BY: JAMES F. O’NEIL
EMILY DICKINSON: “I’M NOBODY, WHO ARE YOU? ARE YOU NOBODY TOO?”
“The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become fully conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge, and it therefore, as a rule, meets with considerable resistance.” –C. G. Jung, in Your Mythic Journey, Sam Keen and Anne Valley-Fox, p. 15 (1973, 1989)
Here I am:I reveal all, having taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test at various times in my life, under counselor supervision, online, and just recently with my wife (using the printed tests in Please Understand Me: Character and Temperaments Types by Keirsey and Bates and Understand Me II by Keirsey, both still in print). The recent scoring was my strongest ever, my “most solid.” I find the indicator questions fascinating and intellectually challenging, even though a few might seem simple or simplistic: “Are you more firm than gentle, more gentle than firm.” “Do you put more emphasis on the definite [or] the open ended.” I’ve always liked, when I was younger (and drinking): “At parties do you stay late, with increasing energy [or] leave early, with decreased energy.” How about, as a writer, do I “prefer the more literal [or] the more figurative.”
Am I basically passionate, hard-headed, soft-hearted, easy to approach, cool-headed, punctual, easy going, devoted? What type am I? Researchers claim this test can give a description or portrait of a person’s psychological personality type. It tells me about myself, my differences, something about my behavior or even my attitudes towards others. I portray myself, know myself, and how I deal with and react to family and friends, teachers and students. For me, it has paid off; I have gained from this knowledge, though sometimes, unfortunately, after the fact. “I should have not said that.” “I should know better.” In other words, I never planned my career based on the questionnaire.
For a time, I wanted to attend medical school:I had even planned to take the MCAT. Counselors had me undergo a series of tests, including the MMPI, the Myers-Briggs, and a few others that helped determine I had the desire, but not the “right stuff” to be encouraged to pursue a career in medicine.
At one time I wanted to be a Navy corpsman, then became a teacher, desired to become a doctor, stayed a teacher–and enjoyed, for the most part (91.344%, A-/B++), a long career in education. The Myers-Briggs could describe me at each stage of my career, and did even help me understand my behavior at just the right time. Please Understand Me! As noted, I’m a “true” INFJ type.
The intent of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) personality inventory is to make the theory of psychological types described by C. G. Jung in the 1920s understandable and useful in people’s lives. The essence of the theory is that much seemingly random variation in the behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent, being due to basic differences in the ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment.
“Perception involves all the ways of becoming aware of things, people, happenings, or ideas. Judgment involves all the ways of coming to conclusions about what has been perceived. If people differ systematically in what they perceive and in how they reach conclusions, then it is only reasonable for them to differ correspondingly in their interests, reactions, values, motivations, and skills.”
In developing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator [instrument], “the aim of Isabel Briggs Myers, and her mother, Katharine Briggs, was to make the insights of type theory accessible to individuals and groups. The MBTI tool was developed in the 1940s by Isabel Briggs Myers; the original research was done in the 1940s and ’50s.” This research is ongoing, providing users with updated and new information about psychological type and its applications.
“Millions of people worldwide have taken the Indicator each year since its first publication in 1962. They addressed the two related goals in the developments and application of the MBTI instrument:
–The identification of basic preferences of each of the four dichotomies specified or implicit in Jung’s theory.
–The identification and description of the 16 distinctive personality types that result from the interactions among the preferences.”
FAVORITE WORLD: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).
INFORMATION: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).
DECISIONS: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).
STRUCTURE: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).
Your Personality Type: When you decide on your preference in each category, you have your own personality type, which can be expressed as a code with four letters.
(All types are equal: The goal of knowing about personality type is to understand and appreciate differences between people. As all types are equal, there is no best type, despite what some INFJs may think!).
[This material is from https://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/. Some is used from the MBTI® Manual: A Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.] Complete tests are available online, as are shorter tests taking 10 minutes or so of your time, coming with explanations and interpretations–for free! (I found a 12-minute-or-less test while preparing for this blog. It was quick and simple.) [Some are $49.95.] Just “Google it.” It is a trip–one worth taking.
Note, however, that the test or Type Indicator has not existed without controversy, nor without detractors. Its reliability and validity have been questioned oftentimes, despite its popularity and use. The response? “The best reason to choose the MBTI instrument to discover your personality type is that hundreds of studies over the past 40 years have proven the instrument to be both valid and reliable. In other words, it measures what it says it does (validity) and produces the same results when given more than once (reliability). When you want an accurate profile of your personality type, ask if the instrument you plan to use has been validated.” [www.myersbriggs.org]
So, are you ready to unlock your inner self? If you have not ever done this, do it.
JUST DO IT!
It will “give you a framework for understanding yourself and appreciating differences in others.”
For further, interesting reading: “Myers-Briggs: Does It Pay to Know Your Type?” By Lillian Cunningham (Dec. 14, 2012): https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-leadership/myers-briggs-does-it-pay-to-know-your-type/2012/12/14/eaed51ae-3fcc-11e2-bca3-aadc9b7e29c5_story.html?utm_term=.1a7b2a0c12c8
© JAMES F. O’NEIL 2018