Personal Identity: We are always of a “type”

In this particular culture at this particular time most of us invest a tremendous amount of energy and time trying to become whoever we think we are supposed to become. Supposed to become because that’s what our parents, friends, family, wives, husbands or sons and daughters want us to be; and/or because we think we know who we are supposed to be, guided by some inner summons.

The first possible assist we drop from our consideration is the acceptance  that we are in fact in a particular culture at a particular time, and even those eternal verities promised by religion or psychology can only reflect this reality back to us as we peer hopefully into all the mirrors that surround us.

One such mirror tells me that while my finger print may be mine and mine alone, much of the rest of me, from genetically based predispositions in body and mind, to initiatory or reactive behaviors, are of a type. Which type depends upon which type setter I choose to employ.

Western astrology based on zodiac “months”, says I am an Aries, and I can recognize certain confirmational feelings and attitudes as they emerge. Chinese astrology, based my birth year says I am a Tiger, and again, I recognize certain things about myself that seem to fit. On the other hand it is difficult for me to accept without reservation that everyone born in the same zodiacal month or year  or for that matter on the exact same day in the exact same year shares my behavior pattern. And so now I turn to some other offerings or assessments as they are called.

And here the work of the 20th century psychologists provides a wide, although curiously enough relatively “familiar” range of choices. I use the word “familiar” purposefully because they seem to have a family resemblance. Many of them seem to organize our behavior sets in terms of our preferences to focus more on either tasks or people and then whether or not we are  assertive or cautious in the way we go about engaging this world of tasks and people.

In  appendix B in his book Positive Personality Profiles, Robert Rohm, Ph.D illustrates a number of these behavior assessment tools. Dr. Rohm prefers the DiSC model, developed initially by William M. Marston, Ph.D. I am in agreement. The DiSC assessment provides a simple, yet very useful approach to understanding our individuality by way of understanding our typicality. Fortunately the usefulness is not limited to self-understanding. Since all of us have within us one degree or another of each of the four part designated styles, we can with just a little imagination and some helpful guidance better understand those we work or live with, who respond out of their own unique combination of these common elements.

It seems clear to me that we are unique only within the confines of our type and to the degree we resist coming to grips with what may be experienced as a narcissistic injury, we put ourselves into needless isolation. It is true that we each may march to the tune of a different drummer; nevertheless, even if it is not a drummer, it is a tune.

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