I’m not a Sociopath: I’m Just an INTJ

You know that phenomenon where you are completely unaware of something—a song, a commercial, a trend, a meme—but then someone brings it to your attention, and after that you see it everywhere?

Ever since digging more deeply into my introversion and my personality, I’ve noticed it more. A few weeks ago, I took a basic Myers-Briggs test and came up with INTJ (borderline INFJ). Most descriptions of an INTJ are scarily accurate for me, and the description of an INFJ fills in the gaps. So now that I know my personality type and have a better grasp of what introversion entails, I catch myself doing or saying things and recognizing where it comes from. Often it’s quite amusing.

It’s been especially obvious to me over the past week: after feeling stifled and restless, I finally grabbed the opportunity to get out of town and visit some friends and some sites in New England. It’s been a fun and enriching time, and right now I’m torn between missing the ladies I’ve been seeing and being ready to go home.

It’s weird to stay in another person’s house, amid their routines and habits and obligations. Everyone does things differently, and visitors just have to deal with that. But it’s funny because I am more aware when I catch myself thinking, “Why do you do things this way? It doesn’t make sense!!!” or “Why do you put things here when there would be more efficient?” and “Oh no, I’ve heard that’s the incorrect way to do a thing, that must change!” Especially when the word “inefficient” crosses my mind, I just want to laugh and say “Em, your INTJ is showing.”

It’s like I’ve been missing out on a song until someone made me listen to it, and now I hear it everywhere. Now that I better understand my personality, I see how it affects my reactions and decisions. It’s like a new kind of self-consciousness. I’ve always been self-conscious to a fault, constantly questioning my every move and word and thought, paranoid about how it is conveyed or whether it is “wrong” (the assumption being usually that it is). But this other kind that I’m developing is a little different. It’s like a new level of awareness, one that comes with less judgment. I’m still getting accustomed to it and figuring out how to use it best, but I think I like it.

I’m not even a Star Trek fan, and this made my day

(Fun fact: According to one site, I share my personality type with C.S. Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, Jane Austen, Horatio Hornblower, Hannibal Lecter, Mr. Darcy, and Professor Moriarty. That explains my enjoyment of Austen, my passionate-but-imaginary love affairs with Jefferson, Lewis, and Hornblower, and my fascination with serial killers.)

The INTJ Wikipedia page says that my cognitive function “filters information based on interpretations of worth, forming judgments according to criteria that are often intangible…constantly balances an internal set of values such as harmony and authenticity…innately senses what is true and what is false in a situation.” This might be the most accurate bit.

But this too: “In forming relationships, INTJs tend to seek out others with similar character traits and ideologies. Agreement on theoretical concepts is an important aspect of their relationships. By nature INTJs can be demanding in their expectations, and approach relationships in a rational manner. … They tend to be stable, reliable, and dedicated. … They generally withhold strong emotion and do not like to waste time with what they consider irrational social rituals. This may cause non-INTJs to perceive them as distant and reserved; nevertheless, INTJs are usually very loyal partners who are prepared to commit substantial energy and time into a relationship to make it work.”

There we go. I have a friend who described me as “loyal as hell” and “brutally honest.”

Aaaaand this: “INTJs trust their intuition when choosing friends and mates—even in spite of contradictory evidence or pressure from others.…At times, INTJs seem cold, reserved, and unresponsive, while in fact they are almost hypersensitive to signals of rejection from those they care for. In social situations, INTJs…may neglect small rituals designed to put others at ease. For example, INTJs may communicate that idle dialogue such as small talk is a waste of time. This may create the impression that the INTJ is in a hurry—an impression that is not always intended.”

Finding out that I’m (mostly) an INTJ has been incredibly liberating. It explains a lot of things.

1. I have no problem telling salespeople “no.” In fact, the overload of false emotion that goes into many sales pitches turns me off. Two guys from a not-mine cable company came to my door recently, and I don’t know how many times I had to tell them I wasn’t interested, even when he tried to engage me in small talk (BIG. MISTAKE.) to get into my good graces. Salespeople should be taught a special BS-free class on pitching to INTJs. I also don’t like to be bothered by salespeople while I’m browsing. I understand working on commission and employing anti-shoplifting tactics, but I’m not a thief and I won’t buy things I don’t want. One of these days, I swear, I’m going to do this to some poor soul at Sephora:

. . .

2. Similarly, I don’t do flirting. When it’s directed at me (which it rarely is … although I guess I wouldn’t know) it goes over my head. I wouldn’t know how to flirt if my life depended on it—unless sweaty palms and no eye contact counts. When Kara and I were in London, a clerk kept insisting that I had been in his shop before. Taking his words at face value, as I tend to do, I said it wasn’t me. I do have “one of those faces,” so I figured he was just mistaken. But when he insisted that I had been there before, and six months ago, I realized he was … flirting? But it made me angry, because NO, I HAVE NEVER BEEN TO THIS SHOP BEFORE, JUST SHUT UP AND GIVE ME THE STAMPS FOR MY DAMN POSTCARDS. YOU’RE NOT EVEN MY TYPE, I SAID GOOD DAY, SIR.

3. I have no patience for what I consider pointless bullshit. This is partly related to my impatience with small talk. It’s also why I have pretty much zero interest in weddings. Invitations, flowers, centerpieces … I do. Not. Care. It also annoys me when people add rituals to the ceremony just because they think it seems like a cool thing, and not because it has some longstanding meaning to them.

4. I have strongly libertarian political beliefs. Sigh. OK. That’s an understatement. But, according to Wikipedia: “INTJs are prepared to lead if no one else seems up to the task, or if they see a major weakness in the current leadership. They tend to be pragmatic, logical, and creative. They have a low tolerance for spin or rampant emotionalism. They … do not readily accept authority based on tradition, rank, or title.”

5. I have no problems with changing my mind and doing a complete 180 … or 90 … or 45 … whatever turn is needed. I do what I do, but if it comes to my attention that a different way is better, and the reasons make sense to me, I have no problem with totally rejecting the old way of things and I will have no shame in changing my mind. Once I’m convinced of something, I tend not to hold on to traditions or sentiment or “That’s just the way it’s always been.” Even with years of nagging by dentists about flossing (“Do it because I say so!”), I never flossed but more than once a week. When I read an article (admittedly on Cracked.com) that explained some of the science behind it, I started flossing every single night and have never looked back. One of the most frustrating things for me is when I try to explain to someone how something can be done better, and they nod and smile and keep doing it the way they’ve always done it because they’re fine with the way things are. My mind literally cannot grasp how people are able to do that.

This Complete Idiot’s Guide for interacting with an INTJ is hilarious. It doesn’t fit me 100%, except for the list of INTJ pet peeves.

Here are just a few (with many more in the previous link):

–We dislike surprises.

–We hate having decisions made for us. We’re INTJs; nobody is more qualified to make decisions than us.

–We dislike getting gifts, as it burdens us with the need to reciprocate. [To quote Sheldon Cooper, “You haven’t given me a gift, you’ve given me an obligation.”]

–We get particularly annoyed by attacks on our intelligence, competence, and integrity.

–People who are chronically late.

I used to think that many of these things meant there was something “wrong” with me. Do you realize how freeing it is to go from, “Am I some kind of broken sociopath?” to “Oh, I’m just an INTJ” ??

It is incredible. I love it.

Are you an INTJ? Are you another personality type? What are your experiences with “types”?

53 thoughts on “I’m not a Sociopath: I’m Just an INTJ

  1. I definitely feel you on being able to see “this is how I work” rather than “I am broken.” That is simply fantastic. I have more thoughts on typing, but I have to muddle through them a bit. So you might hear them in person, or something like that. Or here. Or something. :D

  2. Okay — here’s part of it. I just pondered a little. I couldn’t agree with you (as you know) less regarding my own feelings on efficiency. While I can definitely see its importance in some areas, I actually like inefficiency. I’m pondering how that works out in the world. Obviously, both of us get our way, some of the time. And sometimes we don’t. But we could never both be happy, in this instance, if the world was set up just one way. Maybe the personality thing is part of God saying “hey! Here you are. Deal with your differences, learn to love each other’s strengths and – even – quirks. Works stuff out. You’ll all be a little frustrated, some of the time.” (This is me working through how things can be different, not necessarily right or wrong). Hope that makes some lick of sense.

  3. I tell every salesperson NO, just because they are sales people and I hate it! Haha :) Totally agree with you on most points, it can be quite hard at times being INTJ, others just don’t get it.

      • Oh no. Once I had a call from a telephone sales place trying to sell me TV services, while I was on the phone the same company knocked at the door!
        I just read the idiots guide, really funny and very true; especially ‘DON’T take 100 words to say what could have been said in 10’ and ‘Why can’t my INTJ remember anything?’ Haha.

    • Sales people?!
      Too many of them are incompetent, petty and spiteful. The absolute worst of them resent the fact that you can afford something they cannot afford, and so they do their damnedest to engage in behaviors which will guarantee that you will not spend a dime. However, if you are feeling a bit like getting even, the best way to do this is to treat the sales person as if they were your personal shopping assistant, don’t feel guilty about asking them to find an item in your size simply to get rid of them. When they return with some other item, say a different color or style all together, then it will not matter at all to you, and you can just wave them away, or hand to them something else you are not interested in and again ask them to see if they can find it in your size. As a guy, I can tell you that there are sales people whom, if I hand them a pair of brown lace up shoes, they will return with black slip on shoes, so you might as well have fun with them as they are apparently trying to have fun at your expense.

  4. Personality typing is interesting. It explains much and helped as you said helped explain some of my quirk and oddities. INFJs and INTJs are rare so it helps explain why we feel alone and out of place sometimes.

    • The nice thing about a better understanding of types (even though of course no one fits them 100% or exactly the same way) is that now we know that we may be rare, but we’re not completely alone!

  5. I recently found out that I am an INTJ too. Everything you wrote is 100% perfect. In addition, I just began habitually flossing this month.

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  7. I’m an NTJ also, who “weak” E has balanced to I/E over the years. I can relate to many (but not all) of your points. I love the cat though. That’s not a unique feline, though, in possessing those mixed desires… I suspect all cats think the same thing.

  8. I definitely understand this; I took that test as a teenager and again recently having forgotten about it – INTJ, no change. Some values had shifted in percentage terms, but the core remained.
    Perhaps most annoying about the whole types deal is how rare the INTJ woman is! Logically you assume, similar, good, let’s find one – ‘they’re rarer than even you’ …. great.
    I am considering flossing.
    (But being INTJ I did not take your word for it and researched as I read, thus I remain ambivalent but am willing to experiment with periodic flossing).

  9. Pingback: I’m Not a Sociopath: I’m Just an INTJ: PART DEUX | Em Speaks

  10. I can’t tell you how much I agree with your last statement. While I consider myself a fairly socially competent INTJ, it’s only a product of pushing myself hard to fit in everyone else’s box and working in customer service for years. I finally hit a wall and decided to be myself (difficult btw) and while everyone else seems to be getting frustrated with me I feel incredibly liberated. I took the mbti test only a couple months ago and discovered that I am in fact not a complete freak. It’s like a breath of fresh air. However I think I’m getting more intj hahaha

  11. I’m an INTJ too. I had always wondered why I’m so different from the people around me. My parents were continuously trying to ‘fix’ me like a defective product. Being an introvert is hard enough, but my dominance of ‘T’ (86%) makes me appear too cold and heartless. After finding out my personality type, I found it much easier to accept and appreciate myself.

  12. Oh this was beautiful!

    I love the bit about social rituals, especially weddings. I’ve never gotten them at all. Why in the world would I want to spend tens of thousands of dollars hosting people for dinner, most of whom I probably don’t like that much, for just signing a bit of government paperwork? Or spend a few grand doing the same for someone else (getting an outfit, travel/etc if need be, presents…). It all seems completely insane.

    My INTJness is why, when I see posts about who women are/what they want/etc vs men, my brain almost short circuts. No! Don’t ask my friends (who are few in number anyway) what I want, ask me! I know what I want! Or just pay damn attention to me in the first place and you’d know. No! Don’t take the lead or try and take care of me unless I’m physically incapable of doing something (as in I have a broken arm vs I’m female), I will hate you for it and plot your downfall. I also won’t thank you for trying to out-rationalise me. Mostly because you can’t, you small, silly other-MB type!

    Ok, that veered into psychopath territory didn’t it. Oops.

    Oh and the thing about gifts! (Even if I dislike its origin) With Christmas coming up, my brain hurts. The obligation gifts for family, who you’d never have associated with if they weren’t blood related/married to someone who is. Ugh.

    All in all, a wonderful read that I deeply associate with.

  13. I’m a female INTJ and Aspergers. I’m both logical & artistic, ambidextrous, a big animal & women’s rights activist. I do not show a lot of empathy although I actually do feel it. But what I find scary about me is when someone pisses me off that bad, I have thoughts of torturing & killing them, with zero remorse. So I avoid all drama. & conflict to the point I feel like a wimp.

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  15. Oh my! Get out of my head Em … I’ve recently became a hermit while working towards my first college degree at the very young age of 45. I’m doing this so I can add the “so valued” degree to my many years of experience in which I gained this “knowledge” from self study, planning, and observation. While working on my Entrepreneural Business degree I am working as a bartender (again) … As I get older, I am becoming more cynical to the stupidity of people. I have really felt like I am all alone in the way that I think and more importantly of how I react. Before realizing that most people don’t live inside their heads as much as I, my assumption was that everyone spent their days talking to themselves while being able to go about their daily activities (i.e. listening to the stereo, watching tv, in the middle of a grocery store.) Finding out that I am an INTJ has answered so many of my questions of why I think the way that I think. I find that people drain me because it puzzles me so much that they think the way that they think. It’s as if they are puppets and floating through life with a head full of air?? Frustrating – therefore – I have retreated to arm myself with tools and insight in order to re-submerge back into the population in order to provide some planning and initiative to wake these people up! Someone has to save the world, right?

    I do not like conflict. Or, rather – I don’t like dealing with a conflict in person. I do much better with retaliation by beating my opponent with patience and careful planning to include execution. I have single handedly caused those who have crossed me or underestimated me much grief causing them severe disruption in their lives. As they had attempted to do to mine. I am always thinking ahead and building contingency plans. I do this to expose the unethical behaviours of individuals by taking conscious inventory of the bad behaviours. It shocks my conscience to watch people play the innocent and trustworthy while sensing their underlying deviant schemes. It also shocks me that they are able to gain the trust of others that obviously don’t have the intuitive abilities that I have always had.

    These measures are always last resort and only after these individuals had affected my livlihood. Having been surrounded by hypocrits and mean-spirited individuals – I have physically moved to a nice remote location with a river in my background in a community of Liberal thinking dominance. My focus and intentions desire working for peace and social betterment. I’m really tired of “playing the game” and contending with individuals that are way better than I am to “play the game.” I don’t particularly like games (unless it is strategic card games and chess). I am honest to a fault and that has caused me much grief in social circles. Especially in a working environment. If I don’t respect you, then you most likely will hear about it. It is really tough for me to be micro-managed by an idiot.

    Your article is spot on. Typically – I am not an outwardly negative person. But, my mind is always working on the justification on making my own rules and self-governing guidelines. I give wholly and generously to those that I love. Sometimes (ok – more like frequently) to my own inconvenience. I feel that giving is not giving if you expect something back. I would go hungry before watching someone else go hungry. Therefore – it is hard for me to accept being stabbed in the back by the people that I am associated with. It’s always been like I don’t fit in because I refuse to stoop to “their” level of stupidity preferring not to engage in the drama. It literally hurts as if a knife is piercing my skin. But – I am not one to verbalize or gossip about that pain. It gets tucked away and comes out with a plan of attack out of retaliation that I know is very unhealthy for my kharmic reflection.

    Does anyone else have these type of experiences in their lives? Just curious?

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  19. Hahahaha! Fellow intj here. I completely agree with you. It’s really was a relief to find out that I wasn’t some sort of psychiatric case. It’s just my personality. But the self awareness that came with the knowledge that I am intj was a little bit of an annoyance cuz i kept thinking, “damn! This is so intj” But of course, the funniest parts were the pet peeves.. “You haven’t given me a gift, you’ve given me an obligation! ” and people who are chronically late. Truer words couldn’t have been said. Love the post. Absolutely funny and true.

  20. Thank you for this wonderful article :)
    I discovered I am an INTJ a week ago due to the fact that I was feeling like was Sociopath.(Imagine my frustration) Being an INTJ explains a lot to my behavior. Also like many others said we are rare but not alone :)

    A friend from Mauritius Island…

  21. Thank you so much for this. I just recently found out I was INTJ and I have been OBSESSING over finding all the information ever written about it. Haha. I have wondered so many times if was a sociopath, borderline Aspergers, a Cyborg (as one of my ex boyfriends so lovingly put it), etc. Such an immense feeling of freedom flooded over me when I realized it’s just my personality type. I am that way and so is another 1% of the female population. We are freaking awesome and people that don’t get us can just suck it. :)

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  23. I am an INTJ female which I take as almost a compliment being in the .08% of the female population in the US(although I’m in Canada)… INTJ personalities are predominantly found in males based on the whole emotional detachment thing. Emotions of which I am not a fan of and where humour is a defence. In high school the social group I affiliated myself with was made of high energy extroverts, which as you can imagine was hard to keep up with. I too hate small talk, I find it very uncomfortable, but I am not completely afraid to put myself in socially dependent situations.in grade 12 I took a school trip to Spain! I also love to learn (when interested), and I hate surprises (I always read the last page of a book first), I hate showing any kind of deep emotions and crying just makes me uncomfortable. I kind of like the whole INTJ affiliation with villains. I took a psychology class in school just to learn about serial killers and how peoples brains work. Also the whole INTJ World domination thing I find amusing… As in my house I’m known as “a shit disturber” in a comical sense… And that is basically what I thrive on, laughs.

    Great post sums me up 100%

  24. LOL It’s funny how you reject salesmen. I prefer talk with them and make them feel ridiculous telling them that the product they’re trying to sell is shit and too expensive , i like to argue with them and ridiculize them ;)

    It’s so funny when they’re thinking about convincing arguments while you’re just making fun of ’em.

    And yeah , I also thought I was a sociopath LOL

    Maybe one day INTJs’ll rule the world…you never know xD

  25. I did the test yesterday and found out I’m an INTJ :) I agree with you, its highly liberating to finally understand why I am the way I am, and to accept myself with all the good and the bad. Most of the traits you have pointed out I empathise with completely, except the ones about weddings and christmas…I strangely love taking part in that sort of thing, maybe because my parents especially put emphasis on the importance of sentiments and feelings when I was growing up…I’m glad that my experiences have somewhat softened the ‘cold’ aspect of my personality!

    Also, thank you for writing this article, I’m glad I found it and read it :)

  26. I took an online test and also turned out INTJ but almost INFJ, so I can relate to a lot of this, but the thing I can relate to the most is the stuff about sales people. I feel harassed when they do it. I’ve had experiences where I literally stepped one foot into a clothing shop and someone was there asking if they could help me find something. First, I hadn’t even passed fully through the door yet, so clearly I wasn’t having trouble finding anything. Second, I generally don’t go to stores looking for a specific item, I want to look around, and if I see something I like, then I might decide to buy it, and I’ll bring it to the counter and pay for it. I’ve known how to look through the racks and bring what I want to the counter and pay for it since I was a little girl, so I think I can handle the task. Third, how do most people shop? Do they walk in thinking they want to find a pink polka-dot skirt, and since they’re incapable of looking for one themselves, they ask the sales person for help? I just don’t get it. If someone starts pestering me the moment I walk in the door, I turn and walk right out.

  27. I am an intj. And I was really fed up with comments like come out of your shell, be social, don’t be aloof and cold, etc. But now that I know, I don’t care.

  28. You are probably quite balanced then as you are INTJ bordering on INFJ. I’m quite a definite INFJ and my boyfriend is INTJ – 100% with the T for Thinking. Imagine Those arguments!

    He’s frustratingly rational and when I am upset or angry about something my massively irrational feelings explode 10000% and he hasn’t a clue how to deal with it!

    You should be glad you’re not 100% T in the INTJ. Because then you possibly could be a sociopathic INTJer haha. I’ve googled “is my boyfriend a narcissist?” and “is my boyfriend a sociopath” and I often come away with … YES. But then I remember the majority of the time he’s not. He’s just an INTJ!

  29. I agree with you completely I am an intj, everything is a lot clearer I know who I am what my strengths and weaknesses which in turn will bring out the best I can do

  30. Additional thought I don’t plan every move sometimes,sometimes things just naturally land in my favor though not always for the good of others

  31. Hi I’m an INTJ too!! I took the test yesterday and it was very good to understand a lot of things. I know that anyone can fit 100% percent to a type personality but the most of the things that describes it is true or at least for me.
    Finally I realized why i feel so excited when I found a book that catch all my attention and rather to stay at home with a cup of tea instead to go to a party. And actually I can relate with people because I had to force myself to do it if I want it to (survive) jaja because I live in Cabo and Im working in customer service.
    And I found why I can’t bare the lies and I thought that I was crazy for trying to get the truth all the time no matter what.

  32. I’m an INTJ and am currently researching it simply because it’s one of those things I’m currently obsessively interested in. And this! Oh, it made so much sense! I love reading things that other INTJ women write and this was no exception. Absolutely wonderful. So many things where I nodded furiously in agreement. Love this!

  33. Do you think that there’s something wrong with how society perceives people that such an extreme example of what people think we are comes up and makes us feel wrong?

    btw, re: pet peeves, this one especially:

    “We get particularly annoyed by attacks on our intelligence, competence, and integrity.” Yes, yes, so much yes! I cannot tell you how many times this has come up to me. People have told me my sensitivity to this was because I’m insecure, that I really think this is true, but no. It is an INTJ thing.

  34. I completely understand what you mean! I’ve recently discovered that I am an INTJ. Before discovered this I thought that there was something seriously wrong with me, as one of my parents kept telling me that I must have a mental illness because I never share y feelings, and because I dislike it when people ask “how are you?” when I am obviously fine and they have seen me recently. It is great to know that there are more people like me.

    • I hate when people ask “How are you?” and when you tell them an answer of actual substance (“Actually, I’ve been having a tough time with…”) they brush it off because clearly they were just making small talk. Grrr.
      Another dreaded question (mostly from my mother, but it still make my stomach turn): “Whatch’a’ thinkin’ about?” Um, if I wanted to share that, I would have done it already.

  35. Yes. Indeed. A brilliant moment to realize that one is not a sociopath, or a freak, or completely broken human being. Just INTJ.

  36. I’m an INTJ female and i’m ashamed of my personality. I really don’t know if I should be proud but I’m disgusted by my own personality and I hate myself for that. My personality caused me to be completely isolated from the outside world.

    • I have gone through phases like that, of being ashamed of my personality and hating myself for it and feeling isolated. But as INTJs, we contribute unique traits and perspectives that the world needs, and while it may be difficult and isolating sometimes, there’s no need to be ashamed!

      • Thanks for the empowerment. It’s such a blessing to find another INTJ female. I’m trying to figure it out my positive aspects.

  37. INTJ female here. Biggest pet peeve of all time? Anyone asking me why. Not the whole, teach me something kind of why, but the explain yourself why. Instant anger and thankfully I’ve learned to turn around and walk away. Otherwise I’d have to worry about their safety while I rage.

    Also, for a very long time I thought I only had two emotions – content and anger. I’m diversifying now but it takes a ton of effort!

    -Danielle

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