Everyone has good days and bad days; every type enjoys successes and suffers through failures. Yet we each react to those same successes and failures differently, depending on our cognition. The things we value most, and the things we focus on most, determine how we subconsciously interpret everything that happens to us. While our Type Specialization reflects what we most desire out of life, every cognitive type also has a Type Angst, a reaction to our deepest fears, worries, and insecurities.
Of course, anyone can be afraid of anything. And anyone, of any type, can suffer from any weakness. In fact, it’s much easier to gain the unique weaknesses of other types than it is to gain their unique strengths! When we attempt to adopt the strengths of another type before mastering our own, usually all we end up with is the weaknesses of both and the strengths of neither. Yet each cognitive type has one deepest, most fundamental worry, resulting from their unique order of cognition steps.
Each type’s Angst is laid out in detail within their Cognitive Orientation Guidebooks (COGs), linked individually below, but here’s a quick overview of each type’s greatest fear.
ENFJ The Faramir Dilemma
“So… this is the answer to all the riddles…
a chance for Faramir, captain of Gondor, to show his quality.”
– Faramir, Captain of Gondor – Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers film
The ENFJ Veteran’s central fear, beneath all others, is that nothing they do ever really makes a difference for anybody. That no matter how much they do, or how much they care, all their supporting and teaching and helping ends up having no real effect.
The Faramir Dilemma is the tendency to turn a blind eye to cruelty, selfishness, or pettiness, in an attempt to keep everyone in the group happy. Since Veterans already fear that nothing they do will have any beneficial effect anyway, they feel that there’s no point in trying to stand up against people they care about even when they know they’re in the wrong. They may have even tried, many times, to defend people who were being hurt, but felt that it didn’t really solve the problem. So rather than add to discord by standing up for people who need it, Veterans can be tempted to pretend that nothing’s wrong in their group, that bullying and spite aren’t actually happening, and that everyone will get along just fine if the Veteran keeps pretending everything’s okay.
ENFP The McFly Conviction
“Nobody… calls me… chicken!” – Marty McFly – Back to the Future II
The ENFP Standard Bearer’s central fear, beneath all others, is that their feelings, desires, and emotions don’t matter. That they’re not valid. That everything they’ve ever been through, everything that’s ever mattered to them, is foolish, pointless, and ultimately ridiculous.
The McFly Conviction is the burning desire to prove that your feelings and thoughts are valid. This is good, but in their eagerness to prove it, it’s all too easy for ENFPs to end up pushing down others’ feelings in order to assert their own. If they feel stupid, they might find themselves treating others as stupid in an effort to prove their own validity. If they feel irresponsible, unworthy, unenlightened, or any other negative feeling, they might be surprised to realize that they start treating others that way as an attempt to build themselves up. McFly Conviction causes Standard Bearers to sabotage their own treasured specialization, pushing down the validity of other people instead of building them up.
ENTJ The Great and Powerful Trixie Tantrum
“Who is so ignorant as to challenge the magical ability
of The Great and Powerful Trixie?
Do they not know that they are in the presence of
the most magical unicorn in all of Equestria?!”
– The Great and Powerful Trixie – My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
The ENTJ Crusader’s central fear, beneath all others, is that nobody cares about what they have to say. They worry that people easily grow tired of listening to them, or annoyed with what they’re saying, or simply that others have better things to do with their time than pay attention to the things the Crusader cares about.
The Trixie Tantrum is the desire to try to get people’s attention by talking more, talking louder, more boldly, more cleverly, more charismatically, more musically or intellectually or whatever it ends up taking. After all, ENTJs know how much their insights, ideas, and talents mean to them, so there must be a way to get others to see it too! Some Crusaders pursue the loud and impressive route, while others tend to be quietly determined in an almost nonstop, dogged explanation of their beliefs. Either method can have the effect of pushing others away, though. Whether by shouting over what anyone else has to say, or by quietly repeating the same soapbox all the time, ENTJ Crusaders can turn your fear into a reality by making sure that fewer and fewer people want to take the time to listen to them.
Read more here.
ENTP Megamind Complex
“No matter how hard I tried, I was always the odd man out, the last one picked, the screw-up, the black sheep… the bad boy. Was this my destiny?
Wait. Maybe it was! Being bad is the one thing I’m good at!
Then it hit me: if I was the bad boy,
then I was going to be the baddest boy of them ALL!”
– Megamind – Megamind
The ENTP Swashbuckler’s central fear, beneath all others, is that they are not good. That they are not reliable, not dependable or responsible, that they explore too far and color too much outside the lines, and therefore that they are not a good or worthwhile person in the end.
Megamind Complex is the surrender to being bad, even and especially when you aren’t really bad in the first place. In a healthy effort to accept themselves, Swashbucklers can end up accepting false, negative images of themselves as part of the package. Some do this with flair, embracing all their forbidden color in the face of anyone who dares to criticize them, while others quietly try to keep their heads down and avoid embarrassing themselves. This quieter Megamind Complex robs others of the unique light, beauty, and color that the Swashbuckler can shine out with, while the louder, more Megamind-ish approach keeps everyone at arm’s length.
There is nothing wrong with a Swashbuckler who embraces their color and style; that’s their Type Specialization! But when ENTPs feel tempted to succumb to the lie that their unique flair makes them irresponsible or bad, then Megamind Complex can cause them to push others away in quiet or loud ways. Megamind Complex causes Swashbucklers to sabotage their own treasured specialization, with defiance or shame limiting the possibilities of who they can be, instead of leaving them free to observe and explore themselves.
ESFJ The Leslie Knope Marathon
“There’s nothing we can’t do if we work hard, never sleep, and shirk all other responsibilities in our lives!”
– Leslie Knope – Parks and Recreation
The ESFJ Cavalry’s central fear, beneath all others, is that they have to work twice as hard as everyone else, just to keep up. That no matter how hard they try, they’re always letting someone down, falling short, or simply failing due to their lack of natural ability.
The Leslie Knope Marathon is the frantic desire to do everything, and get it done right now. An ESFJ may make plans, chart their course, and tell themselves that with enough sheer grit and willpower, they can discipline themselves to fulfill all their goals. It should come as no surprise that this never works out very well. They’re still a person, and people need emotional sustenance in order to accomplish anything. But when the Leslie Knope Marathon strikes, they may try to tell themselves that they’re doing just fine, that they’re tough and don’t need rest or refueling.
The result is either a breakdown amid the collapse of overscheduled goals, or a growing hardness and bitterness as the Cavalry tries to suppress their healthy human need for recharging. Often both. The Leslie Knope Marathon causes ESFJ Cavalry to sabotage their own treasured specialization, frantically rushing everything and squeezing the joy out of everyone’s experiences.
Read more here.
ESFP Fry Future Phobia
“What you say the three of us grab a six pack
and watch the universe end?”
– Philip J. Fry – Futurama
The ESFP Morale Officer’s central fear, beneath all others, is that nothing they do will ever have any lasting effect on anyone. They fear that they can make people happy for now, but in the end they won’t have really made a difference.
Fry Future Phobia is the aversion to anything that requires short-term pain, sacrifice, or conflict for the sake of long-term benefit. After all, when an ESFP fears that nothing they do will really have any long-term effects, why waste the present on ineffective sacrifices? Morale Officers are supposed to focus on bringing real happiness and peace into people’s lives as they already are, so it’s natural for them to focus on enjoying the moment and helping others enjoy it too. But when Fry Future Phobia strikes, an ESFP is willing to throw away the future, making decisions that will be terribly costly down the road, if it means having a better time in the present.
Read more here.
ESTJ Threehorn Pride
“See? I can take care of myself, all by myself! I know my way to go!”
– Cera the Triceratops – The Land Before Time
As an ESTJ Cannon, your central fear, beneath all others, is that you are not enlightened, inspired, or meaningful. You fear that you’re just too focused on what needs to be done, when you hunger for deeper significance. Regardless of whether or not it’s true, you fear that you’re simply not deep, philosophical, or enlightened enough.
Threehorn Pride is the assertion that an ESTJ Cannon is already as enlightened as they’ll ever need to be. Of course, they probably are very enlightened and thoughtful, whether they realize it or not! There’s such a uniquely strong meaning in being so useful. But Threehorn Pride becomes a problem when it seeks to assert their meaningfulness over the meaning of others, or when it outright declares that no one’s really meaningful anyway, and that anyone who appears to be enlightened should ease up and get over themselves. This second, more cynical approach is just a defensive coping mechanism; when an ESTJ feels unenlightened, they may roll their eyes at so many things, attitudes, and people that genuinely are so good, so meaningful, and so precious and needed.
Read more here.
ESTP Jayne Justification
[To Dr. Simon Tam] “Tell me, Lil’ Miss Big Words,
you see a pyramid sittin’ out there? Neither do I.
So here, let me pour you a big frosty mug of ‘shut-the-h*ll-up’.”
– Jayne Cobb – Firefly
The ESTP Spartan’s central fear, beneath all others, is that they aren’t naturally intelligent. They may compensate by talking nonstop about how intelligent they really are, or they may immerse themselves in not-so-brainy pursuits, taking pride in a certain practical sense and wit, but deep down they’re still afraid that they’re actually dumb.
Jayne Justification is the assertion that people other than the ESTP aren’t really so smart, and that their form of cleverness is actually a great deal better. Of course there’s a lot of truth to this; many people who parade themselves as smart can be very foolish, because they’re only smart about a few niche things. And as an ESTP, a Spartan’s Type Specialization is celebrating and using the person they already are to the utmost, so they’re naturally protective of their own abilities, experiences, and insights. But Jayne Justification becomes a problem when it starts tearing down others in the drive to feel smart, or when it gets them to cope by saying they never wanted to be smart in the first place.
INFJ Hercules Syndrome
“You know when I was a kid, I would have given anything to be exactly like everybody else.”
– Hercules – Hercules
The INFJ Paladin’s central fear, beneath all others, is that the real them is fundamentally not likeable, not acceptable, and just too different from everybody else. The Paladin may love the person they are, but they fear that they must show only little bits and pieces of themselves to the world; they worry that if anyone sees the real them, others will roll their eyes at best.
Hercules Syndrome is the tendency to feel shame and embarrassment about the things that make the INFJ Paladin unlike everybody else. But the parts of a Paladin that make them so different—their guilty fascination with universal principles on a cosmic, eternal level—are their Type Specialization, and therefore their greatest strengths! But INFJs fear that if anyone knew about this secret love, those people would think the INFJ was kinda strange and certainly uncool. So the Paladin may overcompensate against the meaningful infinite, burying their greatest strength in an attempt to prove that there really is more to them than this profoundly serious side. Of course INFJs can be fun and spontaneously unexpected, but it’s their secret affair with universal principles that gives them such a unique and hilarious propensity for joy in the moment. When they try to bury their strength to prove that they’re sufficiently normal, INFJ Paladins lose their most likeable, most fun, and coolest source of charm.
INFP The Great Pumpkin Distraction
“If the Great Pumpkin comes, I’ll still put in a good word for you!
Good grief! I said ‘if’! I meant, ‘when’ he comes! I’m doomed.
One little slip like that could cause the Great Pumpkin to pass you by.”
– Linus van Pelt – It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
The INFP Ranger’s central fear, beneath all others, is that they’re out of touch. That they dig so deep into meaningful quandaries, that they’ll lose your bearings in the rest of the wide world as life speeds on.
The Great Pumpkin Distraction is the tendency to imply that specific observations of what may be true in one situation are the same as universal principles that are always true in every situation. Faced with the sheer size and frightening complexity of the universe as a whole, it can be tempting for INFPs to act as if their zoomed-in observations of meaning are in fact universally useful, and that therefore they aren’t out of touch with the world.
It’s good for Rangers to zoom in, to dive deep into questions of meaningful possibilities and even to get a little lost in labyrinths of philosophy. But when they feel embarrassed and out of touch due to this deep diving, the Great Pumpkin Distraction leads them to cope by implying that their specialized knowledge is the universal zenith of all meaning. And like Linus’s venerated Great Pumpkin, such localized ideals tend to become actually out of touch.
Rangers are excellent askers of philosophical questions, but it’s hard to ask a question when you have to act as if you already have all the answers. INFPs are not naturally good at comprehensively answering the questions they pose, so when they try to force an answer, they are likely to end up with simplistic truisms that require numerous exceptions and special considerations, rather than an elegant principle that truly works universally. This can not only cause an INFP to look even more out of touch than they initially feared, but it can also prevent further pursuit of meaningful inquiry. Any attitude that your truly significant insights are the highest, most edifying truths in the world ends up stopping your quest for greater mysteries. In this way, the Great Pumpkin Distraction causes Rangers to sabotage their own treasured specialization, standing in the way of questions rather than leading the way in asking them.
INTJ Anakin Angst
“You will not understand what I have to do… you will try to stop me… I’m sorry.”
Anakin Skywalker, Star Wars: The Clone Wars
The INTJ Dragon’s central fear, beneath all others, is that everything bad that happens is ultimately their fault. That if only they’d tried harder, been a little better, a little faster or smarter or more virtuous or something, then they would have been able to protect good things and prevent failure.
Anakin Angst is the tendency to seize control of situations, people, and events in order to help them become everything an INTJ Dragon knows they can be. This comes from a great desire: after all, INTJ’s Type Specialization is all about using principles to help the world become everything it can be. But with their difficulty in observing people and individuals’ motives, and the resulting difficulty in anticipating people’s complex and changing needs, an INTJ can frequently cause more difficulty in others’ lives when they seize control. Whether they’re trying to fix individuals, situations, or the world at large, a Dragon’s good intentions can lead to awful pain if they try to control too much. INTJ Dragons are good at fixing things and are great at seeing the trends of life and knowing how to help them run better, but only when they resist the temptation to control too much.
INTP The Moriarty Fear
“I’ve shown you what I can do.
I’ve cut loose all those people, all those little problems.
Even thirty million quid just to get you to come out and play. So take this as a friendly warning, my dear. Back off… I’m going to kill you anyway someday. I don’t want to rush it though. I’m saving it up for something special…
If you don’t stop prying I will burn you. I will burn the heart out of you.”
Jim Moriarty, BBC’s Sherlock
The INTP Alchemist’s central fear, beneath all others, is that they are second rate, and therefore obsolete. Specifically, they fear that they are second rate at the things they most love to specialize in; that for all their focus, all their study and thought and emphasis, they will never be the best, making all their effort moot.
Moriarty fear is the competitive desire to push others down in order to be at the top. Rather than simply enjoying the thrill of discovery, the excitement of posing new questions and the satisfying click of concepts fitting together, Moriarty Fear tells Alchemists that none of that matters if they can’t be the best at the things they explore. If they can’t be the smartest kid in their particular class, then they feel worthless. They may react by nihilistically implying that no one else has any worth either, in order to make themselves feel less alone in their imagined insignificance. Or they may try to find a new specialization that they can be the best at, and try to push down the efforts and successes of a new class of competitors.
Meanwhile, the sheer existence of other disciplines outside one’s own chosen specialty also feeds the fear of cosmic irrelevance, causing INTPs to feel the need to imply that others’ specializations don’t really matter. Yet even while Moriarty Fear tempts Alchemists to act as if their own area of expertise is the best, most useful, and most important, it also impels them to try to prove that they can do it all. That they’re so skilled, so naturally able, that they don’t have to specialize; they can show the universe how meaningful they are by mastering everything. Such broad mastery is not where zoomed-in Alchemists excel, and it frequently results in embarrassment, but they shouldn’t have to feel like they need to prove their worth by excelling at everything. INTPs are supposed to specialize, and they need to feel free to do so with devoted passion.
ISFJ The Westen Reluctance
“I don’t know if my reasons are that different from anybody else who likes the feel of a trigger on their finger. I wish I understood, I just don’t…”
– Michael Westen – Burn Notice
The ISFJ Knight’s central fear, beneath all others, is that they are too crude, too animal, too influenced by their raw chemistry and baser instincts. While the Knight may adore the purity they see in others, the touch of divinity and heavenly light in those who seem to be not entirely of this earth, they fear that they could never be more than mud and blood.
Westen Reluctance is the desire for ISFJ Knights to keep their head down and do as they’re told, even when they know they shouldn’t. Worried that they lack wisdom, they are likely to try to silence their own better judgment when it goes against those in authority over them, for fear that their meaningless impulses will hurt others if they don’t. Yet even when no actual person is giving them commands, culture and the world itself stand as the ultimate and constant authority figures. Since ISFJs desperately want to protect the good in the world, and should, they are usually more than willing to fight for and live by the expectations of their culture. But when the dictates of authority or cultural expectations stand in violation of universal principles, Westen Reluctance tempts Knights to ignore the precious truths they know to be right.
Since they struggle with character judgments, it is all too easy for ISFJs to assume that authority figures and the culture in general must be well-intentioned, well-informed, and couldn’t possibly have dangerous blind spots. It’s easiest for them to accept that the world is the way it is for good reasons, and that those they look to as leaders have good reasons for the choices they make. Yet unless a Knight is willing to take a stand and acknowledge when things are not right, unless a Knight is willing to fight the unpopular fight, the losing fight, the fight against everything they want to serve in order to uphold the universal principles that supersede all other authorities, they may find themselves in the service of trends that oppose all the principles that make life matter. Westen Reluctance causes Knights to sabotage their own treasured specialization, hurting the world instead of standing up and protecting it.
Read more here.
ISFP Banner Trepidation
“Your work on antielectron collisions is unparalleled.
And I’m a huge fan of the way you
lose control and turn into an enormous, green, rage monster.”
– Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Bruce Banner (The Hulk) – The Avengers
The ISFP Explorer’s central fear, beneath all others, is that they cannot keep anything from breaking. In the end, everything ends, everything dies or breaks or gets lost, and they worry that sooner or later, everything and everyone they love and cherish will go away too.
Banner Trepidation is the desire to hold desperately tight to ISFP’s personal world, even if it means they smother it to death in the process, and let everything else fall to pieces. The things an Explorer’s explored and the treasures they’ve gathered are so deeply important to them, and they should be. Yet Banner Trepidation becomes a problem when it causes ISFPs to neglect other important areas of life because they’re too busy trying to cling tightly to the treasures they fear to lose.
It can cause Explorers to turn a blind eye to the needs of others, caring only about protecting their own happiness. Or it can lead an ISFP to build a nice, pretty, impenetrable picket fence around their personal world, keeping everything good at bay in their desire to protect the good they already have. Before they know it, all the treasures within the bounds of their emotional fence will waste away, starving for exposure to the outside world. Banner Trepidation causes Explorers to sabotage their own treasured specialization, draining the joy out of each object and every experience in a vain attempt to keep everything pristine.
Read more here.
ISTJ Thranduil Denial
“Other lands are not my concern. The fortunes of the world will rise and fall,
but here in this kingdom, we will endure.”
– Thranduil, the Elvenking – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The ISTJ Sentinel’s central fear, beneath all others, is that they have no unique place in the world. That they have to bury themselves and blend in, because there is no special role or job for them. The fear that the best they can do is try to serve well in others’ roles, because they don’t really have one of their own.
Thranduil Denial is the insistence that no one’s place in the world really matters. As a healthy attempt to deal with the fear of not having a place among everyone else, Sentinels often do their best to build up their own little kingdoms in order to create a safe world of their own. Yet as the fear of having no place persists, even within the safety of one’s own constructed world, an ISTJ can react by declaring that nothing outside their guarded world really matters anyway. All the ignorant little people outside don’t actually have a place either; they’re just deluding themselves into thinking they have a purpose.
This results in growing resentment and suspicion of anyone not part of the ISTJ’s private dominion, as the fear ever grows that the outside world will creep in, rip down the world they love, and reveal that the ISTJ never really had a kingdom to begin with. Thranduil Denial causes Sentinels to sabotage their own treasured specialization, denying the realities of the world as it is, for fear of losing the private world they’ve built.
Read more here.
ISTP Snape Superiority
“Fools who wear their hearts proudly on their sleeves,
who cannot control their emotions,
who wallow in sad memories and allow themselves to be provoked this easily
—weak people, in other words…”
– Professor Severus Snape – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix novel
The ISTP Weapons Specialist’s central fear, beneath all others, is that they are an outsider, never really part of the group of “normal” people. Their experiences are their own, and so they worry that they cannot ever really identify with everyone else.
Snape Superiority is the assertion that the reason an ISTP Weapons Specialist is not part of the group is because their unique experiences make them better than the group. Wiser, cleverer, more practical, even more social; in whatever way they justify it, Snape Superiority tells ISTPs that others just aren’t up to their high standards. This leads to the attitude that a Weapon Specialist’s experiences and knowhow are more important than their relationships with others. That they don’t need to have friends, and that they certainly don’t need to be concerned with being liked; their superior knowledge, skill, and experience are far more useful.
Likewise, Snape Superiority can tempt a Weapons Specialist to act as if their personal area of expertise is the best, most useful, most practical or even the most meaningful, and that anyone without sufficient skill at it must be stupid, lazy, or worthless. There is nothing wrong with ISTPs specializing; specialization is their unique Type Specialization! But they need to beware of oversimplifying the wide complexity of the world by implying that everyone must specialize, or even that others must specialize in what an ISTP Weapons Specialist specializes in.
Read more here.
I hope these give you a good overview of each type’s central fear and the most common ways that the types cope with them. I’m looking forward to giving a more thorough look at the patterns behind Type Angsts, and how to best overcome them, in future Super Simple posts!
On the aLBoP Guided Tour? You’ve reached the last stop for now! :'( But don’t worry! That means you’re ready to invite yourself to Phase 2! And believe me, there’s plenty to read over there! Thanks for sticking around and showing us your love! <3s