For anyone acquainted with the ubiquitous Myers-Briggs personality test, Please Understand Me will be familiar territory--but gone over with a fine-toothed comb. And for the uninitiated, this book will be a quick introduction to personality typing the Myers-Briggs way--with a Jungian accent. After presenting a brief rundown of 20th-century psychology movements, Keirsey and Bates encourage you to take the 70-question "Keirsey Temperament Sorter," a sort of mini-Myers-Briggs test that places you in 1 of 16 personality types. Like the Myers-Briggs system, this test sorts your personality into groups of extraversion/introversion (E/I), sensation/intuition (S/N), thinking/feeling (T/F), and perceiving/judging (P/J). Unlike the Myers-Briggs system, Please Understand Me also presents four easy-to-remember temperament types--Dionysian (freedom first), Epimethean (wants to be useful), Promethean (desires power), and Apollonian (searches for self)--that underlie the 16 possible personalities identified by the test. The book then delves into a detailed analysis of each type, with sections on mates, children, and leaders. An appendix paints portraits of the 16 possible personality types.
Unless you're already a true personality-typing devotee, this book may seem a little esoteric, especially the somewhat "in" references to psychological theory that few laypeople will be likely to understand. But give it a chance and you may find that you'll begin to understand why you always know where to find Anna Karenina on the shelf (you have an ESTJ husband), why your boss is sarcastic one day and praises your achievements the next (she's an NF), and why knowing the reason that the sun comes up in the same place every day is important to your little one (he's Promethean). You may even find that once you accept quirks and ticks in others, they will understand you a little better, too. --Stefanie Durbin