ISFP - David Keirsey


Profile by David Keirsey

ISFPs are found in about 6 percent of the general population. The best name for this type is free spirit, for they have an intense need for freedom. The simple rural life, life in the wilderness, the tribal/communal life-all these may call them. Their need for social interaction, however, is not as great as that of the type they most resemble, the ESFP. So an ISFP may forgo all social ties of any duration to preserve the freedom to wander. The lyric, "I was born under a wandering star...", might capture the spirit of the ISFP in this respect. The flower children of the 1960's may have been largely ISFPs, though the ESFPs also seem attracted to communing with others.

ISFPs also resemble INFPs in needing to achieve intensity of feeling. The focus, however, with the ISFPs seems to be more on the sensuous side than the meaningful side. The ISFP is orgastic, in the sense, demanding of life that it provide the excitement and pleasure of drinking deeply at the Dionysian well. Not revelry (that is the forte of the ESFP) but experience is what attracts the ISFP to these kinds of activities. Music, like wine, is incorporated and internalized, and the introverted nature of the ISFP requires this internalization. There is a reason why the flower became the symbol for what the flower children wanted: Flowers are warm, alive, sweet, colorful, rhythmic, natural, absolute, needing no statement, no interpretation-a pure being-in-self.

ISFPs are not articulate. They communicate through action. They do not verbalize their meanings, but, for example, offer a lovely flower and a smile. Their actions speak of the pastoral and the bucolic.


They do not seek philosophy or science or literature. These are too distant from life for the ISFPs. They seek, rather, the pounding surf, the river, the forest, the ship, the truck, the racing car, the horse, the potter's wheel, the hoist, the bulldozer-some kind of action where they can keep their fingers on the pulse of life.


It is not that people are unimportant to the ISFP-indeed they are-but people are more the framework for the activities of the ISFP, providing a shadowy background. Perhaps this type is the least understood of all the types-and yet often the most envied. They are so fiercely independent and insistent that they live in and for the moment, in action, fully savoring the urges they feel and discharge, that others often find them difficult to comprehend or understand. Gaugin, perhaps, provides a prototype of the ISFP as he walked away from his affluent position in society, off to Tahiti to an unknown future, and without a backward glance!


At midlife ISFPs may be subject to strong temptation to follow Gaugin's lead, to abandon their current style of life, and sacrifice home, children, and mate for the lure of the unknown bucolic life. The cost of following this impulse must, of course, be reckoned. If the ISFP has not found in work a source of pleasure which continues past midlife, he or she may want to opt for an early retirement and enter into a new career where their need to be close to nature can be satisfied.


Pursuit of two themes-closeness to nature and artistic activity-places the ISFP quite a distance from the utilitarian outlook. Yet it is precisely that outlook that seems to attract the bucolic spirit. The opposite on the N side is the ENTJ "fieldmarshal," the most militant of all types in his desire to run things. ISFP is most likely to become a pacifist or environmentalist, and yet also is likely to seek out the person who is temperamentally suited to tactical leadership, military or otherwise. ISFP is likewise attracted to the ESTJ "administrator," the person temperamentally suited to be "in charge" of establishments. Note that the person most likely to deprecate the establishment is attracted to the head of an establishment. It is rather doubtful, should an ISFP actually marry an ENTJ or ESTJ, that there is any intent or desire to change the spouse into a pastoral. Of all types, ISFP is most likely to "let be" whoever or whatever. It seems more likely that the latter provides a kind of anchorage to enterprise and to civilization.


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