Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Look at Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs using Function-Attitudes

I was watching some reruns of NCIS lately that I happen to miss and in a few episodes of TV's NCIS there was a character named Samantha Ryan, a Naval psychologist, played by Jamie Lee Curtis. At the end of one episode she called Gibbs an introverted intuitive feeler.  This is a term used by Carl Jung when talking about one of his personality types, the MBTI type code that corresponds with this Jungian type is INFJ.

His type code as function attitudes breaks down to Ni, Fe, Ti, Se, Ne, Fi, Te, Si

Ni is shown through Gibbs gut feelings.  In most of the episodes Tony or someone else refers to Gibb's gut feeling as the reason they need to continue searching.  Or they need to look for a specific person.  But it is this "sixth sense" that always works for him.   He uses this as his fall back, his hero and has learned over the years to trust in it when the facts don't always support it.  Through association his team has learned they can trust it also even when there is no evidence. 

His good parent is Fe.  Jethro does not demonstrate Fe as you might expect from someone who has it as his hero.  Instead as his good parent his concern for his team takes on a parental look.  He will do anything to protect his team and others.  He always puts others first.  His relationship with Abby is a great example of Fe.  Always bringing her supersized CAFPOWs and saying the right things to her, his simple kiss on the forehead as a thank you.  All speak to his Fe coming out in a very parent like manner.  Even his slaps on the back of the head when a member of his team does or says something stupid.  the good parent chastises but in a way that the team can learn from and even emulate when he is not there. 

As his tertiary he uses Ti.  Jethro's internal order comes out in the show as his set of rules that his team learns usually by breaking one of them.  These rules support his good parent by protecting his team.  We also see this function attitude as his eternal child when he does his famous head slap.  Kind of childish but it gets his point across.  I added the head slap to the good parent above but I think it could be used here also. 

His inferior function is Se.  Supporting his hero is his anima/animus using his senses as a marine sniper and in his building his sailboats by hand.  His senses allow him to pick up on small details that are translated by his Ni into conclusions.  These conclusions often require additional proof which is what the team spends most of the show trying to find in order to convict.  I also see the possibility that through this function he is able to access his unconscious functions.  When he works on his sailboat he allows for other thoughts, possibilities and functions that are often times considered more negative, he accesses through self-reflection and the detail work of building by hand. 

I have to wonder if the writer used Jungian psychology to originally develop Jethro Gibbs and only now gave us a hint of this or maybe modeled him after someone he knew.  Whatever the case when I heard Dr Ryan call Gibbs an introverted intuitive feeler I was able to see it instantly using Type dynamics and function attitudes. 


  1. This is great!! What a fun, practical way to use whole type in action. I love the idea of looking to a TV character, who is relatable, and examining his whole type. It's interesting because my Ni and Fe are flipped in position but I see them come out in a very similar type of way. Maybe I would have been a good investigator:-)

  2. I thought Dr. Ryan was wrong. Gibbs 9isn't INFJ; he's INTJ.
    More Fi (personal values) than Fe (group values).


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