Personality Types Under Stress
Personality Types Under Stress
When in stressful situations, all personality types display symptoms that are disadvantageous to others and unproductive for themselves. The kinds of circumstances that induce stress also varies from type to type. Although any type can display any symptom from time to time, different types specialize in specific behaviors.
Owing to their drive for excitement, ESTPs are often unaware of the long-term consequences of their actions. Not understanding the far reaching implications of their behaviors, ESTPs often find themselves at odds with friends, colleagues, and employers. A quick fix mentality and strong improvisational skills cannot always compensate for the long-term disappointments resulting from shortsighted planning. ESTPs are tough-minded and may appear insensitive when resourceful shortcuts fail to impress a taskmaster. They can quickly become defiant. Those unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of an ESTP's anger or retaliation may soon find that they have a tiger by the tail. If they lose the opportunity to act freely on their impulses, ESTPs abuse rules and regulations laid down by others in an attempt to regain a sense of excitement.
If confinement continues, an ESTP's stress increases. They feel empty and hollow inside, as if dead to the world. Their first impulse is to seek revenge by mocking other people’s values. They become increasingly anti-social and ridicule others with startling displays of disdainful behavior. By causing a scene, ESTPs rejuvenate their fading spirits and at the same time punish their oppressors. Like all SPs under stress, ESTPs get even by undoing the barriers to freedom, especially though gaining the trust and cooperation of others.
ESFPs’ need to socialize with others may create difficulties at work or school. Their tendency to over-emphasize subjective data can cause problems in structured situations. Like all SPs, ESFPs resist regulations and they can become quite defiant when their sense of freedom is violated. Their disregard for standard procedures will take the form of passive resistance and ESFPs usually develop many skills to annoy the people they blame for their loss of liberty. ESFPs are prone to neglecting time-limits and situations requiring organized goals; under such circumstances, ESFPs will become bored and restless, and will quickly develop a feeling of emptiness.
If a stressful situation endures, ESFPs will respond against others by mistreating themselves and acquiring habits that are self-destructive. Feeling empty, restless, and bored, ESFPs may experience a regression of their skills, graceful movements, and maturity. ESFPs penalize those responsible for obstructing their freedom while, at the same time, they restore excitement back into their own lives. Having not obtained freedom through appropriate behavior, ESFPs overwhelmed with stress will behave in ways that are unproductive to themselves and others.
ESTJs fear a bankrupt nation that abandons its heritage and its obligation to a prescribed set of standards. Like all SJs, ESTJs feel the need to earn their place in a just society. ESTJs believe that membership is ensured through responsible serving and the threat of being forsaken or cast out will make them feel insecure. They will worry about dereliction of duties and betrayal. The resulting stress can cause ESTJs to redouble their efforts at controlling disorder. In an effort to correct what they feel is out of place, they will direct their anger and frustration at what they consider the irresponsible behavior of others. At these times, others may feel the ESTJ is not responsive to their point of view and is jumping to unjustified conclusions.
If stress continues, the ESTJ may become physically immobilized and experience illness, unpleasant bodily sensations, and fatigue. Feeling incapacitated, the ESTJ dreads the thought of being deserted and begins to feel increasingly unappreciated and left out. Their grievance list usually includes those to whom they are responsible; thus it may appear that the ESTJ is neglecting their own obligations by blaming others. While exempting themselves from their own responsibilities, the ESTJ may henpeck and nag others. This can cause those who feel hindered by the ESTJ's complaints to feel defiant and to rebel further.
The social status of successful people can be quite alluring to ESFJs and many marry prosperous mates and encourage them to accumulate the material signs of prosperity. Other ESFJs seem to fit in with the poor and the needy. In either case their dependability, dedication, and commitment to providing for the needs of others is, at times, overlooked. This can lead to the ESFJ feeling unappreciated and neglected. They can harbor uncomfortable feelings, which they then feel guilty and shameful about, and then they find themselves suffering from emotional denial.
If stress continues, the ESFJ will begin to feel dejected and despondent. A sense of gloom seems to be attached to their memories and the ESFJ fosters feelings of self-blame and guilt about certain past experiences. Always conscious of a sense of indebtedness, the ESFJ feels generally remorseful and may regret imagined woes. If stress becomes overwhelming, ESFJs will complain of their burdens, suspect dreadful things about their health, become critical of others who have "betrayed" them, and become generally melancholic. The ESFJ feels forsaken after all they have put up with and done for others. Their complaints immobilize so they are unable to nurture others or fulfill their demanding obligations.
ENTPs value their ability to use imagination and innovation to deal with problems. Trusting in their ingenuity to get them out of trouble, they often neglect to prepare sufficiently for any given situation. This characteristic, combined with their tendency to underestimate the time needed to complete a project, may cause the ENTP to become over-extended, and to work frequently beyond expected time limits. Complicating this situation is their predisposition to experiment with new solutions. This makes them eager to move on to the next challenge when things get boring. ENTPs become stressed when their improvisational abilities are ineffective and they will avoid circumstances where they might fail.
If stress continues, ENTPs become distracted and their "can do" attitude is threatened. Feelings of incompetence, ineptness, and inadequacy take over. They need to escape situations that are associated with anxiety is more prominent for the ENTP than for any other personality type. Doubtful of whether they will have what it takes to accomplish a task, they displace their fears onto situations they can elude. Panic, fear, and anxiety then block the expression of their creativity. Defensive phobic reactions cause the ENTP to circumvent achievement in other areas and prevent the success they strive on.
ENTJs can get ahead of themselves and jump to conclusions in their effort to get things done. They may need to be reminded to take the time to listen to other points of view. Being tough-minded, ENTJs have a tendency to ignore their own and others’ feelings. With a burning desire to achieve — and a constant eye on how current decision will effect end results — ENTJs may become overly argumentative when obstacles get in their way. Small talk and casual conversations appear frivolous and without merit when projects are at hand. This, along with the NT's nature of being impervious to social conventions and customs, can cause others to feel affronted.
When ENTJs sense that they are losing control, they feel an increasing need for completion. If stress continues, they become distracted by a compelling "got to" and "have to" state of mind. Their need to master a situation then becomes misdirected and they engage in compulsive behaviors that preoccupy their attention and time. Feeling helpless, and lacking confidence, they resort to completing simple, meaningless, repetitive tasks (i.e. cleaning, counting, inspecting ) in an effort to avoid a growing sense of failure. By avoiding ineptitude at all costs, their competence and ability are never fully tested. Ironically, these all-consuming distractions are the very behaviors that prevent ENTJs from fulfilling their basic need for achievement and improvement.
ENFPs have a tendency to overextend themselves in both their physical and emotional commitments. Their proclivity to procrastinate and to overlook details complicates their circumstances. ENFPs often move on to new ventures without completing those they have already started. Their charming personalities can show signs of irritability and over-sensitivity when their desires to please different people come into conflict. During times of stress, ENFPs feel alienated. They then engage in deceptions that serve to obscure what is occurring within themselves.
The ENFP finds symbolic meanings behind the immediate circumstances. These meanings are construed as foreboding problems when ENFPs are under stress. Having a pervasive feeling of losing control over their own independent identities, ENFPs will feel virtually split apart by intruding circumstances. They will be "besides themselves" and "just not all there" — as if something, or someone, has taken away the essence of who they are. Not feeling like themselves, the ENFP will become subject to their own feelings of shame for being a phony, a fake or an impostor. If stress continues to grow, they may attribute malevolent schemes to others in order to explain away their fears.
The ENFJs optimistic outlook toward social relationships is a burden to them at times. When external conflicts affect a group, the ENFJ is likely to assume responsibility. Their ability to empathize then turns into a liability. ENFJs, when over-identifying with the pain of others, will loose sight of their own concerns and interests. Their idealism can also be the cause of some distress when their assumptions are unable to weather the winds of reality. Fantasized relationships rarely translate into reality and even the best charismatic leader encounters unexpected resistance.
Like all NFs, ENFJs will disassociate themselves from stressful situations in an effort to protect their sense of well-being and togetherness. The ENFJ, however, will repress the unpleasant side of life only to have to face it later in an intensified form when it explodes from its hiding place. It can manifest itself as fits of anger, sudden outbursts, or emotional explosions. Often the ENFJ's body will reflect pent-up stress by manifesting various physical symptoms that will erupt unexpectedly.
ISTPs value privacy and sometimes keep important issues to themselves. Their concern for the present moment and their inability to recognize the importance of setting goals, often leads them into conflict with authority. Being action-oriented, ISTPs react against restrictions — which typically causes the controls placed on them to increase. In these situations, boredom can quickly set in and the ISTP may experience feelings of internal emptiness. Overly regulated situations cause ISTPs stress. In such situations, ISTPs either attempt to flee or turn to fight their adversary face-to-face.
The ISTP's form of retaliation can be characterized as defiling what other people value. The ISTP violates rules and regulations that protect individual rights in retaliation for the lost opportunities and freedom that the ISTP believes they have had to endure. Getting even stimulates them and a renewed sense of excitement emerges from the risks of revenge and the expression of outrage. If stress continues, ISTPs will put what remaining freedom they have left in jeopardy by rebelling further.
ISFPs can be over-accepting of others and need to be more skeptical at times. Their need to please everyone makes them reluctant to critique any one but themselves. This excessive desire to trust others makes them targets for hurt feelings and disadvantaged relationships. Long-range planning and adherence to policies can be their downfall. When the freedom to act on their instincts is limited, ISFPs become bored, restless, and passively defiant. They are skilled at seeming to comply with regulations while annoying those who cause them distress.
If stress continues to build, ISFPs will penalize others through self-degrading behavior. This behavior has the tendency to divert accountability away from themselves and onto others who they blame for their plight. This restores the excitement back into ISFP's lives while at the same time getting even with their accused oppressors. Rationalizing their responsibilities, stressed-out ISFPs attempt to find their way out of unstimulating circumstances through seeking inappropriate thrills.
When their skills at maintaining the structures that they believe hold up society fall short of achieving the security they are striving toward, ISTJs become tired and weary. If the stress becomes overwhelming, ISTJs become immobilized and cannot fill the responsibilities that they consider necessary for rightful membership within their community. They become incapacitated by concerns of a bankruptcy. ISTJs may then further increase their attention on the details of the situation that is causing them stress. This sometimes results in accusations by those around them that the ISTJ is becoming over-demanding, irritable, inflexible, and impatient with others.
Fearing the breakdown of a trustworthy system and dreading becoming an outcast, the ISTJ may feel like energy is being drained from their bodies. Fatigue will set in and it will be exacerbated by a loss of sleep and of appetite. Depleted of their resources, ISTJs will be unable to meet many of their obligations or fulfill their duties to their work and to others. Not being able to fulfill this basic need, the ISTJ becomes further stressed and almost incapacitated by listlessness —making it all the more difficult be responsive to others.
ISFJs respect established authority and they tend to accept others’ opinions and desires as their own. In work situations, they provide a stable and standardized service. Disorderly situations and constantly changing rules can cause them undue stress. At these times ISFJs need to be more assertive and direct because, owing to their kindheartedness and sensitivity, ISFJs can be taken for granted and even taken advantage of. This can cause them to feel resentment and anger — feelings that the ISFJ has a tendency to deny. If the situation worsens and uncomfortable feelings build up, the ISFJ will begin to feel insecure about their status. Worrying that they are not secure or protected enough, they may become overprotective and excessively nervous about foreboding events. This can cause others to feel resistant or defiant which then contributes to the disorder of the situation.
If stress continues, the ISFJ will experience increasing anxiety. Their fear that things will continue to spin out of control will result in a general feeling of dread and apprehensiveness. They become both wary of change and unrelentingly pessimistic about the future. ISFJs will eventually become immobilized by physical symptoms associated with their anxieties. Providing care for others will become secondary as their own bodily symptoms — resulting from their fears of abandonment — disable to such a degree that they cannot assume their responsibilities. Yet, abandoning service-orientated obligations prevents ISFJs from accessing opportunities that allow them to fulfill their basic needs.
INTPs lack follow-through and this can isolate their ideas from practical examination. Their notions become over-intellectualized and too abstract to be of practical benefit. With their sharp critical thinking and analytical abilities, INTPs tend to nit-pick, hair-split, and generally overdo simple issues. Their desire for accuracy and precision exacerbates any error they may perceive in themselves or in others — they are, in other words, highly self-critical. Wanting to be competent and know everything, their standards grow increasingly higher. When fear of failing becomes overly pronounced, INTPs are quick to feel unintelligent, slow, and powerless.
If stress continues, the INTP's mind seems to freeze and block out the vital information it has worked so hard to accumulate. Their creative juices stop flowing and they suffer from stage fright, writers block, and a general inhibition of their ingenious thinking and fluent language skills. Preoccupied with performance failure, INTPs become self-consciously distracted in anticipation of their failure. If the stress becomes too overwhelming, the fear of blanking out prevents them from taking risks in areas they desire to succeed in. Attempting to avoid incompetence, they fail to gain the expertise and mastery they so desperately need.
INTJs’ precision thinking and need for accuracy causes them to be inflexible at times. Having thought out a strategy, the INTJ may stubbornly disregard those who they think have not spent as much time reflecting on an idea as they have. This, along with their drive to produce something significant, can make them demanding and difficult. If their plans and solutions fall short of their high standards, INTJ's feel pressured — as if everything is on the line. "Everything," for an INTJ, is the competence and ability to produce something significant. Fear of not living up to this expectation will increase their stress and possibly dissuade them from risking or trying out their ideas. They may then find themselves thinking about ideas that do not have a meaningful or productive end.
When stress increases, the INTJ can become argumentative and disagreeable. Social interaction, which is not their strength, becomes increasingly difficult for them. Not trusting their own abilities, they become preoccupied with obsessive notions. The INTJ may then find themselves spending an inordinate amount of time fighting horrible thoughts, tempting absurdities, and feelings of worthlessness. Fearful of others recognizing their perceived failure, the INTJ incessantly ruminates about mistakes, inadequacies, weaknesses, ineptness, and incompetence. Because this distracts them from risking what little confidence they may have left in themselves, it therefore keeps them from obtaining the success and achievement they so desperately need.
INFPs feel internal turmoil when they find themselves in situations in which there is conflict between their inner code of ethics and their relationships with others. They feel caught between pleasing others and maintaining their own integrity. Their natural tendency to identify with others, compounded with their self-sacrificial dispositions, tends to leave them confused as to who they really are. Their quiet personalities further feeds their feelings of depersonalization. The INFP's quest for self-identity then seems even more alluring — but increasingly impossible to attain.
As with all NFs, the INFP will feel lost and perplexed at stressful times. As stress builds, INFPs become disconnected from their own personality and perceived place in life. They will lose sight of who they are in relation to time and place. They may not make basic observations, while instead they will focus on the more abstract and symbolic meanings of a particular interaction. This can sometimes baffle those who expect more direct communication and a fairly concrete relationship.
The agreeable nature and quiet personality of INFJs makes them particularly vulnerable to hurt feelings. Distress within close relationships can shatter the INFJ. Like all NFs under stress, INFJs feel fragmented and lost — as if they are acting out a part rather than simply being themselves. This disassociation can be related to physical symptoms for the INFJ, whether real or imagined. Feeling split off from their physical natures, INFJs may become virtually immobilized by repressed feelings.
Although INFJs may feel like remaining still and stationary until the chaos and confusion of a stressful situation dissipates, it would be best for them to actively sort out their needs from others. Being excessively cooperative and agreeable, the INFJ has a tendency to adopt values and beliefs of others as their own. When external conflicts grow, so does the INFJ's sense of personal disharmony. Disassociating themselves from others takes a great deal of effort for the INFJ.
Return To: The 16 Personality Types
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