MBTI Blog Challenge: How To Write an INTP

I was recently challenged by Kerry Jane of Metanoia as part of a movement wherein writers explain their own Myers-Briggs Personality Type as a reference for other writers when developing characters.  None of this would have been particularly odd, except that both Kerry and I identified as INTJs, despite such personalities being relatively rare at 1-2% of the total population.  So, instead of writing a duplicate post, I decided to retake the Myers-Briggs to see if my personality has changed over the years.

What I remembered from the previous times in which I took test was that each of the traits are on a spectrum, meaning that even if you identify as, let’s say, introverted (I), there is a particular percentage correlated with that score indicating how introverted you are.  For me, the trait that’s routinely closest to flipping back and forth is judgment (J), whose counterpart is perceiving (P).  So, I decided to read up on the personality traits of the INTP, and I saw a lot of myself in the description.  Before you consider the rest of my article to be less than genuine, consider this:  just because one’s test results spits out a certain combination of letters, it doesn’t mean that the description is accurate.  The Myers-Briggs is only as reliable as the judgment of the person taking it.  That being said, let me introduce you the world from a (part-time) INTP.

“INTPs are perhaps the most intellectually profound of all the types.” – Isabel Briggs Myers, Gifts Differing

First, let me tell you what the alphabet soup means.  INTP translates to “Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving.”  But that’s not even half of it.  You see, each personality type has a list of cognitive functions through which they interpret the world around them.  Think of these functions as tools in a toolbox.  Some get used more often than others, depending on who’s holding the toolbox.  For instance, a plumber might prefer using a wrench than a carpenter may use sparingly.  Lets have a look at the INTP’s tools.

  • Introverted Thinking – The main tool in our toolbox is a desire to understand specific properties of a system.  We like to analyze all situations (not just problems) from a multitude of angles in an attempt to understand the entire system and how things interact with each other.  We also tend to do this with speech and writing.  If we correct you when you talk, it’s not to show off our skills (usually), it’s to have a better understanding of what you’re communicating.
  • Extraverted intuition – Our second best tool is coming up with crazy ideas.  We’re super open-minded when it comes to solving problems to the point where we’ll entertain ideas simply because no one has disproven that they’re ineffective.  Our love of ideas helps us to come up with plans, scenarios, and contingencies that no one else even bothers to think of.  However, our tendency to get lost in thought prevents us from applying a majority of our plans to action.
  • Introverted sensing – Our third best tool is reliving memories.  As thought-based people, we enjoy activities that help us relive fond memories.  Playing a favorite song.  Eating a favorite food.  Walking through a familiar place.  Sometimes even walking through a new place could even help us relive some fantasies that we’ve had.  Every once is a great while, one of our memories will carry relevant information with it about a problem we’re trying to solve.  A flash of brilliance.  Part of the benefit of living inside your mind a lot is the ability to call on information and experiences from your past.
  • Extraverted feeling – Our fatal flaw is that our social skills are the least-used tools in the toolbox.  INTPs are incredibly warm and friendly people who desire to be close to others… if you get to know us first.  If we’re out of our comfort zone (which is anywhere but our own head), we’ll go into “robot mode” and default entirely to processing the world around us logically to avoid offending anyone or embarrassing ourselves.  But, once we’ve found a like-minded person or group or persons to mingle with, we socialize just fine.  However, being naturally introverted, there are times when it’s simply best to withdraw from others for a little while and recharge on our own.
Now that we’ve seen what the mind of an INTP is like, let’s list a few famous individuals who are thought to be INTPs:
  • Albert Einstein
  • Charles Darwin
  • Marie Curie
  • Tina Fey
  • Ben Stein
  • Randall Munroe (of xkcd fame)
Fictional:
  • Sherlock Holmes (literary version)
  • Doctor Manhattan
  • Walter Bishop (of Fringe)
  • Sheldon Cooper (of The Big Bang Theory)
Interestingly enough, I found it difficult finding fictional INTP examples that didn’t fall into the “absent-minded professor” stereotype.  The truth here is that because we’re often swimming in a sea of thoughts, it’s easier to lose focus when you have to sift through so much information before you get to the memory that you need.  And because we don’t like to rule out information, we stop and evaluate all of the thoughts that we “dig” through when we’re trying to remember something.  Growing up, I wish I had a nickel for every time my Mom would say, “Answer the question,” after listening to me ramble about all of the interconnected thoughts I had concerning the particular questions she would ask me.  It’s a bit a blessing and a curse, but such is life.
The truth is, I have a greater admiration for the world around me than the average person.  Because I take the time to analyze the complexity of everything – even down to the molecular level (I’m a chemist, in case you didn’t know) – I am constantly in awe that our species is still thriving (but we still haven’t reached overpopulation yet), our earth is still spinning, and that the hemoglobin in my blood is still doing an excellent job at shuttling oxygen to and from my lungs and brain.  These thoughts may seem random, but a fellow INTP would recognize that all of these things require a carefully balanced system in order to operate, otherwise we face death.  The world is a truly beautiful place in the eyes of an INTP; just ask us… honestly, we’d probably forget to mention it otherwise.
 I would like to thank Kerry Jane at Metanoia for including me in this blog challenge.  You can read her article on INTJs here.  And I wish to extend this challenge to others.  I’d like to challenge my friends Michael Barron of Edge Country and Ronald Barak of www.ronaldsbarak.com to include posts on their blogs about their Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.  I also challenge any of my other readers should they want to participate, as well.
For anyone interested in learning more quirky facts about all the Myers-Briggs Types, I’ve included some fun and interesting links below for your reading pleasure.  Thanks for reading.
Awesome tumblr posts:  http://fun-mbti-analysis.tumblr.com/
Image Credits:
INTP Matrix Meme:  Image courtesy of:  http://memecrunch.com/meme/RH5T/intp-matrix/image.png
INTP Everything is Beautiful:  Image courtesy of:  http://i52.tinypic.com/kd1j78.jpg
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2 thoughts on “MBTI Blog Challenge: How To Write an INTP

  1. Very interesting. Since we were both identified as INTJ, it makes me wonder if writing is a common endeavor for this type! I also found myself relating a lot to the INTP based on what you wrote. I’ve always felt that way about decisions, why can’t the answer be both? I personally do not see your interpretation to be less genuine at all. If anything, it is more genuine since an actual person had the discretion to put this together, rather than a generalized test.

    Like

  2. This was a fun post to read. there were so many aspects that I never thought about and being an INTP could totally relate to. it’s so great too see others taking up the challenge.

    Like

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