18 December, 2011

Also I know this seems self-indulgent and more suited for tumblr but a while ago I took the Meyers-Briggs personality test and I did not get one of the stereotypical autism results. (I think it's INTJ? I got ISFJ.) It might just be one of those things where you interpret the results to fit you, like with horoscopes, but the description of my type seemed to fit me really well.

I'm not sure why, but I found that really comforting. I think if you have a mental disability you get used to hearing yourself described in a way that doesn't fit you at all. Well, at least I do. It's been really cool to realize that I can identify as having autism without having to try to change my personality or values to fit a stereotype of what that is supposed to be. I feel like I've only recently come around to be able to do that.


  1. Don't trust MBTI, it will eat your soul.

    The stereotypical result depends on how stereotypical you're being. If you want to be really stereotypically you should call autistic people "sensors" because they obviously are literal and have no understanding of the abstract. Many "aspies" get either INTP or INTJ but this is just because it's how they've been taught to view themselves (which is basically what it's testing).

  2. It's too late, I'm afraid my soul has already been eaten by My Little Pony or something like that.

  3. But anyway, aren't all personality tests like that?

  4. But people actually make major life decisions based on MBTI.

    I used to take it really seriously (for years actually) so I kind have gone the other way on it. Most of the people who criticize MBTI don't understand it, but it's just as bad as it would be if they did. I can tell you all about MBTI but you're probably better off not knowing.

    Also I have to admit that I have been watching that show for the past week or two. I find the adult fan base amusing but don't quite understand most of them.

  5. Too late, I already wrote you a very long Rarity-style email about your comment.

  6. I don't think major life decisions based on MBTI are a smart idea though. It just seems cool to me because it can kind of explain and summarize a bunch of things you might already know, but only be able to look at in pieces without help.

    Because I was thinking when I first took it that ten years ago I might have had really different answers to a lot of the questions so it's not really an objective measure of who I was/am/am going to be for my whole life, and it isn't even necessarily true for who I am at the moment I took it--but it does tell you something, just not as much as people might think.

  7. MBTI is like satan, it will tell you things that seem useful but then it will eat your soul later.

  8. "It's been really cool to realize that I can identify as having autism without having to try to change my personality or values to fit a stereotype of what that is supposed to be. I feel like I've only recently come around to be able to do that."

    This is great. It's also something I struggle with. I've spent my life trying to fix myself, which has meant trying to be a bunch of different kinds of people, all very rigidly-defined and stereotyped. I feel like my autism diagnosis was the thing that gave me permission to start to get to know myself, gave me a context in which to do so, and also let me know how much I *needed* to do so. I've made some progress, but I've played into some stereotypes along the way too, or felt like I couldn't be autistic "because..."

    Just being has never been natural for me. It's never even been possible. I've always needed a pretty strict guide, so when I gave up on trying to be all of those other stereotyped versions of people, what was left was a stereotyped version of a person with autism. I think I'm beyond the point of consciously doing that now, but I still have a long way to go before I can say I know myself.

    Anyway, I was really happy to read what you wrote.

  9. I can relate to this. I've always felt as though I was being judged by stereotypes, and had to personally prove them wrong. Some of the stereotypes were actually hurtful- I always saw myself as a highly independent person, and didn't take at all kindly to being indirectly described as 'naive' and 'vulnerable' in every other textbook and newspaper article. That had me permanently on the defensive for ages, and I'm only just learning to let go.

    It's never a good idea to take 'scientific' internet quizzes in general seriously. The bottom line is, essentially, people are incredibly complicated, don't run on maths, and certainly never fit into nice, neat little boxes. How is a multi-choice quiz, offering only a few choices of answer, no way of giving clarification, and only a handful of possible answers; all the time working divorced from any kind of context, supposed to measure that?

  10. I cam out as an INTP when I took the test for a class. It was rather amusing to finally have a test that seems to fit me so well. Later on, however, I find my past obsession with Myers-Briggs rather silly. It is still oversimplified, and only measures what I am at the time I take it.

    Andy (local ASAN director) has knocked a little sense into me over that.

    It was rather nice, though, that the Myer's Briggs treats all personality types equally. I do find Carl Jung to be rather neurodiversity-oriented; he valued all different ways of thinking as being necessary in society.

  11. Ha, I didn't even know INTJ was a stereotypical autism type. But I haz it. :)

  12. panchoruiz, I do not believe that I get that result only because it's "how I've been taught to view myself." I find the test interesting...I don't take ANY personality or psychological test all that seriously in terms of defining myself or using it to make major life decisions. (And I think the way that some employers use it to screen out potential employees of undesirable personality types is awful and bigoted.)

  13. Hi chavisory.

    I agree that it's interesting and I don't agree with the people here who think that it's simple. Astrology isn't uninteresting or simple either though.

    Do you understand the theory behind the test? Basically the idea about having four functions, where the J/P decides the order (j means your information gathering comes first [s or n] instead of your information processing [t or f], and I/E decides whether the inner or outer ones are more dominant.) It makes very little sense unless you assume the basic ideas to be true and work from there. This is basically what Jung did (MBTI is based on Jungian theory) and what Freud did before him and what modern psychology continues to do, all masquerading as "science."

    The in result of this is, do you see yourself as a "people person"? Well I guess you are! Once you understand the theory behind the test it becomes impossible to take it because you know what every question means. You're basically just "choosing" your functions. When people don't know the theory, I believe that it generally works the same way, but they just don't know what they're choosing until they get it..

    The descriptions people write prey on this even more, although they often have very little to do with the theory. More than working with theory, the descriptions figure out what you want to hear and tell it to you- thus making you accept some of the assumptions behind the test in the process. I think this is dishonest.

    I, like Chelsea, did come out as "INTP" (well borderline T-F at first until I decided I was SUPER RATIONAL) and then took an obsessive interest in the test for a while. There is some obvious emotional backlash for me but I think I still have decent reasons for the opinions I have on it, beyond most of the people who criticize it.

    I don't really mind people learning about it, but my fear is that they'll get sucked in and join the large and growing community of people who do take it seriously. I know that can happen because it did for me and once it does happen people have a way of reinforcing what each other thinks.

  14. Yeah, I understand the theory. It's ONE way of delineating personality or psychological characteristics. It's ONE lens through which someone might understand how they function in the world or in relation to other humans. It's not perfectly descriptive for me, but it gets some major themes right that other tests haven't. It happens to be the psych test that I have the *least* problems taking, but I understand why lots of people find it not at all useful or accurate.

    Nothing works the same way, or the way it's "supposed to" for everybody. That's just the complexity of humanity. I'm a big proponent of not giving things too much weight or credence which you find don't work well for you.

  15. Here's the thing though- I could come up with 30 random categories and base them on exaggerated versions of people I know or just make things up. If I make millions of people take a test based on this then there are going to be multiple people for each category who can honestly say "This is just like me!" This is not even counting things like people's tendency to re-interpret themselves to fit into descriptions they're being given of themselves, something that autistic people have already been made to do enough of IMO.

    If you do understand the theory I don't see how you could say that it makes sense or was a system that Jung came up with based on observation. It is a way of starting with a bunch of assumptions and then trying really hard to apply them practically, even when they don't make sense or have anything to do with reality.

    People were able to accurately predict the positions of planets for years by assuming that the earth was at the center of the galaxy, too, at least with some difficulty. That doesn't mean that the earth was at the center of the solar system (or the galaxy), not even "for some people."

    (I hope you don't feel like I'm harping on you, this is just how I talk about things I feel strongly about and is not an attempt to make you feel bad, etc)