The ENTP and ENFP, in some flavors of personality type theory, are characterized as having a tertiary function that is extraverted rational. For the ENTP it’s Fe (Extraverted Feeling) and for the ENFP it’s Te (Extraverted Thinking). I think this model helps me understand something peculiar about my own personality and that of some parallel folks out there. Oh, and it’s one of the things about me and these other people that makes us pretty crazy and annoying.
One of the interesting things about some Jung-derived theories is the roles given to the different attitudes in a person’s personality matrix. In particular, the tertiary and inferior play an interesting role in theories like Lenore Thomson’s or Naomi Quenk’s, among others.
For example, as an ENTP, my dominant and secondary functions are Extraverted Intuition and Introverted Thinking, respectively. My tertiary function is Extraverted Feeling, and my inferior is Introverted Sensation.
A way that I liked to think of the functional hierarchy is via restriction: Think of each function as restricting the next. For example, with an ENTP, introverted thinking is employed in the context of extraverted intuition, and extraverted feeling is employed in the context of introverted thinking, and introverted sensation – the inferior – is employed in the narrowest of all contexts – the context of extraverted feeling. On this view, each function gets progressively more narrow and restricted – my introverted thinking capacities are typically going to be narrower than a dominant-Ti, such as an INTP. Introverted Thinking serves my Extraverted Intuition – ideally – not the other way around.
So, I see a lot of people out there saying Obama is an ENTP. Say what? Whoa. I’m in awe. Are any of these people actually ENTPs?? I mean, I have no real significant opinion on him, politically, so I don’t have a horse in this race – he just looks and acts nothing like someone running on extraverted intuition or introverted thinking. I don’t think a person that was using those functions could get to be President anyway. The extraverted rationals would lynch them before the primaries started.
Just a wild stab, but I’d say he’s an ENFJ. He’s a coalition builder. He’s a smooth talker. He’s verbal and competent, looks good in a suit. He has trouble engaging in highly personalized debating tactics (not a problem for the ENTPs – mudslinging is a favorite hobby). He is not provocative – he is not a pot-stirrer. He desires to be a unifier, not divisive. Most of those are ENFJ, not ENTP traits.
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen the two types confused, however. People often jumble ENFJ and ENTP for some reason. I myself have had trouble typing the two more than once. Perhaps it has something to do with the tertiary extraverted feeling of the ENTP? They’re both extraverts, both intuitives. The ENTP is also, in my opinion, the ‘softest’ of the NT-types. The most socially-conscious. The most sensitive. The most artistic. (I can hear my INTJ cousin say “Yeah, and the most GIRLY.”) So it’s the easiest place for the NF and NT line to be crossed…
We’ve only had, by my estimation, one ENTP president – Ulysses S. Grant. And, considering what a success that was, may we never have another one.
Personality forums seem to attract a particular kind of people interested in personality type, and I think it relates to the more general issues of personality type and how to interpret and understand it.
For example, I type as an ENTP. There are two kinds of evidence I have for saying this. The evidence is, to me, important in understanding how this stuff plays out with forums and such.
In Lenore Thomson’s re-imagining of Jung’s personality system, and similar versions (e.g. Naomi Quenk), the tertiary function has some interesting behaviors. In my opinion, it’s actually one of the easiest ways to type someone – look for neurotic behavior of the tertiary.
I thought I’d talk a bit about tertiary extraverted perception, since I grew up with it (not me. All other members of my family: ESFJ, ENFJ, and ENTJ. Ha ha ha!). As someone with dominant extraverted perception (for me, Extraverted Intuition), bizarre extraverted perception stuff really sticks out. It’s often quite grating, in fact. I mentioned this in an earlier post about Ne being the ‘bullshit function’ for people with it in the tertiary position. So consider more of the same here. Oh yes.
For starters, let’s look at Extraverted Sensation in the tertiary. This is the ENFJ and the ENTJ.
Extraverted Sensation (Se) is about the perception of the Here and the Now. What is right in front of me? What is the situation? The Experience. Dominant extraverted perceivers tend to be exceptionally laid back (unless there’s Trouble), and they enjoy activities that involve their perception in the here and now. They are excellent excellent excellent athletes and performers, for example.
As a tertiary function, Se makes for a complexly different presentation. This is the tertiary function for ENFJ and ENTJ. For them, if they’re not Doing Well, so to speak, Se can manifest itself in a bunch of unhealthy ways. For example, an ENFJ I know oh-so-well, when he’s in a terrible mood, will obsess about the Situation and How Things Need to Be Fixed. For example, he would get up in the morning determined to dig a ditch where there isn’t one. Or chop wood that has sat where it’s sat for 5 years. Or go biking backwards, up a hill, in a blizzard. These situations have been there for years, but SUDDENLY, tarnation and dagnabbit, they’ve gotta be dealt with. NOW. THIS MOMENT.
Another ENFJ friend of mine, when she’s stressed, ends up in a sort of fruit-fly pattern, ambling about from one perceived situational crisis to another. Pack this. Unpack that. Pack it again. Clean this. Ask someone if this needs to be stored somewhere else. Is this milk bad? Should I move this chair away from here? Each new Situation presents itself to her before she has finished with the last. This relates to a common identification of ENFJs as putterers. Se, when getting out of control, can make them circle about from one obsessive situation to another, non-stop till they drop.
For the ENFJ in a really bad frame of mind, this Se behavior often fuses with a very ugly version of their dominant function – Extraverted Feeling (Fe). Fe, in its proper functioning, is all about the logic of interpersonal relations. Normally, this is a very positive outlook, and the dominant Fe is a very warm, involving person. However, in the context of Se going haywire, Fe can turn upside down and drive everyone away, creating chaos and negative ugliness (usually in conjunction with inferior introverted thinking). Suddenly, the ditch that needs to be dug needs to be dug With the Help of My Good-for-nothing Sons who Never Want to Help Me Do These Important Things. The packing is suddenly a sign of How Everyone Takes Me For Granted Around Here. Even better, they can pick a particular situation, subconsciously, because they know they won’t get support for doing it. If I could express the subconscious state of this person, it would be like this:
My family is not supporting me. They think negative things about me. They think I’m stupid or useless and they never want to participate in things with me. So. Let’s go down to the river at 10AM on a Saturday, to get bit by thousands of mosquitoes in the blazing sun, and shove some big rocks around knee deep in the mud. Nobody will want to do THAT with me for sure. And that will prove my suspicions about how they don’t want to participate in things, and don’t care about me. My suspicions are ALL TRUE.
*heavy sigh* I know it so well. Calvin’s Father, in Calvin and Hobbes, is most certainly an ENFJ, by the way. Me and Calvin’s childhood were quite similar in fact! I’m very fond of the old man, but sometimes him and his canned prunes and winter bike rides baffled me.
The ENTJ enacts tertiary sensation differently. They have the same issues with Situations and with being fixated on the Here and Now in a Deer-in-the-headlights kind of way, but it mingles with Extraverted Thinking (Te), their dominant attitude, rather than Extraverted Feeling. This gives it a distinctly different twist, I think.’Different’ in the sense of ‘evil’ and ‘twist’ in the sense of ‘twisted.’ The ENTJ, the ENTJ. Oh the ENTJ. I know him well – I had one for a sibling growing up. I did more time with that sibling than most people do in Leavenworth.
A good example of an ENTJ with tertiary sensation problems is, I think, Cartman from South Park. Cartman is obsessed with video games, and toys, and food – all sensations. In the Grip of one of these sensational obsessions, which typically take on a very juvenile nature for the ENTJ, this kind of person turns their considerable Extraverted Thinking (Te) skills to satisfy their infantile needs. Extraverted thinking is all about chains of causality out there in ‘objective’ reality – lining up the billiard balls to make them go in the right pocket. In its dominant attitude, it is a force to be reckoned with, as it allows the person to manipulate and understand chains of circumstances. Te-dominant people are consummate chess players and strategizers, and the ENTJ is the consummate of the consummate. Jeeves from the Wodehouse books is a good example of the power of Extraverted Thinking. Like Wooster, I have great awe of its unholy powers.
However, in the grip of Se like this, the planning and strategizing of the Extraverted Thinker becomes twisted to senseless, petty ends. They scheme to get a parent to buy them a toy. They scheme to destroy people who get in the way of their food. They destroy relationships to ensure that the proper restaurant is chosen next time they go out. Cartman once put a gun to the head of a man who tried to sell him NON-KFC SAUCE FOR HIS &^%&^$ FRIED CHICKEN. Think about that for a moment.
Generally, for the ENTJ, the subconscious process goes like this, I think:
I REALLY NEED [tasty/exciting product] AND PEOPLE ARE KEEPING ME FROM GETTING IT. SUNNUVABITCH. That little *^%*^% is gonna hafta BURN. Now, what I need is some dirt on that person who doesn’t want to go to [temporarily favorite restaurant]. Hmm. I’m going to have to call in a favor from my Source, I see… That little *^%*^% will RUE the DAY.
I don’t really know how they can fix this train of thought. Anybody have any ideas? My general reaction is Run Away, much like King Arthur and his knights Ran Away from the Castle of the French Knights. RUN AWAAAAAAAAAAAY. The combination of the back-room scheming and the petty obsessions make my stomach churn. But that’s just my subjective experience with it – I mean, they’re no worse than any other kind of person. I just personally find it hard to deal with.
For some reason, the ENFJ is usually easier for me – maybe because I find them comical. Probably related to my own tertiary extraverted feeling. Here little ENFJ… Have a cookie and go to bed while I club the ENTJ to death with the .45 he just pulled on me.
For each function (iNtuition, Sensation, Thinking, Feeling), Jung posited an extraverted and an introverted attitude towards it. These two attitudes are opposite, and often find the opposing attitude at least as frustrating as an opposing function.
The critiques that each attitude makes about the opposing attitude can be helpful for diagnosing one’s one attitude as much as (or more than) someone else’s.
Introverted function critiquing the extraverted function (Fi > Fe, Ti > Te, Ni > Ne, Si > Se): your function is shallow; it has no meaning; it is unstable and blows with the wind, tending towards inconsistency or incoherence; it is overpowering and squashes its introverted counterpart.
Extraverted function critiquing the introverted function (Fe > Fi, Te > Ti, Ne > Ni, Se > Si): your function is opaque; it gets lost in itself without being anchored to anything external, bordering on solipsist; it is inaccessible; it is impractical; it is selfish.