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Knowing your type can be like getting the keys to a Ferrari- but it’s worthless if the keys don’t fit the ignition. Or one just only uses overdrive. Or the individual gets pulled over by the police and then says, “Can’t help it. I am a Ferrari”. Or the person can’t read the road conditions…
In my experience as an MBTI master practitioner, I am just as often dismayed as I am glad when I hear individuals have had some experience with the concepts of psychological type. Here’s why.
Unless type is accurate and verified, individuals may try to fit themselves into the mold of a type- often by observing their own behavior and saying, “ah that must be my extraverted thinking process…. one may attempt to break him or herself into into component parts but then fail to re-integrate themselves as a whole person. Then they further try to dissect themselves from their environment as if environment didn’t matter. It’s especially dangerous if the type is inaccurate. Type is most powerful when it’s accurate and placed in the context of the broader lens of the individual’s personal experiences.
Here are few of the observations I have noticed when type concepts are overused, incompletely understood, or the individual has not had a rigorous discussion around the verification of his or her type:
1. An individual may read a type description and try to be that type to the letter.
2. Personality is partly heritable and partly environmental. The mix of influences is about 50-50. How is this known? Studies of identical twins raised apart account for much of this data. Who you are is not entirely explained by type.
3. There is a fairly high chance that reported type can be off by one or more letters. Although questionnaires try to create questions that will capture the essence of a concept, how an individual responds is open to interpretation.
The nature of self-discovery is intoxicating. Yes! This is who I am! resonates with just about everyone. So there is power in this. At the same time, inaccurate or overemphasized knowledge in this area can create a fair amount of havoc in an individual’s life. Therefore, when you get the keys to your own Ferrari, be sure they are the right keys and know how to drive that car in many ways and under multiple conditions. In that way, you will have power and control over who you become.