Monday, February 7, 2011

Carl Jung and How To Find Out Who You Really Are

As a floundering twenty-something seeking my life’s purpose, I came across Carl Jung’s personality tests, and finally found the answers to the questions that my psychic and horoscope just couldn’t answer. I took a test of 65-odd yes or no questions and lo, the computer’s algorithms zipped and whirred and spat out all the answers. I am an extroverted, intuitive, feeling, judging person.
This is all great, though initially concerning, because I don’t want to be an emotional nag. The test told me that I am a great people person, that I can tend to have dark thoughts, and that I’d make a great counselor. Or scientist.

It also told me that I have a tendency toward low self-esteem, unwarranted since my ability to get along with people and change my personality according to who I talk to makes me a really popular person.

This is interesting stuff. So I wonder; is there a personality type for a sociopath? The quiz didn’t feature any questions like, do you ever entertain graphic fantasies of killing your boss in a raging hell-storm of fury, and experience sexual arousal? I’d sure oscillate less on that question than on some of the other ones. Some of the questions I felt confused by, such as, do you enjoy being at the center of activities involving other people? What does that mean? I mean, no one likes being the monkey in the middle, but doesn’t everyone love surprise birthday parties? Doesn’t everyone secretly hope, yet fear, being the goose?

I think I was personally insulted that the quiz didn’t offer me the sort of career I really want: swashbuckling explorer and legendary lover of epic proportions. I was placed into the same personality category as Pope John Paul II. Pfft, bo-ring. I’d rather be mixed in with Joseph Conrad and Casanova, or Cleopatra meets Bill Gates.

I’d like to see someone take this quiz and their personality profile comes up something like this: you are an INFP. This means you are somewhat dull to anyone who spends less than 5 hours a day watching TV. You are likely to spend vast amounts of your money on potato chips, and you enjoy coarse banter with others about professional sports. You are likely to be quite average in society, and even if you wanted to do something better, you’ll probably have a pretty mediocre, somewhat mind-numbing job for the rest of your life. Divorce unlikely, but marriage assuredly banal.

Perhaps Jung’s followers, the people who come up with these tests and write these “in-depth personality profiles” are no better than my astrologer after all. The website just looks far more academic; read: boring. The astrology site has graphics and pizzazz. Case in point: “Today, the planetary alignment promises to enhance your creative genius, bringing you to the forefront of your work environment!” Versus: “Your personality indicates that you tend to use logic to perceive events, and then process them systematically” or some such academic humdrum. This site never holds the promise of meeting someone “electrifying who will stimulate your soul and send you soaring to great heights.”

For another thing, my friend took the test and got a different personality type, but a number of the careers, that happened to require degrees offered by sponsoring academic institutions, were the same. Perhaps anyone could be a counselor, as long as they get their qualifications at DeVry University.

One thing disturbingly accurate about Jung’s site is how well he knew that I am likely to look to other people, rigid psychological theories, and bloggers for advice about career choices. You got me there, Dr. Jung. You certainly got me there.

Want to try it out? A link to the test itself:

And a couple of websites to interpret yourself, because you never really knew yourself:

I'd love to read your opinions about this, folks.

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