Your personality. It’s you. It’s what people talk about when they mention you.
“She’s such fun.”
“He’s a go-getter.”
“She’s more the quiet type.”
How does your personality develop? It’s a mixture of your genetic makeup, what you receive (or don’t receive) from your family in childhood — what kind of safety and nurturing they provided — what your experience is of your culture and the world around you in the years to come.
All of that makes you — you.
And we love to try to identify and understand what makes us tick.
Many of you may have taken the Myers Briggs Personality Inventory. It’s an easy to understand and fun way to look at personality (although not well validated empirically) and is based on the work of the early psychiatrist, Carl Jung.
The test evaluates four dimensions of psychological functioning – sensation, intuition, feeling and thinking. The theory goes that each of us has a primary preference for one of these — and that preference strongly influences how we see the world. For example, is your focus on your outer world or inner world? That would indicate where you are on the extraversion/introversion spectrum. How do you prefer to process information? Is your focus on facts (“Just the facts, ma’am…”) or do you tend to interpret meaning to those facts? When you make decisions, do you tend to be logical/consistent or do you consider more personal unique circumstances? And lastly, are you more decisive in your approach or do you like to stay open to more ambiguity?
Then you’re given a score, based on these four scales.
You could be a ESTJ or an INFP, an ENFJ or an ISTP. There are sixteen different score combinations, complete with descriptions of the strengths and potential vulnerabilities of each personality type.
My nine other classmates and I sat around and tried to guess, based only on the letters, who was who. They were sure – absolutely certain in fact — that I was an extrovert.
They were wrong, by the way.
So…what does this have to do with what I’ve termed Perfectly Hidden Depression?
I recently received this email from Janet who had scored high on my questionnaire for PHD.
“Several years ago, I took the Myers Briggs personality test, and what it said… lines up a lot with PHD. I got INFJ on three separate occasions, which is described as caring immensely about the needs of others sometimes to the detriment of self, avoiding conflict, being a caregiver, and an introvert that appears to be an extrovert. Could it be that I just am an INFJ but not PHD? Did PHD turn me into an INFJ? Am I overthinking this?”
Many people have written to me about PHD prior to Janet, asking questions not necessarily about the Myers Briggs categories, but rather,”How do I know if it’s depression or not? It’s just the way I am.” Or, “If I can act okay, am I really depressed?”
You can hear more about depression and many other topics by listening to Dr. Margaret’s podcast, SelfWork with Dr. Margaret Rutherford. Subscribe to this website and receive her weekly blog posts and podcasts, as well as free downloadable ebook, “Seven Commandments of Good Therapy.”!
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My new book entitled Perfectly Hidden Depression will be arriving November 1, 2019! Its message is specifically for those with a struggle with strong perfectionism which acts to mask underlying emotional pain. But the self-help techniques described can be used by everyone who chooses to begin to address emotions long hidden away that are clouding and sabotaging your current life. More to come.