ENTP, ENFP, INFP, and INTP: These are the easily the most common temperaments on the internet for adults who say they are ADD, although they make up a total of less than 10 percent of the general population (if you’re not familiar with the Jungian/MBTI temperament classification system read my quick reference guide). Though very different from each other, all four temperaments are defined in part by the potent combination of conceptualand divergent thinking preferences. There is something about this combination which just seems to make people lose their car keys – and love the Internet. All four temperaments are considered very creative and as adults they are very often idealistic and on the lookout for ways to improve the world. They are fiercely individualistic and independent (stubborn?), even as children, which can make things difficult for parents. Their conceptual and divergent thinking style is strange to most people, so they are often made to feel that they are different in a bad way. They seem to have trouble remembering details, names and their homework, and sometimes feel stupid even with a high IQ. Instead, they are driven to see The Big Picture and the meaning behind it all. Divergent thinkers, they are spontaneous, creative and uninspired by organization.
Kids with these temperaments are at risk for being misunderstood and frowned upon by society, especially INFP boys and ENTP girls. Although their traits are perfectly normal for someone with their temperament, with the discovery of ADD they often feel like they have finally figured out what is “wrong” with them.
Quotes are from the book “Nurture by Nature – Understanding Your Child’s Personality Type – And Becoming a Better Parent”, by Paul D. Tieger & Barbara Barron-Tieger. I’ve focused mostly on quotes which discuss traits often associated with ADD, which, as we all know by now, doesn’t really have anything to do with a deficit of attention. It’s more about disorganization, paying attention to something other than what you’re supposed to be paying attention to, boredom intolerance, no sense of time, and divergent thinking. And, in some cases, extreme energy levels. This book gets into each of the temperament types in detail from infancy through high school, and I recommend it to all parents.
For a quick reference to Jungian/MBTI temperament typing see Temperament Definitions.
I’ll start out with ENTP because it’s the temperament of Thomas Edison, the ADD poster boy, kicked out of school for being “addled.”
|“Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress… ” – Thomas Edison, ENTP|
“ENTP Children are energetic, creative, adventurous and fun. But they can be exhausting to have around, both physically and intellectually…They are often squirmy, active babies who quickly become busy little monkeys, ready to climb on or off anything, and are eager to try to do things for themselves…When they’re awake they seek constant interaction and engagement. They may talk so much, and so loudly, that it can sometimes feel like just too much of a good thing…Their minds work so quickly that being asked or forced to wait their turn to speak often makes them forget what they were going to say. This can make them very frustrated, angry, and tearful…ENTPs usually need to be moving, running, climbing, and jumping at all times…A rainy day can be a nightmare for parents and ENTPs who live in more rural places…In addition to their inquisitiveness, ENTPs are also very strong-willed and independent children….
“Since ENTPs have little or no naturally imbedded sense of time or order, they may have trouble understanding your need to keep their rooms tidy or to get someplace on time…As most ENTPs get older and busier, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to establish and stick to priorities…Even late in high school, when grades really do matter and decisions will be affected by poor marks, many ENTPs seem unconcerned. They often have a remarkable ability to wait until the very last minute to start and finish projects or reports and still manage to get decent grades…
“It may be necessary at times to ignore the disapproving looks and comments from a society that views these strong and outspoken children as outrageous and undisciplined. Standing firmly behind the ENTPs in all their high energy and flamboyance communicates a lasting appreciation for the bright and fresh originals they are.
“At their best, ENTPs are ingenious and capable problem solvers. They have enormous energy to change the world for the better, driven by an innate sense of fairness and an ability to see past the obvious to the novel.”
|Ted Turner, ENTP (aka “Caption Outrageous” and “Mouth from the South”), billionaire entrepreneur, philanthropist, and environmentalist:“From the time I was a little kid I’ve been fascinated by animals and nature. I’ve always been fascinated by human history, too. And it’s clear to me that ever-increasing numbers of people are having an ever-increasing negative impact on the natural world. A quarter of the people on earth today don’t have enough food or clean water. For them the crisis is already here.”
Ted Turner owns 1.35 million acres of land which he is systematically restoring to a natural state. (Source: Audubon, Jan-Feb 1999). He also donated one billion dollars to the United Nations and enjoys harrassing Bill Gates for not donating as much as he could.
“INTPs are creative and original thinkers, able to see possibilities and patterns all around them. Parenting them requires patience and the willingness to let them explore, follow their natural curiosity, and develop their own unique and often offbeat path. Strongly individualistic and fiercely independent, INTPs need plenty of freedom, challenge, and the opportunity to continually learn new things.
“Many INTPs are a lot like the stereotypical absentminded professor — dawdling, distracted, and forgetful of mundane chores, late for obligations, losing homework or library books, and generally disconnected from the business of life in the external world…A big problem for INTPs is that they are so quickly bored, and once their attention wanders, they will rarely finish the many interesting projects they start.”
“A bit remote and totally self-contained, INTP babies are generally calm, placid, and serious…They are most interested in learning new things and tend to be very autonomous, with a strong craving for mastery that follows them throughout their lives.
“When Kenny was four, he climbed into the oven and then turned it on. Fortunately, his wary mother was never too far behind him, and she quickly scooped him out of the oven. He also liked to turn on the garbage disposal and once his exasperated mother found him on top of the refrigerator calmly eating a bagel.
“The frequent questions INTPs ask are often startling ones. INTPs are very curious and interested in understanding why things are as they are. They are usually not satisfied with anything less than clear and complete answers and would really prefer to explore and figure out the mechanical underpinnings of objects and their principles of operation than listen to anyone describe how they work. So many young INTPs like to take things apart – everything from ballpoint pens to clock radios. Often, they would rather take their toys apart and put them back together rather than play with them in more conventional ways.
“At their best, INTPs are independent and original people. They can be ingenious problem solvers and superlogical analysts of everything. Creative thinkers, they are capable of understanding and synthesizing complex and technical information with almost no effort.
|Albert Einstein, INTP:
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”
“ENFPs are usually very eager to see, touch, and experience the world…Perhaps the most outstanding characteristics common to all young ENFPs is their high energy level…Even very young ENFPs are nearly always described as creative and imaginative…While ENFPs are interesting, exciting, and stimulating children to be with, they are also exhausting. They never seem to slow down, rest, or stop talking. Their parents are often worn out by midday…ENFPs are not being intentionally defiant or disrespectful. They are so driven by their natural curiosity that they ask more questions than children of other types…
“They have insatiable curiosity and need to talk about their many original ideas – whether or not anything comes of them. Above all else, they think of themselves as idea people, but they are also deeply sensitive and need their feelings and values to be honored and understood…
“Because ENFPs are so energized by interacting with other people, they often become so wound up that they lose control of themselves…Life can be chaotic with an ENFP. They seem to create messes everywhere and are not nearly as interested in finishing projects as they are in starting them. Cleanup is almost always a battle…
“Focus and concentration do not come easily to most ENFPS. It takes great effort to stay on task and not take on more projects than they can realistically finish. Homework is frequently another trouble spot for many school-aged ENFPs…The playful spirit of ENFPs is delightful and refreshing. But they also tend to lack self-discipline and often wait until the last possible moment to begin working on assignments or chores.
“Because ENFPs, more so than many other types, are such individuals, they often become less conventional as they grow older. They like the whole mystique of being different and are often attracted to lifestyles, clothing, and behavior that is different and unique. They feel a strong and unrelenting pull to figure out what makes them special, and they pursue a quest to understand themselves and the meaning of life…Many ENFPs are also deeply concerned about the welfare of others and may become activists…
“At their best, ENFPs are clever, warm, responsive, and imaginative people. When we parents can have the courage to turn our backs a bit on society’s conventions and instead stand by our ENFPs — in all their occasional quirkiness — we send a loud and clear message of unconditional love that lasts a lifetime…Allowed to dance to their own spirited and unique beat, they grow up to be independent, confident originals, with a multitude of talents and a resilience to overcome obstacles.”
|Sandra Bullock, ENFP, actress, voted “most likely to brighten your day” in high school. “Sometimes I’m all over the place. But I’m incredibly loyal, and I don’t like it when somebody puts me in a box. Don’t say, ‘Oh, she’s great, but if I can just calm her down a bit. . . . ‘ I once met a old cowboy. His wife was a free spirit and he was very steady. They’d been married for 40 years. I asked him how it worked. He said, ‘Well, my dad always told me, `You have a wild pony, don’t put up a fence. Just leave a light on at home. If she’s happy, she’ll always come home.’ ‘ Same with me: Don’t corral me and I’ll always come home. Always. Just let me go out and play during the day. When I’m exhausted, I’ll come back.” (Source: Playboy, Sept. 1995.)|
“Dreamers always, INFPs feel that everything has some significance and personal impact…Richly imaginative, their stories typically have happy endings…INFPs are usually drawn to art in all forms, including literature, music, art, and theater. For many INFPs , the elementary school years are when they begin to write down the creative stories they have long been thinking or telling…INFPs seem to have the souls of artists…
“School-aged INFPs are ever ready to explore, question, and create. However, they quickly become bored with routine of any kind and may have trouble focusing on details or following through on their homework or chores. Their tendency to mix work and play often results in half-finished projects, abandoned once something more intriguing comes along. INFPs may also be challenging because they ask so many “why” questions and are naturally drawn to alternative paths of discovery. With little sense of order or time, they often run late or are disorganized with their schoolwork…Because most INFPs are such private and internally focused children, they don’t always notice what is going on around them, especially if it does not involve people or things that are personally meaningful. They frequently forget things like keys, homework, or their backpacks. While some INFPs are very athletic and coordinated, others are a bit clumsy and awkward. Lost in their own world, they will literally walk into walls or absentmindedly set a glass down on the edge of a table and watch it crash to the floor…
“Parents of INFPs often have to repeat themselves and can become frustrated when they realize their child isn’t listening. If they are feeling upset, or worried, or have their minds on anything else, INFPs can be so completely distracted that they really don’t hear you. Their feelings are thundering in their ears much louder than you ever can – or should!
“Because INFPs represent such a small percentage of the American population, they naturally feel alone and a bit out of step with our bustling, pragmatic, and product-oriented society. Typically INFPs struggle to find their niche in the world of work and in society as a whole…Instinctively, INFPs know they are different; they’ve felt it all their lives…INFPs struggle chiefly with their highly emotional reactions and their deeply sensitive responses to everything…
“At their best, INFPs are deeply faithful and compassionate people with strong convictions and great empathy. They are creative, visionary, and inspired problem solvers and original and alternative thinkers.”
|Ann Morrow Lindbergh, INFP, author & copilot:“The shell in my hand is deserted. It once housed a whelk, a snail-like creature, and then temporarily, after the death of the first occupant, a little hermit crab, who has run away, leaving his tracks behind him like a delicate vine on the sand. He ran away, and left me his shell. It was once a protection to him. I turn the shell in my hand, gazing into the wide open door from which he made his exit. Had it become an encumbrance? Why did he run away? Did he hope to find a better home, a better mode of living? I too have run away, I realize, I have shed the shell of my life, for these few weeks of vacation…
“My shell is not like this, I think. How untidy it has become! Blurred with moss, knobby with barnacles, its shape is hardly recognizable any more. Surely, it had a shape once. It has a shape still in my mind. What is the shape of my life?” (The opening from the classic book “Gift From The Sea”)