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    Feb 09, 2017    |   Camille Labrie

Type and Stress: Are You Exaggerating?

Stress – and our reactions to it – come in many forms and encompass a variety of individual considerations. In general, stress reactions are never pleasant and can bring about feelings of intense emotion, anxiety, and frustration. However, in addition to these general experiences, typology can help explain some specific behaviours that accompany stress and are related to our innate preferences.

According to Jung, when we encounter moderately stressful situations, it is natural for people to invest energy in the ‘best part’ of themselves to regain some control. After all, this is typically the part we normally can count on to help us be more effective. In type-terms, this is called exaggeration of the dominant function. Think of it like “Swearing in your native tongue”. When things get dicey, we are more apt to react in a manner that feels most familiar. That said, Jung also made clear that by doing this, we lose access to the auxiliary function that keeps us balanced. This notion of exaggeration is why under a certain amount of stress, our personality becomes ‘bigger’, but not necessarily more effective.

If you – or someone you know – seems to be exaggerating their type, it is probably as a result of some stress. Therefore, it helps to know the signs so you can offer up help or resources where appropriate to help mitigate these kinds of reactions. Here are the tell-tale signs for each type:

Dominant Introverted Sensing: ISTJ and ISFJ

At their Best:

  • Are selective and choose the right facts
  • Have excellent recall for specifics
  • Are certain of facts and opinions
  • Reflect before acting in a timely way
  • Communicate effectively and appropriately
When Exaggerating:

  • Fixate on the one ‘right’ fact
  • Obsess about minute, unimportant details
  • Are dogmatic
  • Become unable to make decisions or take action
  • Shut down, withdraw

Dominant Extraverted Sensing: ESTP and ESFP

At their Best:

  • See and reflect; then do or say
  • Are active
  • Are talkative and sociable
  • Are straightforward and clear
  • Pay attention to detail
When Exaggerating:

  • Speak and act without thinking
  • Become hyperactive
  • Chatter and disturb others, disrupt
  • Are blunt and curt
  • Are pedantic – every detail is crucial

Dominant Introverted Intuition: INFJ and INTJ

At their Best:

  • Are visionary
  • Are problem solvers
  • See connections
  • Develop patterns
  • Brainstorm ‘with themselves’ inside
When Exaggerating:

  • Have unrealistic expectations
  • Are arrogant about their ideas
  • Are overly complex – everything is connected
  • Force data to fit their own ideas and patterns
  • Are driven inward and won’t ask for help

Dominant Extraverted Intuition: ENFP and ENTP

At their Best:

  • Form global pictures and understandings
  • Are innovative
  • Are enthusiastic, fast paced
  • See possibilities
  • Are flexible
When Exaggerating:

  • Are obsessed with/convinced of links between things
  • Want change for the sake of change
  • Are over the top, frantic, out of control
  • Are swamped with options, can’t decide
  • Experience sudden, irrational changes

Dominant Introverted Thinking: ISTP and INTP

At their Best:

  • Persistently search for true, correct analysis
  • Experience depth of concentration
  • Are logical
  • Are objective
  • Are self-motivated
When Exaggerating:

  • Obsessively search for the truth about everything
  • Get lost in concentration – forget the basics
  • Accept only their own logic
  • Become detached and machine-like

Dominant Extraverted Thinking: ESTJ and ENTJ

At their Best:

Are coolheaded, calm

Are rational

Present goals with clarity

Are logical

Are analytical

When Exaggerating:

Become detached and cold

Feel everything must be rational

Oversimplify for sake of clarity

Interrupt and critique others’ logic

Dominate by dissection

Dominant Introverted Feeling: ISFP and INFP

At their Best:

  • Are empathetic
  • Think people matter, including themselves
  • Are independent
  • Are sensitive
  • Are idealistic
When Exaggerating:

  • Are rescuers
  • Carry the weight of the world on their shoulders
  • Isolate themselves
  • Become hypersensitive
  • Become pompous and demagogic

Dominant Extraverted Feeling: ESFJ and ENFJ

At their Best:

  • Are encouraging
  • Are interested in others
  • Seek harmony
  • Are outward looking
  • Are people and relationship oriented
When Exaggerating:

  • Become intrusive, prying
  • Ignore/deny problems for sake of fake harmony
  • Lack focus, become scattered
  • Over-identify with others, become overburdened


Filed under: Type Talk

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