Posts tagged: MBTI

Can the MBTI save your marriage and family?

By , October 14, 2007 3:18 pm

I first came upon the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator when my adopted son entered public school as a first grader. Immediately, he was diagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder With Hyperactivity (ADHD).

 Here I had been living with this vastly entertaining, golden boy for seven years (from birth) and, suddenly, because he could not sit still at a desk and listen to a teacher talk, there was something really wrong with him, something needing medication.

Although I am a clinical psychologist, I am not a big fan of medication as the first choice for everything (absolutely, there are times when it is life-saving, can save lives with depression or bopolar and help greatly with ADHD). And, being a client-centered (based upon the work of Carl Rogers) therapist, I believe that every person has a unique path, unique talents, a unique acorn that will grow into a unique tree.

So I started looking for a way to describe all of my child’s positive strengths to his teachers, e.g., no, he didn’t sit still, but, yes, he could do puzzles way better than most children. No, he didn’t sit still, but, yes, he could put objects together and fix machinery. No, he didn’t sit still, but, yes, he was an amazing athlete, always friendly and happy, etc.

The best tool I found was Keirsey & Bates, Please Understand Me (Prometheus Nemesis Book Co.,1984), still my favorite inexpensive, user-friendly introduction to personality differences. There is a modified version of the MBTI in the front with scoring sheet and explanations of the sixteen personality types generated.

I identified my son as an EST(F)P, an “artisan,” an “active, hands-on learner.” (see the tables included at the end of  my short article, “Jung, MBTI, and Experiential Theory”,, for Thumbnail descriptions of each of 16 MBTI “types”). I then could use the classroom-oriented work of Thomas Armstrong (ADD/ADHD Alternatives in the Classroom, ASCD, 1999) and Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory and many other tools to fight for active, hands-on learning options for my child at school.

As a single mom, I also started to apply the MBTI to my understanding of relationships. At one point, thinking I had honed in on the problem, I posted newspaper “personal ads” saying I was looking for an “NF” (iNtuitive Feeler) partner. I found one, and it didn’t work out! Maybe we were too similar!

Instead, I found an ISTJ partner, a wonderful compliment to my INFJ  type. Right from the beginning, I shared MBTI understandings with him.  We knew we shared an Introverted (I)love of quiet alone time and a Judging (J) love of organization and structure. His Sensing (S), reality-oriented common sense balances my iNtuitive (N) “sixth sense” global  imagination. His Thinking (T) ability to be objective and analytical actually complements and balances my Feeling (F) ability to be subjective, relational, and empathic.

However, without the MBTI understanding of our difference, we might have floundered, him finding me “overly emotional, ” me finding him “overly intellectualized,” him finding me “unrealistic,” me finding him “boring and mundane.” 

As a “mature” couple (he on his third marriage, I my second), perhaps we had also realized that compromise, appreciation, and mutual respect for difference were key to continuing relationship. We discussed how our former spouses, both P’s, had brought spontaneity and fun, but also lateness and disorganization that we couldn’t tolerate.

What does the MBTI understanding do for you? When your child or partner does something that makes you think, “This person must be from a different planet,” or “This person is crazy,” or “This person is evil,” looking at MBTI differences can help you see that, yes, this person is radically different from you, but he is like a whole lot of other people, a whole “type” of people with unique talents and unique “gifts” to bring to the table.

A few examples:

I am rushing to get my son to the bus for a winter retreat with his church group, up on a mountain. Arriving early (which, as a J, I like to do), I look down and see that, on his feet, he has no socks and flipflops, his only shoes for the trip. I am screaming at him as I rush home for “appropriate shoes,” “How could you……?!!!!!” Then, I realize, for someone who is “spontaneous, lives-in-the-moment, is the life of the party,” thinking ahead to a snow-covered mountain was just not in his repertoire.

One of my husband’s former wives gave him this reason when, after 15 years, announcing “out of the blue” that she was leaving him: “Remember that time we were moving, and I wanted to stop to say goodbye to friends (F) and you said we couldn’t, we had to stay on schedule so we could return the van on time(TJ) ? That’s why.”

When I am caught up in too much feeling (F), my husband can steady the ship with an “objective analysis” of what is happening (T).

Enough for today. Main point: people really are different and, rather than hate them for it, embrace these many “gifts” by using tools like the MBTI.

Who fell over in Wizard of Oz and why?

By , October 11, 2007 10:56 pm

I’m Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director of Creative Edge Focusing (TM) at . I have thirty years experience as a psychotherapist, peer counseling teacher, and decision making consultant. But, here in this blog, I will talk about whatever comes to mind, be it food (Intuitive Cooking), sex (Collaborative Edge Sexuality), Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening (Core Skills taught at ), shopping, relationships, conflict resolution, personality tests, spirituality, creativity, Creative Edge Organizations — everything I’ve learned and want to share.

I think of this blog as Ultimate Self-Help — sharing what we learn that can help others save time, money, their relationships, their spirituality, their world, their work situations, etc.

The story below points to dynamics that happen in all relationships, be they for love, friendship, or business. I don’t believe that we can understand other people unless we come to grips with the idea that people can be really, really different from us, like from another planet, but that there are categories for these differences, as simple as fire, water, air, and earth, but also way more complex “personality tests.”

You can read a more theoretical presentation about The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), my favorite test of individual differences,  in the article “Jung, MBTI, and Experiential Theory” at and actually find links to take a version of this personality test and others at, but here is a funny illustrative story:

Yesterday, I went to my doll club (yes, this is how I “lighten up”) It was a Halloween party, the theme was Wizard of Oz, I was in charge, and we had contests: Best homemade costumed doll, Best bought homemade doll, Best diorama (this is a scene in miniature).

My story is about my diorama and how it was totally misunderstood because of a personality difference between me (an iNtuitive on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, MBTI, 25% of people) and the majority (Sensors on the MBTI, 75% of people).

There were two entries under Dioramas. Both of us had gotten our 5 1/2 ” dolls from a McDonald’s promotion, so the 8 “character” dolls we used were identical. We both used a cookie sheet size “ground.”

In mine, I had the Wicked Witch of the East (was that the first sister, with the striped stockings and ruby slippers? We iNtuitives are really bad at details, but long on imagination and creativity!) lying down with a miniature house lying on top of her, legs sticking out (you know, Dorothy’s house blew away from Kansas in a tornado and landed on the witch!).

I had the other Witch (of the West? In black) standing over Dorothy, Scarecrow, and Lion, who were all lying down in a drugged sleep in a field of “poppies” (red fake flowers) next to the “yellow brick road” (yellow construction paper). The Tin Man was still standing (of course! He didn’t fall asleep because he didn’t have a heart!) in the midst of them all, trying to help. There were small pumpkins, munchkins, and Glenda also in the scene. I thought it was an extremely imaginative way of telling part of the story.

 The other diorama, made by an accomplished seamstress, artist, county-fair winner, had yellow construction paper all over the “ground,” and she had painstakingly drawn in “bricks” (a kind of detail work I would never consider). The eight characters were simply lined up in two rows and “glued” to the base. Now, granted, she had supplemented with a tiny basket and tiny dog for her Dorothy (a detail I would never think of). But, there was no “story-telling” there.

Well, I was busy tallying votes from all the contests, so not watching over the dioramas. But, when I did go over to look, I saw that someone had picked up the house off of the witch and stood the witch up and stood the lion up — obviously, she or they thought all the dolls had “accidentally” fallen over!!!! They didn’t get the story at all!!!

The vote was 8 for Sensing her, 6 for Intuitive me (not bad, considering!!). It seemed like such a great illustration of the difference between imaginative, iNtuitive thinking and concrete, reality-oriented Sensing it made me laugh.

In most work situations, there are only a few iNtuitives, in the “creativity” departments, but they drive a lot of the innovation which the Sensing people so carefully bring to realistic expression.


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