How to Destroy an INTP or ISTP


(Note, I don’t really want you to destroy an INTP or ISTP. This series is delivered with devilish intent simply for humor—I’m writing in hopes that people will better understand what stresses various types, how they function under stress, and ways to recover when the stress is on. The information is largely based on Dr. Quenk’s work, In the Grip, published in 2000.)

INTP & ISTP

Dominant Cognitive Function: Introverted Thinking
Inferior Cognitive Function: Extraverted Feeling

If you want to destroy an INTP or an ISTP, you’ve got your work cut out for you, but don’t despair, it can be done!

I*TPs use their dominant function, Introverted Thinking, to build complex, rich worlds inside their minds. Additionally, Extraverted Feeling is their weakest function, which means the I*TP has little need for a large number of relationships. They are confident—sometimes to the point of arrogance—and because they approach people and events as dispassionate observers, they are masters at strategically and intellectually building their world to isolate and protect them from harm. Criticism or disagreement typically doesn’t hurt them; they see it as constructive, welcoming it from the few people they respect, and disregarding it from others. They find solutions to problems others can’t see, but rarely share them. Unlike the E*TP, they don’t feel the need to prove they’re the smartest person in the room, they’re content to know it.

So, how do you take out someone who is apparently unfeeling, disinterested, distant, and self-contained? First, you have to weaken their unusually strong perimeter.

ISTPs love clear structures and responsibilities, stability, and security. They prefer concrete projects with tangible results. If you want to start creating stress, make sure they’re in an environment with uncertainty, complexity, and vague requirements with moving goal-posts.

INTPs value looser environments, especially in the workplace. They want varied experiences and hate repetitive, mundane duties. They want complex problems that they can analyze and solve creatively. They want recognition for their individual achievements, and they typically expect a big paycheck. If you can get them performing repetitive, unchallenging tasks, in an environment with strict rules, they will start to become frustrated, weakening their armor.

Triggering Tactics:

Here are some simple ways to weaken an INTP or ISTP:

Express strong emotion. If you can criticize INTPs or ISTPs personally, especially in a stressful situation, you might be able to trigger a loss of their normal control. I*TPs are very effective with dealing with crisis by maintaining distance and objectivity, if you can introduce personal emotional distress from co-workers or friends, aimed at the I*TP, it can produce intense emotional reactions from them, which are uncomfortable and foreign.

Ignore or disrespect their values. I*TPs are not typically emotional types, but if you can disrespect one of their core values, you can often get them in uncharted territory. If an ISTP buys you a gift, you can complain about the cost of it before expressing that you like it. You can safely assume an INTP values his intellect, so look for anything he says that doesn’t align and point out the stupidity of it. Repeated pokes into these areas will eventually create stress and doubt.

Don’t give them “me time.” I*TPs need solitude and silence. By simply being loud and invading their space, inviting them to events, and pushing them to do more and more extraverted things, you can weaken their reserve. Sometimes, you’ll even get them to have an uncommon outburst of extreme emotion (especially ISTPs) completely inappropriate to the situation. If you get this reaction, be sure to remind them of how illogical and overblown it is.

Your biggest weapon:

The surest way to break INTPs and ISTPs is to give them responsibility for incompetent people. Because I*TPs find much of their identity in their intellect, precision, and control. They prefer to work alone. If you can force them to work with, supervise, or be supervised by incompetent people, you can create a tremendous amount of stress. If an I*TP is responsible or dependent on others’ inferior results, the pressure will force them to start verbalizing (or emailing) what they usually keep internal. They will become more cutting and sarcastic (if that’s possible!), with extreme judgements on people’s behavior or work-quality, frequently with little or no justifying data. If you can keep the pressure on, the vicious and biting attitude eventually demoralizes their team, leading to poorer results and morale, which further pressures the I*TP into an internal struggle for control.

The I*TP will be adept at hiding their internal state (especially INTPs), but you will begin to see a slowness, vagueness, and distractibility that replaces their typical sharpness. As their dominant Introverted Thinking continues to fail to solve the pressure, the brain (without consent from its owner) switches to the opposite function: Extraverted Feeling.

Their Downward Spiral:

Extraverted Feeling, which when seen as a dominant function, as it is for ESFJs and ENFJs, is adept at sharing emotions and concerned with others’ welfare. It’s a beautiful, human function, that can create harmony in groups. For the I*TP, the function is only used under stress, which is rare for these types, so the results are typically childish and extreme.

How to know they’re cracking:

They will obsess over logic to the extreme. As the I*TP swings into using Extraverted Feeling, they may become passionately and emotionally insistent on using logic, engaging in excessively critical, unproductive thinking. They will want to prove the accuracy of their perception, which is distorted because they’re not able to use their normal logical analysis, becoming obsessive in their thinking. They will work manically on a single problem, even if they know it can’t be solved. They will forget things, misplace or lose objects, and become generally disorganized. 

They will be come hypersensitive in relationships. When under stress and using Extraverted Feeling, I*TPs become increasingly hypersensitive to “feeling” areas. They valiantly try to hide their formerly alien concerns about being liked and appreciated. In this unfamiliar frame of mind, they misinterpret others’ innocent comments as evidence of disapproval, dislike, and rejection. Something as innocuous as someone falling to say hello upon entering a room may be taken as clear evidence to the I*TP that she or he is disliked. You may be unaware of this change, because these types provide few clues about their inner state, but if you can keep the pressure on, you can be sure this is happening. Encouraging others to express criticism of the I*TP during this time will magnify the problem.

They will become emotional. Introverted Thinking types may become very emotional when under pressure. They may accuse people of ignoring them or taking them for granted. They will start to ask very scary, unfamiliar questions, “If I’m not the genius I thought I was, what value do I really have?” “Does anyone really love me for who I am?” They may share these thoughts verbally, and at inappropriate times, with their teams. They will become moody and impatient, blaming others for not loving them. Others’ strong emotional responses to being confronted will further magnify the I*TP’s already stressed out situation.

Crush them:

If you can keep the pressure on, the I*TP will feel alienated and distant from others, afraid of permanently losing control of their hypersensitive emotions. They’ll likely use their once flexible intellect to be passive-aggressive, and have a negative, tunnel-vision sense of the future.

No one wants to be around someone who is negative and hypersensitive, so they will start to avoid the I*TP, which will further cement their exaggerated view that no one cares about them.

When they’re in this state, the more you can remind them of their previous arrogance and question their competency, the more they will retreat from the world. Eventually, they will lose influence and become ineffective. When they’re weak, if you can undermine the very few relationships they have, you will have defeated them.

Some key differences between the ISTP/INTP under chronic stress:

ISTP: second only to ISFPs in reporting hypertension and heart disease. They are the most likely of all the types to let others know how upset they are—so you’ll know if you’re being effective! They will frequently cope with stress by binge watching TV, so look for and even suggest this behavior.

INTP: when stressed, they are least-likely type to let people know, so you’ll have to be very attentive to little clues that you’re strategy is working. INTPs report the fewest ways of coping with stress for all the types, so you’ll have to pay close attention to the INTP to know when to push harder.

How to keep them from recovering:

Don’t give them space. INTPs and ISTPs can return to health quickly if they’re given physical and psychological space. Do not let them disengage from any responsibilities—in fact, add more. Invite them to events. Add projects. Be sure to ask them how they feel repeatedly—this is particularly aggravating to these types.

If ISTPs are given time alone, they can usually use their Sensing function to acknowledge one ore more important realities in the situation, which will open the door to their Introverted Thinking, allowing them to see light at the end of the tunnel. 

If INTPs are given time alone, they will be able to use their Intuition function to gain a new idea or perspective on the problem that can interrupt their exaggerated sensitivity and help them access their Introverted Feeling to start effectively solving the problem.

Don’t validate their situation. Keep telling them they’re overreacting, being over-emotional, and that they usually handle much more than the stress they’re currently under. Do not, under any circumstance, let them know you believe the situation is genuinely stressful. 

With these simple steps, you can bring down—and keep down—any INTP or ISTP in your life!