Last revised


When you know, and you know you know, confidence replaces fear. 

* * *

I've gotten email from people wanting to know whether I have ESP, because they read about it in Keirsey's INFJ type description and wonder if it's true.

Yes it's true.

I have ESP.

I "know" the bicycle I've left outside on the patio is going to rust.  I'm absolutely certain of it.

Once I dated a man who I just "knew" was never going to marry me.

Some nights I know what my husband is going to want for dinner without even asking.  I just "know."

I've had email correspondence with people where I asked them to let me know about something, and I just knew they weren't going to follow-up... and they didn't.

I "know" if my husband leaves the portable CD player in the car where it's visible, somebody is going to break a window and steal it (and they did).

Sometimes when I pull up behind a car at a traffic light, I just "know" they're going to make a right turn even though they aren't signaling.  Maybe it's because of the car's angle, or the head movements of the driver that give me a clue, or something else I can't put my finger on...

I got an email once from somebody who was compiling a listing of certain events in Los Angeles that he planned to update every month and distribute to people.  He wanted my opinion, and I told him I thought it was a great idea, but I didn't see how he would keep it up for very long.  I got one more email from him with the listings, and never heard from him since.  I just "knew."

Years ago, I dated somebody who thought he was out of shape physically, and I just "knew" he needed to join a health club and go 3x a week to feel good about himself again.  I found a nearby club and used a timer to figure out how long it would take him to drive there and back for lunch hour workouts.  He was resistant to my idea, but I browbeat him into trying it, even buying a temporary membership myself so I could hold his hand and drag him there.  That was 12 years ago, and he still works out regularly -- plays racquetball and even goes skiing now.

This same friend's ex-wife worked in Marketing at a major movie studio.  She hobnobbed with the likes of Mel Brooks and Steven Spielberg.  She was a Big Deal in Hollywood.  There was a "poison pill" in her contract that if the studio fired her, they had to pay a huge penalty -- it was like $25,000 -- and in return she couldn't work in her industry for 5 years.  She got a new boss she was unhappy with and, together, they agreed to exercise that option of her contract.  At the time I felt it was a mistake, but I didn't say anything because everyone thought it was a wondrous thing how she was getting this huge bonus.  Last I heard, she was moving to Colorado to sell survival supplies, after having tried several different careers and eventually running out of money.  Oh how the mighty had fallen.

One time I was working with a writer on a script.  We had put together several scenes for "pick-up shooting" in a movie that had already been shot and we desperately needed the same cast to come back for a day or two.  One of the actors demanded that a friend of his re-write the script before shooting.  The writer I was working with was incensed, and thought the request was an insult.  It was, but the actor had us over a barrel because we needed him.  I consulted my iNtuition, and suddenly declared to the writer, "Say yes.  Just tell them yes."  The writer got very upset, thinking that I had turned against him too.  But then I said, "He won't do anything.  It's an empty threat.  Saying your friend will rewrite the script and actually rewriting the script are two different things -- he won't actually do it!"  Fortunately, my writer trusted me enough to put faith in my prediction.  Sure enough, shortly before shooting, this writer friend turned in his changes.  He had added a couple of French phrases and changed one or two sentences.  It was laughable how little had been done.  ...Of course, what I did not predict was how the actor would show up on the set without even having looked at the scenes, much less memorized them.  All that fuss, and for what?  Weird.

I had a writing partner once who got married, and suddenly I started getting mixed signals.  (I think his wife was terribly jealous and insecure.)  One day he asked me why I was being so solicitous, and I said it was because I was afraid he was going to stop working with me, even dump me.  He looked me straight in the eye and said, "It'll never happen.  Do you know how good a friend I am to you?  I'm such a good friend that you don't even have to be nice to me, that's how good a friend I am."  And he meant it, too!  So I left him alone so things could cool off, and a few weeks later I get a distant message from him on my answering machine that he didn't "owe me anything" and to "stop bothering him."  (Mind you, we'd written eight scripts together, and I had trusted him to the extent that I didn't even have copies of them, much less a written contract.)  It took me years to realize my intuition had been right despite his sincerity -- I sure didn't want to believe I was right.  It was a bitter pill to swallow.

When I got married at Stonehenge, I just "knew" it was going to be awesome, even though I had to plan the whole event from overseas.  I also "knew" the experience was going to impact all of our family members who attended as guests.  In fact, that was one of our motivating reasons for holding it there.  And it worked!  My sister-in-law became determined to return someday with her daughter (and did); her son suddenly took up serious study of Computer Science; my parents enjoyed themselves enough to take another trip overseas to The Netherlands last summer.  My sister and her children display more pride and self-confidence than they did before.  Everyone's "world view" shifted imperceptibly, and every one of them was affected in a positive way, just as I predicted.

A couple months ago I had a problem with that escalated all through Customer Service.  I even pushed it to the Executive Team, where they began citing fine print and legalese and infuriated me beyond expression.  I felt I had done all that any reasonable person could do.  Eventually, I gave the problem over to my iNtuition and went to bed.  The next morning, I just "knew" how to solve the problem.  My thinking adjusted 90 degrees.  I altered something on my end, wrote an email to the Executive Team explaining my radical solution, and made my request again.  This time it was granted immediately.  (Even my husband was stunned.)  Thank goodness my iNtuition came to the rescue before I angrily burnt that bridge!

According to Dr. Dario Nardi, every IN_J was practically born knowing the trick about turning a problem over to your iNtuition before bedtime and waking up in the morning knowing the answer.  He thinks that's practically second nature for us.  And it's true that it's something I've done my whole life -- sometimes consciously; sometimes unconsciously.  Certainly it works with an amazing degree of regularity.  Is that ESP?

Let me tell you what kind of ESP I don't have.  I didn't predict the 1996 Northridge earthquake.  I didn't know one of my boyfriends was secretly married.  I can't predict futures with palm-reading, tarot cards, crystal balls, or tea-leaves.  9/11 caught me completely by surprise, and I had no idea who would win the U.S. Presidency.  I've never encountered extra-terrestrial aliens, bent spoons with my mind, "freed" lost spirits in Sedona, nor passed through magic "portals" at Stonehenge. 

I don't believe I'm mystical or clairvoyant -- as oblivious as I am to stuff, I think I'm telepathetic!  Other INFJs I've met seem as normal as apple pie to me and are about as far removed from "woo-woo" as they come.  (Truthfully, IN_Js are sometimes scornful of people who claim to do "woo-woo" things.)  Most IN_Js I know use their iNtuition to do financial planning, or courseware designing, or project management.  They are often steeped in classic business practices, and use their iNtuition effectively in that realm.

Now when I was younger, I used to read delicious Gothic romances, and sometimes they featured a historic female "visionary" -- usually someone of Irish descent with gorgeous, flaming red hair. And they would whisper how she had the "second sight." And oh! how I wanted to be her! Or there would be a kindly "witch" dwelling in a tiny thatched cottage who knew which herbs and flowers in the forest possessed healing powers, and maybe she knew how to cast a "spell" or two... 

I very nearly sent off a check of some inconceivable sum to order an appealing Booke of Spells and Magick I found offered through a tiny black & white ad buried in the back of my teen magazines, interspersed amongst ads for breast enhancement creams.  But I could never quite bring myself to actually mail the check, though some part of me desperately longed to be blessed with "special gifts" and possess secret knowledge!

I confess:  Magic, Witchcraft, Palmistry, Tarot, and even Astrology intrigue and mystify me.  But I don't actually engage in any of these -- at least not for more than occasional casual recreation (like at a party).  I don't "rely" on them in any way -- and I've yet to meet a dominant introverted iNtuiting type who does!  Like I already said -- most INFJs seem as normal as apple pie.  You wouldn't likely mistake one for a gypsy!

Do INFJs have ESP?  Well, if you define E.S.P. as "an ability to foresee the future," then I'd say the answer is "yes."  But not in any kind of weird, magical way -- but rather in a kind of ordinary, predictable way.  To those of us who actually do this, it isn't "mysterious" at all, and mostly we just feel normal about it.

I've met other INFJs who do this same sort of thing all the time -- the foreseeing thing -- and yet they feel guilty because they "don't have ESP" like Keirsey says they should!  And I know exactly where they're coming from.  I believe anyone can do what we do.  It's automatic and unreflected.  Me -- I'm not even comfortable being called a "visionary," because I don't want to be mistaken for a "dreamer," or considered a "seer" who can be found practicing divination whilst concentrating on a crystal globe.  And yet my interaction style is "Chart-the-Course," which is all about anticipating the future, and my favorite function is introverted iNtuition, which is defined as:

Foreseeing implications, conceptualizing new ways of seeing things, and getting a sense or image of the future or of profound meaning.

A question I regularly put to myself is:

What are the implications for the future?

...and I even get answers back.  

Dario (an INTJ) has analyzed the function of introverted iNtuition, and says

Introverted Intuiting is more than a font of revelations, realizations, and inspiring visions. It is a cognitive process that we can actively engage to produce a sophisticated result. What happens varies depending on our psychological response when called to engage it. 

He links our ability to use functions to learning stages you may be familiar with.

Stage Level of Learning Introverted iNtuition is Engaged as Typical Experience



No awareness, conscious usage, or development


Unconscious Incompetence - most aspects of the process are outside our awareness - we do not even know what we are missing. We may arrange our lives to avoid engaging the process or project negative aspects of the process on to others. Sometimes have "beginner's luck" using it.

a strange experience

experience a mystical state

feel pulled to particular symbolic, fantastical or archetypal images

suddenly just “know” about a far-away event


Conscious Incompetence - we're aware of what needs improvement, use the process awkwardly, and we do not understand the process from a wider perspective. We often over-use, under-use and mis-use the process. Often used in service of another leading process.

magical guide

follow a vision or dream of how things will be in the future

rely on a focal device or symbolic action to predict or transform

pursue “secret knowledge” or initiation into a mystery


Conscious Competence - we selectively focus attention and choose what aspects of the process will be most effective, often knowing just the right way to engage the process for success. Aware of how to link the process to other processes. Sometimes overbearing.

cognitive tool

freely produce complex insights into problems

enhance one’s current self by bringing in other aspects of oneself

foresee results of intuitive insights and pre-adjust


Unconscious Competence - all aspects of the process are seamlessly integrated with other functions, enabling the process to lead from the background through other processes. We flow with effortless results by creatively breaking the "rules" of the process.

growth catalyst

create by partnering with the unconscious

conceive of novel ways to understand things that are universal

facilitate transcendent experiences (self, others, groups)

Dario explains his chart thus:

The "stages" are merely for organizational purposes and reflect points along a continuum. Typically, if introverted Intuiting is dominant, then stages 1 and 2 show in childhood, stage 3 shows in adolescence and one’s twenties, and stage 4 hopefully shows somewhat later. Where we are is somewhat "fuzzy." A thirty-something INFJ or INTJ may function at stage 3 on a daily basis, visit stage 4 during peak moments of creativity and leadership, and respond from stage 2 when under stress or playing around. Other personality types mature into introverted Intuiting more slowly and get less successful results.

He goes on to describe ways in which anyone might engage the function of introverted iNtuition.  (Realize, of course, that IN_Js are most inclined to engage it with the advanced expressions of Stages 3 and 4.):

Our human inheritance provides us with instinctual stage 1 experiences. For introverted Intuiting, archetypes and a capacity for mystical experiences are hardwired into the brain. For stage 2, culture provides both socially-normative and alternative ways for us to engage each function. Most "magic guides" such as tarot readers or secret societies are outside mainstream society but the culture provides these for us. In contrast, stage 3 is our personalized cognitive toolbox. It is diverse and sophisticated. We use it toward personal ends, whether to help solve a scientific mystery, creatively build a business, or further develop our human potential. Broadly, usage allows us to solve problems that do not yet exist and provides insights into issues we have not yet faced. (This is "active" foreseeing.) Stage 4 is a synthesis of the others. The result of engaging it shifts people and paradigms, and produces heroic results. 

* * *

Do you identify with Dario's characterizations?  Boy I do, down to my childhood fascination with mystical things, exactly like I described earlier!  And my experience with was surely a "Stage 3" experience, and I think my Stonehenge wedding qualifies as a "Stage 4."  Ergo, given what Dario says, and given how I manifest his analysis in my own life, I accept (with great discomfort) my role as a Visionary, or having ESP, if you will. 

Just don't tell anybody -- please?  I'll never live it down.

A Fresh Understanding of Function Development, by Dario Nardi

* * *