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Are All INFJs Considered 'Neurodivergent'

With numerous debates on INFJ forums, articles and comment sections, it’s a common theme for some people to think that this complex personality type is simply neurodiverse in nature. A term used to explain someone who shows neurologically atypical patterns of thought or behavior, is it true that all INFJs are considered neurodiverse?

1. External Stimuli Can Become Overwhelming

With extroverted sensing and introverted intuition, the INFJ personality type can certainly relate to some high-functioning neurodiverse diagnoses. Whether it’s high-functioning autism or ADHD, compared to a so-called neurotypical individual, the INFJ personality type also experiences sensitivities to the stimuli produced by their outer world.

Loud sounds, bright lights, strong smells, and even people’s energies make a major impact on the INFJ and how they enjoy their time. Often considered a “highly sensitive person” or HSP, with such sensitivities, INFJs are able to pick up on the details around them that most people miss.

However, it can also lead to them feeling overwhelmed by their environment and unable to focus on what they’re doing. While some people who experience neurodivergence can become overwhelmed by temperature changes and textures, most of the INFJ’s sensitivities come from too much intake of information.

So, while there are many similarities between the unique mix of cognitive functions that make both the INFJ and the average neurodivergent individual sensitive to their surroundings, it’s hard to say if it's a clear-cut sign that the two are one in the same.

2. They Have a Superior Ability to Recognize Patterns

Observant and analytical, the INFJ type is known for their keen abilities pertaining to pattern recognition. With their unique cognitive mix of introverted intuition, extroverted feeling, introverted thinking and extroverted sensing, the INFJ is easily able to connect the dots to any situation.

Speaking of their ability to pick up on the details that most people overlook, INFJs are able to decode, inspect, research and conclude some of the most impossible obstacles. Whether it’s simply a curiosity they have, or a larger challenge that requires prompt problem solving, the INFJ type can file through the information they subconsciously absorbed in order to understand every angle and perspective in minutes. Ironically, this behavior is a common trait amongst neurodivergent individuals.

Both have the uncanny ability to subconsciously read people’s behaviors, notice the most minute details, and then web their thoughts together to create an accurate depiction of what is going on. Which brings us to..

3. Out of the Box Thinking

Besides the commonality of pattern recognition, the INFJ personality type and a high-functioning neurodivergent have something else in common. Out of the box thinking is the fuel to all of the INFJ’s most vibrant ideas, goals, and pursuits in life. With the ability and sometimes the overall need to look past societal norms, surface-level thinking doesn’t cut it for the INFJ personality type.

They don’t feel pressured to always follow the rules and expectations of those around them, and as a result, this introverted intuitive allows their imaginations to run wild. INFJs enjoy being able to look at things in different ways and don’t always want to approach life from a strict regimen or pattern.

Once again, this is another common assumption for those who are diagnosed with some form of neurodivergence. With such introspection and the need to go within, both the INFJ and the average neurodivergent person are introspective and use their minds to approach things from their own unique perspective rather than putting limits on how they think due to the expectations of those around them.

4. Empathy Isn’t Always a Great Discerning Measure

Despite the numerous similarities of the INFJ personality type and the potential conclusion of neurodivergence, some rely on empathy as a simple discerning measure. Most specifically, those who are on the autism spectrum disorder have been previously understood to have difficulties when it comes to relating to other’s emotions and feelings.

With that information, some INFJs claim to be ‘too empathetic’ to be on the spectrum, using this biased piece of information as a deciding factor. However, some sources claim this lack of empathy to be a false narrative.

In fact, according to “Research from 2018 has shown that autistic people may have difficulties with cognitive empathy ie. recognizing another person's emotional state, but not affective empathy ie. the ability to feel another's emotional state and a drive to respond to it.

And so, while it may seem like an easy way to tell whether or not these similarities mean the INFJ is in fact neurodivergent in this regard, it may not be such an accurate way to go about it.

5. INFJs Use ‘Masking’ in Most Social Situations

“Masking: A term that refers to the way in which people who are neurodivergent may hide their symptoms in order to fit in with society.” Commonly used amongst communities and professionals who work with neurodivergent individuals, masking is used to hide seemingly odd or often misunderstood traits of a neurodiverse person.

Very similar to an INFJ’s ability to utilize their ‘chameleon-like’ social skills, neurodivergent masking is often done with a combination of intentional and subconscious actions. Just like the INFJ type, through years of practice, high-functioning neurodivergent individuals learn how to act just like everyone else around them in order to fit in for social reasons.

Unfortunately, as most people with the INFJ personality type know, masking can only be done for short periods of time. If overused, this tactic can lead to burnout, exhaustion, anxiety and even a difficulty in knowing who they truly are. Both neurodiverse and INFJ individuals require the time to retreat, rest, and recharge, resulting in turning down some social outings and the label of being considered introverted at heart.

6. They Find It Seriously Challenging to Find Their Place in the World

Speaking of introversion.. It’s fair to say that one definite thing both INFJs and neurodivergent individuals share in common is their confusion when it comes to their place in this world. With an underlying feeling of being a foreigner on their own planet, in their own friend groups, and even within their own families, there’s something about their differences that make them feel lost and excluded in multiple areas of life.

Whether it’s the inability to relate to other’s passions, desires and life goals, or it’s in the way they’re unable to easily make the same connection others seem to create so effortlessly, there’s something about their internal self-image and their unique understanding of the world that makes their interconnectedness slightly off kilter.

Of course, it’s not to say that anyone who has ever felt this way in the world must be either an INFJ or neurodivergent, it’s certainly a commonality between these two that is difficult to dismiss entirely.

7. Neurodivergence Can Cloud Existing Cognitive Functions

The most difficult component to this interesting debate is that neurodivergence affects one’s personality. This means that despite the possibility of being a more extroverted personality type, or any other personality type in the MBTI, neurodivergence can overrule some of the underlying cognitive functions one may have.

Despite all the similarities with the INFJ personality type, one may hold certain qualities, habits and interests that have nothing to do with the INFJ type at all. Aside from their typical neurodivergent traits that may have led them to being typed as an INFJ, one may actually prefer to be surrounded by people, despite their difficulty with socializing.

They may strive to become a part of communities, while the INFJ prefers to be on their own. Or they may utilize opposing traits to the INFJ that aren’t related to their neurodivergence in other ways. And lastly,

8. Correlation and Causation Are Very Different

In the end, there’s one thing to keep in mind when it comes to the debate of the INFJ type and neurodivergence, and that’s the reminder of correlation vs. causation. Through the numerous posts, articles, comments and questions amongst the MBTI community, it becomes very obvious that while some people with the INFJ type may in fact be neurodivergent, others simply don’t relate.

It’s fair to say that many people with an INFJ personality type are somewhere on the neurodiversity spectrum. And yet, some INFJs don’t relate to the notion of neurodivergence at all, deeming their cognitive functions as clear reasoning to back up their habits and differences.

With each conclusion being a personal understanding, neither position should be looked down upon or dismissed. Rather, the comparative levels of quirky uniqueness should be celebrated!