Dear Russell and Friends,

I was truly thankful for Russell’s last post on personality types and on the possible correlation with belief.  I had previously taken the brief version that Russell had recommended and remembered that my type was INFJ.  Yesterday, in an executive education seminar at work I took the longer form M with my classmates with results listed above.  I resonate with several of our readers who compared the experience to reading a horoscope with the understanding that it is indeed something different.  Although not perfect, this test has been administered to 40 million humans over the last 90 years.  Rather than being based on my birthday, it was based on honest answers to questions about my way of thinking, working, and perceiving the world.

I loved the comments of our friends and readers.  I loved how you offered each other understanding and empathy.  I promised more musings too.  So here they are.

Although I knew I was an introvert the holistic meaning of my personality didn’t come into relief without the impasses that Russell and I often meet.  We know that we care about each other.  We also know that we just don’t process things the same.  All models are wrong.  Some are useful.  That’s the way I feel about going through this exercise on the blog and in the long form yesterday.  This is useful.

Russell (INTP) and I are both introverted intuitives married to extroverts.  Mrs. Russell is ENFJ.  Mrs. Pascal is ESFP.  Mrs. Pascal and I had a great time reading our own and each other’s personality types.  I realize that confirmation bias is likely at play, but the profiles were surprisingly accurate.  For my wife and I the differences are dramatic.  There was a weekend when we were dating where we took a 48 hour time out to determine if we would get engaged or never speak to each other again.  Twenty one years later we find our differences to have stretched us both and to be a source of deep energy.  I didn’t have the language to describe it then and probably didn’t need it.  I realized that we were very different and that we liked each other very much.  The decision to love each other was the best we have ever made.

So Russell and I match in the introverted intuitive domains but contrast in the thinking/feeling and judging/perceiving dichotomies.  Is the whole greater than the parts?  With 16 personality permutations the answer is surely yes.  I do, however, feel that Russell and I most often disconnect when I feel and he thinks.  Does that mean he doesn’t feel and I do not think?  Of course not.  But it does explain the epistemology of science, and history, and love.  I feel that love can be an epistemology.  I know that my heart can deceive me, but it hasn’t in the long term.  Love made me marry.  Like is not a decision – – I liked my wife and always will – – it is the quirky spark of compatibility that drives my happiness every time I see her again.  Love was a decision — an epistemology that trumped the thinking that could have talked me out of it.  Love is why I believe that Jesus saved me.  Do I find science in conflict – – no, not really.  Do I find some things beyond my comprehension?  Yes.  Can my mind be changed by a call to justice and mercy.  Yes.

Perhaps Mrs. Pascal and I work so well because the yin and yang of I/E, and commonality of F balance any conflicts in the N/S and J/P domains.  Or not.  Maybe an intuitive needs a sensor and maybe a go along for the rider needs someone who loves to drive and plan the trip a year in advance.  And maybe that planner should plan a day with nothing.  Duly noted.

Russell, where does this leave you and me?  In a better place.  I’m so glad to understand you better and to be understood.  I’ve always respected you and always will.  I like that we have different ways to process and relate and now I get it better.  As part of our exercise in the class there were cues on how to better relate to those of different personality types — how to speak their language if you will.  I think that we’ve tried to do that for each other by reading or listening to things that the other likes.

P1 just took the test at our request.  After complaining about seeming redundant questions he came back ISFP.  We work well together.  He can put concrete steps to my big idea.  I also understand his messy room a bit better.  Thanks again for this Russell.


Has knowing (or guessing) the personality type of your loved one helped you to respect and communicate better?

Pascal – – 1:16


  1. Your place of conflict with Russell is the same as mine—it occurs when he thinks and I feel. Knowing the personality profiles has helped us already.

    For example, when my brother was sick and very near death, I did a lot of feeling—a lot of crying, a lot of sitting there paralyzed. He wouldn’t shut up about 3D-printing and how if we could just print out new organs, my brother and others like him would be fine. And he felt that if my brother’s Apple Watch had alerted him of his sepsis before he ever got on a plane, we wouldn’t be in this situation. Someone has to do something…we can’t just sit down and cry while people are dying.

    Dammit Russell—just let me fall apart! I longed for comfort and for someone to let me cry…and I couldn’t wait to get away from him. Then I remembered that he was hurting too, and that INTPs don’t sit back and cry. They identify a problem and fix it. This is what grief looks like for him. We’re feeling the same thing, just acting on it in very different ways. When he remembers that I am ENFJ, he will let me be sensitive, even to the point of being unproductive. After all, it makes logical sense for me to be true to my personality type (determined by a test and backed by research)—something the INTP can accept. Finding the common thread of grief and understanding our different ways of expressing it helped me connect with him again before I left for a week.

    He and I balance each other so well—I bring humanity to his computer-brain when he lacks it, and he brings logic to my feelings when I take them too far or wrap myself too tightly around what others think of me. He is always the first to say “That’s not in your pink circle.”

    I wasn’t surprised at all by your result. When discussing with Russell what we thought you might be, I said “He’s probably just like me, but with an ‘I’ at the beginning.” Russell had already pegged you as INFJ in his own mind. I was surprised by how much difference that one letter made in our profiles—but so much of what I read about you seemed to fit you so well.

    I’m envious that yours pegged you as a doctor, reader, and writer. I’m apparently a teacher and humanitarian. So I’ll be a humanitarian physician and teach medical students (and patients)—I’ll be the predicted humanitarian and teacher and just slip the doctor part in under the radar. 🙂

    You and I are kindred spirits (one of the three listed in each other’s profiles)…but I’m very glad that my life partner balances my very strong E, F, and J with his I, T, and P. I’m thankful for tools like these that remind us that our partners and other loved ones are not as bizarre as we might be tempted to think at times.

    One more thing—I think I see love the way you do. It’s why the past eleven days have changed my life in a big way…more on that soon.


    1. Welcome back! I’ll share my prayer for your brother soon. I agree with your insights, and I’m also thankful for the chance to understand my loved ones – – Mrs. P, my sons, Russell & you. I think it is so important to emphasize that no personality type corners the market on compassion, empathy, intelligence, or logic. I like the way you realized that Russell’s sci-fi problem solving was an expression of love and concern. And, I like the way he pushes his mind and remembers that some of yesterday’s sci-fi is today’s reality. In balance, I was supposed to have a flying skateboard by now.

      Don’ be envious that four letters peg me as a doctor. Two letters will soon peg you. I know that we are kindred spirits. The journey for me is to realize that so are Russell and I. So are Mrs. P and I. The latter two loves involve multilingualism.

      I look forward to hearing what this painful situation has wrought in your heart. I have always believed, always prayed, that you would come back to Christ and honor your marriage with Russell no matter what he decides.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am a fellow INFJ, and my partner is an ESTJ. One of the funny things about both our personalities is that we are both very consistent in all our traits except one. He is borderline on J/P, and I am borderline on the F/T. I identify slightly more with INFJ but I find its very difficult for me to make decisions purely on emotions. I feel the need to reconcile my heart and head, while he is much better at simply logic-ing his way through situations. Still, I think sometimes I remind him of the ways people’s feelings need to be taken into account, that they aren’t just mirages but realities that need to be taken into consideration, along with more concrete variables.

    I really appreciate his E side, because he helps me feel more comfortable in social situations. I’m way off at the far end of the scale, and I know I need to interact with the outside world somewhat more than I’m comfortable with, if I’m ever to achieve everything that I want out of life. He helps me by gently nudging me out of my comfort zone, and also by expanding what that comfort zone is. Also, his balance of J and P is really nice for my more neurotic side. He both gives me stability and reminds me that it’s okay to improvise and be flexible.

    So yes, I think understanding each other helps with conflicts, and I think our differences balance each other out well. But honestly, I love having that N in common. We’ve bonded so much over philosophical conversations. Our values are the same but our ways of approaching them are so different, the result is we both get a lot out of talking to each other.


    1. Great reply Lane. I love the common ground and have grown from the differences. Perhaps INFJs, supposedly not common, are over-represented in the blogosphere comment pages.



Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s