About 10 years ago I was reading a book on personality., “The Brain Chemistry Plan”. In my youthful naivete I believed I was the ideal personality. The Stoic: the superwoman that could do it all; friends, family, work, success. But as I read through the rest of the personalities I came to the dark realization that I was not, in fact, a Stoic. A Stoic is what I believed I was suppose to be, wanted to be, what I had been told to be by teachers, schoolmates, mother, television shows and magazines. What I thought should be… the same as everyone else, but the best version of it.
I highly recommend the personality test for everyone. I think Dr. Lesser’s descriptions are insightful. They coordinate with the Big Factor Five and other personalities. Find which one speaks to you. Personality profiling is a prolific practice and there are many theories (MBTI, Keirsey, Helen Fisher, ect). However, I’ve found they describe essentially the same rules and goals, just from different perspectives and slightly different categorizations.
You can purchase the “Brain Chemistry Plan” (and full test within) book on Amazon. Here is a condensed description of these Character Types:
| (#1) THE STOIC
I am…Consistent, dependable, even-keeled, considerate, I’m typically able to tell what others are thinking/feeling, don’t complain, I have trouble saying “no”, I don’t show my emotions or get worked up about things, I go with the flow in life, people can count on me. I can get depressed, but I wouldn’t want to show it. I try to avoid conflict.
|#2) THE GUARDIAN
I am…Safety-conscious, organized, reliable, efficient & serious, vigilant, other-directed, I put a premium on intelligence, rationality and accepted knowledge, I live by my principles. I am very careful & neat, a homebody…but I can be a worry-wart and control freak at times.
(#3) THE WARRIOR
Spontaneous, risk taker, dedicated, fun-loving, persuasive, honest, uninhibited, I’m more of a doer but I like to think, I like having direction and being on a mission, nothing gets in my way…but I can be impulsive, aggressive and even hot tempered.
The eternal optimist, very talkative, active, lots of energy, fun to be around, I’m comfortable being the center of attention, I wear my emotions on my sleeve, I can be intense and passionate, my moods can direct who I am at the time, intuitive, I’m comfortable in a leadership role…I can be melodramatic and grandiose.
|(#5) THE DREAMER
I am…Introverted, sensitive, high morals, , good at what I do, curious nature, easily lost in thoughts or a book, more a thinker than a doer, material things and sometimes social pressures don’t really motivate me, introspective, I avoid anger at all costs but can be very passionate about truth and doing the right thing, I enjoy debate and new information…I can feel insecure, unappreciated and lonely.
|(#6) THE LOVER
I am….Outgoing, live life to the fullest, affectionate, attractive, passionate, emotionally expressive, fickle, “in touch” with emotions, flirtatious, other people are drawn to me, a “people person”, live for love, I can be manipulative when needed, but can be easily manipulated as well, I can overreact or emotionally shut-down or act out.
Dr. Helen Fisher also has personalities that relate to brain chemistry. She breaks them down by 4 main types, her Online Test.
In Autism, the three Thinking Types most commonly discussed are Picture, Word and Pattern Thinkers. Pattern Thinkers tend to be Dreamers. Picture Thinkers Stars and Lovers, and Word Thinkers Guardians and Warriors. Temple Grandin discusses these thinking types in depth in her article “Different Thinking Types in Autism” (below).
1. Visual thinking – Thinking in Pictures, like mine
2. Music and Math thinking
3. Verbal logic thinking
Since autism is so variable, there may be mixtures of the different types. The importance of understanding these three ways of thinking comes into play when trying to teach children with ASDs. Strategies that build on the child’s area of strength and appeal to their thinking patterns will be most effective. This is most likely to become evident between the ages of five and eight. In children younger than five, it is often difficult to identify their strengths yet, unless savant skills are unfolding.
These children often love art and building blocks, such as Legos. They get easily immersed in projects. Math concepts such as adding and subtracting need to be taught starting with concrete objects the child can touch. Drawing and other art skills should be encouraged. If a child only draws one thing, such as airplanes, encourage him to draw other related objects, such as the airport runways, or the hangers, or cars going to the airport. Broadening emerging skills helps the child to be more flexible in his thinking patterns. Keep in mind that verbal responses can take longer to form, as each request has to be translated from words to pictures before it can be processed, and then the response needs to be translated from pictures into words before it is spoken.
MUSIC AND MATH THINKERS
Patterns instead of pictures dominate the thinking processes of these children. Both music and math is a world of patterns, and children who think this way can have strong associative abilities. They like finding relationships between numbers or musical notes; some children may have savant-type calculation skills or be able to play a piece of music after hearing it just once. Musical talent often emerges without formal instruction. Many of these children can teach themselves if keyboards and other instruments are available.
VERBAL LOGIC THINKERS
These children love lists and numbers. Often they will memorize bus timetables and events in history. Interest areas often include history, geography, weather and sports statistics. Parents and teachers can use these interests and talents as motivation for learning less-interesting parts of academics. Some verbal logic thinkers are whizzes at learning many different foreign languages.
I find it generally easy to discern Pattern from Word thinkers: Do you think in words? Can you tell great stories, do you or family members write or teach? OR are you good at patterns and numbers? Do you love science and rules?
From the ‘Peripheral Minds” scientific perspective: Word-Thinkers would have an estrogen brain (female brains) and Pattern-Thinkers have a testosterone brain (male brains).
Of course this doesn’t mean you are male or female. There are typically more females that have female-type brains, but you can just as easily be a female with a male-type brain (one reason Asperger-Girls are so neglected). The reason for this divide is because we are social and community-driven creatures and roles have crossed both genders (*this gets into evolution debates of whether our tasks drive our chemical/structural brains, its a great debate and topic to be discussed further in other posts).
We theoretically have diverse personalities because we evolved together as cooperative communities and using this diverse community-sharing of resources and talents to thrive. We are what we are because of neurodiversity. Survival of the most diverse and cooperative instead of fittest and most competitive (just let that sink in!)
Survival of the most efficient and effective
Many years after reading the book and struggling with my own issues I thought back on the lessons I learned from Dr. Lesser. I was watching the movie by Brian Greene “The Elegant Universe“. Dr. Greene described chaos theory. And remembering that Dr. Lesser mentioned that MOST of his patients were Stoics. I then had to wonder: were we using the wrong science for understanding mental disorders? Could it be that if personalities had a majority, that our science took to mean the average (a representation for all) that instead our scientific framework was merely testing and assuming correct for everyone, what was only correct for stoics?
Probably the most important concept from Dr. Lesser is that in a psychiatric office you come out with a diagnosis. And that diagnosis means you now have some irreparably damaged label be it schizophrenic, bipolar, depression or psychopathic. This is how we treat mental illness, as a label you have, something to be fixed or shut away.
Whereas in Dr. Lesser’s worldview, and a worldview we should be ready to adopt immediately, is that these are personalities in distress. I would say now we might even venture to say that these are programming or epigenetic adaptation issues of distress. We no longer see the core of the person as damaged and “mentally ill”, but rather that they are stuck or have been stuck in a state of distress that is creating the symptoms we see of mental illness. This doesn’t seem like a stretch at all. In fact it seems like the most logical thing in the world. Most likely the reason we haven’t adopted it is many-fold, but ultimately, because we don’t have a map (scientific framework) to utilize this knowledge. And secondly, because we just don’t want to give up on the single-drug-single-cure romance we’ve invested in over the last several decades. They called this the biochemical cause of mental illness. That we have a brain chemistry imbalance that could be fixed with the right chemistry. So yes, its time to let go and move ahead. What does that look like? It looks like we address issues created by stress. And get the brain back onto a better track. This takes a multi-layered and integrated approach. It takes looking at the person as the core person or the current outcome and addressing it in such a way as to get them reprogram or re-adapted.
Pattern Thinkers VS Word Thinkers (Estrogen vs Testosterone)
Male brains vs female brains handle stress in opposite ways at the neurological level. While we can extol on what this means from a gender perspective (women tend-and-befriend, while men more often fight-or-flight), what’s interesting from an outcome of disability and treatment perspective is that these two opposites can have diverse outcomes, opposite responses to the same treatment and need varying levels and ways to reduce, recover or resources to counter and rebuff stress.
Two foundational principles of human development are *equifinality*, where different developmental pathways can lead to very similar personality manifestations and*multifinality* similar environmental experiences can cause drastically different outcomes among people.
to be continued…