MBTI: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad INTP
Everybody knows that INTPs are nerds. But did you know that they’re MBTI’s ULTIMATE NERDS? Yes? Okay then. Moving on.
It seems whenever a mad scientist is developed in a story, the writer’s goal is to have them create something unstoppable, unspeakable, and often times just plain evil. For this, he (or she) needs the INTP- the type most likely to ask every question in the universe…except if what they’re doing is right or not.
Here we go over why the INTP is the preferred choice in mad scientist characters and what the difference is between the INTP and their extroverted cousin, the ENTP.
If you know an INTP, you know how much they like to question things. From the bigger questions of outer space, life, morality, etc. And for as much as they like to ask “Why not?” about things they’re told not to do, they’ll forget that question entirely in the pursuit of their (often) scientific pursuit.
That’s in part due to the fact that they’re all about figuring out what works first, then moving onto the possibilities of what can be done in the realm of reality. Compare this to an ENTP that wants to know what’s possible, then whittling their results down to what actually works.
So it’s not surprising that when a story calls for a scientist to cross a natural line, the type that, on average, has the highest IQ and doesn’t mind going further mentally than most types even think of…well, it’s no wonder they’ll always revert to the INTP archetype.
Take so many of the famous fictional INTPs, for example. Often times, they (relatively) suffer from madness, paranoia, and other forms of hysteria and this is channeled into their work where some monstrosity is created. Initially in the name of science, sure, but it ultimately becomes something that overtakes them completely and often ends up hurting others.
Take Dr. Herbert West for instance, from the Re-Animator series (Full movie on Youtube, by the way). It’s a classic mad scientist tale of a doctor on the fringe of an amazing discovery that breaks all sorts of natural laws and is generally disgusting as a process.
It’s a hilariously more gory version of Frankenstein, who could also be considered an INTP. Kirk Langstrom, Dr. Jekyll, Curt Connors, and others all fall under this as well, even under varying circumstances that all end with the same results described above. Why not other types you may ask? Well, sure they can fit too, but often the writer is going for specific results that lend themselves to the INTP. Let’s have a look-see why INTP is the favored type.
INTJ- While INTJs fit the mad scientist profile in many ways, their preference for Ni and Te will more often lead to a type that’s familiar with the sciences rather than devoting themselves to it entirely. Since results and control are their primary motivators, the mad scientist trope doesn’t fit them nearly as well because trial-and-error, tinkering, and general mishaps are more a part of the INTP way of studying.
So while the INTJ is going to be prone to mistakes as any other type is, they’re more attracted to using the giant, Death Creator (Patent Pending) than actually making it themselves.
INFP- Though the INFP has their own soul-discovering ideas in mind, they’d be on a much more philosophical journey than a literal discovery of one’s soul. These two types couldn’t be more different save for the strength of their convictions. But while the INFP focuses on people, society, morality, these are the things the INTP completely forget exist even if their ultimate goal is a futuristic utopia.
Can INFPs have an interest in the sciences as well? Of course. But to keep the story going, you can’t have the mad scientist at hand question what he’s doing, or at least until he’s too late. The absent-minded INTP is more likely to follow this pattern than the INFP who is more apt to questioning their way of doing things and bring into subjection the morality of the situation.
ENTP- The closest in terms of interests and methods, many mad scientists in fiction are often typed as ENTP still. Dr. Hubert Farnsworth of Futurama, Doc Brown of Back to the Future, and though he’s not mad per se, Q of the James Bond series. This is where it can become the most difficult to distinguish in many ways because of the ENTP’s flair for the dramatic. Yet the characters mentioned are older which can just as easily lead to a more balanced personality or a more eccentric one, making it difficult to determine the character’s extroversion or introversion.
And while the ENTP, specifically in fiction, is no slouch in the creation department, slaving away in a dank lab isn’t nearly as enjoyable for them as it is to be out in the world, full of experiments and subjects in its own rite. It’s noteworthy to bring up the ENTP’s distinctive bad habit of starting the project and never finishing but it wouldn’t necessarily play a part in the story or allow us to determine a character’s type.
On a similar note, ENTPs aren’t as likely to play the role of genius scientist as much as they are a mischievous trickster role of some sort; with science often playing a hand in their experiments but not necessarily being on the forefront. For example, the Joker (who is said to be an expert chemical engineer) is always shown using some insane contraption being used to theatrically kill an innumerable amount of Gotham’s citizens. He is not, however, shown to spend hours in a lab, perfecting his creations.
This is partly due to writing (Isn’t all of it?) but also because the Joker’s strength as an ENTP isn’t what he creates but what he uses. The main difference? The ENTP sees the creation as a means to an end, while the INTP views the creation as the desired result. So in a sense, the fictional types will show the INTP in their element during the process of creation with the ENTP using the creation.
It’s also interesting to find that famed inventor Nikola Tesla was thought to be ENTP and is also given credit for the original inspiration for the mad scientist archetype. Heck, he even had plans for a “Death Ray.” This would explain the pre-WWII mad scientist obsession with electricity as a primary tool in experiments, while post-WWII mad scientists took a special interest in radiation.
All in all, the INTP’s love of what works and what’s doable is what results in their special place in mad scientist lore. While others look at what’s possible being as what they can see, feel, experience, the INTP is interested in deconstructing what we know to build a better version. The issue (and the fun) in fiction is seeing how magnificent their creations of destruction can be.
From Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
[Strangelove admits that he investigated making a doomsday device]
Dr. Strangelove: Based on the findings of the report, my conclusion was that this idea was not a practical deterrent for reasons which at this moment must be all too obvious.