May 15, 2021

ENFP, MBTI and ADHD

If you read the ENFP profile carefully, some of the weaknesses listed there overlap with the symptoms of ADHD, namely:

  • Tendency to be smothering
  • Their enthusiasm may lead them to be unrealistic
  • Uninterested in dealing with “mundane” matters such as cleaning, paying bills, etc.
  • Don’t pay attention to their own needs
  • May become bored easily
  • May get involved with drugs, alcohol, or promiscuity, and generally seek mindless experiences and sensations.
  • May skip from relationship to relationship without the ability to commit.
  • May start projects but be unable to finish them.
  • May be unable to keep a job for any length of time.

This would lead someone to the conclusion that ADHD is more frequent among ENFPs than other types, but is there any hard evidence for that? I actually personally know two ENFPs diagnosed with ADHD, but that’s anecdotal evidence.

After a lot of searching I discovered that there is actually a study on the prevalence of ADHD among different MBTI types. It was done on 117 children with a diagnosis of ADHD and these were the results:

adhd frequency by mbti type

Now these numbers don’t mean much if you don’t know how common each MBTI type is in the general population. According to the MBTI manual, ENFPs make up 6.4% of the population, so them making 5.1% of those diagnosed with ADHD actually means this type ISN’T overrepresented among ADHD patients. Now the sample of this study is relatively small, but it’s the best data we have. Also, again anecdotally, both my ENFP friends were quite good students as children and they got diagnosed in adulthood. Also, most ENFPs I know are avid readers of books and have no problems focusing for long periods of time on things they deem important or interesting.

Nonetheless, if you look at forum posts and Reddit threads, it seems like ENFPs are absolutely plagued with ADHD and procrastination problems. My explanations for this (and this is purely a theory) are:

  • the reason we see so many complaints online from ENFPs about ADHD could just be that ENFPs are more expressive and open about their problems.
  • intuitive types according to data in the MBTI manual have an average IQ score that is 11 points higher than the sensing types and ENFPs are also on the more intelligent side of the curve. This IQ advantage could be enough to offset the disability that ADHD presents, especially in elementary school when the curriculum isn’t that demanding.
  • The ENFP’s problems with ADHD may become more evident in adolescence or adulthood, when discipline and an average IQ seem to trump having no discipline and a high IQ.

That said, I have found another study on ADHD and MBTI, this time with 110 adults with ADHD. This study concluded that there was a significant (p <.001) correlation between the intuitive (N) function and the perceptive (P) attitude of the MBTI as being highly represented in the ADHD sample. I guess this proves my theory that among intuitive people ADHD becomes more evident later on in life when they can’t compensate with intelligence anymore. So ENFPs probably do have a higher tendency to get ADHD, but it’s not so evident in childhood.

I guess anyone with Extraverted Intuition (Ne) as their primary function could have problems filtering and prioritizing the unstoppable stream of random ideas being generated in their brain.

What if I have ADHD?

Most ENFPs don’t have ADHD, just like most ESTJs are not narcissists, because if it were different, then an entire specific personality type would actually be a personality disorder. People online tend to self-diagnose a lot. However, if you have doubts, it would be smart to first go over the symptoms of adult ADHD:

  • Impulsiveness
  • Disorganization and problems prioritizing
  • Poor time management skills
  • Problems focusing on a task
  • Trouble multitasking
  • Excessive activity or restlessness
  • Poor planning
  • Low frustration tolerance
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Problems following through and completing tasks
  • Hot temper
  • Trouble coping with stress

If you have most of these symptoms, it would be smart to see a psychiatrist and get tested.

enfp taking notes

Tips on overcoming ADHD and procrastination

If you do get diagnosed, or if you generally have procrastination and organization problems without a diagnosis, here are some tips from a person who has ADHD and lifelong time management and organization problems:

  • Write things down! People with these kinds of issues have bad working memory, so it’s essential to offload your ideas, goals and plans onto a piece of paper, or an app like Evernote. Carry these notes with you everywhere because you’ll forget they exist too. People with ADHD need strong visual cues and reminders. If you go for the app, make sure you put it as the first icon on your mobile phone.
  • Stimulants of the central nervous system help. You are probably already drinking a lot of coffee to compensate for your lack of concentration and organization, because caffeine enhances wakefulness and focus. If you aren’t, start drinking coffee. Nicotine also helps and people with undiagnosed ADHD self-medicate with nicotine, but smoking is extremely bad for you and not worth it. Drugs used for the treatment of ADHD work quite similarly to caffeine, only stronger.
  • Aerobic exercise improves executive function in both older and younger adults. [1] 30-40 minutes of aerobic exercise 3-4 times a week is scientifically proven to boost executive functioning in humans.
  • Use apps like weekplan.net. There you can write down tasks for the week and check them off. Once you establish a consistent 2-3 weeks of checking off things that are done, it will be hard to break the chain of productivity.
  • Do not use social media for the first part of the day unless you absolutely must. Separate work and play. Decide to not open any social media app until 18:00.
  • Read the book called Atomic Habits, which is a masterpiece on establishing habits that stick.