Do you think there’s a link between MBTI® types and certain mental illnesses? I’ve seen this question come up often in various Myers-Briggs themed communities, so for a long time I’ve been researching any information I can find to see if there’s a correlation between the two. Last week we talked about the Idealist (NF types), and we talked about how because of their functions they may have vulnerabilities to certain mental illnesses. This doesn’t mean if you are a certain type you are going to have that mental illness. All the research shows is that certain types may be more vulnerable to specific mental illnesses if they are unhealthy, unbalanced, or have other life circumstances that led them to that place. Today we’re going to talk about the Rational (NT) MBTI® types. I’ve checked through my books, read through case studies, and scrolled through numerous web pages to see if I could come up with any link between mental illness and NT types. I hope this will be helpful to you!
Disclaimer: I’m not a psychologist. I’d like to be one someday, but for now all my findings are self-taught through books, web sites, podcasts, etc,..If you feel like you may have symptoms of some of the mental illnesses discussed, please seek professional help and support from friends and family. If you’d like to talk to me in the comments, I’d love to hear from you – just remember I’m not a professional. It is hard to find any empirical evidence to show a correlation between MBTI® type and mental illness, so this post is just my findings based on the research I’ve done.
Another note: We won’t be discussing autism or Aspergers in this post because they are not mental illnesses. I’ve had people ask me to address these, and I think that needs to be done in a separate post. Autism and Aspergers are neuro-biological disorders and I think it might be inappropriate for me to list them here in relation to mental illnesses.
INTJs and Mental Illness
There seems to be a lot of information pointing to INFJs and INTJs being prone to depression and anxiety. These types also seem to have a tendency to be classified as Highly-Sensitive People. I believe this is largely due to the Ni (Introverted Intuition) Se (Extraverted Sensing) loop that causes the INTJ to become easily over-stimulated by sensory information. You can find out more about this in my post Why INFJs and INTJS Get Overstimulated. As far as depression, this study found that introverts were 93.7% more likely to be diagnosed with social phobia or major depressive disorders; so introverts, in general, may be more likely to struggle with these issues.
INTJs may have a higher risk of being diagnosed with Schizotypal Personality Disorder. Again, I’m not saying if you’re an INTJ you’re GOING to have this. My research just seems to show that there might be a higher risk of having this if you’re an INTJ.
If you take a look at The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, it describes Schizotypal Personality Disorder as “A pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits marked by acute discomfort with, and reduced capacity for, close relationships as well as by cognitive or perceptual distortions and eccentricities of behavior, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts ” and then the description lists quite a few antisocial traits – along with showing emotional coldness, detachment, and a tendency to have “magical thinking” or “odd beliefs”. They say those with Schizotypal Personality Disorder have “Odd thinking and speech” which they describe as being “metaphorical, over-elaborate”, as well as behavior or appearance that is “odd, eccentric or peculiar”. To see the entire description you can click here.
So what do we know about INTJs? INTJs need a lot of alone time, they lose energy by increased social interaction, and since they are intuitives they are going to enjoy speaking in metaphor. Their introverted intuition could give them a capacity for “magical thinking” or “odd beliefs” because it pushes the boundaries of what can be seen/felt/touch/tasted in the physical world. Ni is largely about the unseen, the patterns, the connections that we can make without external sensory data. INTJs form only 2% of the population which means that already they are going to stand out from what is ordinary, and they may be seen as “odd” by a predominantly sensor population (70-80% of the US population is made up of sensors, according to personality expert David Kiersey).
In An Empirical Investigation of Jung’s Psychological Types and Personality Disorder Features, they state that “A recent study of 158 male veterans showed that IT types were more likely to have a diagnosis of antisocial and avoidant personality disorders.” They also said that IT types “were more likely to suffer from PTSD.” This same study said that the paranoid, passive-aggressive, and depressive personality disorder all produced an IT profile and that self-defeating personality disorder had an IN profile.
What to do about it:
If you feel like you’re suffering from any of the mental illnesses we’ve talked about then the best way to get help is to start by seeking professional help from a good therapist or counselor. Try to get some peace and quiet to think things through, and get support from your family and friends. If you are manifesting symptoms of mental illness because you are “in the grip” of your inferior function, extraverted sensing, then working on some stress-relieving tactics will help. Not sure if you’re “in the grip” of Se? This post talks in a lot more detail about stress and an INTJs inferior function. It also gives you some ways to try to counteract stress and your grip reaction.
ENTJs and Mental Illness
I had a hard time digging up any correlation between ENTJs and mental illness. I saw many forum threads where ENTJs discussed having depression, and from what I could gather it often had to do with being in difficult work environments where they were under leadership they didn’t respect. ENTJs live to be effective and they are also very independent – in effect, a common thread I noticed was that they were significantly more depressed by being in situations where they were over-worked and underappreciated, or not challenged or able to succeed on their own terms. They also tend to be perfectionistic and that could also be one of the reasons they can struggle with depression – not having their ideas perfected.
Other than this, I only saw hints of other things but no empirical evidence to suggest any correlation between the ENTJ personality and mental or personality disorders.
When researching ENTJs, I came across this statistic on Oddly Developed Types: “ENTJs have some of the lowest stress of all types; in fact, only the ENTPs and ESTPs had less. A study of type and stress found that ENTJs were consistently among the four least stressed types in regards to “Work”, “Finances”, “Intimate Relationships”, “School”, and “Health”.
If you are an ENTJ and you feel like you are dealing with a lot of stress, you can check out my blog post on MBTI and Stress – it has a lot of stress reduction techniques tailored to each type.
If you feel like you are struggling with depression or any mental illness, try to find a good professional who can help you. Many of the ENTJs I know (my dad is an ENTJ) are happiest when they’re pursuing a dream and vision for their future – and it seems like if they’re in a lifestyle where they’re stifled or can’t do that, they do tend to get very depressed.
INTPs and Mental Illness
INTPs are some of the most misunderstood geniuses of the world – from Albert Einstein to Marie Curie, INTPs are innovators of progress and deep intellectual thought. They are also often misdiagnosed and labeled with various mental disorders simply because their type is so rare and misunderstood. Although they are incredibly intelligent and insightful, INTPs mental strengths often go unrecognized in a traditional learning environment. Einstein himself was often misunderstood in school, and is quoted as saying “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school“.
In all my research there seems to be a correlation between the INTP personality type and various mental illnesses or personality disorders. I want to tread carefully here because I fear it may sound like I’m saying that if you’re an INTP you’re doomed to have all these major mental problems. I think INTPs run a high risk of being misunderstood, of having their cognitive functions stifled, and of living in cultures that don’t appreciate their strengths and style of learning. Because of this, I feel that many INTPs have a greater struggle than other personality types with fitting in. While they may truly be more susceptible to certain mental illnesses or personality disorders, I think they also are at a greater risk of being misdiagnosed with these simply because they’ve grown up in an atmosphere that doesn’t nurture or recognize their natural strengths. INTPs make up only 3% of the population – and as such, they often have a hard time finding a group of people with whom they can truly connect.
When it comes to mental illnesses, there may be a correlation between the INTP personality type and diagnoses of ADD, ADHD, a higher likelihood of developing PTSD in traumatic situations, a higher likelihood of having antisocial or avoidant personality disorders, schizotypal personality disorder, passive-aggressive personality disorder, depressive personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder. There has been research that links them to issues with hoarding as well.
INTPs and ADD/ADHD
I could go into a lot of detail discussing why INTPs get diagnosed with ADD. However, the writers over at Oddly Developed Types already did an amazing job of this. They have a whole page full of information and sources for why INTPs are often diagnosed (or misdiagnosed) with ADD. You can check it out here
In my own words, I think a big reason why INTPs get diagnosed with ADD is that they have an internal thinking process – they keep their options open for a long time and a lot of their innovative logical thought isn’t demonstrated to the outside world. They don’t care about impressing their teachers, their bosses, etc,..they want to figure things out on their own terms for themselves. They also have extraverted intuition, which sees possibilities everywhere. Extraverted intuition is highly creative and energetic, and people with dominant or auxiliary Ne (extraverted intuition) often seem to deal with ADD/ADHD labels. They can often seem distractable; seeing ideas and possibilities everywhere. INTPs are often lost in thought, and find repetition or going over the same processes repeatedly very boring. They can easily and frequently “zone out” during school or work if they feel they’re not being challenged or if they’re having to repeat the same things. For this reason, when called upon to answer a question, they often get in trouble for not paying attention. Since INTPs are perceivers, they also like to be surrounded in a sort of organized chaos. They may seem messy, unable to focus, or out of control to other people – but often there’s a method to their “madness”. Unlike J types, INTPs often don’t care as much about getting good grades, good scores on tests, or having things in order. They know what they know, and like to learn for their own sake – not to impress their teachers or to get a certain letter on a test. Unlike Ni-dominant types, they see a million possibilities and ideas in every direction instead of just two or three. I think this is a large part of the reason they struggle with being misdiagnosed with ADD or truly having ADD.
INTPs and PTSD, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder, and Depression
In the case study An Empirical Investigation of Jung’s Psychological Types and Personality Disorder Features, a research group conducted a study of 158 male veterans. The study concluded that IT types were more likely have diagnoses of Antisocial and Avoidant Personality disorders. If you do much research into antisocial or avoidant personality disorders, it’s not hard to see why INTPs may suffer from these more regularly. Again, I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that they are often misunderstood in today’s society.
Over at PsychCentral, they explain that people who suffer from Avoidant Personality Disorder often have the following symptoms:
– They avoid occupational activities that involve significant interpersonal contact, because of fear of disapproval, criticism, or rejection.
– They are unwilling to get involved with people unless they are certain of being liked.
– They show restraint within intimate relationships because of the fear of being shamed or ridiculed
– They are preoccupied with being criticized in social situations
– They view themselves as being socially inept, personally unappealing, or inferior to others
As I talked about before, INTPs are at a greater risk of being misunderstood than many types. Female INTPs in particular often don’t fit into the typical “female” role. In Nurture by Nature, authors Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger say that “Like other strong Thinking types, some INTP girls find themselves even more socially ill at ease than others their age because they are not interested in or adept at conforming to the socially expected “female” behavior and dress of their peers.”
It is possible that the reason that IT types, and in this case INTPs, are more likely to score higher on an Avoidant scale is because of the fact that they A) Prefer to be alone to think things through B) Have experienced misunderstanding and pressure to fit into a more SJ-type learning environment as children, and C) Because they are unable to find others with whom they share similar interests or styles of thinking.
As far as PTSD is concerned, in An Empirical Investigation of Jung’s Psychological Types and Personality Disorder Features, a research group found that 64% of Vietnam veterans had either an ISTP, ISTJ, or an INTP profile. Over at Oddly Developed Types, the writers discuss how misdiagnoses of Aspergers or Autism could cause PTSD in INTPs. This particular quote is very enlightening:
“There appears to be evidence supporting a relationship between the INTP and Asperger’s. Whether this relation is a matter of definition, degree, or actual occurrence remains to be seen. The question of misdiagnosis should be taken very seriously, since some of the treatments for autism have been determined to be “torture” by civil rights groups, and the victims of “therapy” show symptoms of full-blown PTSD. Though many of the grossest abuses have been ended (not including electroshock, which continues), many less obvious cruelties continue. As one person who was questionably diagnosed with Asperger’s and sent to a “special school” for the handicapped recalled recently. “To this day, I have nightmares that I am back in that school.” He states, “I never felt like I had symptoms severe enough to warrant a diagnosis of Asperger’s.”
The same case study I mentioned above that showed a correlation between INTPs and PTSD, showed that the paranoid, passive-aggressive, and depressive personality disorders produced an NP profile.
INTPs and Schizotypal Personality Disorder
I’ve seen two case studies that imply that there could a correlation between the INTP and schizotypal personality disorder. Mayo Clinic describes schizotypal personality disorder in these words:
“People with schizotypal personality disorder are often described as odd or eccentric and usually have few, if any, close relationships. They generally don’t understand how relationships form or the impact of their behavior on others. They may also misinterpret others’ motivations and behaviors and develop significant distrust of others.
These problems may lead to severe anxiety and a tendency to turn inward in social situations, as the person with schizotypal personality disorder responds inappropriately to social cues and holds peculiar beliefs.”
Many intuitive types are seen as being “eccentric”, and introverts, in general, are going to prefer one or two close relationships as opposed to many. INTPs often discuss having a harder time forming deep relationships, since they have a hard time finding people who understand and accept their functions. INTPs also have inferior Fe, which may account for responding inappropriately to social cues.
INTPs and Hoarding
The tertiary Si (Introverted Sensing) of INTPs combined with Ne (extraverted Intuition) probably accounts for the hoarding issue. Ne sees possibilities everywhere, and Si is nostalgic and somewhat sentimental. For this reason, it is hard for INTPs to get rid of things that they see a potential use for (and almost anything has a use), and hard for them to get rid of anything that is linked to a past memory or any sense of nostalgia (Si). The writer(s) at INTP.org have this to say about INTPs and hoarding:
“Because the present is inextricably linked to a sense of the past, INTPs tend to hoard items which help solidify the connection to the past. They find it very difficult to let go of anything they have collected (or indeed created) and which may have a nostalgic meaning. They assume that any object which is of interest now is bound to remain of interest for the rest of their lives. This emphasizes a strong sense of universality in the progression of time, just as it emphasizes the seriousness with which INTPs approach their interests.”
What to do if you feel you may have a mental illness:
As always, the best thing to do if you feel you may suffer from a mental or personality disorder is to seek some kind of trusted professional help. Explaining to your counselor or therapist that you’re an INTP can maybe help them to understand your thought processes. If you feel like you are having issues related to stress – like depression, anxiety, loneliness – you can check out this post on MBTI types and stress where you can find many ways to battle stress using your personality type. Here are a few ideas:
– Give yourself alone time to think and process your feelings
– Exercise and get enough sleep
– If you have a trusted friend, try to confide in them what you’re going through. Even though you’re very private, it’s always good to have the moral support and encouragement of a good friend.
Friends and family members of INTPs would do well to study up on the INTP personality so that they can be more understanding and supportive. Remember that INTPs need plenty of time alone, that they dislike rigidly structured environments, and that they may struggle with being in tune with other people’s feelings. Also, encourage them to express their thoughts, ideas, inventions, and plans. Many times INTPs have a fear of failure, and so they keep their ideas to themselves. Encourage them to show their brilliance. Because they are exceptionally brilliant.
ENTPS and Mental Illness
ENTPs are incredibly inventive, intellectual and creative. They are usually full of ingenious ideas that they want to share with the world. They love nothing more than a challenging debate or an energetic intellectual discussion. Their dominant Ne (extraverted intuition) keeps them seeing opportunities and strategies everywhere – and they are usually highly ambitious and make great leaps up the corporate ladder.
As far as ENTPs and mental illness, I feel again I must tread carefully. ENTPs are a wonderful group of people, but if I start listing off the mental disorders they’ve been linked to it could sound really negative. If you’re an ENTP you may likely NOT have these disorders; all my research shows is that it may mean you are more susceptible to them than other types if you are unhealthy or unbalanced. The disorders I found that could be linked to ENTPs are ADD, ADHD, Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and Sadistic Personality Disorder.
ENTPs and ADD/ADHD
ENTPs are highly energetic, and due to their dominant Ne they see possibilities and ideas everywhere they look. Because of this they are often full of excitement and are willing to derail from a current plan to try many other plans and ideas. As children they can be distractable and can have a hard time deciding on one course of action. They are also very social and enjoy debating and talking and exploring ideas with other children. The rote aspects of school can be very frustrating and boring for them, and they can find that their mind wanders a lot. As adults, if ENTPs are stuck in a job that is rigid and highly structured they can feel that their mind is racing with ideas of things they would do if they could just quit their 9-5 occupation. Generally, the Ne and Se dominant types are the most likely to be diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. The Ne types see ideas everywhere and want to explore those, the Se types see activities everywhere that they want to get their hands on. While some ENTPs really do have ADD or ADHD, others may be misdiagnosed simply because their Ne isn’t nurtured. If a child with dominant Ne is cooped up in a classroom and then forced into a rigid, structured environment at home they may start to manifest symptoms of ADD or ADHD because they don’t have an outlet for all their ideas and energy.
ENTPs and Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Sadistic Personality Disorder
Okay, before I even begin to get into this, let’s look at what the definitions are for these disorders.
Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder
A pervasive pattern of self-inflation, pseudo-confidence, exhibitionism, and strivings for prestige that compensates for feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem, as indicated by the following:
Pretentiousness – Exhibitionism – Deceitfulness/manipulativeness – Idealisation in relationships – Fragmentation of the self – Hypochondriasis – Self-destructiveness
Sadistic Personality Disorder
This disorder is characterized by cruel, aggressive, manipulative, and demeaning behavior directed towards others. Abusiveness and violence are common, because the sadist lacks concern for people and derives pleasure from harming or humiliating others.
Okay, these both sound really bad, so I feel like I’m asking to be slapped in the face by ENTPs just by suggesting a correlation. I’ve known a few ENTPs and I can say with confidence that NONE of them have shown signs of having any of these disorders. They’ve all been really charismatic, lively, intelligent people that are a lot of fun to be around. So please do not assume that I am saying if you’re an ENTP you’re going to have these disorders. Right now I’m just putting the research out there and if it helps anyone, great! But the evidence is very inconclusive at this point.
The research that shows a correlation between these three disorders and the ENTP is found in An Empirical Investigation of Jung’s Psychological Types and Personality Disorder Features. There is also some information here that talks about a correlation between ENTPs and the Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I’m having a hard time coming up with sources for this second page, though – so I’m not sure how reliable it is.
What to do if you feel you may have one of these mental issues:
If you feel like you struggle with any of the illnesses mentioned here, then the first course of action is to try to find a trusted counselor or therapist who can help you. You can test yourself for Attention Deficit Disorder here. You can find tests here for many other personality or mental disorders. While it’s best to get a diagnosis from a real psychiatrist, these tests can possibly point you in the right direction. Just don’t take your test result as absolute fact, because many people can misdiagnose themselves from a test. They aren’t the best way to determine a mental illness.
I’m no psychiatrist. I’d like to be a counselor someday, but at this point I’m just reading a lot, taking a lot of notes, and relaying here what I’ve found. I hope it can be helpful! I think all the Myers Briggs types are incredible and I never want to seem biased towards one or another. If you feel like you can relate to anything on here, let me know in the comments! If you disagree, agree, or have any of your own thoughts to add, I’d love to hear from you.
An Empirical Investigation of Jung’s Psychological types and Personality Disorder Features – Case Study
Journal of Psychological Type
INTPS and ADD by Oddly Developed Types
INTPs and Stress by Oddly Developed Types
The 16 Types – web page
Nurture by Nature – Understanding Your Child’s Personality Type – And Become a Better Parent by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger
Please Understand Me II by David Kiersey