What’s your type?

by Alex

I was out dancing last night and chatting with one of my partners who asked me what I did and then had that awestruck reaction when he heard I’m an author. He said something I hear pretty often, and I’m sure a lot of you do, too: “Wow, that’s much more interesting than being an (in this case, environmental designer, but you know, substitute whatever profession…).” And I tried to say what I always try to say in these situations, which is, “Not really,” but of course no one ever believes me so I move quickly on to “I think environmental design sounds really interesting, what’s a typical day like for you?”

Because one of the most interesting things about being a writer, in my opinion, is that you get to be every single other profession under the sun. I think without that aspect of writing I pretty much would die of boredom, or maybe I mean inertia, as in SITTING all damn day.

Of course all of us mystery authors have been cops by now, and DAs and defense attorneys; we’ve been serial killers and doctors and usually teachers, and parents, and hitmen (actually I haven’t and can’t imagine I ever will be, SO not my thing.). You never know when you’re going to have to be an environmental designer, either.

In my new book four of my main characters are psychologists and psych professors so I did some immersion in psychiatric theories. I love that kind of work especially, because it’s not just useful for the particular characters I was creating, but it’s great research for character in general.

One test I’m sure a lot of people here are familiar with is the Myers-Briggs personality inventory, always a fun one to look at when you’re refining character. I myself am of the personality type that can never get through a test that long, especially multiple choice which has always been the bane of my existence, so I can’t tell you my own classification, but I do know I split evenly down the line between Extravert and Introvert. Here are some good sites on the test and the personality types:



I came across two books this time that I particularly like: PERSONALITY SELF-PORTRAIT, by Oldham and Morris, and SHADOW SYNDROMES, by John J. Ratey, MD.

The first one sounds like just some basic self-help pablum but it’s actually VERY useful – it breaks character down into 13 personality “styles” that are mild versions of much more serious personality disorders.

Conscientious Style – Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder.
Self-Confident Style – Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Devoted Style – Dependent Personality Disorder
Dramatic Style – Histrionic Personality Disorder
Vigilant Style – Paranoid Personality Disorder
Sensitive Style – Avoidant Personality Disorder
Leisurely Style – Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder
Adventurous Style – Antisocial Personality Disorder
Idiosyncratic Style – Schizotypal Personality Disorder
Solitary Style – Schizoid Personality Disorder
Mercurial Style – Borderline Personality Disorder
Self-Sacrificing Style – Self-Defeating Personality Disorder
Aggressive Style – Sadistic Personality Disorder

SHADOW SYNDROMES does basically the same thing, but goes into shadow forms of autism, intermittent rage disorder and bipolar disorder as well. I guarantee you will see people you know or even yourself in some of these descriptions. Me? OCD, I mean Conscientious, for sure, with a large dose of Self-Confident thrown in.

For a more Jungian approach, I’ve never found anything better than Jean Shinoda Bolen’s GODDESSES IN EVERY WOMAN and GODS IN EVERY MAN, which relates personality types to the Greek pantheon (we’ve talked about those books here before.).

So the question is, what personality types are you all, based on what favorite tests? Got any great links or books for us?

And what was YOUR favorite profession to research?

Michael is dealing with my OCD this week by taking me to the beach with NO INTERNET ALLOWED, but he’s going to be fishing half the time so what is he really going to know? I’ll try to check in.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

10 thoughts on “What’s your type?

  1. billie

    My two favorite diagnostic tests are the Luscher Color Test and the Rorschach, mainly b/c they were fun and not so ‘standardized’ test format.

    A few things I’ve “been” via the writing:

    library clerk (easy since I did this in college)

    medical student


    CIA operative

    Special Forces soldier

    retired SF soldier who recovers lost/stolen children

    gallery owner

    student at a school of magical transformation

    And June Singer has written some nice books on Jungian theory – a bit more accessible than the master himself. 🙂

  2. R.J. Mangahas

    According to the Jung Typology Test I’m INFP (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving)

    But this puts me in some pretty good company (Princess Diana, J.K. Rowling, John Lennon, Florence Nightingale) And according to the test I would have a good career as a writer (among other things). I hope that this one works out.

    Hmmm. Some I things I’ve “been”

    — A photojournalist

    — A hitman

    — A psychic

    — A young widower (I was actually this one without the marriage. This was kinda creepy. A protagonist in a novel I started to write just lost his wife. A few month into writing the book, my fiance died. I guess I should really be careful what I write)

    — A night club owner

    — An organized crime boss

    — A baseball player

    — A world class martial artist (did the martial arts thing when I was a kid)

    — A Professional Wrestler

    — An Actor (LOVE community theater)

    — Lots of other stuff

  3. Stacey Cochran

    I ranked as an INTP on Meyers-Briggs a few years ago, when I took it. Basically, RJ, the same as you but a “thinker” rather than a “feeler.”

    I’ve been working the past couple years to make myself more of a “feeler” – more compassionate and giving emotionally.

    In my own writing, my protagonists have been either 1) psychologists, 2) scientists, or 3) writers…

    Enjoy the beach, Alex!

  4. JT Ellison

    I LOVE personaity profiling. When I get home I’m going to sit down and take the ones you’ve suggested Alex. On Myers-Briggs, I’m an INTJ — Introverted (84%), Intuition (74%), Thinking (79%), Judging (79%)

    The Strategist. Now there’s a shock to everyone.

    When my teachers in elementary school saw that, you can imagine what they did with me.

    It’s funny how over the course of your life the test results don’t shift. Mine haven’t at least. I am classic INTJ. Classic.


  5. Stacey Cochran

    INTJ? I wouldn’t have guessed the “judging” but I guess I can see that about you, JT. INTJ does seem to fit the persona you convey over the blog and at conferences…

    You’re in good company with Augustus Caesar and C.S. Lewis 🙂

  6. Louise Ure

    I know I’ve taken Myers-Briggs before, but can’t for the life of me remember my designation. The Absent-Minded, perhaps.

    And my favorite profession to research? Jury consultant, hands down. A bit of the charlatan, a bit of psychologist, with some salesman thrown in.

    Not unlike my own days in advertising.

  7. Pari Noskin Taichert

    I’m usually an INTJ in Myers Briggs, but today I took it online (first time on the computer) and was an ENFJ — which doesn’t feel at all right. For me, the answers are very mood dependent; if I’ve been around people alot, I’m an introvert. This summer, I’ve been around my children but crave adult company and I’m an E.

    Alex,I think you’d love the Mythic Tarot deck I use; it’s based on four main Greek myths and will remind you of the Bolen books. If you get Liz Sharman’s companion workbook, it’s amazing what you’ll discover about yourself.

    I think my favorite profession to explore so far has been Darnda’s — a bug whisperer.

  8. PK the Bookeemonster

    I took the Myers-Briggs a long time ago for a job interview (didn’t get the job, I wonder if that had anything to do with it?). I was surprised at how accurate the description was… I thought I was unique! I’m an ENFP. The only description of it I didn’t like was “puppy-like”. Who wants to be puppy-like?! I’m in my 40s now, does that translate into dog years? What about when I’m in my 70s and above? (I’m going for the big numbers, by the way, I have too much to read between now and then) Hrmph.PK the Bookeemonster

  9. Jake Nantz

    Hmmm…Well, as far as the styles you list, give 1 of each, and make it a double aggressive on the rocks. With a twist of lemon, maybe.

  10. Tom Barclay

    A small hijack – Brett’s had a very nice book debut and signing party this evening at The Mystery Bookstore in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles.

    I left fairly early. There were already lots of guests, lots of book sales, lots of street action (with the LA Film Festival in full swing), and a terrific street-busker named Richard playing original music just outside the front door. It was a terrific way to spend an evening.


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