The Idealist Personality

Less than seven percent of all men and women are idealist personalities. They follow hunches, heed feelings, strive for consensus, follow laws for community’s sake, avoid or prevent fighting, generalize from particulars, view people and things metaphorically, and put themselves in others shoes.

They are concerned for morale, give of themselves selflessly, search for life’s meaning, seek and develop the potential in those around them, desire inner unity and absolute truth, and are prone to wishful thinking.

Idealists are enthusiastic, intuitive, and romantic. They feel misunderstood and aspire to wisdom. They are soulmates as spouses, harmonizers as parents, and catalysts as leaders. Gandhi, Joan of Arc, Susan B. Anthony, and Martin Luther possessed idealist personalities.

You may know a few who that fit this description. The teacher with a gift for drawing out good performances from seemingly incorrigible students, the pastor who seeks out and shepherds the destitute and hurting, the activist championing a noble (or ignoble) cause, or the wise mediator who reconciles differences between conflicting factions.

This is one of the personalities that is important for writers to recognize and portray. David Keirsey’s book Please Understand Me is a useful reference for writers who want to fully flesh out their characters.

Keirsey says Hippocrates and Galen observed that there are four personality types. Later scientists refined their observations by identifying four distinctions within each type.

Keirsey defines the idealist personality as abstract in their word use and cooperative in their tool use. Their thought and speech are rich in exaggeration, move from parts to wholes, and spontaneously transform one thing into another, erasing distinctions, and joining opposites.

Idealists fall into four subcategories, each containing only a few percent of the population. Two are characterized as directive: the expressive teacher and the reserved counselor. The teacher takes control of even difficult students with confidence and creativity, broadening or refining their attitudes and actions. The counselor advises, appeals, prescribes, or urges in order to help others toward greater well-being.

The two other subtypes are informative: expressive champions and reserved healers. The champion eagerly explores issues and events in order to passionately champion a cause or ideal that will motivate others to settle conflicts and/or act justly and wisely. The healer helps others to accept, accommodate, or reconcile to mend relationships or make whole a divided self.

Idealists seek professions involving the unfolding of mind and heart toward greater self-understanding and inner peace. They need and want to be in communication with people. They can learn to write and speak fluently with a poetic flair. They form personal relationships which communicate caring and willingness to become involved. However, these relationships can drain them, so either they disconnect professionally or risk becoming emotionally overwhelmed.

Their greatest happiness comes from selflessly giving of themselves to help others grow and develop. They believe things easily and without reserve, join causes, and are loyal to leaders more than principles. They can become fixated about beliefs, unmovable by appeals to reason or experience. Some bravely accept accidents as mystifying and inexplicable; others attribute causes of unhappy events to a higher [or lower] power. They focus on what might be, not what is and are drawn to discerning the true nature and significance of things.

Idealists base self-esteem on the empathy they feel with those closest to them. They maintain a benevolent attitude toward others and their powerful conscience suppresses feelings of animosity. Vague self-doubt nags most of them. They laboriously walk the line between authenticity and moral approval of others.

They exhibit delightful and contagious positive emotions when discussing ideas and insights. When frustrated in idealism, or treated unjustly, they become irritated quickly and respond furiously. They trust first impressions. Unconsciously, but sometimes erroneously, they adopt their perceptions of another’s desires and emotions. They want relationships to be deep, meaningful, and full of beauty and sensitivity. They try to get in touch with the person they were meant to be. Some stop struggling to become a perfected ideal and accept themselves as they are. Recognition as a special person by someone they care about is very gratifying. They want to see behind and through to the world as it really is.

They desire a spouse who knows their feelings without being told, who spontaneously expresses words of endearment that acknowledge their unique identity. They closely bond with their children, even into adulthood, if possible, to encourage their positive self-esteem, self-respect, and self-confidence. At work, idealists facilitate, motivate, or energize cooperative action and high morale in their subordinates.

As we wrote in “Why Are There Four Gospel Accounts?,” an earlier blog posting, these traits describe some peoples’ predispositions. Their experiences can mold them, as far as they are willing and able, so that they acquire attributes of the other personality types. These attributes in sum could be said to be their overall dispositions.

If you are a writer, I heartily recommend reading Keirsey’s book for yourself. I created detailed outlines for my personal use. You may profit from the same effort. We’ll review Keirsey’s take on the Rational personality type in two or three weeks.

It’s A Wonderful Life from PNN Media Group on Vimeo.

Respect – Neal Knit Farrah

As you might anticipate from my name, I’m not necessarily a looker, one who stands out from the crowd or some suave international hipster. My middle name is a cruel joke my parents played on me, naming me after a hobby they both took up while waiting for me to be born. Since no one on either side of the family was named Neal I can only guess what they meant there. I’ve been dealing with the concept of respect, both theoretically and in practice, for a very long time.

Now our culture would have you believe that there is some special someone, your soul mate or that one who completes you. Actually, this is just a ruse to cut down on crime, war and unsanctioned anti-social behavior; a successful ruse, thankfully, but not the original intent.

We don’t hear these words anymore but I’ll quote them anyway: “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”” A helper fit for him. Hmm, I wonder what that could mean. 

Perhaps it means what it says; it wasn’t good for him to be alone so He gave him one who was fit to help. Fit? That means suitable; more like ‘two peas in a pod’ than like ‘hand in a glove’ but you get the picture. Help? C’mon, you ever try to carry something heavy by yourself? Help!

When were either (they were both called Man, one male and the other female) going to be alone? All too soon. Driven from the ‘Tree of Life’ so they wouldn’t live forever in their fallen state, they were driven away from God’s presence, death’s real meaning.

So how does this all relate to respect? I bet you could tell me stories. But, this is my turn so here it goes. I found someone on a blind date. Unfortunately, I was a placeholder for the one she really wanted. Finding out and escaping with my soul wounded but intact, I was found by Christ.

One evening, among my peers, I was told this was my last chance to find a mate; I would have to make a decision one way or the other. I did not know the woman. We had never been more than acquaintances. I said no. What tragedy was needlessly perpetrated on her? Wouldn’t it have been kinder to say, “Do you really know him? Have you ever spoken heart to heart? What have you two decided together?” rather than try to broker some heroic “deal too far”?

No respect, no dignity.

Having been invited to dinner, I was plied with promised favors. Trying to be chaste, I declined. Her roommate brought up some rival. Fictional, I didn’t know? I wasn’t biting. Not long after, I was invited for coffee for one last chance at opportunity. I had to ask myself, “whose?”

No respect, no dignity.

One day I was introduced to a person with the explicit purpose of assessing whether I was mate material. This was her purpose, not mine. I only became aware of the ulterior motive after the fact. No doubt arranged by some well-meaning individual who wanted to fill a gap, meet a need or put me out of my ‘misery’. Or maybe they wanted me to be as happy as they were. And this happened in trusted circles. Just another way respect is in shortage.

 Perhaps you trade on your good looks (they fade), your status (it changes) or you just trade favors. Give these ways up. A long time ago, a taker, in a moment of candor, said “you have to figure out what you want out of life and get it”. I think you have to figure out what you want in life and give it. However, there are no guarantees for a return on your investment, at least not in this life. I want a help mate who fits. That will take respect and I plan to give it.