Friday, 1 August 2008

INTP or INFP ? A poem reveals all!

Over at Willful Grace there is a posting about the Myers-Briggs personality profile. As Grace, who is an INFP points out, there are some good things about INFP's (like being very caring etc), and some things that really suck, like having a "subtle tragic motif" running through their lives.

Well, on reading about it, I went and took a Myers-Briggs test, and answered a lot of impertinent Yes/No type questions, and lo and behold, I also came out as an INFP! (Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Perceiving).

I guess my "tragic motif" is my penchant for sad music as exemplified in these posts:

No easy fixes, but we can try
Funeral songs ( choosing a song for my own funeral?! How tragic is that ???)
Hunger for Seriousness

But I also seem to remember that I took an M-B test around 20 years ago, during a management course, and came out as INTP (T = "thinking"), reflecting my analytical, scientific, rational nature as opposed to the touchy-feely-liking-depressing-music-caring side.

Perhaps the explanation is in the thoughts I had when taking the questionnaire this time. Rather than straight

Yes No

as the options for answer, what I wanted was:

Yes Meh No

as for many of the questions I couldn't make a firm preference and reasoned it would depend on the situation.

So does the ambiguity between Thinking and Feeling mean that my personality is as follows:

Thinking ................. *Meh* ................. Feeling ?

(emphasis points to my position on the scale).

I don't think so. I care passionately about both sides - the rational scientist, and the feeling, caring person with an embedded minor key. It wasn't really a "I don't care" response, but a desire to push both buttons.

An exercise I once did in a creative writing workshop reveals that these two parts of me are in dynamic balance, and make me what I am. We were told first to draw ourselves "as a tree", trying to embody our character in the drawing. Then we had to write down "I am the tree, and I ..." and carry on writing a poem or piece of prose, that was inspired by the drawing. The tree I drew was quite bizarre (I'm not a good artist!) The left side was angular and geometric, and the right side was curving and wayward, symbolising one the one side, my scientific, rational nature, and on the other, my creative, and artistic nature. The poem followed quite easily from it. The exercise told me a lot about myself, and I was pretty comfortable with it. Here's the poem I wrote:

Tree Psalm

I am the tree
and I have logic engraved in my branches
Around me is evidence
that I assimilate;
making deductions,
forming ordered conclusions.

I am the tree
And my leaves are blobs
Slapped on by impressionists
On emotion's whim
Around me are patterns
Inciting dance
To enhance

I am the tree
and my bark is etched with parallel lines.
Around me is peace
in the perfection of symmetry
joy in the rightness
of orthogonality

I am the tree
and the waves of my roots
are strewn to the mood of the moment
free to explore
where logic loses itself

I am the tree
And when my diverse natures merge

When logic and love are one

I am the Creator.

... well, it's said that INFP's are supposed to be talented writers. Let the reader be the judge of that (only if your MB profile ends in a J).

But the thing that pleases me most about the poem was that I took it to a poetry writers group, whose leader was a lexicographer for the Oxford English Dictionary. Despite all that, he didn't know the meaning of the word "Orthogonality". One up for us scientists!


grace said...

This inspires me to do an artwork. I've been thinking about doing a tree painting...something really abstract and colorful...and now...I'm going to do it!

oh..these people supposedly share our unique, quirky personality. And I'm glad to know that you are INFP because of your offers to "counsel" me when needed! You may regret that at some point! ha!

famous INFPs:

Mary...mother of GOD??? really??? At least we're in good about a "tragic motif"...!

Iain said...

You mean Mary, mother of God took a Myers-Briggs profile test?

Did she have a time machine or something? ;-)

BTW I hope you don't think in the last line in the poem I was claiming to be God ... more along the lines of "made in the image of".

Besides, my mother's called Doreen, not Mary, LOL. ;-)

Iain said...

Oh, I forgot to mention, Grace,

I'm looking forward to that artwork!

The exercise of doing this for me was incredibly revealing, and helped me to understand myself much better. The funny thing was it all happened in about 20 minutes, which was all we were given for the exercise.

It was actually as part of a Drama workshop that we had at our Church ( we used to have a drama group and did some of our own writing - apparently a very INFP thing to do - have to be in good company with Shakespeare!).

Draw yourself as a tree. You've no idea how much it will tell you about yourself till you've done it!

Curlz said...

Well done Iain - the blend of thinking and feeling are often ascribed as being incongruous, yet truly one enhances the other as you have done well to point out.