May 3, 2009

Something to ponder

I begrudgingly agreed to take a particular personality assessment for, er, "research purposes." Now, I give as much credence to some personality assessments as I do Facebook quizzes that tell you which eukaryotic organelle you are. I am a ribosome, by the way. I get along well with the endoplasmic reticulum. Anyway, my point is that the information from these assessments doesn’t usually tell you anything you didn't already know but can be a fun something to do. But, ok, I will concede some actually do have merit and practical applications. I kind of have to say this. Afterall...

Years ago I was certificated as a Human Behavior Consultant by a company out of Atlanta using the
DISC model . (I never utilized it in the way it was intended which was to conduct seminars in school and office settings) This model is basically the same as the others that are the more developed form of the Hippocrates' humoral theory.
What? You didn't really think I'd leave out a history lesson, did you?

Ancient Greek popular belief was that there are four basic substances within us: yellow bile, black bile, blood and phlegm, and that having this one or that out of balance could make you choleric, melancholic, sanguine, or phlegmatic. Ok, actually they presumed having one out of balance would make you sick, but they applied it to temperament as well. Hippocrates gets credit for starting this nasty rumour (even though he may have only been perpetuating it) which actually persisted (along with other "medical" gems like bloodletting) up until the establishment of scientific medicine in the late 19th/early 20th century. But there's a topic for another day.

In India, ayurvedic tradition tells that there are basic elements to life that can be grouped into three "substances." When one of the three substances is dominate you have a body type and it is believed that this
dosha dictates your temperament. It is also important to note that like many cultures, the ayurvedic teaches that life is the manifestation of the spiritual. Similarly, Christian writers posit there is a higher connection as well. If you want to transform your temperament, some say, you need only to appeal to the heavens. And only then will you find your true purpose, so they say.

So the point of all this humors/elements, mind/body, personality/temperament stuff is to help us get into healthy balance so we can better understand ourselves and each other, and in the end, all just get along, right?

So, I did it. And by the way, I have no intention of telling anyone what my cutesie letter combination turned out to be. This information in the wrong hands... right? heh heh. Anyway, there's something creepy about being able to plug variables into an formula that then pops out a completely intrusive report that reads like field notes from someone that's just spent the last year shadowing me. It invalidates my uniqueness! ~gasp!~ It countermands my perception of individuality! What happened to experience being the fire that forges? Mr. "Researcher" explained to me that "this can be significant but not as much as we used to think" though he has thus far refused to point me to such research to support this.
I mean, come on, it's not that simple, is it, Mr. Researcher? Methinks Mr. Researcher didn't think this answer through.

On the surface, it would seem this assessment reduces me to a predictable system of algorithms. At the very worst, it points out in tortuous detail what I have the potential to be, were it not for my miserable, inherent flaws that prevent it. But now someone also wants to tell me I would have ended up this way even without all those "character building" experiences? If it were true loads of cognitive psychologists would be out of a job, right. If the last decade had little to do with who I innately am (in which case, I want a life refund!), then by that logic the future offers little hope for change as well. That's awfully dismal! And highly illogical, Captain. Continuously shaping yourself is life's most worthy endeavor, afterall.

My temperament may try to dictate what choice I make, but in turn the decision can hone my temperament. I may have an inherent disposition to be this way or that, but all along the way I have choices as to how much I will allow it to dominate me. And the choices I've made thus far haven't all been for nothing. Otherwise, everything I am is just the result of one of sixteen ways the dice might have landed. Then again, maybe this grumpiness I had attributed to not getting enough sleep really has to do with having too much black bile, or yellow bile, or blood. Time to get out the leeches, maybe?

Hmm. Ponder this more, I must.


  1. Well I too took this test and found it both elegant and aggrevating in its simplicity! Not many know there are two forms of this test! The first one has twice as many questions making it a "truer" form of tests. The one that classes give to cut you pop pyschologic teeth on is the shorter one. Would more questions cause a better tests....yes. But the problem with the test is gradations of the outcome. You are either introvert/extrovert.... etc.
    This either/or doesn't allow for grey areas of specific situations that a person deals with that pushs and pulls on his/her introvertness/extrovertness.
    Stuff like this is fun and is usuable to figure out people on the surface but its like a passport. It tells you just a little information about a person like where they went in Europe but not what they ate while they were there!

  2. James Myers née BriggsMay 05, 2009 6:38 PM

    Succinctly and accurately conveyed, Anon-E-Mouse. The cut down "test" is by far the better of the two simply because it takes half the time to complete. These tests remind me a little of the experiment whereby a group of people are given the exact same personality readings, yet each individual will stand back in amazement at the "uncanny" accuracy of the result. Useful for generic weeding but hey, in the real world we all react differently depending on the degree of personal involvement in each distinctly different situation we may find ourselves in. And yes, it is that simple.

  3. [music] is the gateway drugMay 05, 2009 6:39 PM

    I took the test on a Tuesday and on Thursday I disproved the results from the test. What does that even say? Living life based on online tests is like thinking music sounds better digitally. Oh and in case you are interested about my results for the test... I failed the test.

  4. Anoners: my passport says I went to England but in actuality I went to hell.

    Mr. Myeyes R Bigg: Good comment you made about the different people all getting the same results and standing with mouth agape at how creepily accurate the description was and oh by the way if you ever tell me again that one of my sentences needs to be hacked up because I have put to many words into it thereby making it difficlt to remember the point in the first place then...

    Music: digital music rocks

  5. James Cholmondley WarnerMay 06, 2009 3:52 AM

    Don't lay the blame on England or any of its subjects for your "trip gone bad". Hell, like Heaven is an abstract concept that exists soley in the mind of the perpetrator.

  6. Who said it went badly?

    As you, your good self, point out: abstractions such as love, hate (and personality assessments) exist only in the deep murky spaces of the mind.

    Besides, it goes to the point that all experiences are precious gems that need only a bit of polishing to reveal their true shinerific beauty. ;)

  7. Wow ....seems there is an inside knowledge of a trip to England between two of you...

    The tests just give us an approximation of the human personality. Of course life is never an approximation!
    On top of that the test is a static we sit and take the test and then it is done.
    Life is a fluid movement of situations, occurances, meetings, events, etc. Add into this the individual endocrein levels and watch the best layed computer model fall apart.
    The test is nothing but a fortune cookie in a malestrom of life.