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Which is the true “Opposite” Type?

November 15, 2014

A natural debate in type is what the true “diametric opposite” of a type is: all letters opposite, (like INTP vs ESFJ), or all functions opposite. When the letters are opposite, the four functions often discussed in traditional typology will appear opposite: Ti-Ne-Si-Fe vs Fe-Si-Ne-Ti.
But many of us use an extended eight function model (popularized by John Beebe), which places the other four possible function and attitude combinations, which for both types would be Te-Ni-Se-Fi. These lie in their “shadow” (unconscious part of psyche).

But notice what has happened: these “opposite” types actually share something after all: these same four function-attitudes. In the new Cognitive Styles model, they end up in the same Style: “Enhancing” (along with their I and E opposites, which also use the same four function-attitudes).
NJ’s, SP’s, TJ’s and FP’s would have two or all of the other functions instead. However, all of those other types will share at least one letter in common with either of these two types: For the INTP; either the N, P, or T.

The type that’s the most opposite from INTP will be ISFP: Fi-Se-Ni-Te-Fe-Si-Ne-Ti. All eight in reverse order, from most to least conscious. (That type is thus in the diametrically opposite “Orchestrating” style).
Yet that type shares the I and P. It also shares the same Interaction Style: “Behind the Scenes” (ISF or INP).

So which is the true “opposite” (or “shadow type”)?

I just realized, inasmuch as the letters and functions can be reversed, then so can the archetypes that work with the functions. INTP in his typical “Heroic” and “Parental” mode, using the type-defining “preferred” functions (dominant and auxiliary) may share the same “primary” (“ego-syntonic”) functions as an ESFJ in normal Hero/Parent mode; but then if the ESFJ is in the opposite Opposing Personality or Witch/Senex mode; then we will see the truly opposite, ego-dystonic Fi-Se (the ISFP’s “preferred” functions. Also, if even further down, in trickster or Demon mode, then we’ll see the NTJ’s Te and Ni. Now, even the Interaction Style becomes opposite, in the case of the “In Charge” ENTJ).
Even on Team Technology (, where ESFJ is considered the INTP’s “shadow type” that appears “under extreme stress, fatigue or illness”, it says that it’s a negative form of ESFJ. We could see this as involving the ESFJ’s own “shadow” of Fi-Se-Ni-Te.

So the most opposite type is the one with not only all letters opposite, but also in the opposite “complex” mode, and thus using the truly “opposite” (ego-incompatible) functions.

In reality, the ESFJ’s Fe and Si are the diametric opposites of Ti and Ne, but because of the way the ego divides reality, the opposite functions with their opposite attitudes end up “collecting” together in a place we ultimately “aspire” to (though subconsciously, at least at first); associating with the puer/puella (“eternal child”) and anima/animus (completeness, the soul itself) complexes.

So then the only half-“opposite” functions (sharing either the function letter or the i/e attitude) we end up having ‘no use for’ at all (and get associated with “shadowy” complexes which bring them out in even less controlled ways than the two unpreferred functions. Lenore’s “lasagna” or “ship” model also harmonized this a bit, by placing the tertiary and inferior actually at the bottom of the stack (as the ones “thrown off the ship”), and the others inbetween, as “crow’s nests” and “double agents”).

I realized this from being married to an ESFJ, and the discussion of being “so different” would come up, yet we would note how, on the other hand, the four common functions do pull us together. It’s when we start going into Shadow complex mode that things can get pretty nasty! That’s when we couldn’t get more opposite!

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