Dear Personality Hacker,
I love your podcasts. I am fascinated by the main character in the podcast S-Town. His name is John McLemore. I am struggling to figure out what his type is. I would really love your thoughts.
I am fascinated by his many traits. I thought he was INFJ because of his global concern for the welfare of the Earth and its pollution, global warming, overpopulation, etc. and his preaching to anyone who would listen (I guess you could call it Advocacy or Counseling…) Some of that concern and duty to act on this could be overwhelmingly found in an INFP.
However, I found him so logical and rational at times (and downright genius). A visionary of the stars, sun, planets, and the constant physics of the Earth, all the while having a deep perspective of his place within it all, (and keeping the place of his friends and associates also bookmarked in his mind, and where they are or are headed). I would then place him into the INTJ category of the Mastermind or Scientist.
I also felt like he was open-minded and accepting of how all different types of people were, that would mark him as a Perceiver. I don’t feel like he lived by rigid schedules or defined needs for closure, but was rather driven by a checklist of explorative tasks he wanted to fulfill. This is my conundrum. Is he a Perceiver or a Judger? Then there is this final part I dwell on where he desired deep love and connection, and looked for it, but realized that it was not going to be found in his hometown because no one there seems to understand him. He was doomed to connect to them in a simplistic way, and at times he was quite manipulative. On the flip side, he always predicted (his intuition?) when a friend or associate needed money and he would scheme up a way to either hire them or donate money to their immediate cause, which I found to be a feeling trait. I believe not all of his decisions were based on logic but rather feeling. You can see how I am quite confused. I want to put him into INFJ/INFP because he feels so strongly about the earth’s impending doom, and his own; however, he is so logical and rational at times, he seems INTJ/INTP. Any Ideas?
Then there is this final part I dwell on where he desired deep love and connection, and looked for it, but realized that it was not going to be found in his hometown because no one there seems to understand him. He was doomed to connect to them in a simplistic way, and at times he was quite manipulative. On the flip side, he always predicted (his intuition?) when a friend or associate needed money and he would scheme up a way to either hire them or donate money to their immediate cause, which I found to be a feeling trait. I believe not all of his decisions were based on logic but rather feeling. You can see how I am quite confused. I want to put him into INFJ/INFP because he feels so strongly about the earth’s impending doom, and his own; however, he is so logical and rational at times, he seems INTJ/INTP. Any Ideas?
You are a woman after my own heart. There’s nothing I enjoy more than analyzing the behavior of complex characters and trying to figure out their personality type. I have worn out my family with my constant riffing on why a character does what he does.
In this case, however, I haven’t had a chance to listen to this podcast. (Although, you have intrigued me enough that I want to listen to it asap.)
So, I decided to share your question with our Profiler Training students. They love riffing on people’s personalities too, and they had some insights I think you may find interesting.
Fe – Extraverted Feeling
Ti – Introverted Thinking
Ni – Introverted iNtuition
Ne – Extraverted iNtuition
Fi – Introverted Feeling
Si – Introverted Sensing
For the placement of the cognitive functions and their positions in the car (dominant, auxiliary, tertiary, inferior), please reference our article on the Car Model.
AB (INFP): I loved that podcast and also wondered about his type. I picked up on INFJ as well but wasn’t sold on it. The problem is that he had some pretty serious psychological problems due to mercury poisoning that changed his brain chemistry. By the time of the podcast, it had left him suffering extreme depression and psychotic delusions. This totally affects the ability to accurately type him.
He had this reluctant care and concern for people but was pretty jaded by the world. I could also see an argument for INTP. Maybe that disdain mixed with reluctant caring is inferior Fe. He seemed like a man compelled to help people but had some pretty specific expectations or ideas of how people should behave and they kept letting him down — hence the jaded outlook. Of course, this was also colored by his delusions. It still really felt like Fe to me. He absolutely came across as an intuitive and could have long deep conversations. That paired with his deep love and occupation of horological work and tinkering looking for better methods (his cause of mercury poisoning) could be either Ni dominant or Ne auxiliary. I lean toward Ni because of how deep he goes into the abstract and speculative subjects he’s into. Yet, at the same time, he does seem to have varied interests. Overall I guess my feeling was he was a severely depressed man who suffered from a lonely life, felt like an outcast to begin with, but was also an outcast as a gay man in the Deep South, and he gradually became a hermit that succumbed to his self-caused psychosis. It was a beautifully tragic story. I can see INTP the more I think about it. He was sort of like a darker more depressed Einstein. Nothing about him said INFP or Fi to me.
BG (INFJ): I listened to this podcast all in one go on a road trip driving from GA to AL. I had no idea what I was in for. It was perfect. I laughed. I cried. I passively profiled the entire time. I landed on INTP. Enneagram 5w4. I think his mind is a Ti mind. The maze. The clocks. All the logic.
I think his inability to leave home is broken Fe [obligation to mother] and immature Si + inferior Fe = his long term complaints about the incompetency of S-town and his elaborate conspiracies. I also found his tattoos at the end to be a broken, strange way to handle his emotions, which ultimately, he just couldn’t handle. I saw 5w4 in the tension between mind and heart and shame and fear.
It was a beautiful piece of storytelling. And an amazing picture of how our tragedy and secrets color our narrative.
SJ (INFJ): What a character! My impression was ENTP 6w5. If he was a 5 I would have expected him to be much more withdrawn as a general disposition – especially having been weakened by possible illness and a less than ideal upbringing. He seemed to me to be willing to mix things up much more and he seemed to have been tortured by general safety and security issues. Faith/doubt seems to me to have been the operating system he was running. He reminds me a lot of this guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNVHbzlzUS8.
Unfortunately, Michael Ruppert suffered the same fate as JBM. Both brilliant but tortured. As for the potential of mercury poisoning, I would imagine that it would bring out more of the tertiary and a more pronounced Enneagram pattern. So a 5 would become more reclusive, 6 more paranoid, etc. – not that I know anything about mercury poisoning, but as far as I can tell those things would be consistent for people who are weakened by illness, old age, difficult circumstances, etc.
JR (INFJ): I got around to this podcast and am about half way through (love it btw). John B. McLemore is quite a complex individual! My first impression of his energy and intensity was ENTP, getting a lot of Ti. My opinion changed though after a while but vacillated a lot! He has so many intense facets – needs to communicate and be around people, pessimistic, paranoid, research with depth and breadth, many projects, good with his hands, meticulous records yet leaving much unaccounted for, passionate protector of his friends and of his Shit Town. And of course, extraordinarily intelligent! This man must have had IQ in the top 5%, and I can only imagine the torture of being in a small backward rural town in the deep south.
But if you take away the southern accent and put this guy in 19th century England, you have an energy very similar to Sherlock Holmes. He didn’t play detective himself but the showmanship of his intellect, the radical honesty, the subjective intellectual judgments of everything around him, the tendency toward nihilism, and Rightness. I don’t see Freedom for him in the FIRM model, but I do feel Ne’s curiosity and inclination to set people off balance to see how they react.
What an extraordinary individual and tragic story.
JR (After finishing the podcast): INFJ crossed my mind early on, and now that I’ve gotten to the part describing his mercury exposure I do think INFJ is likely before the brain damage took a perceptible toll. I had suspected he was on a spectrum close to schizophrenia or mania before hearing about the mercury and now it makes sense. It also explains the difficulty typing him since his personality was obviously strongly affected by the exposure. You can’t type someone meaningfully or effectively with that level of neurotoxic exposure.
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