The Danger of Typecasting People (or What Myers-Briggs Type is C.S. Lewis?)(long)

In our family, we've sort of made a parlor game out of Myers-Briggs - trying to figure out what type various real people and characters are.  We don't ever assume we've gotten them right, though.

I realized, recently, that we don't usually try to type people from different countries or people who died a while ago.  C.S. Lewis is both.

[Side note:  I've loved C.S. Lewis's writing since elementary school.  I read the Narnia Chronicles over and over.  In college, I came to love his theological writings.  They discussed the big questions that nobody in any church had ever even mentioned.  His writings helped me go from being an atheist to being a Christian. ]

Breakfast with Pandora, in an intriguingly titled and very interesting post, Was C.S. Lewis Hephaestus?, and intuitive * introverted * creative, in Was C.S. Lewis an INFP, both discuss Lewis's Myers-Briggs type.

This turned into a wonderful topic of conversation at our dinner table recently.  I'll get to our conclusion at the end, but, first, I'm going to discuss some of the arguments of the two bloggers.

One danger of trying to type people is taking one aspect of a life and using it to determine the person's type.  For instance, in explaining why Lewis should be considered an INFP, IIC writes:

Lewis was known for diligently writing back to those who wrote to him. While an INTJ might feel the need to be so DILIGENT about the personal stuff, an NF would be more inclined to write back simply because an INF, despite the huge need for introversion, needs and enjoys people a lot. An NF wouldn’t have to force himself to be diligent or anything; an NF would simply write back because he was being himself.

There is so much more that goes into one aspect of behavior, such as letter writing, than just a Myers-Briggs type.  I know a very diligent, and extremely charming, E/INFP letter writer.  For her, letter writing is almost an art form.  On the other hand, I'm also an NF (INFJ), but I don't like to write letters.  I don't think that anyone really cares about getting letters from me so, in the letters I do write, I rarely express my own ideas, enthusiasms, or personality.  It doesn't mean that I don't enjoy people.  I don't think that most other people enjoy me, and I don't want to spend time boring them.*

Dear husband says that Lewis also took his duty, particularly his Christian duty, very seriously.  If he felt it was his duty, as either a Christian, or as a don, or as an upper-middle-class British professional, to respond to letters, he would do so, regardless of whether he was inclined to or not.  Lewis actually preferred to spend lots of his time alone, reading, and didn't care to have visitors - not exactly the habits of someone who "needs and enjoys people a lot."

There are a number of things that lead to a pattern of behavior - not only Myer-Briggs type, but also talents, upbringing,** and past experiences.

BwP, on the other hand, considers Lewis to be an INTJ:

To be so sure of yourself as to become the mid-20th century's most celebrated Christian apologist-- as C.S. Lewis became and was for over a decade-- you must be able to break free of an INFP's self-doubt. NFPs would break under the strain of trying to justify Christianity because we can never be sure of anything. That type of systematic thinking just evades us. And we would want to see the other's point of view, even if we were (and many of us are) deeply committed Christians.

So I do agree with the majority that C.S. Lewis was probably an INTJ. Just because someone is mainly a thinker and systematizer does not mean they don't feel deeply, and don't, later on, consider the errors of their overly logical ways, as Lewis did. But that type of iron-clad know-it-allness that comes out in works like "Mere Christianity" is NTJ stuff.

I've known NFPs who are far more didactic than I am as an INFJ.  In fact, I have spent long (patient) hours listening to NFPs tell me, in great detail and certainty,  what I should do with my life, how to raise my kids, and particularly what I should believe.***  Not that all NFPs are like this (thank goodness!!), but it is possible.  Dear husband, an INFP, says that this kind of certainty is a way for some NFP's to try to escape from self-doubt. 

[By the way, NFPs are some of my favorite people - creative, playful, bright, and a lot of fun to be around.  After all, I've been happily married to one for 31 years!]

Dear husband, with a degree in philosophy, certainly can systematize so that's not impossible for an INFP.  The thing that always surprised me about Lewis is that, as systematic as any individual book can be, his books as a whole seem to wander.  Except for the fiction, they don't build on each other.  Each book seems to be involved in the idea, or argument, of the moment - which is very NFP.  The next book can be off in a very different theological area. 

Our conclusion?  We went around on this for a while.  We agree with IIC that Lewis probably was a P.  IIC mentions that Lewis rarely had his personal finances under control, which sounds more P than F.  Organizing personal finances is not something which would necessarily fall under the primary duties of a professor or a Christian so Lewis may not have had the incentive to keep them under control. 

However, I've noticed that INFPs generally seem to want people to... not necessarily like them, but think well of them.  They're willing to work a good bit at that.  Lewis was more blunt than that, at least in his writing.  We agree with BwP that Lewis seems more T than F. 

We came up with INTP.  From Personality Page:

INTPs value knowledge above all else. Their minds are constantly working to generate new theories, or to prove or disprove existing theories. They approach problems and theories with enthusiasm and skepticism, ignoring existing rules and opinions and defining their own approach to the resolution. They seek patterns and logical explanations for anything that interests them. They're usually extremely bright, and able to be objectively critical in their analysis....

For the INTP, it is extremely important that ideas and facts are expressed correctly and succinctly. They are likely to express themselves in what they believe to be absolute truths.

This fits C.S. Lewis's writing pretty well.

  • There's an interesting discussion on Lewis's type at INTJ forum (including the Myers-Briggs types of some of the Narnia characters (Mr. Tumnus as an INFP)).


* Yes, I'm amazed when people read my blog.

** A British P, or, even more, a Finnish P could appear as J as an Italian J, just because of cultural differences and expectations. 

*** This always seems strange to me because I'm a J, but I rarely give advice.



So, what use is Myers-Briggs, really?

IMG_0938s As previous blog posts have shown, I like to play with Myers-Briggs.  But I'm finding more and more things that seem to make it rather useless.  For instance:

  • F's.  On the Myers-Briggs scale, F stands for people who make decisions based on feelings; T stands for people who make decisions based on thoughts.  On internet discussion boards, F's are considered to be warm and fuzzy, while T's are cold and unfeeling.  Really, however, there are two kinds of F's - the kind who make many of their decisions based on both their own feelings and those of others (and who can balance the two), and those who make most of their decisions based only on their own feelings (and expect everyone else to adjust around them!).  We have a name for the latter kind - "That kind of 'F'."
  • Extroverts are wonderful people who keep conversations going.  But... are they conversations that you really want to have?
On one hand, I recently worked with a woman who can start conversations with anyone, remembers all sorts of things about people, is warm and friendly and uses her abilities to to draw people out.
On the other hand, there are the extroverts who use their conversational abilities to take and keep center stage while soliliquizing about their toe fungus for half an hour.  "That kind of 'E'!"
  • J/P.  J is for "judging;" P is for "perceiving."  P's go with the flow; J's are more organized.  I read over and over again about how J's try to organize those around them, give advice, and generally run things.  However, I use my J'ish tendencies to remind myself to stay out of other people's business, not give advice, and give other people space (okay, those also come naturally to me).  When she was in the middle of her college choice, daughter got lots of advice from Ps along with Js.  On the other hand, I, a J who knew far more about everything that went into her choice than just about anyone else because I listened to her lots,  didn't give her advice until fairly late in the game. It was her choice - hers to figure out. 

Now, I still enjoy playing with the ideas, but after a while, Myers-Briggs just seems like a lot of stereotypes - trying to fit all of humanity, in its infinite variety, into sixteen boxes categories.    Concluding that "He's an ESTP" can give you a great excuse to put someone in a box and react to the type, rather than the actual living, breathing person in all their complexity before you.

There's also a great deal of variety among each type, which can make some members of the type opaque to others of the same type.  I've had to stop asking dear husband, an INFP, why other INFP's do what they do.  Some are as incomprehensible to him as they are to me, an INFJ.*

However, at the INTP Central message boards, I have found one thing that might help Myers-Briggs to deal with the complexity of human personalities - sub-types.  Each Myers-Briggs type is made up of four categories, and, if you rank them in order of strength (I-N-T-P, P-T-I-N, etc.) you get twenty four sub-types.  After all, an INTP who's barely an introvert, but who's extremely P (say, PNTI), is going to be quite different from an INTP who's barely P, but extremely I (ITNP). At INTP Central, someone has posted humorous one-liners about various sub-types, but only for INTPs and INFPs.

Looking at our family, then, dear husband is a PFNI sub-type of INFP. People are often surprised that he's an introvert.  I'm, interestingly enough, overall, an INFJ type of INFJ.  However, since I'm pretty close to the middle for everything else except the I, I suppose I could also be an IFJN, INJF, IFNJ, IJNF, or an IJNF depending on the time of the month, position of the stars, tilt of the earth, humidity, whether daffodils are blooming, what books I'm in the middle of, or proximity to chocolate.  Older son is a IPNT type of INTP.  Daughter is a FJSI.  Younger son is too young to tell.  

So, if you want to analyze people accurately using Myers-Briggs, you need to not only know their type, but their sub-type as well.   However, it will be much more difficult to memorize their sub-types.  Types are easy since there are only 16 of them.  There are 384 sub-types.  Enjoy!


* I rarely meet other INFJs.

[The giraffe yard art is in a yard in the Watts Hospital-Hillandale neighborhood in Durham, NC.  It has nothing to do with Myers Briggs.]

The Musical Temperament - A.E. Kemp

Another book to go on my "to read" list.  I ran across this one this evening. Amazon's description says:

How do our personalities determine the kinds of music we enjoy, and how do they mold our aptitudes for playing different kinds of instruments? In this fascinating book, A.E. Kemp applies his exceptional knowledge of personality theory to this widely debated question and issues the first detailed assessment of the psychology of music as an expression of our innate individuality. Kemp's engaging account will be rewarding to all music lovers, as well as to psychologists, professional musicians and composers, and music educators.

An article at The Free Library gets a bit into some Myers-Briggs details:

Kemp presents MBTI findings for student and professional performing musicians..., for student and professional composers..., and for music educators.... The modal types for performers and composers were similar (i.e., INFP...  for students, INFJ [like me] ...  for professionals), and prevalent (representing 30 to 50 percent of the sample). But these tables reveal the diversity of types with musical interests, and this heterogeneity is unlikely to be entirely attributable to error variance. The complexity of the musical temperament(s) is also suggested by the differences in type between educators and performers. Kemp cites one American study... which found that elementary school student music educators' modal type preference was ESFJ, while secondary school student music teachers' modal preference was INTP... The ESFJ preference involves outwardly focused, factual, sensitive, and structured teaching, the opposite to the INTP style. These results, in part confounded by "differences between the American and British music education systems"... need to be confirmed by developmental, longitudinal studies.

Slowing down (or Cranking down the S)

IMG_1227s In one way or another, I've been running since we got back from our October vacation (right).  Getting the gardens and house caught up before surgery, trying to get Christmas stuff done post surgery, giving daughter advice on her college and scholarship essays, getting younger son's party and birthday ready for last weekend, and lots of doctor's appointments and physical therapy (daughter has tendinitis so this week, we have two doctor's appointments and three physical therapy appointments), and 20 minutes of physical therapy, five times a day - all have added to making my days, rushed, choppy, and not deeply focused.

Older son printed out a copy of his second semester college schedule for me last weekend.  It really hit me that one out of eight college semesters is done for him.  Then it hit me even harder that daughter only has one more semester of homeschooling left.  My knee, her tendinitis, and her college & scholarship essays have taken up lots of time in the fall semester. 

I could keep running from thing to thing.  I've gotten to the point where I'm getting lots of distinct things done - this cleaned, that organized, etc.  However, I need to step back ("Step away from the S" - in Myers-Briggs terms) and think about exactly what I want to get done and what's most important for the next few months. 

[For those unfamiliar with Myers-Briggs, S is sensing, and N is intuition.  Sensing involves facts, details, and practicality.  Intuition involves patterns, meanings, and possibilities.  I'm slightly higher on N than on S (68%/32%) - but the difference isn't anywhere near as large as my I(ntrovert)/E(xtrovert) difference, where I'm about 80% I.]

I realized that's part of why I haven't written much lately.  I write on the N side, and I haven't spent much time there at all for months.  I've always found that my long walks for exercise are also very good for thinking up blog posts.  I haven't been able to take those walks since mid-November. 

While thinking about it today, I realized that church is also a very S activity - very practical.  What needs to be done next?  I enjoy choir and the people I know, but the conversation is very immediate.  Where do the sopranos need to sit?  What descants are we singing?  I enjoy having short conversations before or after the service or rehearsals, but, as in any church I've belonged to, they're generally practical or "catching up." 

Usually this is fine, but, faithwise, I've been in an N-ish, "What do I believe, does it have any meaning in my life, or am I just making this all up?" situation for the last few months, and I realized that there is nothing that happens naturally at churches that will help that.  Those aren't the sort of questions that the day-to-day interactions or the rituals can involve.

Any church would be like that. Think about it - you politely ask, in the few minutes after the service before you go home for lunch, how someone is doing, and they reply that they're not sure what they believe.  That's not what anyone expects, and it would probably freak most people out....

...well, except for me, maybe.  I really enjoy N-ish conversations about meaning.  Conversation is not always that easy for me so I'd often rather have a conversation that delved deeper.

As I've mentioned, I can do S pretty well.  I can even enjoy it in the short term, but it's not what makes me happiest.  It's not what makes me feel like me.

Sometimes it can take quite a while for me to slow down again.  I was worried that would happen this time.  However, Sunday night, after we were all done with younger son's birthday celebration, I turned off the computer, went up to bed, and started reading The Grace of Great Things.  I haven't really been able to read really thoughtful non-fiction for months.  I was happy that I wanted to. 

[Photo from 10/18/09 - Snow covered Grandfather Mountain on the other side of Price Lake.]

A very S-ish holiday

Personality Plus's post What MBTI type is Santa? - An Educated Guess concludes that Santa is an ESFJ:

...But I would argue Santa is an SJ. Look at this man’s project management skills. Toys for everyone in the world delivered all in one night – on time and under budget? Come on, only an SJ could pull that one off. Besides he makes list and checks it twice. NFJs may make the list, but check it twice? Never. Santa’s an SJ...

Christmas is a very S holiday.  It has lots and lots of S-ish details and lists and very little in the way of N-ish theory and patterns. 

Generally, when I take MBTI tests, I either land in the middle of N and S, or slightly on the N side.  I am able do S very well, particularly at work. I can be very detail oriented and perfectionistic.  However, it's not what I prefer to do with all of my time.  Working on the details when I'm trying to get a flute piece right - that's S in the service of N, i.e. details in the service of an idea.  I love coming up with the ideas for blog posts, but I only write some of them,* and I hate editing.  I'll work at editing because it helps to make the ideas more understandable, but I don't take any joy in it.  There are people who enjoy lists and details, but I'm not one of them.

I start out every Christmas with all sorts of ideas for how I'd like things to go.  Of course, they never go that way, and the ones I enjoy are usually the first to get dumped because time is running short.  Younger son and I finally did put together a gingerbread house this year, but we never had time to finish decorating it (he did a great job on the roof, though).  I like the more "big picture" type Christmas activities like decorating the gingerbread house or going to Christmas events.**  I like baking Christmas cookies, but the details of packaging them up in small bags to give to neighbors also just didn't happen.  We still have some left even though we baked them 2 1/2 weeks ago. 

The part of Christmas that always gets done, of course, is the S-ish detail-oriented and bit by bit shopping.  List all the people, what they want, what stores to go to, what are the return policies (i.e. only go Barnes and Noble to buy books for people out of town, otherwise they can't return them), when to buy things so that they can be mailed out on time, and on and on.  I'm not a shopper so none of this comes naturally to me.  I'm tied in the throes of detail-oriented S-dom for most of my time in December.  This year, we didn't even have much time to watch Christmas specials, although we watched Miracle on 34th Street two days before Christmas. 

By the last few days before Christmas, dear husband and I were running around like mad trying to get the Christmas letters out (we're always late no matter how early I try to start them), wrapping (which always gets left until the last because "we'll have time to do that later"), and taking care of those few details which had disappeared from the organizational radar. 

Two days before Christmas, younger son told me that he was looking forward to the time after Christmas when we could sit and build with Legos together. 

The traditional Christmas things that I enjoy, I generally enjoy because I do them with my kids.  We wouldn't have nearly so many decorations up if it weren't something we're doing together.  It's not that important to me.  The same goes for Christmas baking.  Really, the most enjoyable part of this Christmas vacation, for me, was the fact that we had lots of time to have long discussions at the dinner table or after lunch once performances and college exams were over (and that dear husband didn't have to travel for two weeks).

I don't know if this is an N/S thing or just a personal foible, but I prefer the long term over the short.  When we go on vacation, I like to spend a lot of time in a place and soak it up.  For instance, before we went to France, we read guide books with chapters like "How to see all the Châteaux of the Loire Valley in two days." 

My response is, "Why bother?  I wouldn't remember all of it, and I would just feel rushed."

ChenonceauInstead, we picked one château, Chenonceau (right), and spent the entire day there.  We took the tour, read all the historical information, had a picnic, wandered the gardens and woods, and sat and gazed into the Cher River. We soaked it up. 

My preferences are the same for most things.  I love open-ended meals where we can just sit and talk as long as we want.  It actually is possible for me to occasionally enjoy shopping the rest of the year - particularly if I can do it with my kids, discuss whatever we want at our leisure, and leave when we're ready.  The Christmas version - Into the store! Do they have what we want? NO! On to the next store! - just feels hectic to me.  The worst thing for me is wandering through stores trying to "come up with an idea."  Daughter is far better at that than I am (not difficult because I'm so bad at it and my tastes are so unusual).  I love it when people give me lists of what they want - particularly if they also mention specific brands and the store the item can be bought at.  That's what I do if people ask me for ideas. 

GraceofGreatThings After Christmas and spending so much time on the S side, no matter how much fun I also have, I'm always ready to get back to normal life.***  I'm particularly looking forward to having time and energy to read books again****  In fact, in order to get my N side fed and happy again, I've decided to start reading Robert Grudin's The Grace of Great Things:  Creativity and Innovation, and I'm going to blog about it as I read it.  I used this book fourteen years ago when I was doing my final project (for graduate school) on creativity and society.  Dear husband has been reading it, and I've decided to revisit it. 

Getting back to Santa's MBTI, one comment on the blog post comes up with a different conclusion:  Santa is an INFP:

...Santa dreamed a big dream: that every child in the world get a present on Christmas! What a big vision!

...his own personal code is reflected in their vision: presents to all, except the naughty, those who have violated his values. Note, we don’t really know what “naughty” or “nice” are, or what the vision is exactly, classical introverted communication preferences...

Some may say he’s a planner, but he doesn’t do any research during the year, he waits for the kids’ requests to pile in at the end of the year and then whips his SJ elves into a frenzy fulfilling their requests’s a guy who only comes out one night a year, is seen by no one, and spends the rest of the time secluded with Mrs. Claus and his ancient and well-known elves. Does it get more introverted than that?!

* Part of the reason I started blogging was to get these ideas out of my head and to make myself actually write them. 

** I.e. Christmas at Old Salem or the Biltmore House.  We were considering Tryon Palace in December, but it didn't happen. 

*** One thing that's surprised me about the Episcopalian Church is the emphasis on celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas.  I'd never encountered it that strongly before (some Episcopalians can be quite self-righteous about it!).  If it makes them happy, fine.  However, since the Christmas season now starts before Halloween, to me, dragging the Christmas season on out into January would just be miserable.  I've enjoyed the season (or at least parts), but now, for me, it's time to move on. *****

Besides, the choir doesn't even sing for the two Sundays after Christmas.  How can it be a celebration if the choir's not singing?! :)

**** The lack of reading time and energy is one of the saddest parts of Christmas to me.

*****Besides, Christmas really stopped being a spiritual holiday for me years and years ago.  There's really no time or energy to focus on God.  In addition, my faith and prayer life have taken quite a beating this fall and winter, and particularly in Advent.  It feels like I need to finish celebrating Christmas so I can focus on trying to believe again. 

[The photo of Chenonceau was taken by Rafa Castillo and is shared at Wikimedia Commons.]

Some Random Myers-Briggs Thoughts While I'm Tired

[So as not to do too much kitty blogging.][Okay, maybe a little.  Tamlin's problem is aggravated by stress so they sent him home with us today.  He's been doing pretty well, and he's even more lovey and laid-back than usual.  He's so glad to be home.  Lina, on the other hand, has this new cat who looks like her brother but smells bizarre.  She's upset and hissing at everyone.  The only time I could pick her up was when I had just taken a shower so I didn't smell at all like Tamlin-but-not-Tamlin (in her eyes nose).  She proceeded to detach a huge bunch of hair all over my clean shirt.  Poor thing.][Now that I've gotten that out of my system...]

I've been reading a discussion at comparing INFJ's (me) and INFP's (dear husband).  I find it amusing (and it diminishes my "faith" "trust" in Myers-Briggs) because there are so many ways in which the two of us seem backwards.  However, when looking at the descriptions as a whole, we definitely fit the type descriptions. 

For instance, our attitude towards being "on time"seem to be reversed.  Dear husband is more concerned about that than I am which doesn't make much sense given that J's are supposed to be more organized and P's are supposed to take things as they come and keep all options open.  This doesn't mean that I don't care about being on time.  I consider it rude to keep people waiting.  However, it's not always really necessary to get places on time, and sometimes it's even counter-productive.  Many parties never start on time, and if one arrives on time, one will actually be early. There's one meeting that I go to where I, intentionally, never get there on time.  If I were to be one of the first to arrive, it would be extremely awkward (and I don't wish to impose that on someone else) so I deliberately get there exactly 5 to 10 minutes late (even at that, others still arrive later)(and yes, I realize that analyzing that and getting there on-time-for-being-late is very J).

According to one post writer, J's are "mainly concerned with decision making and getting things done," and P's are "looking for more input, more data; you'll tend to be more intent on exploring than getting things pinned down and finalized."  However, dear husband is often far better (and far more interested in) getting decisions finalized.  We've decided that we need a new dishwasher,* and we've set aside the money for it.  But I've had gardening and other spring things to do (gardens to visit, pictures to take...)(and maybe even post someday) that just keep getting in the way of going out and figuring out which one to get.  Another place where I'm, seemingly, not very J is in the case of discipline.  I'm often more interested in why a child acted a certain way, and I assume that, given the tone of our household, proper behavior will happen over time.   Dear husband ends up being more decisive, discipline-wise (on the occasions when it's necessary) .

Another post-writer says, "INFJs will sometimes strike people as blunt and bossy, while INFPs will sometimes strike people as weasely and manipulative."  I just asked older son, who says that dear husband and I are both blunt and bossy (as are his two siblings).  That's fine; I don't care for weasely and manipulative.

In another post-writer's view, INFP's "drag the past along with them" while INFJ's "erase the past as they go along."  Not true for me.  I don't erase much of anything, and dear husband is amazed when I recount vacations he has no memory of.  Our memories are quite different, though.  He'll mention a certain hotel room by its color, and I can't remember it until (and if) he describes the layout of the room - which is how I remember things. 

It's late, and there's no definite conclusion to this post... except that Myers-Briggs theories seem to enjoy making strict dichotomies where they aren't really necessary (part of why I get irritated taking the tests). 

* The one that came with the house has never been a good one, and now we often have to run dishes through it twice - even after rinsing most of the dishes before putting them in. 

Being an INTJ-flavored INFJ

P3090021 [Time for a leeetle bit of writing.  The previous three posts only had 7 or 8 sentences of mine in them.  I'm feeling a bit better today.]

I concluded a few months ago that I really was an INFJ, not an INTJ.  When I take Myers-Briggs online tests (I know, the ones done by professionals are far better.  Do you really think that I'm going to waste money taking one professionally - money that could be spent on books or music?!), I often end up being IXXJ, and even the J isn't all that strong.

I've written before about why I don't like the questions on the tests so I'll go back to my INFJ/INTJ split.  Because INFJ ways of relating are what gets dragged out of me in situations, I concluded that, at heart, that's what I probably am (and forget all this "which way do you prefer" stuff that comes out on tests.  It's not what I'd prefer - it's what I can't help but do).  There are still very appealing aspects of INTJ-dom.

I was reminded of this today as I looked at Frequently Asked Questions at INTJ Central* (recommended by If You Belonged Here**).  Some of it I could relate to very well; some not at all. Here's a selection (comments in bold are mine):

We INTJ's are über-introverts, so we prefer asynchronous and semi-anonymous forms of communication...
[Synchronicity:  I was just thinking this morning about my liking of asynchronous communication.  Possible blog post in that.]

Q:  My INTJ is trying to take over the world.  Should I be concerned?

A: Remember, he’s trying to take over the world for the betterment of everyone and everything. Just go ahead and let him. He’ll be happy and the world will be a more organized and efficient place...
[I would never want to take over the world, no matter how much I thought I could improve things (and I don't really think I could.  People are who they are.), because it would all go bad eventually anyway, and then it would be my fault.]

We judge ourselves more harshly than we judge others...

The next two are where I part company:

Q:  My INTJ isn’t sensitive to my feelings.  Should I take offense?

A:   We aren’t even sensitive to our own feelings.  Why should we be expected to be sensitive to yours?
[I am way too aware of others' feelings.  However, being an introverted NFJ rather than an extroverted one, and not a very verbal INFJ at that***, I'm not good at verbally responding to others' feelings (previous blog post on that) so I don't look nearly as sensitive as I am.]

Q:  Why doesn't my INTJ ever show emotions or feelings?

A: Because he doesn’t have any. Actually, that’s not strictly true; it’s just that we tend to get emotional about things you might not appreciate.
[I don't show them because I don't want to burden others with my emotions.  That's probably a hyper-polite thing rather than an INFJ thing since I share that with a certain ISFJ of my acquaintance.]

Back to more familiar territory:

Q:  My INTJ doesn’t care about me any more after he tried to explain his idea and I didn’t listen.  What should I do?

A: Ideas are of prime importance to INTJ’s, and disregarding or not listening to our ideas is the highest form of insult. Although INTJ’s do not hold grudges, neither do we go out of our way to associate with people who don’t give serious consideration to our ideas. You’ll be in damage control mode for quite some time, fighting an uphill battle to get back into our good graces...
[I would never not care about someone after they disregarded my ideas because INFJs care.  However, I would put them into the "people to listen to who won't listen to me" category (see previous post on "That's just what I do").  On the other hand, the fact that I don't let on that the other person did this does mean that they'll never have any idea that damage control needs to be done.]

Most INTJ’s hate gossip, and all of us hate talk of relationships.  We also don’t do small talk.  Try quantum physics, psychology, or some other deep (but non-touchy/feely) topic...
[I hate gossip, and don't care for small talk though I understand its importance and try to do it as well as I can.  I like to discuss relationships - that gets back to the INFJ caring part.  Deep conversation, though, that's what I love.]

Q:  Is it dangerous to annoy an INTJ?

A: First we will ignore you, then we will launch a volley of extremely witty but esoteric insults that will probably go right over your head, and finally we will just engage the "nod-and-smile" autopilot and go back to ignoring you. Best to leave us alone at this point. If you push us too far we may blow up your head with our telekinetic abilities. So, yes, it can be dangerous to annoy an INTJ.
[I just stick with ignoring/"nod-and-smile" because I wouldn't want to hurt the other person (see post on "That's just..." you get the picture).  The witty but esoteric insults I save until later to discuss with dear husband and older kids .]

Here are some INTJ pet peeves I share:

* We dislike surprises. [Not always, but often.]
* We hate having decisions made for us.
* We get particularly annoyed by attacks on our intelligence, competence, and integrity. [Previous post on this one, here]
* We hate it when people try to manipulate us. [Makes me furious because it shows a lack of respect.]
* Insincerity and lying.  [Definitely!]
* People interfering with our alone time.  [!!!!!!!]
* People who talk incessantly.  We will just engage our “nod and smile” autopilot and mentally go somewhere else.  [Yes.]
* People who are stupid, arrogant, opinionated, and/or closed minded.
* Salespeople.  INTJ’s are immune to emotional manipulation and have zero tolerance for lines of bullshit.  [Possible post about car salesmen in this one!]
* People who waste our time (see Salespeople, people interfering with our alone time, etc.). 

Q:  My INTJ keeps disappearing.  Is this normal?

A: Yes. We need our “alone time” to recharge, more so than any of the other introverted MBTI types. Being around people for very long sucks the life force out of us, and we sneak off to be by ourselves whenever our “low battery” warning light starts to flash. (And in those cases where we can’t disappear physically, we will retreat into our minds.) Consequently we have great stealth capability; we can sit in a corner, observing while being unobserved, and we can escape, unnoticed, when we’re ready to move on.
[I need "alone time" more than just about anyone I know, except older son.  Actually, I'm not sure it's that he needs it more or that I'm better at covering up the fact that I'm zoning out.]

Q:  Why can’t my INTJ remember anything?

A: This is normal. Most of us INTJs are very forgetful. We have too much going on in our heads at any time to remember a lot of new stuff. Also, we zone out and go into autopilot mode quite frequently. We often won’t remember where we put our car keys because we weren’t “there” when we did it.
[I have a limited number of places that I put my car keys or my glasses.  I put my glasses down in an unusual place this morning - only two feet away from a usual place. I spent five minutes wandering around the house looking for them.  It's always because I've got too much else going on in my head.]

Q: My INTJ employee consistently strolls into work an hour late and leaves an hour late, every day. He/she seems to make their own hours, however the job gets done rather well. Should I feel disrespected?

A: Time is relative to the INTJ, and getting the job done right is paramount. We do not like wasting our time, so we will often adjust our schedules accordingly to miss AM and PM rush-hour traffic. The more traffic we miss, the more time we have for books, movies, video games, books, message boards, books, etc. You should feel disrespected, although it has nothing to do with them not honoring your work rules; it has to do with them not thinking you are particularly smart or competent. If you were smart/competent, you wouldn’t be going on about getting your wittle bitty feewings hurt by your disrespectful but high-performing INTJ employee...
[Now, I never would actually say anything like this to anyone.  But I think it's very funny!  I would arrive and leave at the normal times while fuming that I couldn't work flextime in order to avoid traffic.  I definitely agree with the background thought to this sarcasm - which is that getting the job done well is the most important thing.]

I also like the ending of this FAQ:

Q:  Why does my INTJ just start nodding and smiling after we’ve been talking for a couple of minutes?


Read the rest here.

* This demonstrates one difference between INTJs and INFJs.   INTJs have a very organized website with FAQ's and a discussion board.  From what I've read, even though attempts have been made, INFJs have never been able to keep an INFJ board going,  I'm not sure what this means about INFJs - even INFPs can keep a board going (however, INTPs, at their own board, deride the INFP board for being too "fluffy" or "touchy/feely").[BTW, did I ever mention that I read really fast?][In case you were wondering.]

** If You Belonged Here and The Sci Fi Catholic, someday, may catch up to BwP as sources of "Hey, look at this bright, shiny, unusual idea for me to play with!"  They'd be approaching a bit faster except that If You Belonged Here has been away and The Sci Fi Catholic gave up fiction for Lent (?!).

*** Except occasionally on stream-of-consciousness blog posts (so wipe that smirk off your face!).

[Older son took this photo of the fountain in the Italian Garden at Maymont in Richmond, VA.]

Harry Potter Myers-Briggs

Warning:  Spoilers ahead!  Don't read if you haven't read all of the books!

When I was looking up a lot of Myers-Briggs information, I found this test to tell you which Harry Potter character you are, and which Myers-Briggs type goes with that character.  Some worked well (Snape as an INTJ), but many didn't so I didn't bother to mention it on my blog.*

Bub and Pie has written her own post on Myers-Briggs types for Harry Potter characters, and her categories work much better.  She doesn't break them down into all sixteen categories, instead, she sorts them into four broader categories:  SF, SJ, NT, and NF.

...The Harry Potter series is all about the SJs and SPs, concrete thinkers who either follow the rules (SJ) or break them (SP). On the whole, Rowling seems to side with the SPs. Everything in the wizarding world is concrete, even the magic (especially the magic). Wizards don’t read novels – or write them. At best they read the occasional fairy tale, but Beedle the Bard appears to be the only wizard who ever had a literary imagination. Wizards are scientists: they combine ingredients to create potions, they care for magical plants and creatures, and they utter set incantations to create particular effects. There is some innovation in the wizarding world (particularly by the Half-Blood Prince), but little true creativity. Perhaps if we’d ever followed Hermione to Arithmancy class or hung out in the Ravenclaw common room we might have met a few NTs, but NF idealists are terribly thin on the ground

NT students are hard to find a Hogwarts: in the Muggle world they’re easily located by their D&D clubs, their gaming conventions, and their science fair projects. There seem to be no nerds at Hogwarts, no cliques of misfits who bond over their arcane interests. Neville’s flair for Herbology suggests an NT nature – he may be a mild-mannered INTJ, intimidated by his robust ESTJ grandmother but never quite conforming to social expectations.

I talso enjoyed this consideration of Snape and Dumbledore:

The best NTs in the Potterverse, of course, are Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape. (Snape’s loyal following, especially in the N-dominated blogosphere, may arise from the fact that he is one of the few abstract thinkers in the concrete world of witchcraft and wizardry.) Snape is a true scientist: as the Half-Blood Prince, he tinkered with potions and created spells of his own invention. The only wizard who surpasses him for intellect and creativity is Dumbledore. His early friendship with Grindelwald – based on a shared intellectual vision – suggests to me that he is a classic NT, probably an ENTP or an INTP. Dumbledore’s quirky sense of humour, his flair for nonsense, and his unsurpassed magical knowledge all place him in the same category as Lewis Carroll, Albert Einstein, and Jon Stewart.

Whenever I've taken any Myers-Briggs-type tests, I've always been in between INTJ and INFJ.  However, a recent conversation thoroughly convinced me that I'm really an INFJ.  For me, INTJ is a vacation, but not where I live.  As Bub and Pie says about the Potterverse, "...NF idealists are terribly thin on the ground."  She does find a very few:

Perhaps the only NF in the series is Lily Potter. Against the advice of her friends, she remains loyal to Snape even though he’s an outsider and a Slytherin. She is impervious to peer pressure but not to her own ideals: when Snape goes over to the Death Eaters, she ends the friendship. Lily is described by Slughorn as an intuitive potion-maker, someone with good instincts and an ability to follow them. She harnesses the power of love so skillfully that she helps defeat the greatest wizard in the world; she also has a weak spot for a good-looking Quidditch player whose arrogance cannot conceal his romantic interest. She is credulous and even, at times, naïve: she considers Wormtail a safe repository for secrets and laughs away the suggestion that Dumbledore might ever have been friends with Grindelwald.

The only other potential NF I can think of is Remus Lupin: his life is one of tortured emotion – he is an outcast who falls in love, considers abandoning his child out of a misguided sense of duty, and ultimately gives his life for a good cause. R.I.P., Remus. We hardly knew ye.

One of the comments also adds Hagrid as a possible NF - which I can see.**

If you enjoy Myers-Briggs or Harry Potter, I highly recommend reading all of her post (click here).

*  INTP's don't like being Voldemort.

** Another comment says, "Wow. This is better than how Gilligan's Island represents Dante's levels of hell!"  I Googled that, but never found a Gilligan/Dante connection.  I did find a webpage describing how the characters in Gilligan's Island personify the seven deadly sins (about halfway down the page):

According to the book Inside Gilligan's Island by Sherwood Schwartz (St. Martin's Press, 1994), the creator of the show confesses that he purposely patterned the 'seven stranded castaways' after the seven deadly sins. He confesses that he didn't tell anyone until years after the show was over, because he thought that people would ridicule him for attributing such a serious theme to such a silly show:

Mr. Howell (the millionaire) - greed
The Professor - pride
Mrs. Lovey Howell - thoughtless excess (gluttony)
Gilligan - sloth
Ginger (the movie star) - extravagance (later lust)
The Skipper - anger (wrath)
Mary Ann - envy

Myers-Briggs and Greek Divinities

Now that you've had a Myers-Briggs vacation for a few days, I highly encourage you to go and read Breakfast with Pandora's interesting, two-part series:  What Greek God is Your Myers-Briggs Type?, parts one and two.  For example:

Apollo, INTP. The INTP is a know-it-all who tortures himself with the possibility that he doesn't quite know it all or totally measure up. He is an absent-minded professor with a neurotic streak. He is logical boy strikes again. Apollo is the master of many intellectual and theoretical arts-- music, mathematics, prophecy, medical diagnosis (which is a kind of prophecy), and religious purification. He is not so concerned as Athena with the practical world and making it better. His love life is a disaster. He never marries, and his human lovers often meet a terrible end.

The negative INTP is a "Loser," which seems strange for Apollo, apparently the Ideal of Ancient Greek Humanism and God of the Sun. But if you look at Apollo's actual myths, you find a set of mostly unhappy endings, brutality, and lonerism.

Myers-Briggs and Blogging

I replied to a recent comment by saying:

My blog is definitely a playground of ideas, music, etc. for my INTJ side - the best, outside one I've had since graduate school.

I was thinking about that today while driving around and doing errands, and it's only partly true.  In other words, my blog is not just for my INTJ side.

I realized that by trying to picture what a blog from my INFJ side would be like.   One website describes INFJ's as being nurturing and having an affinity for the arts.  So, if I were blogging from my INTJ side, what would I include?  Maybe cute stories with my kids?  I don't blog about them much in order to keep their privacy, but I do a bit of that.  Long posts with pictures of the gardens I've worked so hard to keep alive this summer?  My blog definitely has those!  Numerous posts about the music I love, and even posts encouraging people to listen to different songs by the same artist?  I've got those!  Posts about books that I love, beautiful places we've visited, and even beautifully written quotes from others all appeal to my INFJ side.

Another website has this description of INFJs "

INFJs, like many other FJ types, find themselves caught between the desire to express their wealth of feelings and moral conclusions about the actions and attitudes of others, and the awareness of the consequences of unbridled candor.

That describes my blogging to a "T."  There are numerous posts I write and do not post in order not to offend.  I repeatedly go over the posts that I do publish to make sure they're, well..., at least minimally offensive.  I often get dear husband or my older children to read over a post too.  I wrote a "Dialogue between INFJ and INTJ" today that was lots of fun to write.  But, I can't post it.  The events discussed are not for public view. 

On the other hand, as the same site says:

INFJs have a knack for fluency in language and facility in communication.

Well, I'm not totally INFJ.  I won't fit everything.  However, one site which says:

They are likely to enjoy research and will go great lengths to find answers.

is right on the money.  I love research.

Reading further, this site is very useful.  It also says:

For INFJs, 'still waters run deep.' They tend to become attracted to someone special and prefer this one deep relationship over many superficial ones. The depth of involvement and feeling that the INFJ has toward loved ones is only partially communicated outward. At times, when alone, INFJs become truly in touch with the depth of the love they have for their partner.

which I think describes a number of the posts I've written about dear husband.

And, finally, the same site says that INFJs:

... are at their best concentrating on their ideas, ideals, and inspirations.

which is what I'm doing when I'm blogging - whether it's organized in an INTJ fashion or not.