MBTI: Fight Club’s Narrator- ISFJ
Everyone has had a job they hated. Maybe you hated it so much, you couldn’t do it for long or maybe you did it longer than you thought you could. But ISFJs could go for years doing a job they hate. The Narrator (or Jack) is a bizarre example of what happens to all those ISFJs that suppress themselves so deeply for such a long period of time.
There’s no “N” here, ladies and gentlemen- this guy is just insane.
Jack is a guy that isn’t happy with his life. If you’re reading this, you’ve seen Fight Club if not also read the book. He works the nine to five, eats his pre-packaged meals, extends his courtesies to the people he meets and watches TV. He’s living a version of the life we all do, yet showcases the side we may be the most afraid of- the mundane.
Because if you’re mundane, you must not be happy and if you’re not happy, you must have failed somewhere along the way. And Jack is in his thirties so how much time does he really have left?
Sound familiar? As much as we can all relate to this to some extent or another, no type seems more familiar with this depression in work as much as the ISFJ can. It’s not that they’re too timid as a type necessarily but that they’re so serious about their work that to just quit or look for something that may make them happier seems too risky in their eyes.
So what to do? Keep banging away, at a job they hate, going through the motions of a routine they’re unhappy with? In many cases, the ISFJ sees that way as the only way. Jack’s proneness to this is what catapults the story forward. It is the story.
As we know, Hollywood plays with psychology the way a kid plays with a skateboard he doesn’t know how to use. He’s tries and tries, but without proper practice, he’s most likely going to just abuse the thing until he’s done. H-Town likes the idea that after being miserable long enough and not doing anything, you just *snap* and an episode of Law and Order can be written.
Chief Daniels: Whadda we got here, Hot Pants?
Detective Hot Pants: Well sir, after years of abuse from his mother, Lenny just snapped and raped his mother’s body after beating her to death with a spoon. Then he ate her. He just couldn’t take it anymore.
This is a fun way of dealing with a criminal mind but it’s not accurate and nobody ever just “breaks.” It’s more like after years and years of abuse (or what have you), the person begins to have violent and/or sexual fantasies that if not dealt with properly, can lead to a crime of that nature being committed. It’s not as though it never occurred to the person to shoot up a grocery store until the day they did it, it takes planning for that kind of thing.
How does this relate to Jack and the ISFJ? Like so-
Such an unhealthy character (likable, but unhealthy) is fun to dissect, discuss and type but this character is also written as having a split personality, thereby leading ISFJs to say “Hey, I’m not like that!” while other types on forums say “He’s just like me!” No, he’s not. He’s insane. But he’s also Hollywood’s version of insane in that he has his own personality and another “full” life rather than being mentally unstable and not being able to take care of himself. So he can be typed rather than simply writing him off as crazy.
The point being, this character’s behavior and patterns reflect that of an extremely unhappy ISFJ, thus the reason for his said “snapping.” His Si tells him to work, work, work, while his secondary Fe says “This job is for everybody around me too. If I don’t do my job, they can’t do theirs.” when the way he lives is drone-like and is actually what’s killing him rather than him making a living. His American dream, degraded.
Keirsey says that while Rationals prize knowledge, Idealists value meaning, Artisans value freedom, the Guardian wants security. To different Guardians, this means different things but the generally accepted idea is a good career, a happy home and an overall sense that you’re going to be okay.
Jack is a highly screwed up version of this and this is where he becomes relatable.
He’s got the job, right? Okay that’s good, that means money. Got to have money in today’s society. He needs his apartment to live in, you’ve got to have your own place. So what do you do with my own place? It’s so empty. You need to make it feel alive, right? So buy that Yin-Yang coffee table; it’s hip, purposeful. Better get the best TV out right now. If you’re going to do it, do it right. Ooh, there’s a dinnerware set…
So it’s not simply that Jack is materialistic but he got caught up in what’s “important” like many (if not most) of us have. It’s starts off with what we need then we get to a point where we claim to be hurting for money as we pay off a hundred and fifty dollar phone bill.
Eventually he can’t take it anymore, the life-crushing dullness of it all and just goes so berserk that he doesn’t even know it. Is this, as mentioned earlier, a direct link to the mindset of a stable ISFJ? Heeeeck no. But ISFJs tend to be the ones with the most weight on their shoulders on a regular basis, 10-14% of the population though they may be.
Subjectively speaking, I see a dire need in the mind of the ISFJ to have things a certain way but have no earthly clue how to make that happen. Not all mind you, but many. There’s a strange irony in the way the world works for them.
I can think of multiple ISFJs that have been hard enough workers to be put in management positions.
Not ones to turn down a raise and a compliment, the job is taken though they have no real desire to tell anyone what to do. Yet, now they’re in this position and occasionally must give orders at some point. Now they have to balance getting along with everyone while playing the role of boss. And when personalities clash at work, it’s to be taken up with the manager; the ISFJ that doesn’t want to hurt feelings, take sides, or challenge ideas- they want things to go smoothly. So by being so good at what they do, they’re (more or less) pressured out of their area of expertise because of it.
This may sound like a simple issue to you but whatever your problem is, keep in mind that another type would just laugh that off.
A person can only take so much and even if the ISFJ lives out the rest of their life unhappily, the stress is going to manifest itself in unhealthy ways, even if creating a chaotic alter-ego is off the table.
Online, many type the Narrator as an INFJ. Just no. Would an INFJ live out their life in a job they hated, buying crap they don’t need, existing as though this may really be all there is? The Narrator is originally living by figuratively slamming his head against a brick wall hoping that the wall will fall but knowing he’s going to die before it does. Any type could do this, but the ISFJ is more likely to do it out of a sense of “getting the job done because somebody has to do it and I guess everybody else is too damn lazy!”
The Idealist is more interested in living on the street starving while the world passes by and nothing in their life is accomplished as long as they feel at peace with themselves. The Guardian is much more likely to surround themselves with material things and then wonder why they’re not fulfilled.