-Source- With Permission from the Original Article Writer
INFP vs. INFJ: A Functional Analysis
I think it's useful here to start by recognizing that INFP (Fi, Ne, Si, Te) and INFJ (Ni, Fe, Ti, Se) share zero function attitudes, so they will orient all four functions in opposite directions from one another. INFPs and INFJs, when analyzed in depth, really have very little in common in terms of their personal philosophies and motivations.
This may seem counterintuitive, but I'm going to start with the auxiliary functions instead of the dominants, because they are the extroverted ones when we're talking about introverted types, and it's almost certainly easier to explain an introvert's secondary externalized side than his dominant private side.
Auxiliary: Ne vs. Fe
INFPs, because they show the outer world their flexible Ne side more readily, will appear much more open and accepting on the surface, and indeed they will remain that way as long as their interactions with you remain relaxed and enjoyable and do not require getting into serious ethical analysis or put them in any uncomfortable situations which might make them feel morally conflicted. They will appear flexible now (Ne), and steadfast later (Fi). They are generally open to all sorts of new experiences and connections between different experiences--they love to get at the heart of the people's true character by finding and comparing the ways in which different individuals have different unique "flavors", each offering its own special kind of meaning, and they love to observe the connections between different individuals in this regard. They may come off as rather reserved at first, but it doesn't take too long before they will at least open up Ne to you and relate to you on a surface level--this usually happens in terms of discussion about some common interest, such as art, philosophy, music, etc...anything that will seem interesting and noteworthy to the collective of people the INFP deems worthy.
Inside, however, they are far more rigid and unyielding in terms of the extraordinarily high ethical standards they place on themselves and anyone they consider close enough to be a trusted friend. When you become close to an INFP, you are accepting a responsibility to uphold the high personal standards that define the INFP's entire self-image and existential philosophy. INFPs will offer only the very best ethical treatment of their friends and loved ones, and they expect no less in return--if you cannot fulfill this sacred bond to the same level they hold themselves to, you should not commit to such a close relationship in the first place.
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INFJs, on the other hand, show the world their meticulously organized Fe side more readily, and thus will almost invariably come off as more serious, focused, and directive by nature. Remember that INFJs are, in truth, more similar to their INTJ cousins than they are to INFPs. Don't be fooled by the F in their types; it's often said that INFJs are as close as one can get to being an NT without actually being one. Because they relate to the external world primarily in terms of collectively upheld, objectively verified (by widely accepted cultural and social standards) ethical perspectives, they will often find themselves more readily capable of immediately generating rapport with others (assuming they are not NiTi loops, in which case they will be absolutely horrible at it), but short-term Fe rapport often lacks the depth of deeply personal connection upon which Fi dominants thrive (and provides the basis for the primary Fi criticism of Fe philosophy.)
Example: An INFP and an INFJ show common Fi vs. Fe methods of relating to people.
INFP: "I know just how you feel--I've felt just the same way when that happened to me, and it really hurt. You should be able to say how you feel even if others don't always necessarily think it's appropriate--as long as it's truly from the heart. You should never go against what your personal moral compass says, even if that goes against the commonly accepted morality of all of your close family and friends and anyone you respect. I don't want to know what you should feel--I want to know what you do feel."
INFJ: "I can sympathize with where you're coming from--allow me to emphasize some sort of cultural bond or familial connection that relates us in an objectively observable way and suggests that we have some degree of responsibility toward each other. Only through committed responsibility to these objective relationships can we form the social hierarchy by which we will decide--together through collective experience--what constitutes moral and ethical behavior within the communal bonds of our lives together. Morality is simply too important to be decided by any individual without any input from the consensus of the people he trusts, loves and respects."
**It's worth noting that Fe doesn't mean automatically conforming to whatever the people who happen to be physically surrounding you right now are doing. That's a big misconception about Fe. It simply means drawing on the moral opinions of the people who are genuinely important to you--your friends, family, any group or "tribe" to whom you feel an emotional obligation--in order to consider a wide variety of relevant information in order to make moral decisions in a way that can be collectively understood and upheld by a large group of people. Note that Fe's focus--providing a collective framework by which groups can judge morality objectively across many contexts--is more practical and utilitarian, while Fi's--providing a personal sense of how to judge the inherent value or worth of the essence of people and ideas--is much more idealistic and individualized. Je creates external sense of communal structure; Ji creates internal sense of personal value.
On a cute side note, you can see an hilarious example of inferior Fe (working unconsciously and behind the scenes) on INTP Central, where the overtly clannish, "in crowd vs. out crowd" Ti pride parade mentality provides fantastically ironic contrast to the generally anti-E, anti-S, anti-F, anti-J attitude (note the dichotomy-oriented obliviousness to the significance of functional orientation, lulz) displayed by the 85% Ti-Si loop population ("BOOHOO MY PARENTS WANT ME TO BE A TYPICAL ESFJ WOMAN WITH ALL THEIR STUPID CONFORMITY--NO WAY MAN, I'M INTP, WE ARE TOO GOOD FOR THAT SHIT, THOSE FUCKERS ARE ILLOGICAL THEY CAN BURN IN HELL!!"), who typically know nothing of Jung or his work beyond the fact that an internet quiz has conveniently and in 20 minutes or less given them a sense of collective identity all their own: an excuse to remain socially inept, suicidally depressed full-time WoW players who have it all figured out but can't seem to make it do anything useful.
HINT FOR INTPCENTRAL: The solution is in that, you know, Fe thing you waste your entire lives railing angrily against, despite the fact that it's the very attitude you yourselves are fulfilling a subconscious need for awareness of with your INTP-supremacist clan.
But I'm sorry. I digress. (I adore most INTPs, by the way, so don't start the hate mail that I'm anti-your type. I've been called anti-every type at some point; just save it.)
Dominant: Fi vs. Ni
The INFP's dominant Fi is an introverted judgment (Ji) function, meaning the top priority for INFPs is full, deep, robust, profound definition of precisely what values the user finds instrumental to the essence of his personal identity and that which he finds to be fundamentally "good" or "bad" at its root core. But it's more than just good or bad; on a grander scale, the INFP is concerned with the very essence of Good and Evil, Meaningful and Not Meaningful, Sacred and Not Sacred. This duality becomes central to the moral philosophy of many Fi dominant types.
Fi users believe there is a definite moral order to the universe (meaning that it is inescapably true that some things and some ideas are inherently more valuable, more virtuous, and more worthy of positive evaluation than others), and that the only way we may catch a glimpse of this sacred ideal is by allowing ourselves complete and total connection and understanding with our emotional responses and the way they reflect that which upholds the internal "essence" of moral goodness as we understand it subjectively and individually. One INFP friend calls it "The uh oh feeling" when his Fi (bolstered by Si) somehow "senses" almost immediately that a new person is up to no good.
For Fi, standardizing ethics collectively misses the point by blunting the individual's unique identity and influence so much that the real significance is lost.
Morality for Fi is not something that anyone else can tell you how to approach: it's something you just have to look inside and feel for yourself. Morality is too complex and nuanced, reasons Fi, to be marginalized by approaching it from a collective standpoint. It's too dependent upon the essence of the individual and his personal impressions, too subject to that individual's experiences and understanding to even be approached (or worse, insisted upon) by anyone else. As soon as you try to design moral philosophy that works the same way for more than one person, you've ruined its inherently individualistic nature.
INFPs often have a distinct habit of letting resentment and negativity build up toward someone until they're so incredibly upset that they can't help exploding into a Te-rundown of precisely everything you are doing wrong and why it's simply not acceptable in moral terms they can justify (Fi.) At least two INFP friends have told me that when they focus on explaining and resolving their grievances routinely and calmly before they have time to bottle up and fester into huge issues, they find themselves much more able to maintain the deep one-on-one connections they invariably must form with others, and to reach even greater personal understanding and empathy as a result.
On the other hand, the INFJ's Ni is an introverted perception function, meaning it's not making any kind of value judgments. It's only taking in impressions--as many different possible interpretations of the significance of any given idea or event as possible. That may sound similar to Ne on the surface, but it's not--Ne is picking up a lot of different events and ideas at once and looking for common threads between them; Ni is picking one idea or event at a time and examining ("from a clean slate", as Yukawa says) every angle of every component of that one thing in order to find any as-of-yet untried interpretations that might cause us to view the whole issue in an entirely new light.
It's often very difficult to convince an Ni dominant on a mission to stop and reconsider what you have to say. Typically, INJs have already given substantial consideration to the future implications of their actions, and thus once Je has made up its mind and begun executing the plan, it's really going to throw a wrench in the INJ's day to stop and listen to your critiques. Ni has thought through each angle individually and in depth, and now Fe (or Te, for INTJs) is carrying out the plan.
But if you can break through that Je shell and really get the INJ to stop and reconsider what he's doing, he'll come to be more open to different interpretations and approaches to the idea than will the INFP, because he isn't as bound by rigid personal Ji value judgments of morality or consistency. A substantial strength (and also potentially a weakness--as Ni should be the first to point out!) of Ni is that it can simultaneously make use of two mindsets that Ji would almost certainly consider incompatible, because it's good at finding unique interpretations that would allow both positions to (potentially) be true.
Ni on its own doesn't really care whether either position or both or neither is "true"; it's merely a perceptive function, and thus not in the business of declaring such value judgments as truth or falsehood. It merely condenses different interpretations of how things might be understood into elegantly simple conclusions that borrow the useful elements of each, while eliminating those which conflict with each other in order to generate uniquely subjective and personalized conceptual paradigms. Ni, left to its own devices, can potentially justify anything.
And so, to continue the earlier pattern, INFJs will appear steadfast now (Fe), and flexible later (Ni.) It all just depends on where they are in the planning stages/how close they feel to achieving the singular vision of the future they are constantly developing, and whether or not they know you well enough to trust you with seeing their raw, exposed Ni without the Fe side smoothing things over. They are keenly aware that this is not something a great many people can be trusted with seeing.
Tertiary: Si vs. Ti
For INFPs, the tertiary relief function Si is consulted in order to provide them quick reference to the real feelings and experiences that have affected them profoundly in their past experiences. Fi+Si doesn't consciously say, "Ok, the last time this happened it caused a negative emotional reaction for me; therefore I will avoid it now"; Fi simply instinctively begins to experience the terrible emotional state Si has associated with whatever negative experience, and panic and dread take over, forcing the INFP to escape this situation at all costs, for fear of being forced into that state again. Fool me once, shame on you--fool me twice, shame on me.
I have seen INFPs who, once they begin to develop Si, start to pay very close attention to possible contaminants which could taint the purity of their physical bodies in the environment around them. They'll become extra careful to check food to make sure it hasn't gone bad, has the right nutritional content, etc. Some of them either insist on seeing a doctor more often than necessary, or become distrustful of doctors in general and avoid the experience, if they've had some negative past experience with doctors or medication (as, unfortunately, a fair number of INFPs have.) When applied positively though, it gives them a grounding into something real, something they can hold on to that they know will always be there for them because it always has been--this can be instrumental in leading the INFP into the spiritually aware and comfortable state she desires.
For the INFJ, tertiary Ti provides a sense of balance when Ni has determined that Fe's objective social standards are an inappropriate interpretation for this situation, but Ni has become tired of running around in circles justifying every angle it can possibly think of and not coming to any real conclusions about which is subjectively most important to the INFJ herself.
Ti comes along and provides a clearly defined, uniquely simple and thankfully (for the brain-fried INFJ who's been thinking all day) complete solution that he can apply to all of his own personal evaluations because it's clearly consistent and rational, and it appeals to a subjective sense of the total logical causality of all ideas, in that it seems obviously correct and consistent. When an INFJ gets overloaded with too many possibilities and can't find any useful objective guidance, he turns to Ti to decide what's ultimately reasonable and important to him. From this he can derive personal convictions and find a way to make personal value judgments without feeling he is neglecting the vital opinions of his community.
Ti can have a negative impact when it's poorly developed or when it blocks out Fe to an unhealthy degree--the NiTi loop INFJ is brutally anti-social and absolutely clueless as to how to relate to the rest of humanity. One INFJ friend told me that Ni is a very deep hole that it's very easy to get lost in and never come back. =/
Inferior: Te vs. Se
The inferior function is, of course, the Achilles' heel of every type, and the INFs are no exception. The inferior function is expressed most often when the user is forced out of his comfort zone and into a stressful situation which directly threatens him by forcing out the unconscious desires of his animus, the parts of himself he is not yet ready to reconcile with. This can be a very beautiful or very ugly thing, depending on the individual and his degree of personal development.
For INFPs, Te ideally provides an objective counterpart to Fi's value judgments by allowing them to consider the importance of accomplishing real goals through real functional external world systems. This is very difficult for many INFPs to process because forcing any sort of cooperation on others for the good of a larger system (Te) is often seen as tantamount to destroying the right to express one's personal individuality at all costs (Fi.) This moral dilemma plagues many INFPs.
Te will, on occasion, pop out and result in the INFP blowing up and telling everyone in painstakingly objective detail how poorly they are living up the expected standards of their responsibilities. It kills the INFP to do this, because she wants so badly to respect others' right to personal individuality and self-expression, but ultimately she must recognize that some people will not voluntarily cooperate and must be forced to change for the good of society as a whole--nay, for the Good of Good itself!
As far as I can tell the line of reasoning goes something like this: "You are not performing your moral duty to me as a friend (Fi) in a way that creates results others will find novel or valuable (Ne), and every time I have been in a positive working relationship in the past (Si) it has followed certain standards (Te), and while I hate to do this, you are threatening my right to personal identity here (Fi) and thus I must explain to you objectively and very, very bluntly how your behavior cannot be tolerated (Te)."
For the INFJ, inferior Se has a similar slow building process over time, and is arguably much nastier and more difficult to deal with. The first thing I always think of in reference to inferior Se is Black Flag singer Henry Rollins (obvious INFJ), and the stories of him beating the living snot out of kids who spit on him on stage, back stage after the shows.
Another example might be Radiohead singer Thom Yorke, with his amusing explanation for how he deals with the guilt and pressure of fame: "I masturbate a lot. That's how I deal with it."
One INFJ friend describes inferior Se thusly: "Man, when I was a kid, I always hated and resented jocks for their superficial outlook...but some part of me still thought, 'But oh man, aren't they SO COOL?'" That same friend, I have noticed, has learned the hard way to remove himself forcibly from conflicts before he gets truly upset--because he knows how brutally aggressive and insensitive he can become if he is pushed to the breaking point.
Se represents the raw, animalistic, aggressive, spontaneous hunger for the reality of pure, literal sensory input which Ni dominants take so much care to lock away and hide from others as much as they can. As a tertiary function for ENJs, Se has a much more helpful use, because it's under their control enough that they can use it to show others they care about appearances and trends (for Te- or Fe-oriented business goals), and, if necessary, to subtly imply threats of brute force if the adversary cannot muster up the discipline to respect the ENJ's polite requests for obedience.
But as an inferior function, few INJs learn to command Se to a degree that it becomes a substantial part of their regular healthy cognition. Its literal focus on precisely what is immediately obvious is something many INJs spend their entire lives working hard to eliminate in themselves, insistent that such shallow focus is beneath the sophistication of their constant work to see all the less obvious, hidden interpretations where Ni feels at home. But Se is still there...lurking under the surface, waiting to boil over. You don't want to be around an INFJ when it does.
Ideally, inferior Se should eventually help the INFJ to stop looking for deeper meaning in places where it's neither intended nor useful, to appreciate the more immediate value in that which is tangible and real to others (even though she herself may see it as trivially insubstantial), and to maintain a degree of spontaneity in terms of ability to pay attention to and imitate what others around her see as current and worthy of attention. Sometimes this is the only way the INFJ can get anyone to pay enough attention to what he's saying to make any real noticeable impact or difference in the world--and that's something most INFJs struggle their whole lives to feel like they are doing.
Anyway I think that about covers it for now. Feel free to leave questions and I will try to get to them.
-Source- With Permission from the Original Article Writer