Ni and impersonation


I think of impersonation as one of Ni’s eminent attributes. My ISFP brother is an effortless mimic and has in fact built a career around it. My INTJ brother-in-law is fair-minded and also does that annoying thing where he imitates people’s speech patterns and accents (no Fe). I’ve learned to spot ENFJs quickly by their easy command of vivid verbal characters (great actors, if they can discipline their ego and go a bit deeper). I think in INFP it can manifest as a sort of fuzzy expertise or encyclopedism in cultural areas that interest them.

It might be because the Moon rules my chart, but I’ve observed that growing up I put tremendous psychic effort into impersonating the people around me, both their outer and their inner life. Partly as self-defence, partly as harmony-seeking (Libra Moon), partly out of fascination.

One of the problems with this is that with my parents and brother, the models are so complex, deeply implanted, and prior to my ego that there is major contagion, they affect my mental processes and emotions and I impersonate them without meaning to. I’ve had a huge and difficult ten-year process that is by no means concluded (I am just about thirty) of individuating away from these impersonations and weeding them out, preventing them from speaking through me. Maddening.

Specifically, my parents are INTP and INFP, so these three inner persons have a mutually reinforcing Si bent to them that is basically inappropriate to my functioning, and which I can never express with any competence; and two of them are hostile to my Ni ego. I suppose it means I can manage just a bit more Si than most INFJs, which might be why I can get along so well with my ISFJ partner. (Or I find her much more self-assured Si a refreshing change. Or, to be dark, possibly I am more invisibly and helplessly snared by it.)

Thoughts? Similar experiences? Advice? Remonstration?


Haha, I remember I thought I had a gift at impersonations when I was a child. My friend quickly set me straight on that (a deadpan no, lol).

I am a passive person. I will take in my environment and maybe make a couple alterations to myself. Not really because I want to fit in, but more so I can protect myself from unnecessary troubles. I’m pretty low key most of the time, so it’s not something I have to do too often.

Hm, I believe I may of known an INFJ while in high school. One thing she constantly remarked was that she would always take on the qualities and speech patterns of someone she was speaking with over a short period of time (Scorpio Sun for all of you astrology folk).

I did this too in middle school, but it was generally for those in my tight knit friendships. It wasn’t major though, I would just pronounce certain words in a way that would instantly strike me as the same way my friends would say the words. Haha, it used to mildly freak me out (am I an individual? Or am I just a cheap imitation of those around me?). But obviously I’m an individual, because the few times I did this stuck out to me very starkly.

Yeah, falling into certain grooves around people can be very nerve wracking. Especially when you act the opposite way around them and they know you are faking it so that they can see you differently (ESTJ dad and ISFJ mom saw through this every time). All of my rebellious phases were squashed in a matter of days because my parents didn’t buy it, and I gave up pretty quickly when I saw the desired effects I wanted were BLOCKED, ha.

Though I guess I haven’t had the problem you have because I have always felt different from everyone in my family. I was a daddy’s girl, but eventually I noticed we were different too. As a result, I guess I more so feel out of wack than annoyingly in tune with them.

I wonder if the problem you have is the kind that when you accept it, it starts to go away. Like, if the problem goes back to before you even had an ego, it seems like something you would just have to accept for better or worse. If you try to unravel it, I imagine it would be like a tangled ball of yarn. The more you fidget with it the worse it gets. Also, unraveling yarn can be a bit confusing! You get a little lost and think you are progressing when you may actually still be where you began…

But yeah, I don’t have a step-by-step routine for you to get out of falling into those patterns. I imagine the more you grow as an individual, the more the deaden aspects will come undone. Something has to die before it can be rebirthed. In the mean time, I guess you can draw on some of the benefits of using more Si than the typical INFJ while patiently trying to correct the drawbacks of having Si being more available to you. (Wow but also I am so so sorry because my advice sounds so INFPish and I am cringing for the both of us :see_no_evil::hear_no_evil::speak_no_evil::pensive::sweat_smile:).


Check out @Ankh’s recording Harry and the Showgirl through the link on the soul album page :wink:

I do this too… I think Fe + my Libra ascendant makes it a reflex action to mirror and blend with the other person for the sake of harmony…

Every person who knows me knows a different version of me, which is oh-so-relatable to them specifically…

It’s funny when the same people see me in a group… when I’m in a group I try to balance out all the individual influences and create an overall likeable/relatable mosaic like persona which tries to maintain good vibes for everyone in that particular group (all this is a rather conscious process)… if a new person enters, there’s a bit of stress initially, cause it takes a while to assimilate their personality too… I think this is why people are left thinking WTF half the time… they never see a constant face…

I didn’t pay much attention to this when I was younger, but lately it’s been bothering me because I feel like I don’t know who I am… or even if there is a me, it gets lost in the rubble… so I consciously try to turn off the Fe… but then people think I’m a bitch (maybe I am!) which hurts even though it shouldn’t… :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s interesting that you link this with Ni… maybe Ni helps in the process by giving us a gut feeling overview of the inner workings of the other person’s mind, their needs and desires… but different types will use the info differently… ISFP will use it for fun because tertiary Ni is fun for them… INTJ will use it in a rather dry and analytical way… like using impersonation to delineate differences (Ti)… and INFJs use it for emotional manipulation in both the positive and negative sense (Fe aux/Fi id)…


Piggie, I’ve been through the exact same thing. I recently started a new job and I was working with one person who was many years younger than me and another person who was many years older than me. When we were all together I felt like I was being pulled in two different directions. They each wanted me to be who "they " wanted me to be. I sometimes had to walk away because it was uncomfortable but I don’t believe I was being inauthentic in any way. I genuinely connected with both people but in completely different ways. That’s not me losing my identity, in fact, I think and feel, I’m showing the best of myself when I can connect individually to people. Although, I know it’s difficult for others to understand when they see me change in front of their eyes. I can feel their confusion and doubt. I consciously remind myself that it’s okay for me to be this way. Maybe that’s how Ni plays a role in me solidifying my identity in the face of Fe/Pisces. Ha ha, I’m just kidding Ni could give two shits about my identity.


Hey Michelle!

Nice to see you active after a long time!

[quote=“michelle, post:4, topic:42”]
it was uncomfortable but I don’t believe I was being inauthentic in any way. I genuinely connected with both people but in completely different ways. [/quote]

That’s nice! It takes some maturity to be able to realise and accept that I guess…

I think I feel the same way, that I actually do relate to (or atleast understand) each person, but in a completely different way… maybe I need to let go of my id enough to accept that it’s okay… it’s those times when it’s a question of whether I’m being truthful or not that bother me the most…


I have seen this happen as it is happening with the female infj I know well. The other thing I have noticed with her is that she is almost like a ghost when she first meets someone. She is almost not present. She studies the other person. Yet she still manages to say all the right things. Like her first impression that she makes is kind of very careful and put together. I love watching her. I am incredibly nosey with people…


I totally understand what you’re saying. I struggle with being so absorbent of people’s thoughts and emotions, I believe I can’t really get in touch with my own emotions when I’m around other people. I now live in the assumption that unless I’m alone what I feel starts with someone else. I think that gives me a sense of inner control that I’ve never had before. That may sound odd but keeping this in mind helps me to not judge myself so harshly when I feel really negative things. It’s like I let myself off the hook ha ha, bad Pisces joke, for being so internally intense. As far as being honest about who I am, there are lots of different trees, bushes, animals, waterfalls, and open fields in the forest that is me. And the view is constantly expanding. One person may bring out a butterfly and another may bring out the putrid swamp, but its still all me. Accepting this has been freeing to me. It’s not always easy though. This how I feel on the inside but the effect that my Fe has on other people especially if the reflective, mirroring quality, shows another person something about themselves that they don’t like, well that’s excruciating for me. Sometimes people don’t recognize that they are seeing themselves and they project negativity onto me. That’s when I hate Fe. I’m in a double bind, if I defend myself it sounds like denial and if I reject what they say, then I’m being confrontational. Either way it’s awful. That is when Fe is not this infj’s saving grace. That’s when Fi shows up. Then I HAVE to remove myself from the situation or things will get ugly. I know Blake says we should just be assholes but I’m not ready. Lol! Maybe someday;)


Sounds like me! :stuck_out_tongue:

I love waiting and watching… gotta figure out the other person first… sketch an outline… first meeting is like finding out what the person’s shape is and brushing broad strokes in base colours inside the shape… with consequent meetings the features and shades start becoming more defined and intricate… i guess that’s what makes getting the shape down so important… cause later I can look for specific nuances within a known context… so the first time, all my energy is in receptive mode… I don’t think most people even notice or remember they’ve met me cause I would’ve made such little impact of my own (this is also a kind of defense mechanism… need to know how much of what the other person can handle)… some perceptive people get creeped out too…

I love how much you notice! :stuck_out_tongue:


Oh my… the forest analogy made me feel so good :smile:

And this:

is exactly what I’ve been struggling with at work because of an emotionally manipulative boss and an ISFJ team mate… the latter is particularly hard to deal with, because I actually care about her as a friend… I think it’s rather easy for emotionally intuitive people to find the INFJ Achilles heel and exploit it…

Being an asshole would feel brilliant :sunglasses: so hard to cross that line though…


Yeah everything you’ve described feels familiar, the quick sketching of initial data building to a complex model of everyone around, the quiet non-impression/ creepy attentiveness, the confusion when contexts suddenly conflict. I noticed when I was sixteen that I had a very definite bandwidth cap, as it were, where I could comfortably be with six other people and would start emitting smoke if a seventh joined.

The over-Si sticks its nose in when I’m Feing absent models in addition to or instead of the people actually present (why is my dad magically in the room? who knows). Or like, saying super dumb things to people I don’t know well like “you remind me of my grandmother” or “you’re like a female version of my uncle.” Haha, thanks a ton.


No I think you’re basically right, just being more expressive helps build my confidence so that I am less bothered by the intrusive characters. I tried doing R.D. Laing-style analysis on myself for a while, very Ti and language-focused and it really did help, but also is not very supportive in an ongoing way. (And very unhelpful for honest expression, it basically just replaces the bad Si with a tiresome inner analyst.)


Is this an actual thing then? I used to think I was the only one who said awkward things to fill up awkward silences… I hate small talk, but it’s what I make with new people… sometimes I give 'em too much (inconsequential) information just to keep the conversation flowing… but it absolutely makes me cringe when my estj mom does it (because she does it all the time :unamused: )


Oh God, you do that too. Good to know I’m not the only one!


I think ISFJ’s do this too… I wonder if it’s the combo of Fe and the worldbuilding Ni/Si does?

although possibly each function/type has its own access to this


Fe is the “mirroring” “impersonation” function - imo. Ni is a perceiving function - it is like perceiving with tunnel -vision or “laser-vision”. Ni = focus, vision, aim. So someone impersonating with Fe + Ni will try to :“perfectly” nail the impersonation by “seeing through” the character they are trying to impersonate - if that makes any sense.


Best mimics:

  1. ENFJ
  2. INFJ
  3. ISFJ
  4. INTP(chameleon)
  5. ESFJ
  6. ENTP