Who and what this is about
“ESFP” herein refers exclusively to a category of Myers-Briggs personality type: Extravert / Sensing / Feeling / Perceptive without Judgment. It does not generally refer to ESFPs with Judgment. They belong firmly in two separate and distinct subcategories. The generalizations herein cannot even apply uncritically to all ESFPs without Judgment because personality types are rife with permutations. The subject is complex and does not lend itself to hard and fast anything. Although it’s an everyday preoccupation the ultimate foundation for its insights is intuition.
This is a reflection on the development of the ESFP without Judgment personality type:
• in relation to its own internal INTJ opposites: Introversion / Intuition / Thinking / Judgment
• in relation to others who belong to its opposite INTJ personality type.
It is based not on formal scholarship but on general observation and specific experience with multiple ESFPs. Its inspiration is Isabel Briggs Myers’ notion, laid out in Gifts Differing (1980), that individuals with opposite personality types can help one another expand their personalities into their opposites. That by doing so they will gain self-awareness, strengthen their innate powers, abilities, and overall character, strengthen their relationships, and thereby meet their obligations and stand up to adversity.
It makes no claim to objectivity since it’s about ESFPs in relation to INTJ opposites and the author is an INTJ. It is, in fact, highly subjective. Its claim to legitimacy rests solely on the implications of logic drawn from what is known about and experienced with these two personality types. In other words, it will either make sense and ring true or it won’t. It will either help reduce friction and make life easier or it won’t.
The frustration of friction
Frustration is evident in these thoughts because of the author’s personal experience with ESFs and the heartbreak of troubled relationships with relatives and friends. Plus there is humanity’s shared experience with demagogues like the former guy who make a career out of troubling relationships. The author’s INTJ type is a distinct minority according to Isabel’s intuition, maybe a quarter of the general population. That’s certainly how it seems. He’s surrounded by pennant-waving, winning-obsessed fans, one for all, all for one, who would give us the shirts off their backs so long as we’re already wearing their team’s shirt. If we’re not, or worse, if we’re just an individual without a team, we’re nobody. We might as well be invisible. This can be frustrating.
The model for these observations is a composite, although the former guy checks off on most everything that annihilates personal friendship, so he qualifies. “ESFP without Judgment” is ESFPs walled off from their INTJ opposites. From INTJ assets that are not only under-utilized they’re treated as aliens not to be trusted. Whether by conscious choice or by being so enamored of type that the ESFPs have forfeited their ability to see or be anything else. Like they’ve given up their free will, which is to say, their minds since all that reason and analysis are really for is to choose. Like they’ve become a personality so set in their type, so rote and inaccessible, that it’s pointless to relate to them except socially on the most superficial level.
So resolute, so intractable is their inaccessibility, that these thoughts can’t really be directed at them. It would be pointless. They’re directed at whatever controls them. And if these thoughts sound like ire so be it: whatever has taken them captive and out of reach is definitely not nice. The problem is, it can’t be a Who. It can’t be anything living. How can a self-respecting INTJ get anywhere with an inaccessible ESFP by raging at a virus? Jesus raging at money lenders defiling a temple made sense. Raging at a PA system blaring inane messages scripted by an absurd movie villain wouldn’t.
Getting to understanding
What could work is an attempt at understanding. Not retaliation with yet another projection of guilt, but understanding that protects both sides with thoughtful analysis. With patient reflection instead of passion. Understanding that clarifies choices and the costs and benefits needed to make them rationally. Costs and benefits that can make a friendship or break it.
Why bother? Maybe it’s because motivation isn’t always for us alone to decide. Maybe others depend on ESFPs and INTJs to get along, to get their acts together, so they attend to business, to shared purpose on behalf of the larger family. On behalf of the larger community that can’t maintain harmony and attend to its business unless all of us do our part. There’s selfishness and rancor in the friction to follow and this may be where it begins: with individuals caught up in their stuff ignoring the bigger picture: those who depend on them.
What then can be done about it? How about striving for understanding to reconcile our personalities on behalf of those who need us, and to serve our families and our communities with loving kindness?
Sensing the Absolute
Obsession with imagery and indulgence in bodily appetites are a form of worship for ESFPs without Judgment. Worship of the Absolute that not only caresses their senses with blessings but reciprocates with their very Worth. Though they may only be preoccupied with appearances there is no overstating the value of appearances. Satisfaction from experience that is both sensuous (aesthetic) and sensual (passions and appetites) is to be effusively praised and thanked. It is to be worshiped to fully affirm and reciprocate the reality and worth of gifts and giver: the body’s senses-appetites and their sensed physical environment of infinite beauty, diversity, fascination, and abundance. Divinity shrouded in the vastness of its incomprehensibility.
To a worshipful ESFP, the contrary view put forth by Jesus in A Course in Miracles (ACIM) and by the second-century Gnostic teacher Valentinus is blasphemy. It gets no more sympathy than the escapee from Plato’s Cave who tried to enlighten those who remained behind. “Non-dualism,” that holds that between Mind and matter, Heaven and earth, Good and evil, Values and their opposites, only one can be real, is heresy. So say ESFPs. And so says the Church, which went to great lengths to stamp out the heresy of Gnosticism.
Dualing or non-dualing our way to “Reality”
ESFPs’ loyalty to the sensed universe, that rewards bodies with pleasure and them with affirmation, is intransigence. It’s faith posing as “realism” even though physics itself doubts its reality. Posing as “reason” even though physics itself acknowledges the flaw in its circular reasoning. It must be faith because ESFPs make no attempt to support their choice with facts and Logic. They avoid facts and Logic. They rest their case without even feeling obliged to make one. Their reality is real because they say it is. More circular reasoning: QED – quod erat demonstrandum.
The “case” for “god,” an absolute source who shares ESFPs’ body-sensed universe, is a flagrant contradiction. Irrational but nonetheless accepted by humanity’s dominant dualist paradigms with scarcely any thought. Whereas the case for ACIM’s non-dualism, that is thoughtful and carefully reasoned, is held to be blasphemous. The Eleatics school, that Parmenides founded in the late fifth century BCE, held that our material environment is illusory. The school and the field of metaphysics that it founded, based on the pursuit of truth through Reason, was held in high regard. It influenced Plato and, through Plato, all of Western thought.
Aristotle didn’t launch the physical sciences by slamming the door on reasoning based on the Reality of Mind. His acknowledgement that Mind is Real kept it open. Parmenides made Rovelli (Reality Is Not What It Seems 2017) uncomfortable but, strangely, Schroedinger’s calling out physics for circular reasoning didn’t. It was OK if the measurements of matter taken by bodies are measurements of themselves, an obvious conflict of interest. A violation of objectivity that compromises understanding.
Hiding in Plato’s Cave
Yet Schroedinger and Rovelli, two theorists, didn’t look into it, didn’t apply their powerful intellects to correct an obvious flaw in the Logic of their profession. Pointedly stayed away from philosophy when the situation cried out for it. When Schroedinger, a philosopher as well as physicist, might have made a decisive contribution. Why? What kept these two giants in their field from tracing the implications of this flaw? From thinking about it? What were they protecting?
It’s striking how closed minds are on this question. Not just among body-biased ESFPs but among serious INTJ thinkers as well. Ever since Plato the question has been left untouched like a third rail by the dominant paradigms of science, religion, philosophy, and psychology. By the same paradigms that preside over the world’s dysfunctional politics and tribal-racist culture. That ensure that relationships of all kinds break down with regularity, with ruinous consequences not just for humanity but for the entire planet. ESFPs who get their kicks from sensing-feeling and physicists who make a living off of it remain confined to Plato’s Cave, perversely unable and unwilling to use their minds to think or see their way out of it.
Putting faith in the “magic” of pleasure and comfort
The root cause of body-biased ESFPs’ resistance to ACIM’s case for non-dualism – for the reality of Mind and the unreality of matter -- would appear to be an irrational faith-based choice. Their choice of the source of everything implied by body sensing-feeling for their guide: pleasure-gratification from the sensuous and the sensual, from sensed-felt benefits immediate and concrete, from material possessions, and the satisfactions of empowerment and affirmation attained by dominance, winning, and supremacy over the competition.
Taking the “reality” of body sensing-feeling benefits and their source on faith seems to excuse ESFPs and the physics profession both from thinking. From introspecting, reflecting, reasoning, feeling-evaluating, and judging – every INTJ function, every asset. Excuses them from using free will, the power and ability to choose, to question the authority of their guide magic. Their “god” who rules the Cave. They can’t go there because the magician who blesses them with their sacred comfort zones won’t allow it. Because it might depose the magician and deprive them of the ultimate good: their comfort. Dictated by their physical essence, their bodies’ senses-feelings. By the perversion of Plato’s “Good.”
The ultimate transgression isn’t jeopardizing the welfare of those entrusted to the care of ESFPs; it’s hurting ESFPs' own “feelings.” Because their theology, their blind faith in their “god,” is based on the supreme worth of what body senses-feelings deliver: pleasure and comfort. The ultimate validation of their “god’s” divinity, its power, its authority, and worthiness.
Upholding the laws of chaos
Highly attuned to their own feelings ESFPs can be startlingly numb to the feelings of others. Since bodies are their reality, and bodies are isolated and separated, they’re seen as fundamentally in competition with one another. Fertile ground for a win-lose, gain-loss, zero-sum formula for “success.” ESFPs’ formula is ideally suited to their personality type which receives abundant validation from the material world, from social-group behavior, and from the dominant paradigms – the “establishment” -- based on sensory perception.
None challenges ESFP’s faith-based “reality” of selfish-competing bodies getting along by going along, by the pretense of agreeability and social-group non-competition. By the façade, the thin veneer, of belonging-love that’s conditioned on Cave occupants accepting forced conformance with the top-down rule of matter. A condition that, from an INTJ perspective, is blatantly insincere, dishonest, and hypocritical.
But to the ESFP it’s well grounded in the “reality” of fundamentally incompatible bodies-selves. In self-interests competing with one another, dependent on forced pleasantness and agreeability to get along, to achieve “harmony” that ESFPs crave. INTJs’ contrary view seems to them an invitation to chaos, to terminal disharmony in a world of separated bodies ruled by a mindless Cave master, the great inscrutable body in the sky.
Choosing another formula for “success”
ESFPs’ orientation might be changed by one thing. By an awareness of the possibility of an opposite guide whose benefits are mind- and soul-centered instead of body-comfort centered. Who dwells within their own INTJ nature, inside their Intuition. And this would explain their ESFP sensing-god’s abhorrence of it: because it would shine it and its dark Cave away. ESFPs’ orientation might be changed by the choice of Psyche, one among many names for the guide who can speak for Innocence. Because she is Innocence, with no need to project guilt and resort to blame. She also goes by “Christ,” the Christian soul of Innocence: the Child beloved of her Parents. She’s who we are when we aren’t misled by appearances and thrown into chaos by our primitive limbic systems.
The choice of an opposite guide who speaks for Innocence instead of guilt would end the misperception. It would end the obstruction, condemnation, and retaliation that ESFPs’ formula for “success” inflicts on others, particularly INTJs. Confronted with ESFPs’ intransigence INTJs must take on the burden of judging for them on behalf of shared purpose, attending to others entrusted to their care.
ESFPs have a choice. They can choose another guide, another god. They can reconsider their choice on their own by accessing their INTJ assets: by introspecting, reflecting, reasoning, evaluating, and judging. By questioning their judgment against the “benefits” of unquestioned loyalty to their bodies’ feelings instead of the thoughts and feelings that occupy their minds.
ESFPs’ cult of specialness
Close examination of the “benefits” of body-dominance suggests an innate selfishness, an insensitivity that borders on cruelty. Its source is an attitude toward others perceived as competing instead of sharing. An attitude so anti-social that, when practiced by ESFPs with the inclination and opportunity to do harm, it’s sociopathic. The body-centered god of ESFPs is all about competition, whereas the guide of INTJs’ Intuition and internal moral compass is all about sharing. ESFPs’ reality is dog-eat-dog. INTJs’ reality is interconnectedness and reciprocity -- giving and giving back -- based on the reality and truth of mind and Psyche, not on the appearance of separated competing bodies.
There’s irony in the dissonance between ESFPs and INTJs over competition against sharing. ESFPs needing harmony from conformance place excessive emphasis on the pretense of agreeability, tact, diplomacy, and politeness, making a show of respect to hide the fundamental divide. INTJs challenging the pretense with the actual harmony of shared purpose are forced into a show of disagreeability to remove the misperception. To shift ESFPs’ blind faith in the divisive god of body-centered values to the God of mind, trust, and intimacy. To stop the transgression. It’s ESFPs, the presumed champions of harmony, togetherness, and agreeability, who in the end break relationships, not INTJs.
Above the figure nailed to the cross it’s inscribed “Loser,” and the figure isn’t a sacrificial stand-in for victims but the ESFP’s own image. A childlike figure labeled elsewhere by astute journalists “clown” and by street protesters parading with the inflated likeness of a Big Baby. A churl elevated to divinity by religion bound to its god not by the miracle of Creation-Life but by the cult of magic-death. Not by ascent to Heaven, light, and fulfillment but by descent into hell, darkness, and defeat. The unmistakable brand not of a proud, self-earned winner but of a pathetic, self-condemned loser. Guilt hiding in the delusion of victimhood innocence. All of it separation-specialness – a sick joke.
The eternal Beauty that lies beyond whatever bodies can detect
For INTJs, Worth comes from mind’s thinking, valuing, and judging, where the principle of sharing and togetherness is the controlling consideration, the consideration that integrates all into one. For ESFPs, it’s very different. Worth comes from bodies’ sensing-feeling where competition and social-group conformance make up the controlling consideration: every man for himself. It’s a separating principle disguised as “liberty” unbound by the fairness of community that makes real freedom possible.
INTJs’ experience of this body-centered world is desiring to connect via mind’s thoughts and love’s feelings but having less success than connecting via bodies’ senses and feelings. Were it not for their abundant companionship, through the creative possibilities of mind’s imagination, INTJs’ experience would be one of unrelieved isolation and loneliness. Their guide, readily accessible through the shared Memory of Intuition, connects with inner selves sharing not competing.
The temporal beauty, abundance, and possibilities of bodies are nothing compared to the eternal beauty, abundance, and possibilities of minds guided by freely-chosen loving sources beyond whatever bodies can detect. That is, when the fear of what’s unknown to bodies is let go, because minds are not unknown. Because minds are intimate, integral to selves, familiar. More so than bodies that come and go. That appear magically from out of nowhere, change beyond recognition, and disappear back to nowhere, can ever be -- “strangers,” in the words of ACIM, “wandering through the house of Truth.”
The Reality and Gift of Comfort
INTJs connect because Mind is the seat of what’s Known, the source of safety and security, of Logic which is Protection. Of Love, which is true companionship, true Relationship, the true source of Comfort -- the comfort and ease that ESFPs crave. Its source can never be isolated-separated bodies in competition with one another, that turn giving into taking, gain into loss, pleasure into pain, love into fear, innocence into guilt, life into death.
For ESFPs all in for body-centered comfort and competition, the supremacy of “winning” is necessarily the highest good. The intelligence at work in their calculations of self-interest makes sense within their insular take on reality. In the alternative reality that’s centered on the comfort of mind and love rather than bodies, it makes no sense at all.
2 thoughts on “Getting to “Comfort”: Bodies, Minds, and Their Opposing Personality Types”
BRILLIANT piece David! Brings real clarity to the Myers Briggs test. :-D
So very interesting; need a scorecard to keep up but insightful nonetheless!