The Myers Briggs Type Indicator

May Help Explain Why Iraq Happened

animated diagram

My first exposure to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator was in 1977, way back in the dark ages while I was in the military. Otto Kroeger, who is probably the foremost guru of the theory, came to do a workshop at Fort McPherson, Georgia.

I was a young Major and truly didn't know my posterior from anything. And, reluctantly showed up at the seminar. As it turned out, it was a turning point in my life's outlook to say the least.

In the military, I was always on the outside of the mainstream. I was an (ENTP(see above chart). My views never seemed to gel with fellow military types. I definitely had my own ideas.

Realizing quickly that the military is built around cooperate and graduate, I became a good actor. I was a good combat soldier; but, in peacetime, military life for me was a struggle. By this time in my career, I had already been fired twice and miraculously escaped being thrown out of the military.

So, here was a theory that was mostly built around the idea that all of us were born with different personalities, plain and simple and there was not much we could do about it. This was revolutionary.

Simplistically, to learn about our personality type and others would make it much easier to operate in an organization like the military.

According to the Myers Briggs, you actually can be one of sixteen personalities and all of them have various characteristics and attributes; once we know what these are, we are better at knowing ourselves, understanding our personality, and most importantly making good decisions based on what our preferences might be.

The 16 Personalities:

[ENFP]    [INFP]    [ENFJ]    [INFJ]    [ESTJ]    [ISTJ]    [ESFJ]    [ISFJ]    [ENTP]    [INTP]    [ENTJ]    [INTJ]    [ESTP]    [ISTP]    [ESFP]    [ISFP]

Take a Carl Jung version of the Myers Briggs

For me, I could see the possibilities with Myers Briggs. I read everything I could get my hands on and at the time was teaching a college course and immediately incorporated it into my class. Again, this was life changing.

The Myers Briggs was based on the creditable theory of Carl Jung, the Swiss born Psychiatrist and somewhat rival of Freud. It was designed after years of research by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers. The Myers Briggs could measure the conscious (as opposed to the unconscious)aspect of the personality.

I thought, this is it and I'm out to sell it as this really is amazing. People can grasp this. For at least thirty years I have been selling it and actually wrote a book, The Personality Factor, read by only two others beside myself. And, what I've discovered is that the Myers Briggs is a hard sell and for all these years, I have been amazed at why this is so.

Look at our current President. Many surmise he is a ISTJ,or an ESTP but many say since 9-11 he is a ENTJ. Personality is just what it is and if there is a lack of understanding, then insight isn't worth a hill of beans unless something is done with it. Maybe, if Bush knew one about his personality or wanted to know, he would have been open to more diverse opinionns before making decisions.

Below is a quote by Emily Yoffe of Slate magazine(source of quote) that may give us some idea of why events happened the way they did in the George Bush presidency.

During the 2000 presidential campaign, I applied the principles of personality assessment, based on the theories of psychiatrist Carl Jung, to candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore.

Forgive me if it sounds like gloating, but here's what my research revealed about the personality type of the future 43rd president of the United States:

"They are decisive and little bothered by second thoughts and self-doubt. Since [they] do not reflect very much on their errors or analyze their mistakes to any great extent, it is difficult for them to learn from their errors, and so they can become caught in a loop, repeating their mistakes."
Emily Yoffe, Slate Magazine

Maybe the Bush personality explains why we were so stupid about Iraq after the debacle of Vietnam.

The President, then Secretary of the Defense, the other neocons, and the top generals all but ignored the objective data about the stupidity of invading a country that has done us no basic harm, has no ties to the terrorists of 9-11, and, most of all, has a tribal culture that the rational mind should avoid. Given the Commander in Chief's personality type, this war was assured. JL

March 08 2008