Make a Map of Me

toiletpolice

Although I took a break from talks with the gender therapist (for reasons which I explain here), I did go to Assen today for my scheduled “psychological evaluation”. A taxicab came to pick me up and an exhausting ride later I was facing a pretty girl who explained how the session would look like. She stacked a big pile of questionnaires in front of me, that were divided into different sections.

“This one´s about mental health“, the other ones will delineate your personality.She added that it was fun, she had done the personality tests herself. After giving me a short briefing on the sections and a pen, I was left to fill in the answers, mostly yes/no type of answers and scales in numbers. I honestly wish now that I would remember all the questions that were on this sheet. But I forgot most of them – there were just too many.

The test about mental health was sensible enough. It gauged my anxiety in the last months, whether I´d experienced anything related to trauma, whether I´d been dissociative or unfocused, and mapped possible coping mechanisms that I´d developed for challenging situations. Part of it made me realize that I employ very little positive self-talk and it wouldn´t hurt for me to encourage myself from time to time.

The personality part of the test was as insightful and well thought out as any “test” I have done on Facebook. Some of the questions, like “Do you think Dutch people build better bridges than others“, “Do you think people who are unlawful should be punished“, and “Do you think tax evasion is bad” seemed to be more about my political beliefs than anything else. I didn´t really understand what kind of insight this could give into my personality.

It would be equally accurate to ask me whether I like ketchup or mustard and make inferences about me based on that. Why ask that kind of thing, when you have very professional tests at your service and online, like the renowned Myers Briggs personality test? Instead of poking about in niches of my mind that shouldn´t be of interest to anyone, that test gave me real insight in my strong suits and my obstacles.

If anything, a Map of Me reduces me to a blueprint based on trivial questions, and further serves the appetite for non-information in an age where every juicy bit of self (every selfie, every update about your microwave dinner) is a commodity. We must expose every last detail about ourselves, no matter how petty, because our friends (and therapists) should know whether we most resemble an orange or a banana peel.

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2 thoughts on “Make a Map of Me

  1. Though questions like “Do you think Dutch people build better bridges than others“, “Do you think people who are unlawful should be punished“, and “Do you think tax evasion is bad” seem silly at first glance, they actually do measure quite something else than your political beliefs. The first one here probably measures patriotism, and the second and third authoritarianism. Your answers to questions like these actually say more about your personality than you might expect.
    FWIW, these tests actually managed to map my personality quite accurately, so there has to be something to them. Having said that, I thought the filling out of those questionnaires was rather annoying and a waste of my precious time. The results told me nothing I didn’t know already. The fun part of those tests, to me, was discussing the outcome with my therapist.
    But I like psychology. I’d have been a psychologist (not a therapist, but rather a scientist) if I hadn’t had to quit my studies because of my stupid illness. Oh well. It ruined my plans, but not my life, so I’m all good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree Liam – they probably measure more than what you´d think at first glance – but still. If you want to measure patriotism, asking a question like “Can the Dutch build better bridges than others” with a response restricted to yes/no, you are restricting someone´s personality to a very black and white outcome.

      The thing is, that I don´t see any added value for gender therapists to figure out whether I am a patriot or not or whether I support authoritarianism or not. It simply doesn´t matter what my political beliefs are in that setting, so why ask? Because it´s fun?

      Something about this feels very unsettling to me. Just as unsettling as those little Facebook tests. I do not want strangers to get to know my personality for “fun”, specially when I know next to nothing about them and would never be friends with them.

      Liked by 1 person

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