Thursday, March 12, 2009

An INTJ Woman's Thoughts on MBTI

Yet another UPDATE: INTJ Female - Final Final Frontier Part 3A posted on Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Edited to add: Please read my update, More thoughts from an INFJ...not INTJ...Female posted on March 14, 2009.

I was browsing the internet looking for ways to understand why I'd often come up INTJ or INFJ with just 1 - 4% expressed Thinking or Feeling functions. I came across one theory that the Myers-Briggs Typology Test (MBTI) is an indicator test in which the varying degrees of expression within any area of cognitive function are irrelevant, but I believe the numbers are in fact relevant. They tell us the degree in which we're inclined to be more extreme forms of any of the archetypes (and yes, each of the 16 types are archetypes), and the way I'd understood the purpose of the MBTI was to try to round out our own personality so we don't become too extreme. I think we need to be a bit flexible in how we assess the results if we're to grow through MBTI and not simply use it like astrology and other forms of esoteric entertainment.

The reason I understand MBTI as I do could be because I'm (currently, based on the last test I took) an INTJ female, and as an INTJ, my personality tends to synthesize / integrate, not divide / categorize (INFJ is not too different). This is why I have a hard time with music and perfume genre categorization systems - the problem I have is not with particular systems but the idea of systemizing art in and of itself, since I see and hear pieces of everything inside everything. There's a point where definitions and divisions become obsolete, when we begin to realize the commonality between things, beyond preferences or "reality" based on provable facts and data as we know it. I might like music from one genre over others generally speaking, but I could still end up loving a song in a different genre the best because of the qualities in that one particular song. That one song could then be a unique piece of music that can't quite be categorized based on the categorization system implemented at the current time. It all sounds chaotic but really, it isn't. A piece of music or a perfume can easily be something called a crossover, or a fusion, and that is a category if we're to create it. That's another thing we INTJs like to do - create things based on new, at times antithetical, ways of seeing.

It is possible for things to be of two equal parts and not be opposites (male - female to me is a false dichotomy). Also, something can be two things at once and still be one whole, without either part (not really parts but different ways of assessing that whole being) ever losing character. This will get on some people's nerves but let's take music for instance: A musician can effectively play both classical music and jazz authentically - no, undoubtedly not everyone can, but some can, and therefore it is possible such musicians are both classical and jazz musicians, not one who plays one genre as a main genre and the other genre well, as they might like to say Wynton Marsalis does. It's silly to need to put everything in hierarchical order where order does not exist except artificially (based on taste or other subjective opinions).

(Image: by Frocky-tale)
Now, here's the part of me that's very much INFJ, thinking, or feeling if you will, about the ramifications of genre-fying human beings too definitively. As much as I love MBTI but people are not computers based on 0-1 theory but infinitely complex beings. Why can't computers create a single decent piece of music? Because it takes more than logic to create beauty. As one ENFJ who is closest to me in my life says, "There's a little bit of everyone in us all". So, if I come up testing as INTJ one day and INFJ the next, it only means I have elements of both T and F functions going on simultaneously in my psyche (justice vs. mercy = If I choose mercy, does it mean 1. I don't care about justice, and 2. I'll always choose the same way?), not that one assessment is necessarily wrong. A person whose cultural background spans more than two nations or religious backgrounds can perhaps understand this. You may never stop being one in lieu of the other, and asked to choose, it would be like choosing whom you love more between two parents or two children. It's time we gave more credibility to the unique things of the world, without pressuring them to conform, just because it makes sense to us to do so. Perhaps that kind of sense isn't all that sensible when you think about it.

(Edited to add: On the Temperament Test, I scored higher as Catalyst (NF) and second as Theorist (NT). I am an iNxJ. Now, how does all this relate to being whole-brained as opposed to being right or left brained?)

Related link: INTP - August 11, 2010 Pink Manhattan