In Growth, Personality Hacker Blog, Personality Psychology

robin-williams-enfp-personalityJoel and I have been discussing the tragedy of Robin William’s suicide, especially as it relates to his type as an ENFP personality – or, Exploration/Authenticity in the Genius System.

He was an amazing performer, but by all accounts when he wasn’t performing he was shy and had difficulty connecting with others.

A big question I keep seeing (or, rather, assertion I keep reading) is that people who are truly funny always balance it with a ‘dark side’, can’t connect with others authentically (that’s what the humor is for – to manufacture a feeling of relationship), and will almost always have lows as low as the highest high.

I’m not an expert on mental health, depression or suicide. An explanation of why Williams may have taken his life is being attempted by a lot of people right now, and I’ll leave it to others far more qualified than I to take on that task.

That said, I have observed often that the more time and effort we spend on truly developing and exercising our co-pilot process the heartier we are at dealing with some truly horrific things that life can throw at us.

I recently ran into the video below.

The comedian, Russell Brand, another ENFP personality (Exploration/Authenticity), has clearly spent a lot of time developing his Authenticity co-pilot process.

He’s a fantastic performer, very charismatic, and if given the right platform will often resemble Robin Williams in his energy and effusiveness.

He refers to himself as insane, but don’t let him fool you.

Instead of having difficulty connecting without the tool of performance, Brand appears far more responsive to people around him.

For example, in the situation in the video below there is no safe container for performance, so he instinctively understands it’s on him to create it.

In fact, as the people around him get more and more insecure, he gets more and more authentic and rests into himself.

There’s a connective element to his interaction, true concern in his voice toward the interviewers, which is quite disconcerting to them as they are fully in ‘performance’ mode.

It’s not easy to develop oneself when in the public eye, and it can be comforting to fall back on synthetic relationships when you’re really, really good at creating them.

For people of all types some of the hardest work is letting oneself recognize the difference between true development, and the illusion of growth based on accolades we may get for having talents others admire.

The litmus test is this: the former fills us to the brim with self-love, the latter always leaves us starving for more.

Read more about the Authenticity process here.



p.s. I’ve rarely seen such an amazing example of development in an performer. The closest is Jon Stewart, who is most likely an ENTP – Exploration/Accuracy.

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Antonia Dodge
Antonia is an author, thought leader, coach, trainer, systems thinker, and personality profiling expert. As the co-owner and Lead Trainer of Personality Hacker, she oversees all the training programs and content that Personality Hacker produces to help people "hack" their personal growth journey and create more happiness in their lives.
Showing 9 comments
  • kalani gilkerson

    Now that was some the purest form of authenticity I’ve seen and a great display of radical honesty. from the very beginning they were openly attacking his charecter, distorting his agenda and continually trying to objectify him. I love how he held his frame and agenda and was able to display his intended message through pure authenticity. Great example of showing the style of authenticity Antonia

  • G.M.

    Absolutely epic! Bravo, Mr. Brand!

  • Heather

    My father is an ENFP and Robin William’s doppelgänger, so that death disconcerted me for personal reasons. How much do (did) they really have in common? What motivated Robin Williams, and is my father at risk for that same line of thinking?

    My father often gets defensive from feeling invalidated and marginalized, but Russell Brand, with that very same treatment, reacts differently. So, when an ENFP is confident enough in their Fi, they can be at ease and sympathetic while expressing their convictions, despite lack of respect from others? I suppose it’s a matter of utilizing Fi instead their weaker Te where they might try (clumsily) to argue their way through. Wow. What an epiphany for me.

    Come to think of it, I just inspired another ENFP friend to follow her convictions, even though it meant disagreeing with domineering and disrespectful family members. It was like watching a butterfly emerge, a glorious awakening that was a privilege to witness. She tells me again and again how empowering it was for her to exude both kindness and conviction simultaneously.

    I love that you wrote this, and hope that every ENFP who reads this comprehends just what is possible for them when they bolster their authenticity.

  • Scott

    Great article Antonia 🙂

    In the above video, Russel has mastered the power of answering questions with questions, a strategy ENFP’s must learn in order to stand their own in the public sphere of character attacks and identity shaming.

    As an ENFP I empathise with the emptiness/shallowness Authenticity people feel. Thanks to much of your material I have come to the realisation that many people just aren’t Authenticity types and its not their fault!

    I now make acceptance-space for those people, while really being intentional with my NFP friendships that I have (when I need those Authenticity ‘what is the point of life’ conversations).

    My INTP brother, also my best friend, amazingly happens to be very gracious with my need for verbal processing and constant value seeking.

    While I will never consider suicide, this never ending search for authenticity and meaning has lead to me committing suicide to my ego a few times. I often wonder if all the people considering suicide would just pull the plug on their ego and go do what their heart is screaming for, what would the world look like?

    To all the ENFP’s out there, commit suicide to your ego and go follow your heart Alchemist style.

    Much love Personality Hackers 🙂

  • Rachel

    As an INFP, I admire his ability to make people laugh and understand while being authentic. As a Fi dominant, I often find my expressions of authenticity to be heavy and overbearing when expressed. It’s nice to see Fi filtered through Ne.

  • Melanie Black

    This was so amazing. As a Millennial ENFP not only am I inspired by Russell’s use of Authenticity and Exploration to remain calm, direct and yet warm- but I also love that he confronted MSNBC and media in general for sensationalizing the news and not taking important issues seriously and in a way that is helpful to people.

    I am happily a mental health professional and connect with and empathize with others by meeting them wherever they are and helping them see their own authenticity. I kind of do what Russell does but on a much more intimate 1 to 1 level. I’m also usually a bit more gentle about it. At the same time I tend not to have the patience in my personal life for people who are not willing to be authentic. My husband, doesn’t understand why I am so picky with my friendships. He is a ESFJ and could probably be friends with a rock. He tends to have layers of friends with varying degrees of familiarity and authenticity and he’s perfectly fine with that. We agree to disagree. (:

    With Robin Williams we have to continue to be careful not to simplify down and say that he committed suicide because of his personality gone wrong. Depression is a serious mental illness with multifaceted causes and triggers including brain chemistry, hormones and environmental factors. I like to think about personality theory as part of a holistic view of an individual. Life and biology throw different things our way. We just have to deal with it the best we can. It is helpful for us to know more about our patterns and challenges as ENFPs so that we can set ourselves up to thrive despite illness or difficult circumstances.

  • Ess

    oh my goodness. their reactions! is it really that hard to take an ENFP?! I just love him, he rules the place!

  • Brent

    Thank you for this real life example.

    As an ENFP, I love finding those invisible bread crumb trails that others don’t see until they are brought to light. And when bolstered by your own convictions, the empowerment is amazing! Not that one should live for the feeling, it’s bringing truth to light for the benefit of those around you.

    Conversely, when you have one of those hunches but lack the conviction or that nagging doubt holds you back (some of those hunches can have devastating results if true or false and you HAVE to be right before you express them), can suck the life out of you.

  • Erin

    Love me some Russell Brand! Oh that man. 🙂

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