Typology and Psychology

Personality Type and Mental Illness Follow the same methodology

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This article is nothing more than a thought experiment which has as its central question: 

Is Typing somebody the same as a psychologist or mental health professional diagnosing a patient? 

If you look at how a psychologist evaluates and then makes a diagnosis, it’s hard to see a major difference in the way a personality professional evaluates somebody’s Type.

How does a psychologist diagnose a patient?

According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the ways, outside of a physical evaluation and a blood test, is a psychological evaluation:  “A doctor or mental health professional talks to you about your symptoms, thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns. You may be asked to fill out a questionnaire to help answer these questions.”

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Referencing the DSM and other resources, professionals look to see what boxes can be checked that match up to a specific illness, complex, etc. Not all people will exhibit ALL the symptoms and mannerisms, but patterns will be repeated enough that an expert will be able to narrow down a possible list of diagnoses. 

Is it an exact science? No.

Can the professional misdiagnose by not having enough information or by simply being misled by the patient? Obviously, yes

We have stories in our own lives to illustrate this point.

We nevertheless respect and admire these professionals as they categorize, label, define, and treat the pathology of their patients.

Is this different from evaluating Personality Type?

It’s not, but the perception is that evaluating a mental illness is an exact science, while something like personality type (evaluating the psyche), is pseudoscience. 

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Typologists (those that study personality type), use a similar methodology, systems, and evaluations to assess personality type. They start with observations and questions and listen intently to the responses. From these responses, they check off the proverbial boxes that align with the most likely Type of the person.

Trends will emerge. The picture gets clearer. Repeated patterns of perception, decision making, analogies, story-telling, citation of facts, figures, speaking styles, etc, will become obvious. The skilled Typologist will start forming thoughts:

“This person has a very similar set of personality characteristics that I’ve seen in both ENFJs and INFJs.”

“I’ve seen this repeated trend of INFPs describing their ideal world in this way.”

“This direct and straightforward manner of speaking sounds very ESTJ to me.”

Is it an exact science? No.

Can the professional mistype by not having enough information or by simply being misled by the client? Obviously, yes. 

Simply put, psychological evaluation and personality typing are based on the same principles of pattern recognition and categorization. Inherently, there is nothing wrong with this. It’s what we do with that information that reveals how effective the tools are for evaluation.

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Both psychological evaluation and personality evaluation are avenues for growth, healing, and development. Regardless of society’s level of respect for either profession, if you can live a better life through the use of a psychologist or typologist, that’s all that matters.

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