Fi is a function that is intimately connected to the emotional register; to the limbic system and its somatic experience of emotions. It directly associates itself with the body and this connection is automatic. For better or worse, an Fi user cannot disconnect themself from this influence any more than a Ti user could associate themself to it. Fi users will continually feel a low-key emotional energy inside of them which will also be seen affecting their countenance at all times.
While all human emotions can be felt by everyone, the muscles used to display emotions of weeping and sadness are always in a semi-contracted state for Fi users. These muscles are the levator labii superioris, levator labii superioris alaeque nasi, zygomaticus minor and to some degree the depressor anguli oris – seen below in Figure 17. They surround the nose and, when fully contracted, elevate the upper lip towards it.
This Fi tension will often create a pained expression on the face, but the internal experience of Fi is not always negative. While for others these muscles typically contract due to emotional pain, for an Fi user they better represent deep feeling. They may contract heavily even when no pain is being felt, but instead simply as a side-effect of internal resonance with their compass process. Pinging their compass process causes these types to have more pronounced tension, and those who are primarily Fi types will have the heaviest dose of it.
I should also note that the precise visual identification of Fi can be challenging since there are many factors that affect the overall appearance of Fi tension. Natural differences in skeletal structures, age, levels of facial fat, and the presence or absence of certain muscles contribute to the variations of Fi we see in persons. Chapter 30 is devoted to addressing these nuances, and to establishing a proper method of practice for vultology.
Here I wish only to provide an introduction to the concept in the clearest form possible so that exceptions can be understood from a general reference point. In Figure 18 we see Fi at various levels of contraction. The first row demonstrates Fi’s tension initiating a smile, the second row demonstrates Fi’s tension in a partially opened smile and the third row demonstrates Fi in a fully contracted smile; what I refer to as the Fi Snarling Smile.
As seen here, when the muscles around the nose fully contract, their collision within such a small area causes a protrusion to form. The cheeks bulge near the nose and a distinct stretching occurs between the nose and the cheeks. These taut cheeks are seen primarily in those who have Fi-Te as their primary oscillation, but may appear in other hierarchies as well.
Since the levels of contraction that occur relate directly to the internal consultation of the compass process, Fi will cause various levels of contraction unintentionally as it is pinged even midway through a word or conversation. That is to say, while in dialogue with an Fi type, one will notice that as they speak they will elicit micro-snarls at asynchronous times.
Their upper lip will move in the way that’s necessary to make vowel and consonant sounds, but with an additional, upwards layer of contraction. It may be difficult for an outside observer to understand why these micro-contractions are happening when they are, not having direct access into their internal experience, and especially so when the Fi user is unware of it themselves.
But when we record a single one of these sentences and meticulously plot the timestamps of these micro-snarls and the words they emerge with, it becomes clear that these snarls occur when certain words or concepts trigger deeper internal feelings, according to what resonates or clashes with the user’s compass.
The facial expressions of Fi, as a whole, operate out of synch with the external social situation, and in synch with their internal experience. They may be speaking about something they adamantly adore, while their face may be contracting in the manner typical of the expression of disgust. At other times they may directly communicate strong affinity for someone while their expression remains largely unchanged. Since Fi on its own has no mechanism to coordinate itself to the outside world, it requires the effort of Te to create a managable social persona, but even then the off-beat nature of Fi’s expressions will show through.
All of these Fi snarls can also take two different forms: concave or convex. So far as I can tell, these two forms don’t differ in their psychological effects, but relate instead to the physiology of the individual. In Figure 20.b we see an example of a concave snarl, where the edge of the upper lip is turned outward and away from the face. In Figure 20.c we see a convex snarl, where the edge of the upper lip is turned inward and partially hidden inside the mouth. The muscles around the nose contract at different levels to produce these variations.
Airy, Sprite-like Voice
The articulation of an Fi-Te user will always emerge primarily from Te, which has a nasal and monotone pitch. But in cases where Fi is strong, its emotional influence will deeply saturate the user’s otherwise dispassionate voice, giving it a breathy, sprite-like tone. It’s difficult to convey this sound through text, but for a clear example of it, I refer the reader to the late singer and artist Michael Jackson or the young actress Evanna Lynch.
In these cases, the voice comes from the stomach, and air is exhaled as a continuous stream without obstruction of the air passage. It may manifest in some as a form of wheezing and in others as a drawn-out whisper. The larynx takes the necessary form to make its sound and air simply passes through it.
In contrast, the voice of Fe types comes directly from the throat and is projected outward in specific bursts, not as a continuous stream. There is a deliberate, emotional push in the articulation of each syllable. As a general rule, the voice of Fi-Te will be diaphragmatic (Fi), nasal (Te), or a mix of both – depending on what the balance is between the two processes – but it is rarely tracheal.
Fi further affects the individual’s expressivity by giving a distinct quality to their laughter. If we consider that laughter is an elated release of emotional energy, then we understand why it is that Fi users each possess very unique laughs. In these moments, the laughter is utterly genuine and emanates unbridled from an inner joyfulness as a vibrating giggle.
In some the voice will vibrate rapidly, while in others it will vibrate slowly, but in both cases one giggle will lead into the next with the same continuous, diaphragmatic openness that is heard in Fi’s airy voice. In tandem with this giggling, the body will curl inward on itself; the head may be leaned back, the chin may be retracted inward, and the hands may be brought towards the torso.
A strong snarling smile will accompany this expression, and the volume of the laughing itself will be unordinary. As with all other Fi expressions, the giggling will not subscribe itself to the social parameters in the environment – leading it at times to be uncommonly loud, sudden, or long.
An asymmetrical expression refers to the contraction of a muscle on only one side of the face. Through the works of Dr.Ekman and later through activists like Pamela Meyer, the signal of contempt has gained a wide consensus as being the only exclusively asymmetrical expression. For the expression of contempt, a single corner of the lips is pulled upward towards the nose and inward, appearing as a half-snarl. This expression reveals an emotional experience of moral superiority, self-righteousness and dismissal of the other party’s importance.
While all types display the signal of contempt, asymmetrical expressions of various sorts appear far more frequently in Fi types than others. Two factors affect this imbalance the most; the uncoordinated nature of Fi expressions, and Fi’s private sense of morality. Fi’s lack of coordination causes the muscles of the face to often contract at different paces, not as a collaborative unit geared towards delivering a presentation, as is the case with Fe.
This causes asymmetry in the face, which can appear in any of Fi’s expressions – whether they be joy, contempt, sorrow, etc. The second factor relates to Fi’s constant sense of moral and emotional privacy. Being an introverted process, Fi holds its own morality in favor of the views of others, and in many cases wholly dismisses outside input. This emotional disposition will trigger the contraction of contempt on the face and continually cause asymmetrical snarls, smiles and grimaces. But this needn’t be taken as a sign of ill will, as Fi’s morality, however independent, may still have the others’ best interest in mind.
Through my personal experience and dialogue with Fi types, I have been stricken by an all too clear pattern of psychiatric diagnoses ascribed to these unique individuals. Especially in cases where Fi is strong and not properly synchronized with Te, these are often classfied in some region of the autistic spectrum as defined by the DSM-5. Mild forms of autism are described by symptoms such as:
Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder:
1. Deficits in using communication for social purposes, such as greeting and sharing information, in a manner that is appropriate for the social context.
2. Impairment of the ability to change communication to match context or the needs of the listener, such as speaking differently in a classroom than on a playground, talking differently to a child than to an adult, and avoiding use of overly formal language.
3. Difficulties following rules for conversation and storytelling, such as taking turns in conversation, rephrasing when misunderstood, and knowing how to use verbal and nonverbal signals to regulate interaction.
4. Difficulties understanding what is not explicitly stated (e.g., making inferences) and nonliteral or ambiguous meanings of language (e.g., idioms, humor, metaphors, multiple meanings that depend on the context for interpretation).
These symptoms overlap heavily with Fi, as Fi has no built in structure for understanding social dynamics. Without a proper harmonization with Te – its method of understanding the dynamics of “the world” (and by extension people) – Fi is left unaware of how to interface with the social landscape. Add to that Fi’s innately off-beat disposition – as expressed through the above signals of asynchronous mouth movements, unmatching relation between inner feeling and outward expression, and unordinary giggling – and what results is an individual who is quite socially peculiar. This is especially so if the individual is a young proactive type with Fi, vividly expressing him or herself for the first times.
Now it is certainly not my intention to undermine the whole of the autistic spectrum, but perhaps to help contribute one opinion for how we may better define the criteria we give certain diagnoses. What is now known as the autistic spectrum has undergone many revisions over the years as we struggle to understand where to draw the line between a natural level of variation in human expressivity and some legitimate anomaly.
And this confusion is no doubt amplified by the absence of a serious consideration of type in these criteria. I believe many mild, and some moderate, diagnoses emerging from the DSM can be attributed wholly to improper development of the eight cognitive functions and their resolutions lie not in some medicinal regime, but in a proper psychotherapy.
In the same vein, alexithymia (which is a personality trait characterized by a deficit in the cognitive processing of one’s own emotions) is common in cases where Fi is underappreciated in the psyche of an Fi type. There will be a “difficulty identifying feelings and distinguishing between feelings and the bodily sensations of emotional arousal”.
While it may seem contradictory that an Fi type, being so connected to the emotional register, would have difficulty understanding their own emotions, when the process is not properly consulted, or is repressed for conscious or unconscious reasons, the psyche has no measure with which to weigh its own bodily experience. Unlike Fe, Fi depends on its ability to hone in on bodily experience both for insights into oneself as well as all of humanity, causing an utter disorientation in the whole of the emotional dimension when this internal connection is damaged.
The Seelie & The Unseelie
In all four judgment processes, there exist themes of right and wrong, of correct or incorrect, as data always falls on either side of judgment’s sharp blade. In the case of the two ethical functions, this becomes a matter of good and evil. These two themes are our memetic reinterpretation of what is conducive to life (the somatic) and what is destructive to life. They are, in essence, a sophistication of the basic instinct and bias for survival.
However, the topic of good and evil quickly becomes complex, as often times what is most conducive towards life is the death of another life. In the animal kingdom we observe that the ethic towards life will lead an animal to destroy that which is threatening, and so, ironically it will fulfill its purpose as an advocate of life by bringing another death. Here we see quite clearly that the ethical process must handle both the decision to give life and to take it away, if it is to be comprehensive. Because of this, Fi and Fe each carry a light and dark nature – having both creative and destructive abilities, according to what is necessary for the overall protection of the principle of life.
As I examined the characteristics of light and dark Fi, in relation to culture and mythology, I was stricken by its immense correlations with the fairies of Scottish folklore (a topic I address more extensively in Chapter 30). But briefly, what are known as the Seelie and Unseelie fairies, as described in Anglo-Saxon mythology, are a perfect anthropomorphization of the light and dark duality of Fi. The seelie fairies are very private and independent creatures, but not necessarily unsociable. They are whimsical and flighty, yet emotionally sensitive and deeply in touch with nature, love and beauty. They show themselves to humans only if they fancy them agreeable, which they might if the human possess a reserved and contemplative nature as well as a generous heart and the ability to keep the fairy’s secrecy.
Fairies are also very just creatures, always considering it a duty to repay a debt, whether that means repaying a deed or avenging an insult. When repaying a deed, they may silently fill a human’s vase with meal or bring them luck in wagers. When avenging an insult they may rearrange a room to confuse the human, fill their shoes with mud, or do all manner of other subtle things to pester them. However, unseelie fairies are only ever troublesome. They are bitter, misanthropic and destructive creatures. Similar to seelie fairies, their methods can be tricksy, causing ill will through indirect means. A pan may start leaking from a freshly carved hole, or a cupboard might be found emptied.
At other times they may be more direct; killing livestock or hovering above the earth and dragging unsuspecting men into the ground. In all of these characteristics, we see the traces of an introverted, ethically independent, life/death-oriented existence. We see a fictional race that is very reserved, emotional, and logistically minded when it comes to executions in the outer world, which they perform in a self-righteous manner. These characteristics precisely reflect the disposition of Fi and how it executes its internal feelings through Te in privately charitable or malicious ways.
The Fi process, when seelie, as we may call it, is sensitive, sprite-like, in tune with the individual’s inner feelings, and radiates an innocent emotional energy from the person. It is effeminate, both in males and females, causing a very delicate voice and demeanor. Vibrating, bashful giggles abound and their snarling smile rises high upon the face, threatening to overtake the eyes. When Fi becomes unseelie, it can become deeply misanthropic and cold. The voice ceases to have its unhindered, airy disposition – reverting to an injured, nasal tone. Vibrating giggles become rare. Te is used much more heavily, causing an emotionally tense, sullen yet aloof communication style. It will be sassy, passive-aggressive, and righteously uncharitable.
Fi can neither hide its joy nor its sorrow; it emanates without warning out of the person’s internal experience. Unlike Fe, Fi has an inability to hide its emotional radiation, nor can Te properly compensate for this. While Fe can transform an emotion with other emotions, those with Fi-Te can only conceal emotions with the cold shell of Te, creating a calloused demeanor. But the person’s heart will always seep through this coating and show on their countenance – revealing their true internal disposition.
Tension Around Nose
Signals of Contempt
Accidental, Offbeat Expressions
Unbridled Emotional Energy
Airy, Sprite-like Voice (Seelie)
Sassy, Nasal Tone (Unseelie)
Giddy, Vibrating Giggle (Seelie)
This snippet has been imported from the 2016 Cognitive Type book, with the author’s permission. We hope you enjoy!