Where did the Myers-Briggs come from, after all? As Paul tells us, it began with a housewife from Washington, D.C., named Katharine Briggs, at the turn of the last century. Briggs had a daughter, Isabel, an only child for whom (as one relative put it) she did "everything but breathe." When Isabel was still in her teens, Katharine wrote a book-length manuscript about her daughter's remarkable childhood, calling her a "genius" and "a little Shakespeare." When Isabel went off to Swarthmore College, in 1915, the two exchanged letters nearly every day. Then, one day, Isabel brought home her college boyfriend and announced that they were to be married. His name was Clarence (Chief) Myers. He was tall and handsome and studying to be a lawyer, and he could not have been more different from the Briggs women. Katharine and Isabel were bold and imaginative and intuitive. Myers was practical and logical and detail-oriented. Katharine could not understand her future son-in-law. "When the blissful young couple returned to Swarthmore," Paul writes, "Katharine retreated to her study, intent on 'figuring out Chief.' "She began to read widely in psychology and philosophy. Then, in 1923, she came across the first English translation of Carl Jung's "Psychological Types." "This is it!" Katharine told her daughter. Paul recounts, "In a dramatic display of conviction she burned all her own research and adopted Jung's book as her 'Bible,' as she gushed in a letter to the man himself. His system explained it all: Lyman [Katharine's husband], Katharine, Isabel, and Chief were introverts; the two men were thinkers, while the women were feelers; and of course the Briggses were intuitives, while Chief was a senser." Encouraged by her mother, Isabel—who was living in Swarthmore and writing mystery novels—devised a paper-and-pencil test to help people identify which of the Jungian categories they belonged to, and then spent the rest of her life tirelessly and brilliantly promoting her creation.
The problem, as Paul points out, is that Myers and her mother did not actually understand Jung at all. Jung didn't believe that types were easily identifiable, and he didn't believe that people could be permanently slotted into one category or another. "Every individual is an exception to the rule," he wrote; to "stick labels on people at first sight," in his view, was "nothing but a childish parlor game."
Publicado por Malcolm Gladwell en Annals of Psychology (septiembre de 2004). Texto completo (HTML y PDF) en gladwell.com
La obra que cita es Cult of Personality, de Annie Murphy Paul. Por las reseñas que he encontrado, el libro no fue bien recibido por sus colegas, que lo tachan de "narrativo" y "sensiblero" (adjetivos que me hacen sospechar más de los críticos que de A.M. Paul).