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Monday, 19 June 2017

Alfred the Great (LII): Personality Type Analysis

Alfred the Great was the 27th King of Wessex from 871 to 899, the very first English monarch to have ever been given the epithet "the Great" and most well-known for commanding the successful defense of Wessex during Viking conquest, which eventually lead him to become the dominant monarch of England towards the end of his life. The history of his life and reign as monarch of Wessex is explained in detail through the written accounts of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, historical documentation of what his reign was like, those who personally knew him and the biography The Life of King Alfred, written by the Welsh monk Asser.

The details of his early childhood are elaborated on in Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, in which young Alfred (suspected to be around age four) travelled with his family to Rome in 853, to be made "consul" by Pope Leo IV. This was early preparation for his eventual succession as King of Wessex, though the possibility of Alfred becoming the next in line was slim. This was because he had three elder brothers (from eldest to youngest); Æthelbald, Æthelberht and Æthelred, who had greater chances of future coronation as monarch of Wessex. (The first brother, Æthelstan died in 852, shortly after fending off a Viking fleet in Kent and had very little impact on the life of Alfred as a child.) After spending time in Rome for a few years, Alfred's father Æthelwulf visited Carolingian King Charles the Bald in 856 and married his fourteen year-old daughter Judith to signify the diplomatic alliance between the two kingdoms. Æthelbald heard of this news, enraged at now having an underage stepmother and casting aside his own mother, a kindhearted, devoutly religious woman who cared about the education of her children. In reaction to this, Æthelbald led a revolt in an attempt to depose his father of the throne on his return to Wessex. In the instance of civil war breaking out, Æthelwulf negotiated with Æthelbald to let him rule western province of his kingdom and for himself to rule over the eastern province.


After Æthelwulf's death in 858, Æthelbald's reign from 858 to 860 was relatively short and seen by Asser as unstable and lawless (Though further details of his reign is limited). Next in line was Æthelberht, his reign from 860 to 865 was internally peaceful and harmonious, though he died shortly before the invasion of the Great Heathen Army in 865. The reign of Æthelred was the most war intensive out of the three elder brothers, with some successful military victories early on. However, after the Saxon defeat of the Battle of Merton, Æthelred died a month after and left Alfred to deal with a kingdom on the verge of collapse, all on his own. 


During all of this political unrest, Alfred was known by his mother Osburh, to be fascinated with reading, poetry and education at a very young age. To encourage her son's interest in education, she offered a challenge to her four children that the first person to memorize a book of Saxon poems would be the new owner of that book. Even just recently learning how to read at age twelve (which was the result of the lack of tutors and scholars in the West Saxon Kingdom), Alfred had surpassed his brothers in intellectual strength by memorizing the entire book, thus winning the book of Saxon poems. Since then, Alfred was known to carry around books with him wherever he went and frequently sought quiet refuge to read alone. This specifically is from Asser's account, "[...] he collected in a single book, as I have seen for myself; amid all the affairs of the present life he took it around with him everywhere for the sake of prayer, and was inseparable from it".


Notably, in contrast to his brother Æthelred who based his military organization purely off of tactics and strong defense, Alfred naively came to the conclusion that peace could be negotiated between the new leader of the Danes, Guthrum. After exchanging oaths and swearing loyalty to a "holy" ring (thought to be associated with Thor), the Danes immediately broke their promise and decided to kill the hostages they captured anyway. By taking advantage of his weakness in F, the Danes thought that they had gotten a step ahead of the Saxons, though unknowingly to the Danes, Alfred had already blockaded their ships in Devon ahead of time in the case if they didn't keep their word. His preference of long-term military strategy over tactics served him well in the Battle of Edington and in his plan to storm the Dane's stronghold in Chippenham by cutting off their food supply and starving them until surrender. Guthrum and his men had no other choice but to come to a complete surrender, and instead of killing the men or arresting them for their actions, Alfred came to the conclusion that they should be converted to Christianity through baptism at his court (even accepting Guthrum as his adoptive son). With what has been written above, provides the most evidence for a type with F4 and strong T.


After the war, Alfred became a respected military strategist, though his innate talents were in law-making and governance. He was a wise administrator who proceeded carefully in diplomatic matters, reorganizing his finances and politely distanced himself from his thanes (nobles). Once he realized the current state of corruption in the state's legal system, he scrutinized the administration of justice and ensured to protect of the weak from oppression by ignorant or corrupt judges. In this way, Alfred decided it would be best to administer an important code of laws, after studying the principles of law-giving in the Book of Exodus, again with special attention to the protection of the poor. While avoiding unnecessary changes in custom, he limited the practice of the blood feud and imposed heavy penalties for the breach of an oath or pledge. His own attitudes are reflective of weak R3, his own efforts to distance himself from the members of his court could have been seen as impersonal and standoffish by some (though he did send frequent embassies to Rome conveying the translated alms to the Pope). He would much rather see them more as "co-workers" since he believed that unnecessarily making friends and enemies would make more unjust activities like bribes to be more accepted.


Alfred attitude toward learning is quite evident, due to his belief that the Viking raids were a divine punishment for the people's sins and he attributed these to a lack of education in general. He argued that through learning, men could acquire wisdom and live in accordance with God's will. In 878 CE, he invited scholars from across the European continent to his court, taught himself Latin and began to translate Latin books into English in 887. Baffled by how indolent and ignorant the common man was in comparison to these scholars, he directed that all young men must learn to read English. By his own translations, he released to the public English versions of books that were necessary people to know; The Ecclesiastical History of the English People and the Seven Books of Histories Against the Pagans. Alfred's translation of the Pastoral Care of St. Gregory I, the great 6th-century pope, provided a manual for priests in the instruction of their flocks, and a translation by Bishop Werferth of Gregory's Dialogues supplied edifying reading on holy men. To summarize, Asser's notes on Alfred characterize him as a scholarly man who had an unwavering interest in L pursuits, his own confidence and talents in these subjects indicating strong and valued L1.


Alfred's religious beliefs were inspired by the philosopher St. Augustine of Hippo, to which he credited him by adding very broad material that addressed problems concerning faith, reason and the nature of eternal life. His translations were from a wide variety of sources, one of which was Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy. Some of these psalms may have their origins in the intellectual interests awakened by the revival of learning under him. His reign also saw activity in reconstructed temples as centers of education, art, and foreign craftsmen were attracted to his court. The eclectic amount of interests and search for new ideas to accommodate both his religious and philosophical beliefs suggest Alfred had I2, or at the very least, a type with strong I.


More to the point, Alfred is a scholar by inclination, who became a war leader not because of glory, wealth or fame, it merely was because he had to. Though it is interesting that with such a beloved king, E is almost non-existent with Alfred. As stated before, he was a man who was beloved by his family and locals in Wessex, Alfred himself did not turn a blind eye to this popularity, though he felt this was only because the Anglo-Saxons only recognized him as king and not as a person. What's even more revealing is Alfred's emotional attitudes written in one of Alfred's last works, "Blooms" or Anthology. The first half is based mainly on the Soliloquies of St Augustine of Hippo, the remainder is drawn from various sources, and contains much of what is Alfred's passions are. The last words are quoted, "Therefore he seems to me a very foolish man, and truly wretched, who will not increase his understanding while he is in the world, and ever wish and long to reach that endless life where all shall be made clear."  In general, a solitary and solemn man who avoided E matters, preferring to address the matters through writing because dealing with these problems socially brought him great discomfort, still fitting E5 nonetheless.


Concluding this analysis, there is a small anecdote that would be essential in putting together a clearer image of what Alfred type is. It's interesting that a scholarly man like Alfred, whose natural inclination to studying might've suggested that he had a sedentary lifestyle, but this was quite the opposite. Alfred was an avid huntsman who was often quite physically active, yet he saw his ability in hunting as more of a hobby than a more competitive activity. With this interest in a sport only for being physically active and healthy, would make S6 more likely for Alfred.


I would say that all of the evidence all points to LII Alpha values with visible L1, I2, R3, F4, E5, S6 and T8.


To learn more about LII click here

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Pedro II (EII): Personality Type Analysis


Emperor Pedro II of Brazil, also called Dom Pedro II the "Magnanimous", was the second and last monarch of the Empire of Brazil, from his father’s abdication in 1831 to his deposition in a military coup in 1889.

He was born in Rio in 1825, the son of Emperor Pedro I (SEE) and Leopoldina of Austria. He was five years old when his father abdicated the Brazilian throne and returned to Portugal. Raised by tutors, he was a serious, studious and shy boy, very different from his impulsive, physically hyperactive father. As per the constitution, regents were elected by Parliament to rule while Pedro was a minor. However, it soon became clear that without the personal authority that Pedro I had wielded, Brazil’s internal tensions and rivalries re-emerged in the form of a series of regional rebellions, some with secessionist goals. So after 9 years of near-anarchy under the Regency, the consensus in Parliament was that their best chance of avoiding further chaos was to end the Regency and enhance the central government’s authority with a ruling emperor. Therefore he was declared of age by Parliament in 1840 (not fully legally) at 14, and political stability did start to increase.

The constitution, reflecting Pedro I’s personality, assumed that the monarch would act as chief executive himself, as also the regents had done. That was initially the case with the young Pedro II, with him relying politically and emotionally upon an often self-serving inner circle of palace hangers-on and select politicians, the so-called “Courtier Faction”. Gradually, as he reached his 20s and gained more self-confidence, he dismissed or reduced the influence of that inner circle, by 'kicking them upstairs' or simply by ceasing to listen to their political advice while maintaining friendly personal relations. In 1847, with his agreement, the government’s structure was changed in a way suited to the times and to Pedro II’s personal inclinations, with the creation of the office of prime minister. Pedro II retained the considerable powers of calling new parliamentary elections and appointing the prime minister. At this time, the young monarch was described as someone who “was never rude and never lost his temper. He was exceptionally discreet in words and cautious in action”; “the shy and suspicious youth became a man who could be sophisticated and charming in social situations”. Those traits would generally remain constant throughout his life. Even taking into account his political and constitutional position, the above already points to someone not obviously focused on F, who prefers to tone down confrontations for the sake of smooth interactions.

In the exercise of his role as monarch, Pedro mostly focused on keeping the system working smoothly. As in similar parliamentary systems, he appointed as prime ministers leading politicians of the majority party in Parliament and then let the cabinets get on with governing. However, unlike more established parliamentary monarchies, he had more of a personal choice as to who exactly would be appointed. Also, since it was widely acknowledged that the party in power would cheat in elections to some extent (by ballot-stuffing etc.), sometimes Pedro used his personal influence to encourage the rotation in government of the two main parties (Conservative and Liberal, as in Britain), so preventing either one from becoming too powerful. Still, the policies during his reign were mostly those of the prime minister and the cabinet rather than Pedro’s own. This is illustrated precisely by two occasions when he clashed with his cabinet and had to threaten to abdicate to get his way: in 1850, in order to force the government to support a law that would finally enforce the ban on slave trade (in theory already banned in 1831); and in 1865, in the context of the Paraguayan War, when the government and Parliament would not grant him permission to travel to the front himself, as the nominal commander-in-chief. Those episodes are useful because they illustrate not only the limitations of Pedro II's political role in government, but also his unwillingness to clash with the political establishment except in matters about which he felt particularly strongly. Apart from such episodes, his other visible influence in government was that of essentially vetoing the appointment as minister of men whose personal integrity was in any way questionable, a matter in which the party politicians got used to and did not try to overrule. Overall Pedro's approach to his duties seemed to be keeping things running smoothly, guaranteeing the rotation of power between the two main parties, keeping an eye on the personal character of ministers, and mostly not interfering in the policies themselves. This points to R and P rather than L and E as quadra values.

Besides fulfilling his duties as monarch, Pedro spent his time essentially in intellectual pursuits. Those included a general interest in all sciences - he was an amateur astronomer, for instance - and in languages in particular, having become fluent (or at least functional) in the main international languages of the time: French, English, German, Spanish, and Italian, as well as in Guarany (spoken in Paraguay), classical Latin and Greek, and studied even Hebrew and Sanskrit. During his reign he refused to accept increases in the allowance allocated him, and he spent large sums granting student scholarships. That meant he lived in a (relatively) modest style, and he only adopted the 'pomp and circumstance' of his role when formally opening Parliament. In his private letters he even said that he disliked that part of his job, and that in his opinion the noblest profession was that of teacher, since they developed young minds. Again this shows a total disregard for the elements of power and status projection, i.e. E and F, and his interest in a variety of subjects and in developing minds suggest I as a valued function. All of the above already points to Delta as Pedro's quadra.

As soon as his eldest daughter Isabel was of age and could legally act as regent in Pedro's absence, he started a series of travels abroad, in the 1870s and 1880s, mostly through Europe but also to the Middle East and the US. In such trips he did not quite travel in cognito but on a modest budget, with a minimal retinue, and staying in small hotels. In one revealing episode, during his first visit to Paris, he wrote to Victor Hugo asking him to come see him in his hotel. Hugo, annoyed at being often seen as a 'tourist attraction' by important foreigners, curtly wrote back to say that he never left home to visit anyone. To Hugo's surprise, a few days later Pedro II knocked on his door, on his own, asking to see him. As per Hugo's own account, the Emperor was a polite, even shy man.

In 1876 he became the first foreign head of state to visit the United States, and together with President Ulysses S. Grant (SLI) he opened the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. There, he played a significant role by being fascinated by, and calling attention to, Alexander Graham Bell's invention - the telephone - which had already been overlooked by the exposition's judges. In 1930, AT&T recreated the event in short film. It is significant that this is pretty much the only event of historical relevance in Pedro's foreign trips, and that it was a P and I event. Otherwise, Pedro's trips consisted of him visiting places, and meeting people, that he found interesting, and although not hiding, he certainly downplayed his role as a monarch and sitting head of state, preferring to spend time at the many literary and scientific associations he became a member of, particularly in France. Again, that points to I.

The prestige and power of the monarchy in Brazil was in obvious decline in the 1880s, for several reasons. The new generation of politicians and military officers had no personal recollection of the near-anarchy of the 1830s; the Paraguayan War of 1865-70 had vastly increased the army's sense of self-importance and corporate identity and grievance; the Princess Imperial, Isabel, and her French husband, the Comte d'Eu, were personally unpopular and few believed that she would succeed her father upon his death. An European-style monarchy in the Americas was starting to look increasingly anachronistic. Finally, the agrarian oligarchy ceased to support the monarchy due to its decades-long support for the gradual abolition of slavery, which was completed in 1888. By then Pedro II himself was a prematurely aged 63-year old, suffering from diabetes and mercilessly mocked in newspaper cartoons as falling asleep in official events. From his writings, the Emperor seemed aware that the monarchy would not survive him but he lacked the will, or the inclination, to do something about it (or even the knowledge of what he could do). So in November 1889, a minor military revolt in Rio which at first only intended to demand the replacement of the prime minister quickly escalated into a movement aiming at abolishing the monarchy itself. Rather than attempt any kind of resistance, Pedro II returned by train to Rio from his mountain summer residence, and was ordered by the new military provisional government to leave the country with his family by ship the next night. Too proud to accept the provisional government's offer of a large sum of money, Pedro spent the next two years in Paris, doing pretty much the same he did during his previous visits there, that is, at scientific and academic events, financially supported by wealthy friends and European relatives, until his death from pneumonia in 1891.

The overall picture we have of Pedro II is of a man who, despite his hereditary position, was seen by all who met him as modest and even shy; who obviously disliked the trappings of power and status of his position and who was apparently completely oblivious to, or uninterested in, threats to his personal political position, pointing to such weak and devalued F as to point to F4. Also a man obviously able to project personal charm in close encounters and to defuse conflicts (his only active role at the front of the Paraguayan War was precisely to calmly mediate a conflict of egos among the leaders of the three allied nations) and to manage personal relationships with politicians without seemingly any personally disliking him, which points to strong R as well as some awareness of E at personal level. His interest in a wide variety of subjects and languages, as well as his fascination with science and technology, suggest strong I and valued P but with I stronger - his P seemed more manifest in his attraction to knowledgeable people, pointing to P5.  R1, I2, F4, P5 and E7 all fit well what is known of Pedro II, making EII his likely type.

To learn more about EII, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.

Sources: besides the video linked above, the Wikipedia entries on Pedro II are long and high-quality, sufficing for a good idea of his type.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Angela Merkel (LII): Personality Type Analysis

Angela Dorothea Merkel is a German physicist, research scientist and politician who has been serving as the Chancellor (i.e. equivalent to prime minister) of Germany since 1998. She is not only the first woman in that position, but also the youngest when sworn in, as well as the only one with a background in natural sciences.

She was born in 1954 in Hamburg, in what was then West Germany. Soon afterwards her family moved to what was then East Germany so that her father, a Lutheran pastor, could take a position in Perleberg, to the north of Berlin. Therefore, she grew up under East Germany's Soviet-aligned communist regime. Always a very good student - among other things she learned to speak Russian fluently - she studied Physics in the University of Leipzig. Like every young East German who wanted to have a chance of being allowed to go to university, she joined the official youth organisation FDJ (Free German Youth) which led to some minor controversy later, although by all accounts she joined it because she had to, not because of any ideological conviction. Interestingly, she declined a position she sought as a lecturer of engineering as she was informed she would have to report on her colleagues to the Stasi, the secret police, giving as excuse that she was unable to keep secrets. She then became a graduate student at the prestigious Academy of Sciences in Berlin-Adlershof, completing a doctorate with a thesis in the field of quantum chemistry, and she then continued to work there as a research scientist after 1978. Her life was then relatively uneventful until 1989, the year when Europe's communist regimes collapsed and the Berlin Wall was first opened. Following the fall of the East German dictatorship, Merkel decided to join one of the newly-formed political parties, the DA (Democratic Awakening). She was described there as quiet in meetings, mostly not speaking, and helping with technical matters, like installing PCs. When the DA was hit by controversy - that one of their leaders had worked as a Stasi informer -  Merkel volunteered to be the one to deal with the press, becoming noted for her unflappable demeanour, calmly and knowledgeably answering journalists' questions. She attracted the attention of Lothar de Maizière, the head of the only democratically elected government of East Germany in the brief transition period before the reunification, who made her the deputy spokesperson of his government. She then joined the CDU - West Germany's party in government, with which the DA merged - and ran successfully for a parliamentary seat in the first elections of the unified Germany in 1990. The CDU chancellor, Helmut Kohl, who had noticed Merkel previously, immediately appointed her Minister for Women and Youth in his cabinet - a very junior position. Kohl promoted her later to Minister for the Enviroment in 1994. The chancellor clearly appointed her largely because he needed eastern Germans in his government, and as his protegee and the youngest minister, Kohl somewhat patronisingly referred to her as "my girl".

The above already provides some information for Angela Merkel's Socionics type. What first brought her into political visibility is a trait that is very clear to this day, her unflappability when answering complex questions in public, in a very non-emotional, calm, analytical and knowledgeable manner. She has nothing of the more 'inspirational' kind of politicians like Barack Obama (IEI), Bill Clinton (EIE), etc. Her 'charisma' - if it can be called that - stems from her self-confidence in her ability to understand issues and to answer questions in a logical and convincing way. That, and, her 'behind the scenes' low-profile stance in her early days of the DA, when she was almost unnoticed until being the the only one to volunteer to talk to the press in a crisis - already point very clearly to a person of very low E, and hints to low F as well, and of much greater confidence in her understanding of issues and ability to explain them clearly, logically and consistency (L and P). That already points to a Logical rather than Ethical type.

The CDU lost the elections of 1998, leading to Helmut Kohl being succeeded by the SPD's Gerhard Schröder as chancellor; Merkel however retained her seat, and became the secretary-general of the CDU, reporting to the new CDU leader, Wolfgang Schäuble. However, in 1999 the CDU was shaken by a scandal when it was disclosed that it had financed its electoral campaigns via several illegal means. That scandal hit several of the CDU's senior figures, including Schäuble and Helmut Kohl himself, while leaving Merkel untouched. She swiftly placed 'principle' above 'loyalty', publicly criticising, and distancing herself from, the party leaders involved in the scandal, including her former mentor Helmut Kohl, who saw it as a betrayal. With more senior party leaders out of the way, Angela Merkel became CDU leader, which also meant leader of the opposition. With the failure of Gerhard Schröder's SPD to maintain its majority in 2005, Angela Merkel emerged as the new German Chancellor, in a government of a "Grand Coalition" of the CDU and SPD.

Interestingly, although she had become CDU leader in 2000, she was not the CDU candidate for chancellor in the 2002 elections; rather it was Edmund Stoiber, the charismatic premier of Bavaria, who however lost the election to Schröder in 2002, leaving the path finally open to Merkel. Stoiber, the leader of the CDU's sister party CSU, had likewise been unaffected by the CDU scandals, and it is revealing that Merkel's rise seemed to depend far more on the self-destruction of her rivals than on her own drive for power (in a career path parallel to that of François Hollande (SEI) ).

As already mentioned, Merkel made a point of publicly condemning those involved in the CDU scandals, not sparing those to whom she owed personal loyalty, especially Helmut Kohl and Wolfgang Schäuble - some could unkindly say that she "threw them under the bus". This is an interesting contrast to politicians who value personal loyalty above all, like Jacques Chirac (SEE), yet the other evidence shown above does not point to Merkel being a ruthless power-seeker who stabs her former mentors in the back for the sake of her own personal advancement. Rather, it points to a person who devalues R as well as having low focus on F, with her placing abstract principles and concepts L, and/or pragmatism P, above R. Merkel's approach to R is best illustrated by her nearly identical answers in separate interviews, when she was asked about the status of her relationships with her former mentor Helmut Kohl, her former party leader Wolfgang Schäuble, and her defeated predecessor as chancellor, Gerhard Schröder - all by then in one form or the other in political oblivion, while she had risen to the top. On those occasions, Merkel's answer was a variation of (paraphrasing): "status of the relationship? What do you mean? Well we do talk. Sometimes" or in Kohl's case,  a very matter-of fact answer: no, they were not in contact.

Almost any other politician in her position, I daresay, would either have given more 'political', positive, socially acceptable answers, or 'passionate' ones (E), or elaborated in more detail in each specific case (R), or perhaps even, aware that she was in a position of immense power while her former rivals were in oblivion, shown either glee or mercy (which would be related to awareness of F). Merkel's answers - which were seen as odd by journalists - show again weak F, E and R, but R rather as something she feels the need to pay at least lip service to, pointing to R3.

Angela Merkel has been married (for the second time) since 1998 to Joachim Sauer, a chemistry professor in Berlin of some reputation in the field of heterogeneous catalysts. He keeps an extremely low public profile and they both prefer to live in their own apartment in Berlin, where she has said she likes to take refuge in a quiet atmosphere and cook for her husband. She has often openly expressed dislike for the gigantic Federal Chancellery designed and built by Helmut Kohl as the seat of government of the new unified Germany (a sign of lack of concern for any negative PR those comments could cause - weak focus on E+T) and that she prefers not to work at the huge Kohl-designed desk in her office but rather at the more down-to-earth meeting table. All of that points to a person with a clear focus on S, but with a lack of concern for, even awareness of, the symbolic trappings of power of her office (E+T). Also revealingly, when recalling her life as a researcher in East Berlin, what she emphasised as being very negative and depressive about that period was not the lack of freedom in East Germany along with the awareness that colleagues might be Stasi informers - no, what she found most depressive was how "ugly" everything was in East Germany. All of the above points to S as far more valued than F and places Merkel in the Alpha or Delta quadras.

What we have so far points consistently to a Logical type of the Alpha or Delta quadras who has very low focus on F, E and R, and the consistent description of her behaviour in her earliest political activities suggest an Integrator type. That would point to LII as well as SLI as plausible types; however, Merkel's approach to R and L  noted above points to R3 rather than to R6, and her S, although valued, seems S6 rather than S1: Merkel likes positive S sensations for herself but she is not a person obviously able to create a positive S environment for others, by means of a warm or soothing personality. The evidence points to LII as Angela Merkel's type and that fits everything that is known about her, as well as her approach to the office of German Chancellor.

To learn more about LII, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.

Sources: besides Wikipedia, several YouTube interviews as well as interviews and articles in the weekly Der Spiegel.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Ed Wood (ILE): Personality Type Analysis

Edward David Wood Jr., best known simply as Ed Wood, was an American film director, producer, writer, and actor, as well as the author of plays and many books, mostly novels. He has often been called the “worst director of all time”, having directed the supposedly “worst film ever made”, Plan 9 from Outer Space in 1956. Although he achieved little recognition in his lifetime, he later became a cult figure, a status consolidated by Tim Burton’s 1994 biographical film Ed Wood starring Johnny Depp. 

Ed Wood was born in 1924 in New York to middle-class parents. Already in his teens he showed enthusiasm for films and film-making. He served as a marine in WWII in the Pacific, seeing combat several times and being wounded more than once. Discharged as a corporal, he moved to Hollywood in 1947 to start working as a filmmaker. Although able to get work in the mainstream movie and television industry as a writer and director of commercials and very low-budget productions, from the beginning Ed preferred to work independently; a path he maintained to the end.

In 1953 Ed wrote, directed and starred (under a pseudonym) the semi-autobiographical, semi-documentary Glen or Glenda; it and his later Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 from Outer Space are today the movies most often associated with Ed Wood, but his total body of work, including movies where he just wrote or produced, is much vaster. Unfortunately, Ed never achieved critical or commercial success in his lifetime, sinking in the 1970s into exploitative soft-porn films and alcoholism, until his death in 1978 from a heart attack during an episode of binge drinking and depression.

We can get a first hint from Ed Wood’s Socionics type from a broad-brush look at his movies as a whole – at least those of the 1950s and 1960s, where they were still 'his' films, before he sunk into pure exploitation flicks. Their common traits are:


  1. a spark of originality, even in old genres, that make them somewhat innovative in relation to similar movies of the time; 
  2. usually plots that do make some sense and are often complex (even in implausible or absurd scenarios or premises); 
  3. awkward dialogue that sounds more like digressions on ideas or obvious tools to carry the plot rather than plausible portrayals of how human beings interact; 
  4. extremely low budgets with the cheapness of the sets and special effects being laughably obvious; 
  5. the use of stock footage to complement the story (or as padding); 
  6. very bad, wooden acting except when he had a truly good actor like Bela Lugosi.

Something revealing about the above traits is that Ed genuinely did not seem to realise the extent to which his awkward dialogues, extremely bad acting and obviously cheap effects and sets would detract from the audience's enjoyment of the often entertaining and original stories. He seemed to think that the audience would mostly overlook those 'details' in favour of enjoying the pictures as a whole (as he himself did). He obviously knew these movies were cheap; but he did not see the extent to which they came across as shoddy. I argue that that already points to Ed Wood having weak R, as well as E since he had extreme difficulty with convincing, realistic dialogues (showing a difficulty in understanding how people interact) but also probably weak S since he seemed to underestimate how his shoddy details would come across.

Ed's chief defining trait was an extreme self-confidence in being able to make movies single-handedly and in his ability to write original, interesting scripts in a variety of subjects and genres, as well as in bringing to production movies from nearly non-existing resources. This points to strong confidence in I as well as P, being naturally able to generate novel ideas and find the practical means of making his ideas work in reality.

Interestingly, Ed was far more focused on making the movies he wanted to make rather than making money from them, both in terms of not 'selling out' by trying to work as a hired hand for others, and in not really being very careful about protecting his interests when signing contracts and the like. Also, although Ed was depressed in the end due to the failure of his career, financial gain was never his chief motivation. That points to weak and subdued F as well as subdued P. It is useful to contrast Ed Wood with his near-contemporary, Roger Corman (LSE). Corman was in many ways similar to Ed in preferring to make his own movies independently and making them very cheaply. The chief difference is that Corman's ultimate goal was making profitable movies even at the cost of their originality, with Corman being far more a producer than a writer and creator of original movies he cared deeply about - that is, with P being a greater priority than I.

Ed's movies are also original and unconventional by slightly deviating from the norm in existing genres and movies, and he did that in a large variety of ways. He seldom, or never, went into truly 'experimental' movies that went deeply outside the norm or explored deep insights or inner demons, he preferred to explore ideas broadly while not going too deeply into them. That is consistent with being strong in I and preferring it over T for a filmmaker.

Taking a closer look at Glen or Glenda, which according to Ed himself is an accurate depiction of one aspect of his psychology and private life, we find an inclination towards cross-dressing. Ed Wood retained since childhood a liking for wearing women's clothes and a special liking for angora pieces. Yet, by all accounts, including of his ex-wife Dolores Fuller and his widow, Kathy O'Hara, this had no connection to homosexuality or transgenderism, but was a purely sensorial fetish, since his childhood when his mother used to dress him in girl's clothes, of angora in particular.

Ed's inner thoughts on the matter are probably illustrated by this passage of Glen or Glenda :
Give this man satin undies, a dress, a sweater and a skirt or even the lounging outfit he has on and he’s the happiest individual in the world. He can work better, think better, even play better. He can be more of a credit to his community and his government, because he is happy".
This is a first-person description of S5, in particular blocked with E in super-id, and according to those who knew him intimately it accurately represents his reasons for his cross-dressing.

This all boils down to a man of very strong and valued I1, with strong but subdued P8, weak and valued S5 and E6 as well as subdued very weak R4 with likely F3. The type that fits Ed Wood best is ILE.

The Church of Ed Wood, established in 1996, is a legally recognised religious organisation in the US based on Ed Wood as the Saviour.

To learn more about ILE, please click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.

Sources: besides Wikipedia and direct observations of his movies, the documentaries Ed Wood: look back in angora  and the "Incredibly Strange" episode on Ed . 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Avicenna (LIE): Personality Type Analysis

Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn al-Ḥasan ibn ʿAlī ibn Sīnā, commonly known as  Avicenna or Ibn Sīnā, was a Persian Islamic philosopher responsible for bringing Aristotle's (LIE) works into the wider consciousness in the Post-Classical era. He originated a version of the Argument from the First Cause for the existence of God. Avicenna was also widely respected in his day for his medical writings and his textbook, The Cannon of Medicine, which remained a standard work until the 17th centuryBorn near Bukhara in modern-day Uzbekistan in 980, Avicenna had memorised the Koran by the age of 10 and by 21 was a well-rounded intellectual, accomplished in all areas of learning including medicine, mathematics, music, astronomy and logic. Avicenna lived in turbulent times, when Turkish forces were fighting for dominance in Central Asia. At the same time, local Iranian dynasties were struggling to gain independence from the central Muslim dynasty, the Abbasid caliphate, which was based in modern-day Baghdad, Iraq. Despite having to move from town to town in Khorasan to work for living as a physician and an administrator - Avicenna managed to further his intellectual pursuits and wrote around 200 treatises as well as several major works, of which the most famous are the Kitab ashifa (Book of Healing) and al-Qanun fi at-tibb (The Canon of Medicine). 

Avicenna's major contributions to the sciences were in medicine and philosophy. Reason, reality and a deep seated skepticism in determining fact from fiction was central to his philosophy. He also stressed the importance of gaining knowledge to be used as a tool to sharpen the mind. Avicenna believed that through reason, it was possible for an individual to progress through various levels of understanding and eventually reach the truth about God; the ultimate object of knowledge. Avicenna held that since God was the originator of existence, he must be pure intellect. Avicenna's approach was slightly different. He developed a scientific procedure in which "general and universal questions came first and eventually led to experimental work." It seems that Avicenna believed that the theoretical and the practical were two separate things, that theory was primarily just speculative and required practice to put it into reality. This gives us a decent case of the Gamma Researcher method to deal with unique ideas by diminishing the quantity of conceivable outcomes we consider, in view of testing of what really works. In this way, we can say at any rate this fits P1 and T2 for Avicenna - as he always scanning for and including himself in pragmatic ventures keeping in mind incredulously to decision components of his rationality that didn't fill a teleological need, instead of discover more things that fit the hypothesis.

As a young adult, Avicenna attempted to integrate elements of Aristotelian and Platonic (IEI) philosophy with his belief in God as the creator. In this area, he departed from Classical thinking and took on the central subject of metaphysics - the existence of God. Drawing on Plato's ideas, he made a distinction between essence and existence. He described essence is the nature of things, while physical manifestation is entirely separate. For example: The essence of a 'horse' or a 'stone' does not imply that a particular horse or stone exists. Existence has to have been created by a necessary essence that is itself not caused. To put it another way, for the material world to have come into being, another factor must have caused it; in turn another factor must have brought this factor into being. Avicenna proposed that an essential cause and its effect cannot be part of an infinite chain. There has to be a First Cause, and this is God. God is the necessary existent, and the world emanated from him. In this way, Avicenna believed that he had proved God's existence. Avicenna went on to show that God, reflecting on his own existence, emanated a First Intellect; the self awareness of this intellect gave rise to a Second Intellect. Successive levels of intelligence emanated from them, creating the universe and the matter that fills it; the tenth and final intellect produced the material world. For Avicenna, the nature of God means that the universe has to exist as it does. Every stage from the First Intellect through all the emanations to the creation of the material world was entirely necessary and not the work of a deity that decided the form of creation. Thus, the creation of God and the universe were all part of the same process. This contradicted the biblical and Koranic theory of Creation as an act of free will on the part of God. Within Avicenna's work, he was somewhat unconcerned with managing minor points of interest identified with their pragmatic work. He ignored the handy matters of association and the subtle elements of executing their thoughts, while driving an exceptionally dynamic way of life that infrequently veered off from his work, leaving insignificant time for unwinding. Moreover, in spite of managing broadly with medicinal practices - he found the physical state of the human body to sicken and inclined to controlling the psyche and soul into falling into evil longings like desire and intemperance. From what data we think about Avicenna, we can say in any event that he was a S4 type that gave little consideration to the physical components of his surroundings and had little commitment to expand on the parts of medicine that had nothing to do with scientific investigation.

For individuals to gain knowledge and grow closer to the truth about the Creator, they had to attempt to grasp the intelligible, using reason and logic. Avicenna followed Aristotle's thought in Prior Analytics, which he identified the capacity for a person to hit upon the middle term of syllogism to develop arguments. (A traditional syllogism has two premises and a conclusion, such as 'All mortal things die. All men are mortal things. All men die.' The middle term is the term that the two premises have in common - in this case, mortal things) For Avicenna, when a person understood such intelligibles, he or she came in touch with the active intellect, the final level of being that originated from God. The capacity for gaining knowledge varied enormously between people; a prophet who knew virtually all of the intelligibles, had the greatest capacity. He found mathematics and metaphysics as hard and thorny subjects. Both are purely theoretical, and usually the natural domain of the LII. He found it easy to make progress in medicine, which is an extremely practical subject, that requires a high level of practical improvisation, to tailor the treatment to the patient. That being said, Avicenna was not interested in thinking about the internal consistency of logical systems. He entirely based his viewpoints and suppositions on factual information, evidence, and ideas external to systems of logical inference. This fits L7 being largely overshadowed by strong and valued P.

For Avicenna, it was the human soul that engaged with the task of gaining knowledge of reality. The human soul was incorporeal - separate from the material world. This was because an intellectual thought, in order to remain a coherent concept, but instead was held by one single intellect. The soul was therefore also immortal, the disintegration of the body after death did not affect it. In Avicenna's final major philosophical work, Kitab al-isharat wa at-tanbihat (Book of Directives and Remarks), he wrote of the path of knowledge from the beginning to the final vision of God. It was written during the last fourteen years of his life in which he lived relatively peacefully in the employ of Ala ad-Dawlah, the ruler of Esfahan, Iran. Within Avicenna's span of over 200+ written works, he digresses on several topics that he learned for his own sake, but subjected these ideas to skeptical evaluation based on their applicability or usefulness to other ideas. Nevertheless, this supports the idea of I8 and taking a keen interest in a very broad range of topics that he compiled into a series of written works.

From what I've recorded above as of now is consistent with P1, T2, S4, L7 and I8. That is, the LIE type of information metabolism.

To learn more about LIE, click here.

If you are confused by our Socionics shorthand, click here.

Heraclitus (ILI): Personality Type Analysis

Heraclitus was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who lived in the city of Ephesus, at the time part of the Persian Empire. In his most active period around 500 BCE, Heraclitus postulated a distinguishing theory which he called "Logos" or an oratorical method used to convince or persuasion through logic. He is famously known for his central dogma of philosophy, universal flux, unity of opposites and that fire is element that comprises everything in the universe. The supposed interpretation of these doctrines has been the subject of controversy for historians, since his original inference often drawn from this theory that in the world as Heraclitus conceived - that these contradictory propositions must be true.

What interested Heraclitus the most in philosophy was metaphysics and epistemology, which is a very internal subject, which thus gave way for Heraclitus to implore it with absolute confidence in detached monologues that took the form of a perplexing riddle or puzzle. The virtuous soul can survive the death of its physical body and eventually rejoin the cosmic fire. However, the process of separation and unity is continual. Heraclitus believed that opposites was the driving force and eternal condition of the universe. This is best demonstrated in this statement, "Men do not understand that being at variance it also agrees with itself, there is a harmony, as with the bow and the lyre." Heraclitus argues that equal strife and opposition are both necessary and good, because the concept of universal tension ensures that both opposites will exchange periods of alternating dominance and that none shall ever completely extinguish the other. His life's work, preference for observing the world in terms of how things will turn out and engagement in scholarly activities suggests a type with very strong T, perhaps the only feasible explanation for this would be T1


Of what little is known from his life, of what the most reliable information about him has been passed down through stories written to illustrate his character inferred from his own work. What is known for certain, is his own dogma of philosophy, "Everything is in a state of flux and strife between opposites is the eternal condition of the universe". Anyone who challenged this claim, was condemned so witless by Herclitus that they should "hang themselves and leave the city to the rule of children". His antagonism of the first order often got him in trouble with other philosophers of the time, he personally ridiculed Homer the Poet and claimed that he should have been turned out and whipped. Heraclitus only held great disdain for philosophers he personally disliked, yet he still scornfully dismissed ideas from philosophers he thought to be idiots and did not hesitate to dismantle the intellectual integrity of both Pythagoras and Xenophanes. Heraclitus emphasised much attention towards the people who he clearly liked and disliked, while simultaneously avoiding the public impression that Heraclitus unknowingly cultivated himself. The following above is consistent with a man with very weak R and E, though clearly valuing R over E. Primarily, his judgement of relations with other people was determined on the basis of resentment and gave little effort (if any) to try to improve these relationships at all. All that has previously been stated above already confirms F5 and R6 in the Super-Id, E4 in the Super-Ego, all of which point to Gamma as the most likely quadra for Heraclitus.


Heraclitus thought that the three principal elements of nature were earth, fire and water. He postulated that fire was a primary substance that contains and controls the other two substances. Heraclitus stated, "All things are in exchange for fire, and fire for all things... the transformations of fire are, first of all, sea; and half of the sea is earth, half whirlwind." In his view, the 'fire' that Heraclitus believed to be contained within all materials on earth, were in direct counterpart to the human soul. Furthermore, he believed weak men to be tainted by the 'watery' elements of nature, reflecting fatigue, stupidity and vice. Unlike other rational philosophers during his time period, Heraclitus often chose not to explain the reasons behind his thinking in great detail. Indeed, the fragments of his works that survive today are so obscure, that even those who followed in his footsteps (the Stoics were perhaps closest to uncovering the complete rationale behind his thoughts) had nicknamed him "the riddler". His works are written in aphoristic and prophetic style, with a clear contempt for those that cannot see what is clearly before them. This strongly fits strong and unvalued L, very similar to L8.


Thus far what has been mentioned about Heraclitus clearly points towards T1, E4, F5, R6 and L8. In conclusion, I believe Heraclitus is a good representative of the ILI type of information metabolism.


To learn more about ILI, click here.

If you are confused by our Socionics shorthand, click here.

Osamu Dazai (IEI): Personality Type Analysis

Osamu Dazai was a Japanese novelist, considered to be one of the most important storytellers of postwar Japan. While known primarily as a novelist, Dazai also earned recognition for his numerous short stories, including “Omoide” (“Memories”), “Sarugashima” (“Monkey Island”), and “Ha” (“Leaves”), which were published in Bannen, his first collection of short stories. Like most of his longer fiction, Dazai's short stories are autobiographical and reflect a troubled life marred by alcoholism, drug addiction, and several suicide attempts. Nevertheless, Dazai's fiction showcases his artistic imagination and unique confessional narrative technique.

Of what is known of Osamu during his youth, was his obsession with Japanese communities and society, nearly to the point where he would feel extremely desolate and depressed when people didn't take notice to his lamentations on what would happen to these societies in the future. Osamu was also interested in idealized projections of a utopia, he actively expressed of resentment towards societies he perceived as failures. (Countries torn apart by war, famine, apartheid, etc.) Many of his novels can easily be identified by having a very dark and wry theme, from powerful explorations of an individual’s alienation from society to the destructive effects of war and the transition from a feudal Japan to an industrial society. Osamu was regularly arranged towards the wanderings of his creative ability in everyday life, running recollections through his mind numerous times to understand the progressions of their own adventure. This consistent hunt of importance in his life and philosophising on the explanation behind human presence (i.e. "Why we are here and what everything is paving the way to."), would point to a type with a very strong confidence in T, more like T1 than the weaker T6.

Osamu desperately wanted to share the depths and insights of his novels that projected the casual cruelties of life and its fleeting moments of human connection and tenderness. Osamu was interested in getting others to feel what he felt, in hopes that individuals out there in the world wouldn't be afraid in exploring their own darker emotional states. In his youth, Osamu acted unusually cheerful and whimsical, though he spoke about this to address that he wanted to "mask how I truly felt on the inside". Osamu tried to motivate others by this idea and determined a solid feeling of recognizable proof with the individuals who might transparently bolster him in his tries. However, this did not give Osamu the results that he expected, with much of his works becoming bestselling novels in Japan long after his death. His methodology emerged in public settings, though was is considerably more inconspicuous and supportive, permitting him to work easily out of sight of a group. This suggests that Osamu was very fluent in E related works, bringing the notion of his flexibility in whether to add a profound T deeper meaning or the struggles of how people emerge triumphantly from F harsher realities, hinting at a flexible E2 than a more restrained E5.

Osamu had a hidden self-destructive nature in which he was involved in various scandals with women in an attempt to force himself out of his own negative emotional states. He actively sought physical stimulation in an attempt to passionately feel something, rather than be dragged down by trivial and meaningless tasks. His scandalous life of drug addiction, alcoholism, rebelliousness, love affairs, and despair touched the lost generation of his times. Osamu was easily manipulated and taken advantage of by others, his advocation of communism at the time of post-war Japan had very little practical bearing on reality and pertained to his own insights and reflections of an ideal world. Furthermore, he was able to fulfill his pervasive interest in revolutionary change by participating in the Pacific war, motivating him to act. The following already makes sense for a type with weak, valued F and unvalued P, making it more likely for an unattended P4 and sensitive F5.

In his personal life, Osamu was very emotionally intelligent and nihilistic towards the meaninglessness of human society, constantly striving for a "perfect society" that could not be practically implemented in the physical world. Osamu specifically lacked the ability to clearly express his inner perceptions to others, resulting in him becoming even more troubled and isolated from Japanese society. As an adult, the majority of his literary works become increasingly despairing, thus reflecting his own emotional crisis. Osamu Dazai spent years formulating a clear ideology for himself to live by and thus provided much needed structure to his own beliefs. Osamu sought to keep up a steady, clear comprehension of himself and the world he was involved in, alongside with the time that he set aside in his leisure to attempt to make sense of his actual needs in life and standards for him to live by. This points to a type with weak and valued L6.

His literary works would often reflect the cogitations to topics pertaining to morality, ethics, and relationships, wanting others to better understand that human nature isn't "black and white". The stories he wrote carried a large amount of emotional depth and the personal internalized conceptions of not what humanity "should be" but rather delivers his gloomy and nihilistic interpretation of what humanity "is". Rather than delving into an assortment of insights and intrigues, Osamu concentrated seriously on his thoughts that he felt conveyed individually intending to his presence and committed himself hours upon hours expounding on subjects that once in awhile veered off from negative emotionality. This recommends somebody with a powerlessness to adjust I for the sake of T, suggesting the relationship between I7 and T1 with reluctantly having to come up with alternate perceptions of these topics that already held a clear vision in his mind. 

Thus far what has been mentioned about Osamu clearly points towards T1, E2, P4, F5, L6, I7. In conclusion, I believe that Osamu is a very clear IEI.

To learn more about IEI, click here.

If you are confused by our Socionics shorthand, click here.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Trajan (EIE): Personality Type Analysis

Marcus Ulpius Traianus, later Imperator Caesar Nerva Traianus Augustus, best known as Trajan, was the 13th Roman Emperor from 98 to 117. His reign is usually regarded as the zenith of the classical Roman civilisation, in terms of territorial expansion and political and military self-confidence. Trajan himself was associated with and largely credited for that zenith.  He was born in 53 in Spain, the first emperor not born in Italy. His father was closely associated with the Flavian emperors and so Trajan climbed easily the steps of the typical aristocratic Roman public career. He had already reached the highest levels of public office as the Emperor Domitian, a gloomy ruler of authoritarian inclinations, was assassinated in his own bedroom and succeeded by the elderly senator Nerva (IEI) as emperor. Nerva’s brief reign was marked by politico-military meltdown, until he abruptly appointed Trajan as his successor, who at the time was serving as a military governor on the Danube border. Nerva died shortly afterwards leading to Trajan’s smooth ascension.

In terms of major events, Trajan’s reign can be summarised as: a few years of consolidation and military build-up followed by two brief, successive campaigns against the Dacians across the Danube, following up previous conflicts under Domitian (ILI).  Those campaigns led to the annexation of what is roughly Romania today. Then, some ten years of civil administration and the low-profile annexation of what is today Jordan. In his final years, Trajan launched a major war against the Parthian Empire, leading to the (short-lived) annexation of today’s Iraq and the South Caucasus, with Trajan dying of natural causes immediately afterwards while still in the region . At this point the Roman Empire reached the largest territorial expansion it would ever reach.

Trajan spent much time of his early career, and later as emperor, as a military commander, and clearly felt comfortable in that role.  At war, he made a point of taking personal command, so that at the end of his Parthian campaign he became the only Roman Emperor ever to reach the Persian Gulf personally. He was seen by his contemporaries as a “soldier-emperor” and that was a very important part of the public image he consciously promoted. Historically, although it can be argued that his Dacian Wars were inherited from Domitian, in the case of Parthia he went for an all-out war as reaction to a treaty breach when there were probably other options – in fact the historian and senator Cassius Dio, and the later Emperor Julian the Apostate (LIE), took for granted in their writings that Trajan had been driven by a desire for conquest and glory as goals in themselves. All of the above points strongly to Trajan having F as a valued function, and so being a type of the Beta or Gamma quadras. Having said that, how strong Trajan’s F was is less clear. Although an obviously competent general, it is also true that both his Dacian and Parthian campaigns were based on the use of overwhelming military force, mobilizing in each case over one third of the entire Roman army in cautious, strategically planned campaigns. This is in clear contrast to Julius Caesar (SEE), Sulla (ESI) or Scipio Africanus (ESI), F ego types who relied more on on-the-fly tactical improvisation and very efficient and quick, aggressive use of the existing resources even when in numerical disadvantage. Surely Trajan had more options than they, but that already hints at F being not quite as strong as F1, and more like F6.

Arguably Trajan’s greatest achievement as emperor was not military, though, but political. All his predecessors, after Augustus (LIE), had had difficulty with the fundamental political problem of balancing their three main “constituencies”, that is, the armies, the Senate, and Rome’s civilian population, with often conflicting priorities. Trajan’s predecessors had often ended up hated by the Senate and/or people while relying on support from the military - or toppled by military force if they lost support in that area. Trajan however managed the political feat of gaining support from all those 'factions'. To the army he was a competent, victorious commander-in-chief who looked after their concerns as “one of them”; to the Senate he was an accessible leader who interacted with his former peers in terms of social near-equality; to the general population he was an approachable ruler who spent lavishly on public works and spectacles, and improved the supply of water and grain. That was accomplished by a combination of three factors: Trajan’s personality; real, tangible achievements; and the 'ideology' of his rule, supported by what can be called PR or propaganda. He has been called the first emperor to have governed with anything like a consistent official ideology, or perhaps narrative.

That ideology, or narrative, was simple: Trajan was the emperor because he was the best man for the job, due to his personal qualities, 'CV', connections, and the manner of his ascension, which gave him a sort of “legitimacy” or “mandate” that most of his predecessors had lacked. To back that up, he had to act the role.  He had a politician’s gift for remembering the names of individual citizens and soldiers; “his association with the people was marked by affability and his intercourse with the Senate by dignity” according to Cassius Dio; he would attend private social events unguarded (no 'secret service'). The overall impression, by all accounts, is of a man who does not put a foot wrong and seems at ease in any social situation. In private, though, among his intimates and cronies, he indulged a bit in hedonism with bisexual debauchery and drunken parties, yet avoiding really bad crapulence or harming anyone. Halfway through his reign the Senate created for him the honorific title of Optimus Princeps, “the best emperor”. There may be a seeming contradiction in that the regime’s official ideology was necessarily based on a cult of personality ,and yet Trajan managed the balancing act of minimising that - by proving himself worthy of it, apparently without seeming ridiculous or a hypocrite.  Never mind the occasional theatrical gestures such as telling his Praetorian Prefect, in public, to “use your sword to protect me if I govern well, or against, me, if I govern badly”.  This is all the more impressive as in terms of actual power and centralised decision-making, he was as autocratic as the “tyrant” Domitian had been. The usually sceptical historian and senator Tacitus (LSI), a contemporary and generally harsh critic of the autocratic imperial regime, was charmed, writing that Trajan had accomplished what had seemed impossible, reconciling the rule by emperors with freedom of thought and expression.  I argue that the above strongly hints at a man with very high confidence in E, possibly at the level of a modern master politician, like Jacques Chirac (SEE), John F. Kennedy (EIE), Ronald Reagan (EIE), Bill Clinton (EIE) or Barack Obama (IEI). That his perfectly fine-tuned image was held together by a consistent ideology, however simple, suggests some valuing of L even if not very strong.

There is direct evidence on Trajan as a person as his correspondence with Pliny the Younger (IEI) has survived, from the period when Pliny was Trajan’s governor of what is today northern Turkey. Some of the letters are trivial (like Pliny congratulating Trajan on his birthday and Trajan thanking him, etc.), or matter-of-fact questions and answers on precise legal matters; others, though, give a glimpse into Trajan’s mind and personality. First, when writing to Pliny, a younger man now serving as his direct subordinate, Trajan mostly goes out of his way to write in a friendly and polite manner, carefully explaining the reasons for his decisions rather than just handing down instructions, especially when he has to turn down a request of Pliny’s. He writes to Pliny more like a mentor than as a ruler or boss. A couple of exceptions are when Trajan reacts a bit impatiently, in a “why are you even asking me this” way.  Nevertheless the easily accessible ruler who spoke to senators in terms of social equality, described by Dio, is consistently seen in those letters.  In terms of Trajan’s reasoning  for his decisions, it is interesting that when restraining Pliny’s occasional authoritarian inclinations (as when he suggested compulsory loans in his province), Trajan argues that such things are not “in accordance with the spirit of our times” – the ancient equivalent of today’s argumentation based on “it’s 2017!” – rather than argue their intrinsic unfairness or inefficiency. This points to a mind arguing rather from a E and T perspective rather than L or P. Most famously, and of historical significance, is Trajan’s reply to Pliny on how to deal with Christians in his province. Being a Christian had technically been illegal since Nero’s persecution, some 50 years before, but in practice the Roman State usually did not concern itself with the issue, so that Pliny was baffled when, as governor, he had to deal with people accused of being Christians. He had no idea of what that meant or what their precise legal status was, and upon interrogation Pliny, in his words, “found nothing but a degenerate sort of cult carried to extravagant lengths”, and some people were being denounced as Christians anonymously, so he wrote Trajan for guidance. The reply, in full, was:
“You have followed the right course of procedure, my dear Pliny, in your examination of the cases of persons charged with being Christians, for it is impossible to lay down a general rule to a fixed formula. These people must not be hunted out; if they are brought before you and the charge against them is proved, they must be punished, but in the case of anyone who denies that he is a Christian, and makes it clear that he is not by offering prayers to our gods, he is to be pardoned as a result of his repentance however suspect his past conduct may be. But pamphlets circulated anonymously must play no part in any accusation. They create the worst sort of precedent and are quite out of keeping with the spirit of our age.”


This letter became generally the legal precedent for subsequent reigns until the more active persecutions of the 3rd century, and was often praised for its relative tolerance;  however, also criticised, already in ancient times, for its inconsistency and opportunism:  being a Christian continued to be against the law, but not something as bad as deserving active concern by the state. This pragmatism, even opportunism, yet combined with a sense of justice, is present in most of Trajan’s letters, and at least in day-to-day matters of governing points to P as having a higher focus than L.

Elaborating on P. Trajan’s civilian administration was very concerned with practical matters such as building roads, bridges, aqueducts, public spaces, and ports, not only in Rome and Italy but across the empire. Yet, revealingly, rather than merely practical endeavours (such as the extensive but 'low-key' road-building program of Antonius Pius (SLI)), Trajan’s reign was a time of 'the biggest': the largest forum, the largest public baths, the longest bridge, the largest harbour, etc. Although of practical utility, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Trajan was at least as concerned, if not more, with the propaganda or feel-good effect of such grandiose building as he was with their practical benefits. That is, it shows a concern with E+T as at least equal to P, but it also points to P as not being a truly weak function.

Trajan’s approach to P can be solved by his final years. As mentioned above, in 114 he launched a major war against the Parthian Empire which resulted in quick early victories, with him announcing the annexation to the Roman Empire of today’s Iraq and the South Caucasus and then starting to return to Rome. This military success was however undermined by practical realities: first, the  invasion of Mesopotamia greatly disturbed the vast Jewish population living in the Parthian Empire, with the Exilarch calling for a Jewish uprising in the Roman Empire, which quickly ignited in Egypt and Cyprus in particular; second, the Roman Empire’s hold on those newly-annexed provinces was tenuous, with rebellions taking place even as Trajan had barely left the region. He died while still in today’s Turkey, leading to the succession of his close kinsman and associate Hadrian (ILE), then the governor of Syria. Hadrian’s first major decision was the immediate withdrawal from Trajan’s newly annexed provinces – a very controversial decision for any Roman Emperor, and which suggests that the impracticality of those annexations must have seemed obvious (although not to Trajan). Also, one of the enduring mysteries of Trajan’s reign is precisely that he died, of natural causes in his sixties, without clearly announcing Hadrian as his successor, which could have led to a succession crisis. Yet it was clear to everyone that Hadrian would succeed him as he was Trajan’s closest male relative as well as the commander of the largest military forces when Trajan died. I suggest that the explanation points to Trajan being ultimately more concerned with L: having based his rule on an L ideology of the emperor being “the best man for the job” as per general consensus, he could not decide to flatly overrule that for P purposes in single-handedly appointing Hadrian (or anyone else) as his successor.

What we have, then, as a man of very strong confidence and focus on E who also very obviously values F without it seeming to be an ego function; who values L over P but at the same time had P as seemingly stronger, with his P actions seemingly helping his E motivations. That is, a Beta of very strong E and visible P and F with weak but valued L. The type that fits Trajan best is EIE.

Trajan’s reputation as “the best emperor” remained undiminished through the centuries. To the end of the Empire the Senate acclaimed a new emperor with the wishes that he would be “better than Trajan”;  Dante Alighieri, who in his Divine Comedy had placed many popes in Hell, saw fit, exceptionally, to place the pagan Trajan in Heaven.

To learn more about EIE, please click here.

If you are confused by our Socionics shorthand, click here.


Sources: besides Wikipedia, the scholarly biography is Julian Bennett’s Trajan: Optimus Princeps. Cassius Dio’s history and Pliny’s correspondence with Trajan are available online.

Monday, 8 May 2017

François Hollande (SEI): Personality Type Analysis

François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande is a French civil servant, lawyer and politician who served as the President of France since elected in 2012 as the PS (Socialist Party) candidate, defeating the incumbent president, Nicolas Sarkozy (LIE), until leaving office in May 2017.

Like the majority of French presidents and prime ministers since the 1970s, Hollande is an alumnus of the ultra-elite ENA graduate school. His classmates there included Dominique de Villepin (later Jacques Chirac’s (SEE) last prime minister) and Ségolène Royal (defeated by Sarkozy in the presidential election of 2007; Hollande's Minister of Ecology), who became his domestic partner and with whom Hollande has 4 children. On the one hand Hollande’s political career has been typical of his generation in the sense that he slowly climbed up the ranks of the PS through a succession of legislative and executive elective offices, until becoming First Secretary of the Socialist Party (that is, its nominal leader) in 1997 on the recommendation of Lionel Jospin, then the PS Prime Minister. On the other hand, however, his political rise has also been unusual in the sense that his political career was based on local and regional offices, and he remains the only French president of the 5th Republic to have never been a cabinet minister. It is fair to say that when he launched his presidential bid, François Hollande was relatively unknown to the general French public: he had been the President of the Corrèze Regional Council (that is, roughly equivalent to county executive) in his Corrèze political base in the southwest of France for four years and had not occupied a truly high-profile political position at national level.

It is widely acknowledged that the relatively unknown Hollande defeated Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012 not so much because of his own merits, but rather because of the French electorate’s exhaustion and frustration with Sarkozy, who had by then been a very visible and dominating figure in French politics for about a decade. Likewise, Hollande rose to become the PS presidential candidate not so much because he had long actively pursued that position strategically (like Sarkozy had), but much more because of the successive elimination of his PS rivals, both through the political self-destruction of the heavyweights (Lionel Jospin and Dominique Strauss-Kahn) and the higher unpopularity in the PS of his later rivals (Laurent Fabius and Ségolène Royal herself). It is fair to say that Hollande’s rise to the presidency was based far more on him being the 'last survivor' after quietly standing on the sidelines, than on him being a relentless power-seeker.

The veteran journalist Franz-Olivier Giesbert, in his documentary on Hollande, observed that all of Hollande’s political rivals consistently underestimated his intellect, resilience, and political skills. Lionel Jospin made Hollande his successor as First Secretary of the PS because Jospin wanted precisely a man who would “bring calm, serenity and concord” to the PS, then torn asunder by political fights in the aftermath of François Mitterrand’s (IEI) death. That is, Jospin obviously saw Hollande as an alternative to the heavyweights fighting for prominence in the party, rather than as a faction leader himself or someone who would be resented or envied or seen as a threat. Hollande has commented to journalists that he saw his political career as a series of many events, very often unpredictable, and that his career could easily have been derailed at any point, so he just took events as they came, without worrying too much about it.

The above already makes F Ego types extremely unlikely as well as F6 types, and points to weak or at least unvalued F, that is, the Alpha or Delta quadra. Nevertheless, in separate interviews, his close collaborators have consistently said that despite his relatively harmless facade, Hollande has an inner steel that easily comes to the surface if he is pushed too hard or he sees no way to defuse the situation. That suggests a man who dislikes direct conflict rather than who lacks confidence in it, pointing probably to F in the Id, so F7 or F8.

François Hollande’s intimate relationships have followed a consistent and revealing pattern. In summary, he seems to be a sequentially monogamous man who however tends to 'blur' from one monogamous relationship to the next, with 'overlaps' in between, rather than a man who has a 'main' long-term relationship with 'flings' by the side (like Chirac or Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (LII)) or with two long-term, parallel relationships (like Mitterrand) or with clear, dramatic break-ups followed by intense new relationships (like Sarkozy). Rather, Hollande’s pattern has been of starting a new relationship without wanting to face directly the actual break-up with the still-existing one. That was the pattern of his first entering into a relationship with Valerie Trierweiler before actually leaving Ségolène Royal; and more recently, doing exactly the same with Julie Gayet and Valerie Trierweiler in turn. I argue that rather than being a 'polygamist', Hollande is someone who prefers to postpone as long as he can unpleasant confrontations, even at the cost of a period of infidelity in between. Yet, once the need for the confrontation is unavoidable, he can be quick and ruthless, even cruel, as per the accounts of those developments – he has been described as “waiting until he is against a wall before he decides to take a decision or fight”. That again points most obviously to F7 or perhaps F8, that is SEI, SLI, ESE or LSE, except that the latter two are less likely to be seen as the placid, politically passive and even 'inoffensive' figure as seen by his political patrons and rivals.

Aware that he was largely elected for 'not being Nicolas Sarkozy' rather than 'for being François Hollande', he consciously adopted a political image and style that he referred to as being again a "normal president”. That meant in essence: a more hands-off (or high-level) president who left the daily running of the country to his prime minister (unlike the notoriously hyper-active, controlling Sarkozy), and preferring a more low-profile, quiet style of moving about in the country, with trains as his preferred means of transportation. The documentary Le Pouvoir by the veteran maker of political documentaries, Patrick Rotman, who followed Hollande over several days, shows him as a man who acts as president by holding many meetings with several of his assistants in the Elysée Palace,even seemingly junior ones, with him preferring to make sure that he understands and summarises the consensus of those present rather than providing clear direction or targets. That would have been the most suitable way of acting in his former job as president of a regional council, which he seems to have found most congenial, and that probably also accounts for his success in that former role. His seeming expectation is that in a meeting others will generate ideas (rather than listen to his own ideas), in an environment seemingly 'democratic' in the sense that everyone would have a say. This is behaviour pointing to again to a valuation of I over F, with I in the Super-Id and most likely I5. Complementing that, he seems to prefer to maintain some degree of informality in such meetings, with Hollande apparently genuinely concerned with putting even his junior auxiliaries at ease and in comfort. This is consistent with S in ego, which also fits his other traits as a man who prefers calm and avoids unnecessary confrontation. Arguably that is also part of the reason why he prefers to appoint prime ministers and then let them govern more or less without his interference.

François Hollande is ideologically a man of the left, of the Socialist Party in France, in the sense that he seems to share the basic assumptions of PS voters. However, he seems to have some difficulty in arguing or exploring those assumptions in detail, and most revealingly, he seems to have a genuine difficulty with understanding where those who disagree are coming from. This was seen, for instance in his presidential debate with Sarkozy, where the latter kept coming up with pragmatic (or opportunistic) arguments based on “reality”, as in how to fight terrorism, with a seemingly puzzled (or repelled) Hollande repeating that that would be “wrong” due to clashing with some broader, generalised principles, to Sarkozy’s increased exasperation. Likewise, in a recent interview with journalists, Hollande seemed genuinely perplexed when, after he pointed out the supposed danger of the rise of the FN’s Marine Le Pen as something that should concern everyone, a journalist retorted that that rise had all taken place in the period of Hollande’s presidency (implying that he should assume at least some responsibility for that). A clearly baffled Hollande listed the events supposedly responsible (Brexit, Donald Trump (SLE), terrorism, etc.) and could not argue when the journalist replied that most of the FN voters did not have any interest in Trump. Those interchanges were revealing because they showed Hollande to not be a non-ideological opportunist able to shift gears in order to win an argument (like Chirac), or a cool analyst who deconstructs an argument and makes his own (like Giscard). Rather, Hollande has a set of clear beliefs, worldviews and conclusions that he takes for granted but is somewhat thrown off-balance when those are openly challenged, and rather than point the flaws in the other person’s argument, he seems to have difficulty accepting that they actually believe that argument. This is a trait most typical of L valuers who are however not that confident in L, and seems most like L6.

Finally, looking at R and E. As a politician, Hollande was most successful at the local and regional levels. As president he has been widely judged as a failure, by far the least popular president of the 5th Republic and the very first to not even try to be re-elected. He seems at his best when he can connect directly to the people in front of him and when addressing small-scale, concrete problems that affect people in their daily lives. As a politician on campaign, he consistently comes across as a jovial figure completely at ease and in good humour, in a way that seems completely genuine. As a speaker addressing crowds, though, he comes across as somewhat dull and boring; he is not a master of oratory able to get crowds enthusiastic. That suggests a man who is quietly confident in both R and E but not so much in stirring emotions on a grand scale. His E seems to be a more 'short-range'; one aimed at the people immediately in his presence rather than to anonymous crowds with whom he has to connect in a more abstract way, that is, E blocked with S rather than T. His extreme hesitation (until he has no choice) in breaking up close relationships also suggests a focus on R and higher than F, i.e. S1R8 and F7.

What we have is a S ego with F7, L6, and strong R8 and E2. The type that fits François Hollande best is SEI.

To learn more about SEI, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.

Sources: besides his entry in the French Wikipedia and general observations, the book Un président ne devrait pas dire ça by Gérard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme; Patrick Rotman's documentary Le Pouvoir and Franz-Olivier Giesbert's documentary Que se passe-t-il dans la tête de François Hollande. The bit of the interview showing Hollande baffled at the journalists' questions can be seen here.