According to personality experts who have studied the canon, Sherlock Holmes has an INTP personality. That means he’s an Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking Perceiver.
To break it down a little more:
Few, I believe, would dispute the fact that Holmes is an introvert. He’s clearly the most energized by his own company or the company of those in his inner circle, usually only Watson, but sometimes widening slightly. He rarely ventures beyond that circle for any reason other than work-related tasks, and when he does, he still has a clear objective. His idea of relaxation is attending a concert for the music itself, not the people.
Holmes’s intuition is also clearly in evidence, since he uses it constantly to solve cases. Someone might argue that he’s sensory, given his sharp ability to take in the smallest detail of the world around him, but he never does it for its own sake. The information he takes in is always assimilated into his brain for processing and relating to the case at hand. He can live in his own brain for days, a classic trait of those with an extreme intuition preference.
The canon proves that Sherlock Holmes is not without feeling, as is sometimes erroneously claimed, but he’s still a thinker based on his preference for making decisions based on logic rather than emotion. He’s the ultimate example of someone who forcefully seeks to let reason inform his every decision, and he usually succeeds. His feelings are certainly present, but he rarely lets them influence his choices.
Finally, Holmes’s perceiving preference can be seen in his creative thinking and flexibility toward rules. In many cases, he applies his own standards of justice and morality to situations, and he’s rarely susceptible to outside efforts to control him. In classic perceiver style, he hates to be forced to adhere to others’ schedules, preferring to work in his own way on his own time.
Overall, the INTP personality usually means a preference for working independently instead of leading or following, a preference for intellectual pursuits, eccentricity, dry wit, and a low need for social interaction. All of these Holmes possesses in abundance.
My own pursuit of self-discovery has yielded the answer that I am also an INTP. I believe this is part of the reason that I, and people like me, enjoy Holmes as a character. He’s a successful INTP who manages, without changing any core aspects of his personality, to carve out an existence that plays to his strengths and makes those strengths accessible to the world. For those of us who often feel like aliens in an extrovert-dominated, overstimulating, emotional world, Holmes is a hero in a very personal way.
Do you believe your personality preferences, whatever they may be, influence your enjoyment of the Sherlock Holmes stories? Why or why not?
The Detective and the Woman: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo. Grab it before the sequel launches February 13, 2013!