Entry number three in my whistle-stop tour of MBTI brings us to consider ISFP (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving), more commonly entitled “The Composer”.
Important to this personality type is the desire to be free from constraint, a feature which is almost always central to anyone fitting this type. This desire to be free gives this type a keen connection to conventions, often leading them to become preoccupied with them. ISFPs always know what is going on around them, for they live for the present and remain in tune with it. Commonly, Composers have difficulty with standardised methods of learning, instead seeking to learn by experience and practice, which they are able to do efficiently, this forming a huge part of their lives. When they discover a skill which they enjoy, an ISFP will devote hours of their time to perfecting it, not out of a sense of duty, but out of genuine enjoyment. This heavy reliance on experience allows them to excel at the physical, yet also leaves them with a desire for it, imbuing them with a passion for sensation. In turn, this causes ISFPs to occasionally display a risk-taking and competitive streak. ISFPs internalise their emotions, which leads to occasional outbursts which can appear episodic in nature, for they leave as quickly as they arrive. Due to this, many Composers are mistaken for extroverts. Composers are excellent performers, able to get the task done, though rarely do they find the need to speak of it afterwards. A final point of note for this type is their desire for the ideal, one which is self-defined.
The six characters I have placed in this role are: Bobby Singer, Jon Snow, Legion, Henry, Robert Frobisher and Merrill.
Whereas most ISFPs keep their fingers on the pulse in terms of fashion and gossip, Bobby’s focus on the present is expressed through his connections within the community of Hunters. He serves as a coordinator for many Hunters and is always aware of the rumours passing between them. In spite of his immersion within this community, Bobby is fiercely independent and I do not doubt that, given the option, he would retire to be on his own. He is certainly one to internalise his emotions, unwilling to share most of them, even with Sam and Dean. However, on occasion, he suffers from an outburst, though, in typical ISFP style, these leave as fast as they arrive. For a middle-aged man, Bobby displays remarkable physical prowess, which is not uncommon for this personality type. Though he is able to achieve much, he rarely speaks of it afterwards. He is a humble man. Interestingly, he is well-versed in monster lore, though he did not learn this in a traditional way, instead devoting his time to it and learning through experience.
As a relatively competent character, in terms of his sociability, one might be tempted to consider Jon Snow an extrovert, though this, I believe would be a mistake, and not an uncommon one, considering his position as an ISFP. From the outset, we can see his desire to be free. He has been raised in a noble house, true enough, though his adoptive mother is less than welcoming (Catelyn, oh how you have let me down!) and his position as a bastard does not endear him to others. When he takes his brief journey into the world of the Wildlings, we see his desire for liberty come to fruition. The experiential learning, competitive attitude and willingness to take risks are all displayed when he first arrives at the wall, with his almost arrogant interactions with the other recruits, and when he assumes the position of commander. He excels at the physical and sensory temptation has always been something he has contended with, though this becomes intensified during his tryst with Ygritte. Jon keeps his emotions locked inside, though has been known to release them on occasion. He is idealistic, to his own standard, though perhaps his desire to strive towards this is tempered by the harsh reality of the world in which he lives.
It is slightly more difficult to discuss a character whose modus vitae is so different from our own, perhaps even more so considering the fact that Legion is not only a machine, but somehow related to a collective or consensus. Regardless, I think there is a case to be made for placing Legion in this role and besides, I could never omit it from any chart involving Mass Effect characters, it is too wonderful! To begin with, Legion expresses the central desire to be free. In his case, the desire is closely linked to the stigma surrounding his kind, the Geth, which he believes (I would say correctly) to be misplaced. Much of what Legion strives to do is to integrate the Geth with the rest of the civilised galaxy. This task is a great one and requires a huge amount of risk, which it willingly faces, another sign of support for the role of Composer. In this case, it is driven towards a personalised ideal. As a machine, Legion’s emotions become slightly more difficult to discuss than others’, though I would argue that it certainly has something resembling them and that it often keeps that under control, though does express them at a few points. Often, the emotion is a form of excitement or distress. Legion is also exceptionally able to perform physical tasks, such as the operation of a sniper rifle, though once he has performed, he does not reflect on it.
If there is something going on in Storybrooke, it is more than likely that Henry knows about it. He is involved in the lives of everybody else, forming a central point in the community, occasionally serving to tie others together. Furthermore, he lives in the present in the sense that he is willing to overlook another’s past, forgiving Regina in spite of the many acts of evil she has committed. His love of stories has led him to devoting hours of time reading about them, having memorised at least the general outline of almost every tale within his book. Additionally, Henry is idealistic, seeking to create harmony between people who have long histories together. Henry is also a relatively quiet character, keeping his emotions in most of the time, though able to express them on occasion.
Though he is an actual composer, Robert fits this personality type in more than just name. On first examination, he seems to have the requisite social confidence to be considered an extrovert, though I think that we should be cautious in placing him into this category, for the majority of the material which might give this impression is his private correspondence with his lover, which will be more open than usual. He has the requisite desire for freedom, though rather than independence, he is largely defined by his desire to have enough freedom to impress the conventional structures of society, of which he is largely aware. He is involved with the musical world in the sense that he knows what is going on, even if he himself is not centrally involved. He is willing to take risks, evidenced not only by his relationships with Sixsmith, Eva and Jocasta, but also in his seeking out placement with Vyvyan Ayrs. His three relationships are evidence of his enjoyment of sensory activity, in the form of sex, and also of another ISFP trait: the desire to live out, rather than think about, Id experiences. Needless to say, his love of music is clear within the text and he could only have achieved such a ability through spending hours in practice.
As an Elven Keeper, Merrill is somewhat in tune with nature, which is a trait associated with some kinds of ISFP character. Of course, as a Composer, she desires to be free and in her case this desire extends to her entire people. She has given herself a quest, an ideal to be pursued, which is the rediscovery and restoration of the elven people, whom she considers to have been unfairly pushed to the edges of extinction, with servitude or exile from mainstream society being their only real options. In order to reach this goal, she is willing to take risks, the most evident of these dealing with demons and blood magic, with which she experiments and learns through a process of trial and error, rather than learning by rote. She is a mage of no small talent, yet she does not brag, performing and then falling silent as ISFPs are prone to do. Merrill is a quiet character, though she does have the occasional outburst of excitement and enthusiasm, though notably she often falls quiet at points where one might expect her to offer input. Curiously, whilst Merrill definitely loves her people and devotes hours of her time to fulfilling her goal, which involves honing her magical skill, this is mixed with a sense of duty, thus giving her a double motive, extending beyond the basic personality indicator.
The next entry will concern The Protector – ISFJ (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging) and shall be the last entry for the IS profiles. After that, we’ll be taking a look at the ES (Extroverted Sensing) profiles.