BBC Sherlock, sociopaths and the INTJ confusion

A reader writes on the relationship between sociopathy and the Myers-Briggs personality type, INTJ:

In short, I think a lot of people take MBTI too far. They base huge decisions about life direction on a general tendency to think in a specific way and use their psychological reserves in a particular direction. It isn’t a horoscope, the MBTI is supposed to be used to branch out into other styles and become a well-rounded person. No one is a pure type, and INTJs can be arrogant about their perceived purity of rationality, which, ironically, isn’t what a rational person would think. The website LessWrong is a pretty good breakdown of the kind of self-regulation a high-minded personality type requires. I type as INTJ myself and can’t help but facepalm over the self-appointed geniuses who never created a damn thing in their entire lives. It’s a potential, not a promise.

Personality typing is complicated when you bring in certain disorders. INTJs, being a hermitic type, are often judged for that literal and mental distance. The two common slurs are Aspie and Sociopath. What do these have in common? Blunted affect. Or so it seems.

There’s very little written on the connection between certain personality values and mental abnormalities (I mean that in the mathematical sense of rarity). It’s largely speculation and from what I studied at Uni, it’s imprecise. Like throwing at a dartboard and hitting the same place twice it may happen, but it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. 

The similarities I can see between sociopathy and INTJs are best described as coping mechanisms. Both types of person deal with copious amounts of information on a daily basis and some form of filtration is required to thrive. Both types tend to live in their heads and this can fairly freak normal people out. The pressure release valve of INTJs is easily upset by undue amounts of stress in a short period of time, causing them to lash out. On the surface, this might appear a sociopathic 0-60 in temper. 

Neither is automatically trusting and these belief systems about testing the world, changing things and treating the world like a gigantic experiment can appear manipulative in a damaging way, as many people are socially-oriented before ideas. The dark sense of humour in expression make it sound worse than it is. “I wanted to see what you’d do.”

INTJs and sociopaths value truth above socially-proscribed norms and among the common herd this can make them enemies. I agree with those who type BBC’s Sherlock as INTJ because his deep, alarmingly sharp processing of information screams INTJ to me. 
That isn’t to say the guy is without faults. He’s full of inconsistencies, being the product of many writers, and one outright declared he isn’t a sociopath although “he wishes he was.” With all due respect, that guy is full of shit. If we place the INTJ typing aside, the Sherlock they wrote behaves in a sociopathic way. Whether it’s for dramatic effect and whether he intends to are irrelevant. SEASON 3 SPOILER ALERT: A person with no sociopathic bent could never shoot a guy in the head at point-blank range in cold blood. On a practical level, their fight/flight response would make it impossible. What annoys me about the character’s recent outings are the typical attempt to make him cuddlier and in the process lose the veracity of the Sherlock Holmes brand. 

Those personality traits don’t need to be fixed, they’re valuable to society. However, sometimes the person who embodies them needs to branch out for personal reasons and that is to be encouraged. 
If a pure INTJ met a pure sociopath, the latter would be irritated because the former would see them as a big puzzle and the latter would see somebody with a good theoretical brain being wasted on impractical goals. They overlap where they think: yeah, I know the social rules, I just don’t care.

ah who knows mystery shrug eva green pfft haha


7 responses to “BBC Sherlock, sociopaths and the INTJ confusion

  1. *facepalm* for the LAST time, Sherlock (BBC) is NOT a sociopath and the writers are well aware of it! Here’s what Sherlock showrunner Steven Moffat has to say about this issue, (

    “It’s funny how people are always wanting to prove me wrong on this one. They say: ‘But he’s not a high-functioning sociopath.’ I never said he was! Sherlock Holmes tells people he is. Why would you listen to him? Nobody can define themselves. That’s what he’d like people to think he is. And that’s it–and I think he probably longs to be one. I think he loiters around prisons for the criminally insane, envying them their emotional detachment. He knows emotion is a problem to him. A man who has decided to suppress all his emotions in order to be better at what he does clearly has an awful lot of emotion. That’s a very simple deduction. It clearly is a problem for him. So, in itself, that is an emotional decision.”

      • Yes but you have to remember he and Gatiss wrote BBC’s Sherlock. It’s not like the Sherlock we see on screen is an actual person where Moffat is simply analysing him his layman skills in psychology or something. He knows why he co-wrote the character this way and maybe you don’t believe a person having Sherlock’s traits can’t have the motivation Moffat says Sherlock has but the FACT is that Moffat admitted that he makes Sherlock behave that way because he has written Sherlock having that motivation. So in the BBC version you have to admit that Sherlock WANTS to be a sociopath rather than being an actual one because he yearns to be emotionally detached and keep others at arms length. My argument is only confined to the characterization of BBC’s Sherlock and how people has bought into Sherlock’s sociopath façade.

        Also you said Sherlock shot someone. Your point? It’s like each and every detective or character in the history of TV/ literature shot someone and later turned out to be a sociopath!! Also I’d like to point out that John Waston also shot the cabbie in the very first episode. If you compare this with Sherlock’s shooting you’ll see that John had fewer information about the cabbie having an intention to hurt Sherlock. As far as he knew Sherlock and the cabbie were just standing staring at each other and he was doing nothing harmful to Sherlock. Do you call him a sociopath as well? (It’s an irony of the show. People warn John to stay away from Sherlock because he’s such a psychopath that once there’ll be a corpse and Sherlock will be the one to put it there. Buuuut at the end of the very episode we get the cabbie dead body. And who was the one to put it there again??) They both shot to kill someone and RISKED INCARCERATION TO SAVE OTHERS. When writers create characters who goes as far as kill the villain to save their loved ones what kind of character trope they fall into? I dunno about others but I thought they are called the hero or good guys or even the tragic hero. Not saying killing in cold blood is nice. Personally I don’t have what it takes to go as far as kill someone even if they threaten or destroy the lives of my nearest and dearest. But I have a feeling people will call me heartless, selfish, coward or maybe even a sociopath for that.

      • This is a reply to your comment: “Moffat isn’t a good writer. He pools resources from other people. Sherlock is a sociopath and it’s obvious by his actions.”

        I’ve given you Moffat’s own words and my analysis while you are blabbering like a parrot. Don’t just say things, back them up with logic and examples. Otherwise it’s best to remain silent. Why is Moffat a bad writer? Just because he dared to interpret Holmes in another light? He pools resources from other people? So would you call all the other people who created Sherlock pastiches bad writers too? *shrug* From where do you base these things from?

      • No, I’ve been watching Sherlock. Why do you feel the need to shoehorn his work of an entirely different show into a Sherlock discussion. This show has enough episode to judge Moffat’s writing by it alone. Don’t try to stray out of topic. Maybe watch Sherlock and Moffat’s episodes again and then judge his work DONE IN SHERLOCK. If Moffat wrote great in Sherlock then I bet you won’t forgive him writing poorly in say, Doctor Who. But you are up in arms in dismissing his work in Sherlock because he allegedly did poorly in Doctor Who! Like I said, if you have nothing constructive to say, don’t bother to type in your incoherent snarky one liners. But if you are interested in this discussion then criticize/analyze Moffat based on his work on BBC’s Sherlock. If typing is too tedious then try google voice even. Peace out!

1. Be civil. 2. Be logical or fair. 3. Do not bore me.

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