Sunday, May 24, 2015


Read on ... this note isn't about what you think it's about ... though I imagine it will ruffle some feathers.  I'm going to talk about the recent spate of articles dealing with Introversion/Extraversion that have been circulating around Facebook.  Many of the headlines for these articles begin with the phrase "How to Deal with" or "How to Understand" an Introvert or an Extravert.

I'm starting to grow weary of seeing these, and it's mostly because the point of view of the article is all wrong.  Personality tests were never meant to be taken in order to put the onus on others for figuring out what we need; rather, they're for insight and understanding into ourselves, to help us figure out how to get what we need.  And even at that, the quick analyses we get from a 5-minute test on the Internet don't tell the whole story.

I've taken a real Myers-Briggs test, and I'll bet a lot of you have, too.  But there's a lot more to my personal label of INFP (Introverted - Intuitive - Feeling - Perceiving) than a quick test can convey.  I'm "distinctly" Introverted (as opposed to Extraverted) but not "strongly" so.  I'm only "moderately" Intuitive, meaning that I tend to value thinking over hands-on experience while still relying quite a bit on information that comes from the senses (see, hear, touch, taste, smell).  I'm only "moderately" Feeling, which means that I put slightly more emphasis on personal concerns than on impersonal facts.  I'm only "moderately" Perceiving, which means I slightly favor a flexible and adaptable lifestyle, but obviously still value structure.

Truth is, we ALL have the characteristics of both Introverts and Extraverts; we ALL use Intuition and Sensing; we ALL both Feel and Think; and we ALL have at least some preference for both Judging and Perceiving.  And that's part of my weariness with of the labeling.

I don't want to dwell on the Myers-Briggs labels, though.  (If you want to understand a little more about the Myers-Briggs test, there's a pretty decent article, tracing its history and its place in the world of psychoanalysis, linked below.)  Of just as much concern are the labels ADHD, OCD, and the rest of the alphabet soup of labeling.  It may be very helpful to know what labels apply to you, but the important thing is: These labels are to help YOU in figuring out how to interact with the world; they are not meant to tell the world how it must accommodate you.  That is an important distinction that a lot of us seem to be missing.