Saturday, March 30, 2013

How we go about Pygmalion projects

Apparently I share a personality type (INFJ) with Jane Eyre and Konstantin Levin (from Anna Karenina by Tolstoy). It’s only obvious that I would be rather pleased with this, because I identify with those characters precisely because they are similar me.

I am reading The Pygmalion Project: Love and Coercion Among the Types, Vol III, The Idealist. It’s quite fun. It’s written by Stephen Montgomery, a literature teacher with a whole lot of qualifications in communications and temperament.

It might sound like naval gazing, but with the INFJ love of, and eternal quest after, personal development, I can’t help myself. I also find myself caught in one particular pattern of relating with someone that seems full of misunderstanding and fraught with tensions and disasters, and I am trying to understand why it is so difficult. So the aim is that it might help me relate to others more effectively.

It has been quite enlightening reading through some of the discussion of the way both Levin and Jane Eyre behave. (And do you know, while dismissed by critics as a Gothic element, that moment of telepathic communication when Jane hears Rochester in the wind, at the climax of Jane Eyre, is something that Charlotte Bronte (herself an INFJ, apparently) insists is a true thing, and that it really happened? How fascinating. Supposedly we excel in this capacity to transmit and receive information empathetically.)

Here is a little piece of the introduction that made me more aware of some of the ways I could be perceived (I’m actually almost on the line for J/P, making me also close to the description of them also perhaps):
Mentor Idealists (NFJs) are no more manipulative that Disciples (NFPs), and yet their greater sense of decisiveness with their loved ones might make them appear more coercive. While Disciples ... rely for the most part of tacit and oblique Pygmalion manoeuvres, Mentors are what Keirsey calls “role-directive” in their relationships, which means they are quite comfortable telling their mates how the ought to behave, and even suggesting what kind of person they should be. Mentors are so enthusiastic about personal development, and they are so swift and definite in their judgments of behaviour (both of one’s outward actions and unconscious attitudes) that they seem almost unable to resist stepping in and advising others what to do, or be, or want, or feel.

Mentors, I should point out, have no wish to dominate their mates, and seem virtually unaware of their powerful directiveness. Like the Disciples, Mentors prefer harmony and cooperation in their relationships, and they see themselves as doing nothing more than benevolently enlightening their loved ones with their personal insights. Indeed, Keirsey remarks that Mentors are “surprised and nonplussed when other balk or accuse them of being pushy, since they tend to see themselves as facilitative rather than directive, as catalysts rather than commandants” [from Portraits of Temperament, by David Keirsey]. For all their desire for smooth relationships, however, Mentors have a sometimes impatient sense of command about them, and for all their love of harmony, they have a judgmental cast of mind—and both of these traits distinguish them quite clearly from the Disciples.

Not that this directiveness is always overt. The seclusive Mentors, the Counselors (INFJs), are exceptionally shy, sensitive people, with a complicated internal world—and with very nearly an aversion to interpersonal confrontation. And yet, while they might appear timid (and perhaps flustered) in public, Counselors work quite intensely in their closest relationships, exerting their influence on an intimate, often unconscious level. With their uncanny feel for the emotional lives of others, Counselors try to shape their loved ones from the inside out, with personal projections and attributions, with meaningful silences, as well as any number of ethical directives or “should” statements.
Hmmm. There is food for thought there. Supposedly Rochester is an ENTJ. Those are the scary people, yet who doesn't like Rochester. There is some interesting discussion of the way the NFs and NTs relate.

No comments: