Wednesday, October 3, 2007
More on Myers-Brigg, depression and bipolar
In a recent post
about being an INFJ, Susan
raised some very interesting questions:
I’ve often wondered what would happen if all BIPS [people with bipolar disorder] took personality tests. Would we find that we tend to cluster around a few personality types? Are we more sensitive than the population as a whole? Does a high level of sensitivity or introversion require different coping skills? Does it cause more stress? Sometimes I feel that my illness was caused by my sensitivity to life and my inability to find people who see the world the same way.
Of course, I have no idea, but my guess would be that the answer to each of these questions is "yes". I didn't find much information on the possible connection between temperament types and bipolar disorder or depression, but I did find one interesting article
at John McMan's Depression and Bipolar Web.
Again, without going into the details of the Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI), McMan's unscientific study of 100 visitors to his site (nearly all self-reporting diagnoses of depression or bipolar disorder) yielded some interesting trends:
- 83% of respondents were introverts, as compared with 25% of the general population.
- 41% of respondents were Idealists (NF) and 23% were Rationals (NT), as compared with only 8% and 7% of the general population, respectively.
- 31 of the 41 Idealists were INFJs or INFPs. These "mystics" and "dreamers" represented the largest percentage of the study population, but only account for 1% each of the general population.
McMan concludes that "the nature of depression and the isolation that derives from any type of mental illness strongly influences our tendency to seek comfort in our own inner world." While this may suggest that depression may lead certain people towards introversion. However, I can't help but wonder if it doesn't really work the other way around, namely that the temperament that we are born with influences how we interact with the world around us. That is to say that the natural tendency towards introversion and all that it entails, coupled with a highly fine-tuned intuitive sense, may lead to depression as a by-product of chronic and often overwhelming sensory overload.
Is it any wonder that people who are highy introverted are growing increasingly distracted and drained by the ever-increasing encroachment of cell phones, e-mails, text messages, and IMs in our daily lives? Should it come as a surprise that people who are highly intuitive to the feelings and energies emanating from the world around them are emotionally drained merely by reading the newspaper or listening to the nightly news or hearing everyone around them moan and complain about how rotten their lives are?
The fact that we represent such a minute proportion of the general population merely reinforce our feelings of social isolation and may explain our frequent inability to understand others' motives or behaviors, or to be understood by them. All this then brings me back to the age-old chicken-or-egg question: Am I an INFJ because I'm bipolar, or am I bipolar because I'm INFJ? I may never know, but the latter makes more sense to me.
If you're interested in learning more about MBTI, I've posted some links that I've found helpful in the sidebar.
Posted by Syd at 9:21 AM