If you’re big on personality types, you probably know that ISTPs (Virtuosos) are generally regarded as the most laid-back ones. But what if we told you that not all Virtuosos are so easygoing? That’s right—“laid-back” is probably the last word you’d use to describe an unhealthy ISTP.
Not sure what unhealthy Virtuosos look like or why this phenomenon happens? Look no further—after reading this article, you’ll be able to spot them from miles away!
Read along to discover nine tell-tale signs that a Virtuoso has become unhealthy and get a glimpse into the dark side of ISTPs.
- While healthy ISTPs are reserved, self-sufficient, and adventurous, unhealthy ones are withdrawn, overly independent, and reckless.
- ISTPs typically become unhealthy due to unmanaged severe stress, such as that experienced due to negative life events or being around people who try to control them.
- Arrogance, laziness, emotional detachment, and refusal to take accountability for their actions are among the most common traits of unhealthy ISTPs.
- The main three strategies that can help ISTPs become healthier are making time for introspection, engaging in mindfulness activities, and improving their emotional intelligence.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy ISTPs
Let’s start from the basics and compare healthy vs. unhealthy ISTPs to better understand how unhealthy traits manifest in the Virtuoso personality type.
Healthy ISTPs are logical, resourceful, reserved, and independent. Although they are rather action-oriented, they possess highly analytical minds and have a natural talent for solving complex problems. Explorers at heart, they are inquisitive and jump into new experiences head-first.
By contrast, unhealthy Virtuosos display many of these traits, albeit in rather unhealthy and even destructive ways.
When they become unhealthy, ISTPs often become reclusive. This, coupled with the fact that they often become independent to the extreme and fear being controlled, causes them to be suspicious of other people’s motives. As such, they might struggle to build and maintain harmonious relationships with those around them.
Moreover, while adventurousness is one of the greatest strengths of Virtuosos, unhealthy ones tend to follow their impulses with reckless abandon, even if it puts their safety on the line.
It’s also common for ISTPs to adopt personality traits and behaviors that aren’t typically associated with them once they become unhealthy. For example, many unhealthy Virtuosos struggle with a fear of change, which is rather uncharacteristic of this personality type.
How ISTPs Become Unhealthy
ISTPs usually become unhealthy due to extreme stress. Although they are rather calm and resilient, no personality type is immune to being stressed out—and Virtuosos are no exception.
Some things that might stress them out include:
- Negative life events (job loss, divorce, etc.)
- People attempting to control them
- Excessive socializing
- Overly emotional people
Even though ISTPs make excellent problem-solvers, stressful situations can sometimes become too overwhelming for them to manage. This feeling of incompetence alone can drive them to become unhealthy, which affects the way they use their cognitive functions.
Rather than using the ISTP cognitive function stack in its entirety, unhealthy Virtuosos overly rely on one or two functions. This can result in:
- A Ti-Ni loop. This happens when ISTPs only use their dominant introverted thinking (Ti) and tertiary introverted intuition (Ni) functions. Due to their inability to access their extraverted functions, they may feel disconnected from reality and other people, struggle with overthinking, and imagine catastrophic scenarios in the future.
- An inferior function “grip.” ISTPs stuck in a “Fe grip” rely too much on their least developed function— extraverted feeling (Fe). Because of this, they may be more susceptible to peer pressure, seek external validation, and struggle with people-pleasing.
9 Signs of Unhealthy ISTPs
Arrogance, recklessness, and social isolation are some of the most common unhealthy ISTP traits, but they aren’t the only ones.
So, let’s take a closer look at nine distinct signs that may indicate that you or a Virtuoso you know has become unhealthy:
It’s common for ISTPs to come across as arrogant, whether they’re healthy or not. More often than not, though, they are simply confident in their abilities, and they aren’t afraid to admit this out loud—even if it leaves the wrong impression.
However, unhealthy Virtuosos are blatantly arrogant, as they genuinely believe they are better than others. Oftentimes, they will completely disregard other people’s insights and advice, believing they know everything best—even when it’s not the case.
#2. Inability to Effectively Communicate
Even though ISTPs are anything but social butterflies, they usually make effective communicators. They value precision in speech and don’t beat around the bush, so it doesn’t take them long to get their point across.
Once they become unhealthy, though, they often struggle with communication. Not only do they keep their thoughts to themselves, but they also expect others to read their minds and understand their logic without any explanation.
They also tend to avoid addressing problems openly, which often leaves others feeling frustrated and confused.
#3. Impulsive Behavior
As auxiliary extraverted sensing (Se) users, ISTPs enjoy taking risks.
Unhealthy ones, however, crave new experiences and physical sensations more than their healthy counterparts, causing them to take risks with little to no regard for their own or other people’s safety. Due to their tendency to act without thinking, they often end up in dangerous situations.
Moreover, impulsivity is linked to substance use and abuse. Unfortunately, it’s not unheard of for unhealthy ISTPs to struggle with such issues.
Unhealthy Virtuosos are no strangers to emotional dysregulation.
One of the main culprits behind this is their tendency to bury their feelings deep inside instead of expressing them in healthy ways. Even though they consider this an act of self-control, paradoxically, this only makes it harder for them to control their emotions. As such, they may fly into a rage seemingly out of nowhere.
However, this isn’t to say that ISTPs are dangerous. Quite the contrary—they rarely, if ever, resort to violence, though unhealthy ones may be more likely to do so.
While healthy ISTPs thrive on action, they tend to lose their drive and motivation once they become unhealthy.
Oftentimes, they have a hard time being productive and getting their tasks done. Rather than pushing themselves to go after their goals, they look for excuses and succumb to procrastination.
Laziness is especially common among unhealthy Virtuosos who are struggling with a Ti-Ni loop, as they often feel trapped inside their heads. Due to their reluctance to take action, they may miss out on exciting opportunities.
#6. Social Isolation
As introverts, ISTPs embrace solitude and have no trouble being alone. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, unhealthy ISTPs often withdraw completely from their friends, family, and even society as a whole.
Even though it may feel comfortable at first, such extreme isolation can take a toll not only on their relationships but also on their mental health. It’s not unusual for them to struggle with paranoid thoughts, social anxiety, depression, and similar issues.
Individualistic and resourceful, ISTPs pride themselves on being independent. However, they often take this too far when they become unhealthy; they may even perceive something as innocent as friendly advice as an attempt to control them and rob them of their autonomy.
Naturally, unhealthy Virtuosos never ask for help—even when they need it—and you can rest assured they won’t accept it, no matter how good your intentions may be.
They can also be non-conformist to a fault, meaning unhealthy ISTPs may be rather rebellious and break rules just for the sake of it. Similarly, they may also perceive those who follow social norms as having a herd mentality and look down on them.
#8. Emotional Detachment
While being stuck in the grip of their inferior Fe function can make ISTPs come off as more sensitive than usual, most unhealthy Virtuosos tend to be rather cold-hearted and detached. They simply place little importance on other people’s feelings—even when it comes to their loved ones.
It also doesn’t help that many unhealthy ISTPs feel like others are out to get them or try to control them. When combined, their lack of empathy and distrust of others can breed animosity toward those around them.
#9. Lack of Accountability
It’s no secret that ISTPs aren’t nearly as responsible as ISTJs, their judging counterparts. And yet, they typically have no trouble taking responsibility for their actions—as long as they are healthy, that is.
Recklessness, trouble regulating emotions, and a lack of empathy are all hallmarks of an unhealthy ISTP personality. When combined, they create the perfect recipe for disaster.
Too often, unhealthy Virtuosos will say or do something that hurts others. Nonetheless, most of them simply refuse to admit their mistakes, which can further strain their interpersonal relationships.
3 Strategies on How ISTPs Can Become Healthy
There’s no denying that being in an unhealthy state can wreak havoc on ISTPs' lives. However, no matter how long it lasts, it is possible to overcome it.
#1. Engage in Self-Reflection
As avid problem-solvers, ISTPs know that the first step to resolving any problem is identifying it.
This is precisely why self-reflection is so important—it allows us to get to know ourselves better and realize which aspects of our personalities need healing.
While there are many ways in which unhealthy ISTPs can uncover their inner selves, journaling is a great place to start. Not only does it allow them to see themselves from a third-person perspective, but it can also help them make a habit of expressing their feelings instead of bottling them up.
#2. Practice Mindfulness
Without a doubt, mindfulness is a tool any unhealthy ISTP can benefit from.
For those stuck in a Ti-Ni loop, it can help them tap into their auxiliary Se and become more grounded in the present moment.
Meanwhile, those who struggle with impulsivity, anger issues, and the like may find that it can help them relax and improve their self-control.
Here are some simple mindfulness activities unhealthy ISTPs should consider incorporating into their daily lives:
- Mindfulness meditation
- Breathing exercises
#3. Develop Emotional Intelligence
Since Fe is their inferior function, it’s safe to say that emotional intelligence isn’t the strongest suit of ISTPs. This applies to healthy and unhealthy Virtuosos alike, though unhealthy ones may struggle with emotional awareness, regulation, and expression even more than their healthy counterparts.
Naturally, developing emotional intelligence can help ISTPs heal and become the best version of themselves. By getting better at recognizing, understanding, and handling emotions—be they their own or those of others—they can also build stronger, more meaningful relationships.
If necessary, don’t hesitate to seek professional help—it can help you get back on your feet even faster!
If you relate to a thing or two we covered in this article, don’t fret—it doesn’t necessarily make you unhealthy. It’s completely natural to display certain unhealthy characteristics from time to time.
However, if you or someone you know consistently displays destructive behaviors and traits, there’s a good chance they may be an unhealthy ISTP.
If this is you, don’t take it too hard—it’s only temporary. Besides, if there’s one personality type that can find a solution to virtually any problem, it’s ISTP!
Unhealthy ISTP FAQ
#1. Do ISTPs lack empathy?
ISTPs normally don’t lack empathy, though they can be quite insensitive due to their tendency to favor logic over emotions. However, unhealthy ones may find it more difficult to empathize with others due to emotional detachment.
#2. Do ISTPs have anger issues?
While some ISTPs may have anger issues—especially when provoked—this isn’t a characteristic they all share. On the contrary, they tend to be rather calm and laid-back. However, they may burst out in anger if they bottle up their emotions or are forced to express their feelings against their will.
#3. Are ISTPs manipulative?
ISTPs aren’t inherently manipulative. However, all personality types can manipulate others. Although most ISTPs strongly dislike manipulative behavior due to their independent natures, some may engage in it out of curiosity or for fun.
#4. Can ISTPs be narcissistic?
ISTPs can be narcissistic, just like any other personality type. In particular, unhealthy ISTPs may exhibit traits associated with narcissism, such as arrogance. Nonetheless, anyone can be narcissistic, regardless of which personality type they belong to.