I'm Not Crazy, I'm Just Not You
by Roger R. Pearman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'm Not Crazy, I'm Just Not You / 978-1-857-88552-1
I'm admittedly not a big fan of the Myers-Briggs personality types model. I've seen the model employed badly, too many times, at corporate retreats that seemed to use the model to stereotype and as an excuse to avoid getting to know individuals meaningfully. (One teacher argued that there was no point in ASKING an employee's opinion if you already knew what their "type" would want in any given situation - asking might result in misunderstandings, or in polite lies, from an employee who didn't know or couldn't express what their type "really" would want!)
I've also, anecdotally, taken many iterations of the test many times (as well as having family members rate me on their own), only to get a different type almost every single time. I can't honestly say that I've "collected" all 16 types, but I HAVE been each of the 8 subtypes, at various times. And I'm not alone - studies have shown that 50% of people who re-test get a different type at time of retest, and while this may be chalked up to poor testing, or poor self-reporting, or any number of other inherent difficulties in personality typing, the overall process makes me a little concerned. Nevertheless, I did try to keep an open mind going into this book when I received it from NetGalley, and I was at first prepared to recommend this book "if you must read a Myers-Briggs book", but deeper reading left me with mixed feelings.
From the start, there's a lot that's done right here. The authors carefully explain the general concepts of typing and really hammer home the crucial fact that types are "general preferences" per person, and not locked in behaviors. The authors note, "...we cannot make predictions of behavior or competencies based solely upon a person's type preferences," and I appreciate this strongly worded warning to corporate managers who try to staff projects based on personality type alone. In addition, the type components are much more clearly explained here - it's nice to see an author make the "correct" (according to Jung, anyway) distinction between introversion/extroversion, instead of leaving it to the current colloquial meaning of shy/outgoing (the English language having evolved extensively in the 60 years since Jung's ideas were published).
Despite the strong start, though, the writing starts to flounder - a lot of the material here is basically unsupported and loosely linked anecdotes about interactions with various children and managers, and the anecdotes frankly seem to me to be a stronger argument in favor of better communication overall (and general open-mindedness to differences) as opposed to a reason to study the 16 personality types in any kind of depth. The anecdotes seem flowing and disjointed, and sometimes don't seem to have a compelling connection to the current topic in the book.
Ultimately, I appreciate that the authors make the point that the Myers-Briggs model cannot be used in any scientifically significant sense to predict individual behavior, but once that has been established, I have to ask what is the point of a book dedicated to understanding the 16 types? I'd expected the super-title ("I'm Not Crazy, I'm Just Not You") to be more about understanding and tolerance to opposing opinions, rather than about pigeonholing people into "Sensing" types who "predictably" (except when they don't!) think and act a certain way - which is how the children in the anecdotes are described. I suppose if you're a firm believer in the Myers-Briggs model, this might be a valuable resource for how to think from another typical point of view, but I'm not sure you'll enjoy wading through all the anecdotes to get there. And if you're not a believer in the Myers-Briggs model, this book certainly isn't going to change your mind.
NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through NetGalley.
~ Ana Mardoll
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