How different people are likely to deal with the social and physical isolation?
While coronavirus doesn’t care about our psychological types and it affects all types in equal/secular ways, different people are going to have different impact of isolation on their thinking, feeling and action. There are some, who can withstand isolation for longer than the rest. There are some who are more psychologically prone to bounce back to equilibrium quickly after isolation. Here is a general description of how different TYPES see, interpret and deal with isolation.
I am writing this with the intention to help my fellow human beings understand self and others in systematic manner and develop more tolerance towards differences. This, in no way, is intended to be a quick guide on how one should think, feel or act. The type references here is from JUNGIAN TYPOLOGY and NOT MYERS-BRIGGS TYPOLOGY which, I think, is an adulteration of Jungian Typology by well meaning but incompetent journalist duo.
The extraverted types
In general extraverted types are likely to find the isolation more difficult than the introverted types (no points for guessing WHY) because of obvious reasons that their source of energy is depleting. Like vampires, extraverted people survive on the symbolic blood (interaction, exchange, transaction) of other people, so when their source of supply for psychic energy is depleting (at least as they see it depleting), it is likely to worry them. But not all extraverted types will have same level of worry. Those who are extraverted intuitive type will have more worry than extraverted sensing type because they are constantly focusing on the potential of spreading the virus which is far bigger than the actual spread. Those who are extraverted thinking type are likely to have more worries than those who are extraverted feeling type because extraverted thinking types are constantly evaluating things based on rationality and irrationality of it rather than based on its psychological impact on them. Therefore, either they will get overly cautious bordering with paranoia or overly irritated with the irrational behaviour around them. There will be another level of difference among extroverted types on the basis of what is their supporting function. Extraverted Thinking type supported by Introverted Sensing will have different reactions to the situation than Extraverted Thinking types supported with Introverted Intuition. Yet another level of differential will come from the level of development of these functions.
With this understanding and recognition that each individual will have its unique way of dealing with (adjusting, coping, enjoying and celebrating) isolation, here are some TYPICAL patterns that we are likely to see in different extraverted types.
ENFJs look at life through Extraverted Feeling lens and therefore certainly enjoy being around people, and want to feel close to the ones they love. ENFJs are capable of a little isolation, since they don’t mind having time to think things through and enjoy the space to themselves. While ENFJs can handle a small amount of time to themselves, they do become irritating with too much isolation. Without being able to connect with their loved ones the ENFJ will feel uneasy and even a bit miserable.
ENTJs look at life through Extraverted Thinking lens and therefore don’t mind having plenty of free time in normal situations where they do their mental gymnastics, but isolation is a different story. ENTJs need to feel connected to people, and are recharged by communicating with others. If they are isolated for too long it will drain them, and cause them to feel less like themselves. They simply require connecting with other likeminded people in order to feel completely like themselves.
ESFJs look at life through Extraverted Feeling lens (just like ENFJ) but unlike ENFJs they are supported by introverted sensing whereas ENFJs are supported by introverted intuition. Due to their preference for introverted sending, isolation is more painful for ESFJs as they sense their internal psychological state more intensely. Since they need to feel connected to the people they love. ESFJs want to always be caring for their loved ones, and want to do what they can to make those people happy. Being isolated separates them from the ones they care for, and it can truly leave the ESFJ feeling dejected and lost in the situation.
ESTJs look at life through Extraverted Thinking lens (just like ENTJs) but unlike ENTJs and like ESFJs they are supported by Introverted Thinking. Even in daily normal situations, ESTJs require time around others in order to feel recharged and more like themselves. They need others to share their thoughts and bounce these ideas off. Even while looking for space for self, ESTJs look for a space that is surrounded by others. ESTJs dislike the feeling of isolation, and truly want to feel connected to their loved ones. ESTJs can become quite annoyed and unhappy when they are left in isolation.
ENFPs look at the world through Extraverted Intuition lens supported by Introverted Feeling. They do enjoy having time to themselves, but they dislike too much isolation. Being able to spend time inside of their own minds without constant yammering from others, is definitely something they enjoy and therefore they are likely to utilise this time to finish off things they wanted to since long. ENFPs however need to feel connected to their loved ones, and enjoy having people around them just to share the silence with. Being innovative by nature, they are likely to find innovative ways to connect with others while being isolated.
ENTPs look at the world through Extraverted Intuition lens supported by Introverted Thinking. Therefore as a psychological need, the need for others is least in them among all extraverts. In fact, like most introverts, they require plenty of space from others. While ENTPs enjoy having alone time, they absolutely do not enjoy isolation. Feeling disconnected from others is bothersome to the ENTP, and makes them feel emotionally reactive. ENTPs need to be able to explore new possibilities, and isolation can cause them to feel stuck in one place. They are likely to resort to reading as a way of connecting with others.
ENTPs look at the world through Extraverted Sensing lens supported by Introverted Feeling. ESFPs absolutely hate isolation, and often dislike being all by themselves. Presence of others gives them a sense of purpose and meaning. They need to be around people in order to feel recharged and energised. ESFPs care deeply about their loved ones, and want to feel connected to them all of the time. Without plenty of attention the ESFP can become overwhelmed and a bit depressed.
ESTPs look at the world through Extraverted Sensing lens supported by Introverted Thinking. ESTPs strongly dislike isolation, as they need plenty of time with others to gather data to feed their scientific mind. ESTPs need to feel connected to their loved ones, or else they become drained and unhappy. Being stuck in their own heads for too long can actually be troublesome for ESTPs, since they can overthink things in a negative way. ESTPs do enjoy space to themselves, but prolonged isolation is not something they enjoy.
The introverted types
In general introverted types are likely to find the isolation less difficult than the extroverted types (no points for guessing WHY again) because of obvious reasons that their source of energy is the inside world of ideas, thoughts and feeling and isolation gives then the opportunity to connect to the source. But once they have plenty of connection with the source, they will start feeling like newly delivered cow, which has lots of milk in its breasts but there is no one to milk her. They will feel the unease of getting what they always wanted, while they will enjoy it, as the same time, they will get uneasy with it. Therefore, to others, introverts might appear confused and lost due to prolonged isolation. But not all introverted types will have same level of unease. Those who are primarily led by Introverted Thinking will have less sense of unease than those who are led by Introverted Feeling because thinking types will have enough opportunity to lecture the world while in isolation but feeling types will not have that much opportunity to live by their values and help others. Those who are led by introverted sensing are likely to have more worries than those who are led by introverted intuition because introverted sensing types will overly focus on current situation and it gravity in near future whereas introverting intuitive types will engage themselves in imagining possibilities (different possibilities) and multiple scenarios. Therefore, either they will get overly cautious bordering with paranoia or overly irritated with the irrational behaviour around them. There will be another level of difference among introverted types on the basis of what is their secondary function, and unlike extraverts, this is likely to be a bigger differentiator than their primary function because though these functions they are connecting with the outside world. Introverted Thinking type supported by Extraverted Sensing will have different reactions to the situation than Introverted Thinking types supported with Introverted Intuition. Yet another level of differential will come from the level of development of these functions.
With this understanding and recognition that each individual will have its unique way of dealing with (adjusting, coping, enjoying and celebrating) isolation, here are some TYPICAL patterns that we are likely to see in different introverted types.
ISTJs connect with the world through their secondary function of Extraverted Sensing whereas their worldview is shaped primarily by their primary function of Introverted Thinking. In normal life, they require plenty of alone time in order to process their thoughts and feelings. They dislike feeling smothered by people, and need space in order to feel recharged. ISTJs don’t mind a little isolation, but after a while they dislike feeling disconnected from those who they were used to be connected. Not being able to do things for the people they care for most, is actually something that will bother the ISTJ.
ISTJs also connect with the world through their secondary function of Extraverted Sensing (just like ISTJs) but their worldview is shaped primarily by their primary function of Introverted Feeling. ISFJs enjoy having time to themselves, to discover their subjective truth, but at the same time they generally have a strong need to connect with others and see the manifestations of their subjective truth. When ISFJs feel isolated and disconnected from their loved ones, they often feel very alone and unhappy because ISFJs need to be taking care of others in order to see that they are fulfilling their truth purpose in life.
INTJs connect with the world through their secondary function of Extraverted Intuition whereas their worldview is shaped primarily by their primary function of Introverted Thinking. INTJs are definitely very internal people, who enjoy being on their own most of the time. INTJs often isolate themselves, since they require space in order to process and understand information that they collected by looking at the patterns of events in the outside world. Without this time alone the INTJ will become exhausted and completely unlike themselves. INTJs can go a rather long time in isolation, without requiring much interaction from others. Isolation is likely to be a boon in disguise for them until the world turns upside down.
INFJs also connect with the world through their secondary function of Extraverted Intuition (just like INTJs) but their worldview is shaped primarily by their primary function of Introverted Feeling. INFJs are very internal and value based people, who enjoy spending plenty of time alone exploring themselves. They can often find themselves wrapped up inside of their own inner minds for long periods of time. They can certainly handle isolation, and often relish in the time that they spend by themselves. INFJs can spend a lot of time alone, but during that time they are likely to be thinking about people that they acre for. After a while the INFJ will want to make contact with the people they care for, even if it is just through text. They just want to know that those people are okay, and dislike feeling separated from them for too long.
INTPs connect with the world through their secondary function of Extraverted Thinking but their worldview is shaped primarily by their primary function of Introverted Intuition. Like most introverted types, INTPs also enjoy of time for themselves, and don’t mind feeling isolated. They often try to seclude themselves from others, and dislike feeing smothered by even the people they care about. Therefore, in the time of isolation their creativity is likely to find expression and they are likely to engage into creative pursuits. INTPs can spend a long time in isolation before they start to feel anxious and in need of interaction.
ISTPs also connect with the world through their secondary function of Extraverted Thinking but their worldview is shaped primarily by their primary function of Introverted Sensing. ISTPs enjoy plenty of time to themselves, and can withstand a good bit of isolation but they are likely to feel the negative effect of isolation sooner than other introverted types. Generally, they get so caught up in their own inner minds, that they really don’t need much interaction from others, but when the external world has changed so much and so sudden, their internal world gets disturbed. Therefore, they would like to take it as opportunity to readjust their internal world and find solace in isolation as long as they are living in a system where where most things are provided to them by the system. After some time, they do need to connect with people though, and will feel stagnant if they are isolated for too long.
INFPs connect with the world through their secondary function of Extraverted Feeling but their worldview is shaped primarily by their primary function of Introverted Intuition. Like most introverts, INFPs do enjoy plenty of time to themselves, and can often isolate from others intentionally. They need this time in order to recharge, and process what they see others thinking and feeling, and make sense of all this at a deeper understanding level. Without this time to themselves the INFP will become exhausted in and overwhelmed wit the outside world. INFPs can often spend long periods of time in isolation, without becoming bothered by this. However, in prolonged isolation, they will eventually begin to overthink things, and might feel somewhat depressed with too much isolation.
ISFPs also connect with the world through their secondary function of Extraverted Feeling but unlike INFP, their worldview is shaped primarily by Introverted Sensing. Among all introverts, ISFPs are least tolerant to isolation due to their strong sensing nature. Feeling disconnected from the people they love is actually a depressing for ISFPs. They do what they can to connect with people, and want to feel like they are cared for. They are likely to play the role of comfort giver as a way to cope with prolonged isolation. Also, they are likely to be more in touch of their needs and emotions than others and could be a source of comfort and consolation.
Hope this general description gives you some help in understanding and appreciating what you have got and come out more self-aware after the episode of isolation. Please share your thoughts and feelings that you get after reading this articles. I would love to hear from you. For those of you, who want to express by mail, please email.
About the author
Vijai Pandey, is a business psychologist with over a decade and half experience of applying psychology at work. He has worked with corporates and government organizations as consultant in India, Europe and in Middle East. He works in the area of Psychometric Testing and Organizational Development. Besides his consulting assignments, he teaches courses on Psychometrics, OB and OD in educational institutions like IIM, TISS and O P Jindal Global university.