1. Fluffywolf
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    Fluffywolf Member

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    Using MBTI, enneagram and instinctual variants when writing.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Fluffywolf, Jul 29, 2012.

    Hey all, I don't know how many of you are familiar with the studies of Carl Jung and the likes, but for me I find that having knowledge about the various personality types really helps me create believable characters.

    So I wanted to share some basic layman knowledge about the various types.


    First the standard descriptions:

    MBTI, descriptions of the sixteen different types

    NF Idyllic:
    ENFJ
    INFJ
    ENFP
    INFP

    NT Rationale:
    ENTJ
    INTJ
    ENTP
    INTP

    SP Artisans:
    ESTP
    ISTP
    ESFP
    ISFP

    SJ Guardians:
    ESTJ
    ISTJ
    ESFJ
    ISFJ


    Enneagram, the nine types:
    The Reformer
    The Helper
    The Achiever
    The Individualist
    The Investigator
    The Loyalist
    The Enthusiast
    The Challenger
    The Peacemaker


    An MBTI/Enneagram correlation chart that is pretty good:
    http://i1213.photobucket.com/albums/cc466/xxNTJxx/MBTI-Enneagram-Correlation2.jpg


    Instinctual variants:
    SX dominant = Sexual
    SO dominant = Social
    SP dominant = Self preservation
    Descriptions of Instinctual variants


    Now that is a LOT of information, as you can see. So how can you use it without learning everything there is to know about it? Here are a few things you need to consider:

    MBTI is mainly about a persons conscious mind. These are the things a person often knows about themselves, and knows them well.
    It says a lot about a persons interests and natural strengths.

    Enneagram is mainly about a persons unconscious mind. Most people looking at the various enneagrams the first time, might relate to a whole bunch of them, but that is because they compare it to the conscious understanding of themselves. Enneagram in reality is the choices you make and the ways you interact with the world without standing still or realizing it at the spot.
    Ennegram says a lot about how a person responds in stressful situations, but also how he deals and interacts with the world on a general level.

    Instinctual variants is important to know how various people interact with each other. An Sx/So and an Sp/So might struggle a lot in a relationship, but two Sx dominants would probably make a few too many babies. This is of course a generalization, but if you read the descriptions I think you can understand where some of the struggles your characters (or lack of struggles) originate from. :p


    Conclusion:
    Knowing more about this can really help you create believable character dynamics for your stories.

    It is also good to know that it is almost impossible to 'change' types. Most times characters or people undergo heavy transformation is because they were not using the cognitive functions they naturally preferred at first, and become healthier after the transformation. Or they find themselves in an environment they can't live with their preferred cognitive functions and stop using them correctly, leading to stress and an unhealthy lifestyle. To learn how each type might react in different circumstances requires quite a bit of study, but more often than not unhealthy characters/people find themselves too much in their inferior cognitive function, which is more often than not undeveloped and childish.
    This however can be broadly abused in fiction.


    ~Fluffywolf
    MBTI: INTP
    Enneagram: 9w8
    Instinctual variant: sx/sp
     
  2. Fluffywolf
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    Fluffywolf Member

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    PS: In case you are curious.

    Self-typing yourself without help is often not very productive.

    Self-typing your own MBTI is fairly doable, often reading the various descriptions and find the one you most relate to will do the trick, since MBTI focuses on the conscious mind.

    But self-typing enneagram and instinctual variants without help or serious introspection and thought given into the subject is not likely to work out well. Most people mistype themselves the first time.



    Also, if you have any questions about these subjects, feel free to ask. I'm not a professional psychologist or anything but I do know quite a lot about these subjects and will do my best to answer any question you might have.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    What is so great about partitioning characters into one of sixteen little boxes?

    The world is made up of far more than sixteen people, and they are all unique.
     
  4. Fluffywolf
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    Fluffywolf Member

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    Ehh, these sixteen boxes are not absolute, the information they share is pretty general. But everyone will fit in one of these boxes the most. It's more of a guideline to enforce character stability.

    And taking enneagram wings and instinctual variants into account, there aren't 16 templates to choose from, but 16x18x6= 1728 templates.

    All of which are based on intricate psychological research and real people.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Stability? I'd say rigidity.
     
  6. Fluffywolf
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    Fluffywolf Member

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    Well, if you don't adhere to such templates, aren't you at risk of creating godly characters?

    For example, for every person has their own strengths and weaknesses. And their own methods for overcoming those weaknesses and using those strengths. But if you don't use any template, you risk creating a character that people simply won't be able to relate to.

    To each their own of course. But I think it can be valuable information to anyone wanting to write characters that are grounded in reality.
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Nothing against Carl Jung or his followers, but I think it's important to remember that writers created wonderful characters before he came along. In fact, writers throughout history have created wonderful characters without using anybody's templates at all. It takes a decent amount of intelligence, perception, and good ol' empathy. Shakespeare had those qualities, as did Dickens, Tolstoy, and all the rest of the greats. I don't know what those guys would have done with theories of character templates, but it wouldn't surprise me if they just lined their birdcages with them.

    The understanding of character did not start with people like Jung. What they bring to the party is simply methods of classification of character. In other words, they bring no new information, they merely bring a system for organizing information that is already there - information that writers worth their salt already know.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Templates are rubbish, in my opinion. Be an observer of human behavior, but not a categorizer. Real people are also inconsistent. As you observe a wide variety of people, you'll develop a sense of what is or is not in character bfor a particular person. Consstent inconsistency, you could say.

    You will never develop genuine, interesting characters by archetyping, and that is precisely what Briggs-Myers is doing. Archetyping leads to cardboard characterization.
     
  9. AllThingsMagical
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    AllThingsMagical Member

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    I tend to create characters and their quirks independently of character types. When I feel I have fully created a character I sometimes, for major ones, do a MBTI test for them. This is a check that I know them well enough to be able to answer anything about them and also I find it interesting know what type of character I've created. But I don't then go and change or alter them to fit better because in my mind if I get to the stage where I do a MBTI on them it's more confirmation that they are fully developed in my mind than because I wanted to develop them further.
     
  10. ThievingSix
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    ThievingSix Member

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    Near every single Marvel superhero comes to mind, and their attractive female opposite. The standard "man off the street" encounters an event that changes his life resulting in superpowers either learned or gained. I don't think characters themselves need to necessarily be ground breaking, or starkly unique. Placing a boring character in an interesting situation can yield results if done right.
     
  11. QDesjardin
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    For some people like me, it is certainly easier to create characters with the help of frameworks like MBTI, Enneagram.. it is not forcing them into boxes, nor is it forcing stereotypes, it is realising the latent forms that are inherent in each character's personality, that you think would lead to "cardboard characterization." It's like noticing how a snowflake can be seen as

    I'm reminded of the parable of the two watchmakers - if you bear in mind replacing watchmaking with character creation:

    Do you still suppose it's better to piecemeal a character out of traits and quirks? He likes short shorts, he dislikes purple, etc?
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I don't build characters out of piecemeal traits. Traits are static. Traits are shallow. I build characters out of moments and reactions.
     
  13. QDesjardin
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    QDesjardin Member

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    A character can be made out of the sum of their moments and reactions? Test them, like B.F. Skinner tests his rats' reactions, and see how.. they respond in your mental sandbox? Maybe it works for you, and other people.. it's not my thing.

    For me, I have a fuzzy conception of the character straight from the start, a kind of Gestalt, and as I go along with writing them, with thinking about them, they become more concrete. Though I am a cheap chico opportunist, and I like borrowing from other characters I know of, who can help fit the mold, so I don't have to lose time on cluttered character creation, I can jump over to the dramatics of the story they're partaking in. A goodly result can be achieved without needless trouble.
     

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