In the grip...

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In the grip...

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Out 25, 2007, 3:36 am

I recently underwent a very stressful period at work, and found that during this time, my reactions to things had become (for me) very much out of character.

When I read a couple of MBTI pieces on the Web about what author Naomi L. Quenk calls being "in the grip" (of the inferior functions), it all fell into place.

As an INTJ under stress, for example, I began to obsess about small details and to worry about what my partners on the project were thinking of me, almost to the point of paranoia. It turns out that this is entirely characteristic of people of my type who are forced, under stress, to use the less preferred functions (Sensing and Feeling, in my case) for extended periods.

There's a nice little article about it here -

Understanding personality type: What do type dynamics tell us about life stages and stress reactions?

- and it turns out that Quenk herself has written a booklet (In The Grip: Understanding Type, Stress, and the Inferior Function) devoted to this topic, which I now have on order :-)

Does anyone have any experience they'd like to share re: this aspect of MBTI? This was a new experience for me, and simply being able to read an explanation of what was happening and why was a huge relief during that difficult period. (Fortunately, I'm glad to report, the problems that provoked the stress were resolved and I'm no longer in the grip!)

Out 25, 2007, 10:44 am

I'm normally hypersensitive to how other people around me are feeling and thinking and always take that into consideration with how I behave and relate. It's comfortable for me, and makes me feel secure, because I have control over what I'm doing and I have control over what's going on around me. When I'm over stressed, haven't had enough rest, and get backed into a corner, my personality can take a 180 and it's alarming after the fact because then I feel like, "Wow, what a mess I have to clean up now because I lost control!" I'm icy, immovable, uncaring, imperious, and just, in general, cold and cruel. That's what happens if I've been backed into a corner and had all my defenses worn away by stress and exhaustion. I revert into my anti-self, and while I don't care at the time because it's like a protective reaction, later? I hate myself. My normal self would be concerned about you even if you were trying to hurt me, trying to figure out why you were acting like that and to nullify the base problem and make everything 'right'. My over stressed anti-self could watch you be executed and not even care why. Overstress is a bad, bad thing! (INFJ)

Out 25, 2007, 11:43 am

This all makes a lot of sense to me. Yesterday, an aquaintenance said something very mean to me, and since then I have not had a creative bone in my body. My immediate reaction was not to say anything which is characteristic of my type, but I have been obsessing over it since, which is also accurate. But, I find my self craving time to myself so I can do something (writing, reading, driving) to try to get that daydreaming/out of body experience more than usual.

Out 25, 2007, 3:55 pm

I recall taking a test that showed both the natural style and the "under stress" style of my personality. I believe we do end up acting out in rather unhappy ways when stressed too much. For me, it is true. If I'm stressed I turn into ISTJ (almost opposite)...planning and thinking and over analyzing. The details the details the details....ahhhh! Usually, I can see it happening and go find a soft pillow to scream into and then I'm fine. But that is a newly found awareness, in my younger days it was ugly. I can remember some presentations where the room was not going to be on my side and I knew it...I would go in there loaded with data and with a look that dared anyone to disagree. Not at all like me...usually I want to know everyone's opinion, over and over. Funny stuff, stress.