INTJ: The Myers-Briggs toe tag for my brain

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INTJ

Being told I have the rarest personality type among females is said like some sort of congratulations. As if I’m supposed to feel good about being more rare, more special, more whatever-distracting-adjective-they-use.

Well, I’m not distracted. I know what they’re doing: trying to spin it so I won’t realise that it means 98% of people (99.2% of other women) don’t parse things like I do, and I’ll thus be alone in a social landscape of my apocalyptic wasteland, forever.

INTJ-TExcept, I could have guessed that, based on personal experience, even before taking the Myers-Briggs Personality Type test at 16personalities.com, which says I’m INTJ-T. (For those wondering what the ‘-T’ part at the end is about, or indeed any of it, it’s explained on this page, about two-thirds of the way down, under the heading ‘Identities.’)

There’s only so far I can take the INTJ result though, anyway. Even among people with the same letter scramble, there’ll be wide variations in what they’re actually like; what they do with their similar preferences. The complexity of human mentality can’t be so easily toe-tagged.

Yet, I find the Myers-Briggs Type Indicators (MBTIs) have been a helpful place to start in understanding my own peculiarities, and how to relate to other people in spite of those traits.

I don’t understand the mental mechanics of other people, most of the time. They seem illogical. Irrational. Sometimes downright ridiculous. And because I struggle to understand, I struggle to relate.

It goes both ways, too—my peculiarities paint me as insensitive and robotic, to those who don’t have similar mental mechanics.

It becomes a frustrated and lonely landscape; a pretty significant social problem.

If the ‘INTJ’ result was indeed indicative of a quantifiable cognitive process, I could be systematic about my approach to the problem, and to understanding those strange, illogical creatures I share a world with. Rather than consigning myself to being a closet sociopath, doomed to fit the world like a foot fits a glove.

So I approached it like I do any other problem: Collect data, so I could make reasoned intellectual judgments.

I investigated. I studied a handful of publicly available online courses run by universities around the world.

I studied components and structures of the brain, how they work, and their physical behaviours.

I read about psychology.

I read about neuroscience.

I read about neuro-psychoanalysis—a harmonious blend of the previous two, which I enjoyed.

I read about emergence and social networking (the anthropological concept, that is—not Facebook), and behavioural science.

I read about how human response is, at base, illogical—and how these responses are harnessed in deliberate and persuasive marketing strategies.

I read about the cognitive effects of hindsight bias, change blindness, psychological relativity, and societal factors in an individual’s decision making.

It was all riveting stuff, that I got rather lost in. In a delighted, meandering kind of way. It was fascinating, learning how people think. How all of us think—not just those of similar process to me.

I started to see the sense in the structure and the method behind the madness. I even identify irrationality happening in my own cognitive processes, sometimes. Then I find satisfaction in consciously overriding it.

My mind isn’t a sociopathic saboteur, after all. (Though I still have to remind myself of that sometimes, when I feel like it’s trying to turn me into a social pariah.) I’m getting comfortable in my own neurons, and by extension, more confident in the world outside of them, too.

Having researched human psychological habits though, I’m aware of things like ‘hindsight bias’ and the closely related ‘confirmation bias’, and of ‘representative heuristics’ leading to an ‘illusory correlation’: Basically, because I want the Myers-Briggs system to be credible—an answer to all my problems—then I see plenty of anecdotal evidences in my own life that support credibility. I find evidences I’ve already gathered, to support a conclusion I’ve already reached.

Myers-Briggs analyses may be science and they may be pseudo, and are probably a little of both. Nevertheless, I’ll take what works, and throw out what doesn’t.

It’s my pragmatic approach to life and pizza toppings.

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(4) Comments

  • Deborah Makarios
    18 Jun 2016

    Oo, representative heuristics! Sounds impressive, though I must admit I have no idea what it means.
    I myself am an INTJ – or INTP if the wind’s the other way. (I’d never come across the T/A bit before, but I’m definitely a T!)
    Also rarish, I think, but not that rare, so I put my intermittent social difficulties down to being a TCK instead. Except now I think about it, that doesn’t really explain why I abhor initiating conversations with strangers, and strenuously avoid calling people on the phone.

    • Eve
      18 Jun 2016

      I do love the word ‘heuristic.’ It sounds like it has the swish-and-flick of a conductor’s baton! Which is more attractive than its definition: Representative heuristics is a term for the extent to which we notice an event based on how much it conforms to a pre-existing belief we have. e.g. One might believe burglary is a more prevalent crime than vandalism, just because they’ve personally been burgled more often than they’ve been vandalised.

      I had to Google TCK. (How did the world function before Google?) The TCK factor would have some significance, I’m sure, but I think the conversation initiation and the phone thing are a family trait!

      • Deborah Makarios
        18 Jun 2016

        Excellent! I can now achieve some degree of normality in blaming my family for my problems like everyone else does 😀
        Speaking of lovable words, I recently came across a phrase of great beauty: annotated typescript. It just tap-dances its way off the palate.

        • Eve
          18 Jun 2016

          My palate dances as well as my feet do, evidently. Saying annotated typescript makes me sound like a skipping CD before I finally power off entirely during ‘type’. Too many ‘t’ sounds huddled together, for me. (Because the ‘-ed’ sounds just another ‘t’, in my lazy kiwi phonetic.)

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