I now have proof that I am entirely too obsessed with this show, and I’m infecting others. (Bravo on that latter score … here’s hoping no one can be inoculated against the spread of this particular virus!)
I spent three hours today in a leadership seminar utilizing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. For those of you unfamiliar with the MBTI, it’s a tool that uses the psychological types theory of Carl Jung to determine and understand how individuals perceive the world around them and make decisions to act on their perceptions. The tool looks at how people take in data (Sensing or iNtuition); how people make decisions on data (Thinking or Feeling); from which source people draw their energy (Extraversion or Introversion); and what face people present to the public world (Judging or Perceiving). Combining an individual’s natural preferences with regard to all four of these elements puts the individual into one of the sixteen possible type combinations. To me, the fascinating thing about the MBTI is that, if you understand an individual’s psychological type, you can learn how to communicate with them in the ways most suited to avoid or resolve conflict and achieve cooperation, because you can learn to operate within their comfort zones and play to their strengths.
Sorry for the long-winded intro, but the fun part comes in that my carpoolmate John (Hi, John! Surprise – you’re guest-starring in my blog!) and I spent our entire commute home in a discussion of Dean, Sam, and their psychological types, and I couldn’t resist sharing the outcome of that discussion with other folk who might be interested. So, without further ado, here is our Myers-Briggs analysis of the brothers
Dean Winchester: ISFP (Introvert, Sensor, Feeler, Perceiver)
Sam Winchester: ENTP (Extravert, Intuiter, Thinker, Perceiver)
Dean is the tricky one, because on the surface, his tendency to make fast, snap decisions would make you think that his public face would be Judger, not Perceiver, while the ease with which he takes on roles and chats up other people could fool you into thinking him an Extravert rather than an Introvert. His “no chick-flick moments” mantra tries to deny that Feeling is his basis for decision-making, but we all know better. Dean is internally focused, motivated by deeply felt values that center around his family, and rarely articulates the things that really matter to him. He needs time on his own to process and sort through the things he experiences. He is very practical, experiences the world on a very immediate and tactile basis, is fun-loving and action-oriented, lives in the now, is bored by policy and procedure, makes decisions on subjective feelings rather than on carefully ordered logic, supports others (especially children and Sam!) with a gentle attention to detail and action in the moment, and finds conflict and argumentativeness stressful things he would rather avoid. If one of his core values is affected, however, his reaction can be fierce and seemingly out of proportion to the trigger. John (my carpoolmate, not Winchester!), who is more experienced at the MBTI stuff than I am, proposed the diagnosis of ISFP, and once I put together all those pieces, I realized he was absolutely right.
Sam is less complex and pronounced in type than Dean, but the ENTP category seems to fit him best. His important dynamics are external, observable, and often articulated; he talks out ideas and problems, and prefers sharing and engaging with others to working alone. He prizes conceptual and complex thought, and pushes for self-improvement and clarity. He questions and doubts authority, and will challenge and confront hierarchy, procedures, traditions, and the will of others. He’s competitive and demanding, driving both himself and others to change and improve. He likes theory and ideas, and employing them in logical problem-solving. He’s driven to see and talk about the future, about how things connect, about patterns and possibilities. Isolation and the absence of knowledge and detail prompt stress and self-doubt.
One of the fun things is that, given the brothers’ differing types, their communications with each other on the most important things are often at cross-purposes, precisely because each is speaking from within his type and expecting the other to perceive and act the same way. Sam constantly talks through and picks at his problems and pushes Dean to do the same, when Dean’s nature is to process things internally and share them only when he must. At the same time, they complement each other wonderfully when it comes to problem-solving, because Sam has the taste for facts, research, logical structure, and big-picture pattern-linking, while Dean has a gift of observation and a well-honed subjective set of judgment instincts. Given that they both have distinct Perceiver traits, they both remain open to change even after having made an initial decision, which is what enables them to stay together and adapt to each other despite their differences.
I’ve nattered on long enough, but I’m guessing that you can figure out how enjoyable today’s commute home was, with this being the topic of discussion. Feel free to weigh in!
For more information on Myers-Briggs, just input the name into any search engine. You’ll find a lot of sites, including this one, http://www.personalitypathways.com/MBTI_intro.html, which includes a lot of food for thought.
And hey – two nights from now, we’ll all have another opportunity to observe the boys and figure whether this analysis holds water!