Jean-Jacques Rousseau – Introverted Controversial Questioner


In The Social Contract, Rousseau (1712 – 1778) wrote, “Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains.” He believed we’re all good by nature but are corrupted by society. Our real teachers are experience and emotion; our institutions mess us up. On the other hand, he thought all citizens should be committed to the general good, even if it means acting against their private or personal interests. For example, we might support a political party that proposes to tax us heavily (if we have a large income!) because we can see the benefit this taxation can bring to all.

What kind of a guy was Rousseau? At the time, they said he was paranoid, a hypochondriac, and insane; he behaved erratically, had sudden changes of mood, oscillated, was disrespectful of others’ humanity, and falsely accused people. He often fell out with his friends and associates: Diderot, Hume, Voltaire, and others. His writings and behavior brought on vicious attacks by others. At the same time, the way his mind operated opened him up to creative ways of viewing the world.

What Enneagram type was Rousseau? His habit of oscillating, his suspicious nature, and that he didn’t like superiors suggest the Questioner type. He felt alienated and would stay to himself. He certainly marched to his own drummer so I would say he was a Questioner with an Observer wing. My second choice would be the Romantic.

When he was in disfavor, the Duke and Duchess of Luxembourg offered him and his partner, Thérèse, a house on their estate near Paris. Living there secluded, Rousseau produced three major works: The New Heloise, probably the most widely read novel of his day; The Social Contract, an influential book on political theory; and Émile, a classic book on education. Émile created problems with the Church in France and was burned in a number of places. Rousseau was forced to leave France for Switzerland, his birthplace, but his citizenship there was revoked as a result of the book. In 1766 he went to England where he fell out with David Hume, and returned to France under a false name.

In his last years, Rousseau completed his Confessions and returned to copying music to make a living, working in the morning and walking and “botanizing”in the afternoon. He loved nature.

I wonder if the following influenced The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle:

“But if there is a state where the soul can find a resting-place secure enough to establish itself and concentrate its entire being there, with no need to remember the past or reach into the future, where time is nothing to it, where the present runs on indefinitely but this duration goes unnoticed, with no sign of the passing of time, and no other feeling of deprivation or enjoyment, pleasure or pain, desire or fear than the simple feeling of existence, a feeling that fills our soul entirely, as long as this state lasts, we can call ourselves happy, not with a poor, incomplete and relative happiness such as we find in the pleasures of life, but with a sufficient, complete and perfect happiness which leaves no emptiness to be filled in the soul. Such is the state which I often experienced on the Island Of Saint-Pierre in my solitary reveries, whether I lay in a boat and drifted where the water carried me, or sat by the shores of the stormy lake, or elsewhere, on the banks of a lovely river or a stream murmuring over the stones.”

Rousseau’s ideal was the independent farmer, free of superiors and self-governing. His critics/peers found this distasteful. They preferred the luxuries of a civilized existence. To make matters worse for them, every new work of Rousseau’s was a tremendous success, whether on politics, theater, education, religion, or love.

See my blog on How to Get Along with an Introvert, Part I on Psychology Today. Part II will be published April 3 in Psychology Today. Also, see my list of Famous Types.

The Other Side of Introverts

Nine Ways to be an Introvert by E Wagele

I saw something today on my web site’s INFP page that sent a chill up my spine:

The inferior function
Introverted feelers’ least developed and most unconscious function is extraverted thinking, which may be triggered by being criticized or self-criticism. It often takes the form of nit-picking or being hostile, critical, or sarcastic.”

 This is a quote from my book, The Happy Introvert, A Wild and Crazy Guide to Your True Self  from the chapter Introverts, the Workplace, and Myers-Briggs.

INFP stands for four of the eight Myers-Briggs (MBTI) personality preferences: introversion, intuition, feeling and perceiving. (The others are extraversion, sensation, thinking, and judging.) I am an INFP, though the typical Enneagram 5-Observer (me) is an INTP. In other words, I’m an introverted feeler with intuition. I’m comfortable with my inner life but when I should communicate I don’t always do the right thing. This is where my inferior function, extraverted thinking, comes in.

I was having some problems concerning a friend and felt self-critical for continuing the relationship. Eventually I started making verbal slips. The things that came out of my mouth (my extraverted feeling) were shameful; things I never would have said consciously. I nit-picked, I was hostile, I was critical. Since I didn’t quit the relationship consciously, my unconscious stepped in and did it for “me.” As Jung said, the conscious and unconscious act to balance one another.

I saw why I should have paid more attention to the following advice I gave INFPs and ISFPs in The Happy Introvert:

“If you are an introverted feeler, you value ideals, art, and life, and are motivated to improve the human condition. When something upsets you…, instead of retreating, make a point of staying and working things out. Make sure your environment is safe for expressing what you think and feel, or you might notice you are holding back your opinions.” When we hold things back, they sneak out when we don’t want them to. Oops!


Feeling types make judgments according to such values as compassion, beauty, empathic connections, and harmony. Introverted feeling types (INFPs and ISFPs) value personal experience and subjective meanings so highly, they look down upon collective opinions and the extraverts who hold them. They become inflexible when their deepest beliefs are threatened.

Introverted feelers with sensing, ISFP’s, are compassionate, use and take pleasure in their five senses, and tend to be good listeners. If you are an idealist and a soul-searcher, you may be an introverted feeler with intuition, an INFP.

Typical occupations for INFPs, include psychologists, artists, writers, philosophers, teachers, editors, inventors, and musicians. Your intuition is extraverted. If you are an introverted feeler with intuition you are creative, recognize potential in others, and understand abstract, intangible aspects of life. Avoid jobs that place you in highly competitive situations. Honor your need for quiet, consciously use your thinking ability to determine whether you have overlooked any important facts or details, and look for opportunities to engage your imagination.

The rich inner life is definitely worth all we “introverted feelers with intuition” go through. When I see a flower, a blade of grass, a Coke can, or anything else, I have a richer experience than someone whose inner life is neglected. That’s just one of many things that I love about being this type.Nigel Thompson, an INFP.

NOW The Career Within You is in Korean and Japanese. See the Japanese cover:

For Famous People’s Enneagram and MBTI types see my Psychology Today blog and my web site.