Monday, 2 January 2017

Musings, Migraines and MBTI-It's All Stuff in my Head

If you are one of the few followers of this blog you may have given up by now and I can't blame you.  Posting is sporadic at best.   I simultaneously do and don't care and I contemplate ending, finishing, wrapping up, concluding or just walking away from my blog as it feels somewhat less purposeful than it did when I began.

On the other hand, I probably won't abandon it.  It is possible that I like to think I entertain, amuse, inform and connect with others through my blog though I have no interest in making money, gaining followers, improving the blog or attracting sponsors and advertisers.  I have no interest in making it pretty or finding my niche and I have lost my interest in giving much thought to personal style, which is where this blog began. 

It is and always has been, one of many journals I keep in order to explore thoughts.  I am as inconsistent in all my journals as I am here. 

The battle with migraines is generally going in my favour, and I've got medication for the painful ones but still frequently experience ocular migraines.  Thankfully, those ones don't hurt but they require resting the eyes and are such a visual disturbance that there is little to do other than close my eyes and wait it out.  The first time I experienced one I said to my then husband, 'Either there is something wrong with my vision or there is a giant blob of ectoplasm floating in our living room.'  If you know me you will know that the former was my true conclusion and the latter my sense of humour, however I did request that he confirm my diagnosis by reporting that he saw no sign of any ectoplasm.

When your hobbies and passions are visual- painting, reading and writing-  then vision disturbances are a nuisance at the very least and potentially rather distressing.  I try audio books, TED talks and random pod casts if I must spend some time with my eyes closed and I favour pedantic ones in case you are wondering.

Speaking of pedantics and obsessions and my interests in general, having recently worked my way to a conclusion regarding my personal colouring after some inadequate conclusions, I have also revisited my Myers Briggs category.

The Myers Briggs types are not in any way hard science but they have more validity than horoscopes.  It is easy to misunderstand or misuse them though and that leads to both confusion and to some people dismissing them as total bunk.  There is some difference between soft science and pseudoscience and absolute nonsense is a whole category of it's own as well. My goal is always to weed out pseudoscience and nonsense but soft sciences have a place.  Many aspects of the human experience are difficult to measure.

The Myers Briggs types do not describe personality though they might contribute to an understanding of personality.  They describe cognitive processes and I would argue that how we think is definitely going to influence a great deal about who we are, but so do our genetics and our environment.

I have always tested as INFJ and it seemed like a very good fit but it is quite true that we can make errors in self assessment and thus mistype ourselves.  Even when taking well designed tests, self-reported behaviours may or may not be accurate.  The test must be taken with a very clear perspective on how one actually does think as opposed to how one believes one should think and some confusion can arise if behaviours are influenced by social pressure or feelings of "I ought to" and thus are not the way one truly wishes to behave.  The less typical one's type the more social pressure might be felt to behave differently and not true to that type.

It is now my hypothesis that this is what happened to me.  INFJ and INTJ can appear quite similar and do have some common cognitive processes.  INFJ is a less common type in the overall population, perhaps the least common type of all.  INTJ is not as uncommon but is largely made up of males.  The INTJ female is less common than any type and does not fit with feminine norms as dictated by our culture. I ruled it out for myself initially without even considering it, influenced by stereotypes I think and that reminds me of how I was also put off the Dressing Your Truth type 3 category initially.  While I have concerns about Carol Tuttle's qualifications as a therapist I remember reading or hearing her tell someone to look at the category you are afraid of, the one you think you really don't want to be or can't be.  

 I was raised by a wonderful mother who is a type that is highly associated with feminine norms so I internalised many of her values and her messages about what it means to be a good female. This is not a bad thing and probably makes me a more rounded person, but in mistaking how I believed I should think for how I actually do think, I selected responses on the MBTI tests which contributed to an INFJ result.

Since I've not considered making this blog one that examines MBTI in detail I don't, at the moment, think it's worth writing about everything I considered and how I came to recognise my error.  I will remind anyone who is wondering, that MBTI is not a personality test and everyone is still an individual with their own unique genetics and experiences making up who they are.

The use of MBTI is in better understanding your own style of thinking and that of others, in order to facilitate understanding and communication.  For me, it's very helpful because I so often feel like an alien.  Knowing that there is a reason I find it harder to fit in and so often feel like I am faking it which is exhausting, and that I may be different but not broken is as helpful as understanding that those who are not like me are also not broken seems like it should be intuitive and in many ways it is, but I always like evidence and reasons to support intuition.  If I understand how you think I can better understand what you think and better understanding is among my very core values.

Can I be certain I am INTJ or INFJ or anything else? Not with 100% accuracy, no.  I am more certain about what I saw in my living room that day being caused by an ocular migraine. However, my confidence in having moved from a quite likely MBTI result to a result that is the most likely is nearly as high as my confidence that there was no ectoplasm.


  1. Interesting. I would miss your posts if you stopped. They are a must read for me. But I think I've told you this before. I am not surprised at your rethinking and your possible new category. This is Cris' category I think!
    Love the ectoplasm joke...sorry to hear of the requirement to keep eyes closed. Must be a pain and a bore.
    Glad the meds are helping!! xo Jazzy Jack

    1. I'm struggling with lack of sleep so pardon if I am not coherent. Do I remind you of Cris? LOL I think there may be some differences between female and male INTJs too. The INTJ traits are what we consider typically male and I have had them trained out of me in some ways which is what I think lead me to type as INFJ. Re the ocular migraines, it really show me how devastated I'd be if I lost my vision. Thanks so much for stopping by, reading, supporting and commenting. It means a lot to me! xxoo

  2. I would also miss you posts if you stopped! I like that they are all over the place. I got into Myers Briggs back about 20 years ago, when I was doing dispute resolution - I don't remember how I was categorized, but I do remember being really surprised that I was introverted (buying into my own projection of an extrovert!). After I did some more research, it really did help me to examine my behaviour and explained a lot of things that I thought were broken about me. I don't feel (as much) like a square peg as I used to, and that self-examination started by those tests has done a lot to help me understand myself.

    I hope your migraines ease up, Shawna. I can't imagine losing my eyesight that way - I'm very much a visual person as well. Happy New Year to you, my dear!

    1. Thank your for your lovely comments, Sheila. I probably won't stop writing this blog though I am always surprised when people tell me they like how it is all over the place. Well, that's rather representative of my own head so there it is. I would definitely not peg you as an introvert either but then I know very well that some of us, myself included, are quite capable of short bursts of exuberance that looks to others like extroversion. I first encountered MBTI years ago too, at a teacher conference but only started looking at it again about a year ago. I think there is much value in understanding yourself, but then I know people who say, 'what's to understand? I'm me and I get one with it.'.

      Happy New Year, Sheila. Thanks for visiting. xo

  3. Hi Shawna, Happy new Year! I relate to what your write about the MBTI (unsurprisingly ;-). I have often felt like the INFP "diagnosis" is the exact opposite of what an INFP needs to hear to feel motivated to fit into society. It basically reinforces what we already know, that we are overly sensitive, "different" in terms of how we view the world to most, etc. I have tried to cheat the test, only once have I tested as anything else and it was a INFJ. I do not like how tricky the MBTI type spells out my life path. I try to find the positives where I can!

    I also hope you keep writing, about whatever you feel like, whenever you feel like it. With blogging as with life I have learned that blogging only works for me on my terms, if I try too hard to fit my blog into a societally acceptable box or "niche" too often I feel uninspired. What I loved most about your blog when I first found it was the wit and self deprecation and deeply funny analysis you applied to your fashion posts. Don't underestimate your talents and that people simply like to read whatever you write! I'm sorry to hear about your migraines. I have had an increase of steady headaches lately, not migraines by any stretch but even so they are quite annoying. Pretty sure they are hormonal too which is more fun! Anyway I hope your migraines subside, I cannot imagine how awful that must be. xo Steff

    1. Hi Steff, it's great to hear from you! A quick comment about MBTI-although I have taken the official test and some decent imitators, the test results are only as good as our own answers. It's easy to answer questions according to how we wish we were or how we believe we should be. I like examining the cognitive functions and figuring out for myself-do I use Ne or Ni, Fe or Fi? This may actually be a better way of finding one's type. It was my inability to decide between Fe and Fi that got me examining it more closely and lead to the realisation that Fi is my default but I have been taught to behave like a Fe user. Also, there are many descriptions of behaviour and personality found all over the internet that may or may not be useful or valid. I take them all with a bit pinch of salt. INFJ and INFP are actually opposites in cognitive style so it's kind of weird that in using the tests people experience getting one and then the other. I think that points to some weaknesses in the test, for sure. That's why it's better to look at the cognitive functions to decide which you use most. Don't take all that INFPs are sensitive EMO people too seriously. I had ruled out INTJ for myself because I got put off by some of the stereotypes and that is just silly. I am neither an emotionless robot nor a genius, LOL. For me, MBTI has been helpful in understanding myself at a time in my life when I needed to. Also in allowing me to accept that who I am is just fine, although perhaps many things about me are atypical. Being in an abusive relationship where I was told for 23 years that I was wrong and flawed and the fact that I could find few people like me or who even understood me supported that. I needed to heal and MBTI has helped me do that. My son, who is also an INFP looked at it all for about a week, found it vaguely interesting and then got on with his life and thought no more about it. :-)

      Thanks for the encouragement about my blog writing. It really does amaze me that people show up to read my thoughts. I hope you headaches subside too. Damn hormones! xo

  4. I am generally an INFJ, but at one point in my life when I was doing a lot of public speaking and public stuff I was equally an I and E. I imagine at different points in life with different demands types can change a bit.

    I also suffer migraines, but my ocular ones also include a major headache after a bit. I actually like those better because the ocular bit (light bars floating in the room) warn me to take my medicine. Otherwise I tend to delay until the meds are useless.

    I love the blog, please don't stop.

    1. Hi Lynn, thanks for commenting. I would describe us as flexible more than actually changing our type. And not all of us are flexible but some introverts can behave like extroverts for short periods of time. Often this is if a job requires it. The difference between extrovert and introvert has more to do with preference than ability and also with what drains our energy or re-supplies our energy. INFJs are also described as being able to do any extroverting they deem required and of seeming to be extroverts to some who only ever see them acting in that way. Introversion and shyness are not the same thing either and there are introverts who can do well at public speaking and extroverts who are uncomfortable with it. The other idea is that introversion and extroversion are on a scale with most people being more in the middle as ambiverts.

      I know what you mean about delaying the meds. I tend to second guess whether or not it's really going to be all that bad or really a migraine and not just a really bad headache which I also get a lot of. I think I might get a painful headache with the ocular ones if I didn't stop and rest and close my eyes. Persisting when one's vision is distorted would lead to that and/or nausea. I hope you have a great headache free weekend. Thanks for leaving a comment and for the compliment about my blog.


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