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I read something recently that stuck with me: “the cruelest things I have ever heard said in an argument came from the mouths of NFJs.”

Ours is a reputation for sweetness and light. If you read an online profile about us, it paints us as rare and completely harmless. That is not the case, because no human being is harmless; we are all capable of great evil. Online profiles do not delve into our deeper sin nature, and the natural abilities that equip us with the power to hurt others in ways other types can only imagine, because so few of us blatantly abuse our gifts. The darkness is there. We may not act on it, but we are no more saintly than any other type … and if we do choose to give in to our darker instincts, we are much more manipulative about it and thus, have a greater potential for evil than many other types.

Every type has a typical brand of evil, but the NFJ has a particular strain of cruelty to its methods. Manipulative evil looks so innocent on the surface that the victim doesn’t realize what it is, until it is too late… until they have surrendered completely to the belief that this person loves them, and thus, opened themselves up emotionally for utter destruction. Because we are so good at reading other people and anticipating their needs, we also have an incredible ability to know just what to say and when, to hurt them the worst. Whether or not we give in to this impulse relies on our moral beliefs and strength of character… but it’s still there. We have, at all times, the ability to destroy others, but fortunately, we rarely use it.

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Low-scale manipulation involves “pushing people’s buttons” to elicit an emotional response, either out of boredom or irritation with that person over an unaddressed resentment. I struggle a great deal with this; when hurt by another person, my tendency is to want to hurt them back, and I know how to do it. I know their weaknesses. I know their insecurities. I know their motivations. I know what will “set them off.” I can push buttons, and get the anticipated reaction, and feel no guilt whatsoever in doing it. Not at the time, and not later, because if they push me to that point, I have emotionally disconnected from them on every possible level and feel nothing for them.

Doing this is a mild form of sociopathic behavior and is not unusual… unless it lasts for more than a few hours, and for most NFJ villains, it is a permanent state of being; their concern for another’s welfare is terminated, but their interest in hurting them is tied to their own desire for emotional vengeance. Or, in some instances, they believe that for the betterment of society, some people must die! (If indeed Adolf Hitler was an NFJ, as so many claim he was, this was his state of being: for the good of a few, many must die.) Because so much of their worldview is impacted not only through their own emotions, but concern for humanity at large, the NFJ villain is never power-hungry for the sake of power itself, but desires it as a method of implementing a greater vision for society on the whole.

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Morgana in Merlin is a classic example of this: her natural instinct to “feel” the feelings of others turns to manipulation. Her intention to sit on the throne of Camelot is born of ambition and her desire to “right” the past wrongs of Uther in reestablishing paganism and killing anyone who will not submit. She is very good at manipulating others to get what she wants, but her primary motivation in doing so is not just to accomplish her goals, but also to make them genuinely suffer, and because she has developed a personal relationship with them, she knows how to hurt them the most.

This is approach is also used by Rumpelstiltskin in Once Upon a Time; he is such an effective villain because of his ability to read others’ emotions and use it against them. The icy Melisandre on Game of Thrones does the same thing; she is so calculating that surely, we think, she cannot be an NFJ… but she is, just a cruel one hell-bent on leading Stannis to the throne, so that the masses can benefit from knowing the Lord of Light (religious idealism drives her onward). Melisandre appeals to Stannis and his wife on an emotional and spiritual level; she is a natural manipulator, who reads people well enough to discern what they need most, and finds a way to offer it to them.

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Perhaps one of the most blatant NFJ villains is Ra’s al Ghul from Batman Begins, who intends to wipe out the crime in Gotham through its total annihilation. Ra’s believes this is for the betterment of society; he holds to an idealistic view that in destroying a city, he can destroy evil itself and thus preserve humanity at large. Further evidence of his manipulative tendencies shows in his training of Bruce as part of the League of Shadows in the hope of recruiting him. Ra’s instills in Bruce a larger vision for humanity, while at the same time targeting his emotions, by insulting the memory of his parents. It hurts, and it works. When Bruce betrays him, Ra’s retaliates with the intention of hurting and humiliating him. His daughter also uses this method against Bruce in The Dark Knight Rises.

These betrayals are all the more painful to Bruce, because both established an emotional relationship with Bruce before turning on him; Ra’s became a father figure and mentor, and Talia became a lover. That is a crucial element in an NFJ villain, to draw the other person in to a relationship that is not sincere on their part, and calculated to cause emotional damage when it is terminated — Morgana, Melisandre, Rumpelstiltskin, Ra’s, and Talia all do this. It makes them powerful, it makes them cruel, and it makes them dangerous. No type is without its villains.