To all the people interested in finding out if John Lennon was an INFP, I just want to give a disclaimer:
John experienced some major trauma in his lifetime, especially during childhood. He had serious abandonment issues, which he would frantically try to avoid. There was an observed pattern of unstable interpersonal relationships which alternated between idealization and devaluation. He had an unstable sense of self, and struggled with having a distorted self-image. He also struggled with drug and alcohol abuse, and was known to be a troubled addict. During his career, Lennon would often appear to be irritable and angry, and he was also diagnosed to have suffered with Borderline Personality Disorder his entire life.
Issues as serious as these can alter an individual’s true nature, cause them to manifest their cognitive functions negatively, and even bring forth their shadow self; which causes a lot of destruction and chaos.
That being said, there is a lot of debate between experts and Lennon fans alike, on whether John was an INFP or an ENFP. Let’s explore that further, shall we?
Was Lennon an extrovert or an introvert?
First of all, let’s just make sure we understand that being introverted doesn’t mean someone is anti-social, has low energy, is shy, unwelcoming, withdrawn, or a snob. Being an introvert or an extrovert has more to do with energy
Extroverts get their energy from being social and surrounding themselves with other people. They like group activities, prefer to work in teams, and like interacting with others.
Introverts, on the other hand, gain energy being on their own. They enjoy their own company the most, and they prefer to spend time doing solo activities. This does not mean they don’t enjoy being around others or that they hate people. They simply require solitude to recharge their emotional and social batteries.
John Lennon has be the toughest member from the band to categorize and put in clearly marked boxes (And INFPs hate being put into boxes!). He appeared to have strong extroverted traits, but he would also navigate his feelings inwardly. He used to draw a lot of his ideas from what seemed to be an endless supply of creativity existing solely inside his head. Not going to lie, that’s pretty INFP of him.
He would require to be on his own and spend alone time to revitalize himself, but then a week later, would feel like he was being isolated when left alone to recharge. This could indicate that Lennon was somewhat of an Omnivert, who would spend some time in solitude to recharge, and once the silence began to fill him with feelings such as loneliness, he’d go out and find happiness in being social.
He could also be an Ambivert, someone who lies somewhere in the middle of the scale for introversion and extroversion. Because a lot of experts find it to be difficult to separate his introverted tendencies from his extroverted ones, due to there being a number of mental health issues, mixed with substance abuse, which would obviously alter his personality.
INFP or ENFP?
See, there is a whole lot of confusion among people when it comes to this man. He had both the tendencies to be an INFP, as well as an ENFP. John seemed to live in a state of turbulence and chaos. He’d often have a wave of creativity wash over him, and would quickly jot down the ideas on random pieces of paper and reportedly even napkins. When practicing, he’d crazily search for the scraps of paper he’d written things on. He was a lot messier than other band members, and that was evidence for how chaotic the inside of his head might be.
People often compare Lennon with his band-mate and friend, Paul McCartney, who was quite the opposite of Lennon. John struggled with communicating his emotions and thoughts, which is a very INFP thing, while Paul had exceptional communication skills. However John, with his chaotic energy, would mostly contribute to agitating and escalating arguments, unlike McCartney, who was likely to act as a diplomat. Not a very INFP trait on Lennon’s part, because INFPs make for good diplomats.
That being said, member George Harrison would often try and prove his importance and worth, because he saw himself as an asset to the band (he had his own set of problems, let’s not go there). On one occasion, in order to exert his dominance, Harrison demanded to go solo on a part, claiming that his being the lead guitarist in the band gave him that edge. John, in order to avoid conflict, supposedly went along with the idea of giving the lead to Harrison, despite facing failure and disappointment with the project. Maintaining peace in order to avoid confrontation sounds like a very INFP move.
John could be quite rude and loud at times, meanwhile McCartney was viewed as the polite, soft-spoken one, but I’m going to address this point again with the concept of the shadow self.
INFPs are known to be idealists, so they often get fixated on doing the best job, no matter how much time and effort it takes. They can be perfectionists, at the risk of seeming annoying to other people. However, John sometimes appeared to be impatient, fidgety, and irritable; willing and ready to half-ass a project and moving on to the next one.
INFPs can be really sensitive and usually don’t take criticism well. They take things too personally, and end up backing off from the person who gave them the negative feedback. While John was known to show irritability, he appeared to have grown a much thicker skin as compared to Paul, and would take criticism as an opportunity to improve. But people also view this as a sign of maintaining peace and avoiding conflict; that Lennon wouldn’t rock the boat until and unless it was related to something he’d feel passionately about.
Moreover, when the band first came together, John was viewed as the leader and mediator who’d step-in whenever conflict would arise. He later on gave up his leadership position, and would sit back and let Harrison and McCartney deal with their differences on their own.
Now, INFPs do make for great leaders, and Lennon was one too, but these introverted feelers rarely ever choose to be in the leadership position, as they prefer to not be in the spotlight. So, on one hand, this would be on-brand for John as an INFP. On the other hand, however, INFPs prefer being the referee or the mediator to help people deal with their conflicts without causing serious damage to their relationships. They are known as the Mediators in the MBTI world. What could possibly urge Lennon to step down from that role?
Again, this major shift in his personality or the abandonment of INFP values could be rooted in some of the other troubles that plagued the mind of this fine, talented musician.
INFPs have high levels of creativity, sure, but it is difficult to point out whether Lennon was more inclined towards individuality, or group efforts. Because he would develop different ideas using random bursts of creative energy on his own, but then he would also consult and develop his ideas, and polish them further with help of the rest of the group.
An INFP Lennon, channelling his shadow self.
MBTI types, when hurting, tend to switch to their shadow selves.
So, the shadow self of any type is basically all of the cognitive functions that come naturally to them when they’re healthy, switched around to become the exact opposite.
The reason why I wanted to address this is because it is mainly when an INFP is suffering that their shadow self takes over. So, maybe the reason why Lennon’s personality is so difficult to pin down is because he was a mess of a man, who had struggled his entire life with mental health issues that weren’t exactly addressed.
If we are to believe that John was an INFP who, if he were mentally healthy, would normally tune in to the Fi function to navigate his feelings related to the world around him; due to being in distress, began to use the Fe function instead.
Fe is extraverted feeling, and although it is not a negative function, when being channelled by a Fi using person, can prove to be catastrophic. Because, of course they wouldn’t be used to it.
So, an INFP who has a strong sense of self and a set of core values that define them, suddenly begins to rely on authority for their reality checks. They lose their sense of identity, and begin to compromise on their beliefs.
When an INFP no longer has their true identity of being a compassionate empath, they end up hurting a lot of people who may never understand what really is going on.
Similarly, when an INFP’s natural Te function gets replaced by its shadow self, the Ti (Introverted Thinking), it causes them to become oblivious to how their words and actions may impact other people around them. They become calculated and appear to not care about anybody else. They switch their focus to hard facts, and they become rather harsh about it, because, and let’s say it together, it does not come naturally to them. This could very well explain why John would appear to be rude and cold, while still being an INFP.
Because, let’s be real, his work reveals that he wanted to be authentic and genuine, and wrote music about people who weren’t true to themselves.
He was sarcastic, and had a very strong set of beliefs. He was often seen as an oddball, and was known to have an enormous personality. People called him cruel, kind, arrogant, yet naïve and gullible at the same time, and it just goes to show that he was a man who was at constant war with himself.
Whether John was an INFP or not may not be determinable now, but one thing is for sure; he was tired. He was struggling, and he was hurting, and he needed help but it never came. He died being in conflict with himself, never knowing who the real John Lennon was, and what his true potential as a human being could have been. But he left the world with a piece of himself in form of his art, which I would like to believe is an absolute INFP thing to do.