Ain’t Nuthin’ but a “P” Thing Baby

The “P” could stand for perspective, as mine changed a lot recently and that has got me all fired up and smiling.  Why did my perspective change?  Well, it has to do with the real “P”, the one in “INTP”, one of the 16 MBTI personality types.

I first ran into these personality types a couple of years ago after I first moved to Athens.  I have been thinking of myself as a malfunctioning INTJ, but recently I tested as an INTP and after reading this type description, I knew for sure.  That “P” makes all the difference.  A few tidbits (italics are my comments):

The INTP personality type is the most independent and philosophical of all types.  One site said most likely to be a loner.

Many enjoy exploring unifying theories and metaphysical truths that explain the underlying nature of things. Toward this end, they may devour stacks of books on philosophy, religion, psychology, evolutionary theory, and the like.  Devouring books – no wonder I gained weight.

Like other introverts, INTPs can be anxious and self-conscious characters. It is not uncommon for them to display a handful of nervous habits, or at least some sign that they are not at ease.   Hence all the drinking.

INTPs often conceal some of their most dominant personality features, namely, their highly cerebral, rational side.  Falling off a bicycle after drinking is a rather extreme way of hiding intelligence, but hey anything worth doing is worth overdoing, right?.

When it comes to relationships, INTPs can also have a rough go of things. INTPs’ internal tug-of-war between their independence and the relationship can inspire a host of problems.  No shit, Sherlock!

INTPs must explore a breadth of ideas before they feel confident about who they are and what they believe. Some may struggle with nihilism or cynicism, worried that they may never find absolute truth. It can therefore take INTPs a great deal of time, even decades, to discern what they believe about the world, themselves, and their place in the world.  Yea, many more years of this to look forward to!

In order to succeed in these [self-imposed] personal challenges, INTPs are apt to impose rules on themselves. However, because of the wayward influence of their auxiliary Ne, they commonly end up breaking or sabotaging them.  Let me count the ways.

They commonly enjoy and assume the role of wanderer or seeker, rarely knowing in advance exactly what they are seeking.  Just a squirrel trying to get a…wait what the hell was I looking for?

[It is] difficult for INTPs to arrive at firm conclusions or make important decisions…can leave them feeling discouraged and restless, worried that they may never find what they are looking for.   Yes, deciding where to go to dinner can be a big decision.  See: cause of relationship problems.  Sorry Kate!  It wasn’t me, just my dumb personality 🙂

INTPs also have a diminished need for novel physical pleasures, lavish surroundings, or material comforts. They are minimalists to the core, relatively unconcerned with their physical surroundings.  This is why I wore the same outfit to work every day for several years and go though long phases of…messy.

Because INTPs, wittingly or not, rely on others for affirmation, they may often feel they cannot live without at least one other person in their lives. Yes, just one is usually plenty.  At other times, they can feel incredibly independent.   Yes, just me is usually plenty. 

Especially when their work is going well, they may feel they don’t really need other people. If they manage to completely isolate themselves from others, they will soon begin to feel that something important is missing from their lives. This prompts them to reinitiate contact with others, at least until they feel compelled to assert their independence again. This cycle of alternating between needing and devaluing others is common among INTPs and narcissists alike.  Hey, got to be good at something.

INTPs’ emotions seem to have a mind of their own, coming and going as they please.  Yup, just like a freakin’ cat, always going in and out.

In addition to all of the crazy that comes with the above, I came across a new classification that can apply to all personality types, either T for Turbulent or A for assertive.  I’m clearly a Turbulent – emotional, sensitive to stress, perfectionistic, and a constant desire to improve.  Read more about that here.

I was fascinated by these new windows into myself.  I read two books on INTPs by this author over the weekend, and read a number of forums.  It seems that many INTPs have a rough go it – many of us seem to chasing our tails, when we’re motivated enough to do anything, that is.  And depression and anxiety and loneliness and all sorts of things that I have struggled with at times seem to happen very frequently.  Apparently we are some of the most serious and least happy people around, at least a decent chunk of the time.  Always searching for something, we don’t know what, and never really seeming to find it.  Yikes!  But for INTPs that can somehow get it together, they can do great things.

Realizing that so many things I’ve struggled with throughout my life is essentially just built into my personality caused a 180-degree shift in how I think about myself.  Rather than seeing myself as a smart dude that is never living up to his potential, I all of a sudden see myself as a smart dude doing pretty well considering all of built-in tendencies.

I mean, I read all of these forums and many INTPs have such a hard time concentrating and being motivated that they can’t hold down a job.  I certainly have my moments where I feel that I cannot force myself to think about what I should be thinking about (usually work), but I can get things done enough of the time to get by.

This is truly wild, like someone giving you a mirror into your own soul.  I’ve been riding around on a high ever since.  It feels the first time in my life since I figured out that I was “different” that I have realistic expectations for myself, and I’m not constantly disappointing myself.

Anyway, plop plop fizz fizz what a relief it is!  I am curious to see how this all turns out.  At the moment, my being seems to be thinking well if I’m not going to figure out the answers anytime soon anyway, might as well reign that brain in a bit and spend some more time enjoying things.  So far, it’s working.

I leave you with a fitting song, The Seeker by The Who.


I’ve looked under chairs
I’ve looked under tables
I’ve tried to find the key
To fifty million fables

They call me The Seeker
I’ve been searching’ low and high
I won’t get to get what I’m after
Till the day I die

I asked Bobby Dylan
I asked the Beatles
I asked Timothy Leary
But he couldn’t help me either

They call me The Seeker
I’ve been searching’ low and high
I won’t get to get what I’m after
Till the day I die

People tend to hate me
Coz I never smile
As I ransack their homes
They wanna’ shake my hand
Focusing on nowhere
Investigating miles
I’m a seeker
I’m a really desperate man

I learned how to raise my voice in anger
Yeah but look at my face ain’t this a smile
I’m happy when life’s good and when its bad I cry
I got values but I don’t know how or why

I’m lookin’ for me
You’re lookin’ for you
Were lookin’ at each other and we don’t know what to do

They call me The Seeker
I been searchin’ low and high
I wont get to get what I’m after
Till the day I die

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