Trauma and Type Development


I’m curious about peoples thoughts on trauma and MBTI typing. As in, how do different types handle trauma. Or does trauma even create certain types? I’m specifically curious about the development of NI. For example, does a happy-go-lucky ESTP type start to question the meaning of life after going through a traumatic experience and develop more Ni? Does early childhood trauma open the flood gates for Ni? For example, I’ve noticed that many of my favorite INFJ musicians and authors (and ENFJ for that matter) suffered traumatic childhoods. It could also be that they are the best able to express such experiences. Chicken or the egg? Curious about people’s thoughts…


This matches up with my hypothesis as well. 100%. Ni + Fe I think originates from a child developing the need to emotionally regulate a caregiver to have their needs met. The calculating started super early. It’s why INFJ are able to get so much data out of people with so little.


I think upbringing strengthens a cognitive function in an already pre assigned cognitive stack. Like Ti could be stronger in an enfp compared to other enfp’s if the circumstances in their life brought it out of them, which could lead to Fe becoming stronger in that enfp since they are polarities…leading to unhealthy expression and mistyping. But overall I think type is pre determined. Those are kind of the rules to mbti. I think the enneagram is more helpful for getting to the core of this question though.


Yeah, I disagree. I think the nurture aspect is heavily more influencing than nature when it comes to type. This is where I diverge from MBTI purists.


I agree that mbti as we know it is not in its most flawless form yet. I hope you figure it out for the rest of us though. Our goal to understand ourselves better is counting on you. :slightly_smiling_face:


The typology community can count on me!


Thanks for the comments you guys! I guess it’s a classic nature vs. nurture question. I remember I had a philosophy professor who asked us if we think people are like onions with infinite layers and possibilities that ultimately keep going, or like a plum with a core that is unchangeable. I asked him what he thought and he said plum-ion. He thinks we have layers of possibility but still a core at the center. I think along the same lines.

I do think there is something to a “core.” I am in the field of social work/psychology and I sometimes see vastly different responses to trauma. But then there are some key characteristics that seem to stem from similar back grounds. Perhaps it’s a square/rectangle conundrum. Not all trauma leads to the development of Ni, for example, but anybody with strong Ni probably had some trauma. Or maybe the trauma was simply from being a Ni person in a Se/Te world. Who knows!


Ps. the square/rectangle thing… as in all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares.


Also curious about type development across the life span. This ties into the trauma too and working through trauma. For myself, for example, I can see certain core characteristics that have remained the same throughout my life. I’ve always loved beauty, always searched for meaning and purpose. Always felt greatly conflicted inside and felt a desire to achieve something “great.” But then other characteristics have changed vastly! I was once so quiet and reserved that I rarely spoke or engaged with anybody. I now perform music regularly and have also been a member a performing dance troupe. I also was once very conscious about following rules and then one day flipped to the other side and decided to do things my way. As I’ve worked through trauma in my own life, new parts of myself have emerged that I never would have imagined existed.


I relate to much of what you’re describing here, @analoguelife

Check out the similar discussion going on in the existential crisis thread if you haven’t already, as this may shed further light on the early development of Ni-dominant types.


Thanks for the info @Stewart!


I’m also curious about the presentation of types that have “worked through” traumas versus types that are somewhat buried. For example, I can sense when people are living out a life that feels genuine to their desires and gifts versus people who have those desires and gifts buried under the surface. And of those who have buried desires, some are close to the surface- as in, a life transition might shake them loose or perhaps age. Others seem buried to the extent that they will probably never change unless they encounter a near-death or other traumatic experience.

Along those lines, I








I have no idea what comes first. Is it nature or nurture or a bit of both? It’s hard to say. Biology is all about the complex interactions between both. Sometimes it’s all nature; sometimes it’s all nurture; sometimes it’s a bit of both, and then the whole dynamics and the weight of each factor will depend on the context of every other gene-to-environment interaction.

Perhaps that’s the same with personality development. Personally I’m tempted to say that children are pretty malleable especially within the earliest years (age 0-5). Perhaps we do have an inherited bias of a “type” at birth but then other factors can weigh in early on in development (doesn’t have to be trauma, I guess) and change what functions are valued or maybe polarize a set of “four functions” into a “functional hierarchy.” I DUNNO. :stuck_out_tongue:

My personal experience is that I was a spoiled rotten baby with very little real “troubles” early in life. I don’t remember worrying about death and suffering from insomnia at night. I was super good at eating and sleeping, but what I do know was that I was extremely sensitive and expressed my feelings in very unusual ways. Maybe I’m not INFJ! But who knows.

What’s interesting is that perhaps my very first experience of Fi id really started in the womb. I was a happy baby (or on second thought…perhaps not) once I was out, but my mother cried many many times during gestation…because I was supposed to be given away to someone else. It wasn’t until recently that I really gave myself a good think about how my mother must have felt at that time…I do believe one’s experience in the womb and the mother’s experience of gestation greatly impacts one’s upbringing and sense of security. Maybe a child is more aware in the womb than one could imagine. So I remember Fi much more prominently in my childhood. It was mainly a negative experience, and most associated with trauma in my opinion.

I think for me, Ni came much later. Or at least it was just humming in the background during childhood play. I was always in my own little world, always making new stories to myself and creating new things. Art felt at home to me always. I never had negative experiences with Ni. The only “trauma” I could think of is having to adapt to a new language and culture at a very early age. What I see here is environmental pressure inducing a “polarization” rather than trauma. Language development was pretty slow for me as such, relative to other kids my age. So the way I took up and understood information must have been very different from age 5 and onwards. It was never a linear process. There was a lot of guessing and abstracting. But of course, it all came natural to me. I never really thought twice about this stuff or cried about the way I thought. It was more like being spacey and clueless, but content and happy; it was a mode that worked for me.


I think there’s a little bit of both. I’ll say a personal example, so there’s some subjectivity on it. Anyway, my mom has a twin. She and her twin have different psychological types, my mom is an ISFJ and my aunt is not. God know what is she, I really don’t like to dig on some family’s types. Anyway, they both as twins recieve somehow a similar education. As twins the similar education happened during the same family/social/economic enviroment. They grew up to have different types, so I guess there was something being fixed when they were born. I think the whole nurture thing goes with the expression of each individual characteristic rather than the characteristic itself. Let’s say, a mexican INFJ would look entirely different than an american INFJ. But they share the functional stack. A traumatized INFJ would look very different than another traumatized INFJ, but they would still share the INFJ stack as well as the conditions that such stack will imply in given individual. To me the nurture has to do with the phenomenological aspect of a type while the nature side has to do with the type itself.


Has anyone read The Body Keeps Score by Bessel van der Kolk? It’s an interesting dive into somaticization, even though he doesn’t actually use the term.