Close Encounters of the Third Degree
My first contact with Jungian typology came with the famous (and infamous) MBTI-Myers-Briggs Type Indicator questionnaire in 1999, the first few months of my MBA in Boston. In my time, my school applied the questionnaire to all 880 first year students and did a collective return.
Explaining the concepts to the uninitiated: typological theory was written by Carl Gustav Jung in 1921. In 1940, Isabel Myers, American writer and psychologist, was co-creator (along with mother – Katherine Briggs) of the MBTI, a questionnaire that identifies the dimensions that differentiate each of the sixteen psychological types. Psychological types can be understood as repetitive patterns of behavior, independent of culture, gender, and age, beginning to be identifiable around age seven and remaining unchanged until the end of life. The type does not change, but people (some) mature.
In a very simplified way, Jung noted some useful dichotomies (opposing preferences) that clearly differentiate one behavior pattern from another. The first dimension that he identified is made up of two attitudes: Extroverted (attention is focused on the world of things and people) and Introverted (the focus is on the inner world).
The second dimension includes the decision-making functions: Thought and Feeling. The Thought function can be subdivided into (1) rationalization of situations – I gain and someone loses, advantage and disadvantage; (2) Connective logic – cause and effect, things make sense in this way. The Feeling function can be subdivided into (1) personal values (this is right or wrong); (2) expressed behaviors (I like or dislike how the other is acting).
The third dimension includes the functions of perception of the world: Sensation and Intuition. The Sensation function can be subdivided into (1) the concreteness of the here and now – the facts and reality before me; (2) Concretenness of the past – the facts and the reality that I lived. The Intuition function can be subdivided into (1) Creative future – ideas and visions in the real world; (2) Occult Symbology – Eternal or timeless conceptual syntheses.
The fourth dimension shows which role you interact predominantly with the external world: perceptive (prefer not to reveal the decision or conclusion about something immediately, let me see how it is) or judgmental (prefers to say what people should be or do ).
When the result of my MBTI questionnaire came in the form of a standard report, I was surprised by some things that were written down. First, it seemed that the report had revealed intimate things, characteristics of mine that I knew I had but which I had never given much thought to. My mind, scientifically skeptical and hard-trained in the trenches of engineering, was confused. If, on the one hand, horoscope and that seemed the same, on the other, something inside me was puzzled, I felt incompetent for not realizing that those characteristics distinguished me from the people in my family, work and my different little birds to sitecircle of friendship.
And it’s not that the E.T. was me !!!!!!!!!!
But, inexorably, the report made sense to me, there was truth in what was written there. Secretly, I felt a sense of relief – I knew, I always knew. I kept that new information in one of the many bins of my mind, properly cataloged as “a curious thing to be explored later.” Tolly … as if we could hide something so important from ourselves? The damage was done, the invisible had been revealed, the “sleeper was awake” as Frank Herbert, author of Dune, would say.
Throughout the presentation of the consultants, during the collective return on the instrument, I was reminded of other skills such as delivery, detail, readiness, responsibility, things I was proud to have or know how to do that were valued in my MBA , and in which I had been well evaluated until then. Why did not those features appear in my report?
I only came back to this question many years later, when I finally began to understand about functions-attitudes described by Dr. John Beebe, typology, conscious and unconscious, complex, archetypes, persona, that is, a Jungian paraphernalia that today is so dear and useful for me.
After the collective refund, I asked the consultants questions about my indicators of clarity being terribly low in all four dimensions. The answer was about my flexibility to navigate between the dichotomies: not so extroverted, nor so introverted; not so much Thinking or Feeling, blah blah blah. Anyway, I was a pastel tone in a watercolor painting still wet. The answer about navigating well between dichotomies tasted like hospital food.
When we allow ourselves to be
Today, reliving my first contact with typology (believe me, reliving the past for me is like taking bitter medicine), I had an interesting insight. I remembered that by responding to the questionnaire, I felt torn between answering what they expected of me in the previous job, things that I was very proud to have developed with great sacrifice, and what I really liked.
I remembered that as I answered, through the middle of the questionnaire, I thought, “Oh, fuck off, I’ll respond to what I really like.” I let my risky, creative side finally come out of the closet. After all, being in the MBA was a time to rethink the future, to open up new horizons and possibilities for my career. Why not let instinct reveal itself and see what such a test would say about who I was? I was open to knowing myself better without a veneer. Glad I had this momentum!
It is quite possible that this “me-zinha” has left on its own, straight from the unconscious, rebellious and uncensored, wanting and needing to express itself, after so much repression of my own nature, after so much adaptation. Obviously, in the consulting I worked before the MBA, it took me years to reconcile my nature with the expectations of the corporate environment around me, not without much dilemma and pain.
Finding “my class”, I had gotten rid of persona, of unconscious adaptation. As the Jungians would say, you must differentiate to individuate, that is, you must separate what you are from what you are, before you achieve the synthesis of full self-development.
Although the instrument’s official report is too “politically correct” to serve as a development tool, the true nature of my typology was later revealed by the depth of Dr. John Beebe’s studies and articles.
ENTP “I was” – a visionary instigator.
Creative, rebellious, questioning, idealistic, noisy, dreamy, independent, reinventing the wheel to every problem, embracing the unknown like an old friend, polly optimistic, flexible as a mary, in love with my own creations, irretrievably without past and in identity, madly risky, quickly understandable, slightly irresponsible (there are controversies about the slightly), consistently unexpected, frighteningly logical, unexpectedly mole and informal, irritatingly emotional and aggressive when frustrated, insensibly critical, terribly dubious, hopelessly indiscipline, unable to tolerate details and routines, with open and unspecified thoughts, completely disinterested in controlling or being controlled, disdainful of references and experiences, my authority, overly contextualizing, and tirelessly talkative.
Sorry if I disliked the other fifteen non-ENTP’s – I only know who I am, the rest is an adaptation to professional, relational and social demands.
Identification with the persona, with the distorted self-image that we make of ourselves, is a mechanism of adaptation, protection and quite natural, within a certain limit. Unfortunately, there are people with a weaker personality, who tend to identify themselves so unconsciously with what others expect of them, who lose touch with their more structuring nature than typology.
In the corporate world, this distorted self-image in general is very inflated and polarized. Let’s talk about this in another article.
At last free and self-conscious, I understood the prices I paid in the past when they expected something from me that could be very different from my nature. I have learned to seek adaptation consciously, understanding that certain things will always be more difficult and costly for me, such as focusing on details, being conservative, seeking my past experiences, being economical, focusing on what is feasible rather than what is innovative, to apply a little command and disciplinary control, to plan and fulfill a task to the end and to warn others when I changed my mind.
Irreverent rebels, unite!
Let’s change the world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mal sabia eu que a jornada estava apenas começando. Diferenciar é só o começo!