Sunday, July 24, 2011

Meyers-Briggs INFP: What Sir Galahad and I Have in Common

Sir Galahad by Arthur Hughes (1832-1915)
It's not exactly the purity (although far from me being some kind of libertine!) Rather it's the idealistic temperament we share. I feel the need to explain myself yet again, which, of course, is also part of the psychological profile.

What provoked me recently is the horror of the Norway slayings and the report that the alleged perpetrator supposedly perceived himself as some sort of modern Knight Templar crusading against the forces of ("Muslim") evil. Great. Of course he is also supposedly a Mason, Christian Fundamentalist, organic farmer, and a follower of the Austrian School of international Libertarianism. I don't think it's really fair to blame any of those factors for his horrific and evil personal choices. Although a slightly more cynical mind than mine could say:
The lunatic is all idée fixe, and whatever he comes across confirms his lunacy. You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense, by his flashes of inspiration, and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars.
 Umberto Eco (Foucault's Pendulum)

It is true that the Crusades are probably the best example how good intentions can go so wrong. And even those intentions can be so flawed from the outset. I mean, sure, Islam in those days ruled the Holy Land as well as threatening much of  European Christian Civilization (not always a "joy" itself) by brutal conquest squeezing in from the Pyrenees on the West and the Balkans on the East. And now, while no longer ruling in the Iberian Peninsula these past 500+ years, and much of the Holy Land now under the control of the Jewish State of Israel, yet with its people throughout all lands of the world, some followers of Islam also choose an evil interpretation to cause horror and destruction which only bring reactions from so-called Christian and Jewish groups and nations in also horrific reprisal. And the death spiral goes on.

What's to be done? I don't know. But I'm pretty much with Sheryl Crow on this:

Which brings me right back to INFP. Sure, you can take a fortune cookie or horoscope and read yourself into it as we humans often do. Yet I have taken the rather more scientific Meyers-Briggs test twice, and with fairly consistent results. It sure seems to fit.

Here is a good overview of the INFP Personality-type. We are, of course, the consummate fantasists, wildly inspired with noble aspirations and great abilities to see those grand landscapes of eternal view and sometimes even to have the language in art or word to share them with others. Yet for the most part we remain apart from our fellow mortals, never really understood even as we think we understand all of them (we do have that streak of arrogance in us.)

One of the best parts of Meyers-Briggs is the confirmation that oftentimes opposites attract and are even good for each other. My wife has not been tested (she's not the type for that), but if she were, I bet she would come out pretty much my exact opposite of the sixteen personality types, an ESTJ. She is well-grounded in pragmatic organizational skills, well-educated and bright in her own way if rather different from mine. We are a great complement to each other as she keeps me grounded and I try to keep her inspired. Also, our kids get their science and math support from her and their language, literature and history from me. We make a great balance. And it's a good thing we do love each other.

There are many reasons why I like this picture of Galahad above: the dark and rugged landscape of mountain and moor reminiscent of my ancestral lands on the Black Mountains; the vision of the three angels, holy guardians of the grail and their glow reflected on Galahad's armor; and most of all, the steadfast, determinedly strong yet humble face of Galahad as he bows his head to shield his eyes from the mountain wind around him and the brilliance of heavenly messengers. There's no Teutonic arrogance of the Wagnerian Hero so easily corrupted by delusions of Fascist grandeur. And of course, he's mounted on a white horse! The British tradition of the nobility of heart, with all its flaws, suits me well as I continue my personal quests.

Wish me luck.

1 comment:

  1. I am, as promised (or threatened) cutting and pasting some email comments from AnonymousD. He has a lot of good insights and even challenges me to some extent. I need more of that. Here he is slightly edited (only so as to preserve his anonymity and for context):

    "I’ve taken the Myers Briggs test twice, (the actual professionally proctored test that is). [. . .] It’s interesting that you would mention that because I was just going through my old papers here at work and found my results. Supposedly I’m an [ ] which I guess is consistent because that was how I tested in College as well. Generally I think personality testing is a pseudo-science. I should walk that back al little they can be useful in giving general insight into a type. There seems to be some validity to them but only on a really rough scale. Personality after all is too complex to be broken down into 16 types. The pseudo-science comes in when amateurs start taking over the science, then it gets weird. You start getting those who say, well, I’m an INFP and so my reaction to this situation should be thus. It appears that some actually do that, they act to type rather than being themselves and trying to perfect their natural traits.

    I suppose from a religious stand point God would possess all of the traits in their fullness. So he would be the perfect introvert and the perfect extrovert, perfect at feeling and perfect at thinking, which is a really interesting way of looking at it. It isn’t doctrinal because of the inherent short-comings of the discipline but is an interesting idea."

    Thanks, AnonymousD!


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