Gender and Personality on the Autism Spectrum

There is ongoing debate about autism, such as how it is defined and what causes it, which in turn leads to how it is and should be diagnosed. Some have speculated that autism in girls and women is underdiagnosed:

However, it’s unclear whether this gender bias is the result of genetics or reflects differences in diagnosis or the way females manifest symptoms of the disorder. Girls with autism tend to actively compensate for their symptoms in ways that boys don’t, which may account for the discrepancy, says Skuse.

As a result, the females enrolled in studies may tend to be severely affected and carry multiple mutations. “There is some suggestion that higher-functioning females are out there in the general population, but they’re not being referred,” he says.

Here is what one could argue. Maybe it is most likely that the bias is not just in diagnosis for there would be a directly related bias in the research itself. After all, it is diagnosis that determines the subjects in the autism studies. So, if diagnosis is biased, there is no reason to assume that the subjects are representative of the full autistic population. Biased input would inevitably lead to biased results and hence biased conclusions. Basically, these studies at present might not be able to tell us anything about possible gender differences.

A reason given for the alleged failure to detect female autism is that “it may be because girls are better at masking the symptoms – better at copying social norms while not necessarily understanding them.” That might be true of many boys and men as well.

I have some Asperger’s-like traits, although I’ve never been diagnosed. Maybe it’s because I learned to fit in. I was socially clueless when younger and social situations stress me out, a set of factors exacerbated by my inner-focused nature. I don’t connect easily with others. But you wouldn’t notice that from casually interacting with me. I know how to pretend to be normal. It’s maybe why therapy has never worked for me, as I’ve developed a habit of effectively hiding my problems. It’s a survival mechanism that I learned young.

What occurs to me is that I’m a Jungian Feeling type. Myers-Briggs testing has found that most Feeling types are female, although about 30% are male. The same pattern in the opposite direction is seen with Thinking types. There is a general pattern that follows along gender lines. Still, that approximate third of the population is a significant number. That might mean that a third of male autistics don’t fit into the male pattern, maybe while a third of female autistics do.

So the seeming gender difference found in autism could be more about personality differences. And those personality differences may or may not be genetic in nature. Much of this could instead be culturally learned behavior. It wouldn’t only be cultural biases in diagnosis of autism for, if that is so, it would also be cultural biases in how autism is expressed. In that case, the question is what might be the relationship between culture, personality, gender, and neurocognitive development. There are obviously many complex factors involved, such as considering how a significant number of people don’t fall into simple gender categories: “It’s far from uncommon for people to carry genetics of both sexes, even multiple DNA.” Since gender isn’t binary, the expressions of autism presumably also wouldn’t be binary.

It would be easy to test my speculation if formulated as a hypothesis. My prediction would be that Thinking type females would be more likely to be diagnosed as autstic. And the opposite prediction would be that Feeling type males would be less likely. That is simply to say that autism would express differently depending on personality traits/functions. Similar research could be done with FFM/Big Five, and maybe such research already has been done. A related issue that would need to be disentangled is whether autism is more common among certain personalities or simply more diagnosed among certain personalities, an issue that could be studied either in relation to or separate from gender.

All of this is particularly complicated for certain Myers-Briggs types. My specific type is INFP. This type is one of the most talented types when it comes to masking behavior, “known as being inscrutable.” As Carl Jung described dominant introverted feeling (what Myers-Briggs divides into two types: INFP and ISFP):

They are mostly silent, inaccessible, hard to understand; often they hide behind a childish or banal mask, and their temperament is inclined to melancholy…Their outward demeanor is harmonious, inconspicuous…with no desire to affect others, to impress, influence or change them in any way. If this is more pronounced, it arouses suspicion of indifference and coldness…Although there is a constant readiness for peaceful and harmonious co-existence, strangers are shown no touch of amiability, no gleam of responsive warmth…It might seem on a superficial view that they have no feelings at all.
(Psych. Types, Para. 640-641)

An INFP aspie would make for a rather confusing specimen. It is the dominant introverted feeling that is so hard to discern. And this introverted feeling is hidden behind the chameleon-like and outward-facing extraverted intuition, what is in the position called the auxiliary function. Extraverted intuition is the ultimate mask to hide behind, as it is highly fluid and adaptable. And as the auxiliary function, extraverted intuition plays the role of mediation with and defense against the outside world.

Maybe a significant number of autistics have hidden introverted feeling. This would fit the autistic pattern of feeling strongly in response to others (high functioning affective empathy) while not easily connecting to others (low functioning cognitive empathy). By its nature, there is no straightforward way for introverted feeling to be expressed in social behavior. Yet an INFP can be talented at learning normal social behavior, as extraverted intuition helps them to be mimics. Or failing that, they could stonewall anyone trying to figure them out. Usually being conflict avoidant, most dominant introverted feeling types will go along to get along, as long as no one treads on their core sense of value.

Here is a more general point:

I think it’s a bit silly to make a distinction between “male” and “female” interests in the first place and realize that it can also be healthy for women to take interest in more traditionally “male” subjects such as science and technology and that doesn’t always mean that they have a disorder. In making a diagnosis they should always be aware of the underlying pattern rather than the actual interest and keep in mind that interests may differ for each individual, so (e.g.) whether a female is obsessively talking about computers or fashion should not matter, because the pattern is the same. Indeed, it probably is more obvious in the first case, especially when society is more geared toward male/female stereotyping [so “masculine” interests for women stand out]. And besides, narrow interests is but 1 clue, it doesn’t count for every individual with an ASD; they may have a range of interests, just as typical people do.

Also, as some typologists argue, the US has been an society dominated by ESTJ types that is becoming dominated by ENTJ types (John Giannini, Compass of the Soul). The commonality then is E_TJ, that is to say dominant extraverted thinking. This typological bias is how American culture defines and enforces the social norms of the male gender. Unsurprisingly, that would also be how autism gets diagnosed, according to extraversion and thinking.

On the other hand, autism that was introverted and/or feeling would express in entirely different ways. In particular, dominant introverted feeling would express as strong affective empathy, rather than the (stereotypically) masculine tendency toward emotional detachment. Also, introversion taken on its own, whether in relation to feeling or thinking, would be more internalized and hence less observable — meaning obsessions that would be unlikely to seen in outward behavior: more subtle and nuanced or else more hidden and masked.

This personality perspective might be immensely more helpful than using a gender lens alone. It’s also a more psychologically complex frame of interpretation, appealing to my personality predilections. Considering that autism and Asperger’s was originally observed and defined by men, one might wonder what kind of personalities they had. Their personalities might have determined which personalities they were drawn to in studying and hence drawn to in using as the standard for their early models of the autism spectrum.


Poking Beehives

“I yam what I yam and tha’s all what I yam.”
~ Popeye the Sailor Man

There are two sides of my personality. Let me first put them into political terms, just for the fun of it.

One aspect is what I call my pansy liberalism. It can be quite radical even. I have been called a classical liberal because I take Enlightenment values seriously, but this gets filtered through an alternative hippy mentality.

This because I was raised in pansy liberal Unity Church (New Thought “Positive Thinking” Christianity). And in the formative years of young adulthood, I used to live with a bunch of Deadheads and potheads. I’ve been in drum circles and Hare Krishna chanting circles. I’ve been in anti-war protests and seen hippy chicks dance half naked around a bonfire.

I genuinely believe in compassion and understanding, of freedom and equality. It’s my naive utopian fantasy that win/win scenarios are actually possible and should be more common. I have a faith that humans are fundamentally good and that human potential is vast. So, why can’t we all just get along?

The other aspect is my politically incorrect libertarianism. It is mostly an impulse for freedom of thought and action, but it can be ornery and antagonistic at times. It can lead to skepticism and agnosticism or else curiosity and wonder.

I don’t want to be told what to do, what to say and not to say. Sometimes the more I’m told what not to do the more I want to do it. Get me curious about something and there is no holding me back.

This is my my hardcore intellectuality. This is a different offshoot of classical liberalism. Part of me wants to put truth before all else, even before compassion and sympathy. I see humans as having the capacity for reason, and I’m committed to demanding it of myself as much as of others. More fundamentally, it is just an urge to understand, to question and contemplate, to make sense of a crazy world.

My pansy liberalism is the sensitive side of my personality. I was a quiet child who easily had my feelings hurt. I spent a lot of time alone, but would enjoy the company of a close friend or the family cat.

I loved being outdoors. Nature was a refuge, an escape from responsibilities and the authorities that demanded that I be responsible. In nature, there were no parents or teachers. I quickly learned that animals, plants, and trees didn’t judge. A wooded lot hid me from the larger society of people, including most other kids.

On the other side, I was just plain curious about the world around me. I was always exploring the woods and wandering down creeks. This would cause me to poke sticks down holes, to climb trees, to turn over rock after rock just to see what was underneath.

I was a dirty, scabby little boy. And I loved picking at my scabs, maybe for the same reason I loved turning over rocks. I couldn’t leave things alone. This is why, when my mom warned me not to put anything into outlets, I soon after shoved a paperclip into an outlet. Live and learn. Experience always makes for the best lessons. Otherwise, how do you know what people say is true? And besides, how are you supposed to have fun when you always follow the rules?

I wasn’t a rebellious brat or troublemaker. I just felt compelled to do my own thing in my own way. I didn’t want to stand out and I didn’t want to get in trouble, but the way my mind operated didn’t always perfectly conform to the world of either adults or peers.

All of this is my personality. It wasn’t a choice I made at some point. As long as I can remember, I’ve always been this way. My politics naturally flows from my inherent sensibilities and tendencies. I don’t know why I’m like this, but I’ve come to accept it as best I can.

Still, it makes relationships challenging for me at times. I feel a desire to poke at things. My mind won’t stop running and my curiosity is never sated. I know that this annoys some people. I don’t always play well with others. I end up questioning everything and I don’t always heed intellectual caution. If someone reacts strangely or vehemently, my interest increases a thousand fold. If someone tells me to shut up, it gets my hackles up and I’m even less likely to do as told.

I have a talent for irritating people across the political spectrum, including friends and family. If I haven’t irritated you yet, then we must not have known each other long enough. Just give it time and I’ll find a way to provoke you and be provoked by you.

I think too much, I talk too much, I write too much, I question too much. I rarely can leave well enough alone, even though I don’t want to be mean or annoying. Too often I end up apologizing for aggravating conflict and getting myself into misunderstandings, but at least I usually apologize. I mean well, and I hope that counts for something.

I like to poke at beehives. Sometimes I find honey and sometimes I get stung. It’s the nature of bees to sting, just as it is my nature to poke.

Worldviews, Personality and Communication

Whenever I’m involved in an interpersonal conflict, I immediately start thinking of personality differences.

I do focus on what people are saying, but I have a tendency to put a lot of emphasis on how they say it and what is behind what they are saying. I look to the motivations, the perceptions and the communication styles. I look to the beliefs and assumptions, the worldview or even the reality tunnel they live in.

In the present situation of conflict, my focus has been on someone who goes by the name hbd chick. The conflict really gets me thinking for the reason I feel very little negativity toward her. I love her blog. I respect her typically humble attitude and I’m impressed by her research abilities. But there is some difference between her and I, some difference that may be at a more fundamental level of our respective psychologies.

I don’t like conflict. I’m more of a conflict-avoidant type, but at times I feel drawn into conflict because of another side of my personality. I’m an Myers-Briggs INFP which means I’m fully capable of being insufferably idealistic and even asshole-ish in my defense of my core values. I have speculated that my problem is that I’m an FP (Fi) who was raised by TJ (Te) parents (TJ representing the aspirational and often the most annoying weakness of an INFP). I think I’ve overcompensated a bit in the TJ department and such not-perfectly-functional Te is what can really bring out the asshole in me.

I don’t like being an asshole, but I’m apparently good at it. I hold stuff in until I can’t hold it in any longer. The result is that I become critical and unforgiving.

Anyway, the odd thing is that hbd chick says that she also is an INFP and close to being an INTP. I wonder about that. If I had to guess, I get more of an INTP vibe from her. But it is hard to tell when you don’t know someone personally. Maybe the T is more of her online persona. This might explain my own dysfunctional T getting antagonized in response.

Going by her being an INFP, my criticisms of her should really annoy her. I seem to have been judging her by that T aspect I sensed in her, but she doesn’t see that as being her true self, as she says “at heart”.

This conflict is exacerbated further because of my particular annoyance in trying to find a way to interact with a guy who goes by the name JayMan, both hbd chick and JayMan being HBD proponents. His personality most definitely is different than my own. He has that T vibe without a doubt, especially TJ. He argues for the complete separation of the subjective and objective in exploring the issues of human society and human nature. I can tell you this. No normally functioning FP, in particular no INFP, would likely make such an argument.

That expresses what would be called a thick boundary type (see boundaries of the mind). I must admit I don’t play well with thick boundary types. My mind is pretty damn thin boundaried. In discussions, my thoughts go in a million directions. My thin boundaries is why I constantly see confounding factors in almost everything and JayMan’s apparent thicker boundaries are why he sees my complaints as irrelevant. He is a man who is intently and adamantly focused on what he (thinks he) knows and believes which isn’t to say he is necessarily wrong, just that he is very certain that he is right. Thick boundary types tend to feel more certain, in fact demand more certainty. In Myers-Briggs terms, this is what Judging (J) is about.

I’m of a different variety. I’m an INFP with heavy emphasis on the NP part (Ne). Extraverted iNtuition (Ne) is the single most absolute expression of the thin boundary type. I live in eternal uncertainty with a wide horizon of possibilities. Questions leading to doubts leading to wonder leads to imagining. I live my life contemplating the strangeness of reality, my head stuck in the clouds. To focus on a single theory or a single set of data would be nearly impossible for me.

My Te aspirational can make me a rabid researcher when it is in full gear, but Ne inevitably sends my mind off in new directions.

What I sense with the HBD crowd is that it attracts a lot more thick boundary types or at least those with thick boundary online personas. Either way, this means that it attracts people who want to focus on topics that focus on thick boundaries and in ways that are thick boundaried. I don’t mean extreme thick boundaries, but a tendency in that direction. The emphasis of HBD is on the boundaries between ethnicities, clans, regions, nations, etc. They have less interest in that which transcends, merges and blurs boundaries.

To my thin boundary mind, boundaries are imagined things. They are only real to the extent we imagine them to be real. The thin boundary type sees a less thick or clear boundary between even imagination and reality. It is because of this mentality that I look for how people, individually and collectively, project their imaginations onto reality.

This puts me a bit in opposition to the HBD mentality. Hence, the conflict. Cue the frustration.

Liberalism: Weaknesses & Failures

I often criticize conservatives for their tendency toward higher rates (relative to liberals) of motivated reasoning about political issues. It’s not that conservatives are generally less rational on all issues, rather primarily on political issues. It’s not even that conservatives are less informed, rather that they are more misinformed; in fact, the average conservative is more misinformed to the degree they are more informed, a fact that frustrates me endlessly. From global warming to sex ed, it seems impossible to have a straightforward discussion of the facts.

However, when pointing this all out, I want to be absolutely clear that I’m not denying the failures of liberalism, sadly the failures of liberalism being all too apparent to my liberal-minded sensibility. It’s also become clear to me that most people, especially conservatives, don’t understand the actual weaknesses and problems of liberalism. Liberals often get blamed for the problems of conservatism partly because many conservatives don’t want to take full responsibility for their own issues and also because liberals are prone to acting like conservatives, that latter point being one of the oddest aspects of the social science research.

Before I get into more complex factors, let me point out a simple example of liberal bias. There is one particular area where liberals are most strongly prone to motivated reasoning (Chris Mooney, The Republican Brain, Kindle Locations 6130-6132):

“In fact, although many of the psychology studies that I’ve surveyed seem to capture conservatives engaging in more intense motivated reasoning, liberals have been caught in the act too. I’ve shown that the best predictor of liberal bias, in a controlled motivated reasoning experiment, seems to be egalitarianism—e.g., liberals tend to be biased in favor of disadvantaged groups.”

Altemeyer has research showing authoritarians have higher rates of both social conservatism and hypocrisy. Some research confirms this and other research questions it. Part of the confusion might relate to the differences between hypocrisy and other types of biases. Are liberals also prone to their own version of hypocrisy? If so, how?

It is clear that liberals have biases they are prone to, but it isn’t clear that liberals are as predisposed to hypocrisy. It depends on how it is defined. Authoritarians are hypocritical in that they don’t apply the same standards to all people, and this makes perfect sense as authoritarians use criticism to defend their in-group which has nothing to do with the ideal of fairness. Authoritarians treat people differently when they should treat them the same. Liberals, however, have the opposite problem. Liberals treat people the same even when they maybe should treat people differently. Also, liberals in striving for an egalitarian balance of fairness can end up tipping the scale in the opposite direction. In this case, liberals could be judged as hypocritical in failing to achieve their own standard, instead just creating a different state of inegalitarian unfairness.

A real world result of this liberal failure can be found in affirmative action, what conservatives consider ‘reverse racism’. Going by liberal’s own standards of egalitarianism, many liberals have criticized the problems of affirmative action. What liberals criticize isn’t so much the intent as the result. If affirmative action achieved what it set out to achieve, then there would be no problem for liberals. Conservatives criticize it, instead, for its intent; but disagreeing with the intent doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with hypocrisy.

What interests me is less of how liberalism fails according to the conservative worldview and more how liberalism fails according to the very ideals, standards, and values held by liberals. There are certain attributes of liberal-mindedness that undermine liberalism. In some cases, the strengths are inseparable from the weaknesses. One strength of liberals is ‘openness’ (Jeffery J. Mondak, Personality and the Foundations of Political Behavior, Kindle Locations 1214-1221):

“Again, openness to experience partly represents the inverse of dogmatism. People high in openness to experience are not rigid in their own views nor in the expectations they hold for others. Consistent with this depiction, negative correlations have been observed between openness to experience and multiple aspects of prejudice and intolerance. In one recent study with data from the United States and Russia, low openness to experience in both nations corresponded with stigmatizing attitudes toward HIV/AIDS (McCrae et al. 2007). Similarly, other research has identified negative relationships between openness to experience and racial prejudice (Duriez and Soenens 2006; Flynn 2005) and white racial identity (Silvestri and Richardson 2001), authoritarianism (Stenner 2005) and right-wing authoritarianism (Butler 2000; Sibley and Duckitt 2008), political intolerance (Marcus et al. 1995), and homophobia (Cullen, Wright, and Alessandri 2002).”

The research on ‘openness’ fits my own sense of self. I must admit that I’m proud in being less dogmatic, rigid, prejudiced, intolerant, authoritarian, etc. Those all seem like good things to me and I suppose most people in a liberal democracy would at least agree to the merits of ‘openness’ on abstract theoretical grounds. However, liberal-mindedness is defined by other traits as well. For example, liberals measure low on ‘conscientiousness’, a trait like all traits with weaknesses and strengths, but in light of liberalism let me focus on certain strengths that conservatives have in this realm (Mondak, Kindle Locations 1232-1238):

“Unsurprisingly, strong links exist between conscientiousness and job performance. It would be rather odd, after all, for workers who are not dependable, punctual, and hardworking to be named “Employee of the Month” with any great regularity.45 In part, the positive impact of conscientiousness on work performance may reflect the impact of honesty and integrity. In an interesting laboratory study, Horn, Nelson, and Brannick (2004) show a strong correspondence between conscientiousness and honest behavior, whereas Ones, Viswesvaran, and Schmidt (1993) find that integrity is linked positively with job performance and negatively with undesirable work behaviors such as absenteeism and employee theft.”

It’s probably because of ‘conscientiousness’ that conservative values are associated with morality and liberal values with immorality or amorality. Conscientiousness will make someone be the best of whatever they value or idealize. This will make them be hardworking employees, obedient Christians, and dutiful spouses. But this will also make them efficient bureaucrats and lockstep authoritarians. On the liberal side, it is the combination of high ‘openness’ and low ‘conscientiousness’ that leads to what conservatives see as moral relativism. Liberals are flexible and open to change, and this can lead to problems with not seeing morality as black and white, thus potentially turning moral dilemmas into stumbling blocks. Conservatives would morally fail by not questioning rules and commands whereas liberals fail for constantly being in a state of doubt and questioning, plus general curiosity about what is forbidden.

It’s this combination of factors that probably makes liberals more open to alternative views and new info, hence less misinformed about political issues (liberals are maybe no less likely to either be smart or be idiots, but they are less often ‘smart idiots’ — see smart idiot effect). This probably also would be the reason behind liberals being less partisan and more willing to compromise. Liberals aren’t known for their loyalty, even to liberal ideology. Liberalism is anti-authoritarianism which means liberals have a harder time effectively organizing; as it has been described, like trying to herd cats. Liberals dislike rigid hierarchies and strict chains-of-command, dislike strong traditional authority figures. All this makes political activism a bit on the challenging side.

Compare the Tea Party movement to the Occupy movement. The Tea Party, even with in-fighting, had clear leadership take over the movement, what from the liberal perspective seemed like a coopting of grassroots activism, but it was effective. The Tea Party elected many politicians into power. The Occupy movement, on the other hand, spent as much or more time simply making sure every person’s voice was heard in an egalitarian democratic fashion. They created hand signals to ensure communication. They created a sense of true grassroots activism that wasn’t co-opted like the Tea Party. Precisely for these reasons, Occupy hasn’t become a force in Washington like the Tea Party, despite it’s mass support from the American public.

This is where the real problems begin for liberals, beyond the basic challenges of organizing. Liberals are so flexible and so willing to change that they end up being prone to undermine their own liberal nature. On the opposite end, conservatives are so much less flexible and less willing to change that they are more effective in resisting what liberalism offers. This liberal weakness and conservative strength makes liberalism an easy target of anti-liberal tactics such as emotional manipulation and propaganda, especially in terms of fear and disgust which are the foundations of the conservative predisposition and moralistic ideology. Basically, when liberals are overly stressed to the point of feeling overwhelmed, they turn into conservatives:

Political Ideology: Its Structure, Functions, and Elective Affinities
John T. Jost, Christopher M. Federico, & Jaime L. Napier

“Given that nearly everyone wants to achieve at least some degree of certainty, is it possible that conservatism possesses a natural psychological advantage over liberalism? Although answering this question is obviously fraught with challenges, several lines of research suggest that this might be the case. First, a series of experiments by Skitka et al. (2002) demonstrated that “the default attributional position is a conservative response,” insofar as both liberals and conservatives are quick to draw individualistic (rather than system-level) conclusions about the causes of poverty, unemployment, disease, and other negative outcomes, but only liberals correct their initial response, taking into account extenuating circumstances. When a distraction (or cognitive load) is introduced, making it difficult for liberals to engage in correction processes, they tend to blame individuals for their fate to the same degree that conservatives do. Skitka et al. (2002) therefore concluded, “It is much easier to get a liberal to behave like a conservative than it is to get a conservative to behave like a liberal” (p. 484; see also Kluegel & Smith 1986, Skitka 1999). Research by Crandall & Eidelman (2007) takes this general line of reasoning even further, showing that a host of everyday variables associated with increased cognitive load and/or increased need for cognitive closure, such as drinking alcohol, lead people to become more politically conservative. Both of these lines of research are consistent with the notion that conservative styles and opinions are generally simpler, more internally consistent, and less subject to ambiguity, in comparison with liberal styles and opinions (e.g., Tetlock 1983, 2007; Rokeach 1960; Tetlock 1983, 2007). A third reason to suggest that conservatism enjoys a psychological advantage over liberalism comes from research on system justification, which suggests that most people (including liberals) are motivated to adapt to and even rationalize aspects of the status quo, that is, to develop and maintain relatively favorable opinions about existing institutions and authorities and to dismiss or reject the possibility of change, especially in its more radical forms (Jost et al. 2004a). Studies show that justifying the status quo serves the palliative function of increasing positive affect, decreasing negative affect, and making people happier in general, but it also undermines support for social change and the redistribution of resources (Jost & Hunyady 2002, Napier & Jost 2008a, Wakslak et al. 2007).” [ . . . ]

“Although it is abundantly clear that processes associated with social identification, partisanship, and group interest can exert political influence in both liberal and conservative directions (e.g., Bartels 2000, Cohen 2003, Green et al. 2002), Jost et al. (2008a) speculated that—as with epistemic and existential motives—some relational motives could favor conservative outcomes in general. This is broadly consistent with the commonly held notion that conservatives are especially likely to value tradition, conformity, social order, and consensual adherence to rules, norms, and conventions (e.g., Altemeyer 1998, Conover & Feldman 1981, Feldman 2003, Haidt & Graham 2007, Jost 2006). It is also consistent with the assumption that it is generally easier to establish common ground with respect to the status quo than with respect to its many possible alternatives and to communicate effectively by transmitting messages that are relatively simple and unambiguous rather than reflecting the kind of complex, nuanced, and perhaps ambivalent cognitive and rhetorical styles that seem to be more common on the political left than the right (see Jost et al. 2008a).”

As a movement, liberalism rarely ever suffers from the condition of being too liberal for conditions have to be perfect for the liberal predisposition to fully manifest. Such perfect conditions don’t come around that often and they tend not to last very long. In moments of peace and prosperity, the general public can forget about possible threats and their emotional response becomes dampened, a contented optimism taking its place. Such a moment occurred after the Great Depression and once again after WWII, but after those brief moments conservatism ruled during the Cold War Era and into the post-9/11 Era. Liberals have at best hunkered down and at worst given their support to the conservative agenda (pushing deregulation, dismantling the welfare state, building up the military, going to war against Iraq, supporting the Patriot Act, maintaining Gitmo, empowering the executive branch, etc). Sadly, the liberal movement doesn’t make much of a worthy enemy for the conservative movement. Conservative leaders just have to say “Booh!” and liberal leaders run for cover.

One of the difficulties with liberalism is that liberal values are more dependent on higher abstract thinking while conservative values have an emotional punch that hits people in the guts. It’s because of the abstract nature of liberal values that many don’t even see them as being moral values at all or else only moral in their relation to conservative values. Conservatives are very good at political rhetoric, as Lakoff and others have noted. The results of this is that most Americans self-identify as conservatives, despite the fact that most Americans support liberal policies; both the public opinion polls and social science research support this conclusion — (another quote from the above linked Political Ideology paper):

“Since the time of the pioneering work of Free & Cantril (1967), scholars of public opinion have distinguished between symbolic and operational aspects of political ideology (Page & Shapiro 1992, Stimson 2004). According to this terminology, “symbolic” refers to general, abstract ideological labels, images, and categories, including acts of self-identification with the left or right. “Operational” ideology, by contrast, refers to more specific, concrete, issue-based opinions that may also be classified by observers as either left or right. Although this distinction may seem purely academic, evidence suggests that symbolic and operational forms of ideology do not coincide for many citizens of mass democracies. For example, Free & Cantril (1967) observed that many Americans were simultaneously “philosophical conservatives” and “operational liberals,” opposing “big government” in the abstract but supporting the individual programs comprising the New Deal welfare and regulatory state. More recent studies have obtained impressively similar results; Stimson (2004) found that more than two-thirds of American respondents who identify as symbolic conservatives are operational liberals with respect to the issues (see also Page & Shapiro 1992, Zaller 1992). However, rather than demonstrating that ideological belief systems are multidimensional in the sense of being irreducible to a single left-right continuum, these results indicate that, in the United States at least, leftist/liberal ideas are more popular when they are manifested in specific, concrete policy solutions than when they are offered as ideological abstractions. The notion that most people like to think of themselves as conservative despite the fact that they hold a number of liberal opinions on specific issues is broadly consistent with system-justification theory, which suggests that most people are motivated to look favorably upon the status quo in general and to reject major challenges to it (Jost et al. 2004a).”

This situation creates a major disadvantage for liberals. Many liberals don’t understand why it doesn’t work to rationally discuss the issues and objectively analyze the facts. Liberals haven’t yet learned (assuming they ever will learn)  how to use rhetoric as effectively as conservatives. Maybe there is something about the liberal predisposition that makes this a weakness. Maybe the intellectualizing tendencies of the ‘openness’ trait causes liberals to get stuck in abstract thinking and so they can’t really grasp gut-level symbolism. As explained by Marc J. Hetherington and Jonathan D. Weiler in their book, Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics (Kindle Locations 1275-1280):

“Many have observed over the past two decades that Democrats insist on fighting “on the issues” (Tomasky zoo4). But it is perhaps better to conceive this approach as emphasizing the programmatic dimension of issues, while Republicans have done battle on their symbolic aspects. Building on President Clinton’s record of military deployment in the 19gos, Vice President Al Gore proposed significantly larger defense budgets than did George W. Bush in their contest for the presidency in zooo. Bush notably articulated a foreign policy doctrine of restraint, including his oft-noted insistence that he was opposed to “nation-building.” But the public did not see this as evidence that the Democrats are “tough” on defense because the public was not forming judgments based on careful inspection of policy differences. Instead, it drew on symbolic understandings of the parties that had been developing over decades.”

Liberals are perceived as weak. This perception has less to do with actual policies or issues of character. Al Gore was even a veteran while George W. Bush was a draft-dodger. But none of that matters in terms of political rhetoric. Bush was seen as being strong on military simply because he had a more masculine persona whereas Al Gore seemed like a pansy intellectual. Despite the superficiality of this public perception, there is a truth behind it. On average, liberals are less decisive and conservatives more decisive. This is why liberal ‘opennesss’ is in such polar opposition to authoritarianism. As such, liberals are weak in that they aren’t domineering.

If Al Gore had been elected president, even with being strong on the military, he probably would’ve been less prone to start wars of aggression like Bush did. Bush attacking Iraq on false premises was both illegal and immoral, but nonetheless it was certainly decisive. Bush in playing the conservative role of being strong did indeed assert America’s military strength, although the wisdom of such an act is questionable… questionable that is to a liberal who would more likely stop to ask questions before acting, especially before acting out of blind rage and vengeance. A pansy intellectual veteran like Al Gore probably would have been a more wise commander-in-chief, not that the American people necessarily value wisdom all that much.

When you want action, conservatives are who you want. Conservatives will act quickly and they will follow through. This decisive strength comes from their low ‘openness’ and high ‘conscientiousness’. Sometimes that is precisely what is needed. If this past decade we had been fighting an authoritarian leader like Hitler, Bush might have made an awesome commander-in-chief. He would’ve sent in American troops to kick ass and take names. But conservatives aren’t well-equipped for less black-and-white situations as we now face where the enemy is hard to determine and even harder to find.

Still, I can’t exactly blame people for turning to conservatives for a clear sense of certainty and direction. It’s simply a fact that liberals aren’t overly talented in this department. Liberals typically do make weak leaders, especially during times of conflict and uncertainty. Obama, for example, has appeared weak because he acts weak, always begging his opponents for cooperation, always willing to compromise on every ideal he espouses and every promise he makes. The only advantage Obama has is that his pathetically weak liberal leadership is refreshing after the massive failures of the conservative style of strong leadership.

It’s this liberal weakness that makes liberalism so hard to understand. The trait ‘openness’ can lead to chameleon-like behavior. This is why it is easier for a liberal to act like a conservative than a conservative to act like a liberal. To a certain extent, when a liberal acts like a conservative for all intents and purposes he is actually being a conservative. It is confusing trying to figure out who is a liberal. I often say Obama isn’t a liberal. In terms of policies, he follows the examples of conservatives, even his health care reform is modeled after the plan developed by Republicans. Obama doesn’t even identify as a liberal and yet he is considered the figurehead of the liberal movement. However, in terms of personality, I have no doubt that Obama would measure higher on ‘openness’ than George W. Bush and lower on ‘conscientiousness’ than John McCain… and so, at least in that sense, Obama is relatively liberal-minded.

In practical terms, this chameleon-like behavior means there has probably never been a consistent application of liberal ideology at any point in history. You might say that most liberals are simply conservatives who sometimes don’t act like conservatives. The failure of liberalism, like the failure of much of the Left in general, is that it has never been fully attempted. Maybe liberalism by nature could never be entirely implemented. Liberalism is weak because it requires perfect conditions to manifest, a slight change in the weather and it wilts. Liberals talk a good game with their idealism, but the uninspiring disorganization of liberals can never compete with the authoritarian-leaning organizational skills of conservatives.

All that liberals are really good for is moderating the extremism of the Right, keeping it from going all the way over the edge to authoritarianism. This is where the misunderstanding is the greatest. Liberalism isn’t just a mirror image of conservatism, rather liberalism relates to conservatism at an angle. In terms of the Left-Right spectrum, liberalism is actually closer to the center between the extremes. It can play this moderating role because of its ability to more easily switch attitudes. Liberalism is less about a specific ideology. What liberalism does is focus on how things relate and thus playing the middle. There is a liminal quality in this, neither fully this nor that.

This is why strong ideologues, both left-wingers and right-wingers, so often strongly criticize liberalism. Liberals don’t want left-wing revolution and they don’t want right-wing counterrevolution. Liberals just want everyone to get along. This makes sense because liberals can only be themselves during times of peace and prosperity. The moment liberals feel threatened, they simply stop being liberals. The reason liberals promote such things as democracy is that they want to create a world where liberalism isn’t constantly under attack, but this ideal has never and may never come to be. The democracy we have is half-assed at best, constantly being undermined by illiberal and anti-liberal forces.

Liberalism is weak and liberals know it. Liberalism can never win through force and conservatives know it.

Right Vs Left: Personality Differences

Here is a video on one of my favorite subjects or rather my favorite intersection of subjects. It’s an interview with Jonathan Weiler who recently wrote a book about the sociological study of authoritarianism in terms of US politics (I just bought his book and so I probably will be writing more about it). This is the same area of study that Bob Altemeyer has written about (Altemeyer’s research having been referenced in John W. Dean’s writing about contemporary conservatism).

Here is an article Jonathan Weiler wrote about all of this:

“It is not that all Republicans are authoritarians; nor that all Democrats are non-authoritarian. Far from it. And people adopt party affiliations for a variety of reasons. But whereas those with the authoritarian cognitive style used to be more evenly split between the parties, decades of appeals for “states rights”, “law and order”, and against ERA, gay rights and immigration reform have concentrated this particular personality type in the GOP. And the consequence of that decades-long process has been the emergence of a Republican party that is, to a remarkable degree, built on viscera — on appeals to anger and resentment, and a deeply-felt conviction that America is breaking down irretrievably and that the way to stop that process is to demonize and marginalize outgroups deemed responsible for that breakdown. And this is no longer a geographically confined phenomenon, but a fully national one.”

“The fact that the more and less authoritarian now find homes in opposite political parties has made our politics almost impossibly acrimonious. When Democrats raise what they view as legitimate concerns about tolerating those who are different, the base of the Republican Party does not understand. And when Republicans bring up what they view as legitimate views about safety, security and threats to our way of life, the base of the Democratic party does not understand. Party loyalists are no longer wrangling over policy differences. Instead, they represent fundamentally opposed personalities, which prioritize, in many ways, incommensurate, values.”

If you find this as intriguing as I find it, then you might enjoy some of my other posts (which reference research about personality besides just authoritarianism):

Criticalness, Integralism, and Type

This is in response to the thread titled ‘Should Integralists Storm The Religous Battlefield’.

I’ve been involved in a thread at IIDB, an atheist discussion board. Its a thread about Acharya’s theories about astrotheology which is related to comparative mythology, and Acharya has posted in response some. She has received much criticism and nitpicking which is common on atheist forums. She hasn’t taken it well and probably won’t post anymore in the thread or maybe even in the forum. Recently, the same thing happened with Earl Doherty who is another biblical scholar. He posted on IIDB for a long time, but now has declared he will never post there again.

I find it a bit annoying and I don’t know if I could ever entirely get used to this kind of behavior. However, not everyone there is like this, and I do enjoy forums where there are many intelligent and knowledgeable people. I have a few thoughts about harsh criticalness.

(1) I do think some people there could use an integral perspective. Critically challenging new theories is important for scholarship, but being nice is important for human relations. Also, I feel this critical attitude is narrow and often misses the point the central issue or the bigger picture. Disproving a single claim or piece of evidence doesn’t disprove a theory or discredit the entire scholarly credentials of the theorist. There are many ways to think about a theory, and criticism by itself often lacks insight and can miss the larger context.

Anyways, if actual scholars start avoiding such a forum, that would severely hamper open discourse. In what way is this actually being helpful?

A forum like IIDB may be a more extreme example of this attitude, but its far from unusual. Scholars such as Acharya and Doherty have also received plenty of harsh criticism from mainstream scholarship as well. Peer review tends to reinforce conventional opinions and discourages innovation. Any new theory is seen as suspect. Only the alternative views of people like Robert M. Price get some respect because they came to those views after already being established in the mainstream. Even so, Price’s ideas have received harsh criticism from some of the amateur scholars on the board. There is this attitude amongst some there that if they disagree with a theory, then they automatically dismiss it. Something is either true or false, and uncertainty or mere probability is never to be admitted.

It makes me understand why Wilber has been so committed to getting his work into academia.

(2) My experience at IIDB reminds me of my experience on an INTP forum. INTP types (and NT types in general) can be very combative and nitpicky. An INTP has Introverted Thinking as a dominant function which means Extraverted Feeling is their inferior. A less developed or less balanced INTP can really suck at relating well to other people, and this is multiplied when you get a group of NTs together. What INTPs are good at is looking for logical consistency and honing in on any discrepant details. Introverted Thinking is largely hidden as its turned inward and so its difficult for other types to see the internal standard they’re using to judge. All that is seen directly is their secondary function Extraverted Intuition which allows them to see all of the possibilities. In the case of nitpicking, Extraverted Intuition is serving Introverted Thinking and thus they relentlessly seek out all potential errors.

This is what an INTP is good at. They honestly feel that they’re being helpful and they are to an extent. But if they haven’t developed other aspects of themselves, this talent can be problematic for relating well.

Atheist forums tend to attract many INTPs partly because of an NT interest in computers and debate, partly because Introverts spend more time doing solitary activities such as web browsing, and partly because NPs(Ne) love to discuss ideas endlessly. So, quite probably most of the critical people on IIDB are INTPs or some NT type, but also possibly some INFPs trying to conform to an NT environment. On top of their possible personality types, many of them have spent their whole lives studying ancient texts and biblical studies. Its what they know and its what they’re good at. They feel so certain because they’ve dedicated their lives to it and so they’re personally invested in the conclusions they’ve come to.

I have become more used to personality styles different than mine. I’m much better than I used to be at relating well with those I conflict with or disagree with. I have tried to stay evenhanded in the IIDB thread and have been mostly successful. I’ve tried to redirect the discussion back to the core issue and away from nitpicking, but that has been less successful. I’ve observed Acharya in videos and other places on the web, and I’d guess she is an NF type like me which would explain why she doesn’t have a thick skin towards criticalness, and why she gets critical in return when she is emotionally worked up.

I’m an INFP and Extraverted Thinking is my inferior, and as such my judgment of criticalness is very biased. Criticalness really gets to me after a while, and it takes great awareness on my part not to get emotionally pulled into it. I’d rather discuss possibilities rather than debate details. I’d rather find where I agree with someone rather than look for reasons that the other person is wrong. But this is a typical NF attitude and so I realize that others are different.

If I understand why someone acts the way they do, then its easier for me to accept their behavior. There is a person on the INTP forum who always annoyed me. I couldn’t understand why he was accepted there even to the point of being a moderator. An INTP finally explained it to me in a way that I could understand. This guy wasn’t a psychologically healthy person, but he was psychologically disturbed in a typical INTP way. They accepted him because they could understand him. As I wasn’t an INTP, it didn’t matter that I didn’t get along with him on an INTP forum.

I see IIDB in a similar light. Some people there are not perfectly balanced people, but neither am I. However, they’ve found their niche in the world. They can be respected for being critical on an atheist board. So, why should I let it bother me. They’re only doing what they know how to do, and I admit that they do it well. Maybe such people serve a purpose in the grand scheme of things.


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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 19, 2008 at 7:39am
I just came across a typology poll at IIDB.

67% are NTs
23.35% are INTPs
37% are INTJs

20% are NFs
approximately equally divided between the four NF types
except less than 1% of ENFPs

12% are one of the 8 Sensation(S) types

So, why would an NT be so much more likely to belong to this kind of forum?
Are NT types more likely to be atheist?
Or are NT types more likely to want to debate about atheist views?

[QUOTE=ApostateAbe;5070973]I believe that the correlation between atheism and INTJ/INTP is not a trivial thing (I am an INTP).

[*]INTJ forum poll on religion: [url][/url]
[*]INTP forum poll on religion: [url][/url]
[*]Christian forum poll on MBTI: [url][/url]

The Christian forum poll is less clear, since it neglects the E/I. It does at least indicate that the N types predominate. But the members of are split between NF and NT. INTJ/INTP are 43% at a max at, but here it is a whopping 60%. The polls at the INTJ forum and INTP forum are even more striking. Majority of both are atheist or agnostic.[/QUOTE]

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 19, 2008 at 8:27am
I was just thinking about how a higher percentage of Thinking types are male.
Accordingly, the majority of people on IIDB are probably male.

There is a reason this came to mind. I’ve suspected a higher percentage of people on Integral boards are NT. And I’ve heard it said several times that there are more males than females around this place which isn’t something I can personally verify. Also, there is way more heated debate here than on forums I belong to that have a majority of NF types.

So, what is the correlation between intellectuality, heated debate, atheism, NT personality types, and the male gender?

Why shouldn’t atheism and integralism appeal to SF females?


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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 19, 2008 at 6:22pm
I was just at Richard Dawkins forum and came across a poll for gender.…

Males are 72% of the population there.
IIDB is the same kind of forum and so it would probably be similar.

I’m wondering how true this is for most people who are on the web.
I’m uncertain about what forums would attract more females… maybe spirituality/religious forums?

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 19, 2008 at 8:13am
I had two other observations of IIDB.

I did a search on Integral and came up with nothing. I did a search on Ken Wilber and only found a few comments in passing in the last several months. This is pretty significant when you consider that this is one of the more popular boards that attracts well-read intellectual types. This demonstrates how integral theory is still an extremely isolated field of study.

The other thing I noticed there seemed to cross the boundaries of thread topics. There is a heavy philosophical emphasis to the whole place with a distinct lack of much discussion of psychology. Spirituality gets talked about, but mostly just as philosophy. The philosophy emphasis creates a heavy focus on language. In every serious thread, the definitions or proper translation of words gets debated to a fine degree. Integral theorists love to argue about words, but the people on IIDB put integralists to shame in this area.

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 19, 2008 at 4:58pm
“After all, both sides fought on what they thought was the same battleground, but they were two totally different battlegrounds, on different levels.”

This is a good way to put it. I find this often happens in discussions. People not only are arguing for different perspectives, but they’re arguing from different perspectives. When you mix in all the factors that make up an individual(personality, moral and intellectual development, cultural background, etc) you can get a very mixed group of people in a discussion. I wish I knew how to bridge such differences, but I haven’t figured it out beyond trying to be more accepting.

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MetroPunk Permalink Reply by MetroPunk on January 21, 2008 at 1:40pm
the problem as i see there was exactly as you pegged in marmalade, people with different worldviews, diff levels, diff types. communication becomes difficult
an integral appproach would help (someone who can bridge the comm gap)

another problem is the nature of the concepts.
atheism is a reactionary confusion
and religion often is dogma
so two dogmatic and limited postions
limit the possible scope of discussion and possible agreement.
nature of the beastS

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Bill Permalink Reply by Bill on January 23, 2008 at 6:57pm
Well, something else to keep in mind, is that all human groups tend to have internal “policing” behaviors, and it’s common to see a kind of tribal ingrouping/outgrouping struggle happening with every group.

I can’t see I’ve ever seen a human group that didn’t practice this kind of internal policing, no matter how advanced or correct they claim to be..

So, the ‘criticalism’ you refer to isn’t just based in, for instance, personality types, or the nature of the ideas being discussed, or the educational backgrounds of the people discussing – it’s got a stronger, older base in ancient hominid group behaviors.

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 24, 2008 at 12:27am
That is a good point to bring up. I have observed this policing behavior on IIDB when newbies defend a position.
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Type and Development

I’m fascinated by both horizontal and vertical models, but most integral discussions emphasize the vertical. What I’m curious about is how the whole picture becomes more complex when the two are combined.

Introduction to Volume 7 of the Collected Works

As for types, see figure 3, which uses the enneagram as an example. What I have done here is take only one developmental module or stream (it can be anything–morals, cognition, defenses, etc.), and I have listed the eight or so levels or waves of development through which this particular stream will tend to unfold (using Spiral Dynamics as an example of the waves). At each level I have drawn the enneagram as an example of what might be called a horizontal typology, or a typology of the personality types that can exist at almost any vertical level of development. The point is that a person can be a particular type (using Jungian types, Myers-Briggs, the enneagram, etc.) at virtually any of the levels. Thus, if a person is, say, predominately enneagram type 5, then as they develop they would be purple 5, red 5, blue 5, and so on (again, not in a rigid linear fashion, but in a fluid and flowing mesh). [20]
Figure 3

And this can occur in any of the lines. For example, in the moral line, a person might be predominately enneagram type 7 at the green wave in the context of the workplace; under stress, the person might move to type 1 at the orange wave (or even blue wave); cognitively, the person might be type 4 at turquoise, and so on. Notice, however, that what the enneagram alone cannot spot is the shift in vertical levels; an orange 7 under stress might go to orange 1, but under real stress, the orange 7 will regress to blue, then purple. These are not just different types, but different levels of types. Again, by combining horizontal typologies with vertical typologies, we can make use of second-tier constructions for a more integral view.

For many radical feminists, male and female orientations also constitute a type. Based mostly on work by Carol Gilligan and Deborah Tannen, the idea is that the typical male orientation tends to be more agentic, autonomous, abstract, and independent, based on rights and justice; whereas the female orientation tends to be more permeable, relational, and feelingful, based on care and responsibility. Gilligan, recall, agrees that females proceed through three (or four) hierarchical stages of development, and these are essentially the same three (or four) hierarchical stages or waves through which males proceed (namely, preconventional, conventional, postconventional, and integrated).

The reason that many people, especially feminists, still incorrectly believe that Gilligan denied a female hierarchy of development is that Gilligan found that males tend to make judgments using ranking or hierarchical thinking, whereas women tend to make judgments using linking or relational thinking (what I summarize as agency and communion, respectively). But what many people overlooked is that Gilligan maintained that the female orientation itself proceeds through three (or four) hierarchical stages –from selfish to care to universal care to integrated. Thus, many feminists confused the idea that females tend not to think hierarchically with the idea that females do not develop hierarchically; the former is true, the latter is false, according to Gilligan herself. [21] (Why was Gilligan so widely misread and distorted in this area? Because the green meme eschews and marginalizes hierarchies in general, and thus it literally could not perceive her message accurately.)

As you will see in The Eye of Spirit , contained in this volume, I have summarized this research by saying that men and women both proceed through the same general waves of development, but men tend to do so with an emphasis on agency, women with an emphasis on communion.

This approach to gender development allows us to utilize the extensive contributions of developmental studies, but also supplement them with a keener understanding of how females evolve “in a different voice” through the great waves of existence. In the past, it was not uncommon to find orthodox psychological researchers defining females as “deficient males” (i.e., females “lack” logic, rationality, a sense of justice; they are even defined by “penis envy,” or desiring that which they lack). Nowadays it is not uncommon to find, especially among feminists, the reverse prejudice: males are defined as “deficient females” (i.e., males “lack” sensitivity, care, relational capacity, embodiment, etc.).

Well, we might say, a plague on both houses. With this more integral approach, we can trace development through the great waves and streams of existence, but also recognize that males and females might navigate that great River of Life using a different style, type, or voice. This means that we can still recognize the major waves of existence–which, in fact, are gender-neutral–but we must fully honor the validity of both styles of navigating those waves. [22]

Finally, a person at virtually any stage of development, in virtually any line, of virtually any type, can have an altered state or peak experience , including those that are called spiritual experiences, and this can have a profound effect on their consciousness and its development. Thus, the idea that spiritual experiences can only occur at higher stages is incorrect. However, in order for altered states to become permanent traits (or structures), they need to enter the stream of enduring development. [23]


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Andy Smith Permalink Reply by Andy Smith on January 9, 2008 at 7:04pm
“I’m fascinated by both horizontal and vertical models, but most integral discussions emphasize the vertical. What I’m curious about is how the whole picture becomes more complex when the two are combined.”

I won’t address the rest of your post right now, but there is a very simple answer to this opening statement. The vertical occurs through horizontal or what Wilber calls translational interactions. Molecules emerge through translational interactions of atoms, cells through translational interactions of molecules, tissues through cell interactions and so on, including societies emerging from translational interactions of individuals. At every level, emergence of the next higher level begins with translational interactions of holons at that level.

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 9, 2008 at 7:27pm
I wasn’t thinking about it in that way. The term ‘translational interactions’ sounds intriguing. I’d like to go more into it. Do you have any nice quotes or links where this term is explained further?
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Andy Smith Permalink Reply by Andy Smith on January 10, 2008 at 6:26pm
Just do a search in Integral Spirituality or any other Wilber book, you will find lots of references to translation. Your post, which I take it is a quote from Wilber, treats types as properties of individuals, but of course they are social properties as well, in fact, first and foremost social properties. Any type by any classification one cares to mention is basically a description of the way an individual interacts with other individuals, and even more, with society. These are translational interactions, the glue so to speak which holds societies together.
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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 11, 2008 at 7:31pm
Everything below the link is pure Wilber.

I follow what you’re saying. The individual and the social are inseparable.

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marmalade Permalink Reply by marmalade on January 11, 2008 at 10:25pm
Wilber uses the Enneagram as his example. As a side note, I’ve heard a theory that the personality aspect of this system may have been borrowed from Jung, but I don’t know if this is true. I have see other correlations between the two systems also. However, the Enneagram doesn’t have much research behind it. Most Enneagram theories focus on it as a model of defense mechanisms. Whereas, the MBTI is looking at deeper cognitive structures that are largely inborn. Wilber shows how a person may have different Enneagram types in different situations depending on such things as which level of which line… but, theoretically, someone’s MBTI type should remain the same. I’d like to see how development over a lifetime influences how people test on the MBTI.

Here is a research paper that compares MBTI with the AMSP. I’m not familiar with the AMSP, but it says that it focuses on the propensity of people to change with situations. So, it seems comparable to how Wilber is presenting the Enneagram here.

This paper doesn’t go into any developmental models, but the focus on changeability in the AMSP gives room for a developmental perspective. However, there are some theories in typology about development.

First off, a brief primer. There are 8 Jungian functions. According to some theorists(eg Beebe), all types use all functions, but simply use them in different ways. There is the matter of whether a type is used consciously or not and this relates to development, and there is a specific order that each type will likely develop each function. This is highly theoretical and I don’t know what research has been done on it. Another theory presents how each function itself develops which is equivalent to saying that each function represents a separate line of development. There is some correlation of MBTI with models of psychological development.

For instance, how the Judging functions(Thinking and Feeling) have much similarity with Gilligan’s work on gender differences and the hierarchy of development that either gender will tend to follow. Typology brings a slightly different slant to this. Statistics have shown that their is a slight preference of males for Thnking and females for Feeling. Also, Thinking males tend to have stronger Thinking preferences than Thinking females, and Feeling females tend to have stronger preference for Feeling than Feeling males.

However, this gender preference is only around 60-70%, and that leaves a good portion that doesn’t fit the social expectations. David Deidda recognizes that gender patterns are only general. He says that his advice for men doesn’t apply to less masculine men and does apply to more masculine women. As a Feeling guy, I don’t entirely resonate with his advice.

I’ve looked at Gilligan’s work before, but not lately. Going by the above quote of Wilber, it seems her description of gender also incorporates a Intuition function bias for males(ie abstraction). But research has shown that men are no more likely to be abstract than women. Its only been in recent time that our society has started to idealize the man who is capable of abstraction. So, I’m not sure about this part of this model.

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human connection… so rare and fleeting

human connection… so rare and fleeting

Posted on Nov 22nd, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
There is something that has been on my mind for quite a while.  Being online has continually reminded me of it.  My first online community was a MBTI forum for INFPs.  As I’m an INFP, it was a very nice experience interacting with people who thought like me.  I met one person there who had a thinking pattern that was so extremely similar to mine which was so very odd. 

The main problem with that community was that it was fairly small and like many online communities the membership was somewhat transitory.  After several people I liked there stopped posting as much, I went looking elsewhere… but I still feel like I’m searching.  I joined a dozen or so communities before I finally came to Gaia.  I’ve connected with some here, but I don’t always feel like I fit in here. 

Connecting in a genuine way is such a difficult thing.  Meeting people is easy online, but really connecting is a whole other matter.  Part of it has to do with a desire to find people with a commonality of interests.  However, its much more fundamental than that as the INFP forum demonstrated.  Even though my interests were different than most of the people on that forum, there was such a commonality of life experience that it helped to bridge those differences.

I do feel more at home here than on most sites I’ve joined.  I do suspect that is because there are more people of similar personality types here.  A thread in the God Pod showed a preponderance of Introverts, Intuitives, and Feelers (MBTI terminology).  Nonetheless, even among stimilar types, the feeling of deep connection is rare and seemingly too little valued in our society.  I do know that its more valued amongst INFPs, but even on the INFP forum it was only a few people I really connected with.  I don’t know what that mysterious element is… its either there or it isn’t.  Even lesser connections can be nice, but that deeper connection is amazing when it happens.

I remember when I first experienced this kind of connection.  It was right after highschool.  I was working at a YMCA camp near Asheville, NC.  The summer was coming to an end and I was switching to another work area.  I met this girl and we connected in a way I’d never experienced before.  She was engaged and the connection didn’t feel romantic.  Its just that we resonated so easily.  I felt relaxed and happy around her.  This was amazing as I was quite depressed at the time.  However, I only got to know her for a short period of time (maybe a week or two) before we went our separate ways and we didn’t stay in contact.  Life is strange like that.  I’ve never felt that quick of a connection ever again.

Why are connections like this so unusual and so ephemeral?  Our longing for connection seems greater than the limits of mortal reality allows.  Maybe the longing for connection is more important than the connection itself.  In this, I’m influenced by the Sufi emphasis of longing itself.  God, if he is anything, is this longing.

Sometime later, maybe the following summer after the YMCA, I was working at the Grand Canyon feeling even more depressed and wishing to escape the world.  I met a real nice guy.  He was around 50 or so which put him at approximately the same age as my parents, but he seemed younger.  He was one of those old hippies who still was trying to live a life of freedom even as age was catching up with him.  He was from Arizona and in his after highschool years had fallen in love with nature.  He wanted nothing other than to hike and camp.  He had been down in the Grand Canyon many times before, but now he was like me working up on the rim making beds and cleaning bathrooms. 

I remember one time we went for a walk along the rim.  We were away from the village and we stopped at a quiet spot.  He was looking out at the Grand Canyon with such longing that I could feel it.  That longing is something that has become a part of me and he gave form to it during a particularly despairing time of my life.  He couldn’t take the longing unsatisfied any longer and he quit.  It was torture for him to be able to see the Grand Canyon without being able to go down into it, to explore it, to follow those endless canyons.

I can tell you that I was feeling disatisfied myself at this time and so very lonely.  I was tired of the way the world was.  Part of me also wanted to just disappear into nature, to escape all the tired expectations of family and society. 

After a while, I too decided to quit.  I knew someone who was also considering quitting and who had a car.  I convineced her to leave with me and go on a road trip since we both planned on heading back to our respective homes which were in the same general direction.  She had a friend that she had come to the Grand Canyon with and he wasn’t happy to see her go.  He told her that “people need people”.  It seemed like such a silly thing at the time, but its stuck with me after all these years.  Its true though… people do need people.

And, yet, people are always leaving.  No relationship lasts forever.

I’ve become very cynical as I’ve aged, but I must say I was already developing my cynical side as far as back as grade school.  Its just become more pronounced with life experience.

A few years ago, I decided to do everything I could to turn my life around.  I’ve always had this side of me that just wants to be a simple good person… a noble endeavor indeed.  So, I put myself out into the world and took risks, but it was a struggle even with antidepressants and therapists.  I met many people and it was moderately nice despite a part of me that is eternally dissatisfied with all of existence.

I even fell in love for the first time in my life.  I wanted to fall in love, but I think I could’ve made a better choice for the object of my love.  It wasn’t exactly mutual.  Thusly, I came to very intimate terms with my own frustrated longing.  Well, at least I know that my longing will always be there for me.

This blog is linked in three different threads.

OM posted it in the Collective Wisdom pod:

Meenkashi posted it in the Gaia Networking pod:

Blogs on Community, Interaction, Communication

I posted it in the God pod:

Community: blogs and threads

Access_public Access: Public 34 Comments Print Post this!views (371)  
Nicole : wakingdreamer
about 5 hours later

Nicole said

The internet is a real mixed blessing in terms of connections. It’s easier than ever before to meet people quickly with whom you resonate, but also easier than before to lose people.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
about 9 hours later

Marmalade said

Yep, Nicole. 

The internet, in its present condition, seems to be more of an experiment.  I suspect, as the internet becomes more immersed into everyday life, we will see less of this transitory style of relating.  It already is something like this for the youngsters these days.  They don’t as clearly distinguish their online and offine lives. 

The main thing that leads to the transitoriness is probably the anonymous factor.  Most people feel they don’t have to act as they normally do because the internet is mostly a separate world from their everyday life.  That is the other thing about the younger generations.  They seem less concerned about anonymity.

However, connecting is always challenging no matter what the situation.  Can’t blame it all on the internet.

starlight : StarLight Dancing
about 10 hours later

starlight said

hey ben…i think fear keeps us from connecting better than we do…sometimes it is a healthy fear i suppose…and when it is on the internet, it is difficult b/c you don’t have that face to face thing where you can actually look someone in the eye and see their expressions…but to be honest, i have difficulty connecting with others, many times b/c of the diversity of our beliefs and interests…but it is very nice when you actually do connect with someone and a friendship blossoms…

hope you are well…always, star…

Marmalade : Gaia Child
about 11 hours later

Marmalade said

I’m well enough.  I’m just in a space of assessing my reasons for spending time online as it relates to what the intenet actually is able to offer.  My experience is that dissatisfaction comes from having unrealistic expectations, but humans seem to thrive on unrealistic expectations.  Our whole civilization is built on unrealistic expectations.

I’m thinking that genuine connection beyond the transitory is too much to ask of the internet.  I have good relationships already in my life and so I’m not lacking in that department.  Really what I’m looking for online is commonality which may or may not include a deeper sense of connection.

I’m glad to see software being developed for social networking sites that makes it easier to connect with similar people.  Gaia’s resonance engine is designed for this purpose, but it hasn’t worked for me.  The people the resonance engine shows me tend to be those who are no longer active which is just depressing. 

Other sites have some cool functions for connecting.  I like what Netflix and Amazon are doing.  Netflix gives you the percentage of similar ratings to every other member and allows you to compare your individual ratings with those of others.  Amazon has something similar using your buying history and a tags system.  Both Netflix and Amazon also have very active online forums.

Its getting easier and easier to find people to connect with even if only on the level of common interests.  Helping people connect on a deeper level, however, is beyond the capacities of any internet site.

starlight : StarLight Dancing
about 11 hours later

starlight said

i was a member on a spiritual forum that began about six years or so ago…it was the bomb…some of the ones of us that were there in the beginning still stay in touch…many of us formed deep friendships…when the site shut down, there was another that started; it has not been as successful, nor is the atmosphere the same as in the early days of the first one, but there are some of the same people that still post, and so in that sense it still feels connected…so it is possible…i learned so much on that site and will always be indebted to the dear ones that i met during that time…it was an awesome experience…but i doubt that there will ever be anything likened to it again…who knows though…lol…*

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
about 11 hours later

Marmalade said

Your spiritual forum sounds like my INFP forum.  I still visit the INFP forum, but I get the sense that it isn’t as active as it used to be.  The last time I visited, someone mentioned that the administrator had been MIA for quite a while and the lunatics had taken over the asylum.  Fortunately, the lunatics there are of the good-natured variety.  I just emailed a friend from that site.  She isn’t active there anymore, but we stay in contact.  I was telling her that I wish I could gather all the interesting people I’ve found around the net and put them in a single place.  My site would be called: Marmalade’s Cool Friends.  It would be the best site ever!  🙂

starlight : StarLight Dancing
about 12 hours later

starlight said

what would be the focus of such an endeavor?  lol…

that’s what happened to SDF…the guy that created it fell in love and stopped hanging out, and the lunatics took over…it came to a tragic end…for a while he still kept it intact as an archieve, it had some awesome info on it…but you can’t even go to it anymore…that reminds me, i still keep in touch with him and i have been meaning to ask him why the link no longer works…he had given me my own forum basically, within the forum, to post all my material…i posted so much on that forum it wasn’t funny…and i really would like to have access to it still, for that reason, and to read all the informative threads…a real wealth of info really…towards the end though it became like a big soap opera…drama, drama, drama…and of course i was right in the middle of it!  LOL…memories…haha…maybe i tell you about it sometime…it’s really pretty funny now, but it wasn’t then…always, star…

mikeS : Ha!
1 day later

mikeS said

there seems an underlying sadness in your essay. But then, there always seems to be an underlying, rather incoherent, undefinable sadness in all relationships, no matter how connected or close. Most tend to deny and distract from that low lying heaviness, but the weight of it pulls at us nonetheless.

It does seem that no matter how close we become, I can never fully share your experience of living, nor can you share mine, since words and physicality never quite close the distance. I have experienced this in my own marriage. reflecting truth in the old adage “so close, yet so far away.”

I also agree with starlight, that there does seem to be a fear in too much sharing of experience, in the recognition of the actual limits of that sharing and maybe that reflects the underlying sadness. In this sense we are all truly alone.

In recognizing the limits, I suppose we are resigned to share what we can and maybe this is why no relationship lasts forever since the sharing must always be limited. Even those relationships remaining in close proximity change, never to be what they once were and always resistant to fully become what they could be. I suppose this was why I turned to spirituality in the hope of finding an answer. Not yet, though.

It seems your commentary on your own experiences of relating, is really a commentary on all relationships. If we are all alone, maybe at least we can be together in that experience.

Thanks for the honesty, it was a pleasure to read…

mike S

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"
1 day later

1Vector3 said

Oh, Ben, again I am blown away, and anything I might respond seems trivial by comparison to your sharings. But then I always feel superficial when INFP’s start doing their thing…… But I do recognize the depth, and in fact I can go there, too.

I can remember times in my life when all I had was the yearnings, the longings, for relationships and for something ineffable in or about life, and I found comfort and identity in the yearning itself.

One time I had a really indepth conversation with a good friend comparing our deepest subjective experiences and we managed to convey each to the other in such a way that we were blown away by the differences. After that, it has seemed a miracle to me that anyone can entertain the illusion that they understand or empathize with or grok anyone else’s inner experiences. Under the veneer of language agreements, lurks vast oceans of uniquenesses. [This does not contradict what I say below. Under the vast oceans is Oneness. Shall I say, they are all WATER !!]

It’s really true in this culture people are intimacy-phobic and intimacy-impaired by their upbringings. I believe there are cultures where this is NOT so. I don’t see this as a human issue, but a cultural issue.

Of course, and permit me to go woo-woo now, it is true IMO as you alluded, no human connection can come even close to the experience, the knowing, the BEING of “One Being in many forms” which those folks not in the illusion of separation can abide in. That is ultimately what we long for. Nothing in the world of form can provide that. That is our longing to simply be in full awareness of our own Ground of Being. In that awareness, we are automatically one with every other form in that we all are pieces of the Ground of Being. But we have our differences, on another level.

There are human experiences of “merging” energetically with another person, both feeling the separate self disappear into something or someone much Larger which yet paradoxically contains the smaller self, and this is sometimes spontaneous and sometimes cultivated, as through Tantric practices. These are pretty awesome. But they are also not states that can stay in the foreground of our awareness as we do the grocery shopping.

I have had experiences like you mentioned with the girl you were so [my word] comfortable with. I don’t think we achieve those; I think they just happen, and the basic cause is probably too woo-woo to go into here. I do think such a relationship CAN last a lifetime. I think profundly deep good relationships CAN last a lifetime. That’s “forever,” to most people. There are many examples of couples who grew old together in the most loving and intimate connection on ALL levels of their being. Who could read one another’s thoughts, finish one another’s sentences, etc.

Some of that can be cultivated in a relationship, but some has to be there from the beginning.

I myself don’t think of the REALLY worthwhile “connections” as having much to do with common interests. More with common values. Even more with common senses of life. Communication via the  Internet can only begin to hint at such things about a person.

I believe that true intimacy or closeness requires of both people the courage to be self-expressive, to be transparent, and to receive the other’s expressiveness and transparency in allowing, accepting ways, not judging. You have all that in spades. Thus, your chances of a truly deep relationship are better than average, IMO !!!

One way of conceptualizing or modelling connection or intimacy or whatever we are talking about is to use the physical model of RESONANCE. We resonate with other people, in various ways to various degrees. We are always hoping for more ways with more degrees from one person !! [The strength and areas of resonance possible in person are exponentially greater than via the Internet or writing or phone…..]

At one point in my life I gave up thinking I would find complete resonance for all aspects of my own vibrating/Being in one person. I will always feel “fragmented,” therefore. Never able to share ALL that I am in full resonance with any other ONE person. I have just accepted that. [As you said, expectations create disappointment, frustration….]

What, with age, I have no tolerance any longer for, is adapting. If i am going to be really close to someone, we have to be quite comfortable with one another just the way we are, from the beginning. The person has to fit me “like an old shoe” from the beginning. Exactly as you described how you felt around that girl.

You said
a part of me that is eternally dissatisfied with all of existence

and I’d like to ramble a bit about that. I see that as the root of depression, probably for you, perhaps for everyone. And that dissatisfaction with all of existence is something Buddhism describes very well and at great length, perhaps starlight can give some examples or references.
As long as we live within the illusion of separateness from the One Being in many forms, we will have that eternal dissatisfaction, nay, even a primordial terror which it hides from our full awareness, the terror of believing or experiencing separateness, because that separateness is not our normal, natural, true state of Being. It is an artificial and temporary creation – a project for a purpose – by some Beings, whom we are creations or parts of. But deep down we know there is “something wrong with this picture,” and the resulting sense of life is most unpleasant/dissatisfying/terror-filled/depressing.

Makes perfect sense to me that some folks like you are not willing or able to numb themselves to this “existential” condition of (common) human consciousness. Depression is inevitable. It is in fact sadness, IMO. Sadness is different from depression, because sadness is about something, it has an object or cause. In this case, IMO, the “cause” or “object” is the experience of being separate.

I have to add a caveat that to me separate and distinct are not identical. People can feel distinct and individual even after they awaken from the illusion of separateness.
One other way of being “eternally dissatisfied with all of existence” is to be a perfectionist. I am one of those, down to the atomic level of my embodiment. There is never a moment of perfect satisfaction with the way life is, I am, things are. That perfectionism is based on illusions, though, and in fact I am mostly healed from those. But I thought I would mention it, as it’s a different source of “eternal dissatisfaction with all of existence” from the separateness-sense I just described.  

Well, thanks for allowing me to blather on. I was able to put into words some things I had not been able to articulate before, so thanks for the opportunity. If my words are meaninful or even useful to anyone else, that would be very pleasing and satisfying to me !!!!

Blessings, OM Bastet

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"
1 day later

1Vector3 said

Gotta edit this for precision:

I said
even a primordial terror which it hides from our full awareness, the terror of believing or experiencing separateness,

I meant to say
even a primordial terror which it hides from our full awareness, the terror which is an inevitable consequence of believing or experiencing separateness
— not the terror OF believing, but the terror FROM believing

Say this is a dynamite thread about such a common human concern. OK with you if I donate it to the Collective Wisdom library??

Marmalade : Gaia Child
1 day later

Marmalade said

Yeah, Mike, there is an underlying sadness.  I’m sure my relationship experiences aren’t unique.  In the examples I gave, I was mostly focusing on a transitory stage of my life.  I’m much more settled now, but the feelings I felt then aren’t really different than what I feel now.  Even in less transitory relationships there is still a gap.

And I also agree with starlight about the fear thingy.  Thats become clear to me in recent years.  The desire and fear of intimacy go hand in hand.  I’ve observed it in myself and in others.  I sense some kind of truth in the longing to connect, but I can’t say that I know what it is.

Marmalade : Gaia Child
1 day later

Marmalade said

Om, I’m sure nothing you share will be trivial.  I completely agree with what you say about lurking vast oceans of uniqueness.  I tend to think of it as a fundamental truth, but there is a cultural component.  Its hard for me to imagine what a society would be like that didn’t have intimacy issues.  Sounds like a nice place.  I’d like to visit there sometime.

I like using the word resonance.  The fragmentation you mention is something that I feel within myself whether or not a relationship is involved.  That is something I didn’t mention in the blog but which I’ve thought about recently.  The disconnection between people is akin to the disconnection between aspects of the self.  I don’t know if that makes sense.

Related to this is dissatisfaction.  Longing to connect corresponds to the dissatisfaction felt withn.  These are two sides to the same coin and I see it as spiritual.  Buddhism has it right about life being fundamentally dissatisfying.  Dukkha is often translated as suffering, but it makes more sense to think of it as dissatisfaction.

You’re description of this is perfect.  Calling it dissatisfaction is an understatement and maybe that is why dukkha gets translated as sufering.  Whatever it may be, its a profound experience.  Primordial terror… those words get at the sense of it.  I understand your interpreting it as being a result of the illusion of separation, but I’m not sure what that means.  Its disconcerting.  What is the feeling of separation?  And what caused it?  I’ve felt inklings of a deeper unity, but I don’t remember a time when I ever experienced it fully.  I do have the sense that something is wrong with this picture… which implies there is something that is right.

I’m pretty sure you’re correct that sadness isn’t the same as depression.  But Its hard for me to distinguish them in my own experience.  Depression is such a complex thing.  What is causing what I do not know.  What I do know is that my depression has always had a component of loneliness, of something missing.  Do I have a depressive personality that leads me to be open to that experience of dissatisfaction?  Or has the experience of dissatisfaction after enough years led to a depressive way of being?  Or something entirely different?  Its all confusing to me.  I could imagine being depressed without being sad or being sad without being depressed, but its all mixed up for me.

I guess that this is a decent thread.  You can donate all you want. 

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
1 day later

Marmalade said

I have a previous blog which relates to some of the views being discussed here.

Zen Great Doubt, Existentialist Angst, and Gnostic Longing

starlight : StarLight Dancing
2 days later

starlight said

hey ben and all…that link had some very relevant context…something to really think about, and of course i did…and here is what i awoke with today…maybe it will be helpful, maybe not…

that longing we feel, is the longing to connect beyond surfaces…the dissatisfaction occurs when these connections do not materialize in the way that we had hoped…or when they do, but do not last…those emotions are processed and stored, and can really prevent us from making another effort at connecting beyond surfaces or beyond our safety zone…and can once again leave us with that melancholy longing to connect…but the fear of remembering can keep us at that precipice…and so we get comfortable in our limited condition…even when it has unpleasant aspects…simply put, we remain on the beach b/c we KNOW there are sharks in the water, we’ve been bit before, and so we don’t JUMP IN…or make the effort beyond a certain point…we sometimes even convince ourselves that we are just fine getting a tan on the sand…while we watch from the sidelines…others swimming, having fun, touching, laughing, living, breathing…loving…each other…

i have found that it is much like anything else…we connect every day…on surface levels…like the internet…it is really up to us to try to connect at a deeper level…sure there is always the risk that you will run into a brick wall…but it is like anything else…when you turn your computer on and it does not connect right away, do you give up and throw your laptop against the wall, or do you keep trying?  it always comes down to it being our own choice…

the most difficult thing for us to do it seems, is to do something different…but that is where the potential for creativity comes into play…and great works of art manifest…

in my experience, it has become very easy to remain in my own little bubble of bliss…even though, periodically, i feel the lonliness…

since i am not a buddhist, or a member of any other religious organization, and i rarely go any where, except online…i have learned to be content with discussing things of intellectual interest with those here at gaia that seem to think along the same lines as i do…and i write my poems…i am attracted to realistic and critical thinking…but i am not without my spiritual being…i just refuse to label it and put it in a box, and so, i am a loner of sorts…

but that is my choice…and until i decide to take a chance and venture out of my own little box…there is no way to make deeper connections…afterall…awareness is not going to slide them under my door…LOL…much like your link suggests…i have to dive into the abyss…feel to heal, and keep it real…diving in the abyss, or living ones life amongst the living…brings opportunities to face more conditioned behaviours…which brings opportunity of more awakening and freedom…

there is one thing i will say concerning suffering…it is much different then pain and sadness…we are humans…being…pain is to be felt…so is pleasure…getting trapped in those feelings is what brings suffering…

much of the time it comes down to this:

i have to just put my big girl britches on…and walk through the fear…

thnx for this thread Ben…your honesty on these subjects helps to open up and shine a light on those tendencies within us all…if we are willing to look at these things honestly within ourselves…then that reveals the potential to do something different…where a deeper connection is always possible…much joy, always, star…

starlight : StarLight Dancing
2 days later

starlight said

check this out ben…just a view from my box…LOL

thnx for all the inspiration on this thread…always, star…

Marmalade : Gaia Child
2 days later

Marmalade said

I read your comments here and I read what you wrote in your blog.  I’m too tired to give any detailed response, but I can say that I didn’t disagree with any of it.  Everything you said generally resonates with my own view.  I don’t think I can add anything further that would be insightful.  🙂

I do have some other thoughts that have been on my mind, but I don’t think they particularly relate to anything you mentioned.  Maybe I’ll try to write about them later.

Nicole : wakingdreamer
3 days later

Nicole said

Ah, those sun-filled days. That blog seems like such a long time ago on this cold winter’s day filled with snow. I have enjoyed our blog chats so very much, my friend Ben.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"
3 days later

1Vector3 said

You asked some questions I need to respond to, but for tonight all I can manage is to post this link to the donation of this blog+comments to the Collective Wisdom library.

Blessings, OM

Albert  : Warrior
3 days later

Albert said

Ben, this is really a fascinating consideration.

Other types like in the Reiss profile could be added. Or whtaever.

Its always isnt so far away from so called real F2F world.
A new kind of vireality is emerging. German iInternwet Entrepreneur Paulus Need once described it this way. True intimacy is a process of crstyllization. Of deep values. Of timing in ones bio according to the life cycle one goes through….
And it may change through the years.

According to ones individuality. See for example the label “Integral” Is suggest some homogenity of people who use it. If we would choose randomly 1000 people from across the globe ..we would see 1000 different fingerprints of using it.

Then checking this cohort after 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 years again:

The picture will have changed radically.
To be honest, genuine and open, authentic and in connection with ones own purpose and authentic case..will ALWAY bring people in connection. Sometimes in unpredictable ways.
Bon voyage, Ben!

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
3 days later

Marmalade said

OM – I hope this discussion lives up to being collective wisdom.

Albert – Surprised to see you here.  Did you see this thread from OM’s linking to it? 

Anyways, no need to “bon voyage” me quite yet.  I’m still here and I’m not rushing to leave.  I am looking around at other options.  One thing I’d like is to have a blog that gave me more control of the format.  Some networks give you the ability to create categories for different subjects or for differing levels of security.  Even if I did blog elsewhere, I’d still come back here to visit.  I won’t abandon ship entirely.

I hadn’t heard of Reiss profiles.  That is a new one to me.  Thanks for telling me about it.  I did a quick search and it looks interesting.  Would you mind telling me more about it?  What is your interest in it?

I dig what you’re saying.  Its a different perspective than what I was focusing on, but is equally relevant.  I particularly like what you say about “connection with ones own purpose and authentic case”.  Yep!  I like authenticity in myself and in others.  For sure, life is unpredictable… like it or not.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"
3 days later

1Vector3 said

What the heck is “vireality?”Sounds  ominous or interesting.

Ben you young whippersnapper, are you questioning my judgment????? This thread is already collective wisdom or I would not have put it into the library. So it doesn’t have to “live up to” worthiness on your HOPE !!!!  (stands with arms akimbo, glaring and with fondly smiling glint in eyes and playing around mouth.)
Know what you mean about formatting options on blogs. I’m getting into creating my church’s blog on blogspot, and I do appreciate the incredible creativity possible there. For example, a palette of colors for each of over a dozen elements of each blog! Even slideshows, just select the gizmo and put in the pictures !!!! Of course, it’s all a matter of funding here, our devs are working as hard as they can.

I’m very happy to NOT be appropriately wishing you Bon Voyage. Just Bonne Nuit, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.


Albert  : Warrior
3 days later

Albert said just randomly picked up the thread.

Bon voyage simply means for me pursuing ones own odyssee. No matter where and in what realms. Every single day is a voyage in itself…

We need new maps for communication and connections of all kind. This hyperspace has so many dimensions. And I have given up the search for a TOE in communication. I love the unfolding mystery and simple experience of it..

A business partner once offered me to make a Reiss Profile. It reveals interesting points. However as I know dozens of typologies…they are not really triggering me. I am interested to see how reality is manifesting itself. And how deeply people are aligned to their authentic self.

If necessary even in a crazy and non consensual way. Spiritual, poltical and sexual correctness is bad and limiting syndrom for me. Maybe necessary for some mainstream consensus.

Your post is relevant as it opens even the door to questions about communication and comunion. As KW does in some writings. So it should not surprise you to see me here. …)

Albert  : Warrior
3 days later

Albert said


vireality is the Moebius stripe like interconnectness of virtual and real worlds. Emerging and evolving not as alternate realties but  as DNA like Double Helix.

Kevin Kelly has lots of it explored though not naming it this way.

The quote of Paulus Neef can be found in the inspiring book of German writer Bernhard von Mutius:

Die Verwandlung der Welt

Do not know if it is translated into English already.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
3 days later

Marmalade said

Partly because of my mood recently, I’ve been visiting some of the other groups I belong to.  The first groups I belonged to were typology and they’re still some of my favorites.  I know quite a few people from the very first community I belonged to and one of my favorite people happens to be visiting there right now.  Typology forums create an interesting environment where many people end up being very open about their personal lives.  It can make it easy to get to know people very quickly.

One of the people I know from the INFP forum is now mostly a pen pal meaning we mostly only communicate via e-mail.  She actually visited here once and even posted briefly on the God Pod, but she is too busy to spend much time online.  I was talking to her about how I was feeling about online communities.  Because she lacks the time, she understood how difficult it is.  She was saying how it takes a lot of effort to really connect to a community.  I know that trying to belong to multiple communities to satisfy all sides of myself takes way too much effort.

All of this made me think about two general categories of communities.  There are very focused groups that limit themselves to a single subject or to a single type of person.  And there are more general groups that emphasize the social networking aspect.  I suppose Gaia sorta falls somewhere in between, but probably a bit more on the focused side in that the original purpose of Zaadz was very focused and this influences the type of person that joins.  I guess most communities are focused in one way or another.

I prefer focused groups overall in that its easier to find people of a common interest.  But it leads you to interact through that one dimension.  On a typology forum, everything can turn into a typology discussion.  Gaia is more diverse, but even here not all sides of myself get satisfied.  Then again, no group probably exists where all sides of myself would be satisfied.

However, there are more general networking sites that contain focused groups.  Gaia somewhat achieves this with its pods, but its active pods represent a fairly narrow focus.  Bigger sites like Live Journal or Ning are the best examples of general groups.  On these networks, you can potentially meet anyone who has joined, but you can get as focused as you want by deciding which groups to joiin.  Ning, for instance, has groups for almost anything.  Ning has some small groups and it has some very large groups.  The groups I belong to at Ning include two integral groups, a philosophy group, and Netflix’s official forum.

However, I don’t know how well Ning does in encouraging people to connect across groups.  Gaia does this fairly well, and there are some other companies that specialize in this.  I believe that SocialGO and Multiply are networking sites that help individuals to more easily connect beyond mere group participation.

 Meenakshi : ~
3 days later

Meenakshi said

Ben, I came here through the collective wisdom pod.

Your blog is wonderful for me,as you can explore and share your feelings so clearly. This is one aspect of my life that grew later for me. In fact, it is still not grown, as I find maybe one person I can really open about feelings. Like starlight, at heart I am a loner. Or perhaps a lONEr. Interesting how that is, eh? One surrounded by left and right?

A large part of it, is because when we feel, we come fully into one experience. I have to be fully Meenakshi and only me; as you have to be fully you; and we are then separate and different.

When this happens, and we feel separate, others rush in [in a manner of speaking], and fill in the picture. Nicole comes with her warmth, Albert with ideas, and so on… As I read each comment, some resonate, some don’t, but seem like distant parts of a universe to which I belong. They show me paths to explore further when I am in a bon voyage mood–in the way that Albert describes it. So for me, community fills in the aspects of the wholeness that I leave to come into my feelings. When I look around me from the ground, I see all the people that I am or can be or won’t ever be or was; and I know that all this is that wholeness that OM has described so beautifully that it completely resonates. Because she wrote what she did, I don’t need to do that, and that helps me to go into another aspect.

So within the world experience, I know that somewhere there is deep loneliness, and I know that elsewhere there is deep communion.I use my inner guidance to “connect~don’t attach” to these experiences, feeling each as seems called upon.

 In loneliness, I connect to others who are lonely; which changes the energy to communion at a higher level. In communion, I hear the voices of loneliness, and can connect to that in healing. So as these feelings help with the flow of energy, all those philosophies make sense, each feeling seems relevant and having no-one to fully relate to; is exactly what helps me to relate to ONE.

Bowing deeply to you all, for this connection.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
3 days later

Marmalade said

I skipped over Nicole’s comment.  I’m getting too many commentors (with some long comments) to keep up with them all.  Yes, Nicole, that blog does feel like it was a while back.  It resonates quite well with tis one, but it didn’t get as many comments as this one.  I just realized that some of my most popular blogs are those where I complain about community and relationships.  I guess community is a favorite topic in this community.

Welcome to the discussion, Meenkashi!  At heart, I’m a loner too.  My best friend is also a loner and we often enjoy being alone together.  🙂  Oddly, I’m more social online.  :))

 Meenakshi : ~
4 days later

Meenakshi said

I guess community is a favorite topic in this community.–good 1!

HeyOK : Bridgebuilder
4 days later

HeyOK said

Hello there Ben-
You say, “I guess community is a favorite topic in this community.”  That sums it up so nicely.

Wanting to connect and using the means available to do so, wondering what the connections mean and lead too.

I’m thankful for the points you’ve made and the sharing it’s brought.  Thank you for that!

Blessings, David

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
4 days later

Marmalade said

Hey HeyOK!  lol  I couldn’t help myself.

I’m glad people have enjoyed this blog and the discussion.  For me, this is something that is often on my mind.  I seem to be always thinking about relationships both on the small and large scale.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
4 days later

Marmalade said

I’m a fan of really long threads and so I’m going to add some more slightly related comments even though I’m sure I could start another blog at this point.

I’ve been perusing reviews and comparisons of the many social networking and related sites.  Its partly out of curiosity, but it definitely goes beyond that.  This all relates back to the subject of this discussion.  I originally picked Gaia to blog because of its community aspect.  Blogger and WordPress have better blogging capabilities, but they’re not community oriented.

My recent research about blogging sites has been more thorough because I widened my focus.  The first time I was looking for a place to blog, I only compared the few most popular sites.  The one that competed with Gaia in my attentions was Live Journal.  Some of the people I know from the typology world are on Live Journal and I do have an account there.  Gaia edged out Live Journal on one account.  The people here are maybe overall older and along with this maybe with more serious discussion such as with the Integral sector of this community.

Many of the more socially oriented sites cater to those of the younger generation.  I haven’t seen statistics, but I’ve heard people say this in reviews and it resonates with my own sense of such communities.  Similar to Live Journal is a blogging site called Xanga.  I’ve heard some people say that Live Journal isn’t really a blogging site, but I don’t know what they mean by that.  Maybe they mean in the way you can just keep your writings private.  Anyways, Live Journal is mostly like a social blogging site which is what Xanga is.

Okay… so, why am I bringing all of this up?  The thing is that I like to write, but I also like to have responses with some depth to them which can only come from getting to know others.  Its a balance in that I’m writing for my own purposes, but have come to enjoy the interactive aspects of being on a forum.  Social blogging seems like a happy medium.

However, everything is a tradeoff.  The blogging sites that are less social have the best blogging capabilities.  A place like Gaia has its advantages, but in many ways is a smaller community with a more limited focus.  The social blogging sites are very attractive in that they strike a balance between a large network and small groups, between blogging and social interaction, but they attract a younger less mature crowd.

Xanga stood out to me as having some potential.  It sounds like it emphasizes the social side of blogging more than any other site out there.  The concept of it is very innovative, but supposedly its filled with adolescent girls who write about adolescent girl types of things and without all that fancy punctuation and stuff.  But some people like it and if your friends are already on it, then the masses of youngsters wouldn’t be too bothersome.  Like anywhere, you certainly could find some very good bloggers there… and you’d just have to ignore the rest.  Then again, what good is the ability to socially connect easily if you don’t feel similar to most of the other bloggers?  The cool thing is that you can personalize your blog and connect your blog to blog rings of people of similar interests.  So, blogs can become more interactive.

If I was only interested in my own writing, I’d almost certainly go with Blogger.  Its easy to use and has a lot of flexibility.  Gaia is nice in a social sense, but the people I know here are mostly people I’ve met here.  The advantage of Live Journal might be that I know many people there who are members of other forum sites that I enjoy.  Ning is another one that interests me because I know some people there and already belong to several groups on it… besides, its the best network that does what it does which is a lot, but I’m unsure if its a place where bloggers connect with eachother much. 

I do have to choose, but choices don’t need to be absolutely exclusive.  I could blog at Blogger for purposes of giving me greater flexibility with my writing, but I still need to explore because Ning and SocialGO may give even greater flexibility as blogging can be integrated into a multiple page site that can also be a group network.  Whatever is the case, where I blog doesn’t have to be where I socialize.  I can connect my blog to the sites where I socialize.  For instance, I have my Gaia blog linked in the tag line of my posts at several of the forums I visit.

My writing is my main interest even before the enjoyment of being a part of a nice community of interesting people.  Most simply, I just want to write and community can even be a distraction from that.  And yet I’m drawn to connect maybe even because its a distraction from being too lost in my own thoughts.  Balance is key… I guess.

Ain’t life funny?  Oh, the dilemmas!  It probably doesn’t matter too much.  Maybe I just like endlessly considering my options to no end at all.  lol

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
4 days later

Marmalade said

I just had one other thought.  I promise… its the last… for tonight that is.

A big thing for me about a site is the feeling of it.  This can have a lot to do with how the site is set up, but its more about the social aspects itself.  What is the purpose of the site, the purpose of the person(s) who started it?  What are the rules and how do the moderators keep order?  What kind of person does it attract, how do they interact, and what do they discuss?  What is the culture that has developed?  Is it stable and are the people committed to it?  Does it have cliques or is it friendly?

My assessment of Gaia is that its one of the most open and welcoming of communities I’ve belonged to online.  Its very laid back.  The only site that compares is the INFP forum.  Both of the sites have people who are very self-moderating which translates as that they attract people who value as much how they relate as they do what they discuss. 

That magical element of self-moderation is extremely rare.  Even many ‘spiritual’ forums I’ve been on lack this.  I know from experience that less laid back forums can just be tiring even in the most basic of interactions.

The challenge in exploring new sites is that you often can’t know the feeling of it until you immerse yourself in the community for some length of time.  Looking at reviews and comparisons can only point me in the directions of possibilities, but I still have to directly explore those possibilities.  I’m just going to have to play around and feel it out.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"
5 days later

1Vector3 said

I have only a moment to spare this morning, Ben, but a couple of responses: I have often wondered about the other social networking sites others find valuable or interesting, but I feel SOOOO monogamous with Gaia Community I haven’t gone exploring. I really appreciate your doing the legwork and reporting back your perceptions !!!!! :))

Endlessly exploring possibilities…. Hmmm….. I vaguely recall that might be an Intuitive thingy?  :))))) Or you might be a Gemini. We do that too. I feel claustrophobic without options – even though as I just gave an example of, I can sometimes settle on one and be quite loyal……. Most of the time I just love exploring possibilities, but then I end up ranking them for usefulness for some purpose, and seeking to apply or implement. That’s why I am Sensation and not Intuitive…..

On Thanksgiving Day, I include you amongst my blessings.


Marmalade : Gaia Child
5 days later

Marmalade said

Yep, OM.  I understand the monogamous attitude.  I felt entirely at home with the INFP forum which was the first I joined.  I thought of it as my online home, but it had obvious limitations for my interests.  Unlike Gaia, it was smaller and less active, and with a less stable community.  Using your metaphor, my monogamous partner wasn’t always in the mood and so I went looking for others to satisfy my needs.  I learned polygamy has its advantages.  lol

You are correct, though, that endlessly exploring possibilities is more of an Intuitive thingy… in particular, an Extraverted Intuitive thingy.  (Its a blessing and a curse.)  But nope I’m not a Gemini… Sagittarius in fact.  Sagittarius are of the travelling sort, so they say, which can either mean travelling in the physical sense or the intellectual sense depending on the whol Extraversion/Introversion thingy.  I cover immense territory… in my mind.  🙂

Blessings to you as well… and blessings to the turkeys on this day of their massacre.


Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
5 days later

Marmalade said

Along with OM adding this discussion to the Collective Wisdom pod, Meenkashi also added it to a new thread she just started in Gaia Networking.  This is explicit advertising for Meenkashi’s thread.  Go there and add any other blogs on community, interaction, communication.

Blogs on Community, Interaction, Communication

Politics, Personality, and Character

Politics, Personality, and Character

Posted on Oct 13th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade   

Republican presidential nominee John McCain has spent months positioning himself as the heir to Ronald Reagan’s conservative movement. Recent poll data, however, show that his Democratic opponent perhaps better embodies some of Reagan’s key personality traits.

The personality profile yielded by the MIDC was analyzed on the basis of interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC and Millon Index of Personality Styles manuals. Sen. Obama’s primary personality patterns were found to be Ambitious/confident and Accommodating/cooperative, with secondary features of the Outgoing/congenial pattern.
The combination of Ambitious, Accommodating, and Outgoing patterns in Obama’s profile suggests a confident conciliator personality composite. Leaders with this personality prototype, though self-assured and ambitious, are characteristically gracious, considerate, and benevolent. They are energetic, charming, and agreeable, with a special knack for settling differences, favoring mediation and compromise over force or coercion as a strategy for resolving conflict. They are driven primarily by a need for achievement and also have strong affiliation needs, but a low need for power.
The major implication of the study is that it offers an empirically based personological framework for anticipating Obama’s likely leadership style as chief executive, thereby providing a basis for inferring the character and tenor of a prospective Obama presidency.


Using a standard assessment procedure developed at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, we generated a personality profile for Sen. Obama. The profile reveals that Obama’s most prominent personal attributes are confidence, assertiveness, and congeniality.

In office, the behavior of confident, ambitious leaders like Obama is characteristically shaped by four core qualities: power, pragmatism, ideology, and self-validation. As persons with a strong belief in their talents and leadership ability, power is an important driver for their leadership behavior and they favor pragmatism as a way of ensuring their own success. Because of extraordinary confidence in their own ideas and potential for success, they are strongly motivated by ideology and a desire to transform society. Finally, their high-self-esteem stimulates a corresponding need for affirmation, resulting in a quest for personal validation.

Ambitious, goal directed

Ambitious, confident leaders like Obama are more goal- than process oriented. This implies that their own advancement and success is more important to them than compromise or maintaining good relations with colleagues.

By the same token, they also are more likely to act as advocates for their own policy vision than as consensus builders or arbitrators. However, because of their pragmatic nature, they will act in a cooperative or harmonious manner when they see it as furthering their self-interest.


Obama’s combination of confidence, assertiveness, and congeniality fits the profile of a charismatic leader; he is ambitious, dominant, and outgoing, which enables him to advance a personal vision, inspire followers, and connect with people.

The outgoing pattern in Obama’s personality profile, a quality he shares with presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Sen. John McCain – yet notably absent in Sen. Clinton – may be key to his meteoric rise to prominence and electoral success thus far in the 2008 election cycle. Ironically, in view of President Clinton’s “roll the dice” comment noted above, Obama shares more of Bill Clinton’s charismatic personality traits than any of the top-tier candidates in either party.
He will be a tough candidate to beat. In fact, Obama’s greatest obstacle may not be whether he has the right personal qualities or the requisite experience to lead, but the readiness of America to elect an African-American to the highest office in the nation.

The personality profile yielded by the MIDC was analyzed on the basis of interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC and Millon Index of Personality Styles manuals. Sen. McCain’s primary personality pattern was found to be Dauntless/dissenting, with secondary features of the Outgoing/gregarious and Dominant/controlling patterns.
The combination of Dauntless and Outgoing patterns in McCain’s profile suggests a risk-taking adventurer personality composite. Leaders with this personality prototype are characteristically bold, fearless, sensation seeking, and driven by a need to prove their mettle.
McCain’s major personality strengths in a leadership role are the important personality-based political skills of independence, persuasiveness, and courage, coupled with a socially responsive, outgoing tendency that can be instrumental in connecting with critical constituencies for mobilizing support and implementing policy initiatives. His major personality-based limitation is a predisposition to impulsiveness, one manifestation of which is a deficit of emotional restraint.

Sen. John McCain’s personality-based leadership strengths include:

  • the important personality-based political skills of independence, persuasiveness, and courage;
  • a socially responsive, outgoing tendency that enables him to connect with people;
  • skills and talents that can be employed to mobilize support and implement his policies; and
  • a dauntless, confident orientation conducive to the cut and thrust of political life and potentially useful in crisis situations.

Sen. John McCain’s personality-based leadership limitations include:

  • impulsiveness and lack of emotional restraint;
  • a tendency to make unguarded, imprudent remarks that may undermine his political capital;
  • a rebellious nature, accompanied by intolerance of delay or frustration and low thresholds for emotional discharge, particularly anger and hostility;
  • a potential for taking unnecessary risks and failing to plan ahead.’s_’histrionic’_personality.html

First and foremost it must be pointed out that, as with all personality patterns, the outgoing pattern occurs on a continuum ranging from normal to maladaptive. At the well-adjusted pole are warm, congenial personalities. Slightly exaggerated outgoing features occur in sociable, gregarious personalities such as Bill Clinton. And in its most deeply ingrained, inflexible form, extraversion manifests itself in impulsive, self-centered, overdramatizing, histrionic behavior patterns that may be consistent with a clinical diagnosis of histrionic personality disorder. In a nutshell, then, this is the essence of the outgoing personality pattern:

  • Characteristic behavior. Outgoing personalities are typically friendly and engaging. In more intense form these personalities are livewire, animated bon vivants. In its most extreme, often maladaptive form, histrionic personalities are flamboyant, self-dramatizing thrill-seekers with a penchant for momentary excitements, fleeting adventures, and shortsighted, hedonistic self-indulgence. As leaders they tend to lack “gravitas” and may be prone to scandal, predisposed to reckless, imprudent behaviors, with a penchant for spur-of-the-moment decisions without carefully considering alternatives.
  • Personal relations. Outgoing personalities are demonstrative, amiable, and display their feelings openly-anger included. In more extreme form, gregarious individuals may be shallow, superficial attention-seekers highly attentive to popular appeal. Finally, the full-blown histrionic is likely to be flirtatious and seductively exhibitionistic, actively manipulating others to solicit praise, approval, or attention. In a political leadership role, these traits translate into a strong need for validation, one manifestation of which may be an overreliance on polls as an instrument of policy formulation.
  • Mindset. Outgoing personalities are not paragons of deep thinking or self-reflection; they typically avoid introspective thought, focusing, instead, on external matters. In its more crystallized form, this personality style is exemplified by a superficial, often “thoughtless” mode. Finally, in their most distilled form, histrionic personalities are poor integrators of experience; they are slow to learn from their mistakes. Politically speaking, this tendency may result in scattered learning, poor judgment, and flawed decision-making.
  • Temperament Temperament refers primarily to activity level and the character and intensity of emotional experience. Outgoing personalities are emotionally expressive, responsive, spirited, and lively. People with more exaggerated variants of the outgoing pattern may be overexcitable and moody, with frequent-though short-lived-emotional displays. In its most maladaptive form, the histrionic personality is impetuous, mercurial, and capricious, being easily enthused and as readily angered or bored. Leaders with this personality pattern are skilled at staying in touch with the mood of the people but also prone-as at least one observer in the Clinton White House has put it-to periodic “purple rages.”
  • Self-image Outgoing personalities are confident in their social abilities, typically viewing themselves as affable and well liked. In stronger doses, extraversion translates into a charming sense of self. In its most distilled form, the histrionic’s self-perception has a hedonistic character, epitomized by a self-indulgent image of attracting acquaintances through pursuit of a busy, pleasure-oriented lifestyle. In politics, outgoing personalities, more than any other character types, are political animals strongly attracted to the lure of campaigning; they thrive on the validation of self offered by adulating crowds and the frenetic, connect-with-people activity on the rope line.
  • Self-regulation. The preferred stress-management strategy of outgoing personalities is to engage in self-distracting, mindless activities, often in the form of games or physical diversions. In maladaptive form, histrionic personalities employ the defense mechanism of dissociation (or so-called “compartmentalization”) to cope with conflict and anxiety. The political implications of dissociation include a leader’s failure to face up to unpleasant, dissonant thoughts, feelings, and actions and facile, complemented by cosmetic image-making as revealed in a succession of socially attractive but changing facades.

I conclude this analysis with the caveat that my initial assessment of John McCain’s personality, based on his autobiography and other materials in the public domain, departs from the analysis of McCain’s naval examiners. In my opinion, the outgoing pattern is of secondary significance in McCain’s overall character structure. Of greater primacy is a dauntless, dissenting personality pattern, which McCain shares with Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura and, to a lesser extent, George W. Bush.

As a parting thought-lest we come too quickly to conclusions concerning John McCain’s character-consider this: With the exception of Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter, outgoing candidates have prevailed in every presidential contest since Franklin D. Roosevelt.  
McCain’s primary personality pattern was found to be Dauntless/dissenting, with secondary features of the Outgoing/gregarious and Dominant/controlling patterns. Giuliani’s primary personality pattern was found to be Dominant/aggressive, with secondary features of the Conscientious/dutiful and Ambitious/confident patterns. The combination of Dauntless and Outgoing patterns in McCain’s profile suggests a risk-taking adventurer personality composite. Leaders with this personality prototype are characteristically bold, fearless, sensation seeking, and driven by a need to prove their mettle. The combination of Dominant and Conscientious patterns in Giuliani’s profile suggests an aggressive enforcer personality composite. Leaders with this personality prototype are tough, uncompromising, and believe they have a moral duty to punish and control those who deviate from socially sanctioned norms. McCain’s major personality strengths in a leadership role are the important personality-based political skills of independence, persuasiveness, and courage, coupled with a socially responsive, outgoing tendency that can be instrumental in connecting with critical constituencies for mobilizing support and implementing policy initiatives. His major personality-based limitation is a predisposition to impulsiveness, one manifestation of which is a deficit of emotional restraint.  

Twenty-seven percent of American voters claim they choose presidential candidates primarily on the basis of the nominee’s character and moral values, according to a poll conducted after the 2000 elections. However, candidates with a solid character–straightforward, dutiful and disciplined–often run into trouble being an effective president, says Steven J. Rubenzer, PhD, a Houston-based clinical psychologist and co-founder of the Foundation for the Study of Personality in History. In fact, a tendency to tell the truth can actually harm a president’s shot at being considered historically “great,” he says.  


Those presidents who received high marks from historians tended to be smart, have ambitious goals and be willing to bend the truth, according to results published in Rubenzer’s new book–co-authored with retired clinical psychologist Tom Faschingbauer, PhD–“Personality, Character & Leadership in the White House: Psychologists Assess the Presidents” (Brassey’s, 2004). And these findings converge with previous research by political psychologists such as Dean Simonton, PhD, at the University of California, Davis, who finds that intelligence, as measured by a combination of personal achievements, analysis of a president’s interests and scores on the personality measure openness to experience, predicts presidential success above all other individual factors.  


“Openness overlaps with intelligence because to some degree you have to be intelligent to appreciate new experiences,” explains Simonton. “People who are low in intelligence, their systems are overwhelmed by the very rich environments that are attractive to people who are open to new experiences.”  

However, the personality factors that increase candidates’ chances for success in office are not necessarily the same as those that help them get elected, psychologists say. For example, intellectual brilliance seems negatively related to a president’s margin of victory, finds Simonton.
“The ones who are the most intellectually brilliant are often barely elected,” he says. “They have trouble speaking in sound bites and communicating with the public.”

While intelligence can make for a good president but a bad candidate, achievement-striving–or the tendency to work toward lofty goals–may benefit presidents both on the campaign trail and while in office.
“Achievement-striving means people have high goals, but more importantly, they work hard to achieve them,” says Rubenzer. “They stay focused; they are kind of workaholics.”

In contrast, research by psychologist David Winter, PhD, at the University of Michigan, finds that achievement motivation, defined as a drive to do things well, may be a hindrance for presidents in office.

“People high in achievement motivation do best when they have large amounts of personal control,” says Winter. “They become frustrated by the bureaucracy of politics.”
Indeed, in Rubenzer’s personality analysis Carter, who historians note as stymied by the checks and balances of the presidency, scored very high on achievement-striving–in the top 1 percent of all former presidents. However, Carter had two fatal personality flaws: a lack of assertiveness and a tendency to be straightforward, notes the psychologist.
“A president has to influence, either by deceit or forcefulness,” says Rubenzer. “When you see those two scores on someone who is otherwise so qualified you think, well, maybe that is the reason.”  

Results of the research indicate that great presidents, besides being stubborn and disagreeable, are more extraverted, open to experience, assertive, achievement striving, excitement seeking and more open to fantasy, aesthetics, feelings, actions, ideas and values. Historically great presidents were low on straightforwardness, vulnerability and order.  


It may come as no surprise that the research shows that most modern presidents are clearly extraverts. However, the data indicates that the early presidents scored below average on this factor. Does that mean that presidents are becoming more extraverted, or that the entire population has become more extraverted? The researchers say their data can’t answer that question, but “given the increasing role of the media in presidential elections, the more plausible explanation is that the change is limited to the presidents and not the general population.”  

Presidential traits described in 'The Personality and the Presidency Project' The ability to lie and deceive is an important quality for success in the White House, and presidents who are less straightforward typically make better presidents.
Presidential traits described in 'The Personality and the Presidency Project' Despite his recent popularity and reputation for integrity, John Adams’s personality closely resembled Richard Nixon’s.
Presidential traits described in 'The Personality and the Presidency Project' Presidents are much more Extraverted today than in the past and less intellectually curious than in the past. They may also be lower in character.
Presidential traits described in 'The Personality and the Presidency Project' Jimmy Carter is the only modern president that much resembles Founding Fathers Jefferson and Madison and the greatest president of the 19th century, Abe Lincoln. Eisenhower is the only modern president much like Washington.
Presidential traits described in 'The Personality and the Presidency Project' Franklin Roosevelt seems to be the template for modern presidents, with recent presidents showing high (Kennedy, Clinton) or moderate (LBJ) similarity to him. Reagan resembled his as well.
Presidential traits described in 'The Personality and the Presidency Project' Modern Democratic presidents tend to be very Extraverted, achievement-oriented, ebullient, and sympathetic to the poor, but are willing to deceive and relatively unprincipled.
Presidential traits described in 'The Personality and the Presidency Project' Modern Republican presidents tend to be less sympathetic to the less fortunate and much more inclined to rely on traditional sources of moral authority than average Americans.
Presidential traits described in 'The Personality and the Presidency Project' George W. Bush appears to have fewer traits related to presidential success than most presidents. He most resembles Andrew Jackson and Ronald Reagan.  

Types of Presidents

© Steve Rubenzer, 2004
DominatorsThe Dominators include LBJ, Nixon, Andrew Johnson, Andrew Jackson, James Polk, Teddy Roosevelt, and Chester Arthur (in order of inclusion).

They are prone to bully others and to disregard the feelings and rights of those not on their side. They are bossy, demanding, and domineering; they flatter or manipulate people to get their way. They bend or break rules, and as presidents, stretch the constraints of constitutional government. They are not religious or spiritual, and tend to be prejudiced.

IntrovertsJohn Adams, John Quincy Adams, Richard Nixon, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, James Buchanan, Woodrow Wilson, and Benjamin Harrison.

Introverted presidents are psychologically minded, complex, deep men. They are not regarded as warm and friendly, and have difficulty controlling social situations. They prefer to work alone and avoid close relationships. Often jittery or tense, they are not happy and high-spirited; they tend to feel irritable, overwhelmed by stress, and to overreact.

© Steve Rubenzer, 2004

© Steve Rubenzer, 2004
Good GuysHayes, Taylor, Eisenhower, Tyler, Fillmore, Cleveland, Ford, and Washington.

Good Guys almost never feel themselves to be worthless, are rarely jittery or tense, and don’t feel overwhelmed by stress. They make good decisions even under adversity. They have a hard time lying, aren’t crafty or sly, and don’t trick, bully or flatter people to get their way. They don’t spend much time fantasizing and daydreaming but don’t deny problems.

InnocentsTaft, Harding, and Grant

Innocents are submissive and accept domination easily, and are “gullible, naive, suggestible.” Not autonomous, independent or individualistic, they sometimes don’t assert themselves when they should. Compared to other presidents (who are an industrious lot), they have trouble getting motivated and down to work, and are lethargic, sluggish, lazy, and slothful.

© Steve Rubenzer, 2004

© Steve Rubenzer, 2004
The ActorsThe Actors group includes Ronald Reagan, Warren Harding, William Henry Harrison, Bill Clinton, and Franklin Pierce

Compared to other presidents, Actors are gullible, naive, and suggestible, warm and self-disclosing; they allow their feelings to show on their faces and in their posture. They are not meticulous, perfectionistic, or precise; they tend to waste time before getting to work, and tolerate unethical behavior in colleagues. Actors are enthusiastic, spirited, vivacious, zestful, charismatic, and charming.

Maintainers This group contains William McKinley, George H. W. Bush, Gerald Ford, and Harry Truman

Maintainers stay focused on the job, work slowly but steadily, and are “industrious, persistent, tenacious, thorough.” They are “uncreative, unimaginative,” and do not indulge in elaborate daydreams and fantasies. They are conforming and conventional, not rebellious.

© Steve Rubenzer, 2004

© Steve Rubenzer, 2004
PhilosophesJames Garfield, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Jimmy Carter, and Rutherford Hayes.

Compared to other presidents, Philosophes are curious and inquisitive, interested in science, and fascinated by patterns in nature and art. They are concerned with philosophical issues (e.g., religion, the meaning of life), have many interests, and enjoy solving brain-twister puzzles. They see themselves as broad-minded and believe that students should be exposed to new ideas and controversial speakers.

Despite being analytical, logical, and good at math, they value art and beauty and are attentive to the moods of different settings. They are also “nice” people: They believe that everyone is deserving of respect and prefer complimenting others to being praised themselves.
ExtravertsFDR and Kennedy form the kernel of this cluster, and are followed by Bill Clinton, Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, William Harrison, Warren Harding, Andrew Jackson, and LBJ.

Extraverted presidents are enthusiastic, spirited, vivacious, and zestful; they call attention to themselves. They are “impetuous, uninhibited, unrestrained,” are not consistent, predictable, or steady. They indulge their impulses and show their feelings through their faces and body language. They have a flair for the dramatic but are not dependable and responsible. They don’t take pride in being rational or objective.

© Steve Rubenzer, 2004   

What is the Right Stuff to be a Successful President?
Using our data, Professor Deniz Ones of the University of Minnesota identified the following personality factors as predictors of presidential success:

Rated Intelligence
– Intelligence is related to success in almost any complicated job, from CEO to NFL quarterback. Although we did not have intelligence test scores, we did ask our raters how intelligent, inventive, insightful, complex, and wise they perceived the various presidents to be. Those that received high ratings, like Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Wilson, performed better than those who are rated as less gifted, like Harding.

, or dominance, is the capacity to influence through one’s presence and ideas. It is the single most important trait to presidential success. Presidents are an assertive group, and on the average score higher than eight of ten typical Americans. Better presidents like the Roosevelts, Wilson, and Jackson score higher than average chief executives. Truman was the only successful president who was less assertive than his peers. Low scorers include Harding, Taft, and Coolidge.

Positive Emotions
– A president’s optimism and enthusiasm are important for performance on the job, but also for getting elected. Enthusiastic and high spirited presidents like the Roosevelts, Clinton, and Kennedy are typically more successful; low scorers are reserved and serious, like J. Q. Adams, Hoover, and Nixon. Washington was the only truly successful low scorer on this scale.

Activity Level
– Highly energetic chief executives like TR, LBJ, and Carter tend to be rated higher on this scale by historians than more placid characters like Grant, Taft, and Coolidge.

Achievement striving
(having high goals and working towards them in a systematic and focused manner) is an obvious asset and is related to success in most all walks of life apart from the arts. Two of the lowest scorers, Grant and Harding, are widely regarded as presidential failures. High scorers include a number of undisputed “greats” like Teddy Roosevelt, Wilson, and Washington, but also more ambiguous performers such as Carter, Nixon, and LBJ.

Low Straightforwardness
– Historians tell us that a president’s credibility is essential to the ability to lead. Yet, the tendency and ability to deceive is correlated with historians’ ratings of presidential success. Great presidents, such as Lincoln and FDR, have tended to bend the truth more than a little. Both managed to be both a moral leader and an artful politician. Grant and Fillmore were more honest, but also less effective.

(concern for the less fortunate) predicts both presidential success and ethical behavior on the job. FDR and Lincoln scored high on this quality, while Buchanan and Nixon scored low.

– High scorers on this scale seek appropriate information when faced with a decision, have good judgment, and are broadly capable – like Washington and Eisenhower. Low scores include the lowest ranked presidents Harding and Grant, but also the impetuous and successful Andrew Jackson.

Low Vulnerability
– Presidents who feel unnerved by stress and unable to cope with problems on their own (score high on Vulnerability) are likely to be given low marks by historians. Emotionally hardy presidents, like Washington and Teddy Roosevelt, tend to do better than more Vulnerable chief executives, like Harding and the Adams’s.
These are the only traits that have been empirically shown to have a distinct and unique relation to presidential success. “Character” was unrelated to historians’ rating of presidential greatness.   
Presidential Personality


Dimensions of personality according to James David Barber in The Pulse of Politics (New York: W.W. Norton, 1980).
1) Activity or Passivity

How much energy does a president invest in his presidency?
2) Positiveness or Negativeness toward the job of president

Does the president enjoy his job?  Does he enjoy exercising power?  Does the job make him sad or discouraged?
*These dimensions are closely related to dimensions of dominance/submissiveness, extroversion/introversion, and optimism/pessimism.
Types of Personality
1. Active positive

A president who spends a lot of energy and enjoys his job.  This type of president tends to have high self-esteem.  He tends to be productive in pushing programs through.  He is flexible enough to try something else when his plans are stymied.  He wants results.

FDR, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, George Bush (The first Bush presidency)
2. Active negative

A president who spends a lot of energy but does not enjoy his job.  This type tends to have low self-esteem.  Expands his energy compulsively to compensate for some shortcoming or to prove to others that he is a person to be reckoned with,  Seeks and tries to retain power.  Is rigid when stymied.  He wants to get and keep power.

Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson
3. Passive positive

A president who does not spend much energy but nevertheless likes the job.  Tends to have low self-esteem and compensates for this by seeking affection instead of power.  He does this by being agreeable and cooperative rather than assertive.  He wants affection.

William Howard Taft, Warren Harding, Ronald Reagan
4. Passive negative

A president who does not spend much energy and does not like the job.  He becomes president because he thinks he should, out of a sense of service to the country.  He wants the grim satisfaction of doing his duty.

Calvin Coolidge, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon

NTPs tend towards independent more than towards either party but tend towards Republican slightly more than Democrat.
STJs tend towards Republican more than Democrat but tend towards Democrat more than independent.
ENFs tend to be equally distributed between Republican and Democrat.  


Republicans preferred INTJ, ENTJ, ESTJ, and ISTJ (the executive types). The ESTJs are more than twice as likely as the INFPs and INFJs to be Republicans.

Democrats were typically NF or INFJ. In fact, those people with a preference for Feeling are more likely than other types to identify themselves as Democrats.

Independents preferred NTP.

  • Artisans are about 10% more likely to be registered as Democrats than as Republicans or Independents. They are the least likely to actually vote in an election.
  • Guardians are about 10% more likely to identify themselves as Republicans than as Democrats, and are the least likely of the temperaments to be Independents or apolitical. They are also the most likely to vote.
  • Idealists are 17% more likely to be Democrats than Independents, and 34% more likely Democrats than Republicans.
  • Rationals are the most likely to identify themselves as Independents or apolitical. For those that are party members, they are 45% more likely to be Democrats than Republicans.
Raw results:
Apolitical Dem Rep Lib Ind Green Likely to vote
Artisans 9.6% 28.2% 25.4% 5.9% 24.1% 6.9% 47.5%
Guardians 9.1% 29.6% 32.5% 3.4% 21.4% 4.1% 60.0%
Idealists 12.6% 28.3% 21.2% 6.2% 24.7% 7.1% 56.4%
Rationals 13.8% 25.6% 17.5% 7.9% 28.0% 7.2% 58.4%  

Percentages of political affiliation amongst types.  

“SJs were overrepresented in persons reporting very conservative political views, and Ns were overrepresented in persons reporting very liberal political views (ENTJs excepted).”  

FFM Openness to experience factor correlates to Intuition.  

Type is correlated with party affiliation but not party registration.
STJ – Conservative   
NFP – Liberal  Inuitives show more interest in politics.
Introversion (and Sensation) correlated to a sense of political alienation.
Thinking correlated with being for the death penalty.
Perceiving correlated with being pro-choice about abortion.  

  Protectors (SJ)

ESTJOverseer ESFJSupporter ISTJExaminer ISFJDefender
Lyndon B. Johnson William McKinley George Washington
James Monroe Andrew Johnson
Andrew Jackson Benjamin Harrison
William Henry Harrison Herbert Hoover
Grover Cleveland George H. W. Bush
George W. Bush Harry Truman

  Creators (SP)

ESTPPersuader ESFPEntertainer ISTPCraftsman ISFPArtist
James Buchanan Ronald Reagan Zachary Taylor Millard Fillmore
Bill Clinton Ulysses S. Grant

  Intellectuals (NT)

ENTJChief ENTPOriginator INTJStrategist INTPEngineer
Franklin D. Roosevelt John Adams Dwight D. Eisenhower Abraham Lincoln
Richard Nixon James A. Garfield Thomas Jefferson James Madison
Rutherford B. Hayes Woodrow Wilson John Quincy Adams
Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt Chester A. Arthur John Tyler
Calvin Coolidge Gerald Ford
James K. Polk

  Visionaries (NF)

ENFJMentor ENFPAdvocate INFJConfidant INFPDreamer
Martin Van Buren     

Elections Since 1960
Year Winner Temperament Loser Temperament
1960 Kennedy Artisan Promoter Nixon Guardian
1964 Johnson Artisan Promoter Goldwater Rational
1968 Nixon Guardian Supervisor Humphrey Idealist
1972 Nixon Guardian Supervisor McGovern Guardian
1976 Carter Guardian Supervisor Ford Guardian
1980 Reagan Artisan Performer Carter Guardian
1984 Reagan Artisan Performer Mondale Guardian
1988 Bush-41 Guardian Protector Dukakis Guardian
1992 Clinton Artisan Performer Bush-41 Guardian
1996 Clinton Artisan Performer Dole Guardian
2000 Bush-43 Artisan Promoter Gore Rational
2004 Bush-43 Artisan Promoter Kerry Idealist  

John McCain is the Republican Party’s secret weapon in this election, should they decide to nominate the most electable (of the 4 I’ve looked at so far, that is) of their candidates.  Why is McCain the most electable, even though he is languishing well behind the front-runners in most primary polls?
Simple.  McCain is the only Artisan in the bunch.  Of the major Republican candidates, McCain has been the most straight forward to figure.  You get what you see – he really doesn’t seem to have any hidden agenda.  Like most STP Artisans (think Donald Trump or General George Patton), he is a man “in the moment”, not prone to introspection or giving careful thought before reacting to circumstances.

While McCain’s Artisan traits have not endeared him to the largely Guardian Republican base who decide the the primaries, they make him a winner with the independents who actually decide the November election. Remember, these voters are not strongly focused on issues, but on how much they “like” the candidate.  In fact, in both personalityZone’s surveys and CNN’s head-to-head polls, McCain is consistently the strongest of the Republican candidates against each of the Democratic front runners.  More than 100 years of consistent voter behavior in choosing Artisans in the November elections is still true today.

Like Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney, Obama is a Rational, most likely an INTJ Mastermind.  This comes through in his communication style – he has an exceptional ability to paint a vision, to communicate abstract pictures of the future that make sense to people, and his utilitarian approach to action –  looking for what “works” rather than “what’s been done before” or “what is ‘right'”.  


While he is not an Artisan, his ability to connect with people is almost as strong, giving him the best ability outside the true Artisan candidates for garnering the uncommitted voters needed to win in November.  

Hillary Clinton – ESTJ
Barack Obama – ENFP
John McCain – ESTP   

Obama’s mistake is that he confuses being phlegmatic with being presidential. Hippocrates, the father of medical science, devised a system of grading personalities in the fifth-century B.C. that has never been more relevant. He described those with phlegmatic temperaments as harmonious, calm, easygoing, and diplomatic – precisely the traits that the current campaign coverage suggests we should want in any occupant of the Oval Office.

McCain, by contrast, is what Hippocrates would call choleric. Cholerics are passionate, decisive, opinionated, stubborn, and driven. To paraphrase one notable choleric, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (largely regarded as a great president), there is nothing cholerics love so much as a good fight. McCain’s temperament is, in part, what enabled him to survive imprisonment and torture at the hands of the Viet Cong.

Liberals will fret that the impulsive, passionate McCain has a temperament ill-suited for a president, yet it is those defining characteristics of the choleric – zeal, decisiveness, perseverance, a certainty of opinion on fundamental matters of right and wrong and on our core national values – that make McCain the better choice for the office. Not to lose one’s temper in the face of evil is actually dysfunctional and in certain cases downright dangerous. The real question is, then, not whether McCain has a temper (he most certainly does), but why Obama doesn’t and whether that matters.

Well, it does matter. The affable Obama is less-suited for the office because of his tendency to equanimity. The inclination to avoid confrontation and seek consensus, though admirable, are not the principal traits we should want in the person on whose desk the buck stops. The desire for everyone to get along too often leads to acquiescence and compromise, and a failure to do what is necessary in time of crisis (think of the indecisive Jimmy Carter and his mishandling of the Iran hostage crisis). That is not to say that dispassion and diplomacy have no place. They do, but you probably want them in a secretary of State, not the denizen of the Oval Office.  


Enneagram types of candidates.  



Political Leadership for the New Century
By Linda O. Valenty, Ofer Feldman–E&sig=Xhz8ft1D77f0bdt_z1UwL2EFluQ&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result#PPR1,M1 

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Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 12 hours later

Marmalade said

By the way, I should mention that besides a few summarizing notes the writing in this blog comes from the links.  I merely pulled out the relevant excerpts and put them in order to create a more complex picture of different ways personality can be used to view politics.  Gathering all of this together took me about a week or so.  That is all the motivation I had for this project.  Given anothe week I could’ve summarized it in my own words, but that didn’t seem necessary. 

I don’t have a whole lot of personal opinion about the matter.  I decided to do this blog because it interests me and I thought it would be a good alternative viewpoint to all the mindless media diatribe.  I’m not a big fan of politics, but I am very curious about how psychological and sociological dynamics play out on the largescale.

There is one fundamental distinction that I’d particularly like to point out.  McCain has a preference for the Sensation function.  Obama has a preference for the Intuition function.  Those two functions represent the clearest division between Republicans and Democrats.

On the other hand, the Republicans and Democrats have respectively been called the Daddy and Mommy parties.  This is reminiscent of gender differences in the Judging functions (Thinking and Feeling)… and also the gender differences in Hartmann’s boundary types.  I’ve heard that traditionally Westerners have based their ethics on the Judging functions.  The fact that the Perceiving functions have become a greater focus might represent a shift in our culture.

On a personal note, I’m an INFP and my parents are both TJs.  NFPs are some of the most liberal of the types and TJs tend toward the conservative.  True to our personalities, my parents and I follow the pattern.  It makes me wonder about the real reasons for why we believe what we do.

An interesting complexity is the fact that personality correlates to party affiliation but not to party registration.  So, its possible that conformity to social standards of family and community may play a stronger role than does personality.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 13 hours later

Marmalade said

McCain is an interesting case.  After his POW experience, he was involved with psychological testing.  I read that he might be one of the most well-researched politicians because of this.  Most politicians try to hide that kind of information.

I think all presidents should be given psychological (and intelligence) testing.  And I think that such testing should be made a public part of the campaign process.  Ultimately, we are electing a person and I think its only fair we actually know who we are electing.  Psychological testing is predictive of behavior and so it would be helpful in determining what politicians will do versus what they say they’ll do.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

about 24 hours later

1Vector3 said

Wow. Everything we never knew we wanted to know !!!!!

This definitely goes beyond media prattle, and thank you for that !!!!

I think any one perspective oversimplifies, as per the choleric vs phlegmatic argument for McCain over Obama. As if values and perspectives and past actions weren’t important.

I guess I am a one-issue voter: Who will do the least damage to my freedom and the freedom of others? !!! For that, I rely less on personality and character than past record and stated values and proposed actions.

In the present case, it’s clear to me who is the lesser of the two weevils (Obama, but not by a whole lot lot.) That’s about the best the current society has to offer. At least so it appears on the surface. Perhaps there is actually more choice than that between the two, in favor of Obama. We shall see.

I don’t think politics is the level on which a society changes, so like you (but perhaps for different reasons) I have a very limited span of interest in political matters. Borrrrrrrring.

Blessings, OM Bastet

Marmalade : Gaia Child

1 day later

Marmalade said

I don’t know if that was everything we never knew we wanted to know, but I’m glad you enjoyed it.  I didn’t intend to blog about this exactly.  I just was thinking about personality types in the context the ongoing campaign.  After I’d come across a bunch of info I figured I might as well share.  I was already somewhat familiar with some of this personality info.  Lots of interesting info.

Yes, politics can get quite boring when overexposed to the media talking heads and idiotic campaign ads.  More enjoyable are some of the political satire.  Have you watched any of the Saturday Night Live debate parodies?  The Onion also has some hilarious parodies about the campaigning.  Maybe that’d would make a better blog than any of this.  🙂

Marmalade : Gaia Child

2 days later

Marmalade said

I’m pissed off!  I just wrote this page long response and my computer turned off right when I was about finished.  Why does a computer always mess up only after you’ve almost completed whatever you’re doing?

Basically, what I was writing about is what orignally motivated me to write this blog.  Obama appears young and vibrant, charismatic and confident.  McCain appears the complete opposite.  He seems like a griping old man.  This campaign hasn’t brought out the best in McCain and Palin hasn’t lived up to the hopes people had in her improving McCain’s image.

Some months ago, I came up with a hypothesis.  Whichever candidate has the best presence is the one who will be elected.  Issues are important but they aren’t what gets a candiate eected, but certainly the economy is helping Obama.  Obama has both personality and the issues working in his favor.  This is why McCain has gone on the attack which is just making his poll numbers go down, but McCain has no other choice (besides simply giving up).

If personality wasn’t an issue, then it would be a fair fight between Obama and McCain.  I don’t know to what degree I would like an Obama presidency, but it would be nice to have a president who actually acts presidential.  McCain, on the other hand, is essentially no different than Bush except he has doesn’t have the easygoing friendliness and joking nature… which is the only good thing Bush has going for him.

By the way, I’m not necessarily for Obama.  But I’m definitely not for McCain.  My assessment of these two candidates isn’t as a voter.  I’m probably more likely to vote for a third party if I vote at all.  I strongly dislike the two party system.  My assessment is simply a matter of personality.  It isn’t about the best man winning but rather about the man with the best image.

Books On Tropes: Personality, Plots. and Cliches

Books On Tropes: Personality, Plots. and Cliches

Posted on Sep 19th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade

Here is a nice page from the
TV Tropes Wiki.  I own several of the books mentioned here.  I’m particularly interested in theories about plot structure.

Books On Trope

In case you didn’t realize it: We here at TV Tropes are not the first to collect tropes and try to put them in some semblance of order. Of course, since few people would actually use the word trope to describe patterns in media, it may be difficult to find the various resources that exist. Therefore we now have this page. If you happen to run across a resource (a book, website, or other useful thing) that discusses a set of tropes, write up a summary page and stick the link on this index.

Personality Profiles

The most common trope collections are personality profiles. Many people have devised systems of sorting characters into a handful of pigeonholes (the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Enneagram, etc.). Of course, they tend to think this works well for sorting people, whereas we’re going to take the more sensible view that it works well for sorting fictional characters who aren’t nearly as complex as your average real human. They’re useful systems for the writer as well as for the reader, so eventually we’ll get them up here.

Basic Plots

People have also tried to condense the wide and varied world of plots into a small and succinct list of possible plots. The most basic system says that all plots are about one of two things, love and death, but the list can go up to fifty or even more. Joseph Campbell tried to pin it all down to a single heroic version in The Hero’s Journey, and while that doesn’t cover every story, it works with a lot of them (and George Lucas decided to base Star Wars all around Campbell’s work). It’s when people start claiming that Schlindler’s List has the same plot as Alice In Wonderland that we start to wonder if their systems make any sense, but hey, maybe they had a flash of inspiration. At any rate, studying plot archetypes can help writers to straighten out the odd kinks that are throwing them for a loop, and maybe to introduce elements that strengthen the overall story and underscore its thematic meaning. As for the reader… well, it’s always fun to realize, halfway into the new blockbuster, that you’re really watching a postmodern sci-fi version of Beauty And The Beast.

Lists of Clichés

Dead Horse Tropes can be surprisingly stubborn beasts, refusing to leave the media well after they’ve been discredited, disbarred, and run out of the country for being So Last Century. The more that writers recognize the possible clichés that exist, the more they’re able to avert, subvert, and even invert the critters, allowing for the possibility that their viewers are not morons and just might enjoy watching something written with a little connection to reality. Then again, it’s just fun to review all the oddities that make up our collected media history (laser printers that still sound like a Dot Matrix?) and then play drinking games over recognizing when they show up in our favorite sitcoms.

Personality Profiles

Basic Plots

Lists of Clichés

Resources That Don’t Yet Have Their Own Pages

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Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 9 hours later

Nicole said

so much interesting stuff in here i could get lost in the rabbit holes all morning.

I especially appreciated Poe’s law, will put it in the God Pod

ok I linked it here to your blog

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

about 10 hours later

1Vector3 said

Ah, now I get a better idea of what a trope is. The word itself, whence cometh it??

As I am an information-organizing-addict, this kind of summarizing/synthesizing thrills me to my core !!!!!!!

Besides which, it really is useful. That’s the bottom line for me, I don’t enjoy organizing just for the sheer joy of manipulating information into patterns.

She said.

🙂 OM Bastet

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 18 hours later

Marmalade said

Nicole… found something interesting, did ya?  I really want to spend the time to thoroughly look through that site eventually.

OM – The people at that site apparently made up their own use of the word ‘trope’.  They just expanded off of the dictionary definition of a trope being a convention.

Yes, organizing info, ain’t it fun?  Its a well organized site.  Quite impressive!  I guess its useful… depending on your purpose in life.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

oh I found so many interesting things! I linked Poe’s law to the God Pod just because that had come up several times in relation to Balder’s mock-fundamentalist thread, that people took it seriously, and it was great to see why it kept happening, and see the historical context, e.g. Modest Proposal and other satire taken seriously.

But I also really enjoyed reading about all the hero archetypes and the heroine ones. I watched What Dreams May Come last night – have you ever seen that or blogged about it? Lots of interesting things there about how we imagine heaven, being about meeting up with loved ones who have died, and God not really being around there either, and suicides still going to hell… and yet of course love still conquers all, and soulmates can find each other again and again 🙂