“Although he is not really evil, the Trickster does the most atrocious things from sheer unconsciousness and unrelatedness.” – Carl Jung
Have you ever wondered why certain people bother you more than others? Perhaps you have an organized, no-nonsense friend who naturally takes to leadership. Other friends of yours admire this person, but for some reason, you get the feeling that they’re up to something mischievous. You feel a sense of mistrust in them or you may think they’re comical when they don’t mean to be. You may think what’s important to them is ultimately unimportant and you may feel the urge to “take them down a notch.”
Why does this happen?
Why do we naturally feel more on-edge around some types than others, even when there’s no evidence that they’ve done anything wrong?
Today’s post will answer part of the equation of why some people tick us off more than others. But it’s definitely not the complete answer. Some people will bother us for reasons totally unrelated to type. And we’ll be drawn to some people regardless of their personality type and how it connects with ours.
How “The Trickster” Impacts Our Relationships with Others (and Ourselves)
Today we’re going to explore the seventh function down in your function stack: The Trickster.
The Trickster takes on the opposite orientation to your tertiary function. You can see an example below:
INTJ Cognitive Functions:
Dominant: Introverted Intuition (Ni)
Auxiliary: Extraverted Thinking (Te)
Tertiary: Introverted Feeling (Fi)
Inferior: Extraverted Sensation (Se)
Opposing Role: Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
Critical Parent: Introverted Thinking (Ti)
Trickster: Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
Demon: Introverted Sensation (Si)
The tertiary function is called “The Eternal Child” by depth typologists and there’s a reason for that. It’s a function that you enjoy using in a playful, non-pressured way. It’s vulnerable because when you make mistakes in this area you feel deeply ashamed. When people criticize you in relation to the tertiary function, you feel like you want to run and hide. There’s a certain vulnerability to it that isn’t as present with the other functions.
The trickster has an interesting relationship with the tertiary function. It’s also child-like but in a rebellious, anarchistic sense. The trickster doesn’t care about the rules or how people see him/her. The trickster is like the older brother of the tertiary function, but an older brother who protects the younger brother through sly jokes, malicious pranks, teasing, and breaking rules that the tertiary would never break. We aren’t often aware that we’re using Trickster energy because this function is fairly unconscious. We don’t associate it with ourselves. We’re more likely to project it onto others than to accept it as part of our own personality.
“By ignoring or destroying boundaries, the Trickster often plays a pivotal role in our psychological development beyond self-imposed, societal, or parental limits.” – Mark Hunziker, Depth Typology
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This Is Only the Beginning…
I’m only touching briefly on how the Trickster can show up in each type. If you’d like to discover more you should read Depth Typology by Mark Hunziker, or Energies and Patterns in Psychological Type by John Beebe.
The Trickster of Each Myers-Briggs Personality Type
The ENFP and ESFP Personality Types – Trickster Introverted Thinking (Ti)
Introverted Thinking categorizes and sorts information into fine-tuned mental libraries. It evaluates and analyzes data deeply, looking for key principles, underlying frameworks, and inconsistencies. Introverted Thinking personality types (TPs) value clarity and precision with words and are more focused on getting the right answer than a quick answer.
Your Preferred Way of Thinking:
As an EFP, you enjoy exploring ideas and experiences that align with your deeply-held values. When you make decisions you focus first on what’s right for you ethically (according to your personalized moral code) and what makes sense productively. Freedom, personal ethics. and efficient implementation matter a great deal to you.
The Trickster and You:
Analyzing and categorizing impersonal data according to mapped-out logical principles can feel overwhelming to you. While you enjoy learning new things and are driven by curiosity, you’re more interested in the implementation of those things than mapping out all the technical details of how they work, why they work, and whether they are logically consistent.
When called upon to use Introverted Thinking (your Trickster), it can feel exhausting to you because this isn’t your valued or preferred way of processing information. When you’re dealing with impersonal data you prefer to process it through Extraverted Thinking (Te), your tertiary function. You want to figure out how the data can be used efficiently in the outside world, not spend time sorting it all out and categorizing it.
When you use Trickster Ti, you can get stuck in continually redefining and refining information, inevitably ending right back where you started. You can get stuck in periods of analysis-paralysis that never seem to end.
At the same time, when people are using Introverted Thinking to give you a critique or hone-in on the accuracy of what you’re saying, you can feel like they’re being ridiculous, over-the-top, pedantic, or silly. You may inwardly (or outwardly) poke fun at them, make light of what they’re saying, or use humor to deflect the attention away from yourself or invalidate their argument in some way.
The Positive Side of Trickster Ti:
When you accept Introverted Thinking as something valuable and worthwhile, you can form deeper bonds with those who value it (TP personality types). You may at times create fine-tuned arguments to prove your points. In typical Trickster fashion, these arguments will be embellished with humor and playfulness. With the help of Trickster Ti you can give your action plans a firm, logically-consistent foundation.
Find out more about Introverted Thinking: 10 Signs You’re an Introverted Thinking Personality Type.
The ENTP and ESTP Personality Types – Trickster Introverted Feeling (Fi)
Introverted feeling focuses on alignment with one’s inner values and feelings. It asseses one’s own emotional state and tries to discern what those states mean. Living in harmony with one’s ethical code, desires, and emotional needs is of the highest priority to the Introverted Feeling type (IFP).
Your Preferred Way of Thinking:
As an ETP, you enjoy exploring ideas and experiences and understanding how things work. You’re both curious and innovative as you look for ways to understand the world around you. You process information through Introverted Thinking, which allows you to see the logical components of a problem or situation and categorize data so as to make accurate assessments.
The Fi Trickster and You:
When you try to figure out what your values are, you tend to feel out of your element. Yes, you have a sense of right and wrong – but you can also logically tear apart nearly any argument based on ethics or values and not logic itself.
Concepts like faith can be overwhelming for you to make sense of unless you can come up with a logical framework as to why you should subscribe to them. You can play devil’s advocate to nearly any position because when it comes to values or ethics alone, you can point out why either one has merit or lack thereof. Values, ethics, inner feelings – these things can’t always be logically organized. If someone says something is wrong, you might say “But why?” When they answer again, you might again say, “Why is that better than the alternative?” This discussion can keep going until any conception of right and wrong seems hazy.
Your trickster Fi might show up in you playing devil’s advocate to a passionate individual defending their cause. You might poke fun at their seriousness, sensitivity, and perceived stubbornness. It might seem absolutely ridiculous to you that someone would tailor their lives around ethical codes or feelings that can’t be logically mapped out. You might defend the ethics of the other side of their argument just to prove them wrong – even if you don’t subscribe to either side.
People who do value Fi (Feeling-Perceiving personality types) can seem overly-sensitive and unreasonable to you. You might feel like you have to walk on eggshells around them, and inside you might think that they’re trying to ask too much of you. Your Trickster might show up in pranks played on such types or sly, offhand humor at their expense.
The Positive Side of Trickster Fi:
When you accept Introverted Feeling as something valuable and worthwhile, you can form deeper bonds with those who value it (FP personality types). You start trusting your instincts about what is right or wrong, thereby building an ethical foundation that guides your decisions in life. You probably will always have a somewhat irreverent humorous side, but you stop yourself from ruthlessly teasing or debating with people about their deeply-felt values.
Find out more about Introverted Feeling: 10 Signs You Might Be an Introverted Feeling Personality Type
The INFJ and ISFJ Personality Types – Trickster Extraverted Thinking (Te)
Extraverted Thinking organizes and structures the environment for efficiency and progress. It focuses on empirical facts to move forward and is conscious of time, deadlines, and order. Extraverted Thinking types (TJs) like to move at a methodical and rapid pace towards their goals, so they rely on rules or general guidelines to keep their pace as quick as possible.
Your Preferred Way of Thinking:
As an IFJ, you need a lot of time to reflect and process information before responding to it. You either process your insights (INFJ) or experiences (ISFJs) before you come up with a plan of action. You are also deeply in touch with how the people around you are affected by things. Cautious and sensitive, you’re concerned about seeming “bossy” or controlling. You tend to choose life decisions based on how they will impact other people in a positive or negative way.
The Te Trickster and You:
When you are trying to organize your environment for efficiency you can feel paralyzed because you’re too worried about how you will impact people emotionally. When other people step up and try to organize the environment or delegate to people you can feel like they’re being bossy, controlling, or manipulative.
You can also struggle when dealing with ETJ personality types, feeling like they’re jumping to conclusions too quickly or taking too many shortcuts in order to get a job done. You might feel like they’re being ridiculous or taking themselves and their authority too seriously. You might play devil’s advocate to their plans, bringing up other empirical facts to support your own arguments. You might inwardly rebel against their plans or poke fun at their way of doing things.
You also tend to struggle to form absolute opinions about things. You see too many variables to settle on one thing that is true or false. You can analyze and refine your thinking constantly, but your outer world may be logically disorganized and chaotic. You might complete tasks inefficiently but stick to that way of doing things just because it’s become a routine to you. For example, you might have an iPhone screen that is totally disorganized with none of the apps in organized folders, but since you have muscle-memory of swiping three to the right and tapping the purple icon, you might just stick with that, and even get annoyed when someone organizes your apps for you.
The Positive Side of Trickster Te:
When you accept Extraverted Thinking as something valuable and worthwhile, you can form deeper and more meaningful relationships with people who value it (TJ personality types). You can make your environment more organized and efficient so that your goals can be more easily achieved. You make peace with delegating, organizing people, and being “in charge,” but you do so with humor, playfulness, and warmth.
Find out more about Extraverted Thinking: 10 Signs You’re an Extraverted Thinking Personality Type
The INTJ and ISTJ Personality Types – Trickster Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
Extraverted Feeling is focused primarily on connecting with and considering the people around one’s self on an emotional level. Extraverted Feeling types (FJs) try to get everyone on the same page so that people can move in a unified direction. They will often put their own individualized concerns on the backburner to focus on the emotional and physical needs of the group.
Your Preferred Way of Thinking:
As an ITJ, you need a lot of time to reflect and think before reacting to the world around you. When you do interact with the world around you, it’s usually from a place of logic, reflection, or insight. You focus more on understanding how things work (ISTJ) or digging into conceptual theories (INTJ) than navigating the emotional wavelengths of other people.
The Fe Trickster and You:
Because you have Extraverted Feeling in the Trickster position, you’re likely to see strong expressions of it as somewhat disingenuous. People who “work the room” or demonstrate a lot of emotional intensity can seem suspicious to you. You may project your Trickster onto them, seeing them as inauthentic, cloying, or manipulative. You may inwardly mock or roll your eyes at them, wondering if they’re “up to something.”
At the same time, when called upon to use Fe, perhaps in a social situation, it can feel awkward and stressful for you. It might be more tempting for you to sarcastically exude Fe than to do it in a serious manner. Because you naturally crave a great deal of independence, having to consider other people’s feelings and connect with them on an emotional level can feel overwhelming. At the same time, you might know how to tap into Trickster Fe to get something you want. Less healthy ITJs can often manipulate the emotions of others in order to get the desired outcome.
When someone tries to convince you to do something for the social welfare of the group, you may try to argue against them using different social values to trap them in a lose-lose situation where their argument lacks merit.
The Positive Side of Trickster Fe:
When you accept Extraverted Feeling as a meaningful and significant part of your life, you can form deeper relationships with people who value it (FJ personality types). You can tap into the emotional needs of others, thereby forming stronger and smoother relationships. You become more tactful and considerate of others’ opinions, and you can see the humor in your social mistakes, using that humor to draw others closer and lighten the mood.
Find out more about Extraverted Feeling: 10 Signs That You’re an Extraverted Feeling Personality Type
The ENFJ and ENTJ Personality Types – Trickster Introverted Sensation (Si)
Introverted Sensation reviews and recalls past experiences and applies any learned lessons to the current moment. It digs deeply into information and data and reflects on impressions that that data provides. Si-dominant types (ISJs) enjoy having a routine, a sense of stability, and repeating experiences and rituals that they’ve come to love throughout life. They crave a physically comfortable, calm life.
Your Preferred Way Thinking:
As an ENJ, you enjoy focusing on the future more than the past. You enjoy contemplating conceptual theories, philosophies, and long-term strategies. You focus on continual growth and progress towards far-reaching long-term goals.
The Si Trickster and You:
Because you have Introverted Sensation in the Trickster position, you’re likely to see strong expressions of it as somewhat comical. When people are particular about their surroundings, you can feel like it’s a silly waste of time. After all, you might think, “Why focus on where to put the coffee table? That’s not going to matter when you die!”
The naturally cautious nature of Introverted Sensation can seem silly to you, even if you don’t verbalize your feelings about it. And when SJ types relay past experiences in detail, you might feel tempted to roll your eyes. It’s difficult for you to see the value in re-hashing the past when there is so much to focus on in the future.
Trickster Si can also show up in neglect of routines or health. Because you focus so much on theories and concepts, you can neglect the inner-body sensation that Si-dominant types are so attuned to. You may get headaches and feel light-headed only to realize you haven’t eaten for days! You may be so ambitious in pursuit of your goals that you fail to set up comforting routines that provide relaxation. You may scoff at the idea of resting or taking it easy because you’re so fixated on your dreams and goals.
The Positive Side of Trickster Si:
When you accept Introverted Sensation as a valuable and worthwhile part of yourself, you can form deeper relationships with people who value it (SJ personality types). You can also take time to learn from past experiences, reflect on them, and grow from them. You also take more time to set up healthy routines and care for your physical well-being. You become more detail-oriented and careful instead of moving full-steam ahead towards your goals at the expense of other parts of your life.
Find out more about Introverted Sensation: 10 Signs That You’re an Introverted Sensing Personality Type
The ESTJ and ESFJ Personality Types – Trickster Introverted Intuition (Ni)
Introverted Intuition is focused primarily on foreseeing implications, effects, and transformations. Ni-dominant types (INJs) are gifted at predicting how things will evolve over time. They are primarily focused on the ripple-effects of everything happening around them.
Your Preferred Way of Thinking:
As an ESJ, you enjoy working with what you know. You trust your personal experiences and the real, tangible world around you. You enjoy recalling experiences from your past and using the lessons you’ve learned to improve your life in the present. You appreciate stability and probably consider yourself down-to-earth.
The Ni Trickster and You:
Exploring theories and possibilities can be amusing when you don’t have anything more important to do, but really diving into abstract thought can feel like a silly waste of time to you. “After all”, you might think, “I should be doing something in the REAL world.”
Because Ni is in the Trickster position for you, you may project it onto others who use it (NJ personality types). You may think they’re being silly or preposterous when they claim to know what will happen in the future. When they bring up conceptual, philosophical ideas you might feel tempted to roll your eyes or “take them down a notch.” You might feel like they’re out of touch with reality, woo-woo, or loony.
When life demands that you tap into Introverted Intuition, you might feel like you’re drowning in theories or ideas that make no sense. When you try to predict the long-term effects of something, you may see nothing in your future but disaster. Or, in contrast, you might envision how something will play out, but if it hinders your desired plan, you may ignore the signs that it won’t work out. (For example, knowing a relationship will eventually fail, but ignoring the warning signs along the way because you want to pursue it).
When someone in your life tries to convince you of something using Introverted Intuition, you may come up with foresights or predictions about the future to try to trap them in a lose-lose situation where their argument lacks merit.
The Positive Side of Trickster Ni:
When you accept Introverted Intuition as a valuable and worthwhile part of yourself, you can form better relationships with people who value it (NJ personality types). You learn to prioritize actions that have a better chance of working in the long-term. Trickster Ni can also help you to explore abstract concepts in more depth, thereby having a more profound sense of meaning and purpose in your life. While you might still chuckle at certain abstract or philosophical ideas, you can still appreciate their merit.
Find out more about Introverted Intuition: 10 Signs That You’re an Introverted Intuitive Personality Type
The INTP and INFP Personality Types – Trickster Extraverted Sensation (Se)
Extraverted Sensation is skilled at noticing everything that’s happening in the present moments. It is attuned to opportunities, experiences, and spur-of-the-moment enjoyments. It can accurately assess what’s happening without getting lost in reflections. Se-dominant personality types (ESPs) have a knack for staying in the present, responding to surprise information or tasks, and maneuvering the physical world around them.
Your Preferred Way of Thinking:
As an INP, you enjoy theorizing and imagining more than staying tuned into the present. Your mind wants to take you to the world of concepts and “what if’s” more than the world of tangible details. You enjoy getting lost in your thoughts, reflections, and ideas. Imagination beckons to you with the promise of revealing new potential.
The Se Trickster and You:
Because Extraverted Sensation is in the Trickster position for you, you may project it onto others who use it (SPs, particularly ESP personality types). You may think they’re being showy or silly when they respond excitedly to the physical world (for example, fist-pumping when their team scores a goal or jumping up and dancing when their favorite song comes on). Their penchant for living in the moment may seem childish to you when you focus so much on theorizing about abstract possibilities or the future.
When life demands that you tap into Extraverted Sensation, you may feel overwhelmed by sensory details. Life can suddenly feel over-stimulating and jarring because it keeps pulling you out of your inner world. When you try to engage with the physical world, you might make fun of yourself and your self-perceived awkwardness. You might want to get up and dance to a favorite song, but in your mind, you’d look comical or ridiculous rather than graceful. You might want to play a sport that requires strong reflexes and quick reactionary time, but feel like you’ll inevitably muddle it up so you refuse to try.
When someone in your life tries to convince you of something using real-world data, you might use your Trickster as a defense mechanism, bringing up your own facts and data to get them stuck in a lose-lose scenario.
The Positive Side of Trickster Se:
When you accept Extraverted Sensation as something valuable and worthwhile, you can form more meaningful relationships with people who value it (SP personality types). You notice more details, enjoy the sensations of life more fully, and take more physical risks. You might express yourself physically without as much inhibition, enjoying the thrill rather than shirking away in fear. You can leap into the experiences life offers you and laugh at yourself when you’re awkward, enjoying it, and owning it rather than retreating and being self-conscious.
Find out more about Extraverted Sensation: 10 Signs That You’re an Extraverted Sensor
The ISTP and ISFP Personality Types – Trickster Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
Extraverted Intuition explores connections and relationships between things that are happening in the outside world. It is also focused on extrapolating new possibilities, seeing things in new ways, and generating alternatives and multiple options. Ne-dominant types (ENPs) are gifted at brainstorming, picking up on seemingly random relationships, and innovating.
Your Preferred Way of Thinking:
As an ISP, you like working with facts and observations more than theories or concepts. You consider yourself grounded in reality and attuned to what’s happening around you. You enjoy the sensations that life provides – anything from the crunch of leaves in the fall or the hot sip of coffee in the morning. You want to live a life that is filled with many of these satisfying physical experiences. You want to be immersed in the beauty of life and the present moment rather than spend a lot of time looking at other possibilities that don’t exist yet.
Trickster Ne and You:
Because Ne is in the Trickster position for you, you may find Ne-dominant types (ENP personality types) somewhat comical or confusing. You might get the feeling that they’re “up to something” or trying to trick you. When they extrapolate numerous possibilities you might wonder why they can’t just enjoy what’s happening right now. When they bring up an exciting, outlandish new idea, you might wonder if they’re tricking you or playing a prank.
When you have to delve into Extraverted Intuition, by brainstorming or theorizing, you might feel out of your depth or overwhelmed. It may feel like a waste of time or you may think all the ideas that you’re bringing up are completely useless even if they are actually quite good. It’s tempting for you to ignore subtleties or connections that aren’t tied to real data. When you do think of ideas or possibilities, you might present them as “crazy” or “silly” and not take them very seriously at all.
When other people bring up interconnections or alternate interpretations of things, you might feel like they’re being unrealistic and ridiculous. You might feel tempted to roll your eyes or shrug. If they’re bothering you, you might also bring up your own hypothetical or alternatives just to get them trapped in a lose-lose situation.
The Positive Side of Trickster Ne:
When you accept Extraverted Intuition as something valuable and worthwhile, you can form more meaningful relationships with people who value it (NP personality types). You see more possibilities and potential and find joy in playing with multiple scenarios or alternatives. You can become more open-minded and perceptive of interconnections. You can find humor and joy in the unique ways that you can interpret situations and events.
Find out more about Extraverted Intuition: 10 Signs That You’re an Extraverted Intuitive Personality Type
What Are Your Thoughts?
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Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type, The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic, The INFP – Understanding the Dreamer, and The INTJ – Understanding the Strategist. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
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