‘Ego-in­flated go-get­ters’

New Zealand Listener - - PERSONALITY TYPES -

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.

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