23/02/2009

I'm Not Crazy, I'm Just Not You (by Roger R Pearman and Saah C Albritton)

I haven't ever before heard of either Roger Pearman (who is apparently the founder of two companies, as well as having written several books related to Myers-Briggs theory) or Sarah Albritton (who does not appear to have a web presence at all).

I don't even remember how I first heard of 'I'm not crazy, I'm just not you', a book with the lengthy subtitle, 'Secrets to how we can be so alike when we're so different: the real meaning of the sixteen personality types'. But someone recommended it to me, and it sat on my wishlist for a while before I was given it a couple of years ago.

It's taken me over year to read it, off and on. Which does rather indicate that it's not the most exciting reading. And, indeed, it's rather lacking human interest and anecdotes, and is somewhat heavy going. Besides which, I often forgot about it at the bottom of the pile of other books I'm currently reading.

Having finished it at last, I would consider it pretty sound as far as type and Jungian/Myers-Briggs personality theory go. There is some cognitive function theory as well, which goes rather deeper than the average pop-psychology Myers-Briggs book.

In the early chapters, the authors talk about human behaviour, and outline some of the history of type theory. They stress that all types are valuable and good, and also that type is a 'subtext' to the real individual. In other words, we are all unique individuals, made up of our genes, our gender, our culture, our upbringing, and much more. Myers-Briggs type is just one window through which we can look at ourselves and others around us. It can be a very useful window, but should never become a box for judgementalism, or for making excuses about behaviours.

There are plenty of explanations about what people of different types tend to expect, trust and appreciate, and how easy it is to get caught up in our own preconceived ideas. There are also lots of charts summarising how each of the sixteen Myers-Briggs types is most likely to react or behave under certain circumstances.

People are far more than their type, and these are not hard-and-fast rules for communication. But when there are personality clashes, it could well be worth referring to this book. It's not an easy read; if you're new to the Jungian/Myers-Briggs theories, it's probably better to start with Keirsey's 'Please Understand Me', or one of the books by Linda Berens. But for someone wanting a deeper look at what the cognitive functions mean in everyday life, this is worth dipping into.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 23rd February 2009

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