Personality is not something we are born with, and it can change. The 16 best fit types describe behavior, not vice versa. Socionics and the MBTI were based on Jung's typology, and Jung's theories were often criticized because they could not be proven; they were based on observation.
From About Psychotherapy : Home Page********,
"Bennett Pologe, Ph.D. I am a clinical psychologist—have a look at credentials to see just what that means and why it’s important—licensed in New York state. Over the years, I’ve managed to work with just about every kind of patient there is. I’ve worked in city, state, and private hospitals, in community mental health centers, foster care agencies, schools, nursing homes, special education for the neurologically impaired, group private practice, the VA system, nursing homes, and in Head Start programs. I also did a stint on cable television as a relationship consultant, and I’ve published some clinical research.
What’s a personality? What makes me, me?
This question is really where both psychotherapy and psychology begin. Why do I do what I do, feel what I feel, think what I think, and how can I change it? Why does the bully bully, the blowhard blow hard, the flincher apologize so relentlessly, the control freak live at such a frenetic and uncomfortable level of tension? Is it a gene? Hardly. Genes provide the foundation of our personality, and some of the limits. The rest of who we are comes from what happens to us and what we learn from it.
Imagine a one year old child reaching out for something that grabs his interest, as is the habit of a child that age. But his mother (or whoever is raising him) is anxious. Maybe she always is, maybe it's because this is her third child in as many years and she's getting fed up and stressed, maybe it's because her husband just left her, maybe she just left him, whatever. In any event, she barks anxiously at her child in a voice too loud and strident, then rushes over and whisks him into his high chair for safety.
Now assume that this is not a single occasion of mom's bad mood, but a common occurrence, her usual reaction to her son's exploration of his environment. What happens to him? Does he say to himself, "Ah, well, Mom's uptight. I mustn't take this personally. I can explore the world later when she's calm or when she's not around." Not likely. He's barely a year old, remember; all he knows of the world, it's dangers, it's pleasures, its meanings, comes from this person.
No, he does not put mother's behavior into this kind of adult perspective. Instead he learns that this is the way of the universe: Small actions lead to catastrophic reactions. (Bear in mind that mother’s outburst might be only a mild stressor to another adult, but to a small child who depends on this mother for all his physical and emotional sustenance it is a very frightening assault.) Always expecting a blow to fall, an explosion of anxiety and displeasure, a criticism, a censure, he could grow into a "flincher" -- one of those people who is endlessly apologizing, timid, and tense. In another scenario, he might learn to battle that same anxiety by blustering his way through the world, acting as if such feelings could never happen again. Such is the bully, the braggart, the bull in the china shop. Or he might become one of those super-competent, always-in-the-know people, in that way never again suffering the anxiety of doing the wrong thing. (Whether this "control freak" adaptation is successful or drives people away depends on a lot of other things -- intelligence, flexiblity of other defenses, etc..) In any case, he grows up focused to some large degree on coping with a world fraught with the danger of sudden chaos. This is especially likely if his genetic makeup is one of high sensitivity, making him particularly attuned to his mother's moods and fearful of her outbursts.
As they mature, the flincher remains solitary, timid, constricted, while the bully loses most of his friends, learns nothing in school or elsewhere to give him a place in society, and eventually graduates to more serious antisocial activity. We on the outside look at their useless, counterproductive behavior and say that they are "maladjusted", "troubled", "in pain". We struggle with such terms because they have a judgmental sound, but we all roughly agree on what they mean. We recognize a lost soul, a person who behaves (or feels or thinks) irrationally, both from our point of view and in terms of what they themselves want. Psychotherapy is about understanding that irrationality. It is this understanding which enables patients to change their attitudes and behavior -- the whole point of the process. (see What’s the cure?)
Important: These irrational patterns of feeling, perception, and behavior are not chosen or established on a conscious level! Clearly most of us would not persist with such silly behavior on purpose. But these habits develop outside of awareness (and nonverbally) where we can’t get at them. [Bully, Ed - II, Ron]
This is clearly the barest thumbnail sketch of personality development, a subject that has filled many a weighty volume. But the consultant who helped me put this website together insists I should keep each "page" down to a couple of pages. So I’ll continue the discussion in the next section."
I had a bad relationship toward the end of high school, and I had trouble dealing with it. Because my default persona could not deal with the outcome of said relationship, I tried to rationalize it by convincing myself that, "That's just the way I am; personality doesn't change." This was circular reasoning, and was an unhealthy form of dissonance reduction. Psychological defenses like this are very common (and this is no form of excuse; I accept what happened, now), and the cure is self awareness.
-----------From the same website,
"What’s the cure? What does psychotherapy do?
If my answers here seem arbitrary, I encourage you again to read the earlier pages in this website before looking at this one. (Think of how strange it might be to someone who knows nothing of the human nervous system if you try to explain to him that the pain in his leg -- sciatica -- is caused by disc problems in his back. "My leg hurts, and you want to examine my back? What kind of quack are you?")
The cure for psychological problems is increased awareness of the "other agendas" discussed in Why go. Psychotherapy is the process that accomplishes this. The less aware we are of our motives, feelings, thoughts, actions, perceptions, the more they control us and the more we stay stuck in old patterns that don’t work anymore. Relief from symptoms lies in discovering and incorporating into our constant, every-day consciousness that which is being masked, distracted from, or indirectly "acted out" in symptoms. (Take a look at the characters in Personality for examples of this process.) Virtually all psychotherapies work in this way, by expanding awareness (which is why the term "shrink" is so silly; psychotherapy is supposed to do the opposite). In fact, even when the focus of treatment is not symptom relief, when the goal is a general increase in contentment, power, freedom, happiness -- "self-actualization" it’s sometimes called -- the key is awareness.
Before you say, "But I know what I feel, do, believe": If we were perfectly aware, we would have no symptoms. [Jim, Ed, Ed - II, Evan] We would experience reasonable emotional reactions to the ups and downs of life instead of sinking into incomprehensible panic, anxiety, depression. We would behave rationally, putting our talents, intelligence, and energy towards gratifying ends. We would learn from our mistakes; we would not hurt the ones we love nor be drawn to those who hurt us. Again, if this idea is hard to swallow, take a look at the earlier pages, especially Why Psychotherapy.
Of what exactly do we need to become aware? No, not of some forgotten childhood memory; that’s too glib and rarely is the answer. Rather, we need to recontact the specific experiences -- wholly lived moments of perception and feeling, regardless of where they originated and even if not attached to specific events -- that are being both avoided and indirectly expressed via symptoms. The bully needs to become conscious not of who bullied him (if anyone did), but of his fears of humiliation and powerlessness. Only by such means can he cease the constant compensation for those fears -- the insistence on total control of people and situations, the self-imposed isolation when he isn’t assured of such control, even the phobias and panic attacks that such people can develop when they fear losing that control. The flincher, too, needs to recall that same original horror so he can stop fearing it around every corner. Think what this means: To get over his symptoms, a person must face exactly that which his defenses were created to protect him from; he must face his worst nightmare.
The good news is that this awareness is the one magic psychotherapy has to offer. I have seen it again and again, in all kinds of patients, in friends, in myself: When you feel whatever it is you spend your energy trying not to feel, you feel better and you function better."
--------Interestingly enough, the object of meditation is the same; psychotherapy is kind of like meditation for people who don't know how to ask themselves the right questions. This may all seem terribly cliche, but it's the truth.