Monday, September 17, 2007

Temperament and Personality

I have been thinking recently about the study of different people's temperaments and personalities, due mostly to several blog posts that I have read and some things my brother-in-law has said. Unfortunately, I am not a very articulate writer, so what follows is going to be somewhat of a stream of consciousness about these topics.

(If you don't know much about these subjects, I recommend reading these books, otherwise you may not understand much of what I write.)

About eighteen months ago a friend introduced me to Please Understand Me (PUM) about the sixteen different personality types based on the Myers Briggs personality type indicator. I had heard about the different types before and never paid much attention, but this friend was so excited about them that I took the test in the book. It turned out that I am an ISF?. My J and P are borderline and I see a lot of myself in each type. If I had to pick one I probably would lean toward the J.

My husband is an INTJ. In fact his entire family as far as he knows is that same type. After reading PUM I realized how appropriate that title is. I felt that the scales fell away from my eyes about my husband and his family. Things that I considered rudeness and inconsiderate behavior became not nearly as bad. I came to understand that an action done by someone who is heavy on the T scale might be interpreted totally differently by someone heavy on the F scale as I am.

It is also helpful knowing this information to be able to understand their intellectual strengths and weaknesses. Certain personalities like art or science better. Parents who want their son to be doctor might understand his decision to be a drama teacher better when they understand his personality.

Last August I read most of The Temperament God Gave You. (TTGGY) (My in-laws let me borrow it to finish it, but I forgot about it until a couple different people mentioned it recently.) That book has also helped me in looking at my life, behavior and feelings.

TTGGY helped me understand even more about the relationship between my husband and I and the behavior that is due to our temperaments. I am a phlegmatic-melancholic and he is a melancholic-phlegmatic. This is good because I think it helps us to get along very well most of the time. It is bad because interestingly enough, when I am a phlegmatic he is a melancholic and when I am a melancholic he is a phlegmatic. When one of us happens to lapse into an extremely melancholic mood, which luckily is pretty rare, I think it bothers the other one more than it would bother someone who wasn't strongly melancholic or phlegmatic.

My brother-in-law has seen a lot of benefit from knowing the temperaments of his children and applying the information in TTGGY about how to raise children with the various temperaments. As a phlegmatic, he also strongly recommends this book about time management. He says that it is geared to phlegmatics and he and all the reviewers say it has made a huge difference in their lives. Alas, my library doesn't have it and they weren't able to obtain it from the interlibrary loan, either.

I look forward to knowing my children's personality types and temperaments so I can raise them in a custom fit way for them. There are some people who scoff at the information in PUM and TTGGY because they say you can't put people in a box. I think that almost every theory has some incorrect premises, theories, conclusions, etc., but one has to separate the wheat from the chaff. I have seen enough good from applying this information that I know it has some truth in it and I will use it for the goodness of that truth.


Mrs. Bear said...

Thank you for this post! I hope to post something related soon.

By the way, does the TTGGY book give descriptions for all possible two-temperament combinations? And is it based solely on the ancient temperaments or does it also incorporate Myers-Briggs, et cetera? I have looked at it on amazon a bunch of times, but it's not the kind of book that is available everywhere.

Hélène said...

I think it does give descriptions for all except for choleric-phlegmatic, which it says is an impossible combination. As far as I can remember, it is only based on the ancient temperaments.

Do you have a Catholic bookstore nearby? (If you live near the town of your IP address, then I know you have one, but I lost our alumni directory to know if you do live near there.) Anyway, a Catholic bookstore probably will carry it since it is published by Sophia Institute Press.