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Occupation: Girl

Please close the door and switch on the fun without fail.

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IT'S POLL TIME
serafina
cleolinda
Okay, I want to run an experiment here. But first, a semi-unrelated explanation:

Several months ago, I stumbled across a Tumblr entry about being an empath, and went, holy shit, that would explain so many of my stress and health problems. I hit every single point on all of these lists. So: I am totally an empath. A really, really crappy kind of empath. I mean, it sounds like a Dungeons & Dragons character class, but my point is, I soak up everyone else's negative feelings. I don't know how to shield myself, and I don't know how to dump my mental browser cache. I have no firewall, people.

In a similar blog post, we are told that empaths can... heal. I don't know about the laying on of hands and what-not, but I'd be willing to go with "make people feel better, in a non-Jesus kind of way."

So I'm fooling around instead of working last night, and for some reason, the Myers-Briggs personality test came up. I had saved my result somewhere, and I'm an INFP. Apparently this is statistically somewhat rare--1-5% of the population. And the Keirsey temperament of INFP is... the Healer.

After I had a couple of conversations on Twitter, I am starting to think that that's what "empaths" are--the INFP personality type. So, what I want to know is, how many of you are whichever personality type, and is there a correlation between the INFP type and empath-y?

So: here is your free personality test link.

Here is the chart matching up Myers-Briggs types to Keirsey temperaments. I mean, just to elaborate on the subject.

Depending on how much of this sounds like you, you may be an empath. Keep in mind: it's the unpleasantness that I recognized, not the special-snowflake psychic-healing business. 


Now:

Poll #1728808 Personality types

The first eight types (you may choose more than one if you're borderline)

Teacher (ENFJ)
72(7.5%)
Counselor (INFJ)
257(26.8%)
Champion (ENFP)
35(3.6%)
Healer (INFP)
187(19.5%)
Fieldmarshal (ENTJ)
28(2.9%)
Mastermind (INTJ)
247(25.8%)
Inventor (ENTP)
20(2.1%)
Architect (INTP)
113(11.8%)

The second eight types (you may choose more than one if you're borderline)

Supervisor (ESTJ)
17(3.7%)
Inspector (ISTJ)
138(29.9%)
Provider (ESFJ)
36(7.8%)
Protector (ISFJ)
158(34.2%)
Promoter (ESTP)
2(0.4%)
Crafter (ISTP)
32(6.9%)
Performer (ESFP)
21(4.5%)
Composer (ISFP)
58(12.6%)

Correlation of INFP type with empath

I am an INFP, but not an empath
54(5.9%)
I am an empath, but not an INFP
270(29.7%)
I am both
129(14.2%)
I am neither
457(50.2%)



Now all I have to figure out is what to do about the lack of firewall.

ETA: "Hey, you know those Myers-Briggs tests?"

MY MOTHER: "YES!"

"Wow, okay. So I took one again, I'd forgotten what I was, and I'm an INFP."

MY MOTHER: "YOU ARE SO AN INFP."

"See? I'm saying."

MY MOTHER: "I AM AN ENTJ! I am like the epitome of an ENTJ. And that's why I work in HR."

"Oh, well. Okay then."



 
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I'm an INFP and going into school for counselling psychology. Sooooo yeah.

I used to emotionally overload a lot when people brought me their issues. I think what's helped me deal with that quite a lot is studying gritty factual cognitive approaches to problems--reading cognitive behavioural books by people like David Burns and Aaron Beck, since cognitive behavioural therapy is basically the opposite of empathy--it's all about thoughts, and feelings are just this weird thing over there. Some CBT theorists seem to think emotions don't even exist! It means when I have to deal with a crisis, instead of being lost in a sea of emotion, I can intellectually figure out what's going on. This helps me sometimes make the necessary call, "This person is going to be upset and I can't help, so I will send them to bed and check in on them in three or four days".

Reading the articles on empathy, though... I used to think I knew EXACTLY what the other person was feeling, but it's never that simple. Sure, I can tell what emotion they're experiencing, even if they're trying to hide it, but the more I learn about how people work the less I know about any one person.

I can read people really well, but I have to remind myself not to rely on that, because I could easily be wrong, or not seeing the entire picture. I tend to file impressions like that away until it fits into place with some future development. It seems to work best when I'm trying to give someone the benefit of the doubt.

At the same time, I have become almost painfully logical over the last few years, and I think that's me trying to deal with the empathy thing. "This person is going to be upset and I can't help, so here's what I can and can't do about it," like you say. Or, when trying to make sense of emotional impressions, rather than run away with my imagination. Logically, this is what I know about this person; how does this "read" on them fit with what I know?

Or, like with the Wicked Pretty Things entries (and, back in the day, the Lexicon thing). I have to force myself to say only things I can back up pretty exhaustively and try to be as evenhanded as possible, because I could go on all kinds of ill-advised crusades and tangents if I didn't. I think that would be the "unless your ethics are violated" clause in the "empathizing with everyone" INFP personality.

I know the internet has definitely, definitely taught me to back up what I say. Part of the "NF" thing is that you go "this is true because I feel it is true and I intuited it" (great for telling when someone's faking being happy!) and not "this is true because I saw this fact and this fact and this fact and performed this logical analysis".

And now I just babble, because I love MBTI styff: the thing about MBTI is that you don't want to be undifferentiated--XXXX is in a way the MBTI's way of saying "this person does not have a sense of self"--but neither do you want to be rigid. It's about embracing who you are, being aware of your shortcomings, and learning to compensate for them (by being more logical, or compassionate, or outgoing, or thoughtful, or decisive, or whatever, than your basic type predisposition).

Well, it's the same way I view astrology: whatever you can take from it to learn about yourself and make your life better, go for it. I don't live my life by horoscopes, but if realizing that I'm a Sagittarius with a Virgo ascendant (signs that are kind of contradictory in nature) makes me feel like I understand more about why I do things the way I do, then it helps. And seeing this last night and going, holy shit, I really HAVE some kind of empath problem, that's not some wackadoo thing that someone just made up--that helps me figure out how to compensate for it, yeah.

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