How Do INTJs Handle Grief and Emotional Trauma?

In life, we all will experience some level of grief and emotional trauma, whether it is a loss of a relationship, disease, or death.

Contrary to widespread belief, INTJs also experience similar feelings and emotions as other personality types.

However, INTJs process grief and emotional trauma differently.

As intellectuals, INTJs process grief as if it were self-analysis by dissecting what has happened and how others typically feel in similar situations.

It is not that they don’t trust their feelings by not responding to a situation with genuine sadness. Their sadness doesn’t linger like other personality types.

INTJs compartmentalize their emotions surrounding grief and emotional trauma.

As a child, the worst thing I could imagine was the loss of my grandmother. I thought I would die if something ever happened to her.

As an adult, my feelings never wavered for her. But on June 6, 2007, when she died at 97, I was incredibly composed.

My grandmother died in a nursing home, and I learned how longevity could diminish one’s quality of life.

I cried at the news of her death but made calls to clients asking to reschedule our meetings because something came up. I didn’t reveal that the woman who served as my second mother had died.

I weighed my measured response of rescheduling meetings to the times people lost loved ones and didn’t call or acknowledge that they had abandoned professional responsibilities.

Once we talked again, they would sheepishly say, “I recently lost my father.” And that would bring about the perfunctory response, “Oh no. I am sorry to hear that…my condolences for your loss.”

All was supposed to be forgotten.

And their loss absolved them of any responsibility towards propriety and proper notice.

Yes, everyone deals with death differently. But a no-show under any circumstances displays disrespect and a lack of consideration for someone else’s time.

The moral code of INTJs is never switched off because of grief and emotional trauma.

The compartmentalizing of grief and emotional trauma serve as a defense mechanism and life preserver for INTJs.

Psychology Today, a mental health and behavioral science website, defines Compartmentalization as:

…a defense mechanism in which people mentally separate conflicting thoughts, emotions, or experiences to avoid the discomfort of contradiction.

This definition resonates with INTJs because while the pain of loss is intense, an assessment of the situation supplies an understanding of the “Big” picture.

My favorite cousin died at the age of 40. He suffered from alcoholism and held mediocre jobs that barely paid the bills as he lived with his elderly mother.

I also cried when he died but felt that dying was relief from a life of unpleasantness.

Based on his ambition, education, and skills, what would change in the next 40 years?

It would be contradictory to suggest that my grandmother and cousin died prematurely and that my loss was unreasonable.

Some critics suggest that compartmentalizing stems from an early childhood trauma where victims divide life into boxes to create control and order. This sense of escapism is a person’s way of dealing with emotional trauma.

INTJs are not running away from early trauma but attempting to make sense of the chaos and disorder trauma causes.

Mantra Care, a website geared to mental health, reported that:

By dividing your life into parts, you will find that everything will be easier to handle and less stressful. As a result, this can improve the quality of your overall life.

INTJs attempt to make sense of the senseless

Many events in life entail a cause-and-effect relationship. One action caused a definitive result.

However, occasionally incidents happen that no one could predict or see coming.

Accidents arise, and many people contract debilitating diseases.

These are the times that test the intellectual integrity of INTJs.

It is easier to compartmentalize when the cause-and-effect are related.

It is far more challenging to compartmentalize when the cause-and-effect is unclear.

Enlightened INTJs embrace their intellectual shortcomings during crises.

When I experience something out of my control, I say, “That’s bigger than me.”

Adopting the “That’s bigger than me” mindset allows for the realization of INTJs to account for their limitations.

Turbulent INTJs carry nervous energy as self-protection that also serves as healthy paranoia.

Embracing the reality that life is fragile and unstable allows INTJs to be flexible to events and things they cannot control.

This does not stop them from trying to gain control. The initial response is an intellectual exercise to try to understand an incident to offset the pain and shock.

The subsequent response is self-acceptance that some phenomena are unexplainable and have no overarching meaning.

When events occur because of human error, INTJs know that someone is to blame, but the depth of someone else’s ignorance and irresponsibility is incomprehensible.

For a person to say, “I don’t know how that happened,” is inconceivable to INTJs.

And rarely will INTJs come down from their lofty perches to attempt to understand high levels of mindlessness.

The resolution that transgressors carry such carelessness is also a coping mechanism for INTJs’ grief and emotional trauma.

In many cases, the entire experience may be an intellectual exercise based on their closeness to the people or the event.

If INTJs are seen as cold or callous to unfortunate situations, their logic gets in the way of their emotions.

That is one of the reasons INTJs are so different.


INTJs share the same emotional experiences as other personality types. However, they tend to intellectualize their grief and emotional trauma as they experience the pain and shock of loss. When events are senseless, they adopt an “It’s bigger than me” mindset as a reminder of their limitations.

When mindless people cause irreparable harm, INTJs embrace the notion that intellectually inept people are careless and reckless and cannot appreciate the gravity of their unfortunate choices.

—Ron Coleman


Compartmentalization. (n.d.). Psychology Today. Retrieved from:

Compartmentalization: Benefits and limitations. (n.d.). MantraCare. Retrieved from:

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