I would strongly argue that INTPs do not not understand feelings, since we do have feelings (helloo); we just don’t entirely know how to handle or deal with them other than with and through a logical mind – an objective perspective – which isn’t always appropriate or useful. Because when every answer is, by principle, legit, no answer seems really appropriate or helpful in its logic sense, so – in my case – I tend to just shrug, smile sheepishly and say ‘Yeah, I guess that sucks’ or ‘Yeah, that probably would help…?’ or ‘Well, if you feel like that, I guess you feel like that..’, when people ask ‘should I do this or should I do that in regards of this emotion or this person?’. Not very helpful. Of course, we can always be the voice of reason when someone has an emotional outcry of some sort, and it can cool things down, but whether or not it is entirely helpful depends on the situation and matter, I guess. Sometimes people just need a shoulder to cry on and to hear people say they understand and feel with them, even if they don’t. I’ve tried to do this even though I totally suck at it. I have (fortunately?) not been on such emotional roller-coaster rides myself as many people have, so when people despair and say ‘…you know?’ after every sentence, I simply cannot truly identify and I feel my answers are so weak, dishonest and helpless because I cannot rationalize and prompt people to use their brain when it is their heart they are talking about. It’s not like I don’t have a heart, but the road to it is so often through my brain. I think before I feel. Or rather, even when I feel first, my brain struggles to interfere and rationalize my feelings. That, of course, doesn’t always end well for either parts and I tend to blurt out before it is thought through. My Inferior function, my weakness, is, after all, extraverted Feeling (Fe).
To embrace my nerdiness: I am a Ravenclaw (bordering on Gryffinclaw) through and through, in case you hadn’t already deciphered that:
Intelligent and insightful, Ravenclaws are not ones to classify people under any certain category. Instead they often ponder on humanity, what is good, what is evil and why we should classify people as one or the other. Ravenclaws are very philosophical, and often you may see them simply staring off into space, but this is not in some brainless manner, in fact they are exploring the gears of their mind and trying to figure out how the world works. Ravenclaws are focused on their work, but they often don’t need effort. They tend to pick up on every detail and remember it without even trying, something that others may be skeptical of or be jealous of. This can give some a sense of superiority and the idea they should tell everyone the right way to do something, which can easily make others, especially nervous Hufflepuffs or emotional Gryffindors, very irritated. Ravenclaws are very analytic, and this can be very good or very bad. For the kind-hearted this will be a way to help others, for the dark they can use this to twist and manipulate. Ravenclaws are not every emotional, instead they tend to put up a wall and not let anyone in except for perhaps their closest friends or family. Instead they pick at the minds of others, trying to figure out how they work and to see if they themselves are different, or just the same as everyone else. Psychologists, professors and investigators are often Ravenclaws.*
But I guess, people still find some comfort in my answers. They certainly unload their burdens on me, sometimes coming to me for help on various matters and I listen patiently and try to help as best as I can. I am no good at sweet-talking and I prefer honesty, which I hear mirrored among other INTPs as well. I also recognize the feeling of not always being acknowledged when this happens. People talk and talk because I am there to listen and they need to unburden themselves, but they seldomly care for listening to me for more than a couple of minutes. I feel like I am used as a vessel – or an honest mirror that in return reflects upon their self-image. Self-pitying, I know, but there seems to be a pattern among INTPs. It is indeed frustrating though I feel it is the one thing I can give the world and the people around me. A double-edged sword I must live with.
The emotional investment has been on a minimum, that’s for sure. But who am I to talk? I don’t handle emotions all that well. Yet, that doesn’t mean I don’t feel them. Because, boy oh boy, do I feel them sometimes. In a sort of ‘all or nothing’ state.
After all, the words of Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf and Charlotte Brontë resonate with my soul and they were all believed to be INFPs. Feelers. They can truly express what I feel and I secretly try to do the same. When I write, these things seem to flow. In writing they are profound, heart-breaking. When spoken they seem pathetic somehow. But you can already see the difference in prose, style and stance between Virginia and Jane Austen, for example, who was an INTP. The way they ‘attack’ life, so to speak. Both achingly astute about their own time and sex but in different ways. With different perspectives and yet together they give voice to the female sex as human beings, not just ‘women’, and make us out as we are: so much more complex than inherently perceived in a patriarchal society throughout time. But I digress.
People tend to say that I appear so very cool and self-contained in times of stress. Maybe I do. I know I can appear aloof at times when everybody else is reacting differently which has been cause for some irritation on their parts, almost admonishing me for not ‘reacting as expected’. On the other hand, I often find myself making faces and snickering at people’s antics and conventional, social habits when no one else does. Before I discovered MBTI I always wondered why. Now I get it.