It's About Personality

Prompted by a discussion on TSGuide about whether Blair was a slob or whether, as Angelyn Harrison said: "Blair's messiness [is] an extension of his .. uhm... eclectic personality and creative ability and his natural tendency to get carried away at the spur of the moment with things that are more interesting than the proper care of more mundane things."

This just makes me want to pop up and say, well, of course - the guys are two completely different personality types. And then start ranting about Meyers-Briggs personality types, which is a fascinating topic. Check out for more info. But if you can't, I'll attempt a bottled version. All errors in the following are entirely my fault.

The Meyers-Briggs personality system measures people on four scales:

  1. Introversion/Extroversion (I/E)
  2. Sensing/iNtuition (S/N)
  3. Thinking/Feeling (T/F)
  4. Perception/Judgement (P/J)

Depending one where they fit in the spectrum, a person can be classified into one of 16 personality types: ISTP, ESTP, ISTJ, ESTJ, INTP, ENTP, INTJ, ENTJ, ISFP, ESFP, ISFJ, ESFJ, INFP, ENFP, INFJ, ENFJ.

To explain:

  1. Introversion/Extroversion: I think most people have a grasp of what this means; though here the emphasis is not so much on external behaviour but on internal comfortableness - whether you get energy from being with people or being away from people. Whether you need to go away to recharge your batteries, or whether you get charged-up by interacting with others.
  2. Sensing/iNtuition: This is sort of the emphasis on how you process things, how you react to the world. Do you pay lots of attention to your senses, to the hard facts, to what is really there, or do you spend less time paying attention to the external world, and more into fitting things together inside? A Sensing person pays attention to the world around them, looking for lots of facts, not being interested in fancy ideas that aren't things he can see hear smell touch taste. An intuiting person leaps to (often correct) conclusions with little data, interested in the internal world of ideas and how things fit together.
  3. Thinking/Feeling: This is the emotional scale. A feeling person tends to place emphasis on how they are feeling (and how other people are feeling) when interpreting things and making decisions. A thinking person uses logic. Kinda like the difference between "Sense" (thinking) and "Sensibility" (feeling).
  4. Perception/Judgement: This one is badly named, I can never remember what the "P" stands for. This is basically the chaos/order one. A J person is organised (anal-retentive?) and sees things in black & white, makes quick judgements. A P person is disorganised, spontaneous, wants to evaluate all the facts before making a decision, sees things in shades of grey. A J person tends to work on one thing at a time, and likes to get things finished. A P person flits from one thing to another, like a butterfly, being interested in many things - and not so interested in getting them finished.

(I must make the point here, that in no case is one type "good" and another type "bad". All extremes have strengths and weaknesses. To a P, a J makes rash, hasty decisions. To a J, a P is wishy-washy and can't make up their mind. And so with all the scales.)

So, we come to Jim and Blair.

Blair is relatively easy to figure: eNFp - Extroverted, iNtuiting, Feeling, Perception. I'm assuming Blair is extroverted because he always loves talking to people, complete strangers, anyone. Intuitive, well, he's an ideas man, he jumps to conclusions with little data (and is often right), and so on. Feeling: he does emote and consider people's feelings first. He makes judgements considering what he knows/feels of people's characters rather than using logic. He tells people what they want to hear, to spare their feelings. Perception - Blair the chaotic. I seem to remember a bit where Blair has all his stuff all over Jim's lounge, and he says that's how he works, he gets inspiration from all this stuff, and he seems to be working on several projects at once.

I used to think that Jim was iStJ Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judgement, but CC persuaded me that he was really iSfJ Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judgement.

Certainly, he doesn't get a charge out of being with people. He likes to get away to relax. Sensing - of course; not just because of his senses, but because he isn't interested in theories, just facts, the here and now. Judging - well the anal-retentive, order-desiring Jim, of course, is a J.

The question of whether Jim is a Thinking or a Feeling person rests on whether he's naturally impassive and logical, or whether he's actually more emotional, and has been brought up to be logical and suppress his feelings. What we do know of William Ellison would favour this possibility; he would be of the school of thought that says that Men Don't Cry. Jim is truthful and blunt when going about his business; but he has also demonstrated a good amount of compassion from time to time. He's a loner (but then apparently ISFJs often are). He certainly has a huge protective instinct (and a disproportionate load of guilt) even apart from the Sentinel stuff, which is in keeping with the ISFJs (who are called the Protector type). He gets really upset when Danny Choi dies, completely ignoring everything else in his need to get Juno; working from his heart and not his head. He also has a really short temper. This is also consistent with the way he worries about people. So how do we explain the way that Jim can apparently check his emotions at the door when doing his cop work? This is probably due to his J-ish need to get the job done; as Jim said in that eponymous conversation when Blair accuses him of checking his humanity at the door: "Whatever it takes to stay present." The reasons he gives for not letting it get to you is that other people are depending on you. Other people. A very F-ish consideration. No, he isn't as emotive and feelings-oriented as Blair, but part of that is that he simply isn't that expressive anyway, and his upbringing, and yes, he may not be so high on the feeling spectrum as Blair, but he probably is still a feeling person.

This of course means that Jim and Blair are almost but not quite completely opposite to each other - which makes their friendship all the more extraordinary. But, if they are both Feeling personalities, that gives them some common ground, common source for understanding each other's motivations, which otherwise might make them completely incomprehensible to each other, instead of mostly incomprehensible.

Kathryn A