INT Types, Emotions, and Star Trek

"Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions."
-Elizabeth Gilbert
I recently came across an interesting description of INTx personality types. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, I'm referring to an extensive personality test called the Myers-Briggs test (developed, of course, by Myers and Briggs). This test can be taken for free at any number of websites online, if you're interested. It sorts people according to sixteen different personality types with letters. There are two letters available for each position, and can come up in any number of combinations, from INTj to ENFp. While this test is looked down upon by some professionals, I do think that it can be mildly helpful as a basic tool when getting to know people (while keeping in mind, of course, that people are more complex than just sixteen different types). For this post, I'll be looking most intently at INT types. Introvert, iNtuitive, and Thinking (as opposed to Extrovert, Sensing, and Feeling).

I should mention that I'm not an expert regarding this test. Somehow, I always seem to forget exactly what the difference is between N and S, as well as between j (judging) and p (perceiving). (In case anyone's curious, the last letters are lowercase because they weren't part of the original test- they were added later. Some forms of the test include even more variables, but that's another topic.) Every time I've taken the test anywhere it's given me INTj, except for the most recent time (several months ago now) when I got INTp. So, for now, I've been calling myself an INTx. But the reason I'm discussing this is because of a comparison that I saw recently. INTjs were compared to "the coldest human," while INTps were compared to "the warmest robot."

What really interested me about this comparison was a comment from a guy named Jared Vincent (who has a wonderful name, by the way) who compared this to Star Trek. (While he says that the comparison itself has been done before, the specific way he chose to look at it was original.) He illustrated INTp, the coldest human, with Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager. As a human child, she was assimilated by the borg. (For those of you who don't know the Star Trek lingo, she was basically turned into a cyborg, more robot than human.) After she was restored to a human state (with some robotic pieces still necessary for her continued survival) she retained a robotic personality. She was human, but she was cold. This coldness is just a shell, though. She has emotions. Not fabricated emotions, but emotions that she intentionally tried to suppress. She didn't want to be a slave to her emotions, she wanted to always act in a way that made sense, not based on some passing feeling that would be detrimental.

On the other side, Jared illustrates INTj, the warmest robot, with the android Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Data, as a robot, has never felt emotions. But they fascinate him. He doesn't sit there all cold and logical because he hates emotions, but rather, because he doesn't understand them. He tries, though. He wants to show emotions, he wants to understand the emotions of others, but it doesn't come naturally to him.

I think part of the reason that I've gotten both INTj and INTp is because I can understand both of those. I'm human, so I have emotions, but how I act on those emotions is different than many. On one hand, I try to suppress the emotions I have in order to think rationally. I don't want to make stupid decisions based on passing urges. I want to take every thought captive. If I am slave to my emotions and my emotions are slave to my thoughts, then I must make my thoughts slave as well, and control my emotions.
On the other hand, I oftentimes don't understand emotions in others, or even my own emotions. I don't want to eradicate my emotions (though there was a time that I did), I just don't want to be a slave to them. But to love somebody, to show them affection, and any number of other emotions as well are good things. This is part of why (as I've mentioned in a previous post) I prefer hugs to handshakes. They're warmer. But I don't always understand emotions. Sometimes when I try to, I get it wrong, or sometimes I overlook the ways people are feeling.

Emotions can be tricky things. Even if you understand them and think something should be obvious, not everyone may be on the same page. This is part of why I believe that emotions are for feeling, not for thinking. This is part of why we shouldn't let our emotions carry us away while we ride along, helpless to do anything. INTx types aren't perfect when it comes to emotions, but it doesn't meant that we don't care. Some just don't understand, and others attempt to show that they care in ways that seem a bit colder. In either case, understanding how a person operates on the emotional level can help us relate to them better (even if they aren't quite sure how to do the same).
"I don't want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them."
-Oscar Wilde

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