Please Understand Me II: Why your family is crazy (CBR4)

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator - MBTI, y'all. It's Jungian.

When the CERN rappers take on personality preferences, I'll totally let them use that to close out. Word to your SJ mother.

Myers-Briggs is the world's most used personality indicator and the basis for any understanding I have of my in-laws. Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey covers practical aspects of the 16 Myers-Briggs types - communication style, decision making, interests, leadership style and tons more. It assumes, presumably because it is a sequel, that you have a basic understanding of MBTI and that you know your own type. I also found it helpful to think of people I know in the various types as I was reading about them. This encouraged revelations such as, "so, that is why my boss is an insane masochist."

The main message of Myers-Briggs, which is reinforced in this book, is that everyone is ok. Your in-laws or that annoying asshole at Starbucks aren't trying to make you crazy. They have logical reasons for driving you nuts that are completely consistent with how they see the world. With a little knowledge and self-awareness you can figure out why that is and see them for the valuable, well-intentioned people that they are.


That is total shenanigans.

Here's what I got out of the book...as an iNtuitive (N) I view/perceive/take-in the world for its deeper meanings - the big picture - as opposed to Sensors (S) who focus on the concrete details which they take at face value. 85 fucking percent of the world are Sensors, which explains why I can't stand talking to people. 85 percent of the time they're boring. And petty. And obvious. And did I mention boring? And they think I'm weird. Which, apparently, according to the numbers, I am.

Keirsey's take on Myers-Briggs is an interesting, and seemingly valid one, though he says it does contradict Myers' (of Myers-Briggs) analysis slightly. He breaks the 16 types into four main groups based on two factors: word usage and tool usage. You can use words in an abstract way (Ns as described above) or concretely (Ss). You can also use tools - and tools refers to nearly everything: roads, houses, clothes, politics - in a cooperative or utilitarian way. Cooperative usage means you consider the morals of the tool you are using based on societal or idealized norms. Utilitarian means you use tools in the most effective way to get the job done, whether or not it is moral.

The four types that result are Idealists (NF), Guardians (SJ), Rationals (NT) and Artisans (SP). The book has convenient stand-alone chapters for each type so you can skip around to read about yourself or your spouse right from the start. Each chapter contains an introduction story of a famous person of that type, a historical retrospective (Rationals were once referred to as "phlegmatics" because they are bland and detached like mucous), and a breakdown of self-image and orientation in the world.

At the end of the chapters, each of the 4 variants within the overarching types is described in detail - priorities, strengths, relationships. The format helps the reader understand what different variants have in common but also emphasizes the subtle unique qualities in the similar groupings. It helps make sense of why an introvert, scheduling (aka anal) idealist (INFJ) would gravitate towards working as a one-on-one counselor, while an extrovert, scheduling idealist (ENFJ) would prefer the group environment as a teacher.

I think the greatest value in understanding Myers-Briggs types is actually to use it as a self-discovery tool. I've always known I was a weirdo, but I was still shocked at realizing things that I thought were universal are actually particular to my type. Apparently, not everyone is burdened with the nagging feeling that they aren't living up to their full potential. The chapter on SPs (my polar opposites) nearly made me cry. Did you know there are people that get total and complete enjoyment out of the actual moment they are living in?!? They feel free to just do whatever makes them happy without any concern about whether they have to go to work tomorrow or if it will piss of their mother. That sounds amazing. And totally undoable for me.

I love Myers-Briggs and this was a great guide to the types. Totally recommended for anyone trying to figure out their families or coworkers or looking for a little more self-understanding.

1 comment:

  1. It's an interesting theory. Possibly the most useful thing I got out of it was to avoid pygmalion projects (people aren't going to change) and to stop resenting them being attempted on myself.

    So what is your type?