As an analytical tool, the INTP mind excels at solving problems and designing systems. It uses logic like a sword, slashing out irrelevant information and cutting straight to the heart of a problem. INTPs have an innate dislike of redundancy and imprecision. Their primary weakness is likely to be a tendency to overlook or become impatient with details. Details are annoying consequences of the imperfect "real" world; INTPs prefer to focus on the ideal world of intellectual constructs. INTPs enjoy playing with ideas and may enjoy arguing for fun. They are happiest when they are involved in discovering the intricacies and elegance of a complex system. They seek out natural laws and underlying principles from which they can build inventive theoretical models. When involved in these analytical and intuitive activities, they can produce ideas of startling creative brilliance.
INTPs can be successful in many fields, and may find themselves hopping from job to job as interest in different areas of knowledge wanes and waxes. The ideal jobs for INTPs are ones that
* require analysis of global concepts rather than a focus on details
* involve interaction with few people rather than many
* provide the opportunity to work on a series of new and interesting problems rather than to see one project through from beginning to end
* allow them to use their minds creatively without worrying about the practical application of the ideas they develop.
INTPs also tend to work best if they are not over-burdened with rules and regulations and are free to express the more creative aspects of their thinking. They have an intense need for competence in whatever job they are doing, but they do not usually feel the need to demonstrate this competence to others. As a result, the extent of their abilities is not always recognized. Indeed, they don't need to receive a great deal of praise from others and may even be embarrassed by it.
While INTPs are unlikely to have difficulty with the intellectual aspects of a job, they may find that the same qualities that help them excel in understanding ideas sometimes lead to friction with coworkers. Others may interpret INTPs' deep concentration and need for solitude as unfriendliness or even snobbishness. INTPs excel in critical thinking and will often point out flaws in others' logic. Others may see this as arrogance and may react with anger and defensiveness. If INTPs are able to express approval and appreciation of others' work, they will find that office interactions go more smoothly. INTPs are generally fair, objective, and adaptable coworkers. They challenge others so that all may become more competent. They enjoy working with people who are intelligent and intuitive.
Relationships generally do not come easily to INTPs, although they can be faithful and devoted friends and mates who can be adaptable and easy to live with. Their introversion may prevent them from having an active social life, which they are not likely to regret most of the time. They may also forget or ignore social conventions, not feeling bound by the "illogical" rules of society. To an observer, INTPs can seem emotionally cold and overly critical. From the INTPs' perspective, they are simply applying logical principles to their own behavior and to the behavior of others. If they criticize, it is only to correct what they see as an inconsistency or flaw in logic. They intend to be objective, not hurtful. Because INTPs focus on what is logical, they have a tendency to be unaware of or to dismiss their own feelings and the feelings of others. They are likely to be genuinely surprised when their loved ones complain of feeling "taken for granted" or neglected. They can be insensitive to what other people want or expect from a relationship. However, people who do get to know INTPs more closely will probably find the experience to be very rewarding. While many INTPs have a very cynical side, they can also display a childlike sense of wonder and interest in new ideas. They usually have a good sense of humor that ranges from dry subtlety to impish playfulness.
By developing a stronger awareness of feelings and increasing their comfort with them, INTPs can add a new layer of richness to their lives. Their feelings are usually hidden but can run very deep. This depth, combined with the illogical nature of feelings, can make it very difficult for INTPs to express their feelings verbally. However, they will find it rewarding to discover and pursue what is emotionally important to them rather than only what is logical. For the INTP, the Feeling function is closely linked with the unconscious and is a source of creativity.
In Psychological Types, Jung describes the most difficult challenge introverted thinkers face: preserving the integrity of their mental lives while not becoming too isolated from the outside world. It is easy for INTPs to become bitter and angry when others misunderstand their ideas and personality traits. They may see this misunderstanding as "proof of the abysmal stupidity of man." The INTPs' response may be to become critical, unapproachable, and even overly emotional and touchy, which leads to further isolation from other people and from the world. Jung cautions that while this isolation may seem protective, it has its own dangers. It leaves INTPs vulnerable to attacks from their own unconscious minds. This inner conflict can lead to depression and to a tendency to expend too much energy fighting unimportant battles. However, this outcome is certainly not inevitable. By developing their weaker Sensing and Feeling functions over time and by holding on to the more light-hearted aspects of their personalities, INTPs can more fully experience and express the considerable potentials of their minds.
7/27/98 -- Amy Elmore, MA Clinical Psychology