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ISTJ Shadow: The Dark Side of ISTJ


The cognitive functions of each MBTI type represent the perspectives and preferences embraced by the conscious ego. These cognitive functions explain a lot about the ways in which we orient ourselves and manage our lives. However, there are other parts of our personality that we reject from our ego identity. These parts constitute what is called our shadow.

The shadow is a concept introduced by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. It encompasses perspectives that are not included in the function stack of our MBTI type. Carl Jung’s conception of the shadow was mostly constrained to the inferior function which he believed served as the gateway to its manifestation. A Jungian analyst named John Beebe would later conceptualize the shadow in terms of archetypes associated with the functions not included in the personality type’s cognitive stack.

There are 8 cognitive functions in total but since only 4 are included in each MBTI type, Beebe reasoned that the remaining 4 must constitute the parts of ourselves most neglected and relegated to the shadow. In the case of ISTJ, those functions would be Se, Ti, Fe, and Ni. Therefore, the shadow type of the ISTJ is ESTP. Here is a look at the ISTJ shadow functions and how they manifest.

ISTJ 5th Function: Se Opposing

ISTJ’s 1st shadow function and 5th function overall, is Extraverted Sensing. ISTJ’s shadow Se typically emerges in response to what they perceive as an attack on their dominant Si perspective. When a type feels their dominant function is being opposed or obstructed by a function in the opposite attitude, they can become stubborn about it. They subsequently may then use that opposing shadow function to defend the dominant while also projecting a negative shadow persona onto the opposing person.

For ISTJ, this may play out as a response to having their foundation of facts, details and points of reference being invalidated or challenged by current or newly emergent sensory data. ISTJs may resist anything that significantly interferes or disrupts their established routine and personal paradigm of how things are supposed to be and what works best for them. They are apt to dismiss many unexpected and sudden upheavals as transient fads and inferior or impractical versions of the original status quo. ISTJs may then use their shadow Se to further support and justify the integrity of their Si perspective. They may argue against the Se perspective as being risky, irresponsible and likely to fail.

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ISTJ 6th Function: Ti Critical Parent.

ISTJ’s 2nd shadow function is Ti Critical Parent. The Critical Parent function is a negative, critical version of the auxiliary function. The auxiliary function represents a way in which we nurture both ourselves and others. The auxiliary informs and supports the dominant function and we cultivate a sense of authority around our use of it. The Critical Parent shadow function emerges as a disgruntled response to the authority of the auxiliary function being undermined or taken for granted.

In the case of the ISTJ, they become critical in response to having the authority of their Extraverted Thinking negated or taken for granted. External logic, the way they organize and operate systems and tasks is something they have worked to develop proficiency and capability with. ISTJs are keen on upholding external standards and methods that are effective and proven to work. When those methods and strategies are called into question or cast under a critical light, the ISTJ may become defensive and go on the attack via their shadow Ti perspective. Under such conditions, the ISTJ may proceed to criticize others for the reasoning they use. They may use subjective logic principles to refute and dismiss the logic of the other person.

ISTJ 7th Function: Fe Trickster.

The 3rd ISTJ shadow function and 7th function overall is Extraverted Feeling. The 7th function is known as the Trickster and it is the shadow of the tertiary function. The trickster function emerges in response to threats of punishment or dealing with someone who arouses a desire to get revenge or turn the tables and cause humiliation. The trickster function tries to “double bind” the other person in response to feeling double bound.

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ISTJs have Extraverted Feeling as their trickster function. Therefore, in response to having their tertiary Fi perspective of what is good or bad, right or wrong, oppressed or ridiculed by a person, especially those with some type of authority over them, ISTJ may look for ways to turn the situation on its head. Fe trickster uses social rules and standards to expose the hypocrisy or foolishness of those who espouse them. They attempt to scare the other person with potential social rejection and condemnation due to “misbehavior” on their part.

ISTJ 8th Function: Ni Demon.

Finally, we have ISTJ’s last shadow function, Ni Demon. The Demon function is a last ditch attempt to defend the moral integrity of the ego as expressed through the dominant function. The Demon Function is also described as an “internal saboteur” or “bad object”. It is associated with paranoia and possibly misplaced notions of evil attributed to people perceived as a threat. Normally, ISTJs prefer to be practical and use common sense. Due to their inferior Ne, ISTJs are generally skeptical about creative alternatives and possibilities because much of it sounds suspicious, risky and “iffy” to them.

For ISTJ, Ni Demon represents an underlying curiosity about implicit meanings and potential consequences. Introverted Intuition in the Demon role however, leans toward interpretations of a negative and dire variety. Under stress induced by a breakdown or failure of their dominant Si perspective and an inability of their inferior Ne to compensate for it, ISTJs may turn to conspiracy-mongering and doom-and-gloom predictions. ISTJ’s Ni Demon leads them to uncharacteristically espouse claims that are unsubstantiated and wildly speculative. ISTJ may desperately leap to conclusions to fill in the blanks that their Introverted Sensing was unable to.

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Jetta Moon

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