Friday, September 13, 2013

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator - MBTI

I lived most of my life without ever hearing of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which is a form of personality assessment. I had always assumed that personality tests were superficial, general and irrelevant and had never taken any interest in them. Someone mentioned the MBTI to me a few years ago: she asked me what my MB type was. I was interested, and decided to give it a go after finding some free tests online.

In all cases, I came out very strongly as INTJ: introversion, intuition, thinking, judgment.  I read some good quality material describing the characteristics of this type and listing possible career options:  it all seemed spot on. It explained a hell of a lot.  It confirmed some things I had always known or suspected. I have always said, “does it work?” and expected things to make sense, and this is exactly what the descriptions say INTJs do!

Long before I took the test, I had come to realise that certain missed opportunities that I had regretted very much, both at the time and for many years afterwards, would not after all have been right for me.  Some of the material I read provided an objective confirmation of my insights: these cases could now be closed for good. 

The material also confirmed my theory that the life I was forced to lead in my formative years might have been deliberately designed to ruin my prospects and cause maximum suffering. It was not just that my education was grossly deficient and that the work I had been forced to do could not have been more unsuitable; it was not just that my abilities, aptitudes, interests and personality had been completely ignored; it was as if someone had read the details of INTJ people and created the worst possible life for someone of this type. The life chosen for me was the exact opposite of what was best for me: it made huge demands in areas where I had little or nothing to give, and no demands in areas where I was very strong. It is the same old upside down crucifixion, the same old dancing anti-clockwise, the same old evil being the reversal of good.

Reading the INTJ description material brought back all the hurt and anger I had felt when I first realised all this, but again it provided confirmation of my insights.

It is too late for me to do much with this information, but others may find that getting an assessment adds an extra dimension to their understanding of themselves. I would not base any life-changing decisions on the results of the test, but I would certainly take them into account.

The personality type distribution estimates gave me a greater understanding of why it is not easy to find people on my wavelength. Being in one of the rarer categories might be influencing our lives in subtle ways: we may feel like persecuted minorities.  MBTI helps to explain why INTJ types cannot expect to fit in, and why there is no need to even try.

The MBTI test undoubtedly has some weaknesses. People are very complex and cannot be summarised in and reduced to four letters, any more than they can be defined only by their Sun Sign.

I particularly dislike seeing the lists of ‘famous INTJs’ that appear on some websites: this is just speculation based on limited information. It is even more grating when fictional characters are included. It is up to the subjects to take the test themselves and pass on the classification only if they want to. I don’t think that Jane Austen and Isaac Newton took the online tests. These lists make no sense to me.

Despite all that, I feel that the INTJ characterisation has given me something comprehensible and acceptable to explain myself with. It shows why I am much more interested in ideas, issues and information than I am in people.

My MBTI classification has given me permission to be myself.