Personalities, informed by Neurology

isfj
The ISFJ “Protector”

I’m not here today to argue about whether it should be person first or identity first, or whether disability is or isn’t our identities. Make up your own minds on that one, and ask each individual what their preference is if you wanna be a decent human being. I’m here today to talk about how I personally feel about temperament quizzes and neurology. You see, I believe my personality IS informed by my neurology. It is a part of my development and who I am, as intimately as being blue eyed or blonde haired is to me. It is as intimate as my heritage and my personal ideas of Wyrd.

I believe my personality is decidedly Aspergian. I am tactile, concrete, oftentimes literal. I like to have both feet placed firmly upon the unmoving ground. I am also, apparently, an ISFJ. I’ve never put too much stock into Myers Briggs tests. Even now I don’t. Not that I think temperament tests are on par with zodiac(they’re not at all), but I feel that people treat it too much as the end all, be all of personality and human emotional expression. We are much more variable and complex than any enneagram or archetype will tell you.

A couple of weeks ago, I sat in my doctor’s office and talked about semantic sensory compensation, and how dyscalculics often rely on touch cues for the things they cannot abstract. This falls pretty much in line with the “Sensate” part of the Myers Briggs enneagram types. I told him I was an INTJ but I dont put stock in that kind of garbage, in fact, the first few times I did the test it was part of high school “Career Studies” class and supposedly our MBTI would tell us the job we were supposed to have. I can tell you I would never fit in in any of the jobs Myers Briggs matched up for me. My doctor pulls out a white mug, with bumps on it and tells me to define the mug in the way most natural to me. I picked it up and with my eyes closed, felt it, used tactile feedback to decide what it was. We both knew it was a mug but the point still stands.

“You’re a sensate, not an intuitor.” he says to me before telling me he would use abstract information to categorise the mug as a mug. He is an intuitor. So I decided to take the test again. This time I got ISFJ. I am also a Gryffindor if that means anything to you. ISFJ’s are supposed to be concrete, literal, perseverative, compassionate and emotive. Sounds familiar. They are also supposedly the knights/guardians/protectors. Loyal friends, who like concrete things better than abstraction. Sounds rather Autistic, if you ask me.

ISFJ

I have a strong sense of justice, little patience for abstraction, I like things concrete and I am indeed a compassionate and loyal friend. I wonder who I would be if I wasn’t neurodivergent though.

A description of ISFJs says:

“follows the rules, polite, fears drawing attention to self, dislikes competition, somewhat easily frightened, easily offended, timid, dutiful, private, lower energy, finisher, organized, socially uncomfortable, modest, not confrontational, easily hurt, observer, prone to crying, not spontaneous, does not appreciate strangeness – intolerant to differences, apprehensive, clean, planner, prone to confusion, afraid of many things, responsible, guarded, avoidant, anxious, cautious, suspicious, more interested in relationships and family than intellectual pursuits, not adventurous, fears doing the wrong thing, dislikes change”

This could fit into the DSM V criteria for ASD, I am pretty sure.  We typically have two modes of identity: the natural inclinations and the conscious inclinations(example: a naturally introverted person may consciously choose to act extroverted if they work in customer service or are an actor. They may even be better at socialising with people than a natural extrovert, who, becoming disillusioned with poor social skills may consciously choose to be introverted). Our natural inclinations are likely informed by our heritage, the enviroment we were raised in in our formative years, and our genetics(and thus our neurology). The natural personality is likely informed by our neurologies and the natural way our bodies move and think. It only makes sense that what informs how we perceive every aspect of our lives and the world around us, would also inform our personalities. On the other hand, our conscious personality is effortful, practiced and adapts to the contextual space we are occupying. It is often what we project to people to get jobs, become the life of the party, present when socialising. It is hard to keep up a conscious personality type though, and at the end of the day, when we go home, we revert to our natural state.

My natural state is informed by tactile input, doing and feeling, compassionate desire to help and comfort others, the need for routine and repetitive sensory tasks, the comfort of being in absolute solitude with a jigsaw puzzle or a harry potter book. My natural state is often wordless, literal and concrete. It is often rigid, and emotive. I wear my heart on my sleeve. Im a protector with a strong sense of justice. I am also the Passive Autistic(the personality temperament types designed for Autistic people by Lorna Wing), I often tacitly accept social rules and responses without understanding them, through my desire to avoid confrontation, even though with a strong sense of justice, often confrontation finds me. That is my natural inclination and my natural personality, highly informed by my natural neurology and state of being.

aspiequizkayla
M
y aspie quiz spidergram

Passive
Often amiable, gentle, and easily led. Those passive rather than aloof from infancy may fit AS. More likely than the aloof to have had a mainstream education, and their psych skill profiles are less uneven. Social approaches passively accepted (little response or show of feelings). Characteristic autistic egocentricity less obvious in this group than in others. Activities are limited and repetitive, but less so than other autistics. Can react with unexpected anger or distress. Recognition of their autism depends more on observing the absence of the social and creative aspects of normal development than the presence of positive abnormalities. The general amenability is an advantage in work, and they are reliable, but sometimes their passivity and naivete can cause great problems. If undiagnosed, parents and teachers may be disappointed they cannot keep a job at the level predicted from their schoolwork.

The Passive Autistic bears some resemblance to the ISFJ. Concrete, literal, amiable. We are often described as loving and tacitly friendly but highly emotionally aroused and emotionally reactive. We are sensitive and gentle, loyal and rock like.

My neurology is important to who I am as a person and how I see myself as a person. Nature is more important than nurture in my books when it comes to personality. We may consciously choose to react or learn reactions because of our environments but we have natural, instinctual inclinations that always lie right below the surface. They say a person’s personality is fully developed by the age of six, or at least the natural personality is.

Do you think your neurology informs your personality or vice versa?

3 thoughts on “Personalities, informed by Neurology

  1. I think my neurology definitely informs my personality. It affects how I process and relay information, the hobbies and talents I have developed, and the way I interact with people. These are primary aspects of what I would consider to be my perceived self.

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