19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2000
Do you want to get an insight into why people act the way they do? Do you want to find out what makes people tick? "Please Understand Me" is a book about personality types and temperaments. These are the "predisposition" which often influence how those people in your life may act. Reading this book could give you a better understanding in dating and marital relationships, relationships with your children, and those with whom you work. I was first introduced to Keirsey and Bates' work during a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) training course. Information on psychological type and temperament in the Keirsey and Bates book is similar to that derived from the MBTI. Of particular interest is the matter of temperament, which in this book is an aggregation of similar personality types. The book includes the Keirsey Temperament Sorter (a personality test) together with instructions on how to score the instrument. You don't have to be professionally qualified to administer this test by the publisher of the instrument like you do with the MBTI.
People are different, one from the other. Different people have varying strong and weak points in their personalities. An individual is the product of his or her personality or predisposition, upbringing and training, and environment. We need to celebrate and work together with the strengths of others. There should be no discrimination against people for personality type. We should emphasize the complementary aspects of personality in a relationship, whether that relationship be a family or work relationship. Hopefully with an understanding of the personality and temperament, we can understand others, work better together, and sustain loving relationships. I am an ISTJ type with a "Guardian" or "Epimethean" (SJ) temperament. This book has helped me at home and at work.
This book is one of general interest. Those who typically read "Psychology Today" magazine will find this book interesting. College and graduate school psychology students and HR professionals will find this book useful. The value of this book is that it will lead a reader to a professional qualified to administer the MBTI. Consulting Psychologists Press, the publisher of the MBTI, requires the completion of a rigorous training course and examination to be qualified to administer and interpret the MBTI. If you are a college graduate, graduate student, or clergyman, personnel specialist, or mental health professional, the MBTI will have value to you. The authors acknowledge the MBTI in their introduction to "Please Understand Me," but suggest their book as providing answers to some questions.
People who read this book will enjoy Isabel Briggs Myers' "Gifts Differing" and Otto Kroeger and Janet M. Thuesen's "Type Talk," and "Type Talk at Work."
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2009
I have been using the 16 types as an analytical social tool for over a decade, as taught by my Jungian-influenced father. The authors here do credit Jung at moments, but they tend to ignore, underestimate, or occasionally outright reject many Jungian principles in favour of other theories. These newer theories and analyses nearly always felt wrong to me, and didn't fit with my empirical understanding of those around me. For those who care, I'm an ENTJ (close to P).
Written in the late 70s, the text also suffers from some rather outrageous ( to the modern, sexually liberated female reader, at least) sexism. Overall I found the section on mating habits and motivations to be wildly inaccurate, and far too forgetful of Jungian origins. According to the authors, types match up best with their polar opposites - I don't find this to be remotely true in reality, not does it make logical sense, so their explanations were painful to read. The insistence on outdated sexual mores (women don't care about orgasm, only want to please their men, are nearly always 'happiest in the home', and so on) riled me further. The dated approach towards sexuality in general came through so strongly in this section that I felt I gained almost nothing from reading it - not even a majority of it resonated with my own thoughts or logical analysis.
I agree as well with other reviewers who have criticised the clumsiness of the mythological association and naming of the great 4 types (SP, SJ, NT, NF); I have a substantial background in Greek mythology, which one wouldn't expect from an average reader, and I still found that the approach added nothing, regardless of the power of long-held archtypes. If anything, these classical trappings cluttered what should have been a more systematic and clear-cut explanation of the types. Even had that occurred, I am not sure that looking at those four specific uber-types as being the most important distinctions is accurate. From what I know of Keirsey's revised theory, which splits the types further into 8 and looks at the middle two functions - I think that's a better approach, because in terms of being able to understand people and their motivations - N/S and T/F are by far the most important, in my experience. I/E and J/P are still important, of course, but describe actions more than the thought processes of individuals. If you wonder WHY not HOW, examine those middle modalities.
The book was instructive in some ways, despite these flaws; in particular, I found the sections on temperaments in childhood and development very useful and accurate relative to my own observations and conclusions. I have observed that people who focus strongly on self-improvement - especially common in the N types, if we talk about IDENTITY rather than more tangible things like skills - can be difficult to type. I believe that some succeed so significantly in balancing themselves (Ts becoming more F, Fs becoming more T, etc, applied across all the modalities though much less commonly to the N/S trait) that they can appear as adults to be a type other than their 'natural' type.
But there is a difference between your innate temperament, something I think is quite firm very early on, and the desire for another temperament. This can botch the questionnaires, too, if a subject answers questions in a way which reflects how he WISHES he were, instead of how he actually is.
My point in bringing up these who grow away from their fundamental temperament: you can examine them as children (via memory or talking to parents and such) and retroactively better gauge their type. This information along with current questionnaire results should determine a solid base temperament.
The sections on teaching children, learning styles in childhood, and management/team work in adulthood further helped to elucidate & explain one's temperament, with decent accuracy, precision and thoroughness. Again, the use of the 4 uber-types muddles these ideas to an extent, but not too much. I still found these parts useful. Most useful of all, however, were the initial breakdown of modalities in the first section, and the more in-depth Portraits of each of the 16th types in the last section. These are the most clear-cut and logically laid-out, and a strong majority of what I read resonated with truth. I changed my assessments of various people's types based on these two sections, and I feel I now have a better understand of the modalities themselves, as well as how they combine.
My next goal is to pursue the earlier, Jungian analysis in formal textual detail, because I suspect I will find that much more useful and illuminating. Still, I learned something here, and I'll keep the book on hand for reference to the type Portraits. Even if flawed, I'm glad to have the extra data and different perspectives.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
As a military leader, it is essential to motivate your organization. "Please Understand Me: Character & Temperament Types", by Keirsey and Bates, is an excellent primer in basic personality types.
With an understanding of the basic temperament types, leaders will be able to identify key attributes of each of the temperament types in their workers. Some people will fit the cookie-cutter descriptions quite nicely, others may vary their temperament types depending on the situation. The ability to recognize the key attributes to each of the temperaments will enable you to apply the right motivation technique at the time.
What's the right motivation technique to apply? This book doesn't answer that question, which is my main complaint with it.
This book is a fascinating look at the basic personality types. It was a great read, but I was looking for more.