Monday, January 16, 2012

Personality Goes a Long Way

Boy howdy does it!  The proof?  Florence Littauer's seminal Personality Plus (found on at my job for free, but a price sticker on its cover indicates someone got it for a mere .30 cents).  I tried to find an image of the edition I have online (with its lovely photo of the author), but it wasn't happening.  I then tried to take a picture of it with my phone.  If you don't see the photo here it is because my phone's personality is out of whack.

This book promises you "how to understand others by understanding yourself."  And to make sure you are getting your .30 cents worth, it includes a "Personality Profile Test!"  Now I know what you are thinking.  Why on Earth would anyone need this book?  I was thinking the same thing until I read the back cover.  Then it became perfectly and painfully clear.  Everyone needs this book!

"Are you the life of the party ... or do you refuse to be 'caught dead' at one?  Do you get along with everyone ... or wish that everyone would just move along?  Do you push people into doing what you want ... or do you need a big push to get moving?  If the answer to any of these is yes, then Personality Plus has the help you need to understand yourself and others better."  Well shit the bed!  Littauer has hit the nail on its pretty little introverted head.  This "lighthearted examination" is going to show readers how to get along with others, a skill not learned in school or in the home.  Thank goodness such a heady and decidedly dicey topic can be covered in a "lighthearted" way in a mere 188 pages.

Or should I thank God?

Littauer's book makes a lot of promises, but none is as ominous as this one.  "Florence Littauer shares amusing anecdotes and wise insights that will give you an appreciation of God-ordained personality differences."  I wonder which personality difference God ordained unto child-killer and cannibal Albert Fish.  Perhaps it is covered in the chapter "Let's Have Fun With the Sanguine."  Perhaps not.

Sprinkled throughout the chapters, personality deprived readers will encounter stories that seem to be plainly made up.  "One day as I was driving down the freeway with my Melancholy [sic] son, Fred, I noticed all the bankings were covered with bright, white daisies.  'Look at those beautiful flowers!' I exclaimed.  As Fred turned, his eyes fell on a large weed and he sighed, 'Yes, but look at that weed.'"
I don't think that really happened.

The end of the book, which assures us that we are all unique blends who don't like to be fenced in, has quotes from the Bible and an interesting chapter on Eugenics.  I'm kidding on that part.  I wanted to see if everyone was still reading.  Though, honestly, I could easily see this "lighthearted" romp through the many facets of personality (broke into just a few groups here) easily be turned into something more sinister.  I have found, through scientific study, that 188 pages is precisely what you need to cause a person to turn against another ethnic or religious group.

The bottom line is: If you have turned to this book in order to understand yourself or others better, you're already in a lot of trouble and this book won't help.  It's not nearly enough pages to get you out of the swamp you are in.  I'm sure church groups loved it and chuckled at the stories, true or not.  Reality is far harsher mistress, however.  And I don't think there's a Bible quote for that.

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