Monday, August 27, 2018

Understanding Psychology

I have had a strange relationship with psychology for most of my life. I think my first encounter was with a counsellor when my parents were getting divorced. I was around fifteen or sixteen at the time. I was interviewed and then given a test which in retrospect I think was the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. I just thought it was peculiar and no, the counseling didn't help my parents who got divorced anyway. The counsellor suggested that I was kidding around when I answered the questions! Then there was some kind of career aptitude test administered in high school. I did the test but never went to the counsellor's office for the results. I guess you could say I was aggressively uninterested! Later on, in my late 20s and 30s, I got interested in Zen, Chinese philosophy and Carl Jung, which led me to Karen Horney, a neo-Freudian who specialized in neurosis. I read a few of her books, but I seemed to get more neurotic with every one, so I developed an interesting theory about modern psychology: it's all crap!

For a few decades, therefore, I carefully avoided psychology, psychological gurus, the use of psychological terms and so on. Anytime anyone referred to their "ego" or "subconscious" or "id" or whatever, I just tuned out. Hey, it completely cured my neuroses because I no longer believed there was such a thing. Ok, this was a somewhat extreme view, but it worked very well for me. But then I encountered Jordan Peterson and now I have had to re-evaluate psychology.

Last night I was watching his September Q&A on YouTube:

He mentioned a personality evaluation test that sounded quite interesting so I signed up for it. Here:

If you watch the video you will hear that if you type "September" into the code field you will get a discount from $9.95 to $7.95. I think you might find it worthwhile to do. If I, very skeptical about psychology and a notorious self-analyzer, found it worthwhile, you might too. Unlike those free tests online, this one gives you a pretty substantial report. Mine came to nearly 6,000 words. Oh, so you want to know the highly-confidential results? Ok! There are five categories, each of which has two sub-categories:
  • Agreeableness: typical, 43rd percentile (which means I am slightly less agreeable than the norm) this divides into Compassion, 48th percentile and politeness, 38th percentile which is moderately low. Odd for a Canadian, eh?
  • Conscientiousness: moderately high, 72nd percentile, this divides into industriousness, 56th percentile and orderliness, 80th percentile.
  • Extraversion: high, 80th percentile, this divides into enthusiasm, 59th percentile and assertiveness, 88th percentile, which is why my mother could never tell me what to do!
  • Neuroticism, typical, 42nd percentile, this divides into withdrawal, 41st percentile and volatility, 43rd percentile.
  • Openness (to experience): exceptionally high, 96th percentile, this divides into intellect, 86th percentile and openness, 96th percentile.
So obviously I have to get working on that composition!

For an envoi, let's have a piece I wrote for violin and guitar. This is Cloudscape with Claudia Shiuh, violin and myself on guitar:


Will Wilkin said...

I love all 4 of "4 pieces"! Cloudscape is gorgeous! I burned an extra copy and gave it to a friend who also listens to it. Nice to see the pics you included here in this video version of the piece. I am impressed with your writing for violin here, since you're a guitarist. Of course she plays it very nicely!

Bryan Townsend said...

Hi Will, thanks for always being so appreciative of these pieces. You might like to know that my new piece, Dark Dream, is reaching completion and I have a recording session booked for it and my piece for violin and piano, Chase, in early December in Toronto, in the Glenn Gould studio at the CBC. I have one of the best violinists in Canada, Valerie Li, booked to do the session with.