INTP Development

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.

Childhood to Puberty

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.

Puberty to Age 30

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.   

Areas of Development

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:

  • Break big ideas down to specific tangible steps to communicate to others
  • Be more sensitive toward the feelings of others
  • Follow through on your inspirations
  • Understand not everyone likes a debate
  • Be patient with policies and procedures

Age 30 to Midlife

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:

  • When you are given a task, do not jump into it immediately. Instead, break the task down into sequential steps and allocate a certain time to each task before proceeding to execute the task.
  • Recall a significant event that happened before in your life, recount the details of this event: the sights, sound, smell, touch and taste.  Do not try to make connections or consider implications, but consider the event as it is.
  • Close your eyes and observe your bodily functions: your breathing and the sensation that your body is feeling right now.

From Midlife

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:

  • Think about the people in your workplace that have aided you or have done good work for you, write a note of thanks and encouragement either by email or preferably by a handwritten note.
  • When you get into a debate with someone, consider the other person’s point of view and what is important to him/her. Learn to adjust your stance to find a mutually beneficial outcome.
  • Ask some of your co-workers out for lunch and get to know them personally. Put all work-related discussions aside and seek to know them as individuals.