Regular readers of this blog will know that I recently moved. What you may not know is that I am now living on my own for the first time since my suicide attempt. To help me adjust to this major change in a safe way, I approached my psychiatrist and explained my concerns to him – that the move and the reasons behind it had stressed me out; that my new coping skills had yet to be tested; and that I didn’t, yet, fully trust myself. I also explained that I was moving to a community where I had no social supports.
And that’s where the conversation ended – or so I thought. My psychiatrist had simply ended our meeting and I went on my way not sure what to do. Fortunately, a short while later I received a call from his office telling me that I was now enrolled in a new group therapy program.
What has all of this got to do with the title of this post? Simply, the group therapy program is divided into a number of core modules, one of them being self-esteem (which in my case is low). In the first self-esteem session, we were given an MBTI questionnaire to complete and spent the rest of that session exploring its ramifications.
The results simply confirmed what I already knew about myself, namely, that I was definitely an introvert who relied on his intuition. I was also quite judgemental. The unknown was this: was I a thinking or a feeling type?
For the questionnaire given to us, the scores were identical. I was given an online test to complete which suggested I was a feeling type while I found yet another online test which defined me as a thinking type. The difference seemed to be in how the questions were phrased.
I explained all of this to the session facilitator who was surprised. She’d never met anyone who seemed to bounce back between types as I was doing. However, she surmised that I may very well be a feeling type who has, by virtue of a job, become a “socialized” thinking type. Not surprisingly, that made sense to me given my employment history which gave me an appreciation of how the language and structure of a question can influence the answer. Pollsters do that all the time. But is it correct? After all, it’s equally as plausible that I was a thinking type who had become a “socialized” feeling type due to MDD.
INTJs are known as The Strategist or The Mastermind. INFJs are know as The Oracle. If I believed in the power of prayer, as an INTJ I might say something like this : “Lord, help me not to be a perfectionist. (Did I spell that correctly?)”; while as an INFJ it would be something like this: “Lord, keep me open to other’s ideas WRONG though they may be.”
Anyone who knows me, would tell you that both are part of my make-up.
NTs are considered to be bright, analytical, and inquisitive on the plus side and arrogant, critical, and distant on the negative side. NFs are compassionate, loyal and idealistic on the plus side and self-absorbed, impractical and judgemental on the negative side.
INTJs get absorbed in trying to understand and explain the world around them whereas INFJs get absorbed in trying to understand and explain the world within them. INTJs engage in intellectual games and are prone to quibbling while INFJs are moody, melancholy and obsessed with their inner world.
Once again, anyone who knows me might say I’m all of those things. Which applies will be left for those who know me to ponder.
There’s yet another reason why I revisited this topic. In our session I learned that Major Depressive Disorder influences extroversion and introversion. Extroverts become introverted and introverts become even more introverted. This suggests that my conjecture that my personality type made it harder for me to detect the influence of MDD was correct. It also explains the extent of my resultant introversion. On the MBTI questionnaire, I scored a 2/20 for extraversion and a 20/20 for introversion. I joked in the session that the only way I could be more introverted was to become a hermit, but that’s precisely what I did become.
Just a few more remarks and then I’ll move on from this topic.
Each of the traits described above could, and do, apply to everybody to one extent or another. However, as an INTJ or an INFJ, they are more pronounced. That means that they are also more available for MDD to exploit. Remember, MDD seizes your weaknesses and uses them against you within the lies it tells. It also uses these lies to use your strengths against you. So someone who has a penchant for perfectionism becomes not being good enough at anything. Someone who longs for the ideal learns that he isn’t good enough to attain it. Being judgemental becomes a foil used against yourself with ruthless efficiency as you judge yourself and find yourself wanting in every area of your life.
MDD is insidious in its machinations. It is patient and it is ruthless. And for someone like me, who seeks solitude and quiet, who values his privacy, MDD can be especially effective in exerting its pernicious influence.
How do you believe MDD affected your personality? Please share it with us in your comments.