Meyers-Briggs temperaments and the protagonists

originally posted by Gary

I had a very comfortable week at home this week, where I spent a bit of time considering the human ego from the point of view of the Meyers-Briggs temperament indicator (MBTI), and Carl Jung's ideas about cognitive functions. At a very rough high level, Jung proposed that there were four functions used by the ego - sensing, intuiting, thinking and feeling - each with a direction either inwards or outwards (people nowadays consider this to be eight distinct functions). Sensing and intuiting represent different modes of taking in information about the world around us, and thinking and feeling represent ways of making decisions. He felt that one could take a combination of some of these functions, to create a model of most egos.

Finding it an interesting idea when applied to myself, and my impressions of people I know, I thought I might try applying the theory to the main protagonists of WoLaS. I didn't see that anybody has done this before, and thought there were some interesting results. I have made some assumptions about the character's types, that seem to reflect their views and motivations. (this may not make so much sense if you have not looked at Jungian cognitive functions before, but I'm not sure how to make an accessible explanation that will fit within the margins of the page :smiley:

Arithon s’Ffalenn - INFP
- Dominant function Fi (introverted feeling) - believes in personal values
- Auxiliary function Ne (extraverted intuition) - ideas are limitless and inspired by the world around

The Dominant function is the judging one of Feeling.
Characteristics associated with this function include:
- Makes decisions on the basis of personal values
- Is appreciative and accepting of people - enjoying company and seeking harmony
- Assesses the impact of decisions on others, being sympathetic or compassionate
- Takes a personal approach

Lysaer s’Illessid - ESTJ
- Dominant function Te (extraverted thinking) - good at organizing the world
- Auxiliary function Si (introverted sensing) - links present to past looking for connections

The Dominant function is the judging one of Thinking.
Characteristics associated with this function include:
- Likes making decisions on the basis of logic, using objective considerations
- Is concerned with truth, principles and justice
- Is analytical and critical, tending to see the flaws in situations
- Takes an objective approach

First, INFP and ESTJ are at first glance almost opposites in behaviour. One is introverted, the other extraverted. One lives in a world of ideas, the other in the world of what can be sensed. One judges using feeling, the other using logic. And one believes in possibilities, while the other believes in getting things done.

Interestingly, Arithon and Lysaer’s third and fourth cognitive functions mirror those of the other person (proof not shown here), so while they are opposites in many ways, each can learn to use less accessible functions to begin to take on some of the strengths of the other. Functions which are not consciously accessible may be learned later in life as people gain in experience and mature as people.

Neither would usually have the cognitive function Ni (introverted intuition) in their natural skillset, but s’Ahelas farsight would seem to naturally match this. Note that introverted intuition clashes with extraverted intuition (Arithon’s auxiliary function), which is an extra sign that this combination of functions is potentially unstable (perhaps part of Morriel’s fears in CotM).

Curse of the Mistwraith:

In the Meyers-Briggs model, there are eight functions (or four, pointing inwards and outwards). Only four are generally used by the conscious ego, forming a sense of self. The other four are mirror-images which are usually distanced from the self, representing everything the self is not, and is only embraced at times of extreme need (usually not for the best, as they are generally then used in a negative fashion).

To quote from Ships of Merior:
‘Conclusion shaped only despair: the curse which shackled the half-brothers was a mirror-image construct that choked envenomed tendrils around every nuance of the victim’s being.’
It is interesting to me to consider this as a representation of that mirror being, the potential alter-ego that hides within everybody.

(note: this is all just a theory that can be useful to explain differences, strengths and weaknesses, but only represents a partial facet of everything that makes up a person's ego).