James Bond’s Personality Type — Who really is 007?
Bond. James Bond. The super-secret spy, irresistible charmer, cold-hearted killer, morally complex executioner, assassin, and loyal soldier, Bond is much more than a charismatic spy who only works hard to play hard.
Though different iterations of Bond have varied the complexity of the character, we will focus solely on Daniel Craig’s iteration — as he is both the most recent Bond and the most complex iteration of the character yet. While certain iterations of Bond may be in the spirit of a different psychological type than Craig’s, we believe that the character, archetypically, falls into the same type that Craig’s iteration does. And fair warning, major spoilers ahead. If you haven’t seen the films yet, you might want to first so these references can be appreciated.
The consensus is that Bond is an ISTP or ESTP. While the rationale is straightforward why many think he’s an xSTP type, he’s not. I’m not going to take you through all the reasons he’s not an xSTP. Instead, I’m going to show you why he is what he actually is, which is …
James Bond is an INTJ. Specifically, he’s an ISFJ Superego-focused INTJ.
There has been some confusion as to whether or not someone can be Superego-focused. They can. Though rare — in fact, extremely rare — any type can be Superego-focused, provided the right circumstances are in place. Usually, intense trauma, likely in the early years of development, is the most likely circumstance to create a dynamic where a person needs consistent access to the most repressed part of their mind.
In the circumstances that cause Superego focus, where we don’t have the luxury of denying or repressing this aspect of ourselves, we are instead forced to accept their Superego to cope. This concept is discussed further in the most recent cutting-edge lecture.
From Casino Royale to Quantum of Solace, to Skyfall, Spectre, and now No Time to Die, we get little pieces of Bond’s history that, when pieced together, form a mosaic we can divine answers from.
In the iconic train scene from Casino Royale, we learn that Bond is an orphan and, as it is later confirmed in Skyfall and Spectre, that his parents were murdered while he was young. Vesper’s biting analysis of Bond is capped off by this insight:
“MI6 looks for maladjusted young men who give little thought to sacrificing others in order to protect queen and country.”
She is aware of the demographic that MI6 seeks out, and Bond’s ability to remain detached is a quality required for the proficiency of his job. Vesper also admonishes Bond, characterizing his perspective of women as being “disposable pleasures rather than meaningful pursuits.”
When Vesper leaves the train car, Bond stands up and looks around, a small smile forming on his face. Wow, the smile seems to say, she sees right through me. And I love it. How often does someone like James Bond feel understood?
More on the lasting importance of Vesper shortly.
Bond’s great struggle is a struggle to commit. This is an aspect of Si Demon that Chase delves heavily into in his Si Demon lecture.
Though Se Inferiors yearn for commitment from others, they often settle for passionate, short-term relationships with a high amount of attention given to them in a small amount of time. This temporarily satiates their desire for commitment and ensures that they achieve some connection. This way, they do not need to worry about exposing their vulnerability to the other person — and risk the other person not sticking around — because they already know that they won’t be there to stick around
“Don’t worry, you’re not my type.”
Unavailable women pose no risk of needing a commitment from Bond’s Si Demon.
We also see Bond’s Si Demon binging. In Skyfall, Silva reads off Bond’s psychological evaluation: “Alcohol and substance addiction indicated.”
Drinking and women are his two addictions to cope with his own incessant loneliness and the pain his Demon carries. Detachment and death has been scraped onto his Si hard drive over the years. Notice, too, that Bond’s proclivity to binge is maximized during times when he doesn’t have a mission. In Skyfall, after nearly dying and disappearing, we witness the hedonistic and aimless state he dissolves into when he doesn’t have a mission to pursue. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, right?
“M” stands for what?
The biggest indicator that tells us who Bond really is lies in his relationship with M. In fact, you could say there are two M’s that act as the touchstones his Si Demon locks onto.
The first “M” is MI6’s missions, and whatever is required to complete them. The mission is what orients Bond’s stability. As an orphan, it was MI6 who found Bond and took him in. A youth raised in his circumstances — sent to schools he despised, raised without parents — and not belonging to anyone, creates the prime circumstances for instability. MI6 was likely the first presence in Bond’s life that was a source of loyalty, and he was able to return that loyalty with his Se Inferior.
But it’s not just this “mirroring” that Extraverted Sensing is responsible for, it is also part of the complexity of Bond himself. An INxJ who is Superego-focused is going to have an inordinate amount of access to their Si Demon. The power of Si Demon’s loyalty can be immense when accessed. Within the Battleground of Titans, Bond’s Ni Hero and Si Demon both support his capacity to endure and push through the mission.
Si Demon’s Loyalty to the Mission
The most important scene to demonstrate Bond’s Si Demon, in all five of Craig’s films, is once again in Casino Royale. Bond is tortured by Le Chiffre. Le Chiffre needs the password to access the winnings from the game. He devises a simple but brutal torture method and holds nothing back as he tries to extract the information from Bond as quickly as possible. Le Chiffre knows that his own life is on the line if he does not.
While yelling and screaming in pain, and doing what any sensible person would while being tortured, Bond gives nothing up. Bond even emits laughing screams of “Yes! Yes! Yes!” to La Chiffre’s torture, finding an ounce of masochistic pleasure amidst the horrible pain.
Le Chiffre proposes that he will spare Vesper if Bond gives him the codes. But, once again — at least for now — the sole focus of Bond’s loyalty lies with M, and he is willing to give his body for it.
In response to Le Chiffre’s prodding, and the threat of continued torture, Bond decides to provoke Le Chiffre by making a joke of it.
“I’ve got a little itch down there. Would you mind?”
The pleasure in self-destruction for sake of his loyalty is Si Demon’s activation to its core. He demonstrably discards what is happening to his body for the sake achieving his goal.
Of course, Bond is not loyal to many things. He’ll leave women on a whim — even endangering them as he pursues what he is actually loyal to: the mission. In Casino Royale, he seduces the wife of Alex Dimitrios and, once Bonds finds out — from her — where Dimitrios is headed, he leaves her. She is later interrogated, tortured, and killed for information.
In Quantum of Solace, Bond seduces the woman meant to take him back to London. And, while inciting conflict with surrounding enemies, she is later suffocated when she is drowned in oil.
This happens again in Skyfall when he convinces Severine to lead him to Silva; but he ends up leading her to her death instead.
This is a repeating pattern. Bond’s loyalty is fixed on the mission. It is his single — Ni — focus and the object of his loyalty. His Si Demon, while giving him great power, also causes destruction for those around him who are not the objects of his loyalty.
The Second “M”
The second “M” is M. Mallory or … mother. Many who do not have parents, or a good relationship with their parents when they are young, will seek for others to fill that role. Our first clue that this is likely the case for Bond and M is in the nature of their relationship. It goes beyond the strictly professional.
M trusts Bond to the extent to violate MI6’s own protocols (Skyfall) in order to get Bond back in the field. She entrusts him with things even when her professional sense tells her otherwise. In Casino Royale, she flaunts the threat of handing Bond over to MI6’s enemies, but secretly harbors a well of extreme confidence in Bond. This confidence, to the yet unproven Bond, was not something given from the heart of professionalism. And, after all, she is the figurehead of MI6, and the pinnacle and focus point where Bond’s loyalty is directed. Why should we be surprised by Bond’s loyalty to her?
It is Vesper’s insight (into MI6’s recruiting) — that MI6 looks for maladjusted young men — in addition to the clues from Silva in Skyfall — literally referring to “M” has “mother” and “mommy” — that paints this picture of what connects Bond to M. She is, literally and figuratively, “mother”.
For Bond, mother and mission are indistinguishable. Mission and mother are what hold his loyalty and give the incentive to do extremely violent acts for “queen and country,” right?
But not always. This loyalty is intermittently put on hold. It occurs twice in Craig’s Bond saga, when a woman reaches beyond a mere superficial relationship of pleasure to penetrate Bond’s own armor of disconnection.
Whether or not you like the inclusion of Vesper’s presence — or the ghost of her — throughout all five of Craig’s films, it is an extremely critical narrative element. But let’s back up and start with Vesper before she dies.
We already mentioned the iconic train scene where Bond meets Vesper and his reaction to her is a subtle endearment. None of us are used to feeling seen. And certain types, Bond’s Se Inferior included, can react especially strongly when they felt seen. The reason why is because being “seen” indicates the presence of loyalty, which has a higher chance of lighting the fire of the potent Ni Hero — the source of desire.
After Bond is caught and tortured in Casino Royale, he and Vesper are reunited. In a scene that most of us probably never expected to see, Bond opens up to a level of unprecedented vulnerability. While sitting next to Bond, Vesper asks, “You’re not going to let me in there, are you? You’ve got your armor back on. That’s that.”
But instead, Bond looks at her and replies: “I have no armor left. You’ve stripped it from me. Whatever is left of me, whatever I am, I’m yours.”
This is not something we would suspect would come out of the mouth of a trained spy and assassin, whose loyalties lie with M and the mission. But man cannot serve two masters. And, for a moment, Bond chooses Vesper over the mission. He goes off with her and they travel the world together. He tenders his resignation because he has finally found someone who is more desirable and worthy of his Si Demon’s loyalty than the mission.
One of Chase’s key insights into Ni Heroes is that they don’t let go. At least, not without tremendous effort. Because of that, and because Ni Heroes understand that whoever they let in will be etched into their Si Demon forever, they are extremely careful with who they let in … because they have to be.
Bond’s admission of feeling naked in front of Vesper — without armor — is an admission that he has let her in, to the point where he’s willing to take the risk with her, knowing full well that she will be etched into him forever.
We know how Casino Royale ends. Vesper dies. But this time it is not Bond’s fault. But her memory will be triggered in Bond through various totems over the ensuing films.
He does try to door slam her memory.
“The bitch is dead,” he says within hours after she is gone. But, despite his efforts, she’s really not. She’s there to stay in his memory and haunt him for as long as he lives — a theme which the films continually draw upon.
Bond’s method for carrying out missions is indicative of being a progression type. He consistently places himself in the eye of the storm as a methodology for finding his way through missions. A characteristic of Ni Heros — who are both progression types — the INTJ is tied with the ENFP as being the most progression of the progression types. The INTJ is triple progression and pragmatic — the best plan is whatever works after you jump in, right?
In Spectre, Bond walks into the secret meeting with all the agents of Spectre with ease. He doesn’t have a master entrance/exit strategy. He doesn’t even know if he’ll be able to get into the meeting. He walks into a hornet’s nest with utter confidence that he will not be stung.
When he does escape, after he is discovered, it is done with the same “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” method which ends up in a chaotic car chase through Rome. Like always, he finds a way — a characteristic most attributed to Ni Heroes.
The opening chase scene in Casino Royale, where he chases the bomb carrier on foot through a city, illustrates the same attitude of “I’ll figure it out as I go.” In fact, the opening sequences in Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, and Spectre ALL bear witness to the same willingness Bond possesses to embrace the chaos and find a way — via his Ni Hero will and ESFP Subconscious tactics — through whatever obstacle he faces.
Bond is not a planner. One of his polarizing characteristics is his ability to maintain his cool while confronting his biggest threats head-on and maintaining a high level of charm while doing it.
007’s iconic attribute is charm. Composed of witty remarks and his unmistakable suave, we are invited to investigate where the source of his charm lies. Chase has said that “charm” — as commonly understood — is a characteristic that Fi/Te users are most likely to have mastery over.
Bond’s ability to seduce — both physically and psychologically — the women in his life, and disarm tense situations with the villains with ease, points to Bond’s strong access to his ESFP subconscious, arguably the most “charming” of all the types. And, with the help of his ISFJ Superego, he has access to a little bit of Fe from his Superego’s Parent, which only heightens his social competence.
Not only as an entertainer, but with a high awareness for the experiences and social stipulations present in a situation, ESFP Subconscious can be magnetic.
Bond’s Source of Power
A Superego-focused type, while extremely rare, represents the heights of potency that a human being can achieve. This attribute of Bond’s psychological reality is one of the characteristics that makes him so fascinating to watch.
Specifically, with Craig’s iteration, we can sense the deep well of suffering that lurks hidden underneath Bond’s extreme competence, charm, and willpower. It is his suffering that makes him one of the most human Bonds we’ve seen. And it is the violent, and sometimes brutal actions that he doles out that add layers of darkness to him, making him even more polarizing.
And it is his contradictions — being a triple pragmatic type but still holding extreme loyalty for the Mission and “M”, and a few of his lovers — that makes him one of the most complex INTJs portrayed on the big screen.
However, the amount of power accessible when a person can use both the Hero and Demon will only be held by people whose lives demand such access. With so much suffering and so much stress, the mind must go to different places to survive. When we subject ourselves — or are ourselves subjected — to situations that require more of us than we are used to, we will be pushed to the edge of who we are. Quite literally, we become more. This is the mechanism for how we all grow. And beyond the walls that are unlocked by our suffering lies power.
Perhaps Bond’s power that he draws from his Superego, like some great superheroes and supervillains — as well as the occasional real person from history — is not to be as envied as much as we might envision it. This kind of power is drawn from intense suffering. The cost is high.
From a psychological standpoint, perhaps this is the legacy that Craig’s iteration of Bond will leave behind. Bringing teeth to the character previously thought of as being “larger than life”, and by adding measures of subtle restraint — via Bond’s incapacity to escape his own humanness, and fight with the consequences thereof — is what this Superego-focused INTJ will be remembered for.