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indirect self-acceptance and psychic balance

kvothe27

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#1
I'm currently reading The Adjusted American: Normal Neuroses In The Individual and Society by Snell Putney and Gail J. Putney.

I wanted to share a passage with you intelligent folks and see what you think of it. So:

In large measure, the sense of being under pressure is the result of the quest for indirect self-acceptance. As the adjusted American is caught up in this misdirected pursuit, most of what he does is undertaken for the effect is will have on other people. Thus he imposes on himself a constant concern with what he thinks other people think he should be doing, or how other people evaluate what he has done. Such misplaced concern underlies his sense of endless striving nowhere -- which is approximately where his efforts lead. No matter how hard he works at it, he will never arrive at self-acceptance by doing things to impress other people.

I wonder how we could integrate this in with the MBTI. Now, for the INTP, it is often recommended that we satisfy our inferior function by engaging primarily with our primary and secondary functions. This often involves choosing an occupation that does just that. Do you think this passage contradicts in some sense what we believe about an INTP gaining psychic balance? Is gaining psychic balance some form of self-acceptance? Is our notion of gaining psychic balance, as a theory as part of the MBTI, a perpetuation of an American Neurosis -- that is, indirect self acceptance via an increase of psychic balance by choosing an occupation for such a purpose?

Or, rather, is it a support of what many believe about how an INTP should go about achieving self-acceptance or psychic balance? That is, act in such a way that will achieve psychic balance for oneself rather than how other people might think an INTP could achieve self-acceptance?

In any case, Fe is about adjusting our behaviors to the needs of others, so, yes, achieving psychic balance seems to be a method of attaining indirect self-acceptance, since it is recommended that we contribute to society or satisfy our Fe by engaging our higher functions.

The MBTI is often used in career centers to help people choose an occupation. Is all this talk of the MBTI unwittingly perpetuating an American Neurosis or am I just terribly confused?
 

Jennywocky

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#2
I wonder how we could integrate this in with the MBTI. Now, for the INTP, it is often recommended that we satisfy our inferior function by engaging primarily with our primary and secondary functions. This often involves choosing an occupation that does just that. Do you think this passage contradicts in some sense what we believe about an INTP gaining psychic balance? Is gaining psychic balance some form of self-acceptance?
The problem described in the paragraph is indirect self-acceptance -- trying to be happy with ourselves in the act of actually trying to please others.

As long as we are pursuing things WE love to do, rather than doing work that others want us to do or trying to win acceptance and approval by doing, then it shouldn't be a problem.

Is our notion of gaining psychic balance, as a theory as part of the MBTI, a perpetuation of an American Neurosis -- that is, indirect self acceptance via an increase of psychic balance by choosing an occupation for such a purpose?
There's nothing wrong with balance itself. What's a problem is shaping ourselves to make others happy as a misguided attempt to make ourselves happy.

In any case, Fe is about adjusting our behaviors to the needs of others, so, yes, achieving psychic balance seems to be a method of attaining indirect self-acceptance, since it is recommended that we contribute to society or satisfy our Fe by engaging our higher functions.
You don't need to want to contribute to society to be happy, I suppose, although you might inadvertently contribute when you are yourself and are in a creative/insightful streak. That is what this boils down to.

However, if you find that you are feeling unhappy, frustrated, or ineffective in life because you don't have relationships or cannot find a meaning for your actions, and you decide you DESIRE that, then you have a way to proceed. But you're doing it for yourself, not for someone else, and you're not unnaturally shaping yourself to fit someone else's preconceptions.You have a responsibility to keep tabs on what's going on with you -- what you think, how you feel, what your dreams and dislikes are. And then you use that knowledge as you navigate to a more fulfilled you, even when others have input.

The MBTI is often used in career centers to help people choose an occupation. Is all this talk of the MBTI unwittingly perpetuating an American Neurosis or am I just terribly confused?
The "neurosis" exists regardless of MBTI. MBTI actually at least is more effective, in that it takes your individual personality into account rather than being ENTIRELY based on someone else's preconceptions about who and what you should be. But the bottom line in the process of self-individualization, you should be true to yourself rather than true to someone else's idea of you. MBTI can be a tool to help you with that.
 

kvothe27

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#3
Note: I'm not so much arguing as organizing my thoughts here.

To even attempt to be true to who you are requires socialization in order to form a "you" in the first place. Other people serve as mirrors so that we can learn about ourselves and against whom we may measure our differences. Otherwise, there wouldn't be a self-concept. It seems as though the MBTI serves such a function, albeit more sophisticated and employed later in life when the self-concept has already formed quite a bit (but never entirely).

However, given that the MBTI test is a questionnaire, the objectivity of its results is questionable. It is likely many have taken the test and received the results of their ideal personality rather than their actual personality, despite some of the controls provided in the test. The difference, in terms of it providing a mirror, is that the MBTI provides an elaborate model with which to categorize ourselves. On the other hand, what other people offer in their evaluations is often folk psychology, projections, and the use of themselves as a measure. This would seem to make the MBTI more desirable as a mirror. . . HOWEVER

My worry with the MBTI is that it may, if adhered to too ardently, cause someone to view their self-image as unacceptable and thus act in such a way to render their self-image inaccurate. Assuming the MBTI functions are correct here, it could very well result in someone alienating their functions or stereotypes of those functions expressed by people who employ those functions as despicable somehow. Such a person may end up projecting these alienated characteristics or stereotypes onto those who have those functions. That these people already have these functions may result in animosity toward that personality -- prejudice.

I guess what I'm saying is that the MBTI could ironically cause someone to not be true to themselves just as the person who hates himself often finds someone to mirror his self-hatred back to himself. This would especially seem to be probable given the following criticism of the MBTI:

For example, some researchers expected that scores would show a bimodal distribution with peaks near the ends of the scales, but found that scores on the individual subscales were actually distributed in a centrally peaked manner similar to a normal distribution. A cut-off exists at the center of the subscale such that a score on one side is classified as one type, and a score on the other side as the opposite type. This fails to support the concept of type: the norm is for people to lie near the middle of the subscale.[33][37][38][39][40] "Although we do not conclude that the absence of bimodality necessarily proves that the MBTI developers’ theory-based assumption of categorical “types” of personality is invalid, the absence of empirical bimodality in IRT-based MBTI scores does indeed remove a potentially powerful line of evidence that was previously available to “type” advocates to cite in defense of their position."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator#Criticism

If people adhere too ardently to the MBTI, they could unwittingly, since most people fall in the middle of the spectrum, alienate an aspect of the self, rendering the self inaccurate. For example, someone on the N-S spectrum who falls more in the middle but slightly more N than S, could very well alienate a part of the self that is accurate.

This could result in a neurosis that causes the individual to seek indirect self-acceptance via a career path that may not have been otherwise chosen. So, in a sense, while the MBTI provides a convenient tool for a neurosis that already exists regardless of the MBTI, it would seem the MBTI provides such a neurosis a kind of validity. It may in fact strengthen it.
 
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#4
Theoretically it's quite plausible that someone could mistype themselves according to how they think they should be (due to their perception of what they think other people think they should be doing, or how other people evaluate what they have done), and then work really hard at trying to be and do the things recommended for that type according to the profile, and never get anywhere or be happy because of it, or arrive at self acceptance. (I'm not entirely sure if that's what you're getting at (?), that's just what I gathered.) But does or can it happen in practice is the question I guess.

As an empirical observation, I've noticed people tend to treat or regard MBTI in one of two quite opposite ways; either they get really interested, or they really don't get interested. The second group never really cares enough to have any problems, and the first group are quite inclined to learn and question, which tends to limit issues that might arise from viewing MBTI too fixedly or rigidly. But having said that it does happen all the time that people mistype themselves, or see MBTI as a box.. kind of system. Undoubtedly not realising or understanding the limitations and more-guide-rather-than-gospel and big picture nature of such a system is a problem (to me that's the big drawback/restriction of MBTI). But to actually get to the point where MBTI specifically is reinforcing certain distorted perceptions due to false understanding or interpretation seems to me rather unlikely, although not impossible. I can see how it could happen.

Btw, what is meant by psychic balance? Mental balance?
 

Jennywocky

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#5
However, given that the MBTI test is a questionnaire, the objectivity of its results is questionable. It is likely many have taken the test and received the results of their ideal personality rather than their actual personality, despite some of the controls provided in the test. The difference, in terms of it providing a mirror, is that the MBTI provides an elaborate model with which to categorize ourselves. On the other hand, what other people offer in their evaluations is often folk psychology, projections, and the use of themselves as a measure. This would seem to make the MBTI more desirable as a mirror. . . HOWEVER

My worry with the MBTI is that it may, if adhered to too ardently, cause someone to view their self-image as unacceptable and thus act in such a way to render their self-image inaccurate. Assuming the MBTI functions are correct here, it could very well result in someone alienating their functions or stereotypes of those functions expressed by people who employ those functions as despicable somehow. Such a person may end up projecting these alienated characteristics or stereotypes onto those who have those functions. That these people already have these functions may result in animosity toward that personality -- prejudice.

I guess what I'm saying is that the MBTI could ironically cause someone to not be true to themselves just as the person who hates himself often finds someone to mirror his self-hatred back to himself.
I doubt you're going to find a lot of people here to argue against it, it seems to be a typical and legitimate criticism of not just MBTI but any typing system you might run across... if only because typing systems are categorizing things, and the less categories you have, the more generalizing you need to do... and generalizing is a process of ignoring rough edges and some amount of detail in order to examine the broader picture. You are making the personality less exact in order to assign it a broader pattern.

It's also clear that people in groups / categorized will be tempted to use the group pattern as a litmus for their own behavior and adjust their behavior to conform better to the expected pattern in order to be more consistent. i.e., identify yourself as an MBTI type and you might be tempted to change behavior that is naturally you to better conform to type.

If people adhere too ardently to the MBTI, they could unwittingly, since most people fall in the middle of the spectrum, alienate an aspect of the self, rendering the self inaccurate. For example, someone on the N-S spectrum who falls more in the middle but slightly more N than S, could very well alienate a part of the self that is accurate.
Agreed. But that is what categorization does. It isn't serving the role of explicating the specifics of the individual, it's looking at the broad characteristics of the individual in order to discover broad patterns in behavior that might be useful on the global level. Categorization is a valid process, depending on the goal.

This could result in a neurosis that causes the individual to seek indirect self-acceptance via a career path that may not have been otherwise chosen. So, in a sense, while the MBTI provides a convenient tool for a neurosis that already exists regardless of the MBTI, it would seem the MBTI provides such a neurosis a kind of validity. It may in fact strengthen it.
It can, if it's abused and used for purposes that it can't possibly serve.
 

kvothe27

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#6
I doubt you're going to find a lot of people here to argue against it, it seems to be a typical and legitimate criticism of not just MBTI but any typing system you might run across... if only because typing systems are categorizing things, and the less categories you have, the more generalizing you need to do... and generalizing is a process of ignoring rough edges and some amount of detail in order to examine the broader picture. You are making the personality less exact in order to assign it a broader pattern.

It's also clear that people in groups / categorized will be tempted to use the group pattern as a litmus for their own behavior and adjust their behavior to conform better to the expected pattern in order to be more consistent. i.e., identify yourself as an MBTI type and you might be tempted to change behavior that is naturally you to better conform to type.
Not many will argue with it, but it seems that it may happen anyway, especially when communities are formed around type, such as this one. It could be an interesting study, especially among long term members. How much have their interests, habits, etc., changed since joining one of these type communities? This itself might be difficult because it could be the case that they adjusted their interests due to increasing self-revelation, rather than adjusted their interests to conform to some type.


Agreed. But that is what categorization does. It isn't serving the role of explicating the specifics of the individual, it's looking at the broad characteristics of the individual in order to discover broad patterns in behavior that might be useful on the global level. Categorization is a valid process, depending on the goal.
It can be a valid process depending on how it is done as well.

Since most people fall in the middle of the dichotomies, I wonder about the direction of causality. What I think I might be trying to say is that these functions ( ex. Ti, Ne, etc.) may not necessarily be stacked in some neat way and reflecting aspects of the individual as is often suggested, but rather they may end up being stacked that way (or appear to be accurate in being stacked that way) because the individual is alienating "despicable" or unlikeable or whatever characteristics of himself. In that way, type may be more like a religious explanation than a scientific one. For example, much as religious people often do, those who adhere too ardently to the MBTI may alienate latent potentials (functions in this case or descriptions of personality types with those functions as dominant) and project them onto others or on some convenient symbol, such as Satan in the case of religion or some stereotypical dominant Sensor in the case of someone typed as an INTP. This could explain some of the sensor dislike or perhaps possibly prejudice, but I'm repeating myself here.

It can, if it's abused and used for purposes that it can't possibly serve.
The ego is such a pain in the ass.
 
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