me angry.

          I’ve noticed that anger is a really safe emotion for Thinkers. When we’re in the grip of complicated emotions, we settle on anger (or pride) because it doesn’t make us feel as vulnerable as some of the other ones. But the things you’ve expressed anger about are disproportionate to the context. You may be smuggling unrelated emotions in with the things that make you feel angry.

          I don’t know that to be true, but it might be a valid question.

          Don’t let your imagination get away from you and think I am some about to go on a shooting spree nutjob’ either.

          Actually, I was showing concern for your person, not a fear for other people.

          I have heard the “join a gym” thing before from multiple therapists and friends. You unfortunately suffer from the same delusion that everyone in America does, (are you American?) if you go to the gym enough you can look like The Rock, or Ronnie from Jersey Shore. But they look like that by taking massive amounts of drugs, like Winstrol, Deca, EQ, HGH, Test, and whatever else. You were sold the lie of how you can change your body at the gym. It is complete nonsense and shame on you for buying it, and then regurgitating it. Also, I have worked out religiously for years and all it bought me was bragging rights that I could bench 305 max, and a bad back, and high blood pressure.

          Now we’re completely in intellectually dishonest territory. I don’t know if I’ve ever encountered an INTJ response with so much projection based on so little information before. In fact, I’d call this flat out disingenuous, baiting and intentionally misdirecting.

          I didn’t link to a picture of Arnold in the 70’s. I said a more 5 dollar version of ‘mood and physical activity are intrinsically linked, so to lift mood get active’. You offered that you’re obese and most likely impotent, tacked on to a long list of things that made you unhappy. Getting active is the first step in reversing course on that.

          It isn’t rocket science.

          My post probably doesnt address your feelings at all so here is my attempt, because I dont want another person to hate me today. Tomorrow would be ok, just not today. I really appreciate your attempts to help. Again I have had a few women in my life and the stuff you said about melting at an INTJ kiss really really hit home. I wish I could remember better all the incredible things women said to me. I do remember I could feel them melt. I think there is something special to an INTJ or maybe to me in particular that all of the affection and kindness and sweetness that doesn’t come out in my face or my words ALL comes out when I hold and kiss and touch.

          Considering you’re in a pretty terrible spot for you, I love that it’s important for you to speak to and be sensitive to my feelings. Regardless of your pain you have no desire to hurt anyone else, which is probably the most important trait a person can have. As a marker of that, you hearken back to times of shared beauty with others. I’m guessing at the core of your cynicism is a core of light, but man is it packed in there.

          Your response sounded final to me but I wanted to ask more questions. I can see from your board here you are busy. But I will ask anyway;
          Start a business huh ? I am a computer programmer for 20 years and no I can’t make apps and no I am not going to invent some website that does nothing, like facebook and google. And no I do not know how to make a game.

          Create goals…like what ? Everything I wanted is long gone.

          It kind of doesn’t matter what the goals are, just that they have metrics and you’re accomplishing them. That may sound like a TREMENDOUS waste, to set a goal that “doesn’t matter what” it is. But it’s meant to be a jumping-off point, something to start the pilot light of your ambition, even if it is a small precious thing at first.

          There’s nothing dead in or about you, as much as you’re trying to convince yourself (or maybe me). You’ve just buried yourself alive.


          p.s. Eleven years ago my sister had a massive seizure which stopped her heart and her lungs, and she ended up in a coma. Her husband and my family had to decide to whether or not to pull the plug on her life support systems. She’d stop breathing for over 10 minutes, and her brain swelled so big you can see her eyes being pushed out of the sockets underneath her eyelids. If she ever could live without the assistance of a machine she’d be a vegetable, and so my family made the decision to stop life support. It was a ‘shit happens’ incident with no one to blame. But it gave me a new perspective on the preciousness of life.

          I think one of the reasons I’m so passionate about helping people understand how amazing they can be is that I see people pull the plug on their owns lives all the time. They have help – the world can be a harsh place for the sensitive – but still they ultimately take that final step, or series of steps, to just pull the plug.

          The only antidote to ‘living lives of quiet desperation’ is to simply ignore anything you think is telling you to take away vibrancy, including yourself. If your own mind is telling you to give up, then it’s just like anyone else who would be telling you that. It’s wrong, and don’t listen to it.

          • Thing

            “Getting active is the first step in reversing course on that.”

            No. It doesn’t get reversed. As you age, your body changes. Nothing will reverse it. Nothing will make a 40 year old man’s body go back to being 20. Nor a woman’s for that matter. Not even all the drugs I mentioned, although they can get pretty close it seems. Again, you were sold the lie, and you regurgitate it. How many fad diet books and ab blaster products do you own may I ask ? How many obese people change their bodies ? Do you have any real data on this, or are you just espousing hopeful wishful nonsense ? You don’t like being called out on your stupidity so you question wether I am an INTJ or not. Accuse me of projection, and display your ignorance. Go live life, go work out, meet some obese people and see that they never, ever change. Live to the age of 40, then come back and tell me how working out will change your mushy sagging skin and drooping breasts back to being young.

            Then come back and tell me how right I was.

          • Antonia Dodge


            I wish good things for you.


          • wayne

            An INTJ who can’t solve problems? You’re a bit whiny for an INTJ.

            BTW, Antonia, love your article. INTJ here, you should write a book.

            Your new fan,

          • Patricia

            From exdepressed INTJ to depressed INTJ, I’d like to help you, if you want.

            The one thing that helped me when I was depressed, was to find “value” in myself. I mean, I was unemployed, without a degree, living with my parents and using their money to do… nothing. I have never had a man in my life (truly, as an INTJ, you have had quite a lot of success on THIS department), and very few friends (IF they can be called that, as I keep them at arm’s reach).

            Finding out that I was in SOME WAY needed and RELEVANT, was very, very important. Me? I went to nursing school. Talking to people, it seems, is very good for mental health. And I don’t mean meaningful talks, oh no. I mean giving “good morning, Mrs. Reynolds!” or “Nice weather today, huh?” and seeing what comes out of that.

            Listening to others, specially old people (who are usually lonely and even a bit depressed themselves), and seeing how their faces brighten up when they receive a little bit of attention? It is wonderful. And to think that it was YOU who caused such happiness? Priceless.

            Small steps. You don’t need to find a new work now, you just need to get your groove back. Just force yourself to be kind to strangers; even faking happiness helps the brain to produce hormones to help revert depression.

            We tend to rationalize our depression, and even give reasons on why we are probably hated by others, or why we will fail if we try anything. Be smarter, and tell your brain to stop being a suicidal piece of flesh. You are an INTJ: you control every aspect of your being. The Brain is subjected to you, NOT the other way around!

            PS: religion? It is actually quite helpful. When you get to the full understanding of things – and not the wishy-washy version society sends us today -, your view of the world changes. You open your eyes to other ways in which you can manipulate the world to your pleasure, at the same time that you rid yourself from the desire to manipulate it 😛 I may sound silly, but trust me on this: there is more intellectual usage in theological debates than what the current “Protestants vs. Catholics” may lead us to believe.

          • Thorsen

            First of all, you sound severely depressed. Especially over the fact that you are aging and that you in the process have balded and gotten fat. While reversing balding can be rather difficult(hairtransplanting is an option however), losing weight and building muscle is not rocket science. Not even at 40 is this impossible, and no, you dont need anabolic steroids or hormones to build muscle, nor other supplements to keep the weight down. I am a few years younger than you, 38, and I am not fat, lean with a body fat of less than 15%, all natural.
            You are making it sound like it is impossible to be lean and fit at the mere age of forty. Which is nonsense. Most likely your diet is terrible and you are not working out at regularly.
            That people in general fail at losing weight permanently, is not evidence of it being impossible to lose weight, rather the people who become overweight in many cases have difficulty keeping discipline and changing their habits. But thats another issue altogether.
            And another thing if you worked out religiously over the last several years, and got a bad back, then you were probably using bad form. People work out to counter the risks of getting back problems.
            And high blood pressure is not caused by working out. Its hard to believe that you are actually working out, when considering the amount of nonsense you have written.

            You have barely reached middleage at 40, but still you sound like an old man past 60 or 70. With this state of misery progressing, the rest of your life well end up being a living hell soon. Seek help, you need it buddy.

        • john

          Stop bench pressing and do some cardio then ya fud.
          You must surely understand the health benefits of blood pumping and endorphins stimulating your brain and muscles.
          I am in a similar depressed situ, and know that exercising more would help me on 3 different fronts, but I lack the money to buy the food required(currently suffering from malnutrition)- I am too poor for a gym membership, but cycle for 4 hrs a week though and try and remain active as I can.
          You probably have a similar feeling of “what’s the point of another 30-40 years of this torture”, but it’s the not living that frustrates me.
          you’re a computer programmer that can’t think of an idea, if you’re stuck I’ve got plenty. Not got time to do the 10000+ hours on computer programming-and it seems boring AF, (but I am changing to a career into networking/data admin) I do need someone that can programme though to do projects for me.
          You don’t really sound like this personality type, are you sure?

        • gunneos

          INTJ female here. I won’t pretend to understand what you’re going through, because I don’t, but after reading your comments, it just sounds like you desperately want someone to validate your feelings of helplessness, and no one here is going to be the person to help you put that final nail in your coffin.

          It also sounds like you’ve somehow buried yourself under the expectations of being an INTJ, and the idea that the type is infallible. Well, tomorrow has never been promised to anyone, and no one can stop a car from going off course if its driver insists on driving it off the road. You’re behind the wheel and every person you go to for advice will only be as effective as the navigation system. Your comments to Antonia were rather unjust, not to mention rude – this coming from a type known for being brutal. As the driver of your own vehicle, retaliating at the GPS system is futile.

          Are you really an INTJ? I ask this not to be offensive, but because whatever you’ve said goes against the problem-solving trait so characteristic of the type. Maybe it’s the depression talking – like I said, I don’t know. Perhaps it would help for you to be externally motivated – if the gym is as bad as you say (I personally don’t see the point in paying the exorbitant membership fee), you could volunteer to walk dogs at a shelter, or get an obese dog and make it your project to help IT lose weight. Distract yourself from yourself, blah blah. Self-pity has never helped anyone, and I truly hope you find your way back.

    • Marco

      Sorry for my english.

      Your phrases, my friend, sounds prepared to me, I imagine you repeating them here and here again and again or at least repeating them simply inside of you.
      Is there a correlation between INTJs and OCD?
      I find my self having automatic thoughts, phrases, ideas sometimes, most of the time negative ones, and they comes to my mind always in the “right” moment… “I can’t do this”, “I don’t have courage to do that”, “My body is not enough” etc etc etc
      When I was a teenager I started to recognize and suppress these thoughts actively and consciously and the result was amazing, no more virgins around.

      About me:
      INTJ male with also an attention deficit (which anyway it simply means to have a more dynamic attention to me, more or less good by the context) which studied psychology, not finished (one exam left), then started learn programming by itself, worked as a freelance from scratch and owning 2 fresh startups right now.

      I’ve had a psychotic crisis around 21 (too much joints, some of the classics INTJ’s bias, and bad, stupid, asshole “friends” mix), I managed it completely by my self (my parents preferred not to see the problem).

  • Sarah

    INFJs and INTJs ‘certainly’ the most misunderstood? I feel like INFPs are at least tied with them in this feeling and general experience.

    • Antonia Dodge

      Hi, Sarah – Thanks for the comment.

      INFPs definitely deal with their share of being misunderstood. I think the reason I see the INxJs dealing with it in a unique way is their use of the Perspectives (Introverted Intuition) process. I have a theory that it is the most recent cognitive function to have evolved, and we’re still getting used to it as a species. The most influential part of an INxJ – their primary cognitive function – is something the majority of people see only as ‘fantasy’, ‘woo woo’ and invalidate.

      As far as feeling misunderstood… no single type has a monopoly on that. And with INFPs, because the type has the extraordinary ability to see so many facets of themselves, it’s no wonder they never feel fully understood. I think that’s why so many enter the arts – the only way to communicate that level of profound internal awareness is with art. Simple words can’t really get there.

      I hope that helps clarify what I meant.


      • Sarah

        Yeah, it helps! A lot of INFPs do have careers in the arts, if you count working at McDonalds while playing guitar in front of an ‘audience’ as they cry themselves to sleep. I kid I kid. Kind of.

      • Jen

        Holy heck. This is my favorite INTJ article I’ve found, and now I read this comment. I am in my mid-40’s and am just now emerging from the shadow of invalidation is lived through as a child.

        I love hearing your INTJ theories, Antonia. Please keep sharing them!

  • Sarah

    *at home.

    Can’t do anything right. Sorry. Kidding.

  • tareq

    I like the article. Still, INTJS hate too lengthy articles. Put simply, they are best friends and worst enemies simultaneously. Vito and Michael Corleone are the best manifestations of the this type.


  • Evgueni

    I think you mean arthropod, not anthropod.

    • Thrifty

      I suspect it is deliberate.

  • Zef

    Fantastic article. I only recently became familiar with the MBTI and after some research found myself to be an INTJ. Its crazy how articles like this can seem to know me better than I know myself.

  • James


    I can tell that you REALLY know your INTJs. This is a real behind-the-scenes look at how INTJs interact with the world. This isn’t just intuitive speculations based on typology, this is lessons of experience. I’m impressed. Usually only ENFPs tend to gush about INTJs like this. ENTPs tend to instead poke at INTJs for being narcissistic (talk about projection! – we’re prideful and think highly of ourselves, but not narcissistic, which is the need to have OTHERS think well of us). But not you.

    Very impressive overall. If I needed a writeup that would describe “what I’m like” to someone new in my life, I’d point them to this post.

    (An interesting side-effect: a lot of INTJs I’ve pointed here have remarked that this description is “too flattering”. I don’t think it is. I do believe it is very sympathetic – even empathetic! But it’s that very delving into what INTJs are like underneath the shell that adds a level of accuracy that simply doesn’t exist in most INTJ descriptions.)

  • DigitalTreant


    This is an awesome article. The quest for knowledge has always been something of an obsession for me….I remember reading the old Webster’s Dictionary just to learn words as a child. I remember my first grade teacher telling my mother that ‘He will sit and seem to be paying no attention to what the lesson is, reading some book or another, but when I call on him, he knows exactly what is going on.’ For sure, I seem to have a very hard time NOT noticing things. Like sitting in a restaurant and not helping but hear all the nearby conversations, even when engaging in one of my own. When I was big enough to go to the library (ah, nostalgia of the days before Google…) I was there getting all kinds of books and utilizing the inter library exchange to get volumes that the local one didn’t have. The smell and feel of a book is still something that is very pleasing to my senses.

    Reading some of the comments really makes me realize how apt the exoskeletal image is to the INTJ. My self-confidence was never very high and it’s taken a huge hit in the last while. Divorce. Anyway, you’re absolutely right that we shouldn’t let the world’s trials force us into our shells. It takes effort to find our places in the world. It’s through pain that we often find the paths to the greatest growth. On the flip side, that same pain can cause us to retreat from what could otherwise be the beginning of a whole new chapter in our lives. We cannot allow that pain to stunt us. We are all of us the recipients of talents and gifts that are unique to each of us. Let ’em shine I say. Why let the doubters and naysayers be proven right, especially if it’s that unrelenting inner critic? Your point about using the judging aspect inwardly is a very good one. Judge that critic wrong if it’s keeping you down.

    Anyway, cool article!

  • Brandon

    Where did you get that picture? It’s worth a thousand words to me.

  • Alex

    Something about the way Ni is described on this site feels odd to me. I think it’s the “watching your mind form patterns” bit – in my experience, Ni is a highly unconscious function – even an Ni-dom will largely see the end results and not the actual pattern formation – that is why it’s called intuition in the first place, you know stuff but haven’t actually thought it out in the conscious mind. So you kind of know it’s there, you see the results, you maybe know how to feed it so you get results, but not much more.

    Getting into someone’s head is also probably too literal an expression: You form patterns for how someone works and thinks. More figuring out the word on the wheel of fortune, less method acting, if you catch the drift.

    • Antonia Dodge

      If you’re an Ni primary, then it’s going to be extremely unconscious because you are unconsciously competent at it. You are watching your mind form patterns… in the same way I as an Ne primary am picking up patterns around me. But they’re coming so quickly and I’ve gotten so used to it happening it’s hard for me to be consciously aware of it anymore.

      And that’s why it feels like the result just ‘happens’. But there is something technical happening behind the Fed Ex package of information that just ‘shows up’, something that most Ni primaries no longer really see because it’s so second-nature to them.


      • Alex

        Fair. Though there’s still a contrast, in my opinion – the Thinking functions pretty much always operate consciously, for example. The dominant users may not have to remind themselves of the rules as often or at all, but the actual deductions are still conscious and actively done. This is what I was getting at: Even with, say, an ISTP’s Ni, the actual operations between the materials and the conclusion are unconscious.

        It’s not part of the competence – that shows in other ways, such as understanding the hunches and trusting them, them being more refined as they enter consciousness, a general ease of dealing with these products of the unconscious, and so on.

        • Antonia Dodge

          I’d agree that the intuitive processes are the most difficult to be consciously aware of. What I meant in my earlier post is that how the functions themselves are operating at an etymological level is the most difficult to model for people who use them as their dominant process because it is so much a part of their experience. In the old ‘how does a fish begin to describe water’ way.

          For what it’s worth, describing Ni in any single way is going to be an oversimplification, but I would argue (this particular description is) not an inaccurate one.


  • Nonsense

    I took several MBTI test and even if I try to cheat it, my result is still an INTJ.

    I feel like my potential was always suppressed by my parents. They are the only one where I could share my ideas and plans yet every time I share it to them, they would dismiss it prematurely and never consider my thoughts. They are always against on my future plans. Why they can’t even support me? I’m a guy 21 years old that time but I do really cry that night thinking why they can’t support me?

    But anyway, I’m more into entrepreneurship. Despite that my parents aren’t supportive on me, I started my first business anyway at age 21. I believe in myself no matter what. And now I’m having 4 source of income already in which i decide to keep it to myself.

    I like this sentence:
    When an INTJ gets into action and begins reaching mile markers, their concepts are no longer abstractions. They can be vetted, improved upon, test/iterated. But most importantly, the INTJ is making an impact on their environment, which may be one of the most satisfying things they experience.

    And now, I started teaching few people how to achieve financial freedom by creating multiple source of income. No one can stop me from doing the right things.

    Male INTJ 23 years old.

    • Keith

      I’m not sure where to start… INTJ male, 30, health/outdoor oriented, entrepreneurly minded. Antonia feel free to jump in here, I’m impressed and am grateful for all your efforts in building this community, you gave me some clarity and some hope. Currently struggling. I could use some healing, but I have a deep drive and desire to create, produce and achieve. I can spend all day at the library, or buying some marketing course and digging in. Which I’ve become quite brilliant in. I aspire to open a business, failed a couple of times and have learned a lot. (I replied on this comment because Nonsense seems to have figured out something I could use). I hate jobs and feel I’m wasting my time. People tell me I’m smart but recently I struggle to even pay my bills. I tell myself I can’t be that smart if I can’t hold a job that interest me or get myself to do things that seem so brainless. I have zero motivation to do something that’s not fulfilling. I’m not money hungry but I understand the importance of income and the risk and loss of freedom that come with low income. The last 10 years have been hard and I’ve never thought about giving up (but I do notice myself getting tired and weaker… That scares me).

      I’m in the process of starting another business that I would actually like, good timing, good product. But I keep running into funding issues and lenders want me to “get a job” to prove the income.. That’s like asking me to drink some water to keep myself from drowning. Anyway, with all of that back ground information (and I could give you a lot more), my question is: When it comes to being effective, and producing real income, are you aware of anything an intj would enjoy doing to get decently instant income?

      (It seems all of my ideas are complex creatures that require a lot of things in place in order to make it work. I like the word “emergent” and how the little things come together at the right time to create a bigger more powerful, effective organism or result). Maybe all of the little pieces are just a stall of some sort. But funding is very important piece. Thank you in advance for your comments and help, I appreciate it.

    • Betty

      My mom also dismiss anything I say. She can’t see all the accomplishments I’ve done in 21 years and how different I am from people of my age. She’s a neurotic ESFJ.
      At the moment I’m unemployed working on building an international e-commerce from scratch despite not having any formal training in it. Everything I’ve learned so far I got from the endless source of knowledge the internet is. I’ve already build a national e-commerce site when I was 19. Made the first 100 in sales with zero marketing. But for her I’m a loser because I have a university degree and I’m unemployed (degree not related to internet).
      She compares me to THE REAL LOSER my 18 year old cousin is. He’s unemployed as well, doesn’t go to college and has accomplished nothing. At his age I was in college, held a Cambridge degree in English (an insane thing to have when English isn’t your first language and you live in a 3rd world country) and I also held a Private Airplane pilot certificate.
      I have another cousin who went to the same English school I went but didn’t get her Cambridge. She went to a drawing school but can only do sticky figures. I watched enough drawing videos on youtube to make these drawings here: (this is the blog I’m transforming into a e-commerce by the way, I intend to sell prints)
      But the loser is me.
      We, INTJ have so much potential we can succeed in whatever thing we put our minds to. From drawing to entrepreneurship to piloting airplanes to building websites. A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G. But we DO HAVE A HARD TIME dealing with the toxic mediocre people. Specially harder when these people are our parents. The main fuel to make my endeavors work? Getting the hell out of my mom’s house. And I’m taking the cats with me.

      Female INTJ 21 years old, Brazil.

  • Jack


    This is very helpful. I tried to read it online, and then ended up printing all 27 pages of it, so I could mark with a pen, highlight stuff, etc etc (some of the comments-conversations were remarkably fascinating; there was one bloke in a sad spot though).

    Anyway, a question for you: you’ve mentioned that INTJs are deeply sensitive because of their Perspectives (Ni) and Authenticity (Fi) functions. If this is so, then would ISFPs be equally sensitive? Maybe even more so than the INFJs (and that’s with apologies to all the wonderful INFJs out there). After all, their primary and tertiary functions are the same, just reversed.

    I haven’t known many ISFPs, but all the INFPs I know are *remarkably* sensitive. I’d have thought them to be even more so than us INTJs. But maybe that’s just the way they extrovert their feeling function.

    If you’ve already addressed this elsewhere on your website, I apologize. I did search around before asking this question.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.


    • Antonia Dodge

      OMG. I just posted a super long and laboriously thought-out answer to your question about Ni/Fi vs Fi/Ni and the page just ate it when I hit ‘submit’.

      After I’m done weeping I’ll do my best to recreate it. (I hope the grieving process is short.)


  • Matej

    It would be amazing, if you did these articles for every type out there!

  • Justin


    I really enjoyed your article; it was fantastic. Being an INTJ, more INTJ than INTP, is difficult but you really put it into a different perspective and simplified what was a rather muddled mess in my own mind.

    I do agree with those who say you should write a book about it.

    Thanks for the article

  • Corinne


    What a great article! You were spot on. I am an INTJ female and I have been hunting down articles about it for a while. This is the first one I’ve found that isn’t the typical blurb about the personality type. Like you’ve explained in your article, I’ve found that I have to work a lot harder at communicating my ideas to others and sometimes I get wrapped up in the think-tank part of my personality and have to wrench myself out. You did a great job with this article. Keep up the good work!

  • Aurelia

    INTJ, female, 43 y.o. here, love your article!!! Any of my close friends (that small bunch), besides my parents and my husband (very supportive, with a huge patience to wait for years before I let him enter inside the mental circle I live in) would recognise me, it’s a very faithful portrait!
    The achieving-aspect of the article is what I needed most right now, and I wish to thank you for writing it. In this period I have been feeling a bit lost inside my head as I have been brooding for too long over the book which I am about to write. I wrote and published other 4 books before, so I know I can do it, and yet everytime I struggle with the plan and the “where to start” issue. I think about it for soooooo long till I am absolutely exhausted. At the point, with not energy left, I manage to start writing, at last. Which is stupid, really, because I know perfectly well that starting anywhere will be ok, and the starting is the most important step (actually: the only one) I have to take. I don’t know why I face this strong resistance against committing to a start. Your solution, measuring up progresses, clarifying small goals and transferring from the big picture to the execution of one task at a time has always worked beautifully with me. it’s just that I need to arrive at a point of “ripeness” before that path is opened to me! It has been like this for every book, so why am I surprised? I just hoped I would learn to cut some corners, with the experience on my side. Would love if you could share your suggestions about this, in case other INTJ have faced this problem before. Maybe it’s only a problem with being indecisive. I am very indecisive, in general. Only the enthusiasm can push me into decision making 🙂

  • Nixus00

    Ok…seriously this article on INTJs made me smile and giggle like a child. You were able to parse out and illustrate very miniscule details that every other website/article has failed at. I have never been proud of a complete and utter stranger, but you have managed that with your article. You rock!

    I’ve taken the Meyers-Briggs several times throughout my life (middle school, high school, college, afterwards, etc.) I received the INTJ classification every single time…

    I’ve been mostly in the scientific field for most of my professional life (chemist, biochemist, pharmaceutical r&d, microbiology, etc.)I also do homework/thesis work for graduate students on the down-low (Shame on me, I know). I am just about to turn 30 and feel that I can never find enough stuff to cure my insatiable thirst for information and novelty. When you stated that INTJs are “just looking for a job that doesn’t make them want to stab their eyes out.” I had to stop myself from cackling in a filled break-room at work. Great stuff!

    Nowadays, I’ve entered into swing trading, computer programming, and growing orchids to give myself challenging new outlets. These are well past the ‘fad’ stage as I have been doing them for about 2 years now. I think that this has helped me, as would probably help other INTJs, to actually DO something rather than remain in the conceptual/theoretical stage.

    Additionally, after seeing so many depressing posts here, I can’t help but feel that most of these other INTJs can’t manage to see the forest for the trees. Every time I get down or depressed, I simply take a step back and look at the immense beauty and complexity of the systems that surround me every single second of every single day.

    I mean Christ, just looking at a silly friggin’ orchid plant…do you understand how AMAZINGLY complicated and methodical that thing is? For those of us who are depressed and ‘distant’…take a look around yourself and connect with something. It doesn’t have to be a person or a group. It can be a system, a theory, a problem, or even a fleeting idea. I feel for you guys.

    Anyways, thank you so much Antonia, as you are an excellent source to bringing meaningful dialogue to the arena of personality psychology. I will continue to listen to your podcast and support you guys in any way that I can. Take care and keep kickin’ arse!

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you resonated so strongly with the INTJ article. I’m an INFJ, and I have to admit when I first realized INTJs can use Perspectives and Effectiveness I was a bit jealous. All the farsightedness of Perspectives teamed with the ambition and logic of Effectiveness, without the need to filter everything through interpersonal dynamics….well lets just say, in a developed state, the INTJ is a Mastermind!

      Congratulations on finding what works for you and for embracing your unique talents. And you’re right – orchids are amazing.

  • Melina

    I spent a lot of time trying to find my personality type. Eventually I discovered I was an INTJ. Sometimes I have doubts, because I can relate to a bit of other personality types’s traits. Still, there are always some “INTJ things” reminding me that I’m sooo this type. Especially the exoskeleton and the sentence “I’d rather commit suicide than be killed.”. This is so me ! I remember clearly of times where people said things to me that caught me off guard, and I knew they were going to hurt me, so I hurt them first with brutal honesty. And they were old friends ! After that I was genuinely happy, because yay I spoke my mind, I was totally cool, and I wasn’t hurt ! Then those people resented me, and I started feeling bad about it (“why are they acting like this ?”, so I told my friends about it. And they were like “okay but do you realise that you said pretty shitty things to them ?”. Now that I think about it the only reason I wanted those people to forgive was because I didn’t want to admit hurting them because there was a huge possibility of them hurting me, which is stupid.
    Having a

  • Melina

    (shit, I submitted my comment by accident)
    So, having an exoskeleton is very tricky too. It fools yourself and others. I can’t recall any year of my life where every new person I met didn’t tell me how I wasn’t how they thought I was. They all had a lot of made-up ideas about me because the exoskeleton-me is cold, quiet, prideful, a bit too honest and looks antisocial. So, when they happened to be with me and my friends, who have this effect on me, it’s like they press a button and I can be myself, they discovered I was able to laugh like a hyena and be overly dramatic, which suprised them a lot. One girl looked at me all suprised one day and a friend just shrugged it off saying “she’s always like this”.
    And when I say it also fools myself, it’s because I both think “people suck and why would I spend time with and pretend liking people I won’t ever need and won’t ever like erwww what a waste” and “I want to have a social life” WHEN A SOCIAL LIFE IS ALL ABOUT BEING NICE AND OPEN AND SPENDING ENERGY ON OTHERS. So I end up having no confidence and hating myself a little, sometimes. Because contradictions. What do I want. Urgh.
    I really think about all this at the moment because I’m still in highschool and I will be in a new class and I know there won’t be any possibility of my close close friends being with me. No one to make the exoskeleton fall by itself. It’s going to be hard. I’m probably going to be the loner.

    Anyway, this article was awesome, I had a great time reading it, thank you for your work !

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for the comment Melina! I’m glad you are starting this journey of self-discovery at such a young age.

      Instead of focusing on the challenges ahead try to view them as opportunities.

      Remember, the article said that incredible growth only comes after an INTJ willingly lets go of their hard outer shell. Otherwise, you suffocate. Open yourself up to new relationships and let your true self show through more. The rewards can be life-changing!

      Here is a paragraph from the article I thought was worth highlighting and repeating:

      “That said, it can be truly difficult for the INTJ to be willing to shed the old exoskeleton in favor of the new one, which is by definition softer and more vulnerable. If they do have the guts, though, this is generally a time period of extraordinary growth for the INTJ. For example, all of a sudden a once shy INTJ can become outgoing with an insane social schedule. There is a time period of ‘experience gluttony’ as they grow into their new shell, and once the growth happens, often they settle down and appear to level out.”

  • Cody

    This is the closest description of an INTJ that I have ever read. The conceptualizing portion where we will, indeed, sink further and further into our own thoughts and knowledge if unhealthy, holds so true that it’s a little frightening. Thank you for this summary of the INTJ personality.

    • Charis Branson

      Awesome Cody! So glad it resonated with you so strongly. We love getting that kind of feedback!

      I hope you also found some helpful suggestions for avoiding the dark sinkhole. 😉

  • Re

    Thank you for an incredible and insightful ariticle! Thanks to all that posted. Can’t tell you how much it helps. I am new to this all and I am a female INTJ. I too am “healing” but trying to “acheive” as I do it. I’ve gone from complete utter emptiness, shelled off to where learning more about “me” not dwelling on what I “was”, what I “lost” has gone a long way to helping me begin to heal. I never trusted my whole life and don’t think that will change. I’ve always been kinda the oddball. I am a loner and prefer it that way. I am “addicted” to knowledge and know that is what can keep me in my shell. I am trying to find the balance between knowledge and achieving without retreating for what I thirst for. I believe as being shot down so many times in life for thinking different, being shunned at work for how I think and do led to this. No one can take my ability to learn from me, but how I use it externally I have yet to find a balance in life.

    Concerning my “exoskeleton” yeah it has been my savior time and time again and only now in my forties do I believe my chance to shed the old for the new has come about. It was my quest for answers and understanding both that have gotten me to this point. I felt soffocated, depressed, not in control of “my world”. I came out of a severely abusive marriage with PTSD. Started to search what was missing in me, what I lost. This became fruitless, a waste of time, and irrelevant for the first time in my life that it didn’t matter who I was at any given time, but where am I going and who do I want to be. I do admit that I thoroughly researched sociopathy to understand my abuser which allowed me to disassociate from my “feelings” and analyze the relationship and him and begin (just starting to) to heal. I do have an uncanny way of looking outside myself to see others perspective, understand their reasoning even emotions so that I can relate, use rationale not my emotions or preferred judgements in dealing with a given situation. That said, I pulled myself out and only now began to search to understand me. As I am. That which has been a constant throughout my life. Somehow I stumbled upon personality types. Wow…INTJ. Now I get me for the first time. I am comfortable with much of me, but some not so much.

    I too can’t stand doing anything that which does not hold a puzzle, a challenge, something that fuels me. I am at that crossroad of “shedding”. I know I am capable of doing anything I put my mind too. Lmao bet most can relate. Yet I am good at so many things and finding “what” will give pleasure, fuel, challenge, and an overall completeness per say is the biggest hurdle. I actually feel I have so much to offer which often gets me in trouble as I do too much all at once with little of that “regeneration” time I crave. My little one tonight said, “Mommy, you can do 2 things at once. That will make you happy.” She’s right. Why? More like why not?

    Sorry for the long post, your article has actually made so much sense to me about me that I believe my “exoskeleton” is about to grow. Yeah I’m really mushy inside. I hide it all so well hence the depression and tears that controlled me for months irked the crap out of me. Yes I got help, but through logical means and not psychobabble. For me it matters not what you say, it is how I can relate and use the info provided to move forward and most were geared towards external gratification and pats on backs. Doesn’t do nothing for me. Cheering squads are more baggage of external stimuli that I cringe from. Guess all of this is the beginning of growth and knowing that there are only two paths to take that allows me to process what I need. Only one path is logical and of use. Your article is eye opening and has helped me to begin to shed my old and embrace my new. Sounds corny. Oh well. One note…really wish you had a preview button before posting. Being on a mobile device does cause errors and the submit button is way too close to the text box allowing submission while trying to maneuver through what was written.

    • Charis Branson

      Thank you for sharing your personal journey! Sounds like you have had a lot to overcome. I am glad you are finding the tools you need to heal and grow.

  • hk.mars

    yes, as Antonia sharing, I have all that presonalities of INTJ.
    en…& I am a real INTJ hacker..$_

  • hk.mars

    Thank you Antonia,I known more about myself now.

  • hk.mars

    Freedom is important for me,I fight for it via my hacking ability of nature interest. I are trying to learn everything as system to fight and progress,,,bad,,,I am located in China.

  • Joe

    Boy, so much of this rings true for me. The only ill-fitting bit was the “what can’t be measured, can’t be managed”. Either I don’t understand how it relates to me, or … I don’t know.

    Every time I test, I’m an INTJ. Even when I re-take tests using the exact opposite of the questions that were borderline for me. (Is that INTJ behavior, haha?)

    I would say that measuring and managing are something that only the reasoning half of the brain feels compelled to do, and that often it misses the point.

    Still sounding like an INTJ? I wonder…

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for the comment Joe! When I am struggling to figure out a type, I look in the back seat. When you are feeling stressed, or not at your best, do you become self-obsessed and convinced of your own rightness despite all evidence to the contrary? Do you want to wallow in self-indulgence and comfort, completely ignoring what is right over what feels good? That is the tertiary process of authenticity (Fi).

      As to the comment, “What can’t be measured, can’t be managed,” are you turned off by the objectifying nature of it? Do you find yourself more concerned with the human element? If so, that would indicate a Harmony (Fe) tendency.

  • Michael

    This is why I love to play golf. Competition Golf to be more to the point. I’m a INTJ and hate web programming. It’s so dull. It’s my job right now and I hate it. My parents never understood my mind. They always thought I was a bad person and would try to change the vital ways I thought. It was horrible and I acted out horribly as well. They never saw what I saw. They equited my high level of thought and processing to rebellion and sin. And the group that surrounded my family would try to tell me the same things. I kept telling them that it’s not true and that they don’t understand me. But they insisted I was just being a rebellious strong willed child. So I accepted this and tried to change but it never worked. I actually ended up going the other way. Got into a lot of trouble. Ran away from home and sold vast amount of drugs when I was 14. Stole a car. Ended up in the crazy house for two weeks. They tried to get me to take drugs. I refused. Then they had my parents come in and tell me they were going to let me out if I consented to state supervision. I walked right back into that nut house. An hour later my attonery called me and said I free and don’t consent to anything. I knew it. I so knew I was being lied to by the state. Really messed up. This happened a year out of HS. I hated HS. I was convinced to attend college. Studied web development and management. Was top in my class. Then I got a summer job working for the schools web department. They paid me like 8 dollars an hour to clean up HTML. My professor told me to slow down on the work. I was making everyone look bad. I was being underutilized. I said f this and quit. I started selling weed. Though my negotiation skills were lacking – I had that game down to a science. I was making just enough to hide under the radar. Built up a customer list. My book making was good as well. I started to realize that I didn’t want to be behind a lousy computer my entire life. I saw the way the industry was moving and my skills learned at school were going to be obsolete in 5 years. This meant 80 hours a week devoted to a trade that gave more value then it was getting back. Technology does make life easier but it is also a double edge sword in so many aspects. it’s a constant race of keeping up. I started pondering lately the actual need to read and write. It’s just a game. A tribe of people were found on a Island with no modern civilization. Probably can’t read our write. But yet they still exist. They protect themselves and away from the nonsense of today’s pop society and BS. It’s all about money no matter what anyone says. It’s pathetic. A stupid game. Kind of like golf. But golf has rules that are very hard to break. And it’s your honor to call them on yourself. A microcasm of life that can be practiced and applied and striving to prefect. But never perfect. This makes sense to me. In the heat of the moment I’m performing and not thinking. I’m free. The nerves turn off my brain. That’s all I want to do. But it’s so expensive and everyone comes at me with BS about who I am because of God or some shit. My parents discouraged me from playing when I was 14. So I started hitchhiking to the course. It’s like no one understands me. They all think I’m arrogant and cocky with no filter. They just don’t see what I see. They don’t understand my perspective of how I see the world. It doesn’t fit into their box. I make them think and they don’t want to think. So they outcast me. I’m not the smartest person for sure. But my brain doesn’t turn off. I’m always analyzing and conceptualizing. The only way it stops is when I reacting. Responding means I must think first. I’m already doing that! Constantly. Golf turns that off for brief moments. I love it. I got into a car accident 5 years ago on my 30th birthday. I can’t see out of my right eye now :(. Now I’m feel completely stigmatized in public. But this spring I shot a 66 and tried to qualify for the US Open. But now I’m broke and stuck behind a computer making a joke wage running e-commerce websites in Florida. I don’t sell weed anymore. Don’t do drugs and stopped drinking. But now I’m 34 and feel that thing called death sweeping in. We all die. And it’s crazy to think about it. And I’m a thinker for sure. Cool. Thanks for the space for the unformatted rant.

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for your comment, Michael. It sounds like you are feeling pretty discouraged. I’m glad you have taken control of the drugs and drinking. As a Sensation inferior, it can feel good to indulge. Getting out of the house and getting some exercise, like golfing, will feed your Sensation 3 year old and prevent you from craving the indulgences of drugs and alcohol. So, keep a regular routine of getting out of your head and into your body.

      Your last few comments regarding death lead me to believe you are spending too much time in your 10 year old process of Authenticity. You will do much better working on Effectiveness, and it will bring you more contentment. Look for ways to streamline processes in your life or work. See if there are any projects you can coordinate, delegate, and manage. Put people in the jobs that fit their skill level. Avoid the tendency to wallow and instead look at the world in terms of systems that can be managed and improved by you.

      Hope that helps.

    • Dane

      Hi Michael. So what could I say… there’s a lot for sure. But first.. hm well, how do I put this, this unformatted rant, the things you said and the way you said them made me not want to just leave it or you (the you that said ^these) alone.
      Because the way I see it, it hurt, and it was true, and you were not lying nor were you unfair nor biased about you and the people around you. What you ranted about was how you truly saw it, felt it, experienced it, hardly any embellishments. You are of course not perfect. You were just here. And you were how you were.

      This may sound unclear, and abstract. In which case it is, because I tend to think abstractly more than concrete, so even tho there are a lot of things I want to say or share, it’s taking me time. So may you bear with me.

      And that long intro was also made in my hopes that you will not think I’m being shallow, and that the words I’ll be saying are cheap, as if trying to mend a quick-fix. Because they’re not. And in my hopes of conveying my message and sincerity, here I go.

      It’d be great if we could face each other and have long, quiet talk instead. Because I’m sure what you said is just part of it. And I myself can’t say that I’ll be able to accommodate them wholly. So in that imaginary place and time, maybe I could listen to them, and understand them, and embrace them. Just as it was done for me.

      As a fellow who had undergone very similar pains (tho I doubt I can ever say mine was greater than yours, nor will I ever say that), what I would say is that you keep searching for that place. Where you’ll be listened to,be understood, contented and truly be at peace, while being who you are. Without trying to even explain why.

      I might actually suggest a direction. But maybe next time.

      So for now, may the thought that there’s someone in some part of the world saying this with her whole heart may lessen the burden in your heart and mind. Sincerely yours, Dane.

      P.S. If it didn’t, oh well. I tried. But stiiill! I really hope it will! 😀

      • Charis Branson

        Dane – Thanks for reaching out. You’re Awesome! 🙂

  • Alexa Spagnola

    I will keep this brief because I have a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done. However, Antonia, this is one of the most accurate depictions of myself that I have ever read, and I read quite a bit. If there is any way at all that you could connect me with other INTJs it would be much appreciated. I am surrounded by people that do not understand me and it is such a hassle to have to constantly explain. Having at least one person that gets it would be convenient, especially in accomplishing my goals. Thank you.

  • Helge

    The picture with the two boys at the end with the paragraph next to it drove tears to my eyes. It reflects how I feel and what emotional connection I seek, this also explains why some protection has to be built around the little boy. (INTJ)

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for the comment, Helge! Are you saying the need for connection can be so desperate for an INTJ that a protective wall needs to be in place? To guard against people who may take advantage?

  • Niki

    Marijuana is quite possibly the best of intoxicants.
    It’s been scientifically demonstrated, for decades, when utilized on a regular basis to be much less harmful to the
    human body than booze

  • Sania

    Hello Antonia,

    I have found your article on INTJ and as one (confirmed by tests and professionals), I must admit you have made my thoughts a bit clearer now. I am quite young and I already started feeling pretty much distant from people thinking it’s better to move away from time to time, then to suffocate in misunderstanding. In 4 years I changed 4 countries, I work a lot…almost the whole day, but I also take on crazy experiences such is a jet ride or climbing the heights…driving relaxes my mind. Sometimes I feel like I have to explain myself to people a lot, I don’t think it has a lot to do with INTJ, however what I want to say is that your article made me feel a bit more comfortable with who I am and decisions I make. We are all quite different (personality tests say as well), however these articles are very important in order to shed some light on personality types so that all gain some sort of mass-understanding. I think these should be taught in schools. Not many people are doing the insights into themselves…not many people tend to understand the fact that we are all different. Perhaps, if that would change we might all just end up a bit more happier as persons and a lot less alone.

    Hopefully you have some book coming out, I’d love to read it.

    Kind regards,

  • Laura


    I believe I’m chiming in on this topic a bit late to the party. Having scoured the internet in (what I thought to be) an exhaustive manner over the last few years seeking clarification on my INTJ type as a female, I can whole heartedly agree with the comments above; your perspective is enlightening, divergent from the “stereotypes”, and helps me feel like less of an overly sensitive weirdo!

    Professionally, I work in project management, and while I greatly enjoy influencing the development of new operational plans and processes, I find I can be incredibly demotivated by:
    1) the lack of other people’s efficiency AND expediency in getting their own work done (especially when it influences MY timeline and productivity),
    2) the lack of recognition received for completing a task or creating a solution that (from my perspective) made a huge positive impact on the ability to meet a deadline, turn a larger profit, or other success, and
    3) my highly perfectionistic approach that will often torment and ravage my self-worth and self-esteem when I produce anything less than perfect.

    Or at least these were the most frustrating things I attributed to being INTJ… I long ago assumed I was a weirdo outlier INTJ who was ridiculously internally sensitive, and very unlike my highly logical psychopath-esque peers. To my knowledge I haven’t ever met another true INTJ female, so I held out a small hope that I wasn’t entirely alone.

    Your article = light bulb moment. I pride myself on my objectivity and my logical and analytical approach to any and every problem… yet, I am hypersensitive to criticism, and seem to take any sign of rejection and equate it immediately to Armageddon. Alas, I’ve found a description of the “nougat like center” that describes this internal sensitivity, and ultimately, I am not alone!

    Thank you for your poignant insight; I’ll be having my ESTJ partner read this in the hopes that it helps us on our continued journey to more effective communication.


  • PK

    INTJ here, and I’d say this article was pretty darn accurate. When people start assuming that I feel nothing and have no emotions, and intentionally act rude towards me, it really gets to me, and even then, I don’t always act rude back to them, because I already know why they are doing what they are doing. As you said, I can get into their heads and hearts.

    It’s just their perception that I’m rude. If I say something like, “hey you look different every time I see you”. Then they can interpret that negatively and think I’m rude, and I have to console them for something I didn’t even intentionally do. They seem to think I did it intentionally though, and feel they have the right to intentionally be rude to me.

    Honestly though, saying you look different shouldn’t be taken negatively, I guess most people automatically think being different is bad. But I really didn’t personally assign a good or bad value to it, it just means they changed their look and I noticed it, they read too much into it I guess.

  • Keny

    wow…mind = blown. I feels that this essay was written specifically about me. I know who i am know.

  • Lauren

    Wow…broken hearted INTJ here, recently had my squish center raked over the coals. To your point, I’ve only seen the “mastermind” portion covered but not the rest. Spot on. Now back to working on my exoskeleton 🙁

    • Nnett

      Me too.

  • Justin

    Thank You. Incredibly refreshing to read. 🙂

  • NotSquishy

    No, we are not squishy — I have never been squished. Is this projection, an attempt to present it to a feeling audience or are you merely forgetting that we rationalize such things away? An INTJ crying in your arms – sounds more like a narcissist trying to emotionally manipulate you.

    And how could INTJ’s be so perceptive without being sensitive? The sensitivity gives way to analysis — why would other people behave like this? Sure, to an extent we get freaked out on an emotional level but ultimately it is rationalized as other peoples mental illnesses. In many cases this is entirely correct; individuals with clinical personality disorders massively outnumber us.

    • Antonia Dodge

      Thanks for the comment.

      You not identifying with this aspect of the article doesn’t negate it as a reality. You may be superimposing your own experience onto the type and mistaking it to be the experience of all INTJs. As evidence, look at the other comments from fellow INTJs under this article. Either they’re all impostors, or there is variety even within the same the type.


  • Sheila

    I have read many articles on the various personalities. Of course, mostly on INTJ, as it is my personality type. Yours is an interesting perspective, definitely a nice addition to the discourse. I may appreciate this one a little more, perhaps as it seems to come from a more personal, experienced place, and makes me feel accepted in some of what I have deemed to be and what may well be neuroses. Anyway. Thanks.

    -INTJ. Female. #gous

  • JJ

    INTJ here – found this page while searching for some new career ideas as I desperately need some kind of reboot. I found the way you described us both informative and beautiful. This deserves a spot in my fairly restricted browser bookmarks so I can share it with others and revisit it myself occasionally. Thank you. 🙂

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for the feedback JJ! I’m glad we made it to the restricted bookmark section of your life. 😉

  • Jess

    This could have saved me so much existential teenage angst ten years ago. Growing up I savagely see-sawed from Lone Ranger who could do and be and say anything because, ultimately, I knew what I meant; down to terrified newborn who was convinced my independent self-assurance was actually un-diagnosed psychosis and I didn’t actually have feelings because people’s sob stories showed me more about them than the horrible world they felt pitted against.

    I’ve been impatient. Overly critical (of myself and others). I’ve dithered over decisions because insufficient information was given and I didn’t know how to ask for more (or better quality data) without making people feel defensive. And, if they were defensive, I didn’t know how to diffuse the situation without deeply compromising myself. The negative backlash resulted in a retreat from reality to a place where I could comfortably control everything I came in contact with. But that was unsatisfying because it lacked the stimulus required for me to develop and learn.

    The hardest thing I have had to learn (without the benefit of a personality profile – which I can’t help but criticise) is to back myself. Growing from awkward adolescent into even more awkward twenty-something who found themselves with even less in common with her friends than before she retreated away from them, fertilised a rich and vibrant garden of self-doubt. My irritation and dismissiveness of mediocre teachers meant I was under-prepared for tertiary study (or, rather, under-prepared to achieve the GPA I fully expected to maintain) and so tumbled through another few failed attempts at ‘succeeding as a human being in absolutely anything’.

    Happily, I’ve grown up a bit since then. I’m still impatient. I’m still faster to grasp something than most of the people in my life and rather than that asserting my confidence, it still undermines it unless I’m deliberately showing off (which is spectacularly satisfying). Occasionally I still come across as a dick – even when I really don’t mean to – but I’m getting better at taking time to explain myself (and learning that honesty can be overlooked when a convenient lie will save time and needless arguments). I’m (marginally) less concerned when people ask for my advice and then don’t take it. And, I’m more tolerant of magic thinkers, deluded colleagues, and really, really boring people who argue about washing powder and tell me what their children did on the weekend. Well, I no longer scream silently in my head while they prattle on. Most of the time.

  • INTJ_dude

    Hello. I like it. But I don’t think it’s the sensitivity that creates the outer shell. I think it’s a trust issue, the fear of being lied to. It’s less of a (sensual) physical blockade but more of a (emotional) trust blockade. The fear of being abused acquired from the social stigma and rejection of authenticity, creates a double-effect that combines the already present authenticity with even more mistrust. This happens because the world fears truth. It’s definitely more of a trust issue that forces the INTJ to scan all available options. They don’t trust people because they find them dishonest. The solution for dishonest people is to bring the system against them. Let nature sort them out. Definitely more of trust issue than a sensitivity issues.

  • Professor Waters

    This is the best personality explanation that I’ve seen. Since I work with students on the university level with finding majors and careers, we use quite a bit of assessments. So thank you for such a thorough and down to earth understanding of my type.

  • Silas

    “if one is engaged in something unproductive but doing it with great efficiency, they’re making matters worse”.

    It is really difficult to understand that what It is so obvious to you, it automatically ensues a triggering of everyone elses defenses on any topic. Be it at the university, workplace or at any place in the world. Even with friends at a party/bar and all their “acquaintances”.

    Prepare yourself for showdowns about almost everything with every single naive and shallow interlocutor. Being the sole target of almost every average joe in the world and the last guy on earth to be remembered as a cool guy by few, after a decade or two OFC, when by chance some of them reached some stage of maturity.

    Just because once you gave someone a sharp and logical answer into his very important and once never challenged enough subject. It is of an abismal sadness to see you can fall into the bottomless pit of someone’s heart just because he didn’t give enough coverage to an once cherished subject or just because you are an avid dissecator of any information that grabs your interest.

    This article is an amazing depiction of our intimacy, I could relate to it entirely.

    Anyway I would like to highlight that in the imminence of the existence of such characters traits as ours, I can give ridiculous ammount of evidence that to “speed read” people into the job market is precisely the greatest evidence of the onipresence of the quote above in everyday life.

  • Coeus

    i agree with most of your statements of intj, i do prefer the fantasy world then real world. there is only so many times slamming your head against the wall trying to help people with their ineffective designs or project approaches so it is easier to check out so to speak and only say what they want to hear versus what they should be told thereby leaving me free to explore new ideas and concepts in my head kind of like parallel processing its fun although just a tip dont make the idea humorous since you dont want to laugh during their self patting on the back.
    yes i vet people when they start getting to close to me you would have to be an idiot if you dont, i run several minor tests that determines the persons behavior and personality which determines if i torch the bridge or allow them to get closer.
    my “shell” as you put it has worked effectively for most my life why should i leave it behind and become vulnerable again just to be used and abused by people again? i would rather be invulnerable and robotic then weak and dependent, i would rather work tirelessly on a problem and lose myself in the process then to give up and walk away, i would rather enjoy the predictability of things around me then to not have a clue how things work and be at the whims of others, i would rather discuss ideas rather then persons or events, i would rather see the duality of a person when i meet them (the one they show,and the one they hide) rather then just accepting a person just on how they appear, i would rather see what peoples intentions are when they approach to become friends then to just accept the surface value.
    the hardest problem i have encountered so far is to show ideas i thought up to professors of the respective field or professionals of that field only to have them dismissed because they havent thought it up or they cant see how it works so they end up being nay sayers versus thinking how can this work but i noticed if you break the idea up into component parts and ask vague questions of that part they are more receptive and willing to work with you its highly ineffective i know however its the only way i found so far.
    disclaimer time it is not my intention to be insulting, or any other word that is a synonym of that i am just being honest with experiences that i have encountered walking on and studying of this earth.

    • john

      I agree with your breaking up in parts, it is a very useful technique. They only have to be influenced to do their part of the solution, they need not know the whole of the idea.

  • John

    Thank you for this post. At 52 I’m still working some of these things out, but it certainly feels good knowing others are aware. Never have found a better way to protect against harm than to stay in the lab, though. Most of the time, if you let them in too far, they kick your guts out and have a good laugh.

  • Lina

    Wonderful article – thank you. INTJ female here.

    How does one move from the conceptualizing, think-tanking, idea-generating INTJ to the healthy, implementing INTJ. . . are you aware of any literature out there covering your thoughts below?

    “The key to growth for INTJs can be found in the Co-Pilot process of Effectiveness. Many INTJs find themselves unsure of what exactly they want to bring to the world, and feel they have to have a complete picture of what it looks like before they can move forward. I’ve heard INTJs say things to the effect that they can’t go socializing until they ‘get their life together’, but still not have a clear idea of what that would look like. . . .

    When an INTJ truly steps into their genius, they have clearly defined mile markers. Effectiveness is all about creating a linear strategy to get to a goal, and creating metrics to determine what ‘done’ looks like. The most empowering action an INTJ can take is 1) being aware of their own personal stall tactics, and 2) clearly outlining metricized markers on the way to a goal.”

  • Ginnie

    Thank you for truly taking the time to be “thoughtful” about our inner world and giving clear markers to direc how we navigate our worlds. This description really deep dives into the nuances of how we approach life.

  • Kiera

    ‘Built like anthropods’…? I think you mean arthropods.

  • john

    I’ve just done this test and this is the second article that I have read, great read.
    It’s great to realize that I am not unhinged and generally understand myself better.
    “A job that doesn’t make you want to stab your eyes out” struck a chord. – resisting the urge to strangle Managers that are dumb AF, I imagine is quite common too.

    Interesting to read in the comments most of my thoughts.
    Sounds challenging being a woman with this personality type, think i’ve got it easier as a man.

    • JustinP

      Yeah, I read this over at another website:
      “INTJs form just two percent of the population, and women of this personality type are especially rare, forming just 0.8% of the population.”

      That makes it the least common type for women.

      On a side note, I also just realized why I really like reading Jane Austen! I always pictured them as “girly” books that, as a guy, I wouldn’t care for, but I absolutely loved Pride and Predjudice.

      • Nnett

        Definitely challenging being an INTJ woman. There were at least 3 of us at my last job. Was awesome to understand a coworker for once.

  • john

    Wondering if anyone here can appreciate this thought on discussions – “how am I supposed to talk in sentences, when I think in mind maps?”-me

  • JustinP

    You totally got me at: “Creating sustainable models are the crack cocaine of INTJs”.

    One could add that constantly reviewing and optimizing them is the next step in that addiction.

    I wonder if anyone else also finds themselves reading over their own sent items folder just to enjoy how “perfectly” they were written and formatted, even though they know exactly what is in there anyway…

    Best article I have read about…well… me! Thanks! My group just did some personality tests and I will make sure to break out of my exoskeleton long enough to tell them to make it over to this site.

    I am also a long-time GTD follower and would love to contribute in any way I can to discovering any tips on how to maximize the system for my personality type. Thanks again!

    • Birgit

      Yes, I also do that, read the e-mails I’ve sent.. well, they are often masterpieces, why not enjoy them 😀

  • Jael

    I took your personality test and my results were Perspectives/Effectiveness. This is the first time ever that I have gotten the results of extrovert. And it is wrong. I am an introvert. The only people who might say that I am not very reserved are my students, for whom I have to put on an act to draw them out to speak English (I am an oral English teacher in a Chinese college). I NEED alone time. Being with other people for long periods of time drains me of energy because it over-stimulates.

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for your comment, Jael. Perspectives/Effectiveness is an introverted personality type. It is INTJ. And here you are, posting under the INTJ article, which discusses how Perspectives/Effectiveness is the cognitive functions of the INTJ. If it is the Effectiveness process that is confusing you (since it is Extraverted), read the article. We all have introverted and extraverted functions. But INTJs lead with an introverted function.

  • Taylor Thomas

    Hey Antonia, just wanted to say thanks for the read. You nailed me. I had both chills and tears as I worked through your post. I loved that you highlighted the sensitivity of INTJs in your post. I really loved the abstract wiki quote on exoskeletons. Most of the shit I read is all the same; we are strategic, analytical, blah blah blah. That’s all great and true, but there is in inherent sensitivity that most people don’t see. You put a much needed spotlight on the guarded emotional side we have.

  • Jason

    This. So much this.

    Being a student of Integral Theory and a practitioner of my own design (Evolutionary Guide) I have long said – and believed – that typing systems become less and less accurate [especially as predictors of behavior] the more we evolve through vertical stages in the Self-developmental line (ego, mostly). Which is accurate. But I was invalidating typing systems in general.

    And then I read this.

    Or rather, my good friend Mia Cara had me read this. I have never felt so understood and my emotional life so well explained in any context ever. Until now.

    I now send this – as a matter of course – after a first date and let them know if they want to understand me, this post is the Clift Notes – and ask them to pay special attention to the parts on emotions and emotional life.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • Brent


      I used to be into Integral Theory given that it definitely hits many of the T / J buttons with it’s multidimensional grid/scale. What better than a totalizing logical-systemic theory of conscious evolution that outlines a specific set of steps to enlightenment? Add in the spiritual, introspective aspects (e.g. nondual) and it hits I / N.

      Personally, however, as I vetted it against outer reality and my inner reality (I modulate between INTP/FJ/FP), I couldn’t buy into it as it was promoted (that is, as a complete and true system about consciousness). Not because it didn’t have some very insightful and innovative aspects, but because it was too conceptually limited, biased, and incomplete, even as it attempted to encompass “everything”. My TP/FJ continually found critical missing elements (psychologically, scientifically, spiritually), while my FP senses bristled with “there’s something inauthentic here”. Ultimately for me it was the hubris and elitism of “this is true and total, you are just too unevolved to know it” (is know-it-all an INTJ trait?) that had me walk away. This is not to say that less absolutist/conceited variants of Integral Theory and Spiral Dynamics aren’t valuable in the right contexts. Thinkers like Edwards, Torbert, Kegan, Ferrer posit models beyond (or orthogonal to) that of Integral Theory, and I personally support a plurality of models since mere language cannot capture reality in all of its radical complexity and variation. Models are very limited maps and/or projections from our conceptualizations. They may point to things like a finger to the moon, but they are not the moon and they don’t tell us how to get to the moon (which is requires a bit of “achievement” rather than theory).

      I now see Integral Theory merely as another perspective or “system” (ideology) like all human systems which can become entrenched in its own “truths” and dogma. MBTI is also another system, but when framed as “what if?” as on Personality Hacker, the functional map of MBTI can be “played with” in real time. Thus “IF this aspect of INTJ true,” what does this afford me in terms of self-acceptance and/or changing my perception and behavior? It becomes more about self-applied praxis and personal experimentation (e.g. via introspection and coaching) rather than theory (postulated external truth) or dogma (righteousness).

      To me all models/systems/cultures are both good and bad. We humans necessarily attach to certain ones (and reject others) leading to fundamental misunderstanding and divisiveness. This appears to be the lesson that we haven’t learned as a species.

  • Rita

    Interesting. Just like Taylor Thomas, I had the same teary reactions. Maybe because this is so introspective.

    “NTJs are just looking for a job that doesn’t make them want to stab their eyes out” CHECK!
    “are only somewhat satisfied in their career choice.” CHECK!
    “in I.T. and programming departments” CHECK!

    However, you said that you envy INTJs… Please, don’t put them/us on a pedestal. They might be intelligent, analytical blabla but they suffer as hell.

  • D

    Outstanding article

  • Carlo INTJ

    INTJ here. After reading the first comments, I just HAVE add: efficient means effect/effort is maximized, while effective means just effect is maximized.

  • Aleena

    Very real and nice article. I can relate. Thank you for making me understand some things about myself.

  • ?

    nice article. (theres a lot of things Id like to say but, Ill keep it for myself)

  • Catherine

    My God, you’ve no idea how accurate this is! Thank you for posting.

  • Penny

    Wow, I really enjoyed this article, and almost enjoyed reading the comments as much!
    It is not often that I feel that someone “gets” me – and you do. I have always been the “oddball female” less inclined to emotional nonsense and more inclined to logic and rational thinking. Very few people can relate to that. Reading this page today, I feel that I am not the only one out there!
    I have particularly enjoyed watching other people debate the exact thing that I was thinking – over a long time period, but people that actually UNDERSTAND the importance of words and their correct meanings and assumptions!
    So awesome!

  • Bryan Lee

    My wife of 14 years is an INTJ. She was miss understood and abused by her family. She suffered multiple traumas before the age of 21. They locked her up basically and I helped her. We have 5 kids and throughout I knew she was special. 6 months ago I showed her the path and . …..well, everyone always told her she was dumb and bad. She is the most caring and closest to God that ive ever seen. I knew showing her would lead to an enlightening, which isnt in my best interest, but the right way. She has grown exponentially. God bless her and I hope she gets what she needs now, living poor has been hard for her. Thanks

  • L.P.-G., M.D.

    What you said about the INTJ running for cover if they suspect that they’ve met someone who might possibly be “exploitive” is so very true. We may be genuinely complex but then there’s this aspect of what I can only describe as “trusting innocence”. I truly enjoy being around other INTJs, as the creative aura can be intoxicating, but only my youngest child shares this personality type with me. My husband and 3 other children do not [sigh].

  • Cosmos

    Hi there,

    I am a Female INTJ. I truly think that there is something wrong in all those intj’s descriptions. The personality that you describe may be true, but it does not mean that you are always the “smarter ” person in the room. At all. How you receive the information, process, decide and feel does not have anything to do with your IQ.

    It is true that I arrived to the position in live that I currently have, thanks to my ability to keep focus and pursue “effectiveness” -including learning on my own English, which is not my native language, apologize for the possible mistakes. And also finding ways to overcome incredibly and objectively hard challenges in my life completely on my own, without any help.

    But I am never the smarter person in the room and my IQ is quite standard. What I am almost invariably, is the most organized, analytical, problem solver, effective, focused, strong, avid learner, and able to cope with frustration person in the room. That is why I am where I am now. Not thanks to a “magical” intelligence.

    But not a “mastermind”. Keep that part for “Game of thrones” and all the alike fairly tales.

    Female, grateful and proud INTJ

    • Probabilist

      That is very interesting ! , I also have learnt English by myself 🙂

      “finding ways to overcome incredibly and objectively hard challenges in my life completely on my own, without any help”

      So true ! i’m proud of that trait , i think it’s our best gift.

  • Exoskeleton 120

    You are very good at this: seeing from inside and out and then expressing it clearly. Thanks.

  • Probabilist

    Thank you for such a great article. As an INTJ male i wanted to add something about the effectiveness and efficiency.
    I live in a third world country in middle east.I’m an Applied Mathematics student at university who is trying to help his country to grow but the authorities are unwilling to change their systems .
    As you know third world countries tend to mimic from developed countries like yours. They try to implement the exact systems that your countries have implemented without thinking about it or trying to see if it fits the current situation. in order to implement your systems they need EFFICIENT people to do it as fast as possible (efficient engineers , efficient lawyers , even efficient SCIENTISTS !!!!!! which is a cruel act toward scientists and my science major friends always moan about it) they only measure the efficiency not the EFFECTIVENESS ! and effectiveness is what that matters ! they are too ignorant to see that their systems are not effective enough and they need improving . When i offer them solutions , they tend to measure my efficiency and they will decline my solutions. for example in universities the only thing that matters to them is grades ! and understanding the materials is just one way in the 100 ways to get a good grade (And not an efficient one in that matter ! unfortunately memorizing have the upper hand and grasping the material is underrated, that’s why the students that memorize always get the best grades) so if you have a low grade , they don’t count you ! and thus any solution provided by you will be discredited ! and the worse thing is that there are almost no like minded individuals in that matter ! i have only one friend (Who is an INTJ like me) and understands this chaos that is happening in my country ! and except him i haven’t met any INTX in my country.

    Anyway , thank you for providing such a great article for understanding INTJs , I appreciate it.

  • Shanna

    Arthropod, not anthropod. Arthropods are spiders, crustaceans and insects. I think Anthropod might be a band or something.

  • George

    Great… You have great knowledge in this: seeing from inside and out and then expressing it clearly.Keep on sharing ..Very interesting to know about this

  • Enrique

    This is spot on! Wow. Thank you!

  • Kyle Karnes

    You’re making the INTJs crazy with “anthropod,” when you mean “arthropod.” Please correct.

    • Antonia Dodge

      I did. Like, a long time ago right after the first person caught it. Am.. am I missing something? :O


      • Charis Branson

        There were a couple other instances of the word that hadn’t been corrected yet, Antonia. I fixed them. Thanks for making us aware of them Kyle. 🙂

  • George

    Thanks for your blog…You have clearly explained about INTJ..It’s very amazing to know about them

  • A

    Thanks so much. Im still in high school, and sometimes it drives me crazy how I just know stuff. I can explain it after a bit, but I figure it out without knowing how. I thought I was weird or there was something wrong with me- thats what all the teachers told me. It really used to drive my chess master crazy that I could figure out the best move, or avoid traps without being able to explain why and he insisted that I would run out of luck someday. After reading this, I realised that Im good at seeing repeating patterns and avoid the disadvantageous ones.
    My teachers always hated that I could memorise things fast and somehow figure out answers they couldnt- despite me doing A levels, where this is required. I dont think they liked the fact that I enjoy working alone and somehow still manage to get the best grades. They always said I was lazy and would never get anywhere.
    Many people have told me that Im cold blooded and emotionless, and it was really beginning to worry me. Ive always hated crowds and usually just sit with a good book, something that a lot of people really hated- they never got that there was only so much time I could spend talking about other people.
    Thank you again. I cant tell you how relieved this has made me.

    • A

      I just realised that my comment seems to be kinda pity seeking, but thats not how I meant it. I just wanted you to know that you’ve really helped me understand myself and given me a big confidence boost.

  • Ryder

    Antonia, you are truly gifted… you touched on some very important aspects of this personality type… the inner workings for relationships especially.

  • Selina

    This post is really cool. I have bookmarked it.
    Do you allow guest posting on your site ? I can provide high quality articles for you.
    Let me know.

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