Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sherlock is NOT an INTJ

For god’s sake!

Anyone who’s been following this Tumblr knows that I think Sherlock is definitely, definitely, definitely, definitely an INTP. I’ve seen some posts recently (and in the past) that claim he’s an INTJ though, so I want to address this directly. (I don’t want to name names, but maybe you have seen them too.) To be fair, when I also initially mistyped Sherlock as INTJ, but as I read more into the theory and also analyzed Sherlock’s character more deeply, I realized that it is most definitely not his type.

I have my own summary of the Myers-Briggs theory, but to make my argument seem more legitimate, I am going to use the definition of functions as provided by the Myers-Briggs Foundation itself. (They also provide a summary of basic type theory here for those who are unfamiliar with it. I recommend clicking on the links as well on that page as well.)

The functions for INTP are:

Dominant- introverted thinking
Auxiliary- extraverted intuition
Tertiary- introverted sensing
Inferior- extraverted feeling 

The functions for INTJ are:

Dominant- introverted intuition
Auxiliary- extraverted thinking
Tertiary- introverted feeling
Inferior- extraverted sensing

For my positive argument on why Sherlock matches this type, please consult my post in the link provided above (the one that says “INTP”). I personally think I already give a pretty compelling argument there, but just in case, here is my negative argument on why he’s not INTJ.

Cut and dry version: INTJ’s are led by their inner visions which they try to realize in the world through established, logical systems. They’re not particularly good at acting consistently with their own personal values, and they’re stressed out by concrete details in their immediate environment. Sherlock, on the other hand, is led by an inner system he’s built through logic and that he utilizes to draw conclusions from concrete details in his external environment. He is stressed out by interpersonal interactions. He is an INTP, not an INTJ.

Detailed version:

The dominant function is a type’s “favorite function,” like the “captain of a ship, having the most important role in guiding us.” (All the quotes are from the Myers-Briggs website.) The INTJ’s dominant function is introverted intuition, which “looks at consistency of ideas and thoughts with an internal framework” and “trusts flashes from the unconscious, which may be hard for others to understand.”

The auxiliary function “serves to support and balance the dominant.” INTJ’s auxiliary is extraverted thinking, which “seeks logic and consistency in the outside world” and shows “concern for external laws and rules.”

The tertiary function “tends to be less interesting to individuals, and they tend to have fewer skills associated with it.” INTJ’s tertiary is introverted feeling, which “seeks harmony of action and thoughts with personal values.”

Finally, the interior function “tends to be least interesting to individuals” BUT “it can be a source of great stress, or it can be a seed for significant development.” Also “the inferior may manifest in negative, immature ways” and “often feels like being out of control.” The INTJ’s inferior is extraverted sensing, which “acts on concrete data from here and now” and “trusts the present, then lets it go.”

So if we put this all together, INTJ’s are led by their own internal systems and insights, some if not most of which is only comprehensible to themselves. To keep from being too lost in their own mysterious heads though, they try to keep their external environment and behavior as logical possible, and preferably consistent with an already established external system. In other words, though to themselves they are led by unique visions and insights stemming from their unconscious, these are translated into logical, consistent actions which fit existing institutions.

Already, this doesn’t seem to match Sherlock. If anything, it is the reverse. Sherlock also works from an internal system, but it’s not incomprehensible once explained. It’s a system held together by logic, and ranked in order of relevance to his detective work. It’s externalized in incomprehensible and unsystematic ways though (dashing off with no warning, explosions of temper, refusing to wear clothes, shooting the wall for no good reason, the list can go on and on…), and they definitely do not fit established rules. If anything, Sherlock is always butting heads with existing systems; he has no respect for any kind of law except the law of logic.

Now onto the INTJ’s weaknesses. They’re not especially concerned or good at thinking and acting according to their personal values. They’re especially not concerned with or good at dealing with concrete data in their present environment, to the point where they are stressed out by it, though at times they can be inspired by it. It’s their achilles heel.

At first glance Sherlock does seem unconcerned and not so good at thinking and acting according to his personal values, if he even has them. But lets try to see what Sherlock personally values, at least to himself. He values intellectual stimulation, and the integrity of his work. I also think he somewhat values human life, even if he won’t admit it to himself (just look at his reaction to the death of the old blind woman). If we posit these three things as his personal values, he actually does act quite consistently with them. He doesn’t take cases that he doesn’t find intellectually stimulating, he won’t even take money for them (until pressured by John), and we don’t see him kill or attempt to kill anyone in any of the episodes.

Finally, Sherlock is definitely not stressed out by concrete data in his environment. He has to constantly deal with them in his detective work, after all. Yes, from time to time Sherlock is tripped up by missing a detail or two on the scene, but the data he does notice and utilize far outnumbers the ones he misses. It would be a far stretch to say that this is a weakness of his, let alone his achille’s heel. No, as we see again and again on the show, Sherlock’s greatest weakness are his interpersonal skills, or extraverted feeling, which “seeks harmony with and between people in the outside world.” Sherlock is terrible at this. Oh, and extraverted feeling just happens to be the inferior function for INTP’s.

Anyone who still disagrees can feel free to try to prove it to me though. ;-)

Final point, you know who I do think is an INTJ though? 

You can’t possibly believe Sherlock and I have the same personality type.


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    As an INTP myself, I can agree with all of this. I don’t see any sign of INTJ in Sherlock, and although he might show...
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