INFJs and Physical Awareness

(There’s tons more I could add, and probably scientific studies of NF types and such evidence, but this post has piddled around half-finished in My Documents for over a month as it is.)

People give me funny looks when I mention it, but I honestly enjoy the feeling of mild pain. Not pain like breaking your elbow, which excludes everything around you except that one huge frightening hurt. Just a small discomfort, such as a throbbing vein, or a paper-cut between two fingers, or a bruised muscle—something you know can’t harm you, but nags you all the same.

It’s often intrigued me why I should feel this way. I used to think it encouraged me to think stoically, as my father always taught me (definition 2, as below). But even though he suffers hay fever, he claims he doesn’t believe in allergies. He disbelieves in his own condition.

Sto·i·cism

noun

1. a systematic philosophy, dating from around 300 BC, that held the principles of logical thought to reflect a cosmic reason instantiated in nature.
2. (lowercase) conduct conforming to the precepts of the Stoics, as repression of emotion and indifference to pleasure or pain.

 

Another thought was that I’m a sensation-seeker. Not an attention-seeker in the sense that I constantly desire notice (though possible I do, that, too), but someone who would ‘love’ to be the creator of a grand drama with shocking results. Just out of interest for the effects (though in truth, effects of any sort would threaten my security, and ultimately I never end up doing anything that could endanger my comfort).

But what I’ve hit upon lately, due to my interest for MBTI, is that perhaps pain gives me the physical awareness I don’t naturally have. Just last week, it was half past seven in the evening before I’d realised I’d had nothing to eat since the previous day. I’d been alone for over twelve hours, so no one had forced me to eat, as they usually would. The thought of food just hadn’t crossed my mind. I get lost in the sensation, and practical remedy doesn’t occur to me. But the hunger was there, goading me, spurring me on to a greater and more productive day than I might have spent.

It provides a link to the real world: the permission to go off into my fantasy. It says, “your body hurts, but you can deal with it!”, to return to the idea of self-denial often associated with Stoicism. But it’s not even the defiance in the face of pain that I like(!), but the connection it gives me to my body. It harnesses me where it might be dangerous to give full reign to my imagination. Yet in the partial ignoring of the sensation, my imagination feels as if it has been declared ruler. It has not, for corporeal awareness shackles it to reality, but…well, does anyone understand?

Plato. Creepy guy, 'en't 'e?

Plato. Creepy guy, ‘en’t ‘e?

Food and sleep: if we had neither, there would be so much time and freedom to follow our dreams and fulfil our desires. But what are we without our bodies? For someone who would live exclusively in the realm of souls (not to imply that Plato has won my heart, despite how I came up with a similar dualistic theory when I was seven), this is quite a concession.

But I would not be without my body. In The Matrix, the mind cannot live without the body, nor the body without the mind. No, I am for balance and connection, for harmony; though in my world, physicality strives for precedence against imagination, and vice versa. The mutual struggle is what keeps me safe, what keeps me breathing.

Neo awakes from The Matrix and discovers that while his mind has been living a computer-simulated life, his body has remained in this capsule producing energy to run the computers which took over the world several centuries ago.

Neo awakes from The Matrix and discovers that while his mind has been living a computer-simulated life, his body has remained in this capsule producing energy to run the computers which took over the world several centuries ago.

Body and mind, Catholics say. The soul goes immediately to Heaven; but on the Last Day, the Judgement Day, we profess every week in our Creed, the body will be resurrected, too, and, reunited with the soul, the whole will be judged for the last time: Heaven or Hell for all eternity. We can elude neither part of us, to whatever extent we can use either or link them both.

resurrectionofthebody

“I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting” – Nicene Creed

To sum up, being a writer and an INFJ, who lives so much in the subconscious mind she has difficulty in communicating not only to others, but to her own consciousness, I’d gladly give up my body and live solely in the spirit. But since that is impossible, in this world, which is my own till death takes it from me, I must have some link to my own physicality that keeps me aware of the changes of day to night, and enough in the present world to keep my body functioning sufficiently to allow my subconscious mind to work to best effect.

As Captain Jack would say, “Savvy?”

__

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/stoicism?s=t

Plato – http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/history/carnegie/plato/plato_bust.jpg

The Matrix – https://lillianmwoodall.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/76ec4-matrix-pod.jpg

“I believe…” – http://principiumunitatis.blogspot.com/2008/11/resurrection-of-body.html_

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MB Character-Typing: Drina Connelly

(If you aren’t remotely acquainted with either the story or the character, or know little of MBTI, this post will probably not be of interest to you. If so, I hope you like the pictures instead *wink*)

Drina daydreaming (taken on Sims 3 a while ago. For the record, her hair isn't supposed to be red, but due to graphics difficulties I can't correct it)

Drina daydreaming (taken on Sims 3 a while ago. For the record, her hair isn’t supposed to be red, but due to graphics difficulties I can’t correct it)

In typing all my characters, which I did on the second edit of my latest manuscript, the most troublesome has been Drina Connelly. This, alongside the fact that she is my main character, causes me a little worry, but I comfort myself with the knowledge that many people are cast regularly in several different Myers-Briggs types.

At first, because I modelled her on myself, as I do originally with many of my MCs, I thought she was an INFJ (Introvert-iNtuition-Feeling-Judging). Then I started to evaluate her journey more thoroughly, and realised that over the course of the story she goes from pure rational to accepting her romantic side. She’s not an F at all. She makes most of her decisions based on logic—and gets herself tied in knots because she sees every side of the situation. And though she works for others’ feelings, is that a result of true compassion, or her desire to make herself appear worthy of the distinction she craves?

So, I thought, she’s an INTJ (Introvert-iNtuition-Thinking-Judging). And that made more sense.

Calculating Drina

Calculating Drina

I took a few more tests, and she came out as an ISTJ/INTJ, where the S and the N conflicted at fifty percent each. It wasn’t a very accurate test, to be fair, but I kept her as an N because I see her as easily able to perceive the bigger picture. Another reader might think differently; I don’t know.

(In addition, J being the one letter that didn’t fluctuate, my explanation is that Drina hates matters to be up-in-the-air. She’d rather a quick resolution, even if it were an unfavourable one. She has difficulty in adapting to new situations. Besides, I haven’t yet come across a Perceiving-type who’s been recommended as a leader, so Drina will just have to remain a J.)

I did a bit of research on INTJs, and liked what I found. In particular a description of how they react under stress made me giggle. I quote:

‘INTJs are used to living in their minds, mostly disregarding their physical and emotional needs. Therefore, love and romantic relationships can take them by surprise and the intensity of their own emotions usually represent the main factor that throws them in distress. They may feel out of control, restless and tormented…managing to isolate themselves not only from the outer world, but also from their emotional and physical self. They become misunderstood loners, cryptic and enigmatic to the rest of the world.’

 

Flattered Drina

Flattered Drina(!)

If you knew Drina, you’d be giggling with me. This is exactly what happens to her: she falls in love, can’t deal with what it’d cost her ‘self-control’ if she gave in, which she can’t help doing, and gets in a right tizz about it all. ‘Enigmatic’ is a word mentioned in relation to her in the actual story, coincidentally.

But after a while I began to doubt my verdict. Her love interest came up as all sorts of things in different tests, but the one recurring type was INFJ. And I thought, so he’s like me, and she’s almost like me… It wasn’t right. Maybe it had the potential to work, but I don’t like to be discriminative, and to have two of my most important characters to be virtually the same really didn’t flatter my characterisation.

Besides that, Drina is supposed to be a leader. This is something that made me baulk, when I first realised it, because I didn’t give her any friends! She was, in her own words, a ‘hopeless introvert’ most unfit to expect to become Head Girl. It was a ludicrous idea, and yet that expectation is just about the entire plot. Well, obviously I had to do something about that.

So I went back to my lists. (Ironically, though I’d had worse trouble with the love interest, I left him as INFJ, and assumed my MC’s type was awry.) And then I did her an Enneagram test.

She came out as a Type Three, the Motivator (or Performer on some sites). Threes’ basic need and focus of attention is to achieve and get results. To others and to themselves they promote an image of success, whether it is accurate or not, and they fear failure. They are competent and informed, and desire to be seen as such, and to compare positively with others around them. Efficiency is of the utmost importance. They also have difficulties with arrogance.

Drina all over. And, as another coincidence, the issue of success and failure is one of the primary themes of my novel. But it came as a surprise to me to find a table laying Enneagrams side by side with the MBTI types with which they’re commonly associated. Well, that wasn’t a surprise in itself, but what I found in the Type Three row threw me off balance.

Drina: decisions, decisions... But maybe we're onto something...

Drina: decisions, decisions… But maybe we’re onto something…

The Performer did not correspond with INTJ, or even INFJ. No; the suggestions were ENTJ and ENTP. Well! I thought. I know there are exceptions—I’m an INFJ types Three, Five and Nine myself, and those don’t even go together very well!—but if Extroversion is so strongly recommended, maybe I’m wrong again…

And I’m truly grateful for all this to-do, because I’m more satisfied with my present ‘conclusion’ than with any typing exercise I’ve done for any of my characters. Drina is an ENTJ (Extravert-iNtuition-Thinking-Judging).

Shocked Drina

Shocked Drina

According to one of my favourite type-grids given to me by my mother (I don’t know the source):

ENTJs [are] Frank, decisive leaders in activities…Good in anything that requires reasoning and intelligent talk, such as public speaking. Are usually well informed and enjoy adding to their fund of knowledge.’

And upon research, I found the most wonderful website, called ENTJ Personality.info, which has provided for me comprehensive descriptions of how ENTJs get on with the other types. And, oh! my goodness! They’re all exactly as I’d imagined—and exactly as I’d written, moreover. Depend upon it, there’ll be another post about Drina’s inter-type relationships.

But why in the world did I think she was an Introvert? There’s a simple explanation, for which we go back to the whole stress thing. At the bottom of the list of pages I’ve used most extensively in my research, is a link, and at the bottom of the page in that link there is a single bullet point: ‘[When under stress, ENTJs…] May withdraw, feel hurt, trapped and become overly emotional’. And here I lay all my justification.

We do not see Drina, at any time during the novel, in the social environment which she feels is natural. At the beginning she has already been deserted by her dearest friends, and has been thrust into the process of withdrawal without our getting a chance to see her in the comfortable zone to which she had been accustomed since she first found her confidence at boarding school.

When I did those prior tests for her, of course I wouldn’t describe her as ‘sociable’! She didn’t have any friends—and that’s an essential plot-point (and one I struggle with for its exclusion of dialogue!). To get to her current place of prestige, however, she must’ve been more sociable than I may have implied.

But this shows me a flaw I must remedy. In my next edit, I resolve to make it clear that Drina is operating under circumstances which she feels to be unnatural.

And I can’t convey how useful it’s been to have taken this journey to discover her type! I would never rely upon a test such as this, with all its imperfections, but perhaps the trouble I’ve had suggests she’s a more rounded character than I’d hoped. Or else the conclusion I have reached has reassured me that my relationships are realistic, and helped me to solidify my characterisation.

Drina thanking me (I'm in the sky, of course) for typing her.

Drina thanking me (I’m in the sky, of course) for typing her.

And you? Does anyone else type their characters? And like what they find…?

Bibliography

Myers-Briggs types under stress: http://pstypes.blogspot.com/2010/01/myers-briggs-types-under-stress.html

An amusing story/description of an Enneagram Type Three: http://www.breakoutofthebox.com/starclm.htm

A PDF about the simple needs of Enneagram types: http://www.breakoutofthebox.com/EnneagramTheorySummarized.pdf

Enneagrams and MBTI: http://www.breakoutofthebox.com/flauttrichards.htm

http://www.entjpersonality.info/

http://www.entjpersonality.info/2010/07/entj-under-stress.html

And my own introductory post to MBTI, in case you need a reminder of what the letters mean: https://lillianmwoodall.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/an-introduction-to-mbti/