A Cult of Personality: A Self-Portrait

A book I checked out a decade or more ago, I recently acquired again for $.25, Personality Self-Portrait: Why You Think, Work, Love and Act the Way You Do by Dr. John M. Oldham and Lois B. Morris. (This link is to the “New” Personality book.)

In this book, written in 1990, one is suppose to discover the personality traits one uses more often than not via a 104-question test – and the possibilities of disorders related to that test. (I took the test years ago, and have changed some from 1992/3, but some things never disappear.)

These categories are used to define people on a spectrum from normal functioning to disorder:
· Conscientious ↔ Obsessive-Compulsive
· Self-Confident ↔ Narcissistic
· Devoted ↔ Dependent
· Dramatic ↔ Histrionic
· Vigilant ↔ Paranoid
· Sensitive ↔ Avoidant
· Leisurely ↔ Passive-Aggressive
· Adventurous ↔ Anti-Social
· Idiosyncratic ↔ Schizotypal
· Solitary ↔ Schizoid
· Mercurial ↔ Borderline
· Self-sacrificing ↔ Self-Defeating
· Aggressive ↔ Sadistic

And the focuses of their lives:
· Work (Conscientious, Aggressive)
· Self (Self-Confident, Solitary, Leisurely, Idiosyncratic, Adventurous)
· Emotions (Dramatic, Mercurial, Solitary, Sensitive)
· Relationships (Dramatic, Vigilant, Mercurial, Devoted, Sensitive, Self-sacrificing, Aggressive)
· Self-Control (Mercurial, Adventurous)
· Real World (Idiosyncratic)

Based on these criteria, a portrait of several interactions are possibly analyzed correctly, and we are able to adapt based on our knowledge of our patterns of behavior, and also, the responses we receive from people close (and not so close) to us.

My personality test showed the following:
Leisurely was my highest score
Vigilant 2nd
Mercurial, Adventurous, Dramatic, Sensitive and Self-Sacrificing roughly the same (scores)
No score for Conscientious
Marginal scores for the remaining categories (2-4 pts.)

The Conscientious style is called “the right stuff” as a subtitle in their chapter. In reading this chapter, one gets the feeling the writers have determined this is the best of styles to be harnessed with in life. Calling them the backbone of America, people of strong moral principles and achievers. Able to fit into the milieu of life best, American life, that is. They are doers; and love that in their lives.

9 characteristics of Conscientious people are hard work, doing the right thing, the right way, perfectionism, love of detail, orderly lists, catalogs and schedulers, pragmatic, prudent and tend to accumulate all things of value.

I address this first because at points in my life I have been conscientious – but I now feel less motivated to work hard, be about perfection, a stickler for order and detail or accumulation of things. My work life was at various times very focused on these things and I received a fair share of compliments on my long hours, which is an All-American ideal, that of working hard into all hours of the night without extra compensation.

Even in my prison stay, I was up at 1 AM in the morning waxing floors (which is against all U.S. prison policy, but that is another story) because there was a benefit to be had for the dorm-like facility where I did my time. In various other positions, I worked solo on projects with very little oversight, and tended to put more into it than was likely necessary – maybe more due to a Self-Confident style trait, that is now lacking.

Self-Confident Characteristics: belief in self, expectation of good treatment, ambitions and selling their ideas, politically savvy, competitive, dream of success, self-awareness of success and failure, poise and grace and sensitive to criticism. (Bold I share.)

But now, as I did for the last 20 years, I do what I feel I am responsible for – a Leisurely style trait – and that is good enough. That chapter is subtitled as “California Dreaming” and the implication is “free to be me” and “do their own thing.”

Leisurely Characteristics: Inalienable rights, particularly the pursuit of happiness, enough is enough (doing their fair share), right to resist (expressing displeasure at exceeding demands), doing it later in a non-type A personality mode, and “I’m okay with who I am” without an overawed by authority.

This personality is at the opposite end of the spectrum from the Conscientious style – the East Coast, hard-charging, “what do you do for a living?” scenario. Instead the Leisurely type asks, “what are you into?” That is me. I don’t care if you are a waitress, a banker, a programmer, a porn starlet or a professor, I like conversations about your interests more than the money, possessions or work detail you might have. Oh, I’ll ask them – but not because it matters that much.

But some comments in Oldham’s analysis are a bit too oft-putting. Such as, “They like or even need to be taken care of,” or might come off as a “male chauvinist.” (Making us sound too needy, with and inability to adapt, and stereotyping this as a male-female ideology characteristic.)

We are often viewed as lazy, contrariness to other’s viewpoints for contrary’s sake, artistic and creative, but difficult to deal with, and inability to put others first. Whereas, conscientious types biggest downfalls are lack of intimacy in relationships, not sharing their feelings, conflicts over perfectionism, stinginess and overcautious in decisions.

Relationships (Romantic)
In my other styles, which moderate or enhance the shortfalls in my primary mode, the biggest one in my past is the Mercurial style, in the present day, the Vigilant style.

I have become more Vigilant no doubt.

Vigilant Characteristics: Autonomy (taking care of one’s self, independence), Caution (in relationships), Perceptiveness (an ear for subtlety), Self-defense (feistiness and standing up for one’s self under attack), Alertness to criticisms (take criticism seriously) and Fidelity (high premium on loyalty)

I have put a premium on Fidelity in personal relationships, which is why they have been so miserable. Most people cannot live up to that expectation – and my own shortcomings in their opinions have not helped. I have trusted before, but now, I don’t care. (Meaning: I’ll tell you the worst early on. I figure it keeps away the ones I don’t want to have around. In job searches, I have told prospective employers or headhunters early on (not the first email) that I am less-than-an-ideal candidate.)

I will fight when provoked – at least in the past (verbally, and physically) – and I do not think that is a character flaw. I often was intimidated as a child, by a father and others, and so, I do not accept it now from people.

I can take care of myself. I survived a place that you fight through on your own. Where trust is gone. And no one can save you. So, I don’t need someone to look out for me.

Caution in relationships has often been a source of conflict in my life. My Mercurial/Adventurous/Sensitive traits ran counter to this Vigilant characteristic.

Under Mercurial: Romantic Attachment to one person, intensely passionate, heart (showing what they feel), unconstrained and uninhibited and spontaneous.

Under Adventurous: Like a challenge (meaning I have gone after “out of my league” women), Persistence (true grit) which is a huge negative in today’s social-relationship climate.

Under Sensitive:
Overly concerned with what others think of them.

As a result, the counterbalance was tipped to poor judgment as I was “led around by my genitals.”(Without usage, I might add.) And allowed what could have been caution in understanding it was not going to work out ever disappear.

Self , Self-Control and Emotions
These things are bantered around by the psych boys the most. The Freudian pursuit of what makes people tick.

So here goes my list:
My Individual Characteristics (good and bad): Independent, Nonconformance, Challenging, a Wanderlust, Generous, Emotionally charged about issues (at times), Hyperactivity, Open-mindedness, Spontaneous, Attention-desiring, Imaginative, Hate authority-minded people, like control (or dislikes a lack of control), Concern of others, Rights are sacred, Freelancer, Persuasive, Impulsive, Depressed, Long-suffering, Naïve about others’ motives, Accepting of other behaviors (loyal through a fault) and Honest (sometimes too honest). But also have had suicidal thoughts and poor behaviors that have destroyed the continuum of any normal life.

It should not surprise that my predominate personality traits (when overdone) are in categories where these disorders take hold:
Leisurely ↔ Passive-Aggressive
1. Irritable when asked to do something he does not want to do (I’ve quit jobs over this.)
2. Avoids obligations by claiming to have “forgotten” (Not too much, but I have forgotten specific instances and what I actually felt.)
3. Resents useful suggestions from others concerning how he could be more productive (Family members, like my mom, have done this. But refuse to make changes themselves.)
4. Unreasonably criticizes or scorns people in positions of authority (Imagine that.)
Mercurial ↔ Borderline
1. A pattern of unstable and intense personal relationships (oscillating between overidealization and devaluation) – 2000-2001 episode would qualify
2. Impulsiveness in two areas (spending, sex, substance abuse, binge eating, etc.)
3. Chronic feelings of emptiness or boredom
4. Suicidal thoughts
Sensitive ↔ Avoidant
1. Easily hurt by criticism or disapproval
2. Has no close friends or confidants (or only one)
Adventurous ↔ Anti-Social
1. Fails to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behavior (harassing a woman)
2. Irritable and aggressive (as indicated by physical fights) – I have had 3 fights prior to age 22.)
3. Repeatedly fails to honor financial obligations, as indicated by defaulting on debts (guilty on this one.)
4. Is reckless regarding his or other’s personal safety, as indicated by driving while intoxicated or recurrent speeding (I got a ticket in May 2007 for 62 in a 55.)
5. Lacks remorse (Depends on the day/time you catch me.)
Self-Confident ↔ Narcissistic (Navy Diagnosis)
1. Reacts to criticism with feelings of rage, shame or humiliation
2. has a grandiose sense of self-importance, exaggerated achievements or talents
3. believes his problems are unique or can only be understood by other special people
4. sense of entitlement: expect favorable treatment
5. requires constant attention – keeps fishing for compliments

So depending on who you talk to, I might have 2-5 personality disorders. (The 5 faces of Jason.)

Anti-social is a “kitchen sink” disorder – anything you might have done wrong is considered a diagnosis of this personality disorder. (By 2002, my incarceration for my crime would tend you to this assumption.)

The Narcissistic diagnosis came in 1999. Because I desired a promotion or opportunity to improve my station from a waxer of floors, I was considered to be asking too much. Even if I had, by their own Naval standards, a significant level of achievement, that was irrelevant.

2001: Borderline disorder a.k.a. Stalker mentality.

Overarching Passive-Aggressive behavior, which has led to numerous shortfalls.
So, who are you?

Onto Lighter notes of Personality:
The Cult of Personality – Living Colour
Who Are You – The Who (Live with an introduction by John Cusack of High Fidelity, a very good flick.)
Please Forgive Me – David Gray

Lunatic Fringe – Red Rider (Tom Cochrane – “Life is a Highway”)

Seal’s newest single “Amazing” sounds alot like ‘Crazy’ below

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