Elusive Introverted Intuition: What is it?
No matter what source you look at Introverted iNtuition [Ni] never seems to be properly explained. It is always vague with descriptions like “AHA” moments, deep perception, and mystical like psychic abilities. Or you get tumblr, which is probably filled with the most misinformation about the function. (Don’t get me started on forums where people make baseless claims and just cause even more mass confusion). Then the worst reasoning for dominant Ni I have ever seen is “long term planning/goals.” As if no other types, just the rarest in the population, have this ability.
So where do we start and figure out what this function actually is? Out of credible sources (peer reviewed articles and books) even their descriptions seem vague and are difficult to imagine and actually apply. Unlike all other functions described in their purest form, the dominant position, it can’t seem to be described as its own function. What I mean is Ni can’t seem to be described alone, but must be paired with other functions INJs use in their stack in order to illustrate the function. But at that point you are no longer describing Ni, but the personality type as a whole. Sources seem to dance around the actual definition or explanation of Ni. And it is utterly bothersome. What is it at its core?
I think going into where this misinformation comes from will help ground us in the actual function of Ni in its purest form in INFJs and INTJs. Once this is uncovered we will see why these types are so rare and perhaps glorify them less. This way we don’t see them as mythical unicorns, but people with pros and cons like the rest of the personality types.
1. “Gut Feelings” or AHA moments. Let’s start with Lenore Thomson’s beginning description of the function, “Introverted intuition is more cerebral than the [other perceiving function]. It prompts an interest in perception itself – the process of recognizing and interpreting what we take in” (222). What we take from this is that INJs are theoretical filters. They take in information and focus in on it, they mull over it. INJ’s intuition is very focused and trying to look for a conclusion. From the outside when they finally verbalize their conclusions it can look like a “gut feeling” or AHA moment. But this is a false representation of what is going on inside the mind of an INJ. They worked very hard to get to that conclusion, seeming aloof or empty for so long cause they were so focused inward that once they formulated their conclusion they come back to the land of living to share this information. However, in a dominant position INJs are less inclined to engage with others about their ideas/conclusions, ESPECIALLY when the ideas/conclusions aren’t fully formulated.
Unlike Extroverted intuition types (ENPs) who will blurt out all their theories and ideas aloud to bounce them off others and then hide away not letting others know about their full conclusions, INJs do the exact opposite. They are bouncing these ideas within their own minds. Let us use the act of painting an art piece to demonstrate how this works. Think of the paintings as theories/ideas these people have. Ne (extroverted intuition) will look at the canvas and see a billion possibilities.
ENPs will be unable to resist painting right away even without, often without, a full picture of what they want to produce as their end art piece. They will make mistakes and chuck out a canvas and replace it anew. Each time they will ask for feedback, probably cutting off people and finishing their thoughts because they share them too and don’t want to sit through a person repeating what they know. After a while of this they will finally have a completed piece of art. Although their workshop is messy, it is completed. AKA the final theory is formed.
The INJ is different. They look at the blank canvas for a very, very long time. The paints are left untouched and it is absolute silence. They are in an intense state of concentration. In their mind they are imagining the end result they want and how to get there. What will they mix together to get to that end result they so imagine? They will then painstakingly make that vision come to life on the canvas, making sure not one stroke is off. No room for mistakes. It will take an unfortunate amount of time. But once it is finished, if it is exactly the conclusion or painting they wanted in their minds. The INJ will then show it to others, but only then.
Now, we can see the obvious social differences here. The ENP needed feedback, needed to physically see their ideas in the outside world, and needed a few practice ones. The INJ being introverted kept their work private and not until it was perfect then share it with others. This is why they appear to have “AHA” moments or gut feelings. Because to the outsider it looks like the painter INJ is absent, not there. Then suddenly an idea pops in their minds and they go for it. That isn’t what happened though. Every part of the painting the INJ thought about before physically implementing it. Every part was thought out and methodical. It was brought to a linear conclusion, aka polished to an inch of its life, before the INJ enacted it. There wasn’t an idea from no where. It was an idea the INJ worked, actively worked, hard to achieve.