Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sherlock Holmes (Book character) as an Intuitive Perceiver

Last night as I was reading The Complete Sherlock Holmes in the wee hours of the morning, I came across a rather revealing quote about Sherlock Holmes and his personality type. Across the internet I have seen Holmes labeled as either an INTP or an INTJ (personality types in the Myers-Briggs system). From my own small knowledge of the types, I agree with those who say he is an INTP, which stands for Introverted iNtutive Thinking Perceiving. I'm not going to go into a full analysis, but I just want to show how this quote fits with this conclusion.

By Frederic Dorr Steele
Holmes said, "I have an instinct for such things, and yet sometimes it has played me false. It seemed a certainty when it first flashed across my mind in the cell at Winchester, but one drawback of an active mind is that one can always conceive alternate explanations which would make our scent a false one." (The Problem of Thor Bridge, page 1069)

This quote points to the fact that Holmes is intuitive (the N) in INTP. There are many references to his instinct and intuition throughout the stories and events that are evidence of it. For more on Holmes' intuition, see the links below. 

The fact that Holmes can "always conceive alternate explanations" to the one he already came up with shows that he is a P (perceiving). The official Myers-Briggs website describes the perceiving function thus: "in type language perceiving means 'preferring to take in information.'" The site states that the following statement is the sort of thing a perceiver might identify with, "Sometimes I stay open to new information so long I miss making decisions when they are needed" (The Myers & Briggs Foundation: Judging or Perceiving). Notice how similar this is to Holmes' own statement. He declares that his ability to come up with new explanations is a drawback of the active mind.

Quote from the book:
The Problem of Thor Bridge, in The Complete Sherlock Holmes, vol. II. By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Doubleday & Co, Inc. Garden City, New York. 1930.

For a description of the INTP personality type:
Typelogic INTP profile

For a fuller analysis of Sherlock Holmes' (of BBC's Sherlock) personality type, you might enjoy:
Thinker Intuitor Sensor Feeler: Sherlock's Myers-Briggs Type

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