The wailings and gnashings of syntax that comprise my daily logs go mostly unnoticed by the general public — by my best guesstimates, fortified by tracking-service data, maybe 15 percent of the 120 or so people who visit this domain every day look at the front page. Though few bother to say so, I suspect a number of them have already decided that I'm a basket case, and I'd be hard-pressed to argue otherwise. But "basket case" is merely a perfunctory pejorative; there must be something to me other than personality defects.

This would seem to call for testing of some sort. Then again, I was a fairly weird child, or at least weird enough that the parental units, for whatever reason, thought it would be useful to put me through a whole battery of tests, and then, just to be sure, another one; if a test existed circa 1960, I probably took it. As a result, to this day I tend to distrust such things on general principle, if only because I never felt as though I derived any benefit from them. Even assuming that fluke IQ score was accurate (which I never assume), what good did it do me other than get me out of secondary school earlier than usual?

There are all sorts of tests online, of varying degrees of seriousness and accuracy. In the past, I have experimented with the popular battery of tests at TheSpark.com, and while some of its conclusions seem plausible, it's not exactly High Academic stuff. (Besides, I just don't feel like the kind of girl they say I am.)

So this time, I went looking for something, if not industrial-strength, at least with a smidgen of intellectual rigor. This led me to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, an extension of Jungian theory by Isabel Briggs-Myers, and the similar Keirsey Temperament Sorter, by David Keirsey. Both the MBTI and the KTS (version II, which perhaps sounds more formal than "2.0") are available on the Web; I found Keirsey first, and gave it a shot.

Keirsey defines four continua and assigns a letter to each half; there are therefore sixteen possible combinations. The continua are as follows:

(E) Extraversion - - - - - - - - - - Introversion (I)
(S)    Sensation - - - - - - - - - - Intuition    (N)
(F)      Feeling - - - - - - - - - - Thinking     (T)
(J)     Judgment - - - - - - - - - - Perception   (P)

Everyone falls somewhere on each of these scales, so everyone can be described with a combination of four letters. (Any similarity to the structure of DNA is surely coincidental.) And the combination that describes me, says Keirsey's test, is INTJ, a group he calls "Masterminds", not so much for alleged brilliance (I've been there before, and I didn't see any signs of me) but for their insistence on analyzing everything to the nth detail, regardless of its origin or intent. Some of Keirsey's description doesn't quite ring true — self-confidence is not by any means my strongest suit, though it varies with my level of expertise in the realm of the moment — but by and large, the guy that wants solutions, dammit, and doesn't much care who gets the credit for them, is pretty much the same guy who wanders around in my Reeboks.

Precisely what I should make of all this, I'm not quite sure. I'm already apprehensive about the very word "Mastermind", which has the potential to be as smug and self-important as, say, "Mensa member". (Myers-Briggs eschews the term.) And I need hardly point out that this is not the sort of personality that spells High Desirability in the eternal mating dance. Still, the first part of getting a handle on anything is the ability to slap a label on it. And for sure, "Mastermind" sounds much niftier (and I'll take all the nift I can get) than TheSpark.com's dispiriting-sounding "Accountant".

The Vent

#243
1 May 2001

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