MB Character-Typing: Drina Connelly

(If you aren’t remotely acquainted with either the story or the character, or know little of MBTI, this post will probably not be of interest to you. If so, I hope you like the pictures instead *wink*)

Drina daydreaming (taken on Sims 3 a while ago. For the record, her hair isn't supposed to be red, but due to graphics difficulties I can't correct it)

Drina daydreaming (taken on Sims 3 a while ago. For the record, her hair isn’t supposed to be red, but due to graphics difficulties I can’t correct it)

In typing all my characters, which I did on the second edit of my latest manuscript, the most troublesome has been Drina Connelly. This, alongside the fact that she is my main character, causes me a little worry, but I comfort myself with the knowledge that many people are cast regularly in several different Myers-Briggs types.

At first, because I modelled her on myself, as I do originally with many of my MCs, I thought she was an INFJ (Introvert-iNtuition-Feeling-Judging). Then I started to evaluate her journey more thoroughly, and realised that over the course of the story she goes from pure rational to accepting her romantic side. She’s not an F at all. She makes most of her decisions based on logic—and gets herself tied in knots because she sees every side of the situation. And though she works for others’ feelings, is that a result of true compassion, or her desire to make herself appear worthy of the distinction she craves?

So, I thought, she’s an INTJ (Introvert-iNtuition-Thinking-Judging). And that made more sense.

Calculating Drina

Calculating Drina

I took a few more tests, and she came out as an ISTJ/INTJ, where the S and the N conflicted at fifty percent each. It wasn’t a very accurate test, to be fair, but I kept her as an N because I see her as easily able to perceive the bigger picture. Another reader might think differently; I don’t know.

(In addition, J being the one letter that didn’t fluctuate, my explanation is that Drina hates matters to be up-in-the-air. She’d rather a quick resolution, even if it were an unfavourable one. She has difficulty in adapting to new situations. Besides, I haven’t yet come across a Perceiving-type who’s been recommended as a leader, so Drina will just have to remain a J.)

I did a bit of research on INTJs, and liked what I found. In particular a description of how they react under stress made me giggle. I quote:

‘INTJs are used to living in their minds, mostly disregarding their physical and emotional needs. Therefore, love and romantic relationships can take them by surprise and the intensity of their own emotions usually represent the main factor that throws them in distress. They may feel out of control, restless and tormented…managing to isolate themselves not only from the outer world, but also from their emotional and physical self. They become misunderstood loners, cryptic and enigmatic to the rest of the world.’

 

Flattered Drina

Flattered Drina(!)

If you knew Drina, you’d be giggling with me. This is exactly what happens to her: she falls in love, can’t deal with what it’d cost her ‘self-control’ if she gave in, which she can’t help doing, and gets in a right tizz about it all. ‘Enigmatic’ is a word mentioned in relation to her in the actual story, coincidentally.

But after a while I began to doubt my verdict. Her love interest came up as all sorts of things in different tests, but the one recurring type was INFJ. And I thought, so he’s like me, and she’s almost like me… It wasn’t right. Maybe it had the potential to work, but I don’t like to be discriminative, and to have two of my most important characters to be virtually the same really didn’t flatter my characterisation.

Besides that, Drina is supposed to be a leader. This is something that made me baulk, when I first realised it, because I didn’t give her any friends! She was, in her own words, a ‘hopeless introvert’ most unfit to expect to become Head Girl. It was a ludicrous idea, and yet that expectation is just about the entire plot. Well, obviously I had to do something about that.

So I went back to my lists. (Ironically, though I’d had worse trouble with the love interest, I left him as INFJ, and assumed my MC’s type was awry.) And then I did her an Enneagram test.

She came out as a Type Three, the Motivator (or Performer on some sites). Threes’ basic need and focus of attention is to achieve and get results. To others and to themselves they promote an image of success, whether it is accurate or not, and they fear failure. They are competent and informed, and desire to be seen as such, and to compare positively with others around them. Efficiency is of the utmost importance. They also have difficulties with arrogance.

Drina all over. And, as another coincidence, the issue of success and failure is one of the primary themes of my novel. But it came as a surprise to me to find a table laying Enneagrams side by side with the MBTI types with which they’re commonly associated. Well, that wasn’t a surprise in itself, but what I found in the Type Three row threw me off balance.

Drina: decisions, decisions... But maybe we're onto something...

Drina: decisions, decisions… But maybe we’re onto something…

The Performer did not correspond with INTJ, or even INFJ. No; the suggestions were ENTJ and ENTP. Well! I thought. I know there are exceptions—I’m an INFJ types Three, Five and Nine myself, and those don’t even go together very well!—but if Extroversion is so strongly recommended, maybe I’m wrong again…

And I’m truly grateful for all this to-do, because I’m more satisfied with my present ‘conclusion’ than with any typing exercise I’ve done for any of my characters. Drina is an ENTJ (Extravert-iNtuition-Thinking-Judging).

Shocked Drina

Shocked Drina

According to one of my favourite type-grids given to me by my mother (I don’t know the source):

ENTJs [are] Frank, decisive leaders in activities…Good in anything that requires reasoning and intelligent talk, such as public speaking. Are usually well informed and enjoy adding to their fund of knowledge.’

And upon research, I found the most wonderful website, called ENTJ Personality.info, which has provided for me comprehensive descriptions of how ENTJs get on with the other types. And, oh! my goodness! They’re all exactly as I’d imagined—and exactly as I’d written, moreover. Depend upon it, there’ll be another post about Drina’s inter-type relationships.

But why in the world did I think she was an Introvert? There’s a simple explanation, for which we go back to the whole stress thing. At the bottom of the list of pages I’ve used most extensively in my research, is a link, and at the bottom of the page in that link there is a single bullet point: ‘[When under stress, ENTJs…] May withdraw, feel hurt, trapped and become overly emotional’. And here I lay all my justification.

We do not see Drina, at any time during the novel, in the social environment which she feels is natural. At the beginning she has already been deserted by her dearest friends, and has been thrust into the process of withdrawal without our getting a chance to see her in the comfortable zone to which she had been accustomed since she first found her confidence at boarding school.

When I did those prior tests for her, of course I wouldn’t describe her as ‘sociable’! She didn’t have any friends—and that’s an essential plot-point (and one I struggle with for its exclusion of dialogue!). To get to her current place of prestige, however, she must’ve been more sociable than I may have implied.

But this shows me a flaw I must remedy. In my next edit, I resolve to make it clear that Drina is operating under circumstances which she feels to be unnatural.

And I can’t convey how useful it’s been to have taken this journey to discover her type! I would never rely upon a test such as this, with all its imperfections, but perhaps the trouble I’ve had suggests she’s a more rounded character than I’d hoped. Or else the conclusion I have reached has reassured me that my relationships are realistic, and helped me to solidify my characterisation.

Drina thanking me (I'm in the sky, of course) for typing her.

Drina thanking me (I’m in the sky, of course) for typing her.

And you? Does anyone else type their characters? And like what they find…?

Bibliography

Myers-Briggs types under stress: http://pstypes.blogspot.com/2010/01/myers-briggs-types-under-stress.html

An amusing story/description of an Enneagram Type Three: http://www.breakoutofthebox.com/starclm.htm

A PDF about the simple needs of Enneagram types: http://www.breakoutofthebox.com/EnneagramTheorySummarized.pdf

Enneagrams and MBTI: http://www.breakoutofthebox.com/flauttrichards.htm

http://www.entjpersonality.info/

http://www.entjpersonality.info/2010/07/entj-under-stress.html

And my own introductory post to MBTI, in case you need a reminder of what the letters mean: https://lillianmwoodall.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/an-introduction-to-mbti/

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An Introduction to MBTI

A prequel post to (I’m sure) many more.

I’m an INFJ.

And what the heck does that mean? most of my acquaintances would say.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the most widely used personality sorting test, according to some sources. It is, though, the only system used on the counselling course my mother is currently taking, so I think I’m safe to say it’s a popular tool.

The more astute of you may deny that such a thing can exist. How can something so contradictory and unfathomable as the human character be put to the test? How can such an incredibly diverse population—over seven billion people, spread across 149 million kilometres squared of land—be divided into a mere sixteen categories?

Well, you’d be right. It’s not so simple as that. Most people have at least two or three types they get in tests on a regular basis—and no, that doesn’t mean they suffer from multiple personality disorder.

I may be an INFJ, but I don’t have all the characteristics of the archetypal INFJ—and most people who know a thing about it perceive me as a T type. It’s true, that’s my weakest scale, but perchance I wish to be seen as a T (a Thinker makes decisions based on rationality rather than emotion), but if I answer the questions based on what I believe I truly am (hard to know), Feeling wins out. And if I am too aware of the test process to get an accurate result, after all, then maybe I should just give up and retreat into a dark hole and learn Russian. (I’ve always wanted to do that.)

Still, sceptical though you might be, Myers-Briggs never ceases to surprise me. Just recently I found a wonderful website about ENTJ relationships and compatibility. And upon scrawling through the pages and pages of how an ENTJ typically gets along with other people, I suddenly came to realise that my protagonist wasn’t an INTJ—no, sir! She’s an ENTJ, who withdraws from social contact under stress (which is most of the story). That’s why I thought she was an Introvert (as I’ll explain). And it was incredible to find this website describing her relationships with the supporting characters exactly as I’d envisioned them.

(It is worth noting that there are many other personality tests on the web, and many are very useful. Enneagrams, for instance, study why people behave as they do, rather than merely their behaviour. Useful for main character motivations. And Socionics are a comprehensive system of social relationships: while eliminating several of the shaky bits for which MBTI is criticised (though confusing MBTI users as to type-casting), a theory of interaction has been assembled to outline how people of different personalities get along with one another. But it told me I had a big nose, and I took offence, being small-minded and sensitive on these points. So I prefer MBTI.)

Anyway, what about describing the four scales, or dimensions, as they’re sometimes called? Bare in mind they’ll all be rather wide generalisations. As I said, circumstance plays a huge part in our behaviour, regardless of personality. But, generally speaking, this is what I’ve gleaned: (sorry about the image quality and green squiggly lines, but I can’t be bothered to do it again)

MBTIfirstdimension

The first dimension can be defined as where you get your energy from. Most people know already whether they’re an introvert or an extravert, but possibly by defining the words in terms of energy source, rather than that loose ‘oh, I don’t have a problem with talking to people’ or ‘oh, I never tell anyone anything’ to which we’re all so accustomed, some difference may be evident.

An extraverted person, according to MBTI, turns themselves outwards, for want of a better description. They would usually speak or act spontaneously, without prior reflection, and like doing and discussing, rather than just sitting and inactively theorising. They have a wide breadth of focus; but none of this means they lack depth. Extraverts, according to one study, make up 72% of the population.

Introverts are basically the opposite. We think things through, prefer mental exertion to action, in most cases, and reflect before doing. Sometimes introverts are wrongly interpreted as having slow reactions, but in reality, we just react in a different way.

MBTIseconddimension

The second dimension relates to the methods we use to intake information. This is the one I struggle most with, I admit. To put it simply (in theory), Sensing types like specific evidence, whereas iNtuition types see the ‘bigger picture’.

That doesn’t make much sense to me, either. I may be an N, but that doesn’t mean I understand what the ‘bigger picture’ is, and how I use it.

In more detail, Sensors like facts. They trust their own experience, and approach life in a step-to-step manner. That doesn’t mean they’re fixed in their ways; it just means they operate upon practicality—if a theory isn’t realistic in their daily lives, then it isn’t worth the trouble. They rely upon what their five senses tell them, hence the name ‘Sensor’. Like Extraverted types, approximately three in four people are Sensors.

Intuitive types fall in love with ideas whether they’re practical or not. We trust our instincts—and don’t know entirely why, most of the time. We live in a world of abstracts, patterns and inferences, and are focussed on the future.

Though, of course, it is essential not to forget that Sensors can Intuit—and do—and, equally, Intuitors can Sense. The extent to which a person is either a Sensor or an Intuitive is usually expressed as a percentage—and likewise with the other dimensions.

MBTIthirddimension

The two extremes of the third and fourth dimensions are split almost equally in regard of population distribution. The third is how we make our decisions. This is fairly straightforward, I think. Thinkers practice objective logic, looking for flaws in their own and others’ logic and proving what they find. They work on a basis of cause and effect, and apply their rational principles to the people with whom they interact.

Feelers, on the other hand, base their decisions upon their core values and convictions. We see each personal as an individual—with individual logic, if you like, rather than all people being subject to our own (not sure if this is correct or not!). But, more problematically, Thinking can be put to the purpose of Feeling and vice versa. That’s where it drifts into the functions of each type…but that’s rather more complicated, and I’m afraid I’d get everything horribly wrong if I tried to explain it.

MBTIfourthdimension

The fourth dimension is considered by some to be the ‘grey area’. For example, as an INFJ I am a Judging type, but my dominant function (sorry), Ni, is a Perceiving function. This creates somewhat of a conflict; but when you have all the theory under your belt (I must confess I don’t), it makes sense. (Socionics professes to clear up this ‘grey area’ in the fourth dimension, but it types people rather differently, and should not be lightly compared to MBTI.)

But, indeed, I haven’t even explained the two sides of the coin yet. Judging types like things to be planned out and executed according to the plan. We organise our lives in a scheduled manner—or we like it so, at any rate.

Perceivers are more open-minded. Judgers criticise them for being disorganised, but Perceivers like to keep their options open, so that they’ll be free to take up a better opportunity should one arise. But the real difference is their adaptability to new situations, and quality of being energised by surprises and time pressure.

You may claim I’ve mixed the dimensions up in places, but really they ought to be taken separately. Remember:

  1. E/I – where you get your energy from
  2. S/N – how you take in information
  3. T/F – how you make decisions
  4. J/P – how you organise your life

People change types, too. It’s said as we become more tolerant, through the wisdom life’s experience brings us, we gravitate towards the opposite end of each scale, and become more balanced people as a result (it is to be hoped).

But am I any the wiser for knowing my ‘personality type’? Reading the descriptions of the other fifteen types, I can visualise myself as each of these different people, in various situations. I understand how they think, and why they think like that. But is that my ‘psychic’ NF nature fooling me into thinking I’m someone else, or my characters, who are just as much a part of me as INFJ, struggling to get to the surface?