I know I've said it before, but I'm going to go over the cognitive functions of an ISFJ yet again.
The ISFJ is comprised of 4 cognitive functions in this order:
Si (internal sensing)
Fe (external feeling)
Ti (internal thinking)
Ne (external intuiting)
What you all want to know is what do these words mean and how do I recognize them in the people around me, correct?
We'll start at the very beginning, with the highest function, Si.
Si means this person is bound by memory. Everything an Si user does is based off where they have been before and what they have experienced before. Objects tie into memories for a top-function Si user, making them sentimental and nostalgic. They will keep things from their childhood that have no meaning to anyone else. That crappy necklace might be all gross and tarnished now, but it was a gift from their great-grandmother and they remember the loving hug Grams gave them along with the gift. They will most likely love holidays and decorate like crazy, and all those little knick-knacks cluttering their living space all have a specific meaning and purpose. They surround themselves with items that are born out of positive memories, in a way creating a positive energy in their life experiences.
Another aspect of the top-function Si user is that they are traditional. You really don't find a more traditional personality type, much to the frustration of many other types. The ISFJ is tied to their family traditions, to the way they were raised, and they struggle to change that. sometimes this leads to them staying in a bad situation, but most of the time it simply means they carry on with family tradition that has been around for generations.
How do you recognize this aspect in an ISFJ?
Let's use Cap as an example. Captain America has a set of core values that he will not deviate from, the values set by his life in the 1930s and 1940s. This means that when he sees Shield starting to emulate the bad news boys of his time in WWII, he starts getting suspicious. He's seen it before and it was bad then and it will be bad now. What does Cap's apartment look like? He has a record player for crying out loud! He still has all the music he has always listened to, and he still wears the very basic clothing that he has always worn. When push comes to shove in The Winter Soldier, he steals back his suit from the 1940s. Given a choice, what does his motorcycle look like? It's a classic bike, guys, not a new one, but a classic one. Captain America loves his past. It has made him who he is and so he surrounds himself with things that remind him of it so he will not lose the man he is in this new society in which he finds himself.
On to the second function of an ISFJ, the external feeling function, Fe.
This is a very basic function, and simply means that that external feelers, like me, experience compassion for other people. This isn't saying that internal feelers can't be compassionate, because they can, but it is ingrained in external feelers to do something for others, to make their lives more comfortable in some way. Sometimes this means they are not as in tune with their own emotions and if asked, might not know the answer to something as simple as "What is your favorite movie?"
How is this recognizable in the ISFJ?
And we're back to Captain America examples. What has he always done? He defends the rights of other people. Cap doesn't fight for himself, but humanity as a whole. He literally became a Capcicle to save other people (and don't even go there about how he didn't have to do that). Cap was not going to leave the sinking airship in The Winter Soldier without Bucky, even if it meant that staying might kill him. He doesn't give any thought to his own personal safety, only the safety of the people he loves. In this, yes, the ISFJ has a flaw in that they are the ones to jump into the volcano as a sacrifice so someone else doesn't have to, but they are the great humanitarians so you can't expect anything else.
This other effect of Fe in the life of an ISFJ is that they often do not know their own feelings. Cap was attracted to Peggy from the get-go. We all knew it. But it took him years, literally YEARS, to take any action on it. It could be that he thought she wasn't really interested in him, or any one of a number of reasons, but he just couldn't take action on his own emotions because he wasn't entirely sure how to decipher them and what to do with them.
Basically, the ISFJ puts other people first and cares until they can literally drop.
The third function, Ti, is internal thinking and means, literally, how the ISFJ thinks.
An ISFJ with more fully developed Ti is capable of reasoning out problems and being very analytical. Internal thinking at the very basic level means the person does not necessarily plan out loud. It's an internal process, with the wheels silently turning. A Ti user tends to seek out answers to a multitude of questions. They do not limit themselves to just one simple answer and usually do consider other possibilities. Plus, they tend to be reasonable negotiators who work at finding a solution.
In this one moment allow me to deviate from Captain America. Think of Balin and Thorin in Thranduil's prisons. Yeah, Balin is an ISFJ and he would have done a much better job of negotiating than Thorin, who is all internal feeling, it's my way or the highway, I will never compromise because of what you've done to my family. It's the perfect example of how the ISFJ (Balin) and the ISTJ (Thorin) differ in how their Si/Fe and Si/Fi interact. Balin was there too when Thranduil did not help the dwarves, but he knew negotiating was the only solution to their predicament. Let's just say that in some cases, with the more mature ISFJ's, they are far more open-minded than some other types because their own emotions do not get in the way.
How does this look in the ISFJ?
Back to Cap, my favorite topic of the day. For Cap, his Ti works in creating order out of chaos. Look at how solidly his unit runs with him in charge. By unit I do mean his buddies from WWII since we all know the guys from Shield are jackasses. He sees where he needs to be and he finds a plan to get there. Make a plan, follow through. The ISFJ's are terrific planners, as my best friend is learning, and once an idea is hatched they find ways to make the plan a reality. Cap likes things to be ordered and structured, which is why he struggles with Iron Man's theatrics. Cap works inside of a plan and Iron Man works outside of a plan. Who gave the orders during the final battle of The Avengers? Yep, right the first time, it was Cap because he was the only one with a plan.
And finally, how Ne, external intuition, works in the ISFJ as the 4th function.
Intuition means, in a sense, reading people. Now, I will say that the ISFJ rarely uses their Ne, or at least I haven't really learned to recognize it. But, for some ISFJ's and myself too sometimes, it feels like a 6th sense. There are times when the ISFJ will know what you're going to say, will know what you're going to do. They may not know how, but this is their inferior Ne kicking in just a little bit. Many ISFJ's are also problem-solvers. This can make them a bit annoying at times, but they don't like to just hash over a problem without trying to find a logic-based solution.
And for our last, how does this look in the ISFJ?
As you know, Lord Grantham . . . just kidding, we're not leaving the Cap theme. Cap is a problem-solver. His intuition that something is wrong in that elevator scene in The Winter Soldier led him to use the space to his benefit in that awesome fight sequence He read the atmosphere, the people, and he knew what was going to happen before it happened. I think a lot of ISFJ's tend to doubt their instincts, but Cap proves time and again that his Ne leads him correctly. Also, that building wasn't in the right place for the codes of the 1940s, a moment when his Si, his memory, and his Ne, intuition worked together.
ConclusionJust remember that the ISFJ really is all about serving people. The functions might not be as well-developed in some ISFJ's than in others, but every ISFJ has them, in that order. If you have someone sentimental about the past (providing they had a good past), who cares about helping other people even to the point of volunteering their time, and who tends to be a problem-solver with little patience for people who aren't willing to find a solution, than you likely have an ISFJ in a nutshell.
Also, Funky MBTI Fiction is an inexhaustible source of information on typing personalities and characters and is where I get most of my information and source material, giving credit where credit is definitely due.
Oh, and, in case you didn't know CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER comes out on Blu-Ray today!!!