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Differentiating the Types via the Tertiary Function: ENFP and INFP

In the last article we discussed how Ni and Fe sets apart the sister types ESTP and ISTP. This time we’ll move onto Si and Te in the ENFP and INFP.

As I’ve said before in the article discussing the ENTP and INTP, I define Si as a sort of codifying heuristic. In the ENFP Si is repressed. Of course in common everyday language ENFPs don’t typically use the word codified. Instead they use words like alive and dead to describe relationships, ideas, and projects. I understand these words as being synonymous with codification. When an idea has been codified it is no longer able to provide the wide range of possibilities that Ne thrives on, i.e., it is dead to the ENFP. This causes the ENFP to abandon the nascent projects that they’ve started. Jung says that they are like farmers who don’t stick around long enough to reap what they’ve sown. But in Jung’s typology of opposing processes our weaknesses are often also our strengths and vice versa. And so with the ENFP repressed Si also gives them a wonderful proliferation of ideas. When one idea feels stagnate or codified they move on to the next, giving them a broad range of ideas as is the case with ENFP Jacques Derrida who wrote over forty books. As an Ne dominant myself I’m sometimes insulted by this idea of breadth over depth as I think it makes Ne sound shallow and somewhat superficial. To illustrate the strength of this lateral heuristic and justify its relevance to Ne I’ll quote the ENFP Joseph Campbell who says: “[I am not] a specialist, but a generalist. … [I see] something over here [and] something over there. [And no specialist] has considered … why this occurs here and also there.”

In the INFP Si is not repressed, taking the tertiary position instead. This allows the INFP to codify their ideas without making them feel “dead”. Combining the interplay of Ne and Si in creating ideas and making them feel real through codification with Fi’s tendency to personalize can give the INFP a rich and detailed mental world and imagination. As the INFP Johnny Depp says “My imagination was my savior [in my childhood]. I was able to imagine things weren’t bad, or I could go in the backyard and transform myself into an astronaut or some [other] character and play for hours.” But of course their is also a downside to tertiary Si. As I said in my Se v. Si video, Si can get caught up in a singular image or fantasy. In the INTP the combination of Ti and Si can make them resistant to change that challenges their system or order as we saw with Albert Einstein. In the INFP there is a combination of Fi and Si meaning they can hold onto their fantasies, opinions, or perspectives far past the point of realism.

In the INFP Te is repressed. Te’s opposing process is Fi. While the Fi user will say live and let live, the Te user will say that society does not have room for slackers. So we can say that Fi seeks personal freedom from obligation but at the same time becoming soft and ineffectual. It was said of the INFP John Kerry “[No one] can tell him what to do. You can suggest it, and maybe he’ll do it and maybe he won’t. But he is not going to surrender that personal autonomy that is the core of [his] integrity.” They may expose a political hypocrisy or evil like the INFP George Orwell does in Animal Farm but they are often removed from the front lines of the battle of social change. At the same time though, this repression of Te keeps the INFP from forcing their vision on anyone else like the INFJ might be inclined to do, e.g., CelebrityTypes lists Adolf Hitler and Robert Mugabe as INFJ dictators while there are no dictators on their INFP list.

In the ENFP Te is not repressed and instead takes the tertiary position. So the ENFP does not share the INFP’s effete disposition, in fact they can be very enterprising even more so in my opinion than their cousin the ENTP. This enterprising Te combined with their hatred for redundancy and consistency which owes its existence to repressed Si gives the ENFP his adventurous quality. Two quotes about the ENFP Hunter S. Thompson demonstrate this “Hunter didn’t have to seek out adventure, he was adventure.”, “There was always a powerful comfort in knowing he was out there somewhere … guzzling high-octane whiskey and railing against a world amok with complacency and hypocrisy.” Unfortunately, it is in Te’s nature to justify the ends by the means. Combine that disposition with Fi’s deeply personal beliefs and one might get violent revolutionaries like Che Guevara or subversive terrorists like Ulrike Meinhof.

While the NFPs may seem very similar in the way their psyches are structured they are distinguishable by their respective tertiary functions.


  • Barnes: Differentiating the Types via the Tertiary Function: ENTP and INTP Open Journal of Jungian Typology 2015
  • Barnes: Differentiating the Types via the Tertiary Function: ESTP and ISTP Open Journal of Jungian Typology 2015
  • Jung: Psychological Types Princeton University Press 1976

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