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Please Understand Me 2

Please Understand Me 2

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Published by Mark Novbett
(c) David Keirsey, Prometheus Nemesis Book Company 1998.
(c) David Keirsey, Prometheus Nemesis Book Company 1998.

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Published by: Mark Novbett on Apr 02, 2012
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Please
Understand
Me

i i

Temperament
Character
Intelligence

David
Keirsey

© Prometheus Nemesis Book Company 1998

All rights reserved under the International and Pan-American Copyright
Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by
any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without
permission in writing from the publisher. All enquiries should be addressed
to the publisher. Published in the United States by Prometheus Nemesis
Book Company, Post Office Box 2748, Del Mar, CA 92014.

Printed in the United States of America
First Edition

ISBN 1-885705-02-6

Foreword

“The point of this book,” writes my old friend David Keirsey, “is that
people differ from each other, and that no amount of getting after them is
going to change them.” The point is also, David might have added, that the
important differences between us are our natural birthright, arising in just
a few distinctive patterns. Recognizing these patterns can vastly enrich our
sense of who we are, of who others are, and of how much we can learn
from one another about the problems of life.
No person that I know of has studied temperament in action more
persistently and more brilliantly than Keirsey, and no one is in a better
position to speak to us about it. Keirsey has been “people watching” for
almost fifty years, and his interest in temperament as an organizing principle
stretches back almost as far. If Please Understand Me was a valuable
report on his progress to that time (1978), Please Understand Me II serves
to present a report on what he has worked out in the interim twenty years,
and also the valuable addition of his ideas about the relationship of temper
ament to intelligence.

I have known David for almost thirty years now. During those years I
have had the pleasure of teaching and writing and learning with him, and
the even greater pleasure of arguing with him. Our time together has been
filled with logical discourse and theoretical speculation, and, at the same
time, good, old-fashioned hair-splitting debate (including the use of devious
debate tactics and other trickery to see if we could catch the other napping).
We are both Rationals, and as you read this book you will understand why
we Rationals treasure collecting various skills, exercising ourselves with
logical investigation, but also finding delight in argumentation, logical
trickery, and (I confess) terrible jokes—as long as they are clever plays on
words. You will also see, by the way, why non-Rationals will—each tem
perament for its own reasons—find what is so rewarding for us Rationals
to be intolerable!

What I find remarkable about Keirsey’s empirical investigations is
which of the many problems in psychology he has chosen to investi
gate—intelligence, madness, personality—each a very complex problem,
and each with a checkered history. And I find his treatment of each unique.
His theory of intelligence is like no other, nor is his theory of madness, nor
is his theory of personality. Each is unique, true, but far more important,
each is useful to practitioners, something that cannot be said, at any rate
with much conviction, of any other extant theory of intelligence, or madness,
or personality.

From David’s study of temperament I have learned that the great personal
differences between me and those around me were not an indication that
there was something wrong with me—or with them. I have learned that
the apparent deficiencies in a person’s characteristic ways of dealing with
the world are offset by natural strengths in different areas. We don’t require

that a great painter be a wise teacher, nor that a trusted accountant be a
brilliant physicist. We all, according to our temperament, have our areas of
distinction and our areas of struggle. Both deserve to be respected for what
they are. So it is with temperament: different temperaments naturally show
us different patterns of intelligent behavior.
Perhaps most important, I have learned that we must not judge either
ourselves or others harshly when our (or their) values, preferences, and
style of experiencing and dealing with the world are different. There is
room for us all, and a need for us all. I am grateful that David has decided
to offer us Please Understand Me II, and I feel certain that its readers will
be fascinated and pleased with it.

Ray Choiniere

Acknowledgments

Stephen Montgomery, himself an author of note, served as my editor
not only for the first edition of Please Understand Me, twenty years ago,
but for its recent revision. Without his help over the years I would never
have finished the revision, given my penchant for continuously revising
my revisions. He was even more than helpful, going as he did far beyond
editing, by doing much of the composition. And even more than that, he
did a tremendous amount of research over the years and in the remotest
places. For instance, it was he who detected what Plato and Aristotle had
to say about the different roles the four temperaments of Hippocrates
played in the social order. And of course his years of research that went
into his four volume set, The Pygmalion Project, are embedded throughout
Please Understand Me II.

Then there was my family, my son and daughters and their spouses,
and of course my wife. They were always there to veto my more wayward
speculations and to catch me in my many errors of omission and commission.
And my former colleagues and students in the counseling department
at California State University Fullerton have been of great help in reviewing
the many drafts of the revision and in suggesting things that ought to be
inserted or deleted.

I wish especially to thank and to commend my colleague, psychologist
Ray Choiniere, for his monumental study of the temperament of our forty
American Presidents. In return for helping me complete my book on madness
and temperament, I helped him complete his book, Presidential Temper-
ament. The findings of our collaborative study of the Presidents are included
in the new version of Please Understand Me. And that is not all. Besides
his years of research on our many Presidents, his years of work on madness
and temperament, Choiniere has been a constant companion for me, assisting
me in many ways in conceptualizing Please Understand Me II.

David Keirsey

Contents

Chapter 1 Different Drummers

1

Temperament Theory: Lost and Found

2

The Keirsey Temperament Sorter II

4

The 16 Combinations

11

What the Myers-Briggs Letters Mean

12

The Contribution of Isabel Myers

13

Looking Back

14

The Debt to Isabel Myers

15

How to Proceed

16

Chapter 2 Temperament and Character

17

Myers’s Four Groups

18

Temperament, Character, Personality

20

Historical Overview

22

The Basic Dimensions of Personality

26

Psychological Functions vs Intelligent Roles

29

Chapter 3 Artisans

32

Plato’s Artisans

33

The Concrete Utilitarians

35

The Tactical Intellect

38

The Interests of Artisans

43

The Orientation of Artisans

46

The Self-Image of Artisans

50

The Values of Artisans

54

The Social Roles Artisans Play

60

Matrix of Artisan Traits

62

Artisan Role Variants

63

The Promoter [ESTP]

63

The Crafter [ISTP]

66

The Performer [ESFP]

69

The Composer [ISFP]

71

Chapter 4 Guardians

75

Plato’s Guardians

76

The Concrete Cooperators

78

The Logistical Intellect

82

The Interests of Guardians

86

The Orientation of Guardians

89

The Self-image of Guardians

92

The Values of Guardians

96

The Social Roles Guardians Play

101

Matrix of Guardian Traits

102

Guardian Role Variants

104

The Supervisor [ESTJ]

104
107

110
112

The Inspector [ISTJ
The Provider [ESFJ
The Protector [ISFJ

Chapter 5 Idealists

116

Plato’s Idealists

118

The Abstract Cooperators

120

The Diplomatic Intellect

123

The Interests of Idealists

129

The Orientation of Idealists

132

The Self-Image of Idealists

136

The Values of Idealists

140

The Social Roles Idealists Play

145

Matrix of Idealist Traits

147

Idealist Role Variants

149

The Teacher [ENFJ]

149

The Counselor
The Champion
The Healer [IN

INFJ]

152

ENFP]

155

■P]

157

Chapter 6 Rationals

161

Plato’s Rationals

163

The Abstract Utilitarians

165

The Strategic Intellect

169

The Interests of Rationals

176

The Orientation of Rationals

178

The Self-Image of Rationals

183

The Values of Rationals

187

The Social Roles Rationals Play

192

Matrix of Rational Traits

194

Rational Role Variants

196

The Fieldmarshal [ENTJ]

196

The Mastermind [INTJ]

199

The Inventor [ENTP]

201

The Architect [INTP]

204

Chapter 7 Mating

208

Attraction

208

Getting Along Together

211

The Pygmalion Project

212

The Artisan Playmate

214

The Guardian Helpmate

221

The Idealist Soulmate

229

The Rational Mindmate

240

Chapter 8 Parenting

252

Maturation

253

Basic Differences

254

The Artisan Child

257

The Guardian Child

261

The Idealist Child

265

The Rational Child

270

Parent and Child

275

The Artisan Liberator

275

The Guardian Socializer

278

The Idealist Harmonizer

280

The Rational Individuator

283

Chapter 9 Leading

286

Temperament and Intelligence

287

Identifying Intelligence

290

Tactical Intelligence

295

The Tactical Leader

298

Logistical Intelligence

303

The Logistical Leader

307

Diplomatic Intelligence

312

The Diplomatic Leader

316

Strategic Intelligence

320

The Strategic Leader

325

Chapter 2 Notes

331

Bibliographies

337

The Keirsey Four Temperament Sorter

341

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps
it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to
the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

—Henry David Thoreau

1

Different
Drummers

If you do not want what I want, please try not to tell me that my want is

wrong.

Or if my beliefs are different from yours, at least pause before you set

out to correct them.

Or if my emotion seems less or more intense than yours, given the
same circumstances, try not to ask me to feel other than I do.
Or if I act, or fail to act, in the manner of your design for action,

please let me be.

I do not, for the moment at least, ask you to understand me. That will
come only when you are willing to give up trying to change me into a copy
of you.

If you will allow me any of my own wants, or emotions, or beliefs, or
actions, then you open yourself to the possibility that some day these ways
of mine might not seem so wrong, and might finally appear as right—for
me. To put up with me is the first step to understanding me.
Not that you embrace my ways as right for you, but that you are no
longer irritated or disappointed with me for my seeming waywardness.
And one day, perhaps, in trying to understand me, you might come to prize
my differences, and, far from seeking to change me, might preserve and
even cherish those differences.
I may be your spouse, your parent, your offspring, your friend, your
colleague. But whatever our relation, this I know: You and I are fundamen-
tally different and both of us have to march to our own drummer.

As in the original Please Understand Me, the point of this updated and
expanded edition is that people are different from each other, and that no
amount of getting after them is going to change them. Nor is there any
reason to change them, because the differences are probably good.
We differ from each other in fundamental ways. We differ in our

1

2 Different Drummers

thoughts, in our feelings, in our wants and beliefs, and in what we say and
do. Differences are all around us and are not difficult to see, if we look.
Unfortunately, these variations in action and attitude trigger in us an all-
too-human response. Seeing others as different from ourselves, we often
conclude that these differences are bad in some way, and that people are
acting strangely because something is the matter with them.
Thus, we instinctively account for differences in others not as an ex
pression of natural diversity, but in terms of flaw and affliction: others are
different because they’re sick, or stupid, or bad, or crazy.
And our job, at least with those we care about, is to correct these
flaws, much as the mythical sculptor Pygmalion labored to shape his perfect
woman in stone. Like Pygmalion, we labor to remake our companions in
our own image. After all, are we not ourselves, even with our flaws, the
best models for how humans should think, feel, speak, and act? Remember
the line in My Fair Lady (based on Shaw’s play Pygmalion), when Henry
Higgins wonders why Eliza Doolittle can’t simply “be like me?”
But our Pygmalion Project cannot succeed. The task of sculpting others
into our own likeness fails before it begins. Ask people to change their
character, and you ask the impossible. Just as an acorn cannot grow into a
pine tree, or a fox change into an owl, so we cannot trade our character for
someone else’s. Of course we can be pressured by others, but such pressure
only binds and twists us. Remove a lion’s fangs and behold a still fierce
predator, not a docile pussycat. Insist that your child or your spouse be
like you, and at best you’ll see his or her struggles to comply—but beware
of building resentment. Our attempts to reshape others may produce change,
but the change is distortion rather than transformation.

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