You know how some things people say, you remember for the rest of your life?
It was 1988, twenty-two years ago, when I was having some disagreement with my 50 something Canadian mother-in-law, Ruby. I remember quite clearly she said, “You’re really a mindfucker aren’t you?” She was so enraged and unable to figure out anything to say and just blurted it out. I can’t remember what we were talking about. I think it was some bizarre accusation about why I didn’t let her daughter go to the hospital when the boil on her leg became infected. Bullshit, of course, but the important thing was what she called me.
I thought about the word for a long time. Nobody had ever called me that before. Or since. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what she meant by it.
Since then I’ve come to agree with her a bit – I have a different mind than most. I definitely see things differently. Everything. I also have this strange personality quirk called Americanism, that urges me to be “right” in every argument, or any exchange of conversation. I have the bizarre ability to quote what someone said a week or months ago if it meant something important to me. I remember better than they themselves do. I think this had something to do with the disagreement with Ruby.
In arguments you cannot beat me. The reason is that I don’t argue about anything I don’t know about and cannot prove. I don’t argue about generalizations. If I sense I’m in an argument about a generalization or a specific detail that I’m not arguing at all – I clarify the disagreement and see if we’re talking about the same thing. Many times people argue about large topics that cannot be “won” or they are in fact arguing about different things altogether! Clarifying the argument is crucial.
I also know about myself, that I see the big picture. I don’t base much on the details. I look at the overall picture and act in ways that go along with that. I can see details – and accomplish detailed work, but I must see the big picture first and understand how the details fit.
I grew up the oldest child in our family of three kids. The oldest child always feels right, and tells the younger kids what to do. They never do it – and the urge to have people follow the “right” way, is overwhelming as one gets into adulthood. Oldest kids know there is a right way to do things – “my way”.
On the Myers-Briggs scale I’m INTJ. Only 1-2% of people in the USA are INTJ’s. The therapist I was seeing told me that I see the world in a different way. Yah, no kidding. It’s rare that people see my point of view. It’s rare that people write me after a post and say – “That was RIGHT ON! That’s what I’ve been thinking for 16 years!”
But it does happen – and it feels really good to hear that I’ve connected with someone. Anyone.
A therapist said my IQ is 160 (WAIS-R). Another said 150 (WAIS-R). Another said 143 (Shipley’s). I think it means nothing except that my mind is different from 98% of the population. If you combine this with being INTJ, I am different than 99%+ of the population and there are very few people that get me.
Take a look back through my archive here and see some of the odd posts I’ve done. Most of them have no comments. There’s a good reason for that. Nobody gets me. I’m strange. That I know. I just try to hide it well in social situations. No sense scaring everyone.
Once I tested at a job with a company that created software for psychological testing. They gave me a battery of tests during my interview. After they got the results I was hired immediately. The owner of the company called me into his office the next morning. He was a professional psychotherapist – and very well respected in his field, having published dozens of research papers. (Dr. Levine – will have to look up his first name…)
He said he called me in to just talk about life, and see what I thought about the tests he’d given. He kept saying nobody ever tested as high as I did on the assessments. I wondered what that meant… since there were many tests. There were IQ tests, some aptitude tests, Myers-Briggs, other personality tests, tests to assess whether I was a moral person or a liar. He told me they had five PhD’s on staff – he called them “brilliant guys” that were creating software and doing testing. He asked whether I was planning on going further than my master’s degree. I told him it just doesn’t make any sense to go further, my interest was more in computers – not psychology, like my degrees. I remember clearly, the entire time with him he was looking at me as if I was an alien. His questions were tentative, and he watched me like he was waiting for me to do something spectacular. Either he thought I was Jesus returned in the flesh. Or, Jeffrey Dahmer.
Later I noticed something. My two supervisors were treating me strangely. The one closest to me alluded to my test results a couple times, and just raised his eyebrows like they meant something special in the company. The other supervisor I would catch just watching me. When I’d make eye contact he’d always have this surprised look and big smile like he’d been stalking me and I caught him. I had no idea what was going on but it was like being in the twilight zone. Apparently the owner of the company told these guys something about the results that made them think I was freakish for some reason.
Nobody said that, but I do remember thinking back to Ruby’s accusation.
My brother, Wile E. Coyote Super Genius, when asked who the most brilliant person was he ever met said, “I don’t know about the most brilliant, but my brother Vern definitely has the most complicated mind I’ve ever experienced.”
He didn’t say that.
So, anyway – without going on and on, I think there is something to Ruby’s accusation, but it’s too close to home for me to see it crystal clearly. I do seem to have the ability to justify everything I’ve done or want to do – and make the other person think they are wrong. I do have this weird ability to make myself right in all cases. I do have some strange ideas and few people get me. Some would say I twist a conversation around and make them start believing my point of view over their own. I’ve talked born again Christians out of their belief in god and I’ve had Jehova’s Witnesses in for tea at my home many times so I could get them to question all they believed.
Maybe… not sure.
[Photo credit: blatantnews.com@flickr]