On Kanye West and the ISFJ Type

By Boye Akinwande, with additions by Eva Gregersen

As I’m sure may currently be the case for many of you, I was quite skeptical of CelebrityTypes’ type assessment of Kanye West as an ISFJ when I first came across it. At the time of this writing, there appears to be no 1035x672-111913-kanye-west-1800-1384897712“default” assessment of West’s type, but ISFJ almost seems like the result one would arrive at if one’s intent was sarcasm. I imagine that my issue, like yours, stemmed from the fact that I took more of a behaviorist approach to typology wherein the concrete behavioral traits, interests, ideas, and skills of an individual are thought to presuppose that individual’s functions. According to this view, since West’s behavior is characterized by recurrent social faux pas and a seemingly unapologetic vanity that stands worlds apart from the considerate and self-effacing demeanor that is typically associated with ISFJs, any attempt to type him as one is quite plainly ludicrous. End of story, right?

Not quite. In accordance with the psychodynamic approach to typology employed by CelebrityTypes, the articles on the site can often be seen to caution skeptics (such as my former self) not to mistake the contents of cognition for the psychic functions themselves. In other words, while there are certainly correlations between type and such contents (behavioral traits, interests, ideas, skills, etc.), they cannot be taken as the direct constituents of a person’s type, the way 90% of the internet does. For a simple explanation as to why, consider how the existence of such contents in an individual’s psyche is often more a function of time and place (the culture in which he is situated, for instance).

Jungian typology is really a theory about the nature of conscious attention (and inattention) that an individual directs towards the contents of consciousness. According to the psychodynamic approach, the functions exist as meta-perspectives that, in theory, are divorced from psychic contents. Rather, they operate as lenses that fundamentally bias the way we conceive of, structure, and relate to information in the psyche. In West’s case, understanding the psychodynamic approach is paramount to understanding why CelebrityTypes assesses his type to be ISFJ.

Styles and Types

As previously covered on the site, a person’s psychological type does not exhaust everything about his personality. However, since many practitioners of Jungian typology are not well-acquainted with other domains of personality studies, they tend to construe everything they observe about that person’s personality as having to do with his type. In the case of Kanye West, most people seem to construe the factors of his Narcissistic personality style as having to do with Fi. However, I would argue that this is a category mistake.

At its base, the distinction between Fe and Fi (or Fe/Ti and Fi/Te) says little about the value judgments (contents) that the individual will hold. Rather, the distinction has to do with how one goes about forming judgments, deriving them from either objective (Fe) or subjective (Fi) sentiments (from the function point of view) or on the basis of one’s ontological predispositions (from the axial point of view), seeing humans as being either more similar to each other (Fe/Ti) or more divergent from one another (Fi/Te).

Hence, as it should, the psychodynamic approach to typology places us more in line with the consciousness of the individual and avoids making too many assumptions that are tied to behaviorist modes of personality studies or the non-constant (but invariably influential) culture and zeitgeist that the individual finds himself in. Doing so lifts us out of a behavioral (or Aristotelian) mindset like “Fe types evince group-oriented behavior” to a more psychodynamic mindset like “Fe types are prone to form object representations where they see other individuals as extensions or variations of themselves.”

Next, returning to the question of personality styles, it is my impression that the specific behaviors that are often coupled with the ISFJ type under the behaviorist point of view are really the behaviors of the Dependent personality style, an adaptation that is indeed overrepresented among ISFJs. Like the conjunction that often arises between INTJs and the Narcissistic personality style, it is not hard to see how Dependency could more easily converge with the psychic disposition of the ISFJ type than that of other types.

Defiance and Standards in ISFJs

Before we get to West, it is worth calling attention to another ISFJ who has famously caused a ruckus with her defiance and the championing of her own standards, namely the civil rights activist Rosa Parks. Parks was an African-American woman who was riding the bus and refused to stand up so as to give up her seat for a white person. In refusing, not only was Parks defying social convention, she was also breaking the law, and hence, though most people view her behavior in a more favorable light than they do West, Parks was actually more defiant than West, even though lacking a noticeable Narcissistic disposition. Hence, contrary to a stereotype that many hold of ISFJs, they do have it in them to take a stand that goes against the dominant mores of the group, even if doing so is controversial and even if it aggravates the people around them.

Indeed, since they are in general far more meticulous in their handling of facts than other, non-Si, types, it is not illogical that ISFJs may often draw attention to standards and factual inaccuracies that may more easily elude the awareness of other types. By way of their greater receptivity towards facts and their handling of these, the conscious attention of ISFJs may often be directed towards more minute observations specific to their immediate realities. By way of this adaptation, ISFJs may often be seen to have especially concentrated and raw emotional attachments to the people or experiences from their personal lives.

As Jung said in Psychological Types §650, Si is amongst the most irrational functions. But because most Si types do not possess any facility whereby their Si can be expressed directly, the true nature of Si is rarely seen and Si is consequently mistaken for a wholly passive process, without machinations or designs of its own. West, being an unusually Narcissistic ISFJ, divulges more of these typically inexpressible Si machinations to the world than does your usual ISFJ. However, his sense of injustice appears too confined to his own lot and life experiences and consequently too hard for others to relate to. Too often, the end result is that his outbursts and defiance land him on an island, too remote to be reached by the sympathies of others.

By contrast, though a higher incidence of the Narcissistic personality style may readily be seen among the NFJ types, the more holistic disposition of their Ni-Fe combination often serves to mitigate the disagreeable and self-absorbed elements of that style. In West’s case, the preponderance of Si, rather than Ni, has the unfortunate consequence of making the actual standards and values that he is fighting for more specific to his situation and therefore less relatable.

West’s Abrasiveness at Award Shows

INTERVIEWER: “What are some of the things you’ve learned about yourself since becoming a family man?”
KANYE WEST: “You know, I can’t pinpoint that. I don’t have the answer right on me. I got to think about it and give you a really good answer. I got a lock and loaded amount of information that I like to express on a very wide scale. But if you ask me a question like that and I go back and think on it, maybe I’ll have the answer for you in a couple of days.” – West: Kanye West meets Zane Lowe BBC 2015

As I mentioned before, the view of West that predominates in the public eye is that he has an abrasive and erratic personality; a personality that seems a far cry from your stereotypical ISFJ indeed. The above exchange, however, appears to suggest something quite different about West. All else being equal, the above exchange would seem to suggest introversion and/or introverted perception over their opposites. Furthermore, even between the two introverted perception functions, the Ni type is still characterized by immoderation, since the Ni types have inferior Se (as well as because of the more ideational and less empirical nature of N over S in general).[1]

Another consideration here is that, all else being equal, Ni types would be inclined to care less about truly doing justice to questions that have no noumenal implications (Psychological Types §659). In fact, of all the types, it is on balance the Si type who is the most discerning with regards to doing justice to wordly information on the granular level, carefully processing and accounting for every detail in their striving for empirical precision.[2]

Among the moments most responsible for West’s infamy have been his public disapprovals concerning the outcomes of award shows. He has expressed frustration about not getting the accolades he felt he deserved, storming out of the 2004 American Music Awards when he discovered that he was not the recipient of an award that he felt he deserved. Likewise, West has famously come to Beyonce’s defense when he felt that she too had been cheated out of an award that he felt should have been hers. And though far less publicized, West has also publicly criticized the decision to award him certain accolades that he did not feel that he had deserved. In fact, West has done so on at least four occasions.[3]

Though public discourse seems to content itself with discussing what Kanye West has done on these occasions, the present endeavor of this article calls for something more than that. As psychological typologists, we must also ask why West has repeatedly behaved in this way, and what psychological motivations may lie behind it.

As I hope to show in the following paragraphs, my own foray into the matter has suggested to me that West has meticulously processed the empirical facts pertaining to each of the decisions that he rose to protest. He absorbs and processes the facts, weighing each of the artists carefully in his mind; yet being an Si type, the underlying perceptions (as opposed to the resulting judgments) are profoundly personal and not directly perceivable by others. As Myers says of them, Si types are characterized by “vivid private reactions” to the thing sensed; reactions that are rarely discernible or comprehensible to others.[4]

The theme that runs through most of West’s outbursts at award shows appears to be that West truly cares about standards of fairness and justice in relation to the awards: He takes a serious interest in whether each award is truly bestowed upon the artist whom he perceives to deserve it the most. Understood from his own perspective, West’s abrasive outbursts are really efforts to uphold the integrity of award shows as an institution for artists and musicians. Like other ISFJs before him, West will not stand for what he perceives to be arbitrariness or injustice, except in his case he is focused on something that others have a hard time seeing as worthy of such exacting moral attention, namely the proper bestowal of awards.

INTERVIEWER: “How about the Grammy? You received one, but didn’t attend the ceremony…”
MAYNARD JAMES KEENAN: “I think the Grammys are nothing more than some gigantic promotional machine for the music industry. … They don’t honor the arts or the artist for what he created. … [But having won one] why should we refuse it? … If our record company and the music business want to have a party, why should we spoil it for them? … Just because we don’t like it, why ruin it for them?” – Keenan: Interview with Maynard Keenan of Tool NY Rock Magazine 2002

While the Fi type may more easily withdraw his personal sentiments from such external metrics (such as with Maynard James Keenan as quoted above), West’s cognitive loci are closer to what we would expect of an SFJ type: To West, the externalized and empirical metric matters and the formalized stamp of recognition of the peer group should be awarded to the proper person. As opposed to those more cynical takes on award shows as having more to do with advertisement and lobbying than talent, West accepts the institution of the award show at face value: Given that there is a winner, that winner should also be the right winner. And given that the winners are supposedly decided on the basis of their contributions, we are obligated to conduct a proper and careful estimation of what they may be – to ensure that every fact is “fully and fairly sifted” as the Duke of Wellington said.

When asked in a recent interview about his rationale for speaking out in such instances, West likened being unjustly “defeated” at music awards to when he tried out for his school basketball team and did not make the team even though he made all the shots.[5] His analogy captures an oft-expressed nightmare for ISJs, who, because they repress Ne, often do not like to enter situations where the rules that regulate them cannot be known with certainty. As the Si type Woodrow Wilson said, we should be able to recognize the everyday impressions of our world in even the most ceremonious retelling and evaluation of what has taken place: We cannot have one version of reality for the real world and another for the history books, and according to West, nor can we have one evaluation of an artist’s contributions in the real world and another at the award shows. As he has said:

KANYE WEST: “I don’t want [award shows] to rewrite history right in front of us. At least, not on my clock. I really appreciate the moments that I was able to win rap album of the year or whatever. But after a while, it’s like: ‘Wait a second; this isn’t fair. This is a setup.’” – West: Behind Kanye’s Mask The New York Times 2013

Because Si types repress Ne, they may sometimes fail to consider how different perspectives may not only be desirable, but indeed sometimes necessary, in different contexts. Because they are primarily orientated towards their own repository of thoroughgoing, yet at times also overly personalized and specific knowledge of the facts, Si types can sometimes react with incredulity and defiance when their tightly-clutched impressions of the facts do not match up with the “official” or “authoritative” discernment of the same facts. In this respect, the Si type is not different from the Ni type who sees his own perspective and how his own idea must be true to the exclusion of all others; only the Ni type deals more with possibilities where the Si type deals more with facts.[6]

The Unseen Relations of Si

As Jung, von Franz, and Myers have remarked, Si is usually private, unseen, poorly understood, and mistaken for an introverted version of the Si type’s auxiliary function.[7] Jung and von Franz have contended that sometimes, on a few rare occasions, it will be possible to catch a glimpse of the “inner irrationality” of the Si type, such as for example if the Si type is an artist.[8] What they do not say (but what I shall add) is that if the Si type is beset by Narcissistic traits, it will also frequently (but not always) be possible to see more of the Si type’s inner life.

In Kanye West’s case, it is my impression that there is an interaction between his Si function and his Narcissistic personality style, where the Narcissism provides the brazenness for dragging the rest of the world into the narrowly focused and heavily personalized perceptions of Si. It also appears that, intrapsychically, there is an interaction between the two where past impressions and factual accomplishments continually reinforce the grandiose self-image that West cannot help but portray.

While all Narcissistic personalities rely on past successes to “keep themselves warm,” West’s grandiosity is often grounded in statements that are uniquely factual and impression-based, in contradistinction to the more flighty and ideational cognitive style that is seen in most Narcissists (even S type Narcissists).[9] For example, as he says in his First MTV Interview from 2002:

“If you’re taught you can’t do anything, you won’t do anything. I was taught I could do everything.”

“It was instilled in me to just go out and get it.”

West is noted for making outrageously grandiose statements (such as: “My greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live.”). An argument that is often seen against the possibility of Fe, or ISFJ, is that such outrageous, off-the-wall, and “self-interested” statements must bear witness to an Ne-Fi (NFP) disposition. However, as opposed to personality systems like the Big Five, Jungian typology is not so much about the ‘what’ as it is about the ‘why.’ Reverse-engineering West’s behavior to the most suitable functions of consciousness is the ‘what’: It is an extrovertive approach to personality studies. Trying to interpret the cognitive processes and motivations that underlie the person’s behavior is the ‘why.’

The Narcissistic Adaptation

As a pattern of consciousness, one of Si’s dispositions is to absorb and reinforce the lessons taught by experience, forming accurate, deep, and rich impressions of the way in which reality was brought to bear on the Si type. Since a child’s caregivers and role models will often be central components of the person’s reality in childhood, one may often see Si types referring to the lessons imparted to them by their role models as, by comparison, Si types are uniquely suited to pay attention and hold on to those lessons from early childhood on.

In West’s case, he had quite an unusual mother who instilled in him from an early age that he was uniquely talented and destined for greatness. As she recounts in her memoir:

“Everyone prays for their child to be healthy. … I prayed for my child to be healthy and brilliant. [When he was seven months old] I knew my prayers had been answered – beyond my wildest imagination. I never imagined that I would be the mother of someone quite as unique as Kanye West, someone God had chosen to do something very special in the world.” – Donda West: Raising Kanye (Gallery Books 2009) p. 2

As Donda West continues to make clear in her memoir, she raised West with the constant reinforcement of the notion that he was special and that he would (indeed: must) grow up to do special things. Thus she fostered what psychologists would call the “grandiose self” and sowed the seeds for the development of his Narcissistic style.

Interestingly, she also encouraged him to think for himself and to speak his mind:

“One of the biggest challenges for me … was how to discipline Kanye without killing his spirit … give him boundaries that would keep him within the parameters of what is appropriate. You may laugh and ask, ‘Kanye, appropriate?’ And to that I would reply, ‘Yes, appropriate.’ To me, being appropriate does not always mean conforming. Often it means just the opposite. Sometimes, refusing to conform and even confronting is not only appropriate but necessary to change the world for the better.” – Donda West: Raising Kanye p. 8

Not only did West’s mother encourage him to speak out, she instilled an equivalence in him between acting appropriately and acting defiantly, going against the predominating mores when the situation called for it.

It is furthermore worth noting that Donda West describes her son’s temperament as naturally conforming and obedient:

“Rarely did I tell Kanye no. I gave him most everything he asked for. … Why? Because Kanye earned it. … He was a good kid. Had he not been, things would have been different. Had he talked back to me and refused to do what I asked of him, I would not have rewarded him. To do so would have been to enable a brat, not raise a child.” – Donda West: Raising Kanye p. 9

Donda West’s description comes close to how von Franz and van der Hoop describe the default disposition of the Si type in childhood as being passive and receptive, and West himself has stressed on countless occasions how he always looked up to his mother and took his cues from her.[10] Again the analysis leads us to the conclusion that the grandiose and intemperate facade is a functional, adapted layer of the personality, whereas the deeper-lying structural properties of West’s personality are quite different.

Hence, rather than expecting ISFJs to align themselves with convention and always act appropriately, it would be more reasonable to expect ISFJs to align themselves with what they subjectively associate with these values. In West’s case, he was taught to trust in his own judgments and to speak out against perceived unfairness, even if others did not.

This approach still isn’t perfect, as a person’s values are still mental contents. But it’s certainly better than the trait-based arguments that are usually given for West as an Fi type. In fact, when attempting to pay more attention to the functions themselves, one may often come across mental processes in West that bear witness to an Fe/Ti configuration:

“The idea is more important than our personal well-being. That’s the reason why a lot of time I’ll say things that are not for my personal well-being. For people to create for their personal well-being is a very selfish way to create … creating to make your life better, as opposed to creating to make everyone’s life better.” – West: You Have to Take the Lashes of Backlash Bloomberg Television 2014

Grandiosity and Redemption Themes in African-American Culture

Finally, I will end this piece by calling attention to certain properties and themes of contemporary African-American culture. As I said in the beginning, the non-constant culture and zeitgeist that the individual finds himself in will often influence his mental contents to a strong degree – a premise that will invariably grow in cogency when dealing with the Si type. Hence, to make sure that we are understanding the individual in relation to his culture, and not mistaking the culture for the type, we should understand a few sociological facts about African-American culture.

While some have contended that West’s demonstrations of self-love and extravagance are mere examples of personal vanity, there is evidence to suggest that this is not the whole story. Indeed, to some African-American community leaders, self-love may well be a political act, aimed at redeeming the African-American community from its downtrodden history through unapologetic self-affirmation.[11]  Within this cultural prism, flaunting one’s success, and reveling in one’s own awesomeness, is seen as a way to counteract the past marginalization of the African-American community – exploding the burden of black stereotypes by turning them on their head and portraying oneself as akin to a “human, all too human” Greek god: Shamelessly self-indulgent and self-accepting, while at the same time being resplendently above it all.

For his part, West has given a number of remarks to indicate that his acts are at least partially influenced by this tradition of African-American grandiosity and “Greek god” dandyism and that they could be seen as one reason for his behavioral extravagance. In an interview with Bloomberg Television, he said: “Black people are allowed to wear big chains and name [the brands of clothing] they have on, to say out loud what [their] stuff costs.”[12] Or, in an interview with The New York Times, he said: “That’s how I was raised. I am in the lineage of Gil Scott-Heron, great activist-type artists. But I’m also in the lineage of a Miles Davis – you know, that liked nice things also.” And further: “I think that’s a responsibility that I have, to push possibilities, to show people: ‘This is the level that things could be at.’ … The passion is for the 18-year-old version of myself. The passion is for the kids at my shows. I need to do more. I need to be able to give people more of what they want that currently is behind a glass [to them].”[13]

NOTES


[1] Von Franz: Psychotherapy (Shambhala 1993) pp. 68-69

[2] Myers: Gifts Differing (Davies Black 1995) p. 80

[3] Trammell: All the Times Kanye West Gave His Own Awards to Someone Else (Fader Magazine 2015)

[4] Myers: Gifts Differing p. 80

[5] West, quoted in Carnamanica: Behind Kanye’s Mask (The New York Times 2013)

[6] Stepping out of the argument, if I may be allowed a personal aside, the same pattern may also be observed in West’s own stated mentality concerning his recent attempts to break into the fashion industry: “I have put in my 10,000 hours,” he said in reference to a commonly-known regimen for success introduced in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. West’s foray into fashion has been met with a mixed reception, and in interviews, his reactions betray a struggle to come to terms with the opacity of the “rules” for achieving success in that field. He seems eager to subject all his knowledge to a predictable regimen and becomes frustrated when he is not able to do so. Having a hard time disengaging from his personalized and deeply-keeled sense impressions, he struggles to reconcile the diligence and thoroughness that he knows he has put into the effort with its apparent lack of success.

[7] Von Franz: Lectures on Jung’s Typology (Spring 1971) p. 27

[8] Jung: Psychological Types §650

[9] Millon & Grossman:  Overcoming Resistant Personality Disorders (Wiley 2007) p. 135

[10] Kanye West: Foreword to Raising Kanye (Gallery Books 2009), cf. Van der Hoop: Conscious Orientation p. 31, and von Franz: Lectures on Jung’s Typology p. 27

[11] Miller: Slaves to Fashion: Black Dandyism and the Styling of Black Diasporic Identity (Duke University Press 2009)

[12] West: You Have to Take the Lashes of Backlash Bloomberg Television 2014

[13] West, quoted in Carnamanica: Behind Kanye’s Mask (The New York Times 2013)

25 Comments

  1. admin says:

    In order to maintain an environment where thoughtful writers would like to contribute, we ask that all comments be kept in a constructive tone. All points of disagreement are welcome, but failure to maintain a cordial tone will get your comment removed by the moderators. If you have a comparable argument on West’s type, feel free to send it in.

  2. Hegel'sDialecticalBagel says:

    IF anything, this is an interesting article- rather an argument. A studied compilation of facts regarding somebody about whom I am utterly clueless.

    In support of your claim, in depictions of the ISTJ, I’ve heard stories about how they can make ‘selfish survival oriented decisions’. This is taken to be indicative of the Si-Te viewpoint. The Si-Fe perspective could therefore very well be similar in its seeming introverted ‘materialism’ (sorry for the use of the term, as Jung seems to balk at it in Psychological Types- though in reference to the I/E axis) in which you have a paradoxical “selfish—greater good” paradigm (though not in the sense of Augustus’ ISTJ selfish/selflessness).

    Just a comment.

  3. hannah_s says:

    I think this is definitely a very well-written defence of a controversial typing. These types of articles are very difficult to write, so I think the author deserves a lot of credit. :)

    I’ll do my own study of Kanye West over the next couple of days, and then get back to you with my own thoughts on his type. :)

  4. hannah_s says:

    Alright, I’ve seen enough now. :) I do NOT believe Kanye West is an ISFJ at all – I think he is an ENFP. :)

    I do agree he has narcissistic traits, but I don’t think they affect his type assessment.

    Firstly, we need to ask whether he is an FiTe type, or an FeTi type. To decide this, it might be helpful to go and watch the site’s video comparing the Fi of Andrew Garfield with the Fe of Carey Mulligan. Then, after watching that video and watching Kanye West, it should be quite clear that Kanye is an Fi user – he is nothing if not authentic (often to a fault), he’s idealistic and drawn to “causes” which are quite idiosyncratic to him, and he expresses his Feeling judgements at the expense of the emotional tone of the environment. To give an example…

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0-PfivL3erw

    He shows narcissistic traits here. However, he does still capture the individualist dreamer quality of Fi very well – I’m sure it’s a sentiment many FP’s will watch and see a piece of themselves in. :)

    I believe his Fi shines through very clearly in pretty much every interview I’ve seen, and even a lot of Te, so I don’t see any reason to go into that further. I don’t see any Fe in West at all.

    I would say he was an xxFP type for sure.

    ***

    Next question: Is Kanye an NeSi type or an SeNi type?

    This time, I agree with you – he’s an SiNe type. However, I believe he is an NP type rather than an SJ type.

    Kanye West is a VERY ideas-oriented person, constantly seeking the new and different. Also, he is actually rather more abstract than concrete – the article’s description of him as a careful sifter through the facts is I think a misrepresentation of the man. To give a couple of interviews showing his Ne preference (along with Fi) I recommend these…

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Mc6ID-GYrnw

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=v4otfvTvLGU

    So far, I think xNFP is pretty clear. So the next question is – ENFP or INFP?

    For this, watch the last interview again more closely. We see a very loose, quite unconnected flow of ideas and impressions, and he seems to get easily carried away by these – this suggests dominant Ne to me (the tertiary Si of INFP’s tends to keep them more in check and add more depth to their ideas than this. Also, he is constantly talking (and proud of the fact) that he isn’t just a dreamer, but he goes out there and MAKES THINGS HAPPEN. That’s an important part of his self-concept I’d say, since it appears in so many interviews.

    I also see Te in his competitive mindset – he has his personal sense of hierarchy, and is perfectly happy to show it. But in FP style, his sense of worthiness is very personal to himself. Te can also be seen in his abrasiveness and willingness to be authoritative – such as telling an interviewer blankly that such-and-such is unacceptable.

    All in all, I think he is a very clear ENFP, and I don’t see where you get ISFJ from at all! :)

    ***

    To just give my responses to the arguments you make for ISFJ…

    I don’t think that interview quote is anywhere near enough to suggest he’s an Introvert or an IxxJ type – and certainly not enough to say ISxJ! :) I could just as easily argue that it’s the sign of Ne seeing so many bits of information and connections that it doesn’t feel comfortable arriving at a conclusion until it’s processed it more.

    West is anything but an empiricist carefully sifting through the facts. As I said above, he is a dreamer, prone to getting lost in his imagination and not entirely in touch with reality.

    His interest in award shows awarding true talent (as he sees it) seems much more like FiTe to me. Fi creates a deep sense of importance within the person, and Te leads to a wish for logical hierarchy and organisation. Kanye’s ENFP type has Fi second, and Te third, so this kind of thing would probably come as second nature to him – neither Fi or Te is oppressed. Also, because he’s an FP type and not a TJ, his evaluations need little external validation to feel true – so he implements them as best he can.

    ***

    All in all, I thought this was a very interesting read. :) It’s nice to see an article try to go into more depth than usual.

    However, I couldn’t disagree more with the conclusion – he isn’t, in my opinion, an ISFJ whether he has a narcissistic style or not.

    You don’t even really give arguments for why you think he’s an ISFJ – you just start with the assumption he is, then try to explain how an ISFJ COULD possibly turn out that way, and then how Kanye COULD possibly be that kind of ISFJ. I don’t understand this approach at all…

    ENFP is the much simpler, more intuitive, typing for Kanye West, as far as I’m concerned. :)

  5. edge says:

    Pretty neat explanation of how an ISFJ can be with narcissistic personality style however the argument for Kanye being an ISFJ with narcissism isn’t sufficient. Nonetheless a good step in this discussion.

  6. Anonymous says:

    So when is Nathan Lane going to be added? :D

  7. hannah_s says:

    @edge

    I agree with that. :) In many ways, it’s as if the authors assume at the start that Kanye is ISFJ, and then spend the rest of the article describing how an ISFJ could turn out like him. It doesn’t take you through the thought process that led to the ISFJ typing over that of other options.

    I believe he’s an ENFP, but I think the NFP typing was only mentioned in one sentence throughout the entire article – and then quickly dismissed for being “trait based” and behavioural. No arguments are given for this whatever. :)

    I don’t take a behavioural view of typology. In some ways I’m more on the “psychic/mental” side than the admins, so if I arrive at ENFP I seriously suggest that they take another look at Kanye – or make a new section with some real points against ENFP and in favor of ISFJ. :)

  8. behuman says:

    Kayne West is a grandiose dreamer/performer(ENP) who fashions himself as an empowerer of “the people” & we can stop right there to type him right out of SJ-land and into NF territory! But in any case, he’s an idealist and self-described “futurist” who was writing poetry prior to even entering any formal system of schooling(Ne>Si).

    One of his greatest artistic strengths rest in his ability to remix old-school and new-school music(Ne/Si), relics and symbolisms (NF) with a shock and awe quality (Ne>Fe) that doesn’t take away from his intended message. And what is the message?The message is almost always a social commentary about justice ideals(NF>SJ). Examples of this:

    -his wearing the Confederate Flag, a symbol of the desire for the continuity of black American slavery (as a black man born in the heart of the American south, his co-opting of the flag by wearing it is similar to African-American’s refashioning the N*word or women using the word b*tch for empowerment)

    -use of the term “Black Skinhead”(BLKKK SKKKN)

    And while he certainly is of the idealist temperament(NF), he is clearly a process oriented type(NP>NJ) who, while holding on to various ideals, is unwilling to sacrifice his experiences in the moment for any commitment to embodying his philosophies. In other words, Kanye seems to experience the philosophies he purports to be true outside of himself(Ne>Ni) giving him quite the superficial persona, but does not make him a sensing type.

    “I don’t give an f*ck what people think, because people don’t think.” (Fi/Te>Fe/Ti)

    “I was never really good at anything except the ability to learn.” (Ne>Si)

    “I hate when I’m on a flight and I wake up with a water bottle next to me like oh great now I gotta be responsible for this water bottle” (Ne>Si)

    “I’ll say things that are serious and put them in a joke form so people can enjoy them. We laugh to keep from crying.” (said so many an ENP)

    Kanye West is an ENFP, absolutely. Any other typing of him, or confusion about him, is simply what happens when you get a roomful of intuitives together to discuss simplicity.

  9. Shanezo says:

    Kanye is an ESFP. Search your heart, you know it to be true.

  10. RicVelasquez says:

    Great article.

  11. HouseOfGlass says:

    These arguments in the comments for some kind of NP are curious to me. I say that, because the shadow of an ISFJ is an ENTP. Unfortunately, I fear that we are seeing (once again) that anti-sensor bias at play here.

    Unfortunately, I know some ISFJs personally, who are also of the narcissistic personality type. I am frankly not sure why this type is associated with NJ types, as the people I know are all ISJ types. There is something about the introverted perception being dominant that can allow for this sort of perception that leads to an over-protection of self. In any case, just from what I’ve read here, and on other sites about him, I see nothing that would suggest anything contrary to an ISFJ type. Behavior in interviews is not a safe haven, as introverts must extravert in order to do an interview, so we are seeing, at best, the extraverted side, and at worst, a performance given to reinforce a false perspective that the interviewer or audience has. And if you think about it, Fe types are more likely to do so, even without being aware of it, than Fi types. So, I don’t think it’s safe to trust a video of an interview. IMO, the most telling part of the whole thing has been his mother. You ignore her perspective, and her role in his life to your peril, if you wish to understand this man. I do not believe that upbringing can change one’s type, but it most certainly has a huge impact on how it is expressed in life. What we are seeing in West is just that. A powerful mother, who, IMO, did good things with her son. And the influence of the African American culture also cannot be overlooked. So, take these out of the equation, ignore the influence of audience on interviews, add the anti-sensor bias, and you come up with an NFP type or NP type, at least. And this is exactly what we are seeing in the comments.

    (question, what Ne type would ever talk about putting in their 10,000 hours–as if that were a good thing, or rather, a given or guarantee of success? None that I know)

  12. hannah_s says:

    “Unfortunately, I feel that we are seeing that anti-Sensor bias at play here.”

    Thanks, that has to go down as probably the most offensive comment I’ve had on this site.

    If you read the original article and the comments you will clearly see that there are only two people who actually attempt to make any arguments whatever in favor of a particular typing – myself and the “behuman” poster. The article makes no arguments in favor of ISFJ at all, and neither do any other comments.

    You can argue that they are poor arguments, in which case go argue against them and come back with some ISFJ counter-arguments of your own, instead of attacking other people for disagreeing with your opinion.

    ***

    To come to the “arguments” in your post…

    You say you know some ISFJs personally who have the Narcissistic style (and I’m assuming you see similarities between them and Kanye). Well that’s fine, as long as you typed them correctly and they really do have the Narcissistic style. But as it is, it’s simply a personal anecdote rather than an argument.

    You argue that reading about a person is a better way of typing than watching lots of interviews of them. I very much disagree with that, and I imagine the CT admins do too. But I guess it can be put down to difference of opinion. :)

    You talk about his having a powerful mother… but I’m at a loss to understand why that’s an argument for ISFJ. Can’t ENFP’s have powerful mothers? :D

    “What Ne type would talk about putting in their 10,000 hours… as a good thing?”

    Not all Ne types are layabout sloths. :) Many do actually appreciate hard work and putting in the time (especially when Te is in the tertiary position). I think we’ve passed the time when we can make simple arguments like “He must be P because he’s lazy” or ” He must be J because he’s hard-working”.

    I want to see some actual arguments for ISFJ by someone, rather than just blind agreement to the (frankly odd) CT typing. :)

  13. hannah_s says:

    @HouseofGlass

    And it seems to me we actually agree. If we factor out all of the irrelevant information – such as whether he has a Narcissistic style, and whether he had a powerful mother, or whether he works hard – and just focused on the things relevant to his actual Jungian typing (which is the point of the website) while keeping those other things in mind, then he’d be an NFP. :)

  14. hannah_s says:

    @Admins and Boye

    I think it really is time you chimed in on this. :)

    I’ve made counter-arguments to every ISFJ point in your article, and I’ve presented my basic case for ENFP. I’ve also argued against every ISFJ defence in the comments (that I’ve seen).

    So unless you can actually come up with some new points in favor of ISFJ from a functional perspective, I’d say it’s case closed haha (for now anyway). :)

  15. hannah_s says:

    @Admins and Boye

    Actually, I’m losing patience and respect for this site, so I think I’m going to have to take an extended break from it. So there’s no rush to get back to me. :)

    Reading comments accusing me of having an anti-S bias, when I believe I’m an ESFJ myself, is simply absurd, and I have no interest in taking part in any more discussions of this kind, or in waiting days for Admin replies.

    So I think I’ll keep our discussions strictly to email from now on, and keep my distance from the site itself.

  16. admin says:

    Well, I (Ryan) can only reply personally here, but let me just say a few things:

    1: Personally, I agree that the article is not really an argument or counterargument as much as it is a kind of preface to how one can see West as an ISFJ. Since some (but not you) see this as a priori impossible. This is also what Boye says in the beginning, but the point still stands that the title of the article is then misleading. Insofar as a “full” argument should be conducted, follow-up is needed. I actually think Boye will write more to this end, here or on the OJJT, but again I’m not able to speak for him. :)

    2: While I certainly don’t know you as someone who’s biased against S types, nor do I know HouseOfGlass as someone interested in one-upping or anything of the sort. Indeed, I believe you both identify as S types(?). While a lot of haughty and know-it-all style comments get thrown around in type discussions of every stripe, I believe HouseOfGlass just had a false positive, which then seemed like another kind of false positive to Hannah. But again, I can’t speak for either of you; I’m just conveying my impression.

    3: Any type can be narcissistic. While having a mother who’s building oneself up to be grandiose from childhood is one textbook precondition for narcissism, it does not itself say that ISFJ is more likely than any other type.

    4: For my part, I’d say that West does indeed on balance seem like an NFP type in the clip you linked to. However, as you also say, it’s in the midst of a narcissistic surge, which in my opinion is bound to make most people seem Fi-ish. That’s why the article and the site tries, to the best of our ability, to separate the style from the type. What I personally regard as the portion of his personality that pertains to his type is found in appearances like these: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDRbS0X-g_A – Now that may still lead people to conclude that he is an Fi type, but then at least, when going by that installment, they and we would be operating off the same foundational data.

  17. hannah_s says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply. :)

    I haven’t seen that interview before, and it’s quite long so it’ll take me a while to watch it. I’ll get back to you later with my thoughts. :)

    I will say though, that I posted three NFP-style interviews, not one, and he appeared FiTe in most of the other interviews I’ve seen too (and I watch hours of them when typing people, as a rule). So this – if he does happen to look FeTi in this, I don’t know yet – could be classed as an oddity. I’m sure if you looked hard enough you could find Fe-ish interviews for anyone. :)

  18. hannah_s says:

    Okay, I’ve watched the interview, and I agree with you — if I had to type Kanye from that interview alone, then I’d type him as an SFJ (ESFJ rather than ISFJ, but that’s not so important). :)

    So, assuming that this isn’t a one off, you may be correct that Kanye is an xSFJ type. :) It’s certainly made me question the FiTe axis!

  19. Boye Akinwande says:

    Thank you everyone for the kind words and criticisms :)

    @hannah_s I’ve been quite busy, but I’ll be working on a response to some of the objections raised by you and others in the thread. Interestingly enough in my first contact with the site’s admins I argued exactly what you proposed in your initial comments –that he’s ENFP — so I definitely have quite a bit more to say to this end. :)

  20. hannah_s says:

    @Boye

    Thanks for the reply. :)

    It’s interesting you typed him as ENFP in the beginning too. It makes me think I probably haven’t done enough research on Kanye West yet. The interview Ryan posted does seem quite Fe>Fi.

    However, it may be a one off – I don’t know. I’m definitely open to him being a possible ESFJ now though (he doesn’t seem ENTP to me, but I can’t rule it out). :)

    I find the idea of him as an ISFJ difficult to get my head around though. I don’t see him as an introvert at all (either in the Big Five or the Jungian sense) and I certainly don’t see him as having inferior Ne. So you’ll have a tough time convincing me of that! :D

    For now, I’d say ENFP or ESFJ. From the fact I think there are just more FiTe sounding interviews, I’ll stick with ENFP for the present.

  21. CartoonDiablo says:

    I’d definitely need to see an full argument, all this article basically said was (1) West cares about structures and (2) he seemed introverted in one interview.

    Also I think there’s a distinction between Si being externalized more and the Si focusing on narcissistic events itself. There are plenty of weird things Si types remember, but they aren’t usually narcissistic. West has shown the latter but not really the former.

    Likewise culture can have an effect, but even other rappers like 50 Cent, Dre etc. aren’t really too embodied of that culture.

  22. Boye Akinwande says:

    As I said before, I’ll likely be writing a more comprehensive piece explaining why I believe West to be an ISFJ with more empirical examples (if motivation allows…), but I thought I’d share some general thoughts here.

    I agree that West in many instances does not come across as a typical Fe type (The Mulligan Garfield INFJ v. INFP interview I believe is only meant to serve as a more typical manifestation of the functions), but I also think it gets overlooked the ways in which he is not your typical Fi type. Yes, Fi types very frequently do hold idiosyncratic sentiments, but the normalizing force in them holding onto such sentiments is in them frequently withdrawing their judgement/will from the world because they repress Te, as was expressed in the article and these ones as well:
    http://www.celebritytypes.com/blog/2014/05/inferior-te-in-infps-and-isfps/
    http://www.celebritytypes.com/blog/2015/04/the-hidden-significance-of-fi/

    If this weren’t the case, we would expect Fi types to be “disturbing the peace” disproportionately compared to other types, but this doesn’t appear to be the case. Probably more important than whether or not a person’s sentiments are subjective or objective in an absolute sense is whether or not the person’s consciousness perceives these sentiments as subjective or objective. In spite of West’s sentiments often seeming more subjective, he seems to put them forth as if they do have objective value.

    That he doesn’t appear to withdraw his judgements/will would probably count more against him being an INFP than an ENFP who has Te in the tertiary position, but then I don’t see much indication of truly repressed Si. Generally speaking, he doesn’t seem to lack consistency of thought or have a distaste for attending to details like many ENPs. Here is an interview he did pre-fame that I believe demonstrates his preference for Si.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQzV-gBmcMA

    A take away for some may still be the child-like sense of wonder that is often found in Fi types, but I see a man who is quite caught up in his own sense impressions. Also, for those who thought the reaction to the interview question I provided was insufficient, he seems to exhibit the same planned approach when he becomes flustered at the beginning of this interview when he’s interrupted and he feels he needs to restart “his story”. At the end of this song

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNYF_-mGGUI (Go to 3:56)

    off of his first album, “College Dropout”, he gives an 8 minute long detailed narrative recounting his journey leading up to his success. If I remember correctly, at one point in the interview I posted above, he nearly verbatim repeated a considerable chunk of this narrative.

    Here’s another interview in which I find his Si to be quite prominent:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwsnBxwA-zw

  23. hannah_s says:

    Boye,

    Thanks for writing the interesting comment. :)

    When I originally typed Kanye, I thought he was a clear ENFP. Then the admin posted a link to an interview where he seemed pretty Fe for lots of it. But after watching the clips you post, I’ve gone back to Fi again. :) I explain the Fe appearance in the other video to likely be down to him speaking to his girlfriend’s mom. :D

    The point about Fi types withdrawing their judgments from the world is not something I really agree with. They sometimes hide their judgments because 1) they know others will probably disagree and don’t want to cause a needless conflict (like Ti-doms). 2) Fi (like Ti) really has zero need for other people’s input — it runs on its own fuel (indeed, external input can suck the life out of the beautiful Fi/Ti conclusion for some of the IPs I know). Mix the two and it’s only natural a certain withdrawal will happen. But with Kanye’s narcissistic traits, perhaps that withdrawal wouldn’t be as necessary to his psyche.

    I would argue that Fi types DO “disturb the peace” disproportionately compared to other types (for good and bad). In fact, I’d say that FPs were much more likely than any other type to do this (except perhaps ETPs for fun). :)

    I disagree with the idea Fi types perceive their judgments to be subjective, any more than Ti does. IFPs really do believe that there is an objective quality in the universe of Good and Bad that they have a uniquely strong ability to tap into.

    I do agree that his Si seems a little too strong to be his lowest function. But I don’t see why it couldn’t be the tertiary Si of the INFPs. :)

    Also, it’s a mistake to think ENPs are incapable of paying attention to and memorizing complex details when they put their minds to it. Ne-dom actor Daniel Radcliffe for example, is a big fan of rap music, and can recall hundreds of complex rap lyrics word for word — like in this interview… :)

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aKdV5FvXLuI

    So I’m sticking with Kanye as xNFP for now. And I’m not really interested enough in him to spend much more time on him. :)

    I’ll check out your new article when/if you finish it though. :)

  24. Matt says:

    Kanye is INFJ, his introverted intuition and extravertes feeling is very evident. Just because his ideas and thoughts may seem bouncy, doesn’t mean he uses Ne

  25. hannah_s says:

    @Matt

    Well it isn’t evident to me that he’s INFJ. Or any of the previous posters. :) It would be interesting to read a fuller explanation for that typing. :)

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