Child Of Our Time
Child Of Our Time and TV programs like it will often show us interesting ways to analyse our psyche. Coming up with tests and questionnaires which will then show us that we are ‘Extravert’ or ‘Agreeable’ or that women get more stressed than men or some other categorisation of our personality.
This is fine to get our brain cogs thinking but for me is nowhere near enough! In fact because these sort of programs generalise too much and also leave one important fact out, they could be more destructive than helpful.
Generalisation is not the answer
For me, labelling someone ‘Extravert‘, or ‘Agreeable‘ or ‘Neurotic‘ simply doesn’t cut it. After, years and years of study, we end up with labelling a child as ‘Conscientious‘? or ‘Open‘? I’d like to think we that we all have some elements of all the above.
Scientific explanations are clearly (to me) not enough
There was a part of a program that documented identical twins. These identical twins obviously have the same genes and therefore you would think have the same basic characters and persona’s. The program then focussed on why the two became different or that the differences in their personalities became noticeable as they grew older.
One thing especially made me wonder if the project had totally missed the mark. It tried to then explain that much of the differences were likely to do with one twin have a slightly more effeminate chin than the other. Apparently, our brains will make super fast decisions and conclusions in the space of a couple of hundred microseconds and it is theses conclusions that our brain makes which affects how we deal with people.
It (apparently) is this, that meant the twins were treated differently in their growing up, which in turn has created their different characters and personalities. The program also mentioned things like one child (of triplets) waking up during the night, the child was then brought in to sleep with the mother which has led to this child’s neuroticiscm.
Something massive has been missed
The inherent problem with this sort of analysis is that it does not include something so massive, so huge that it makes a mockery of our attempts to group man and woman into describable types.
I personally do not agree (completely) that our personalities are created from our environment. Programs like this will tell us that we are what we are because of the way we have lived and been treated especially during our early years growing up.
For me though, there is enough evidence to suggest that there is something else that has been missed which would explain why we (the individual not the human race as a whole) are like we are.
The human spirit or soul
The human spirit is not easy to scientifically box up and put on a rack and then label it under ‘S’. I believe that is our spirit or soul that makes us who we are way more than our upbringing or our environment.
I think the human spirit is far more complex than simply saying he or she is an ‘agreeable’ personality type or that someone has become what they have become due to their environment.
I would go so far as to say that it is the human soul that makes identical twins different more than a minute difference in their chin structure!
Now it might seem strange that I now talk about personality types. Remember though that this springs from our human soul more so than our environment.
It is nice to be able to look inside and know ourselves, so in this respect finding out that you are more ‘extravert’ than ‘neurotic’ might be a good thing. We need to broaden our labels though and start to discuss how our soul or spirit has made us what we are rather than scientifically putting each of us in a box.
If you are interested in analysing your character, then personality tests like the BBC Personality test are a good place to start. But they are just that – a start! you should go further otherwise you might incorrectly call yourself an extravert for the rest of your life when really you are a mixture of extravert and neurotic (for instance).
Broadly speaking we all have the same abilities inside of us which we use to react in certain ways to certain situations. It is the way we react that makes us ‘agreeable’ or ‘conscientious’.
Carl Jung was one of the first psychologists to define these abilities or functions I think he called them.
These functions are called Sensation, Thinking, Feeling and Intuition and he believed that it is the way we use these that defines us as a certain ‘type’ or personality. Further, he explained that our personality type depends on whether our emphasis on how we do things is outside us (extraversion) or inside (introversion).
Check out Myers-Briggs Type Indicator for more information on how it works.
But don’t forget that our soul, our human spirit is what makes us who we are!
Changes in personality over the years
This was a confusing one for me. I have seen first hand that people change over the years, especially over the growing up years, which seems to enforce the idea that our environment and upbringing make us who we are!
So, does our soul really exist and is all this talk I’ve made about our human spirit a load of rubbish?
No, I don’t think so!
Our soul allows us to develop and learn about ourselves, to change the way we react to things over time – or at least over our early years. As we grow up and mature, the way our personalities develop and the fact that we can make one decision one day and another decision another proves to me that we are far more complex beings than some might have us think.
Don’t get me wrong, I do think we have certain inherent traits or ways of dealing with and looking at things and it is these traits that make scientists categorise us.
Why have I written all this today? I want to maintain my individuality thanks!
Secretly, I want to find out more about my character though – which is why I’m reading Carl Jung and Myers-Briggs and of course watching programs like ‘Child Or Our Time’.
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