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Evil Muffin

Emotionally sensitive with fictional characters, the exact opposite with humans?

---Introduction---

First of all, I should state that although I am an INTJ, my empathy is pretty high as a skill. (my EQ= 50. And I was expecting higher I may say). I am very good at understanding other peoples' feelings, something that makes me a really good friend - even with people that we don't really have similar way of thinking or way of life, I will be that special person to them that they can speak of their most serious problems in their life.

---Main Phase---

As far as I remember, I was always like that.

When it came to human kind, I was most of the times (with the exception SOME (few) people very close to me) a classic, stereotyped INTJ: cold, analytical, super-logical, little, if no emotions at all. For example, I still don't get why when by grandpa dies when I was young (14 years old, if I remember right), I didn't cry at all. Not even a drop. And he was a person that I really liked (perhaps he was the only NT in my whole family free.....). It's not that I feel guilty or something, I never felt guilty for my feelings in my life. It just surprises me. And this does not happen only in death situations. It happens in most human interaction. And it's not that I do not ever get emotional as a person. I can, and have been very emotional in the past, in a more introverted way, but it was still very emotional. But this happens only for very few, unique people, that mean a lot to me.

Yet, when it comes to fictional characters (books, movies, anime/manga, tv series, game characters) or animals, I become SO emotional with almost all of them!!! It's so bizarre!!

I mean, in most dramatic movies I'll always have my eyes wet in the emotional peak scene of the movie. And it will happen again, no matter how many times I watch/read the movie/book/manga.

And same happens for animals. If I ever see a starved/sad animal on the street, if I don't have anything really important to do, I'll stop and buy it some food, pet it, cuddle with it, show it some love. I may even try to find a owner for it. And I always find it easy to express my emotions to these animals.

-----------------

By the way, just to clear out some things: Apart from the alienation that almost every INTJ feels in their lives due to the so small % of our type in the population, I had pretty OK life. Have good friends, not many, but they were sufficient. The only 'sadness' in my life I may say, is that I never had an NT/INTJ cycle among my friends. Even now, I only have INTJ (my best buddy) among my friends. Also, I have met only two more NTJs only but a few times in my life (one was INTJ, the other ENTJ). So, apart from that I never had a big social cycle that I could feel that I was really among people that can get me, my life was OK.

-------------------

--------Epilogue------

SO!! What is your opinion to the matter? Do you have an explanation why I act this way?

I am not sure, but I have a theory:

Maybe, I act this way because, deep inside, I think humanity as an extremely evil species, wrapped in hatred & ignorance. And I really doubt its ability to evolve into something bigger, better, prettier, something that I don't think about animals. Still, this theory does not explain my emotion towards fictional characters. Maybe I think of them as flawless? Perhaps.

I'd love to read your opinion to this matter!!

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I'd say I'm similar. With characters and animals I'm so very openly emotional. But with people I'm cold, logical, and reluctant to share anything with anyone (at first anyway). I think, for myself anyway, that since characters are emulations of people they have all the stuff that's enjoyable, but aren't real so you can let you're guard down. As for animals they're real and emotional, but simple and not human. I think it has something to do with pride based on some sort of social mental box that one is inside of, obviously I haven't figured this out yet, but I've wondered about this since I was a little kid.

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It's Fi....you have values that will create higher emotional impact depending on scenario. If you search yourself you'll probably realize that you may not have as much of a problem with the thought of someone you love dying [at an age acceptable for death] as you do with seeing animals abused. It's highly subjective and doesn't mean your emotional reactions aren't normal, for you.

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My dad tests as an INTJ also, and we talked about this. I don't think T or F necessarily means you're more or less empathetic or sensitive. Whether we go through life with rational thinking or using our hearts to feel our way through situations, we all have feelings and emotional needs. Being rational doesn't disqualify you from that. You may be the most rational person on Earth, but also be more empathetic than a demonstratively more emotional person.

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It's a good storyteller's job to get the listener deeply involved with the character (that is, if there is any focus at all on character development). What draws us into the Final Fantasy games and good books of the world is the distilled purity of humanity. Emotional engagement is the art of character creation, and the fact that we as readers or viewers can observe the life of the character as an outsider allows us to let our guards down. We have full access to their vulnerability and have to share none of our own - it's a one way route to intimacy. That is the beauty of getting lost in a story and also the point.

Animals also allow some to let their down their guard - they don't possess the guile that humans do, the element of deception, for the most part, is either very depleted or nonexistent as compared to humans. I know many pet owners will attest to the adage that "animals give you unconditional love" although I think this is something that can be more sensed than scientifically proven.

People are a different thing all together, as they are our own species. They can bring us down with them in a whole different way than animals or characters in stories can. They can mess with our heads, they can be authority figures that infringe on our personal sense of autonomy, they can make demands that would be impossible for an animal or character to make.

I might also note that we don't choose our family and the effect that the members have on us, but we can choose our media and how we treat animals. Even if you did enjoy your grandfather's presence, it's possible that in the end he was a burden on your family or perhaps his authority over you prevented you from completely letting your guard down around him the way you could with non-human creatures or characters. These could be totally off, as these last two assertions are just my stabs at "why." I have no evidence for your subjective reasons, so you might know better than me.

I should mention that I sometimes don't cry in the presence of human death either. I just... Accept it. Everyone handles it differently. Some with a stone cold resilience, as I do. Sometimes the cut is so deep that it reaches a deeper level of hurt than tears would be able comfort. Perhaps you internalize your grief a lot more than many people would, since you are, by nature, much more cool and calm. Death is a very very complicated thing and just because you didn't wail in the traditional mourning fashion doesn't mean you didn't handle it in the way that is okay for you.

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I'm the same way. I strongly suspect it has to do with two things:

(1) Fiction is simpler than life. Fictional characters are archetypal, real people are a complicated mess. Fictional stories conform to a small number of narratives, real events are a complicated mess. As an INTJ you lack Fe and your F and S functions are your weakest, so you just don't have good natural ability to emotionally process those human events. I expect NTs to be more emotionally sensitive to fictions, which are simpler and thus easier to process, whereas they will rely more on effortful analysis when dealing with people.

(2) Fictions are simply more interesting than reality. They're a super-stimulus. It's sad, but generally true.

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I'm the same way. I strongly suspect it has to do with two things:

(2) Fictions are simply more interesting than reality. They're a super-stimulus. It's sad, but generally true.

This is a quite good (partial) explanation. I always found reality so...predictable, thus boring. So, maybe this answers my emotional reaction towards fictional characters, I guess.

---------- Post added 08-24-2012 at 02:34 AM ----------

It's a good storyteller's job to get the listener deeply involved with the character (that is, if there is any focus at all on character development). What draws us into the Final Fantasy games and good books of the world is the distilled purity of humanity. Emotional engagement is the art of character creation, and the fact that we as readers or viewers can observe the life of the character as an outsider allows us to let our guards down. We have full access to their vulnerability and have to share none of our own - it's a one way route to intimacy. That is the beauty of getting lost in a story and also the point.

Animals also allow some to let their down their guard - they don't possess the guile that humans do, the element of deception, for the most part, is either very depleted or nonexistent as compared to humans. I know many pet owners will attest to the adage that "animals give you unconditional love" although I think this is something that can be more sensed than scientifically proven.

People are a different thing all together, as they are our own species. They can bring us down with them in a whole different way than animals or characters in stories can. They can mess with our heads, they can be authority figures that infringe on our personal sense of autonomy, they can make demands that would be impossible for an animal or character to make.

I might also note that we don't choose our family and the effect that the members have on us, but we can choose our media and how we treat animals. Even if you did enjoy your grandfather's presence, it's possible that in the end he was a burden on your family or perhaps his authority over you prevented you from completely letting your guard down around him the way you could with non-human creatures or characters. These could be totally off, as these last two assertions are just my stabs at "why." I have no evidence for your subjective reasons, so you might know better than me.

I should mention that I sometimes don't cry in the presence of human death either. I just... Accept it. Everyone handles it differently. Some with a stone cold resilience, as I do. Sometimes the cut is so deep that it reaches a deeper level of hurt than tears would be able comfort. Perhaps you internalize your grief a lot more than many people would, since you are, by nature, much more cool and calm. Death is a very very complicated thing and just because you didn't wail in the traditional mourning fashion doesn't mean you didn't handle it in the way that is okay for you.

Hmm. I agree with your analysis related to my emotions towards fictional characters & animals.

About the rest,as you said, I do accept easily death. As a matter of fact, in some cases, I even find death more 'suitable' that life. But I think that my example might have misled you. It's not about death-related situations only. It's about almost every social interaction with other people.

Nonetheless, your remarks are something interesting to think about.

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I am much the same way, and this is what I've boiled it down to--

Eventually, you come to a maturity where you realize that people should be responsible for their actions. I believe that people are actually rarely victimized. In books or movies, the characters typically ARE victimized, and even if they aren't, you know the emotional explanations involved between all the characters. You know their innermost thoughts.

I can empathize with just about anyone. My sympathy, however, is rarely earned and is reserved for people who are actually victimized. I am more sensitive to infant molestation or animal cruelty than I am to spousal abuse, simply because infants and animals are victims of circumstance. They can't fight back and make logical decisions like humans can.

When it comes to death and tragedies, I tend to do my grieving later and in solace as I tend to try to remain strong for the people around me. I tend to put my emotional needs on the backburner so I can help other people with their emotional needs. And that is also circumstantial. My father died early from an unexpected heart attack. I was at my emotional wits end (also due in part to the drama that arises when family members die.) If my father had died 20 years later due simply to old age I probably would've reacted much differently.

I used to work at an emergency vet clinic, and the same principles applied. Animals that were extremely hurt or poisoned or had to be put to sleep was sad, but in my mind I knew that at least the owner was putting an end to their suffering or getting them the help they needed, and I was at peace with that. In cases where I observed neglect or abuse of an animal, my rage would internally fly off the handle, because domesticated animals obviously cannot take care of themselves. They are vulnerable to their owners.

My emotions regarding sympathy are always determined by how much I know of the situation and how/if the outcome could've been avoided.

If someone came to me because they are constantly being abused by their significant other, don't take anyone's advice, and refuse to take the advice and precautions their loved ones have expressed and stay with this significant other, my sympathy meter might be low to nothing, but if someone came to be because someone close to them died, then I would take on that emotion and do everything within my power to help them and support them anyway I can, and it is very likely I would cry with that person.

I hope this makes sense and helps you. :)

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On animals vs. people, you may be interested in this thread: Please login or register to see this link.

INTJs: are you warmer with pets than people, or no difference?

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Animals totally get to me. Fictional characters as well. And other than that, family members about whom I really care.

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Vulnerability doesn't matter in fictional spaces. Resurrection of bonds is always possible.

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Every time you open a specific book, the story will be the same.

The characters will be the same. Their destinies, the same. The conviction with which they carry out their role, the same. And with that gives a certain intangible authenticity, trustworthiness. You aren't afraid to feel for them, they will never mock you, they will never insult you, they will never stab you in the back. They don't even know you are there.

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Yes. It's a lot easier to get to know a fictional character. You can't just fill in the blanks with whatever you like with real people.

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