Monday, July 21, 2008

Lost with Myers Briggs

My first thought about Myers Briggs and Lost was that the whole faith vs. logic conflict is really a conflict between NFs and NTs. The faith side is led by Ben and Locke and the rational side is led by Jack. Wouldn't it be tidy if that's how the Myers Briggs worked out. But it doesn't.

First off, I think Ben is a cold, hard rationalist, maybe ENTP. He understands and manipulates people's motivations so well that I think he really must be an extravert. I don't think introverts have as much curiosity about people's motives as extraverts and therefore they have less insight. He always has a plan, but he's quick to revise it on the fly, which makes me think he's a P but I could be persuaded to ENTJ.

Locke is definitely an NF, only an NF would be conned out of a kidney by his evil father. Maybe INFJ. He's always looking for (and finding) meaning, and he's obsessed with figuring out his destiny and that of the island.

Jack's a bit harder for me, because my inclination always seems to be to divide people into either NT or NF. So first I figure he's an NT (and that fits better with the faith vs logic dichotomy) but then I think about his sense of right and wrong, his desire to protect people, to fix broken people, and I think maybe he's an SJ. And then I realize I may have just described an NF with that romantic need to fix. All in all, though, I'm thinking INTJ, especially because he goes crazy as soon as he goes near emotion territory, like he just doesn't have a clue what to do with feelings or how to integrate them into his world. (I'm not saying all NTs do this, just the really badly damaged ones.)

I think Sayid must be another rationalist, and I have to go with ENTP. I'm guessing that extracting information from people with torture requires considerable insight into people's motivations AND an ability to distance yourself emotionally from your victim.

Kate was also tough for me at first but then I come down to ESTP. She's a human chameleon and mostly seems to go for the quick fix rather than the long-term strategy. The way she can go on the run for long periods and improvise her movements, the way she's adopted personas... sounds pretty ESTP to me.

Sawyer - pretty sure he's another ESTP. I don't think you can be a con artist unless you're extraverted. But he reads a lot on the island and doesn't get too involved in all the group shenanigans, so then maybe he's an I? Nah, I think he's just the sort of worst-case manifestation of ESTP. (Again, not saying all ESTPs are con artists and criminals -- just the ones who as children watched their father kill their mother after being swindled by a con artist.)

Charlie - my first thought was ESFP because of the whole rock star thing. But with his heroin addiction and moodiness, I wondered if maybe he was a tortured NF. I'm quite curious to see if certain MB types are prone to certain mental illnesses and addictions... somewhere online I saw that heroin's for NFs and cocaine's for SPs - or was it NTs? Whatever... I still fall back on ESFP for Charlie.

Desmond. Oh, Desmond. I just love Desmond. I'm not sure I'm capable of the emotional distance required to type him, but I'll try. The tricky thing with him is it's hard to tell which circumstances he's created and which ones just happen to him randomly (as if anything on Lost is random but you get my drift). He seemed pretty sane after a very long time by himself in the Swan, which makes me think he's an introvert. He's done so many different things in his life that I think he may be an SP but his undying loyalty to Penny, and his fondness for work in hardcore hierarchies (the army and the monestary) swings me back to SJ. Maybe ISFJ? No, ISFP. I have a hard time putting Desmond into SJ.

Juliet - I'm thinking INFP. She's got a pretty cool, calculating streak, but I think at heart she's an idealist who believes the best of people until they are proven absolutely guilty.

So far there aren't a lot of SJs on the island. I'd think SJs would be extremely useful if a plane crashed on a (not really) deserted South Pacific island. It's reasonably clear that everyone on the island was destined to be there, that the island pretty much hand-picked them. Does the island not want SJs? Or is the absence of SJ's the result of my own personal handicap-slash-bias? I think I just can't put myself in the shoes of SJs... I just don't quite get what makes them tick.

So bring on the SJs:

Sun: She's developing quite the streak of cold, hard logic so first I think INTJ. But then, she didn't leave Jin when she had the chance in the airport, so that loyalty makes me think SJ. ISTJ?

Jin - he's very concerned with class and propriety, and he follows Sun's dad's authority pretty unquestioningly, so I'm thinking ISTJ for him too. Not sure if it makes sense for people of the same type to get married, but it does explain a lot of their problems with no E and no F to draw the other one out.

Claire - Oh jeez. This is getting hard. Some characters' personalities just aren't as evident. ESFJ? I'm not sure that sits quite right though because she's awfully gullible and flaky. Now I'm thinking NF. ENFJ?

Hurley - I give up. All afternoon he's been preying on my mind and I just can't get my head around his type. My gut says SP but would be SPs be prone to depression? Maybe with an F tendency... let's say ESFP.

So. Still here? What do you think?

And if you don't watch Lost, you should... the space channel is starting it from season one in the fall or you can catch up by dvd, so there's no excuse.


Andrea said...

I don't watch Lost so I can't contribute to that part of this, but--oh, lady. I am obsessed with other people's motivations and why they do the things they do, to a really unhealthy degree (it's one of the reasons I write fiction, to figure people out), and if you ever meet someone more introverted than I am, you really should have them committed. So I'm not sure that part of your analysis would hold up.

But I'm looking forward to what other people (*cough* Bea *cough*) might have to say.

cinnamon gurl said...

Andrea, thanks. I was drawing that conclusion from my observation of Sugar D (INTP) who has absolutely NO curiosity about people's motivations. I wasn't sure if that was his extreme I-ness, or his extreme NT-ness causing that. So maybe it's both, and you're really INFJ?

Andrea said...

It might be the NT-ness (I think you're probably right about me being a closet infj). I can think of a few other NTs who either have no curiosity about being, extreme levels of judgmentalism, or a complete lack of empathy. So.

On the other hand, there must be NTs out there who care about people and motivations. Maybe it's rarer?

Bea said...

My INTJ hubby is quite interested in people's motivations, but more in the academic sense - he is quite interested in theorizing about human psychology but perhaps less interested in applying those theories to actual people. I think personality type may be less related to how well you understand other people's motives and more related to what method you use. SPs can be extremely good at sensing and manipulating others feelings, but they usually do it by picking up and reacting spontaneously to other people's social signals.

I think Jack is an SJ - ESFJ, perhaps. I'd say extravert because of the way he is drawn to a leadership role, SJ for his rigidity, and F because of his saviour-complex. He doesn't seem at all like an INTJ to me - he's not especially analytical, and he's not the quiet observer/collector of information that INTJs tend to be.

I agree with most of the rest of your assessments. "only an NF would be conned out of a kidney by his evil father" - LOL. Funniest line ever.

Desmond is a tough one. He's defined by his romanticism, so I think he has to be an NF. His military and monastery stints seem more like a kind of idealistic self-flagellation than a genuine search for belonging. Maybe he's another INFP? He's so mystical - I think he's got to be.

I see Hurley's greatest desire as a sense of belonging. As long as he's accepted as part of the group, he's happy. ESFJ, maybe?

My theory about Myers-Briggs and mental illness is that the personality type descriptions are mostly based on what you're like when you're functioning well: even the flaws in each personality type are the flaws that will be evident when you're psychologically healthy and living in a way that meets your basic needs. So in some ways there will be little correlation between personality type and mental illness. The Enneagram works the opposite way: each of the types is based on a particular kind of personality disorder, so the more psychologically healthy you get, the less the Enneagram fits. I think that's kind of dumb - I'll take the MBTI over the Enneagram any day.

cinnamon gurl said...

Bea, yes I think you're right about Jack. INTJ didn't quite sit right with me either, but I just couldn't let NT go. Somehow I thought that only an NT would become a spinal surgeon.

And Desmond - yes! INFP sits much nicer with my affection for him.

Bea said...

If I needed surgery on my spine, I'd want an S to do it. Abstract analysis matters a lot less to a surgeon than sharp observation and the ability to marshal an enormous amount of factual knowledge.

Lisa b said...

At first I was freaking out because I thought maybe there were some new shows on I was missing.
Now I'm a bit lost. I did the personality thing as 'colour's' teacher's college so I always remember them that way.
I am fascinated by people's motivations and always trying to figure people out. I suppose I should read up on my myers-briggs.

Anonymous said...

I believe Sawyer is ENFJ, the communicator. He has clearly emerged as a leader and has done so through building consensus with the others after Jacks plans have all fallen apart. He is an E but only slightly so. I think the "reader" in him makes him an N instead of an S. He really isn't all that practical and more often than not sides with Locke over Jack. The F is obvious as he cares for his little girl still and Kate, and yet was practically married to Juliet. He is J over P because of his calculating nature and has plans within plans. Just my two cents.