Sherlock Holmes and Personality

Image

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!

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Sherlock Holmes and Personality

  1. You know, I do think about that, sometimes. For example, why are people so drawn to either Holmes or Watson? Not that everyone has a strong preference, but many do, and it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with any actor (or actress). Why is it important to people that either man share a belief or avocation–like being a Mason, or religious, or not-religious, etc.? I bet quite a few of us identify with our favorite character in some fashion.

    As far as Meyers-Briggs goes, I’m an INFJ. I used to test as an INFP, but age and parenthood has caused me to value the product over the process. When I first read the Canon, I saw someone who liked being alone, thinking alone, had obsessions, and would go all out for days, only to be completely useless when the job was done. And while I may derive an indecent amount of satisfaction from completed tasks, I believe that man-made rules should be flexible, and tend to go with mercy, rather than justice. My favorite kind of hero is the one who does what is right, no matter what–and I see that in Sherlock Holmes. Also–the messiness. I completely appreciate the clutter.

    Have you read Quiet, by Susan Cain? It’s about introversion. I wish it had been around when I was a teen or 20-something; it’s really helpful.

    • Very interesting.

      I haven’t read that, but I’ve had it recommended to me several times, and I plan to check it out.

      I used to test J when I was younger, but I finally realized I was only getting that because I was answering in ways I thought I should feel, not how I actually am. Several in my family have strong judging preferences, and I thought I should be like them, but I’m most definitely not.

      • I was always on the line. I think that working for the state, then with a bunch of philosophers, and then, of course, being surrounded by short chaos-machines pushed me the other way. I had to be the person who said, “well, ok, this meeting is interesting, but the point is…?” And yeah, the finishing things. Even, say, shampoo bottles. It is sad. It does not translate to housekeeping, however. Oh, well.

  2. Regrettably, I’ve been something of a lurker up to this point on this excellent blog. But I just had to comment when I saw this sentence:

    “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.”

    Wow. Just wow. This time a MILLION.

    As a self-proclaimed Sherlockian, lover of MBTI, and fellow INTP, I have long suspected Sherlock of being INTP as well, if only because of the plethora of ways I related to his character when reading the canon for the first time a couple years ago. This sentiment is particularly relevant to me presently, as a current college student trying to carve her future career path, Sherlock Holmes is a prime fictional example of a highly successful INTP who made excellent use of his unconventional talents and revolutionized the world as a result.

    In any case that kind of potential inspires me, and seems to make the whole “choose-wisely-this-is-the-rest-of-your-life-on-the-line” idea of selecting a college major slightly less intimidating.

    Thanks for another great post,
    Elizabeth

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s