Today we get to talk about our last group of personalities – the guardians. How are the SJs affected by mental illness? The guardians make up the largest percentage of our population – roughly 40-45% according to personality expert David Kiersey. They are known for their responsible, hard-working nature along with a skill for keeping traditions alive in every society. They are down-to-earth, practical, and often extremely helpful individuals.

Disclaimer: At this point, it is pretty hard to find any scientific basis for the different types and their tendency to have any kind of mental illness. Mental illness has a lot to do with someone’s environment, upbringing, and brain abnormalities or chemical imbalances. I am linking to case studies and sources at the end of this post that may show some empirical data and correlations between type and mental disorders, but at this point not a lot of clinical research has been done. I’m not a psychologist, and this post is all theory and opinion. Just because you are a certain MBTI type does NOT mean you are going to have one of these mental struggles. If you feel like I’m completely wrong in some way, don’t hesitate to tell me. If you feel like you struggle with any of these issues, I hope you can find some professional help or a good friend to help you along your journey. If you’d like to talk about it, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

ISTJs and Mental Illness

man thinking

ISTJs are “the Inspectors” of the MBTI world. They are incredibly responsible people who are known for their logical mindset and their love of family, traditions, and practical living. They are down-to-earth, private, and often have a surprisingly offbeat sense of humor.

When it comes to mental illness, ISTJs may have a higher likelihood of developing PTSD in traumatic situations. They may also be more vulnerable to antisocial personality disorder, depression, and paranoid personality disorder.


According to the case study An Empirical Investigation of Jung’s Psychological Types and Personality Disorder Features, IT types are more likely to develop PTSD than other types. This was a conclusion based on a case study of 158 male veterans. They also found that 64% of 45 PTSD Vietnam war veterans had either an ISTP, ISTJ or INTP profiles.

Why would this be so? It’s possible that the strong introverted sensing utilized by ISTJs makes it harder for them to move on from traumatic memories. Introverted sensing is all about storing past data and memories in incredibly vivid detail. Si-dominant types hold the past in reverie and often have more accurate memories than many other types. Since PTSD often manifests itself through re-living past memories, it’s possible that Si-dominant types are more likely to be at a risk for developing this. Of course, any type CAN develop PTSD (I’m an INFJ with PTSD), but it’s possible ISTJs are at a greater risk for developing this.

ISTJs and Antisocial Personality Disorder

Psychology today defines Antisocial Personality Disorder as a “disorder characterized by a pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others.” Psych Central explains that ” Individuals with Antisocial Personality Disorder frequently lack empathy and tend to be callous, cynical, and contemptuous of the feelings, rights, and sufferings of others.”

While I don’t personally know any ISTJs who suffer from this disorder – it’s possible that a very unhealthy ISTJ could be at a risk of this. Unhealthy ISTJs who have only developed their dominant function at the expense of the others may display numerous traits which could land them with an antisocial diagnosis.  An unhealthy ISTJ could display one or a number of these traits:
– Lack of interest in other people, or relating to them
– A tendency to look after oneself at the expense of other people
– Dismissive of other people’s feelings or ideas without trying to understand them.
– Judgemental of others rather than themselves
– May have difficulty communicating thoughts and feelings to anyone

ISTJs and Paranoid Personality Disorder

Mentalhealth.com states that people with paranoid personality disorder “falsely believe that they are being victimized by others. They are highly critical of others, yet hypersensitive to criticism of themselves. They bear grudges and are unwilling to forgive the insults that they think they have received. Minor slights arouse major hostility, and the hostile feelings persist for a long time. Their combative and suspicious nature may elicit a hostile response in others..they may be pathologically jealous.”

Again, I think the only connection between ISTJs and Paranoid Personality Disorder would be related to an extremely unhealthy ISTJ. ISTJs have tertiary introverted feeling, and introverted feeling that is not developed well can make someone appear selfish, hyper-critical and jealous. Introverted feeling in and of itself is a GOOD thing. There’s a good and bad side to any cognitive function. The bad side of introverted feeling is that if it isn’t developed well it could play a part in the ISTJ connection to paranoid personality disorder. The hostile feelings that persist for a long time could be due to the dominant introverted sensing of the ISTJ. They hold onto memories for a long time and don’t ‘let go’ quite as easily as other types.

ISTJs and Depression

In the case study An Empirical Investigation of Jung’s Psychological Types and Personality Disorder Features, the study suggests a link between depressive personality disorder and IT MBTI profiles. Psychology Today describes depressive personality disorder as “not a passing blue mood but rather persistent feelings of sadness and worthlessness and a lack of desire to engage in formerly pleasurable activities.”

As far as why ISTJs may struggle with depression more than others, it may be related to their dominant introverted sensing. If they had a difficult or traumatic past they may have a harder time moving past that than the present-minded SP types or the future-minded intuitives. ISTJs are also so private in nature that they may have a hard time finding the support and reassurance that they need when struggling with depression.

Depression can also be caused by chemical abnormalities in the brain, hormonal imbalances, etc,.. so we have to be careful not to make everything about MBTI type when it comes to these mental illnesses. I can only speculate and find research that explains how certain types MAY be more susceptible to certain illnesses, but obviously the situation is a lot more complicated than that.

How ISTJs Can Get Help

First of all, if you feel like you are suffering from any of the mental illnesses or disorders I’ve mentioned, the first step is to seek professional help. Obviously, as a private person, it’s going to be hard to do that and you may be skeptical of the help that a therapist or counselor could provide. Try to have an open mind and use your strong Si powers to look up someone reliable and trustworthy.

If you feel like you’re at a risk of developing any of these illnesses and you want to prevent it, then try to work on balancing out all your functions. Try to find healthy ways to use ALL your functions: Introverted sensing, extroverted thinking, introverted feeling and extroverted intuition. The more you practice this the healthier you will be as a person!

If you feel like you might be manifesting symptoms of a mental disorder because of extreme stress in your life, then you can find some stress-reduction techniques specifically for ISTJs here.

ESTJs and Mental Illness


ESTJs are the “supervisors” of the MBTI world. These community-minded individuals are responsible, tradition-minded, and industrious. I’m lucky enough to have an ESTJ mother-in-law and I think they sometimes get a bad rap. Sure, they’re responsible, logical, direct and industrious – but they can also be funny, friendly, warm, and devoted family members. I always feel like I need to defend the ESTJs because a lot of what I see online paints them as being harsh, demanding, and completely inflexible.

When it comes to ESTJs and mental illness, I couldn’t find many links between this personality type and mental illness. Psychiatrist John M. Oldham made a connection between ESTJs and Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder. Other than this, I don’t see any other links. So we’ll work on that one.

ESTJs and Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder

Mount Sinai Hospital says that “A person with a passive-aggressive behavior pattern may appear to comply or act appropriately, but actually behaves negatively and passively resists.”

Psychology Today says that Passive Aggressive individuals have four common characteristics:
– They’re unreasonable to deal with
– They’re uncomfortable to experience
– They rarely express their hostility directly
– They repeat their subterfuge behavior over time

As far as why Oldham connected ESTJs and this disorder, I have a hard time finding out why. There isn’t a lot of detail that I can see related to this. The ESTJs I have known are very direct, and don’t show any passive aggressive tendencies. An unhealthy ESTJ may have difficulty communicating their thoughts and feelings, because they are so logically minded – and in turn they may hide their true feelings about a subject or a demand and behave passive-aggressively regarding it, but that’s the only connection I can think of. I’ve done a lot of looking around and can’t seem to find any other information relating to this. If you have any input let me know in the comments! Maybe we can figure it out there.

ISFJs and Mental Illness

Alone in city

ISFJs are the “protectors” in the MBTI world. They are some of the most kind-hearted, thoughtful people you’ll ever meet. They desire tradition, stability, and harmony in their lives. When it comes to mental illness, ISFJs may be more prone to developing depression, dependent personality disorder, and psychosomatic illness.

ISFJs and Depression

ISFJs are hard workers. In fact, sometimes they work too hard. They crave harmony in their lives at all times, and can become very distressed if there is a lot of conflict or dissatisfaction from the people around them. People can take advantage of ISFJs because of their generous, hard-working natures and ISFJs aren’t particularly good at asking for help or taking care of their own needs. Because of this, ISFJs can become so overworked and emotionally drained that they suffer from depression or resulting psychosomatic illnesses. The stress of being in a conflict-ridden environment can manifest itself in IBS, headaches, or a weakened immune system. The strong introverted sensing of the ISFJ can also make them feel hyper-aware of internal bodily sensations and can make them suffer from a type of hypochondriasis. They may feel hyper-aware of every negative bodily sensation and sense that they have a life-threatening disease.

ISFJs tend to hold in anger or frustration with those around them, and this can make them feel very stifled and trapped. They want everyone to be happy, and they want to serve others, but they often feel that the workload is imbalanced ( as it often is) and that nobody is returning the favor of their generosity. They don’t want to bring it up because they detest conflict, and feel almost selfish for asking for anything they need, so situations like this can escalate and leave the ISFJ feeling completely worn down and malnourished emotionally.

Depression can have many sources, from chemical imbalances to brain abnormalities – so any Myers Briggs type CAN suffer from it. ISFJs just need to be especially careful not to let themselves be depleted by giving too much and not taking care of their own emotional needs.

ISFJs and Dependent Personality Disorder

Psychology Today calls dependent personality disorder “a psychiatric condition marked by an overreliance on other people to meet one’s emotional and physical needs.” Symptoms of dependent personality disorder include:
– Having difficulty making decisions without advice from others
– Needing others to assume responsibility for most aspects of life
– Having difficulty expressing disagreement with others
– Urgently seeking relationships
– Going to excessive lengths to obtain nurturance and support from others

A very unhealthy ISFJ could be more at risk for manifesting these kinds of symptoms. ISFJs often do prefer the security of a relationship or a community, and they work hard to avoid conflict in that relationship or community. If taken to an extreme level, it’s possible to see why unhealthy ISFJs may be more vulnerable to this disorder.

How ISFJs can get help:

Because ISFJs are extroverted feelers, they benefit especially well from talking to a counselor or therapist. Sometimes if they can express their feelings out loud, then they can process them better that way. Extroverted feelers have a hard time understanding their own emotions without hearing them out loud or writing them down and then re-reading them. Seeking professional help is always a good idea if you feel like you could be suffering from any kind of mental illness or personality disorder.

If you feel like you are struggling with symptoms of a mental illness, it’s possible that it could be related to stress or that your functions are out of balance (you’re having to focus so much on using one function that the others are not providing relief). Try to give yourself opportunities to use your introverted sensing, extroverted feeling, introverted thinking and extroverted intuition. If your symptoms are stress related, you can find solutions especially for ISFJs on this page.

ESFJs and Mental Illness

Thinking B

ESFJs are the “providers” of the MBTI world. They are extremely caring, responsible individuals who want to create an atmosphere of harmony around them. They get energy from social interaction and family traditions. ESFJs are true neighbors and make excellent friends.

When it comes to ESFJs and mental illness, there have been case studies that suggest they may suffer more from masochistic personality disorder. There also might be a correlation between ESFJs and depression.

ESFJs and Depression

ESFJs long to create harmony in their environment – particularly in their family environment. They can’t stand conflict, and will do almost anything to “fix” it or avoid it entirely. They long to be needed, loved and appreciated and will devote exhaustive energy to their friends and family. When conflict continues for a prolonged period of time, or when their efforts go unappreciated for very long they start to feel extremely depressed and helpless. Seeing a loved one in pain is torture for an ESFJ – and feeling invisible, taken for granted, and taken advantage of can drive the normally contented ESFJ to a state of charged stress, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

ESFJs and Masochistic Personality Disorder

Psychiatrist John M. Oldham believed that ESFJs could be more likely to suffer from masochistic personality disorder. The Medical Dictionary calls Masochistic Personality Disorder “a personality disorder characterized by a persistent pattern of behavior detrimental to the self, including being drawn to problematic situations or relationships, failing to accomplish tasks crucial to life objectives, excessive self-sacrifice, inviting criticism and anger, undermining of pleasurable experiences, and inability to enjoy the rewards of success.”

The reason that Oldham drew this line is because ESFJs are naturally somewhat self-sacrificial in order to care for others. An unhealthy ESFJ may be so focused on, and used to, sacrificing themselves for others that it becomes an unhealthy pattern in their life. They may feel that they should always put themselves last, anticipate the needs of others without being told, and may even feel guilty when receiving attention or gratitude. If an ESFJ is with someone who takes advantage of their selflessness and generosity, the ESFJ may end up becoming almost hooked into this pattern of self-defeating behavior.

How ESFJs can get help:

ESFJs are extroverted feelers. Because of this, they often are wonderful at understanding other people’s emotions but have a hard time with their own. Internalized emotions are confusing to them – but they feel the physical effects of them. It’s important for ESFJs to get their feelings ‘out there’ so that they can process them through Fe (extraverted feeling). If they talk about their feelings, or write them down and read them over again, they can then process them better. This can help with some of the stress buildup and emotional tension that ESFJs may feel at times.

If you’re an ESFJ and you feel like you may suffer from a mental illness, then seeking professional help is very important. This will give you a chance to express your feelings and struggles with someone who can give you some very real solutions and insights.

Take care of yourself – try to be aware of your own personal needs and stop yourself before things get out of control and you’ve exhausted yourself. If you feel like you could be experiencing mental health symptoms due to stress, you can check out this post which details some ways ESFJs can reduce stress.

In Conclusion…

I hope this post is helpful! I would love to hear your thoughts or feedback (good or bad) in the comments. Thanks for reading!


An Empirical Investigation of Jung’s Psychological Types and Personality Disorder Features
Oddly Developed Types
Personality Junkie
Please Understand Me by David Kiersey
Was That Really Me? How Everyday Stress Brings Out Our Hidden Personality by Naomi Quenk
Journal of Psychological Type by Center of Applications for Psychological Type
Myers Briggs Type indicator personality profiles in unipolar depressed patients – Case study
Over-representation of Myers Briggs Type Indicator introversion in social phobia patients – Case study

Myers Briggs and Mental Illness Part 4 - Facebook

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Susan Storm is a certified MBTI® practitioner and lover of all things psychology-related. She is the mom of five beautiful children and loves using her knowledge of personality type to understand them and others better! Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest to learn more about type!

MBTI, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and Myers-Briggs are trademarks or registered trademarks of the Myers and Briggs Foundation, Inc., in the United States and other countries.”

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