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What Does it Mean to be an INTP Personality?

Updated: Aug 20

As an INTP you have a brilliant gift for thinking, creating internal systems, streamlining processes, recognizing logical inconsistencies, and fully fleshing out your own reasoning for your choices. You seek objectivity and accurate data to understand the essence of something while attempting to be free of emotion or biases in order to get the clearest picture possible. INTP thinking is "modular thinking" in the sense that we clean slice data in order to understand how concepts can be rearranged and re-communicated through a new theory of understanding. What's especially impressive about INTPs is that you’re able to take on and remember a lot of information and categorize it internally like a mental checklist or internal filing system. This the equivalent of laying all of the pieces of a project out on a whiteboard but INTPs do this in their minds! We can often visualize a project from start to finish all in our heads. This is not common amongst personalities and should be treated as a unique gift by others and celebrated yourself even though this is "normal" to you. In a way, we know it's a gift but often think of us as having MORE intelligence as opposed to a UNIQUE kind of intelligence. So, be wary of disparaging people for not having this gift but instead think of how you can lend it to others as opposed to expecting something of others that they don't have. You have an insatiable hunger for knowledge in a large range of topics that interest you. Sometimes making it a bit hard to focus and pick a direction but researching it all is a fun process nonetheless. INTPs are good question-askers and answer seekers due to this endless curiosity, creative desire, playful expression, and open-mind in the search for understanding. You likely enjoy tearing ideas apart to see how they work and then piecing it all back together in a way that makes better sense to you. This is that "modular thinking" I mentioned earlier. This creates a unique perspective and talent for knowing when something is not quite right and knowing how to fix it or where next to investigate. This talent is why INTPs tend to spend time in the tech industry, creative arts, or social sciences to solve problems and ultimately help people using your logical deductive talents. If you share those few paragraphs with anyone, they'll find that to be quite impressive and almost unreal. This is because INTPs are celebrated for their contributions to rewriting our understanding of reality, advancing technology, giving us direct advice when we need it, and seeing patterns to predict what's coming. INTPs are popular in media lately as genius-level people solving problems in unique ways, providing unique insights, and are rebellious yet charming in their directness. They're often shown in their prime on television as philosophers, professors, doctors, and detectives but also the guy in the disaster movie who is ignored and not trusted...leading to the disaster. We're not always appreciated in day to day life, seen as the "weird" brother, "lazy" cousin, "rude" mother, or "unhelpful" daughter. This is especially true before the emerging popularity of these INTP characters when being a "nerd" was not even remotely cool. Some of us older INTPs likely remember being bullied for being "weird" and quiet. Not to mention the possibility of parents not appreciating the constant video games and messy room. As a kid, you were likely quiet and kept to yourself as your inner world was the more interesting place. Being naturally rebellious, there were likely difficulties getting you to do chores and contribute to the family's needs if they tried the traditional methods of sticker charts and constantly nagging about it. This is because we like managing our own use of time, which is usually where the rebellion comes from. If your parents were able to see and honor your autonomous nature they would give you the room to do things on your own time, your own way. If you had very extraverted parents they may have thought something was wrong with you and you may have gotten that narrative growing up that something was wrong with you. Being a logical kid who can be quite serious makes the assumption that something is wrong with you a logical one to accept but not true. It was simply your way of observing the world without affecting the outcome. You may have had a hard time understanding why others weren't quiet and introspective themselves, which can be frustrating. This, among other things, can lead to unresolved bitter feelings within INTPs who may not trust their emotional expression or have an outlet for the very valid angst you may feel. And difficulties with expression along with being dynamic internally can lead INTPs to assume they have a personality disorder. If you feel that you do, speak to a doctor, but getting to know your personality can relieve some of that belief. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, with the right therapist, can be a great outlet for INTPs who don't have an easy way to verbalize how they feel. And verbalizing how we feel is important for our brand of emotional processing. Many INTPs struggle with emotional expression and connection due to this preference for logic over emotion. We can convince ourselves that it makes no sense to be emotional and avoid any processing we need to do. But we are ultimately human, as frustrating as that can be at times. This focus on "what is" can be frustrating to fellow humans as well who want to carry on narratives and beliefs that are important to them. These humans in our lives can see us as destroyers of those narratives and feel threatened by that possibility, especially when unwelcomed. So be sure to ask first to see if someone is prepared for your direct feedback. You may have a hard time taking others’ words as truth and would much rather start at the beginning and take the full journey yourself to make sure every piece of information checks out. And as great as it feels to figure everything out ourselves, this journey of building trust and community is important for INTPs to not only learn how to effectively communicate ideas but to trust others to not have to reinvent the wheel every time.

Much of the INTP path is reconciling with how to communicate to be heard, which narratives to leave alone, and even how to identify and embrace some of these narratives within yourself then bring joy to those narratives. Some of the most successful INTPs have embraced joy in relationships, their career, their curiosity, and emotional expression. Joy unlocks new possibilities and supports the evolution of our thinking process. Not to mention being more approachable, fun, and appreciated for who you are, not just the results of your work. I say "we" because I'm also an INTP (co-wrote by my dear INFJ friend, Anna). Whether we’d openly admit it or not, we also have a mushy center and a deep desire to be accepted by others and feel like we belong. This is why INTPs can be frustrated with finding out their type. We have the ambition to connect, be seen, and heard. But I'm here to remind you that being an INTP is not a death sentence.

Life is long and there is a lot to learn and experience. INTPs make incredibly loyal friends who would do almost anything for those they love. INTPs are also the people others like to go to for brainstorming or feedback because of their wild imagination, critical eye, and radical honesty. There is room for love out there for you as an INTP and much like any problem in life you're trying to solve, you've just gotta stick with it. -----

I specialize in INTP development here on DOPEamine with articles, podcasts, YouTube videos, coaching, memberships, and programs.

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