How Different Personality Types Deal With Pain

PainI was pondering this morning how personality types have such different ways of handling hurt and pain. I don’t know whether much has been written on this subject, but it might be worth looking at through the lens of psychological type letter clusters, and also placed within the context of the four temperament quadrants to be better understood. And I suggest this order of ops, despite my training in and passion for David Keirsey’s 4 Temperaments, which I believe are the way that personality typing should proceed to obtain the best, most accurate results and the clearest understanding.

As an NT Rational, (iNTj) I experience things linearly in time (J) with my dicem-slicem analytical thinking, (T) which is paired to extremely big picture thinking (NT)- making for a pretty lethal combination when I’ve been hurt. How this plays out in me can work like this…

If someone said something hurtful about me that I think is untrue and unfair, I might take and apply to it all kinds of imagined scenarios and draw broad conclusions (NJ) — like that they’ve probably always felt this way and how stupid it was of me that I thought they ever really respected or liked me, yadda yadda. I frequently take a little ‘blade’ and turn it into a machete that I continually fall on, with imagined worst case scenarios playing over and over in my mind. Despite that I may have believed that what was said was untrue initially, this wouldn’t prevent me from condemning myself obsessively, because I MUST consider all possibilities ! (iNTj) No doubt many people do these things , but I suspect that no combination can throw the baby out with the bath water as well as an iNTj, from my experience. We have lethal weapons at our disposal and can direct them at both ourselves and others with great efficiency.

It’s also my observation that there are many Ns, particularly those who are introverts, who are highly sensitive. I like to think about introverted iNtuition working like a satellite dish receptor that seems to receive the subtlest nuances of others’ emotions – and even intentions – to some degree. They/ we become wounded very, very easily and tend to interpret and dissect others’ motives, which ‘justify’ our getting even. Being a TJ is the ticket to quick judging and blaming ourselves and others.

As I described earlier, Ns who are also Js, experience things in a linear, finite timeline, while simultaneously swimming around within the big picture iNtuitor universe. Unlike Ns who are Ps, the linear micro becomes joined to the universal macro in a very unique way. Our memories are able to recall detailed linear events within a very broad context. But here’s the killer: everything we experience in that way will be ‘filed’ together with our intuitive judgment (NTj) which has analyzed and ‘determined’ its meaning, and can then play judge. These skill-sets become highly developed, in my observation, because all the functions working together can prove to be very accurate and trustworthy over time. With much experience, our ability to accurately intuit, predict and then ascribe motive to others is magnified from having analyzed and interpreted things for their underlying meaning. Add to this to the deep EMOTIONAL wounds driving the process (hurt, anger, getting even, etc.) and we are looking at powerful weapons, make no mistake.

I have been slow on the uptake in seeing how my interpreting things that my family members have said or done has been extremely presumptuous and wrong! It rarely occurred to me when my children were growing up that they did not think, feel or proceed as I would have. No one in our family has the cause-and-effect process of motive and action that I presumed they had, which was based on the erroneous conclusion that everyone operates from the same calculating motives, forethought, judgment and assumptions that I do! We iNTjs can make fine, wise judges – and conversely, have the raw material to mastermind great evil.

This, I think, characterizes one aspect of what David Keirsey calls the “Pygmalion Project”. So, in response, I am working to become more like my opposite type, an SP Artisan ESFP who sees the good in everything first and takes things at face value, rolls with the punches and is universally popular. Well I can dream, can’t I?

Thank you for sharing your genius and for your incredible contribution, David W. Keirsey!

Uncertain of your type or someone you know?
We invite you to take our Free Personality Test here

How Personality Type Shaped My Life

Julie Linn Wedding PhotoLooking back on my own life through the lenses of both type and David Keirsey’s four temperaments, I could see the genius of the system everywhere.  I had clearly exhibited traits of an NT child very early: ingenuity, inventiveness and nonconformist tendencies, as outlined in detail in Keirsey’s book, Please Understand Me II.  I have no memory of being aware or concerned about what others thought of my marching to the tune of a different drummer. I do remember finding fault with my teachers’ job performances as early as elementary school.  When they seemed to underestimate my abilities, rather than feeling daunted or discouraged, I chalked it up to their lack of intelligence or judgment, although as an introvert, I kept it to myself.  And although I did well in school, it impeded my self directed learning, was terribly boring, and I disliked it immensely.

For most of my life I’ve had a keen interest in subjects related to self understanding. Needless to say, when I stumbled upon an abbreviated MBTI-type test twenty years ago and learned that I was an NT, (iNTj) my characteristic curiosity was piqued.  I devoured every resource I could find about psychological type and its history.  Being an iNTj, I realize now more than ever how fortunate I was to have been raised by an SP (iStP) mother and an NT (iNTj) father. Their hands-off style, love of learning and nonchalance about school’s busywork allowed my mind and imagination the freedom to soar.  I have a vivid memory of waking up one Christmas morning to their idea of the perfect gift for an eight year old daughter: a personal planetarium, which I adored!  They never seemed to question their daughter’s oddball interests, my fascination with my brothers’ rockets, animated dinosaur films or chemistry experiments in the basement, or my starting an astronomy club and writing a letter to the vice president in third grade. Although it was still the early ‘60s, there was no question in my mind that I was free to pursue any interest and become anything I chose, because gender stereotypes simply didn’t exist in my home. I think these examples speak volumes about my parents’ types.

My first attempt to apply my fledgling understanding of type was with my husband and children. I discovered that there was a logical explanation for what seemed like an invisible dividing line in the family early on that could be easily explained by type.  My son, younger daughter and I, who are all Notional “N”s often found ourselves in a group, while my older daughter and my husband, both “S” Sensorials, naturally paired off in their conversations and interests.  We introverted “N”s, with our philosophical bent, had conversations that usually centered around concepts and endless ideas. My very patient SJ husband (iStJ) and our older daughter, were “S”s whose focus was on tangible activities and were far more capable in all tasks relying on the 5 senses, from car repair to sewing and beyond. More and more, my fascination grew about how Psychetype could help to explain problems we were having in communication and other areas and enable us to better understand each other’s priorities and preferences.

Having read extensively about psychology and different educational methods sharpened my awareness of my children’s unique natures and learning styles. I had decided to home school my children in 1982 when my son was three years old. My firstborn, an NT (iNTp), seemed to flourish in an unstructured home learning environment. Having a somewhat typical iNTj parenting style, I was quite comfortable standing back observing, analyzing and guiding my childrens’ natural tendencies and innate talents as they developed. My son’s skills progressed on an even keel at first. But soon his handwriting precision/control and remarkable eye for detail brought about sharp growth in drawing skills, beginning at age three. His growing artistic skill and love of invention through drawing and all things science related are often common interests for the iNTp. He went on to pursue a degree in computer animation. Our shared NT habit of debating (arguing endlessly) about everything, in order to learn and to come to mutual understanding, offended my NF daughter’s warm-hearted relationship sensibilities and greatly annoyed the two “S”s in the family.

Our second child tested as an SP (iStP) in her late teens.  Typical of SP children, she was happy and bubbling over with unlimited excitement.  She was the queen of fun and play, which I loved to indulge, and I believed it was the best way for children to discover their innate gifts and talents. Precocious to a fault, she easily learned to read at the age of four.  Her learning speed was lightning fast for anything she was interested in, and she read the unabridged Little Women when she was eight years old.  Unlike her “N” siblings, she always thought of structured workbooks as fun.  As an NT, I never felt a need for convention or following rules or structure unless I absolutely had to, and I think I often made her feel bad for liking traditional methods of doing anything.  This conflict between us grew as she got older. “S”s are said to primarily learn through imitation and by being attentive to societal norms. In her teens, she was always acutely aware of the clothing styles and trends her peers were following. We had conflicts over current fads and her not having the personal freedom and independence that SPs, more than other types, desire and need. She excelled in the arts, and her natural precociousness lead her to easily learn computer skills alongside her brother. The two later started a jointly run multimedia/web design company.  She has since gone on to high achievement in her field of computer Applications Engineering. Looking back, I very much wish that I had known more about parenting the four quadrants and also the sub-types when my children were younger, so that perhaps I could have averted some pitfalls.  There was never a dull moment raising an SP child, though; full of brilliance, competence, fun and excitement.

Our youngest, is “P” child number three. Two parents with the “J” judicious/judging function having all Prospective (P) children is a formula for being made late for everything, but also for a lot of laughter! She is an NF (iNFp) and in many ways was the classic NF child.  She was stormy, passionate, affectionate and deeply spiritual from an early age.  Our pastor recognized her zeal and readiness and gave special permission for her to receive first communion a year early.  She was highly imaginative, adored animals and all nature and was deeply involved in family life.  I followed both my intuition and her very stormily expressed cues, which worked well for us both.  Like her siblings, she also excelled in the arts and also in areas which embodied her strong NF tendencies: a deep understanding and love of people, sensitivity, creativity, and her philosophical and spiritual bent.

One of the benefits of knowledge of type is to better understand and, hopefully, to improve ourselves.  It can help pinpoint inherent God-given strengths, as well tendencies toward specific patterns of problems.  I have a lot of iNTj-related flaws that need work.  In my family life, one of the areas that needed improvement was probably related to my iNTj dominant introverted intuiting function.  I sometimes intuit or foresee problems into being, and in an attempt to prevent bad things or mistakes from happening, my perfectionism sometimes over-controlled situations, and lacked respect and trust in others’ choices.  This trait at times affected my kids’ confidence in making adult decisions.  I also tend to read cosmic meaning into everything, and draw sharply judgmental conclusions, sometimes correctly —and often not.

But on a more positive note, my kids also call me Gandalf, after the good wizard of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, so being an iNTj does have its perks!  I’ve got a lot of work cut out for me, though, so I’d better get busy… now where did I put my staff?

Uncertain about your own type or someone you know?  We invite you to take our free personality test here…

Voice Teaching for Personality Types: (SP, SJ, NF, NT) Students

Voice teacher instructing student singingIn the realm of my private vocal teaching of high school and college students, I have found knowledge of Myers-Briggs (MBTI) personality types to be extremely helpful. My work often requires the use of imagery to obtain a desired sound. Despite medical advances allowing for viewing the larynx and for understanding the mechanics of vocal sound production, my experience has been that it’s quite ineffective to try to communicate the ‘how’ of correct vocal production using primarily technical language. Bridging the gap between the science and the art form by using symbolic language and also tapping into the often very delicate teen psyche calls for a broad palette of metaphor, imagery, humor and a great deal of outside-the-box ingenuity.

As an iNTj, I really love the challenge of solving the problems of communicating abstract concepts to very different personalities and of streamlining the process to make it as efficient and fast as possible. I also enjoy getting to really know the students and helping them make wise choices in their lives and careers.

Knowledge of MBTI types has given me many new ideas about how to better communicate with my students, and especially with NFs, (ENFP,INFP, ENFJ, INFJ) who have made up the vast majority of students in my vocal teaching practice. Most of them have a passion for music, the gift of artistry and self expression through singing. However, they also often have a deficit in self confidence and an almost superstitious fear that, once they fail at an attempt, for example, at singing high notes, all is lost. Their fears can lock their muscles tightly, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, severely hindering their progress. It can be hard to convince them to trust in the scientific principles of vocal teaching and that, once a formula is correctly applied, everything will behave in a predictable manner. I’ve learned also that NFs rarely progress with my NT preferred teaching method of straight technique. They are easily bogged down and discouraged by the mechanics. I often have needed to turn a song melody into a technical exercise, in order to keep them enthusiastically working toward their goal of making technical progress. I love working with NFs and generally have a wonderful rapport with them. They understand my zany analogies and are a joy to teach.

Working with SPs (ESFP, ISFP, ESTP, ISTP) has proven to be a fairly uncomplicated process for me. They are often naturals who seem to respond best to a light-handed approach and also to learning by direct imitation. Unlike NFs, and similar to NT students, they seem to have no problem doing repetitive technical work and are willing to try anything, having few inhibitions. Two very successful former students were SPs, whose easygoing, in-the-moment and flexible personalities made working with them a breeze.

I’ve also had fun working with the rare NT students (ENTP, INTP, ENTJ, INTJ) I’ve taught, because we speak the same type language, and their astute questions and determination to achieve mastery are a good fit with my teaching style. I’ve found that they progress with me more efficiently than others, seeming to easily comprehend my meaning. They also don’t resist pure technique, the most efficient means to their goal, and their emotions are rarely a factor in their learning process.

Embarrassingly, I have had rather lackluster success with SJ students (ESFJ, ISFJ, ESTJ, ISTJ), and it’s not for want of trying. I’m usually reminded that I’m speaking a different language when I communicate concepts in my abstract way to them. I sense their frustration with my wacky analogies. Their clear preference for a method that is routine and systematic is not in my wheelhouse, and I suspect that my unconventionality, dislike of repetition and my free-spirited approach could make them feel somewhat insecure and cause them to wonder whether I know as much as I think I do. Tangible success and effectiveness just don’t seem to be sufficient credentials for them!

I think I’ll start giving a free personality type test to all prospective students from now on…

Is the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) Test Legit or “Totally Meaningless”?

Carl Jung Smoking Pipe
Carl Jung, author of “Psychological Types”

Maybe you’ve seen the Vox hit piece making the rounds online that foolishly and very arrogantly confuses and conflates the Myers-Briggs MBTI test with the Jungian-derived system it’s based upon. What these snarky critics fail to mention — or perhaps they don’t actually know — is that the study of psychological type came well before the existence of any of these “personality tests” that are based on it! The study of types and the systems that the test is related to are amazingly accurate, that is, when someone’s test results have been verified. And therein lies the source of most of the frustration and confusion: the vast majority of the millions of people who have been given these tests, whether at their workplace, college, military or other government agencies, have not been told that their result needs to be checked and verified — and most importantly, taught how to put it to good use to benefit their lives!

What the MBTI test attempts by asking questions about opposite preferences is to uncover which of the 16 known and very definite patterns of behavior (which come from the SYSTEM) is a correct match for you.

Here are some problems with the tests and causes for inaccuracies in the results:

The test taker:

  1. May not understand the question, causing their 4 letter result to be inaccurate
  2. May not know themselves as well as they think they do and answer accordingly
  3. May be answering on a whim that simply reflects their mood that day and not their true self
  4. May not be a fully developed, mature, self actualized person yet, and answer accordingly
  5. The test’s lingo and syntax may be misunderstood by younger generations or certain demographics

So, again, as my article “Test But Verify” explains, the true gold mine in psychological types is not found in the tests, but in learning about the system that they point us to, which is a fascinating, accurate and incredibly valuable tool for families, relationships and careers, workplaces.

We’ve put a lot of time into making the best test available, and it’s free!
Check it out at:

If you’re already sure of your type, or if you would like to make sure that you’ve got it right and want to get more out of your result, check out our Personality Type Decoder materials

Thanks for reading!

How Do I Know My Myers Briggs Personality Test Result Is Accurate?

How Do I Know My Myers Briggs Personality Test Result Is Accurate?

Did you ever take a personality test, like the MBTI or another, that gives a four letter code that looked something like this: INFP, ESTJ, ENTP ? After you took one of those tests, did you receive a brief description of your type that was accurate in some ways, but was either too general — or didn’t really describe you at all? Maybe you took your test results home and forgot about them. Or, if the results captured your interest, perhaps you tried to learn more about them but were confused about what percent of each letter you were — 51% Thinking — 49% Feeling, for example, or how it all worked — and gave up, because it wasn’t really that helpful?

Unfortunately, millions of people have taken the first leg of the journey of personality type (through a test) and never arrived at the true destination: a better understanding of themselves and others by applying what they learn to every aspect of life!

Recently, the problem of inaccurate typing has become much more widespread with the advent of social networking apps, which have spawned negative press about the tests’ shortcomings. And frankly, when I see a student or friend’s result on Facebook, I usually cringe, because most of the time, their result is wrong.

One of the clearest examples of mis-typing, in my experience as a Personality Type consultant, is of a former student. Megan is a very warm, sincere, imaginative, creative and empathetic young woman. When she took the MBTI, (the Myers Briggs Type Indicator), she announced afterwards to me, “I’m an ISFP!” Her enthusiasm about finding something that could help her understand herself better and find a good career path for her type was so endearing, and also so indicative of her type, that, at first, I didn’t have the heart to share my doubts with her about her ISFP result.

I’d like to mention a little about the background of personality typology to explain why I thought Megan’s result was incorrect. Psychological ‘typing’ began with Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung and was taken to new levels by the work of Isabel Myers, an American researcher who developed the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality ‘test’ and the familiar 16 four letter types. Jung and Myers’ work was revamped and greatly improved by Dr. David Keirsey, who applied his decades long study of the theories of four temperaments, dating back to ancient times, by ordering Myers’ 16 types under four basic, fundamental types. Keirsey’s four Temperaments are the SP, SJ, NF and the NT. Learning about the similarities in the underlying motivations and the things which build self esteem in people of each of the four temperaments is an invaluable help in ending the confusing ’toggling’ back and forth between individual letters, which renders the four letter result useless for many who get caught in that trap.

Back to Megan… Her MBTI result, I-S-F-P, was actually correct on three of the four letters. The first letter ‘I’, wasn’t in question. She was clearly a reserved ‘I’, for Introversion (a term that’s frequently misinterpreted). Megan also clearly exhibited the traits of Myers’ F (‘Feeling’) and P (‘Perception’) letters, which also carry the baggage of confusing definitions. But Keirsey’s work, by showing a hierarchy of importance among the four letters and how their meanings are very dependent on context within his four fundamental types, or “temperaments”, provided Megan the tool she needed to help her understand what made her tick.

Keirsey’s four “Temperaments” provided me a failsafe backdrop for her four letter test result, and put Megan’s letters (ISFP) into Keirsey’s broad SP “Artisan” temperament. However, I saw few SP Temperament traits in Megan. Instead, having worked with her over several months as her private teacher, it was clear that she exhibited the general traits of Keirsey’s NF ‘temperament’. So, if her other three letters were correct, which they seemed to be, she had only mis-typed her 2nd letter. The 2nd letter-set, the S and N, is by far the most important in the four-letter type combo. S and N (short for Sensing vs. Intuition, which are also poor choices of terms that we’re rather stuck with) have to do with how we process the world around us, whether by primarily using our five senses (S: Sensation) or our intuition/introspection/notions (N: iNtuition).

Megan’s imaginative, broad, metaphoric language and dreamy, idealistic nature are very common traits found in the NF temperament group, especially iNFp. However, they are not usual traits of the SP ‘temperament’ into which her ISFP result had placed her. So, rather than tell her what I suspected her type was, I gave her Keirsey’s book “Please Understand Me II” to read, which she devoured. Her very attitude about reading it was another clue to her temperament. NFs are the people most drawn to topics related to self-understanding and deep meaning.

After reading, Megan came back and proudly announced to me that she was definitely *not* an SP, but an NF: an iNFp, as I had type-spotted her to be. She verified that three letters, the ‘I’, ‘F’ and ‘P’, had been right. But having tested incorrectly on the 2nd and MOST IMPORTANT letter put her in the wrong broad temperament group, which was an extremely poor outcome, if had she relied solely on the test for the right result and had never chosen to learn more about type. According to Keirsey, in their underlying motives, the SP and NF temperaments couldn’t be more different, which I have found to be very true in my experience. That reality alone both proves and underscores the critical importance of cross checking one’s four letter result against the basic traits of Keirsey’s Four Temperaments to obtain a more accurate result.

Megan went on to choose a career which combined her love of music and the arts with her other NF passion for helping those in need. The field a music therapy has proven to be a fulfilling choice for her type and no doubt a great blessing to the children with severe handicaps whom she so lovingly helps. Typical of NFs, known as the self-actualizing temperament, Megan wanted to know her correct type in order to find fulfillment in her life’s work. But NFs are certainly not the only ones who benefit by obtaining the right result.

Proper verification of type is absolutely essential for enabling people of all types to apply this amazing tool to every area of life.  It is my belief that personality tests in general are best used as merely a jumping-off point for most people. And verifying one’s four letter code against the traits of the four temperament ‘quadrants’ is the foundation for finding the correct result.

Ultimately what is at stake in continued negative publicity about the MBTI and type generally is the loss of a hundred years of marvelous progress in human understanding through psychological type. If this knowledge is to benefit the current generation, who are being told that it’s nothing more than an amusing, but inaccurate and irrelevant game, it needs to be understood to be the life changing tool that it truly is, which will depend entirely on whether we succeed in helping people to get their type right.

Need help verifying your type?
Check out our new verification tool, the Personality Type Decoder.

Not sure of your type? Take our free personality test.

Thoughts on this topic?
Leave a comment below. Your input and ideas are appreciated.