This might not come as a surprise, but a friend of mine turned me on to the npr podcast. So I started listening to Invisibilia. ‘The Personality Myth’ is super interesting. If you haven’t listened to it you should. But I’m going to talk about it for a bit here anyway.

The session covers the idea that who we are, or who we think we are, and how we try to define ourselves, through words describing vague aspects that make up what is consider to be personality, is not stable but something that can and does change throughout a life time. The core of who we think we are, is nothing. A changeable piece of paper, or white board, not a constant, but forever able to be wiped and rewritten.

In a certain sense, this gives hope. The idea that for someone to change is not only possible it is the only certainty about them. That someone changing is the only thing you can count on about them. Not the words newly weds use to describe one another, “He’s kind.” “She’s generous.” All of those things are unstable and circumstantial.

But back to the hope thing. It’s a beautiful thing to think that someone who does something that is considered awful, enter MFM, could and does change over time. That it’s not once an awful person always an awful person. Of course for it to go in that direction it also goes in the reverse, which is where people hold to the proverb that ‘good people can do terrible things’ when what happens is scarier than that: good people can become bad people.

It gives hope in giving credence to the idea that changing where you live, who you interact with, and what you do; aka your circumstance, does actually change who you are. But the hope sucks right out when considering just how hard it is for someone to make legitimate change in their circumstances.

For example: family. Yeah yeah. Everyone talks about how you can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends. That’s fine and good, but again it says, you can’t change your family. So the very circumstances of where you are born and who you are born around sticks with you. This is why you can’t just move away from your family and become a different person. Even cutting ties with your family creates a family centric circumstances/decision. The decision to have nothing to do with your family is still a decision on your part about your family and your circumstances and you’re making that decision while still not cut off. So the very decision to cut off your family is a decision motivated by the circumstance of your family.

The inability to change circumstances is seen in why most people hold the solid belief that people don’t, and in most cases believe can’t, change.

Our modern culture itself promotes this theory/belief that people can’t and don’t change. For example, I’m watching Dexter right now and he says over and over again that ‘I am who I am. I can’t change who I am.’ Which in his case happens to be a serial killer! He also holds onto the belief that not only can he not stop killing, as it is essential to the very core of who he is, but he doesn’t believe that other killers can stop killing either, which is what drives and holds all of Harry’s Code together. Dexter justifies his killing because he can’t change and the killers he is killing can’t change either and like him, will kill again, so he’s beating them to the punch.

But what if Dexter and his killer kills were able to completely remove themselves from their circumstances and change to the point of no longer needing to kill? Would they be able to change? This is where there is the hope and the belief in rehabilitation. But re-hab, if sticking to the definition that a change of circumstances is the only thing needed to change, stipulates that successfully changing a person means completely putting them in a new environment and circumstance. Successful change of someone/rehabilitating them means putting them in an all new habitat. Re-habitating them. Taking the tiger out of the jungle to remove the jungle from the tiger.

An example of the extreme popularity of the stable personality: Myers Brigg MLP.




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