including "grip" material here because it's popular with so many
people. But I'm rather uncomfortable with it. So before I give you
any information about INFJs in the "grip," you have to hear my objections to
came up with his theories of Psychological Type, he was interested in examining
the psyches of healthy personalities. He once said that since Freud
and other psychologists were focused on unhealthy people, it left the
field wide open for him (Jung) to focus on healthy people. And Isabel
Briggs-Myers perpetuated this spirit when she developed the Myers-Briggs Type
Indicator. It was never intended to "psychoanalyze" people and
discover what's wrong with them. In fact, she hoped her instrument
would contribute to world peace and prevent further wars in our world by helping
people understand and cope with their differences in a healthy way.
this "grip" notion has taken hold of a lot of people, and they use it
to "reverse engineer" type. Really! For instance, a guy
told me how his ISFJ grandmother had been "in the
grip" for years. Digging a little further, his grandmother
sounded like a perfectly normal Improviser. But this notion of
"grip" became a "filter" for this guy to label perfectly
reasonable differences between himself and grandma. He couldn't accept that
her behaviors as an Improviser were healthy, so he rationalized her personality by
claiming she was a Stabilizer "stuck in the grip" for years on end. Of
course, he has no frame of reference to what grandma looks like in a supposed well-functioning state, because he's only
witnessed the one behavior pattern. By the
same token, my INFJ friend has been debating with someone who is convinced that
Hugo Chavez (the Venezuelan Dictator) is an INFJ "in the grip."
Again, there is a reliance on pointing at unhealthy behaviors and using them to
prove what someone's best-fit type is, which strikes me as the tail wagging the
its logical extreme, certain historical characters have been characterized by
the type community using this method of "reverse engineering." A
perfect example is Adolf Hitler*. Many type experts claim
that Hitler was probably _NFJ -- citing his LACK of Catalyst qualities to prove
that's what he was, but suggesting that since Hitler was insane, this
analysis doesn't have to make sense.
uncomfortable with that approach. If every "exception" proves
the rule, then the rule is useless.
believe that "grip" behavior is as common or extreme as is sometimes implied.
And Dr. Linda Berens says that we can come under the "grip" of any
function, so that leaves it with limited value as a Type compass.
"Grip" may simply be another term for what is to us bloody
singlemindedness. While it may be possible for you to learn about your own
typical "grip" behaviors and their remedies, and perhaps even use this information to
help determine your own best-fit type, I don't feel it's a wise or healthy
tool for determining others' best-fit type, and I would caution you from using
it in that way. I don't think it's a reliable model, which is why I
don't list it in that category, and I distrust
those who employ it too widely. The only way I entertain usefulness for
any "grip" material is when it contradicts a person's normal
behavior. There must be a Dr. Jekyll to contrast with Mr. Hyde.
Otherwise, we should accept at face value that Mr. Hyde is the real person and not leave it to
our imagination to construct what their "normal" personality must be.
of the "grip" may hold value for self-analysis, but when used
to analyze others it can become a weapon for condemning normal differences -- which
is inappropriate and even unethical use of the material. And we want to
stay well away from that!
what is this "grip" behavior I'm talking about?
Well, as I
said already, we can get stuck in "the grip" of any
function. What that means is that we get trapped using a single function
and experience everything single-mindedly through that one lens.
Introverted functions are especially easy to get trapped in. INFJs
sometimes get stuck in their iNtuition when they get riveted on an inner vision
that ignores practicality -- such as wanting to buy the "perfect" Christmas
present when it's Christmas Eve, or obsessing about a relationship that should
have been perfect. They can get stuck in introverted Thinking when they
apply a particular model to everything they see (I've been known to do
that with Type theory). They might get stuck in their extraverted Feeling,
helping others out to the detriment of themselves, or engaging in "runaway
self-disclosure." These behaviors all
reflect possible "grip" experiences.
there's the grip of the inferior. When you fall into the grip of the
inferior, you might find yourself saying things like, "I don't know what
got into me," or "Something came over me," or "I wasn't
myself." Others may notice, remark on, or want an explanation for our
odd behavior. Our sense of the experience is, "Was that really
More To come...
falling into the grip of the inferior happens when we are either over-using our
dominant function and our system expresses a need for balance, or when we are at
"low ebb" psychically. Conditions that lower our conscious
energy include illness, stress, alcohol/drugs, or fatigue -- and these all make
us susceptible to "grip" behaviors. We also want to beware of
what 12-Step programs call "not taking care of
yourself." These behaviors include getting too hungry, too tired,
or too lonely -- basically not taking proper care of ourselves.
* * *
Type expert and Jungian Dr. John Beebe makes an excellent case in the book Jungian
Analysis, 2d edition, 1995 (pg. 329-330), that Hitler's preferences were for ISTJ.
And I quote
Hitler was originally probably an
introverted sensation type, whose inferior extraverted intuition, carried by a
hypomanic but inspiring anima (von Franz 1971), had led Germany in the 1930s to
a miraculous economic recovery. On the verge of his starting World War II,
however, encouraged by the fascination and lack of limit-setting of other world
powers, Hitler's inflated, but unstable, extraverted intuition seemed to give
over to its truly demonic shadow, an undermining introverted intuition that
assumed the form of a distorted religious vision. Hitler's use of a falsified,
"bedeviled" version of the old Germanic god Wotan (Burri 1978) to stir up
archetypal support for his vengeful project of world domination and ethnic
purification was like introducing a virus into the collective unconscious of the
German people: he did succeed in producing a genuine religious disturbance, a
caesura in the spiritual history of Europe, from which the West is still trying
to recover (Lacoue-Labarthe 1990). Hitler's case, as no other, illustrates the
dangerousness of the demonic function, that area of primitive compensations and
uncanny possessions that is in all of us, but is an especial threat, through the
collapse of the inferior function, to decompensating individuals.
It's logical for
people to characterize Hitler as a dominant introverted intuitive, because
functionally he was. This is why a more-than-superficial understanding of
type and Beebe's model are so important -- so that
we do not conflate distorted functioning with normal functioning. A
riveting psychological analysis of Hitler written during World War II is
available online here.
* * *