A frequent belief in the MBTI is that INFPs are more prone to depression. A reason given is that they have strong values and that the world rarely matches up to their values. I don’t see this as a sufficient explanation and I would like to question the assumption somewhat.
Overall, advisor types are the least motivated of all the types. INTPs and INFPs frequently mention issues with focus and maintaining productivity, getting themselves to work. It’s not that they don’t want to work or get stuff done, it’s just that they struggle with execution. This is natural for an advisor type.
INFPs can be highly productive in an environment which provides structure, order, and clear expectations on them. An INFP spends a lot of the time in the storytelling network, which is involved with daydreaming, personal contemplation, and self-reflection. This is a positive thing: they’re dreamers, they have strong inner ethics, they have a unique, elaborate inner world.
INFPs tend to feel overall more connected to the world, to animals, and to nature than other types.
Being a dreamer doesn’t make you depressed, on the contrary, it helps you find a more authentic way of living and relating to the world. And it’s naturally healing: storytelling, art, and feeling, helps us process conflict, shame, and wounds, to find resolution and to maintain a connection to our own story. Introverted Feeling is not at fault here. INFPs are naturally very understanding and feel overall more connected to the world, to animals, and to nature than other types.
The villain behind INFP depression
No, the villain is inferior extroverted thinking. A natural extroverted thinking type is always using extroverted thinking, and extroverted thinking is like a tank. The use of extroverted thinking makes you brace yourself from damage and harm. It shields you from pain by pushing forward, maintaining your course, standing strong. The INFP is perceived as more easily hurt and more “pained” and depressive because they aren’t pushing back. When XXFP types stop moving or working their extroverted thinking, they may notice how pain is starting to wash over them. When you use extroverted thinking, you are naturally more numb to your own pain.
They’re not charging ahead. They’re not a tank. They choose to sacrifice themselves and to lay down their sword and to feel the pain of being hurt. This is also why they feel the pain of others. The other persons pain washes over them because the INFP has chosen not to defend themselves, and not to attack the other person. Because of this, INFPs are also natural de-escalators in conflict. It is hard to be angry at someone who speaks in a calm voice and makes no effort to hurt you back. INFPs are not more hurt than other types, they are just more aware of the fact that they are hurt. The difficulty I think for young INFPs is finding resolution when they have been hurt. Learning to voice their own needs and to mediate conflict to create peace around them.
It should be clarified here, that INFPs may choose more subtle ways of getting revenge. They may push buttons, or find more subtle ways of inflicting harm on someone they are angry with, for example “aldrin justice”. They should not be mistaken for angels. They are always trying to enact and maintain balance in the universe. You could see them as the people “rewarding good karma” and “punishing bad karma”, but often without being noticed.
But what can the INFP do to ease this and not to feel overtaken by the pain of others? There may be some painkillers out there.
Natural pain killers for the INFP
- Humor is a natural pain killer, it relieves pain and discomfort
- Physical exercise can also help ease distress and anxiety
- Practice vulnerability and let people know when and how they hurt you
- Let go of pain that isn’t your own, practise telling the difference
- Spend time in nature and with animals
If you however are suffering from depression or more major issues, we recommend you seek professional help. It’s not always easy to overcome an issue on your own and there’s rarely a simple solution.