Bob Dylan: ISFP or INFP?

Some people come to this site after having read David Keirsey‘s portraits of the ISFP and the INFP. These people understandably think that out of those two portraits, the INFP portrait is the better fit for Bob Dylan.

Having read the portraits ourselves, we agree: Going by Keirsey’s portraits, INFP really is the better fit for Bob Dylan. But from a Jungian perspective, Dylan is still ISFP. Here’s why:

  • ISFPs do not merely live “in the world of the senses”, as Keirsey’s portraits of the SP types would have you believe. Nor are they exclusively “sensers”. SP types also have an intuitive function (Ni), which is tertiary in the ISPs and repressed in the ESPs.
  • So ISFPs have tertiary Ni, that is, they have Fi-Se-Ni. By contrast, INFPs have secondary Ne, that is, Fi-Ne-Si.
  • Now as we know from Myers, Jung and van der Hoop, types who have Ne as one of their two top functions (such as INFPs) tend to find self-expression easy and typically pass through many different ideas, and perspectives on those ideas, over time.
  • By contrast, we know from the same authors that the concepts distilled by Ni tend to have a hard time finding an outwards expression that adequately conveys what is going on inside. And likewise, we know that Ni types tend to cycle through fewer ideas over a lifetime than Ne types.
    • (Exempt from this are ESP types. They repress Ni and so can resemble Ne types in working through lots of ideas. Likewise, ISJ types repress Ne and so can resemble Ni types by staying true to a few select ideas over a lifetime.)
  • So Ne types tend to find self-expression easy and Ni types tend to find self-expression difficult.
  • Of all the 16 types, the ISFP is perhaps the type that is the most at odds with expressing themselves adequately, because of their Fi-Ni axis. But their difficulty with traditional modes of self-expression will frequently be made up for by ingenious modes of alternative self-expression. (Through music, art, design, etc.)
  • So Bob Dylan is not a “senser.” Regardless of whether he is INFP or ISFP, the man would still have a conscious interplay of both intuitive and sensing functions (as opposed to the types who repress either their intuition or their sensing).
  • So the real question with regards to Bob Dylan is if Ne-Si or Se-Ni is the better fit for his personality. And as you can tell by now, we think the best fit is Se-Ni because his ideas are more singular and deeply ingrained and because difficulty with verbal self-expression is a perennial theme for Dylan.

Note that we are careful to pertain the comparative “looseness” of INFPs to ideas, rather than values. The values of an INFP are usually every bit as deeply held as those of the ISFP, but as noted, their perspectives and ideas tend to be greater in number as well as more loosely entertained.

56 Comments

  1. Axel Nilsson says:

    Nicely argued, I can’t help but find myself in agreeing with this. Also it just feels great to get active response like this.

  2. Axel Nilsson says:

    Also if you want a real apple to bite into i suggest looking at the Enigmatic Captain Beefheart, my prediction is INTP (INFP thereafter)but the guy is beyond weird.

  3. Pan says:

    I am consistently typed 98% of the time as INFP (the other 2% INFJ or INTP), yet I have extreme difficulty in self expression outside of art and music. I feel like the INFP description fits me much better than INFJ, INTP, or ISFP, so it’s not an issue of error on behalf of Internet testing. Thus I have to disagree with your assessment, in terms of INFP/ISFP and ease/method of expression. This alone does not necessarily indicate Dylan as an ISFP.

  4. Axel Nilsson says:

    The general always triumphs over the specific man

  5. admin says:

    Pan: three things:
    (1) What we say about difficulty of self-expression is a derived, general effect from the Fi-Se-Ni constellation that applies in Dylan’s case. The wellspring of the argument is the functions, rather than the derived effects. If you would make a case for Ne-Si fitting Dylan better, you are very welcome :-)
    (2) It is not uncommon for INFPs to feel like they have difficulty with verbal self-expression. They struggle to do justice to their introverted functions in the outer world. Yet when compared to the general population, INFPs, on average, still tend to be more “verbally fluid” than most others. So one must distinguish between one’s own feelings of having a hard time with self-expression and one’s actual objective ability.
    (3) We do not base our entire argument on self-expression. You do not say whether you also identify with working through more ideas and perspectives over time and holding them more loosely (INFP) or if your ideas and perspectives are more singular and deep-seated (ISFP). As we say, you shouldn’t really place much stock in tests, including ours. They’re just a mere pointer to get beginners started. :-)

  6. Pan says:

    Admin: Well put. I acknowledge that I clumsily omitted my clarification before that the reason I am zeroing in on the self expression point is because I do not know enough of Dylan’s music to form a sincere opinion on whether he is more of a “big picture” or “small details” type of person. I merely wanted to enforce the idea that INFP can be just as inarticulate as ISFP, which can be misleading. I am fully aware that I have difficulty expressing myself in conversation, much like many ISFPs I know. I realize it’s all in good fun, but wanted it to be known that there are variations within each type and one can’t really take things at face value… But I’m sure you knew that already ;)

  7. jungsun says:

    Interesting analysis! Still finding it a bit difficult to differentiate Se/Ni types from Ne/Si types. I’d like to see more explanation, particularly regarding Frank Ocean, who you have typed as Fi/Se/Ni.

    Ni seems much higher in his stacking than Tert. He doesn’t seem at all like the other popular Fi/Se musicians who are more sultry and seductive and far less cerebral and metaphorical in presentation.

  8. admin says:

    We are quite certain of Ocean’s type but of course as always we are susceptible to well-reasoned arguments. :)

    As a general point one should not underestimate the power and charm of the puerile function. To give a more salient example, both ENTPs and ESTPs can have a rakish charm to them which owes its existence to their puerile Extroverted Feeling. The puerile function has a certain innocence and optimism to it that, for example, the auxiliary function does not. This is something we hope to cover in more detail in our upcoming book on types.

    It is true that Ocean is more introspective (though outside of his lyrics not necessarily more metaphorical) than other Fi-Se individuals. This can relate back to other things such as a stronger introversion than other ISFPs, or to differences in intelligence (IQ), something which we try to avoid assessing on this site.

    Quite a few individuals have aberrant traits relative to the type you would normally expect (e.g. Lars von Trier). This is the difference between type and stereotype, if you will: When people first get into typing, many try to cram all psychological information on a person into the Jungian cognitive functions. And in doing so we are actually apt to betray the functions themselves.

    That is why we introduce a dynamic qualifier in the typology of Theodore Millon (another thing we hope to cover in our upcoming book). Other people use the Enneagram (which we tend to stay away from) but essentially it serves the same purpose: To say something about a person’s personality outside of the cognitive functions themselves.

    In the case of Frank Ocean, he avoids conceptualizations and associations in interviews. For example, he gets asked how far his music has taken him and he answers that it’s taken him to London. Likewise, he describes a music video where he wrecked a car and he says it was fun and again he shows a preference for staying with the actual experience and feeling that out to its fullest.

    In doing research on him we watched every single interview that was avaliable on Youtube back then and he showed no interest in universalizing his messages or experiences. If we are to take him at his word (and admittedly we do not always do so when typing people), the personal and the particular ranks higher than giving general form to his messages and, you could argue, this is in no small part what makes him such an effective artist.

  9. Kay says:

    One of the most enlightened discussion on these two types I ever seen. And I definitely identify with the point about isfps being most at odds with expressing themselves.

  10. dandre says:

    I usually find your typings good. But this time I think you’re way off. Before trying to figure secondary and tertiary functions, I think one should look much more closely at what is the dominant function.

    What makes Bob Dylan an original and talented artist? Is it due to a strong introvert feeling? I do not see that at all! He certainly does not appear to me as a rational type (T/F), and I see no strong reasons why he should be introvert.
    To me, the core of Dylan is very much extravert intuition! It struck me as I was watching some interviews with him. The interviewers ask him kind of self-contemplative questions, but Dylan seem to get agitated by this. He rather confronts the interviewers with counter-statements and questions (libido directed to outer world), than look for answers inside his own head (I take it as if he wants to avoid introversion).
    Makes sense if you look at songs like:
    “Times a-changing..” (extravert intuitive constantly looking for change)
    “It ain’t me babe” (an extroverted explanation of that he is not an introverted type)
    “Don’t think twice..” (message “don’t use introvert feeling” – and he says it in a kind of non-sentimental sense)

    In general I find his songs imaginative and often full of ideas, which indicates dominant intuition. There is of course some introversion in him, but I think way more extraversion – so I’d go for ENFP.

  11. Axel Nilsson says:

    He is an introvert. Do your homework if you want to discuss stuff. Furthermore wasn’t it rather obvious that Dylan himself thought the interviewes were just probing him and trying to project the (in his view missconstrued) public image of Dylan unto him?

    What he’s doing when he responds with counter questions is refuse those interviewers whatever parts of himself which he’d like to keep as such, which if anything is the act of an introverted artist. He prefers to speak honestly, but at the same time is unwilling to give himself completely in public, hence what follows.

    I think he’d rather retain the enigma of his persona and artistry than to strip them of it, as doing so yields nothing of value. It is something atrocious in my mind to so strongly desire that all be layed bare and presented clearly, the essence and “point of it all” gotten to, quickly, efficiently, that one would deny any sublimity even to that which relies on it.

    Imagine if Dylan had answered: “Ah my good man! Yes indeed t’was precisely the radioactive waste which I had in mind when I wrote Hard Rain! You see radioactive waste is bad and I ain’t having none of that stuff, politicians are stupid you know, gotta protest”

    In my mind such an answer would belittle the song if anything, my own hearing of the song would be less personal and somewhat limited in its potential scope, if I knew beforehand the full extent of the intention behind it for one. And to what gain? For the masses to feel clever about themselves for listening to artist with an actual point,for the older part of the public to feel less anxious about Dylan knowing that at least he’s against nuclear waste and cares about stuff?

    Points aren’t really hard to come by, in fact if the point of listening to songs where the points of them, then I’d say our civilization hasn’t come very far, because you can make points a lot more efficiently if you aren’t making art at the same time. For example you can write a book or a column. Indeed the point of Dylans artistry isn’t and wasn’t cowering explicit points in clever wordplay, as Dylans interviewers (though unknowingly perhaps to a certain extent) implied.

    It’s really fascinating how at the time, whether or not Dylan was to be viewed as decripit or genius seemed to depend upon whether he had or had not meant to make certain rather simple points concerning contemporary politics. As if though his songs would play any different regardless. Naturally the difference would at least be markedly too small to warrant the fact that the majority of interviewers asked these questions. That is the difference on its own. What warrants it is that it in the mind of the public, a yes or no would’ve been enough for them to be able to determine whether Dylan was to be counted as a part of their collective strivings or not. Indeed that was the deciding point of whether his music was the good stuff or just pointless rambling, despite it having nought to do with his actual artistry. No doubt Dylan dislikes this phenomena and saw through it. That is to a certain degree, being able to explain it is another matter, and not having it fall on dead ears yet another entirely.

    I would also urge you to not recklessly apply technical terms and methods you’ve read of when you don’t understand how they connect to reality. You can’t single out lyrics like that. Do you know how many songs Dylan have written? You could turn him into whichever of the 16 types you’d like with just one of his albums.

  12. Chris says:

    I’m an INFP. I’m terrible at expressing myself verbally, especially to people I don’t know well, mostly because I am very shy and always afraid of saying the wrong thing. I am very good at expressing myself through writing. I have some very deep seated personal values, and tend to cycle through ideas more fluidly and change my perspective on them over time.

  13. admin says:

    But in which way are you bad? :-) Have you seen our INFP/INFJ video? Garfield would probably say he was bad at expressing himself (because that’s how INFPs often feel) but if you see the words coming out of his mouth they are still more eloquent that the average population.

  14. dandre says:

    Axel)
    Indeed I speak of things I do not fully understand, but I am not slow to admit that either. Though I’ve read quite a lot about it I still think it’s often difficult to tell the difference between extraversion and introversion. I’ve been mistaken before, and I could well be mistaken again, but that won’t prevent me from keep speaking my mind.
    I much agree with your analysis of his interviews. He wants to speak honest, but doesn’t want to give out too much of himself – and thus gives avoiding answers. But to what extent, and why, is it sign of introvertedness?
    As for the songs I mentioned. None of them makes any proof that he was more of an extravert, but I think they can serve as indicators. There is a particular Dylan-spirit which is common in many of his songs. I’m inclined to think this Dylan-spirit is more extraverted than introverted, but I’m always curious to hear opinions on why I am wrong.

  15. elly says:

    I just got done reading his autobiography & it’s heavy with metaphors and very apparent he is introverted. I see a lot of similarities between him and me, an INFP. I still don’t quite understand why he is typed Se instead of Ne. Have you seen that clip in the Martin Scorsese documentary of Dylan reading a sign and coming up with (what seems like) 101 ways to rephrase what it says? Talk about extroverted intuition. And he says a line in the book about Joan Baez being even more of a loner than he (he has already disassociated himself with many people it seems, much like INFPs tend to do, even unconsciously).

    I guess I’m not still understanding how he is typed Se. Any way to give me a one sentence differentiation between INFP & ISFP?

    **side note** I don’t think Bob would appreciate the “label” either way

  16. elly says:

    One last thing, he sure doesn’t seem like he had trouble expressing himself, considering the insane amount of records turned around in his still very active career (saw him in June ☺). I mean 2 in less than a year a few times throughout his career! He couldn’t express himself enough.

  17. admin says:

    Expression in words and analytical prose tends to be difficult for ISFPs. Yet poetry, art, and music are often their forte.

  18. admin says:

    What you describe is a correct way to distinguish between Se/Ne. Yet the argument doesn’t go that Dylan has Se, it goes that he has Ni.

    We haven’t seen the scene, but if you could link us up, we’ll take a look.

  19. jgkojak says:

    I’m an INFP who a fair amount of Dylan knowledge.

    Let’s look at all four values:
    “I” – there is little doubt that Dylan prefers to be alone and is very careful in the company he keeps – he lets very few get close to him. He does not ‘fraternize’ easily with others.

    “P” – Dylan’s entire method of working screams ‘P’- he does not like to do the same work twice, is more interested in capturing the moment – until recently (out of necessity) he has usually refused to do simple vocal overdubs that are standard for other artists. He is famous for performing a song, completely reworking it, and refusing to go back and revise his work – his finished product is usually the result of 2-3 takes in the studio.

    “F” – You could make an argument that Dylan has some ‘T’ characteristics, as he can be savage if he wants to take someone down (i.e. Positively Fourth Street). But the root of that savage is that he is easily hurt (in Things Have Changed he sings “I hurt easy, I just don’t show it/You can hurt someone and not even know it”). Also, most of his personal songs are built around Feeling.

    Which brings us to the N vs S.

    What I see as the hallmark of this ‘S’ is the never-ending tour – the workman-like hundreds of shows a year Dylan continues to play. An ‘N’ would be bored by this.

    Likewise, most of his lyrics are about 1) Fi, how the actions of others/lovers make him feel (see Visions of Johanna); 2) Se, describing events as they happen and finally 3) Ni, putting a spin on these Feeling events (Tangled Up in Blue).

    As said above, I think the INFP just doesn’t quite fit Bob – the key feature – he really has absolutely no need to please anyone. Most INFPs are at least sensitive to making others around them unhappy. That’s not Bob.

  20. e says:

    Bob Dylan flips personas like most people change their clothes — pick any two or three albums at random and compare them. Whatever he has said about difficulty with verbal expression, the man’s work is read by college students of Shakespeare as among the most poetic lyrics of all time (see the 60 Minutes program about him circa 2005) and he is among the most prolific songwriters who has ever lived. He may feel that he’s struggling, but come on . . . He left home for NYC to follow a dream by the time he was 20 and never looked back, yet he’s been singing tortured love songs since his divorce in the early 1970s, while also making bold statements about his own powers of self-expression (“I can write you poems that make a strong man lose his mind”). By your own terms, I say INFP: “tend to find self-expression easy and typically pass through many different ideas, and perspectives on those ideas, over time.” This is a man who was the poster-child of the civil rights music crowd until, in 1965 or so, he got bored with that and provoked the genteel Pete Seeger to literally cut the chord with an ax to stop him from grinding out “Maggie’s Farm” (which, as an INFP, I have to say is pretty much an INFP anthem). Not only that, but it is quite clear that Dylan’s early work is all about the Fi-Ne interplay, only his later stuff brings in the Se element, which is far more consistent with an INFP’s development over the course of a lifetime. Finally, Bob Dylan clearly did care what people thought of him — he just tired of those he admired (with the exception of Woody Guthrie, perhaps) rather quickly and moved on to other mentors (another INFP trait, perhaps) until he got to the point where he is essentially unrivaled in his prowess as a poetic lyricist.

  21. admin says:

    An important detail is that it is not whether the person changes frequently compared to himself, but compared to others. Bowie changed personas more frequently than Dylan.

    Also, you don’t say why you think he has Ne, you just say it is ‘clear.’

  22. e says:

    I meant Si (oops!) . . . take a listen to songs like “Can’t Wait.” The sensing function in Bob Dylan’s expression is primarily introverted — it is his sensations, not a sensory journey into the world. By contrast, the intuitive element is highly extroverted — listen to anything he’s written — ripe with symbolic connections of the exterior world, not an internal vision. Really, the difference between Ne and Ni alone should be enough to demonstrate that Bob Dylan is INFP. He’s not following or developing an inner “vision” in the way that Ni types at this level of ability do. He’s following his heart and using his “vision” of the world to convey what is inside.

  23. e says:

    What do you mean by “whether the person changes frequently compared to himself, but compared to others?”

  24. admin says:

    Are you determining his type on the basis of his lyrics? Can you link to an interview where you think he showcases Ne?

  25. e says:

    Does the fact that Pete Seeger felt “betrayed” by Bob Dylan, the fact that he picked up and dropped “The Band,” his relationship with Joan Baez, etc etc etc address the “changes frequently . . . compared to others” point? The two things that did not change: dedication to his own values (as opposed to vision), even as those values seem to have changed, and a broken heart from 1974 through present . . . is there really any type that would write “It Ain’t Me, Babe” before falling in love and “Sara” or “Dream of You” or his many other heart-break songs for decades after his divorce?

  26. admin says:

    We don’t type by lyrics at all.
    But if you have an interview where you think Dylan seems more INFP than ISFP, please link to it here.

  27. e says:

    I’m going on memory here, but the 60 Minutes program I mentioned around 2005 is a pretty good example. He marvels at his own past lyrics, explaining that he can’t do that anymore but can do other things. Also, look at the “Don’t Look Back” documentary — his comments are filled with external connections and references, not a sense that he is drawing on an internally created vision. He’s playing off the world around him, but in an intuitive way — he just “gets it” — while he seems perennially in doubt of whether his heart has it right. Moreover, you suggest that INFPs are linked with avoidant type personalities — watch any interview from the 1960s, when his dark glasses were a shield to keep the world at bay and let him play with intuitive wise-cracks from a safe distance. Then, nothing — no interviews, no personal stories — comes out with his permission for decades, and only very rarely ever since. And he was arrested recently for walking the streets, alone, in the middle of the night, anonymous, looking like a ruffian, in his 60s. This is a bard, a wanderer, a lonely soul driven to share what’s inside, but ever-changing, tied to a cause that is ever being defined by his heart, not his vision. You can also see in his endless references to literature as far back as Dante and the Bible that he is constantly reading, not exploring the sensory world.

  28. e says:

    How can you say a person has difficulty with verbal expression without looking at what they wrote?????

  29. e says:

    One the last post, substitute “self-expression” for “verbal expression” — yeah, INFPs are better writers than speakers. As for links, here you go: http://theintuitivemusician.com/mbti-profile-bob-dylan-infp/ (scroll to the bottom of the page for the video) and, for 32 interviews over the course of his career, take a look at this: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8flSFeCsFvKVT1VHlC_tCPzS5MzW5xGC I look forward to hearing what you see in these interviews. I think that his quick intuitive wit makes the case for Ne on its own, and there is more I could say, but I think I’ve made the key points that drive my perspective.

  30. admin says:

    re: Lyrics
    Because you cannot know how long it took to write those lyrics. Our comment about self-expression and verbal expression is about those things on the fly; not the products of concentrated, introverted meditations.

    re: Avoidance
    Avoidance is a correlation but does not say anything about type in itself.
    It’s like saying: “People who are Santa Claus are more likely to wear red.”
    That doesn’t mean you can say that because someone wears red, he is then Santa Claus.
    Also, Avoidance is a specific cognitive style. It’s not just the act of being avoidant.

    re: Interviews
    We will look at a couple of interviews. As our News page shows, we have previously changed people around when we get better arguments and/or research.

    PS: Expression
    It is ironic that the one interview you highlight above the others had Dylan repeatedly faulting words and verbal expression and also has him being very concerned with factual accuracy with regards to both what specific houses a word refers to and the accurate reproduction of the ambiance of press interviews. The interview also has him being very singular at 5:50 – 06:08. Not your typical Ne mode of consciousness. As well as him saying “I wouldn’t write about anything I can’t really see” at 08:32.

    If you have already read this article and this one, you might want to look at this one as well.

    However, it is true that the comment at 08:11 is a point in favor of Ne.

  31. e says:

    Take a look at this as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=keKoVznWCGk (a clip from “Don’t Look Back”).

    I notice that the interview collection I linked to no longer works in the U.S., but if you follow the above link, there are links to a number of other interviews ranging from the 1960s into at least the 1980s. 60 Minutes also has 2 or 3 interviews, but I cannot get them to play. There are some transcripts, but I would be wary of these. For example, Bob Dylan makes some statements that sound as if he his following a consistent inner vision in one, but I’d want to see his mannerisms to know whether he is attempting to convey a genuine belief about himself or just “playing” with the interviewer, as he did in the 1960s. It is that “playing” that I think is illustrated by the “house” discussion you highlight above — he doesn’t really seem to care what we think about “house,” the point is that one can play with these things, bend them to fit one’s pre-disposition. To me, that is a very Ne thing to do — words are symbols, symbols have whatever meaning we give them, my meaning is different than yours, so how can I say anything to you? yet, he dedicated his life to words . . . I find it hard to believe that he’s actually hung up on the meaning of “house” or anything else. He is going for intuitive impact, and he does it extremely well — in lyric or in interview. He may not get his particular point across, but he does create a certain “feel” or general type of meaning very well — that is the nature of Ne, drawing connections in the external world in ways that create a desired impact, regardless of their logical precision. Of course, it works in both directions, which explains his eclectic tastes in music (listen to the “Theme Time Radio Hour” shows).

  32. admin says:

    Please select the interview(s) that you find the most pertinent.

    Your definition of Ne in the above comment is not straight on the money. Ne is an objective function; Ni is subjective. By your own description, Dylan would then be an Ni-Se type once the definitions are applied correctly.

    Likewise, creating “a certain ‘feel’ or general type of meaning very well” is not the nature of Ne. Ne goes from the one to the many, it negates itself if it goes on for too long. This is explained in Another Look at ISFP.

  33. e says:

    I just re-read Keirsey’s article on Bob Dylan as an ISFP, as well as the first link you sent me. Here’s the problem I see: you are analyzing Bob Dylan as a MUSICIAN. He is a writer, first and foremost. Most musicians write the music and build lyrics around it. Bob Dylan, from what I have heard, generally writes the lyrics, then puts music to it. He is not especially impressive as a technical musician. As a writer of verse, he is among the best in the 20th century, if not all time. It would be like calling Shakespeare a dramatic player because he put on plays. Keirsey offers this quote, which I think makes my point better than his: “An artist has to be careful to never really arrive at a place where he thinks he’s at, somewhere. You always have to realize you are constantly in a state of becoming, as long as you can stay in that realm, you will sort of be alright. I can’t self-analyze my own work, and I wasn’t going to cater to the crowd because I knew certain people like it or didn’t like it. I got in the door when nobody was looking. I was in there now, and there was nothing anybody from then on could ever do about it.” That’s an INFP talking. To paraphrase: “I follow my own heart, the world be damned. If I can get where I want to be, who cares what the rules are? I am going somewhere, always, but I won’t pin down where that ‘somewhere’ is.” Also, as for the metaphor vs. concrete points you make in the linked article, find me something in a Bob Dylan song that isn’t metaphor. I’d say 90% of his interviews are metaphorical as well — very little of what he produces, lyrical or verbal, is concrete. It is as if he hardly sees the world around him — instead, he sees the connections among things in the world around him.

  34. e says:

    I wasn’t going for a definition of Ne. “Going from the one to the many” is a definition of inductive reasoning, essentially, which, according the Keirsey, is common to all Idealist types (Ne and Ni alike). Intuition, as Jung explained it, has to do with connecting to the subconscious to arrive at conclusions without the intermediate steps. Yes, creating a “feel” is, by Jung’s explanation, extroverted intuition. One does not walk us through the steps, he merely delivers us to a new “place,” in an instant, when he uses Ne. Perhaps our disagreement is over the meaning of Ne vs. Ni, rather than which Bob Dylan displays.

  35. admin says:

    We are not analyzing Dylan as anything in particular other than as a human being. That’s why we have F scientists on the site; we go by individual psychology, not by profession.

    We actually like Keirsey’s quote. While you may have a point about ‘always keep moving’ being more Ne-like, it doesn’t really rule out Se. On the other hand, the point about not analyzing what he is doing is a theme amongst ISFPs where INFPs are typically more divided on this matter. Kierkegaard did nothing *but* analyze himself, after all.

    You misunderstand the article we link you to if you read it as being about metaphors. The point is precisely that one cannot say that N = metaphors and symbols. That is an internet vulgarization of Jungian typology.

  36. admin says:

    Keirsey is wrong to say that NF types are necessarily inductive. Where does he say that?

    re: “Intuition, as Jung explained it, has to do with connecting to the subconscious to arrive at conclusions without the intermediate steps.”

    Again that is not equally true of Ni and Ne. Both N functions perceive via the unconscious, but it is chiefly Ni that connects with the unconscious.

    Because Ne is “wholly directed to external objects” (Psychological Types §610) and has an “expectant attitude to objects” (§611), Ne does not create moods and feels. From the external standpoint, the unconscious images are impressed upon the subject that has Ne and impressed upon reality from the subject that has Ni.

  37. e says:

    I don’t think I misunderstand your S vs N point regarding metaphors. You (the site) state in bold font: ” The question of being metaphoric vs. being literal is not a question of black or white; it’s a question of more or less. ” By those terms, if Bob Dylan wrote and spoke almost entirely in metaphor, as I suggest, it would support his being an N type.

    Also, how do you type Shakespeare without looking at what he wrote? If you can use his work, why not use Bob Dylan’s lyrics?

  38. e says:

    Keirsey says “Idealists” are “inductive” in several places in Please Understand Me II. Eg, in the section on “Abstract Word Usage” in the “Idealists” chapter of that book.

    Are you suggesting that Ne cannot be used to create, only to perceive? That is what I take from your quotations and it seems absurd, so I think I must misunderstand you. What, exactly, does one with Ne create in your view?

  39. e says:

    As someone who has typed very strong on all four components of INFP in every test I have ever taken, let me offer my own experience of the Fi – Ne interplay. My “heart” tells me what is “right” for me to do, but I do not focus on logical steps to accomplish the task. I have to “go with the flow” to be successful. I teach at the graduate level in a highly-logical field (not psychology), but I do not depend on logic. I am widely published in this field, but I do not derive my arguments from logic. They “come to me” as I read — I “just know” how to solve a particular problem I am studying (which isn’t to say I am always “right”), then I find ways to explore it and, ultimately, justify it in print. I have responded to rapid-fire questions by experts on complex topics not with logic (I would be doomed), but with Ne. I “get” the heart of the question and respond to that, re-shaping it if necessary to take the audience where I want them to go. Yes, I “create a feel” that explains a logical point as a story that will make sense to expert and lay-person alike. That is how I write and it is how, with much effort, I have learned to speak. I understand intuition — Ne or Ni — to be a two-way street, the question is where it is directed, not whether it “creates.” Mine is directed outward, so I write and talk about what is external to me. That is what I see in Bob Dylan — he relates his Fi through an intuitive grasp of symbolism derived from the external world, thus creating the “feel” of what he wishes to convey.

  40. admin says:

    Looked it up in Keirsey. You were right. That is wrong on his part. He wanted to construe the NTs as wholly rational while, from a Jungian perspective, no one is wholly rational. As we have argued from Jung, Te/Fi types are on the whole more inductive than Ti/Fe types. Anyway, that tangent is not central to our point here.

    The point you quote from the article could perhaps have been written more clearly. We’ll ask the author for a revision. The meaning was not to say that someone who writes in all metaphor must be an N; but to say that S types also use metaphors. Will probably be re-written soon.

    We don’t type musicians and poets based on their lyrics, only by interviews. The subjective factor of those are simply too overpowering, and as the internet will readily tell you (and as Keirsey rightly said), anyone who feels a strong kinship to a given artist or lyric is bound to distort the meaning of it and the personality that created it. For example, on this site, in the comments section, there are already numerous instances of Dylan fans who think they know what a given lyric means and how that pertains exactly to Dylan’s psyche. Same for Trent Reznor. And Eminem. Etc. etc. Not only are interviews more reliable; they also put musicians and poets on the same footing as everyone else.

    Any function can be used to create. Jung explicitly rejected the view that creativity can be tied to only some functions. The point about Ne is that Ne elucidates what is already objectively there, but which most people are not open to see. Socrates is the prime example of this: “All I know is that I know nothing.” – “I am a barren midwife who can only give birth to the ideas of others,” etc.

  41. e says:

    You didn’t respond to the Shakespeare question. That said, I understand that “everyone” identifies with their favorite artists. My point is that Dylan’s body of work is sufficiently extensive (and his interviews sufficiently elusive) that you are far more likely to get an accurate typing by studying his work than pouring through his interviews. I’ll resist the urge to quote and speculate on meaning, but suffice it to say that many many Bob Dylan lyrics fit the pattern of the Socrates quote you offer. None, that I can think of at least, suggest Ni. I also think his S function is clearly subordinate to his N function. I’ve been listening to him for over 20 years and know the lyrics to 100s of his songs. Anyway, this has been fun — thanks! I’m interested to see whether you ultimately re-consider your typing of him.

  42. admin says:

    Shakespeare, like the pre-Socratic philosophers, is an “all else equal” assessment given what we have to work with. If we take it that Fi is clear (i.e. every character is very much his own character, unlike in Dostoyevsky where all characters are footnotes to create some idea of “the common”) the question then becomes whether Shakespeare has Se/Ni or Ne/Si. That point is, again, explained in Another Look at ISFP.

    If you are serious about us changing his type, please give us your best *single* Dylan interview. We’ll watch it with an open mind. As I believe we already demonstrated when we did strike off genuine points in favor of Ne in the last interview.

  43. e says:

    This works as well as any (and better than the 1960s interviews): http://videosift.com/video/60-Minutes-Interview-with-Bob-Dylan

    If you want to make an argument for Ni, I think you’ll have to argue it is the PRIMARY function, as in INFJ. Otherwise, I see INFP. Heart (Fi) comes first, like it or not, followed by Ne – an ease working with the outside world (receiving and creating through intuitive connection) – that lets the heart feel it is doing what it is called to do. Of course, if you see him as describing an inner vision, you could argue INFJ. But, I don’t see ISFP at all. Se is absent, in my view, from this interview. Si, maybe, can be seen in some hints at a tertiary function. But most of what we see is Ne, which serves to reveal bits of the Fi experience. Of course, as I wrote yesterday, we seem to disagree on what Ne actually is.

  44. admin says:

    If Dylan was INFJ, you must be aware that that would also mean Fe. Do you really think that? In the interview you just linked to from 05:10 – 05:31 we find strong evidence of Fi.

    You don’t really say why you think Dylan can’t have Se. Indeed, look at what you say: “An ease working with the outside world … that lets the heart feel it is doing what it is called to do.” How does that contradict Se at all?
    Bear in mind that what we say about Ne is not opinion but quoted from Jung himself.
    Also, Keirsey rejected functions outright.

    We watched the interview. The whole destiny theme actually indicates Se/Ni. Again we must say that you would probably stand to gain from reading either Jung’s Psychological Types or Another Look at ISFP on this site.

    You’ve had us watch two interviews now. In both interviews Dylan outright denies being any kind of visionary, prophet, spokesman for a cause, or having any deeper meaning. Now of course, you could still argue that he is saying the opposite of what is true in interviews, but if so, his trolling/stonewalling is really unimaginative.

  45. e says:

    Thanks for the reply. I agree about Fi. I also agree that “In both interviews Dylan outright denies being any kind of visionary, prophet, spokesman for a cause, or having any deeper meaning,” which I find entirely consistent with most of the INFPs that you list on your site. Granted, it is not inconsistent with ISFP. I do not really think Bob Dylan is INFJ, the point was this: the main evidence that I see for Ni (as opposed to Ne) is that he seems to believe he “knows” himself in a way that guided his entire life. If this was truly a guiding force since he was 19 years old, and if it was Ni, it would likely be a primary function — almost certainly not tertiary.

    I saw no evidence of Se and I note that you don’t explain any. The “ease” I mentioned can also be expressed as simply “knowing” how to use symbols that reflect uncommon connections and meanings — both I the actual interview and in the process he explains using to write and deal with fame.

    The whole idea of typing people one cannot interact with involves some guesswork, I think, and perhaps we just see it differently. I stick with Fi Ne Si, but will continue learning about type and function and stop arguing with you! Thanks for entertaining my questions and ideas!

  46. e says:

    A few closing thoughts on Ne, following these quotes from Jung’s Psychological Types:

    “Intuition as the function of unconscious perception is wholly directed upon outer objects in the extraverted attitude. Because, in the main, intuition is an unconscious process, the conscious apprehension of its nature is a very difficult matter. In consciousness, the intuitive function is represented by a certain attitude of expectation, a perceptive and penetrating vision . . .
    . . . intuition [ ] is by no means a mere perception, or awareness, but an active, creative process that builds into the object just as much as it takes out. . . . The primary function of intuition is to transmit mere images, or perceptions of relations and conditions, which could be gained by the other functions, either not at all, or only by very roundabout ways.. . .
    . . . intuition tries to encompass the greatest possibilities, since only through the awareness of possibilities is intuition fully satisfied . . .”

    And, as for Se, Jung wrote:

    ” . . . It is, however, only concrete, sensuously perceived objects or processes which excite sensations in the extraverted attitude; exclusively those, in fact, which everyone in all times and places would sense as concrete. Hence, the orientation of such an individual corresponds with purely concrete reality.”

    In the interview, Bob Dylan suggests that he does not know where his lyrics come from. He seems to think he has lost the ability to write in the ways that he once did. Moreover, there is little, if any, evidence that he is interested in the concrete external world of sensation, or that he evokes it in speech or action. Instead, he seems focused — in both awareness and style/object of speech — on possibilities and unusual connections. I think if you look at his lyrics, you will find the same thing, but the interview makes it clear enough. I submit that Bob Dylan provides an exemplar of what Jung described as “the artistic intuition which selects and presents its images by means of feeling judgment” (p 516).

  47. admin says:

    As you rightly quote Jung to say, Ne takes an expectant attitude towards the object. In the extroverted mode, N is an objective function and so what is built into the object is primarily possibilities. Therefore, Ne is multifaceted as also explained in §612. Ni is more singular. Ironically, the Se quote you render from Jung actually conforms to Dylan’s stated words on more than one occasion. Hard rain is rain, not nuclear missiles. Leather boots are boots, not all kinds of others things. These are the words, straight from Dylan’s own mouth. Keirsey, who is no friend or collaborator of ours, also said that Dylan is the prime example amongst all musicians of N type fans hearing his music and reading all kinds of things into it that are unlikely to have been there for him. We hardly always agree with Keirsey, but here we do.

    Regarding the interviews: For the first one we pointed to numerous occasions where Dylan actually exhibits an S type mindset (although he did display an Ne type mindset in one place in the first interview). For the second interview, you don’t back up your assertion with concrete quotes or timestamps. How do you think that he seems preoccupied with possibilities, for example? When Dylan talks about his upbringing and his past creativity he seems rather to be completely realistic in reporting the attitude of his parents or his lack of introspective musings on his perceived loss of creativity. Sure, he says that his creative process came out of nothing, but as we said, Jung rejected the view that the “come out of nothing” nature of a creative process is the sign of an N preference in artists and musicians.

    Two more articles you may find interesting: Function Axes and Bias against Sensation.
    PS: We still don’t type by lyrics and the Jung quote you render about the artistic intuition is describing N-with-F, not F-with-N.

  48. Debaser says:

    The fact is that you rely on unreliable, pseudoscientific bullshit like “tertiary functions” and “Fi-Ni axis” to form the entirety of your case. (In addition to a ridiculous quote and an obviously extremely limited understanding of Bob Dylan, his life and his work.) For someone who is arrogant enough to dispute Jung’s own typing of himself, you sure cling dogmatically to his most far out, unreliable theories.

    But let’s get back to the most important thing and examine it from there. I find it helpful to back out of the rabbit hole and grab hold of Occam’s Razor in discussions like this sometimes. And the simplest explanation here is that Bob Dylan is not an S type. Why you seem so determined to insist otherwise, going to extraordinary and ridiculous lengths, relying on the most narrow, shaky, and untested theories around and nitpicking every tiny detail available to do so, I do not know. What is clear is that you started with your typing of ISFP and then looked desperately for anything you could find to back it up, either ignoring what contradicted it or using pseudoarguments to get around it.

    But your worst sin is that you, apparently, actually BELIEVE Dylan when he said hard rain is hard rain or boots are just boots. And then you use that nonsense to form the entirety of your ridiculous “Se” case. You have claimed elsewhere that functions are not behaviors, that Dylan could still be an S with an “Ni” side because of all the figurative language, that S types do not always prefer the shallow and literal over the deep, and yet this still forms the basis of your entire argument, showing a lack of consistency in your own argument. Because on the one hand you seem to be making a case for “S with strong Ni” Dylan, and on the other hand just “Se-heavy Dylan who writes about LITERAL boots and rain.” But the fact is that if Dylan, AN INFAMOUS INTERVIEW TROLL WHO CONSTANTLY MAKES SHIT UP TO CONFUSE PEOPLE, was not being serious, WHICH HE WAS NOT, your Se argument goes out the window anyway. You also fail to adequately address the perfectly legitimate arguments offered that suggest Dylan does in fact use “Ne,” such as the road sign example, but then that would conflict with your preconceived conclusions wouldn’t it? We can’t have that!

    But you know what I think? I think you just don’t have the first clue about anything related to Bob Dylan, and at the same time you have your head stuck up FAR up your own ass when it comes to the topic of typing, which you fail to do with anything resembling reliability or consistency. The former is proven by the fact that, if you knew the first thing about Dylan, you would have known to disregard almost everything he says in interviews, especially something like that which is clearly contradicted by other sources or just when a thinking person listens to any of Dylan’s music. Saying “hard rain is hard rain” is flat out comical, and was obviously intended to be tongue-in-cheek on Dylan’s part, despite your unwillingness to accept this. If true, absolutely none of the rest of the song would make any sense whatsoever. Moreover, the man’s own autobiography is half-fiction; he’s an unreliable narrator in the story of his own life, and he has been for years. He’s secretive and does and says this kind of thing to keep himself shrouded in mystery. You can’t use this shit to form your arguments.

    And no, your pompous, pretentious, arrogant attitude and your belittling condescension against all those who dare disagree with you, the almighty self-proclaimed experts on a subject that isn’t exactly hard science and which you have distorted past the point of usefulness, does not make up for the fundamental lack of substance in your arguments or their base made of sand. It is not my job to prove Dylan is not an S. It is yours to prove he is, considering you made the claim in the first place. You failed to provide adequate evidence to start, and you have failed to provide any since. You cling to a single quote which is not reliable or relevant and couple it with your pseudoscientific, pretentious talk of “function dynamics” that does not hold up under scrutiny in the real world. Do you know what your job is? Make me believe that Dylan generally prefers sensing over intuition. You have failed to convince me and, obviously, many others of this, yet you stubbornly stand by it.

    But what really bothers me the most is the inconsistency of your typing method. Despite the inherently sketchy nature of the quote you use as the primary basis of your Dylan-as-sensor argument and the fact that everything else contradicts it, you claim it as the basis for your argument, swearing its reliability because it came from the subject himself. But let’s look at, say, JFK. The man EXPLICITLY and genuinely described himself as an introvert, something confirmed by those who knew him, including his brother and Richard Nixon. Yet you disregard his own words and type him as an ESFP. Better sources have him as the complete opposite, INTJ. Now in Dylan’s case, all of a sudden a quote from the man which is much less reliable or explicit confirms your theory and is of critical importance, but in JFK’s case he apparently just didn’t know himself better than you do. Convenient, huh? Hell, you even pull the same shit on Carl Jung himself, who explicitly typed himself as INTP, yet you obviously know both him and the subject he invented better than he did. Your bias, hypocrisy and inconsistency is disgusting. You look for whatever will back up your conclusions and deliberately ignore all else or twist it to support your conclusion. Nothing you write is worthy of being taken seriously.

  49. admin says:

    If you actually want a response we suggest re-phrasing your comment in a more objective and less rambling and emotional manner. Specifically, cut the gratuitous abuse and adjectives and make an effort to stay as close to the point as possible.

  50. Debaser says:

    I don’t want a response. I just wanted to expose your bullshit to anyone else who experiences the misfortune of stumbling upon your site.

    Calling me “rambling” and “emotional” does not make what I wrote any less true. And I could not possibly care less that you disapprove of my writing style. There aren’t enough adjectives to adequately describe you. Inconsistent, pseudoscientific, hypocritical, illogical, arrogant and pretentious are but a small sampling of the best.

  51. admin says:

    So you are basically a troll.

    Some questions, though:

    * If you think Jung’s ideas are pseudoscientific, why are you using them? Why not go play with the Big Five instead?

    * What DOES the Hard Rain symbolize in your view?

  52. Debaser says:

    No, not a troll. Someone who sees through your bullshit and calls you on it.

    Both of your questions, as with your argument, are fundamentally flawed and built from the start on the wrong assumptions.

    1. I do not think ALL of Jung’s ideas are pseudoscientific or wrong. And regardless, I am interested in the subject and have my own OPINIONS on it. Yours are not the end-all, be-all on the subject. I do not find saying things like “Dylan is an S, he just acts like an N 100% of the time because the functions are clearly aligned with the loop in this shadow according to the axis of bullshit” to be meaningful. I think once you cross a certain threshold of simplicity (Occam’s Razor, remember?) you have gone way far down too many rabbit holes to have a useful system anymore, and saying “Bob is an ISFP” loses all of its meaning and value, because you have to qualify it way too much. The fact is that people are too complex to fit billions of them cleanly into 16 boxes according to a locked function “order.” I think people can find the BEST fit type, but that you will never be able to make something that incredibly specific consistently apply to everyone with reliable accuracy. There just isn’t enough evidence to say “Sally often enjoys experiencing the world unfiltered in the moment. Therefore Sally must be an Se user” with any degree of certainty.

    Everyone of any type can do or say anything at any time. It’s about looking at EVERYTHING, at the sum of one’s entire life, and then looking at the BEST fit OVERALL. You will NEVER be able to do it with any kind of consistency if you just cherry pick out specific quotes and assign a function based on them, because something else that same person said can and has almost certainly contradicted it to a degree. My issue is not with the system altogether, it is with the way you use it. It is flawed, unreliable and above all else INCONSISTENT.

    2. Wait, I thought you said you don’t type based on song lyrics? Oh yeah, because factoring in someone’s life work is not relevant, right? But in all seriousness, by asking this question you prove your bias against Dylan and your ignorance about him and his work. You are hardly qualify to type his personality if you don’t understand it. The hard rain is CLEARLY about Armageddon. It was topical, fit with Dylan’s themes and style of the time, and the imagery and language in the song make it completely obvious. Since you insist on quoting Dylan, this is ACTUALLY what he said of the song:

    “No, it’s not atomic rain, it’s just a hard rain. It isn’t the fallout rain. I mean some sort of end that’s just gotta happen … In the last verse, when I say, ‘the pellets of poison are flooding the waters’, that means all the lies that people get told on their radios and in their newspapers.”

    For fuck’s sake, right there he spells out the METAPHORICAL meaning of a line in the song. If anything, this quote makes it MORE clear that Hard Rain is FAR from being about LITERAL rain of any kind, fallout or otherwise. When he says “it’s just a hard rain,” you can’t stop right there. He doesn’t mean he’s writing about it raining cats and dogs outside. As he said, the whole song is just about the omnious feeling of the time, that “some sort of end” was coming.

    Moreover, again just talking about this ONE song, Dylan had this to say in the liner notes:

    “Every line in it is actually the start of a whole new song. But when I wrote it, I thought I wouldn’t have enough time alive to write all those songs so I put all I could into this one.” 

    Talking about multiple possible angles at once, having multiple possible ideas come to him at once. Sounds very much like the so-called “Ne” you describe.

    And that of course goes without going into all of the other endless examples of Dylan’s intuitive preference that are present throughout his life and work or without going back to the fact that Dylan was deliberately elusive and deliberately invented stories to describe his life, showing utter disregard to the actual fact of what really happened to him, instead favoring embellishment. He is a true troll, and an intuitive one at that.

    Not that any of this will change your mind. You clearly refuse to consider anything that doesn’t fit inside the box you constructed ahead of time and doesn’t fit your biases, as apparent with the JFK example I gave above. You prefer to ignore the truth if it doesn’t fit your conclusions over adjusting them.

  53. Debaser says:

    Oh, and regardless of what I may think of Jung, I certainly have enough respect for him and enough humility to not claim I know him and his own designs better than he does. It kind of undermines the validity of the theories you base everything you do on if you blatantly disagree with their author as applied to himself.

  54. admin says:

    (1) Someone who exposes bullshit *demonstrates* why it is bullshit. Your method, from the day you wrote your first comment on the site, was to shriek and ramble gratuitous abuse, interspersed with some actual arguments that had severe gaps in their reasoning.

    (2) By your own stated criteria, you don’t use theories that are unreliable. Yet you nonetheless use ‘types’ which are inherently unreliable. We have said quite clearly on the site what theoretical mindset we follow, which is the one set forth by Jung, Myers, von Franz, and van der Hoop. You, on the other hand, appear to be ignorant of the majority of these works, and you appear to draw the line of what you will accept in some random, arbitrary place, since you will accept an unspecified “some” of Jung’s ideas, but apparently not the main corpus of ideas regarding type as developed by the four authors mentioned above. In other words, you fail to specify any objective criteria for where you draw the line. You just have an awful lot of faith in your own ability to do so correctly. Which is inherently subjective, as someone could have just the same faith in *their* ability to simplify and “wield Occam’s Razor correctly,” while arriving at dramatically different results.

    (2.1) Again, you have also failed to address why Keirsey, who uses a method that is apparently much closer to your own, nevertheless arrives at the same judgment that we do. Your personally abusive manner wants to make this all about us and our faulty method, which makes you seem like a troll and is generally just extremely tiresome and unproductive. As we said from the moment you first set foot on the site, you should really learn to state your arguments rationally and cut the unnecessary adjectives and abuse (but perhaps if you do that, all that will be left are some mediocre arguments with considerable gaps in their reasoning?). Your preferred manner of hashing these things out is just overly emotional and concerned with the personal, which isn’t very helpful.

    (3) Since you are all about judging by “understanding,” devoid of objective criteria, your own understanding of Sensation, as you have previously voiced on the site, is that S types prefer the “shallow over the deep” and this would indicate that your understanding and knowledge of this field is not very deep.

    (4) Please find the place on our site where we say that our understanding of Jungian typology is the end-all, be-all on the subject.

    (5) As we have previously explained, as long as you refuse to base your argument on specific instances of behavior, you can really argue that anyone is anything. The same “overall” method of looking at the “big picture” is favored by conspiracy nuts for a reason.

    (6) Indeed, we do not type based on lyrics. We asked you about the hard rain because you said earlier that Hard Rain was about nuclear war. And as we said, that is a popular myth that Dylan fans want to espouse as an instance of Dylan’s “deep symbolism.” However, it is a matter of historical fact that Hard Rain was written prior to Dylan having any knowledge of the (then) impending missile crisis. Our question was not designed to gauge his type, but to gauge the quality of your knowledge and research. As music historians have uncovered, Hard Rain was written PRIOR to the missile crisis, with Dylan having no knowledge of the crisis. Yet in your version of events, it is a “*fact* that it was written *during* the Cuban Missile Crisis” and that it is about nuclear war. It would seem that your certitude is such a boon for you that you even get to make up your own facts. Why don’t you go play with the people who think JFK was an INTJ?

    (7) Again with Jung, you fail to address why our assessment, which Keirsey beat us to by more than 10 years, is somehow worse than what he did. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but it is quite strange of you to suddenly fly up in arms over something which is not new or original at all. It would again suggest that your knowledge of this field and its tradition is quite modest and limited, and certainly nothing to merit the extreme certitude that you exhibit in every post.

  55. Whatever says:

    You really need to read what debaser posted again, this time without getting emotionally tangled up in it, cause it’s clear you completely missread on several points, including the hard rain thing. Now I won’t be checking back here cause it doesn’t matter to me. But to be honest your response is a whole lot more emotionbased than Debasers was, You just don’t use colourful(precise) adjectives. Try to actally read it this time instead looking at it through youre rage googles

  56. Whatever says:

    excuse my grammar, can’t bother to read it twice

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