当我阅读 INTP 们的对话，我发现一种奇特的共性，INTP 们感到自己和他人疏离、不同、缺少连接。
我还注意到分析和理解清楚这个问题的根因对 INTP 们来说不容易。尽管我们擅长通过应用逻辑和结构化思维来理解和探索世界，但这个问题看起来超出我们的洞察力范围了。每次当我们快抓住它的时候，它就从指间溜走。事实上，我们甚至很难成功定义这个问题的边界，更别提发现终极解决方案了。
迎难而上，我决定从探索这个难题开始 INTP 系列文章。我们的 INTP 本质应对其他个体的方式究竟是如何使我们感受到这种奇怪而难以定义的疏离呢？
首先，请注意我说的是“感受”。众所周知，INTP 在整个和感情有关的问题上都是苦手。我们的内向感觉认知功能很菜，这是一种根据我们对自己的感觉，建立起一种清晰、持久的自我认同的能力。我们是被思考而不是情绪驱动的。举例来说，如果我们对世界的理解将我们引向一个结论：我们是 X 类型的人，那就意味着我们会认为自己就是 X 类型的人。我们的感觉会追随这个思考做出的决定。如果随后，我们又找到自己是 Y 类型人的证据，然后我们就会认为自己是 Y 类型人，对自己的感觉总会跟着思考的结果走。我们的自我认同就是这么容易发生改变。我们没有那种天生就知道自己是哪种类型的人的能力，我们为自己是谁寻找证据，然后基于分析决定自己是谁。如果自我认同频繁改变，就会有点危险，生活可能因此发生巨变。在生活的风浪中航行，有强大的情感作为锚固是有益的，不然 INTP 很容易被吹到礁石上。
因为我们自己的情绪显得可疑，并且我们总是忽视它，所以我们难以理解，在他人身上情绪的重要性、影响力和可变性。我们的外向感觉功能处于劣势，所以他们最后发展。总的来说，当我们年轻的时候，理性强烈压制着情绪，当情绪爆发的时候，它们是可怕夸张而不受控的。伴随着成长，我们会锻炼自己的感觉能力，这是个痛苦不适的过程，我们从犯错、从对自我和他人的观察中学习和成长。经过年复一年的自我挣扎，漫长而艰辛的试图分析与理解，年逾不惑的我觉得自己可以给年轻的 INTP 们提供一些关于如何在社会中立身的见解了。
对 INTP 来说像“呼吸”一样正常的事情。
当 INTP 醒来开始新的一天，走出门时，什么是自然而然，会像呼吸一样去做的事情呢？
有些人格类型经过磨炼、练习和激发来增强规则，他们是守护者。有些渴望看到每天会发生什么并寻找机会来度过好时光，他们是工匠。有些沉迷于寻找意义，他们是理想主义者。INTP 是其中之一。INTP 时刻准备着识别、分析理解和预测世界的运作方式。
这是一个内在的、个人化的精神世界的过程。总体上，INTP 每天收集信息信息，将他们放进一个全面的、不断发展的关于一切的认知体系当中。信息可以是关于任何事物的，这个过程本身比关注的主题更重要。如果我们观察到 X 情况下 Y 行为会导致 Z，我们会记住这一点。如果我们又观察到，我们会记住已经见过两次这个证据。如果我们第三次观察到，我们可能决定自己发现了一个潜在真理（除非将来出现新的信息证明这个结论需要修正，否则这是一个真理）。每个真理都是一个预测器。如果在见到 X 条件下发生 Y 行为，我们就可以期望 Z 结果。如果我们成功地正确预测了 Z，我们就会觉得很棒。这带来一种正确、正常的感觉。
当我们积累了足够多的真理来预测很多事情时，周围人就会注意到我们。我们会看起来有洞见、有智慧，甚至有时候能通灵。当我年轻时，我常常能听一个人说几句话就猜到他的观点。当我能够正确回答他们的问题或者对他们的观点做出反应时，他们会惊掉下巴。预测源于我对这个人的了解，对先前对话的了解，刚发生的可能触发他们想法的事件，暗示对话发展方向的词汇 。完成一次成功的预测就像是完成了理解，这对 INTP 来说很棒。
这种收集信息、形成结构和预测世界的动力渗透到 INTP 所做的一切事情中。对大多数人来说，我刚才描述的事情听起来精疲力竭，甚至有些病态。但如果你是 INTP，我相信这个过程对你就像呼吸一样自然。你甚至意识不到自己在这样做。这个过程是我们在世界上寻找意义和自我定位的方式，这让我们感到放松，有控制感和冷静。
某种意义上，INTP 出生时就带来一本空白的百科全书，INTP 们终其一生就是为了填满这本书。不是从头到尾填的，而是东一笔西一笔旁逸斜出地填，最终如果足够幸运，在人生尽头大部分空白会被填满。
每一天，INTP 拿着这本百科全书四处晃悠，时刻准备着记录新观点，修正旧观点，或者使用观点来预测。它也可以在聚会上被拿出来引发有趣的对话或者包装成幽默。INTP 可以是非常迷人和有魅力的，为那些喜欢琐事、哲学和其他即兴对话的人提供无尽的娱乐。
幽默是社交的有力工具，幽默是智力的体现。他们有没 get 到点？他们能接梗吗？我们在心里期望着。当期望落空，我们会被当作怪物拒绝，或者当作小丑被用作娱乐。对那些参加过当晚专题演讲的人来说，这可能很棒，但你的另一部分会觉得没意思。如果你被利用然后被抛弃，至少他们应该付你钱。
一方面，原因非常简单。不简单的是我们内在发生的微妙的心理和情感化学反应，导致那种难以驾驭的感觉。毕竟，没有人能让我们感受到任何东西。我们的感觉源自自我之内，他人只是我们投射情感的目标，我们可以往任何其他人身上投射。（译者注：这可能是我们不需要其他人的原因，我们无法亲近其他人的原因。但亲近是双向的，你不渴望特定的人是 OK 的。但这种个性不是你不被其他人渴望的根因。不被他人渴望的根因是这种自我中心让我们并不在意其他人，不会去照顾别人的感情和需要，所以最终，没有人真正喜欢和亲近你，大家最多觉得你酷，但没有任何想和你更亲近的想法，因为你无法付出情感，无法让人感受到你的情感，从你身上他们无法感知到一种亲近。那么，总的来说，亲近就无法发生。）
所以，让我们再回到 INTP 的“正常”。这就是问题所在。我们甚至都没意识到自己在辛勤地填写那本百科全书，我们自己习惯性地去做。并且和所有人一样，我们天然觉得所有人都以和自己一样的方式思考和行动。我们有一条黄金法则，以我们希望被对待的方式去对待别人，就会得到好的回应。是这样的吗？（译者注：改变的第一点是，意识到别人没有百科全书也能活，在世界上追求一种解释是没有什么价值的。事物的原理你也并不总是需要了解，活着就好了。简单自然，投入真情。理论原理可有可无，没有不停地填写百科全书的人反而活得更好。你想要的只是一个抓手，一个执念，一种很深的妄想，一种追求控制感的病态，你要做的是随波逐流，放弃挣扎。放空内心，让情感涌进来，不要问为什么，不要当好奇宝宝，然后很快，你就正常了。不要不甘心，你能对世界有什么很高明的预测呢，你能做出的最准确的预测就是一切人都会死掉。所以，不必惊惶，不必沉迷，不必执着，不必求索。一切就是这样，从来如此，从古至今，你不必追问。然后，你很自然就痊愈了，当然也失去了你最开始的灵性和好奇，但这就是代价，你选择怎样的药丸？）
INTP 占人群的 2%，女性 INTP 则少到 1%，甚至我们的 MBTI 姊妹 INTJ，跟我们相处时有时也会感到怪异。INTJ 没有我们的感知功能，因此，他们凭空创造精神世界。他们思考，然后在现实世界应用他们的理论，INTP 则相反，他们分析世界，然后基于观察构造精神世界。（译者注：说白了，是路径依赖，自己想象不出来，就看看世界有什么特点，总结归纳分析）
好吧，你做了个错误假设但自己不知道。别人关心你，有他们自己的原因，但肯定不是因为你以为的原因。这两者可能非常非常不同。这就是 INTP 心中暗涌的来源。当某人想靠近我们，或者我们想靠近某人时，如果没有办法一起写百科全书，心头就会出现微妙的困惑。一个理性人渴望心灵伴侣，我可以做一个思想实验来阐释这个过程。你可以把一个极致美好的女人放在我跟前，当然我会渴望。过去很长一段时间，我以为我的渴望源自她的美丽，但现在我明白并非如此。人们喜欢美好的事物，这没什么稀奇，但这只是发端。在潜意识里，我会预设她的美是由内而外的，她会有和美貌相匹配的思想。如果她没开口，我的幻想就会持续发酵。如果她永不开口，这份幻想就无法证伪，而她将永远美好。一旦她开口，我观察她的行动，如果她的思想让我下头，吸引力就会消失，无论她多美。悲伤的事实是你没办法爱一个不爱思想的人，没法假装。我想说倒过来也成立，无论一个人外貌如何，思想的连接可以激发你对对方的渴望。
一旦 INTP 发现别人与我们的思维方式截然不同，并且是被完全不同的动机驱动时，INTP 把分析和理解世界的渴望转移到对人际关系的研究上。然而，人类是非理性的、混乱的、不可预测的，是吧？毫无逻辑。我们在他们身上建立的理论似乎都没有办法完全奏效，所有尝试过的相处路径最终都会偶尔失败。创伤和失败不断增加，你都打算打道回府了。但你的人性实在难以忍受疏离。于是你时不时又想试试。（译注：字字是血，未经痛苦和反复写不出这样的话）
为了更好地理解人，我们 INTP 需要学习一些反本能的东西。
Chapter 1: Why Do I Feel Disconnected?（原文）
(WHAT’S NEW: 10/23/15–I’ve been away for a good bit grappling with new challenges and the next stage of life struggles. But I’m coming back with a new article, and a new idea! It’s about the INTP drive for creation and achievement. Along with the new article, I’d like to create a page dedicated to INTPs supporting other INTPs in business. If you need a product or service, why not go to another INTP?? You know will get a person who understands your approach to the world!)
Welcome to the first of what will hopefully become a series of articles wrestling with the nature of INTP-dom. (I could say INTP-ness, but that sounds somehow naughty.) When I read conversations posted among INTPs, I notice a curious and common undercurrent. Sometimes it’s the outright subject of the conversation, and sometimes it hovers just beneath. It’s an undercurrent of feeling disconnected, different, and isolated from others.
I’ve also noticed that analyzing and understanding the source of this particular problem seems to be elusive for INTPs. Although we define ourselves by our ability to apply logic and structure to understand and navigate the world, this problem seems to hide just beyond our perception. Every time we get close to grasping it, it slips through our fingers. In fact, we have a hard time even successfully defining the boundaries of the problem, much less discovering the ultimate solution.
Never one to shy away from the hard topics, I’m going to begin my INTP series with an exploration of this conundrum. How does our INTP nature react with the personalities of others in a way that leads us to feel this odd, hard-to-define isolation?
First of all, you’ll notice I said feel. As we know, the entire subject of feelings is a squirrely topic for INTPs. The introverted feeling cognitive function is in the shadow position for us. That’s the ability to build a clear, persistent sense of who we are as people based on how we feel about ourselves. We are driven by thinking rather than feeling. For example, if our understanding of the world leads us to the conclusion that we are an X kind of person, then that means we’re an X kind of person. Our feelings will then follow that decision. If later, we gain evidence that we are a Y kind of person, then we are a Y kind of person, and our feelings will follow again. It’s that easy to change our self-identity. We don’t have the natural ability to “just know” the kind of person we are. We look for evidence of who we are, then make a decision based our on analysis. This process can be dangerous, however, if jarring, paradigm-changing evidence hits us too often. Our lives can be turned upside down by it. There certainly can be value in having a strong emotional anchor to us through storms and rough water. As INTPs, we can get blown onto the rocks.
Because our own emotions are suspect and we minimize their importance, we fail to understand the importance, influence, and changeability of emotions in others. Our extroverting feeling function is in the inferior position, so it develops last. Basically, when we’re young, our rationality bullies our emotions into a tightly controlled box, and when they erupt, they’re frightening, exaggerated, and uncontrolled. As we age, however, we can build up our feeling skills. It’s a painful, uncomfortable process, but slowly we can learn from mistakes and observations about ourselves and others. After years of struggling yet maintaining a fierce effort to analyze and understand, I now feel that at the age of 41, I can offer some potential insights into where we fit in the social landscape. These are kinds of insights I would have liked to have available to me when I was a young INTP.
The Hardest Feeling for Anyone to Quantify: Feeling “Normal”
The most difficult kind of self-awareness is understanding exactly what constitutes “normal” in our daily existence. For example, you don’t really think about the many nuances of breathing. It just comes naturally most of the time. You only become aware of breathing when it is not normal. That’s when stronger feelings are evoked, and you have a biologically-programmed reason to remember. For example, you remember being short of breath, you remember choking, but you don’t remember the last five minutes of breathing right now.
Biologically, we remember the horrible things the most, the great things second, and the “normal” things least of all. Actually, it’s an effective method of survival. First rule: don’t get hurt or killed. Second rule: get the good stuff and enjoy it. Third Rule: do all the boring stuff in between. The challenge is digging out of the mental complacency of normal to make sharp observations. It’s easy to see the friction points. It’s hard to deconstruct the nuances of each step when you’re flying on autopilot.
“Breathing” for an INTP
When an INTP wakes up to a new day and walks out the front door, what is the INTP revved up to do? What’s our “thing?” What do we do like breathing?
Some personality types are honed, practiced, and pumped up to enforce the RULES. They’re the Guardians. Some are eager to see what the day brings and find opportunities to have a GREAT TIME. They’re the Artisans. Some are primed to reach out with their hearts and find MEANING IN THE WORLD. They’re the Idealists. INTPs, on the other hand, are one of the Rational types. INTPs are primed, practiced, and ready to identify, analyze, understand, and then predict the workings of the world.
It’s an internal, individualized, mental process. Basically, the INTP spends every day gathering information and fitting it into a sweeping, growing, and universal body of understanding of…everything. It could be cloud formations, what makes wind, traffic patterns, cooking styles, kangaroos, bad breath, brain chemistry, overgrown toenails, politics, arguments, star formation, how grass grows, or whether you need to put cream on that weird rash. The topics, however, are less important than the process itself. If we observe X situation undergoing Y action causing Z result, we remember that. If we observe it again, we remember we’ve seen the same evidence twice. If we observe it a third time, we may decide that we have discovered a potential Truth (that is, something we believe to be true until new information suggests that it requires modification). Each Truth becomes a predictor. If we observe X situation undergoing Y action again, then we can expect the Z result. If we are correct in predicting Z, then we really start feeling awesome. That feels right. That feels normal.
When we have amassed enough Truths to predict a lot of things, we begin to get noticed by the people around us. We begin to seem insightful, wise, and almost psychic at times. When I was young, I could often predict a person’s entire point after hearing the first few words of their sentence. When I would answer their question or react to their point correctly, their jaw would drop. The prediction was the result of the sum of my knowledge of the person, my knowledge of prior conversations, what just happened that might have sparked a certain thought in their head, and the verbal cues pointing to where the conversation is about to go. Again, a successful prediction equates with understanding, and that feels good to an INTP.
This drive to amass information, form structures, and predict the world permeates everything an INTP does. To many people, what I just explained sounds exhausting at best, or pathological at worst. But if you’re an INTP, I trust this process happens like breathing. You might not even be aware that you’re doing it. This process is the way we make sense of the world and find our place within it. It makes us feel at ease, controlled, and calm.
The Handy-Dandy INTP Supercalifragilistic Encyclopedia
So, in a way, an INTP is handed a huge, blank encyclopedia at birth, and the INTP’s life is spent filling it up. And not from beginning to end. All sorts of points will be hit in the middle, and the knowledge spreads out from there. If you’re really lucky, by the end of your life, most of the empty spaces will be filled in.
Each day, the INTP walks around with this encyclopedia always at hand, always ready to record a new insight, make a revision, or use it to predict what is likely about to happen. It can also be whipped out at parties to spark interesting conversation or to twist it into humor. INTPs can be charming and charismatic, providing endless entertainment for those who love trivia, philosophy, or other off-the-wall conversation.
Did you hear that word I slipped in there INTPs?
Yeah, I said it. If you have a decently-sized encyclopedia, you probably know what I’m talking about all too well. But feeling like the entertainment can piss you off after a while. It’s divisive. When you go to see a show, there’s an audience and a stage, and those two groups of people don’t mix. The audience just wants their laughs when they want them, then go home. It’s the Nirvana effect: here we are now, entertain us.
INTPs use charm and humor and conversation as a tactics to draw people closer and to have social interaction. If you’re older, you’ve probably learned by now that, in the end, it doesn’t work. We fail to gain the closeness we’re craving. Instead, we’re directed to exit stage door left when the show is over.
Yet, we use our encyclopedias this way because we really don’t know what else to do. It’s our way of feeling out other people. Are they interested in what’s going on in our heads? Are they interested in our observations and understandings? Do they have similar thoughts? Can I help them with what I’ve learned? Can they help me?
Humor can be a very powerful tool in reaching out. It often requires intelligence. It’s an indicator. Does the other person get it? Can they follow the humor? Can they reciprocate? That’s the plan, at least. But when the attempt doesn’t click, that’s when we’re either rejected as a geek/freak, or we get hired as the entertainment. For those of you who have been the night’s feature presentation, it can be cool. But another part of you says SCREW THAT. If you’re going to be used and dismissed, the least they can do is pay you well for it. Am I right?
Hello? Is Anybody Out There Hearing Me?
So why do we have this recurring feeling that we’re not jiving with people? Why is it hard to get close to someone? And why is it that once we do seem to get close, it tends to erode and disintegrate?
On the one hand, the reason is terribly simple. What is not simple is the subtle mental and emotional chemistry that goes on within us that results in those hard-to-navigate feelings. After all, no person makes us feel anything. We are the reason we feel something. All feelings come from within us. The other person is just the target that we are hanging our emotions onto. We can just as easily hang them on someone else.
So, let’s turn back to what is normal for an INTP. That is where the problem lies. We may not even realize we’re toiling away at our encyclopedias. We just do it. And like all people, we innately assume that everyone thinks and does the same things we do. Why would we believe any differently? We all follow the golden rule: if we treat others how we want to be treated, they will reciprocate. Right?
No. Unfortunately, they often don’t.
They are following the golden rule also, but their version of it. They often want something fundamentally different. As you try to provide one thing, they are hoping to receive something else, and vice versa.
INTP’s are well under 2% of the population. If you are INTP female, you are well under 1% of the population. Even our close rational cousins, the INTJs, feel somewhat alien when we interact with them. INTJs do not share our Perceiving function, and, therefore, they can create their mental constructs in a vacuum. They tend to think it first, then go about putting their theories into practice in the world. INTPs do it in the opposite direction. They observe and analyze the world first, then go back and create constructs based on what we observed.
I’ll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours
Here you are, an INTP happily working away on your encyclopedia and figuring out the world. So, what do we ultimately want from other people?
You see it coming, right?
We want to share the experience of writing our encyclopedias. Want to share pages, compare notes, help others predict and avoid bad stuff and mistakes, and get others’ insights so we can avoid some bad stuff ourselves (especially icky emotional badness). That way, we don’t have learn everything the hard way. We can share the load in a grand community striving to understand the nature of the universe. We feel connected to people when they seem like they might have a similar encyclopedia. We feel love when the overlap seems especially potent. How do we know? When we want to talk with a person more, more, more. Then, it happens. Someone starts to care for us. They actually want to be around us and talk and share things. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Right??
Wrong again. (I know I’m being hard on you.)
At first, when this seeming compatibility happens, it feels AMAZING. We have finally found an encyclopedia co-author. It’s so much more fun to tear into the world with a partner-in-crime. But wait a minute. Little clinkers start happening. Maybe they don’t want to talk so much anymore. Maybe their eagerness wears off, and they are happy to put their encyclopedia on the shelf. You think, WTF? This person cares and wants to be with me, but why? What is still fueling the person’s interest? Why can’t we share encyclopedias anymore?
Well, you have made a mistake in your assumption and you don’t know it yet. Another person will care for you for their reasons, not yours, and the two may be very, very different. Here is the source of the INTP undercurrent. It’s the subtle confusion that arises when someone wants to be with us, or we want to be with them, and yet they aren’t really jiving on the encyclopedia level. A rational craves a mindmate, and here’s an example of what that means. You can put an insanely gorgeous woman in front of me, and, of course, I’ll feel desire. For a long time, I thought I would desire her because she was beautiful, but I’ve learned that’s not true. Everyone likes what we find beautiful, that’s no secret, but it’s just a start. Without realizing it on a conscious level, I would fantasize that her beauty is an indication that her mind is going to match that attractiveness. If she hasn’t opened her mouth yet, the fantasy can grow. If she never opens her mouth, that fantasy can become a false truth. She can remain utterly amazing forever. However, if she does open her mouth, or I can observe her actions, something often happens. If her mind turns out to be a turn-off, the attraction will evaporate, regardless of her beauty. Honestly. The sad truth is that I don’t think there’s a double-bagger solution for anti-mindmates. It’s not something that can be ignored. (I should note that the reverse is also true. Mind connections can spark desire regardless of a person’s appearance.)
The Final Solution
Once an INTP discovers the shocking truth that other people think very differently than we do and are driven by very different motivations, the INTP then turns the overall desire to analyze and understand the world onto to the inner workings of people themselves. However, people are irrational, chaotic, and unpredictable, right? Not logical at all! Every theory we make about them seems to fall apart. Every safe path we chart through them leads to swamps and disasters. The traumas mount. And the failures. You might even decide to take your ball and go home. But it’s just against human nature to enjoy isolation. You keep limping back and trying to connect again.
If you’re stuck in this cycle, then I have an important insight for you.
Ready for it?
People, in fact, are entirely logical, rational, and predictable.
No, no, I’m not smoking something. The human condition is indeed extraordinarily complex and challenging to tackle, but as you well know, hard doesn’t mean impossible. Hard just means hard, and what makes it the toughest for us is the element of emotion.
Here are the unnatural things that we INTPs have to learn to do in order to better understand people: (1) give adequate weight to the motivating power of emotion in other people (and ourselves) and (2) understand the roots of that emotion. We stomp down emotion and will always choose a logical answer over an emotional one. Most of the other personality types are not that way, however. Until we successfully deconstruct the power of emotion (including how it still affects us despite our efforts to kill it), we have little hope of successfully navigating emotions in others. We will not be able to understand what the actions of other people mean and how to predict them.
But that process, my friends, will need to be a topic for another day.