Although Katharine Briggs’ interest in personality began with the children of friends and neighbours, famous figures were not immune from her attention. German Chancellor Adolf Hitler was an extrovert and an “excessive and unmitigated thinker”, Briggs wrote on the small index cards she kept on the people she “typed”.
In a 1937 essay, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee – the Cult of Leadership”, Briggs wrote that the traditional German passion for efficiency and planning was “moderated by a collective morality based upon the Christian tradition”.
But once Christianity was pushed aside, “all the thinking is done to order by a few people while the vast majority, made completely gang-minded and irresponsible by their loss of their traditional morality, become body cells to the brain cells of ego-inflated politician go-getters”.
But, in Briggs opinion, there was one man even more dangerous than Hitler: US President Franklin Roosevelt. Like Hitler, Roosevelt was an extrovert, according to Briggs’ analysis, but, unlike Hitler, Roosevelt was a “feeler” rather than a thinker. He was “prone to making overly emotional appeals to ‘human rights’ over ‘property rights’.”
A lifelong Republican who had voted for Herbert Hoover – “introvert”, “thinker” – Briggs’ scrapbook, assembled during World War II, preserved dozens of pamphlets accusing Roosevelt of “state socialism”, emphasising his weak personality and questioning his fitness to lead the US. But the weakness of people may also be to blame, she postulated.
“Nothing in the modern scene is more pitiful than the masses of people who say their prayers to ‘Government’ and look to politicians for their salvation.”
Extroverts: Adolf Hitler and Franklin Roosevelt.