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To understand the INTP’s development, we have to understand the hierarchy of mental functions for the INTP. The hierarchy of mental functions for the INTP is about which mental function (Sensing, Intuiting, Thinking or Feeling) the INTP is most comfortable with using and which they are least comfortable in using.
Without going too much into Type dynamics, let’s look at the INTP’s hierarchy of mental functions:
The INTP is most comfortable with the Dominant Function Introverted Thinking and least comfortable with the Inferior Function Extraverted Feeling.
DEVELOPMENT OF INTROVERTED THINKING
As a child, INTPs will develop Introverted Thinking. They will have an enquiring attitude about everything they encounter. “Why is it so?” “How did this happen?” are common questions that the INTP will ask.
They will not accept the ‘because I said so’ explanation, wanting to understand the principles rather than take things at face value. They may also appear detached, cold and aloof to others because of their lack of expression, although they may feel as much as anyone.
If they have not properly developed this function in their youth, they may run from creative insight to creative insight, not knowing how to use them for decision making or achieving their goals.
DEVELOPMENT OF EXTRAVERTED INTUITION
At puberty, the INTP will start developing the auxiliary function, Extraverted Intuition. They will show this development by their quickness of understanding in grasping new concepts.
They may enjoy subjects that deal with an abstract theory like Mathematics or Astronomy (depending on how it is taught). Because of their quickness in understanding, they may often lose interest quickly in a classroom where learning by rote is encouraged.
If they have not been allowed to develop this function, they may find it difficult to communicate their complex ideas to others.
Assuming an environment is supportive of their development, most INTPs would have developed Extraverted Intuition and Introverted Thinking by the time they’re above 20 years or so.
Their areas of improvement will most likely come from the underdeveloped sides of Extraverted Feeling and Introverted Sensing. Below are some suggestions for improvement:
DEVELOPMENT OF INTROVERTED SENSING
If these behaviours are not trained by the age of 30, the INTP will feel the tension to continue growing, firstly to start developing the tertiary function Introverted Sensing.
The INTP may start observing details of objects and people that they have never observed before. In their decision making, they may also start to rely on their past experiences instead of relying on inspirations from the environment.
The INTP can further develop the Introverted Sensing function through these simple exercises:
DEVELOPMENT OF EXTRAVERTED FEELING
From midlife onward, the INTP’s focus turns toward the inferior function, Extraverted Feeling. Their underdeveloped Extraverted Feeling comes out in a childish and undeveloped way when they are under stress, and they may become emotional or experience uncontrollable anger.
But in midlife, there is an unconscious shift and desire to develop that inferior function to achieve wholeness and continual growth. It is an uncomfortable but necessary transition.
Here are some simple exercises to consciously develop the Extraverted Feeling function: