MBTI: Tyler Durden- Comparison of the ENTP and ESTP Part I
As far as I’ve seen, Tyler Durden is one of the most argued-over character. His views, his dialogue, his appearance and the fact that he’s an entirely different personality in the body of an ISFJ make him difficult to type. As soon as somebody nails him as this, somebody else comes up with that.
So what is he? Of the three types most tossed around, we can throw out ENTJ. Durden isn’t looking for power and control as much as he is orchestrating the destruction and collapse of a world run by marketing campaigns and the death of man’s identity. So ESTP and ENTP are the most frequently played with.
Let’s have a look-see.
Sharing the same Auxiliary and tertiary functions of Ti followed be Fe, the ESTP and the ENTP may appear to be similar in many ways because of this. From the pages of Prelude Character Analysis, here’s a brief description of ESTP:
ESTPs love the action and will jump into activities which interest them but can jump out just as swiftly when they lose interest. The ESTP does not enjoy the constraints of schedules. Pragmatic and tough-minded they act on the facts rather than emotion, using their huge store of facts and knowledge to fix the immediate problem then move quickly and decisively onto the next one.
And now the ENTP:
Curious, communicative with a need to challenge, ENTPs love the intellectual debate, are spontaneous, and assertive. They have a unique view of the world, and bring a fresh perspective. This can make them intellectually promiscuous, enjoying one new experience after another, and failing to follow through on their great ideas as they look for bigger and more novel experiences.
For my money, those to descriptions are strangely similar. Nothing in those that explore the “wacky imagination” of the ENTP normally described in generalized descriptions nor the car salesmen-like persona of the ESTP. Based on this, Durden could still be either.
Now we’ll look for the differences.
Is Tyler’s main focus Extraverted Sensing or Extraverted Intuition? Here’s a quick recap for what these functions do taken from cognitiveprocesses.com, the first on Se:
Extraverted Sensing is operating when we freely follow exciting physical impulses or instincts as they come up and enjoy the thrill of action in the present moment. A oneness with the physical world and a total absorption may exist as we move, touch, and sense what is around us. The process involves instantly reading cues to see how far we can go in a situation and still get the impact we want or respond to the situation with presence.
This is one way a person could say that Durden is ESTP. His words, “Hit me,” led to everything else but the desire for an immediate rush started it all. His dress also displays that of an Extraverted Sensor. It’s stylish even if a little messy. As far as the film goes, it’s even easier to see Durden as Brad Pitt portrays him because aside from Pitt portraying several Artisan characters (and thought to be one himself), he screams “Cool” in contrast to Edward Norton’s Narrator that yelps “dork.” Here’s a quote by Norton-
“We decided early on that I would start to starve myself as the film went on, while [Brad Pitt] would lift and go to tanning beds; he would become more and more idealized as I wasted away.”
Something ENTPs don’t put much importance on is their dress. Now, presentation of character is one thing but a standout outfit every day, each one drawing more attention than the last? Not ENTP’s style. Heck, even The Joker (ENTP) wore the same exact thing throughout The Dark Knight. He bought a new suit and stuck with it. Durden wears something unique every time we see him.
More on Durden’s Extraverted Sensing, is his openness toward the sexual side of life. It’s not Jack that’s hooking up with Marla (as far as he knows), it’s Tyler. As mentioned in the same site, ESTPs “…may be drawn to act on what we experience to get an immediate result.” Durden’s intro to Marla could be an example of this.There’s no real thought there other than “Get the girl I’ve never met, get it on.”
Before we move on to the possibility of Tyler being an ENTP, one last thing on the ESTP’s functions. As mentioned, the ESTP and ENTP auxiliary and tertiary functions are the same while their lead and inferior are not. What is the ESTP’s inferior function? Introverted Intuition. Ni is seeing a plan in something. Taking one thing and getting many things out of it.
Tyler would use this along with his Extraverted Sensing to not only have a good time and get an immediate rush with fight club/vandalism, but with the idea of eventually “resetting the system” at the climax of Project Mayhem. But was the purpose of “Tyler” setting the narrator’s apartment on fire meant to start everything his life became, working toward the bigger goal? Or was it meant as an immediate escape with multiple outcomes that eventually became Project Mayhem? Figuring this out will give us our answer to Tyler’s type.
But even with all this, there’s still evidence to say ENTP- here’s the conclusion.