Posts tagged ‘memories’

November 26, 2012

personality tests I have failed

14.04.2009

There’s a website, Authentic Happiness,  that really annoys me and which inspired this cartoon:

Since publishing this cartoon on my blog [now defunct], I have been asked things like ‘Did you actually take those personality tests?’ and ‘Why don’t you like that website? You should try harder to join.’ (This, from my partner.) Also, ‘That cartoon shows a lot of self-awareness.’

So the answer to the first question is, no, I didn’t do the questionnaires. Also, just to be clear, since I have obviously failed in the purpose of this cartoon, which was to make fun of the Authentic Happiness people in their relentless pursuit of positive thinking, you don’t actually have to pass these tests to join some kind of happiness club, they are for self-awareness/development purposes only.

I dislike personality, psychological and aptitude tests, as I have a long history of failing them. For my statistics class at University, we did a lot of these tests to generate data to analyse. I was always an outlier – at the ‘educationally sub-normal’ or ‘uh-oh, mental!’ end of the normal distribution.

There’s a horrible personality test called the Big 5, which evaluates you along 5 dimensions: Openness (intellect), Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. What I learned about myself from this test was that I was naïve, feckless, an introvert (which apparently means ‘more likely to turn out to be a serial killer’), high-maintenance and emotionally unstable, i.e. destined to end up an unemployable spinster.

For the next couple of decades, I adopted a strategy of minimizing self-awareness, of refusing to recognise what the tests had revealed about me. This worked quite well, and I managed to earn a living and have relationships by convincing potential employers, boyfriends and sometimes myself that I was outgoing, easygoing and completely committed to whatever it was they were proposing. However, this was exhausting, and I just couldn’t keep it up. My true nature always asserted itself eventually.

Then I did the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, which unlike the Big 5 test, isn’t arranged in terms of positive and negative ends of a spectrum, but goes from good to … differently good. According to this test I’m an intuitive introvert, who prioritises human factors over objective logic, with a high tolerance for uncertainty. In other words, an independently-minded woman who is better suited to self-employment. That I can live with.

25.11.2012

Today I read a review of this book, and was inspired to dig up my old cartoon:

Advertisements
November 25, 2012

how to deal with figures before you can count

11.05.2009

November 12, 2012

unreliable memories much more interesting than facts

15.03.2011 – from my journal

When I was a teenager I distinctly remember mum telling me that at school she had a classmate whose weight would yo-yo up and down. Every so often, when this girl got too chubby, her parents would whisk her away to a clinic, where she would be ‘put to sleep’ for a week, sedated or anaesthetized and fed through a drip. She would come back to school with concave cheeks and a flat stomach and be the envy of her classmates. This was the same clinic my mother’s father would check into when his stomach ulcers got so bad he would be vomiting blood. The treatment was the same: he would be ‘put to sleep’ for a week, then come back good as new.

I never questioned my memory of these gothic-sounding practices, even after I did my degree in psychology. This was Italy, and different rules apply. Also, although it sounded physiologically dodgy, I found the idea of a clinic where you were put to sleep for a while to solve all your problems incredibly appealing, much more restful than dieting or therapy.

When I asked mum about this recently she denied ever telling me anything so mad-sounding, and said that her schoolmate probably had anorexia or bulimia, not conditions which were recognized at the time, and she was removed from school when she got too thin, not for being too fat. But the part about her father being put to sleep in this clinic was true, except that it was when he got depressed, not for his ulcers.

For the record, she tells me a lot of mad-sounding things, so my memory is probably correct even though her revisionist explanation is likely to be a more accurate description of the facts. And the mad-sounding version is so much more interesting than the facts.

November 11, 2012

and the connection between totalitarian regimes and The Accidental Tourist is…

03.03.2011 Thursday – from my journal

At the gallery I wasn’t particularly inspired by any of the art, except for the 4th Estate, and I was sad to learn that Volpedo committed suicide after his painting was deemed too controversial to be accepted by any museums during his lifetime. It’s a shame he didn’t hang around to see what an emblem of revolution his painting became.

I got particularly fed up with the modern art, all the stuff from the 50’s and 60’s, the slashed canvases and lumps of lead. It all looks like a joke that I don’t get, and no one will explain to me. Sometimes I completely understand those totalitarian regimes that want to do away with the intelligentsia and middle classes.

There was a TED talk I was watching the other day, a woman who was working with Cambodian women, the last nine in the country who had some memory of Cambodia’s dance heritage, and they were starting to teach the youngest generation. She talked about the importance of preserving what was beautiful from the past.

All my parents wanted to do was distance themselves from their pasts. Mum, specifically, adopted the belief that the past has to be “discharged”, eradicated somehow, before we can function properly. Is that why she behaves like such a Martian so much of the time? S., too, she’ll hear a word, a cultural reference that someone of her background and education should be perfectly familiar with and claim to never have heard it. It drives me crazy. She’ll say things like, “a ‘milkman’…  what’s that?” For God’s sake, she reads and watches TV. She must have picked up something.

There’s a bit in The Accidental Tourist I find hilarious and I’m not sure why: “When Macon was small, he used to worry that his mother was teaching him the wrong names for things.  ‘They call this corduroy,’ she’d said, buttoning his new coat, and he had thought, But do they really?” Is it because Macon has a mother with the same “I’m not from here” act I grew up with? NB. Mum disguised her extraterrestrialness behind a “being an uprooted Italian” act for a long time, until I realised she is just as much of an alien in Italy.