The Socratic Method…and shit like that

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cognition / human experience
I believe that using a coercive approach to interviewing people, especially those who withhold information as a religion, is paramount to their good health and what Socrates WOULD say. Take that, buddy ole pal :)

I believe that using a coercive approach to interviewing people, especially those who withhold information as a religion, is paramount to their good health and well-being…is what Socrates WOULD say.
Take that, buddy ole pal 🙂


In case you hadn’t figured it out already, the Socratic Method got it’s name from a fellow named Socrates, a classical Greek philosopher. I just heard the term when a buddy of mine suggested I might be using that approach when we chat.  Initially I giggled as a narcissistic young lady might when she believes she’s being the subject of a compliment about her high intelligence.  Imagine my chagrin upon realization that it has far less to do with my superior mind and much more to do with a negative method of hypothesis elimination.  Meaning, I guess I tend to seek answers while placing others in a defensive mode.  Or making them question themselves or their motives or word connotations, or where they put their drug stash….I don’t know.  According to my research, this method of drawing out information creates a situation where people may feel they are being coerced into responding in certain ways that aren’t necessarily representative of their thoughts or feelings.  Ut uh!  I do not do that! Those of you who know me don’t think that, right?  RIGHT?!  *stomps feet…throws pen off desk*

That was an example of a more extreme, albeit juvenile, form of Socratic Method.  Ok well that just sucks for me.  I am a clinically trained therapist. A helper. A bleeding heart, a people-loving-womb for Pete’s sake!…A receptacle for others’ pain and suffering and shit, dammit!  Putting people on the defensive is a huge no-no.

Now if I were a prosecutor maybe…

What do I do with this stupid constructive information?  I change, I guess.  I want to be a soft place to land, not a slab of concrete where others fall and crack their heads open, fracture their skulls and bleed out at the ears and mouth just so I can say I told you so! and walk off smugly.. (anymore).  So, I did what any inquisitive, well-intentioned person might do.  I decided to investigate the situation in order to  prove my friend wrong! better myself.  To this end, I shall delve into the world of personality inventories and see if who I believe I am is accurate on some level; then multiply that by two as I tend to be loud, and then I will systematically weigh out, or sift through complex combinations of personality trait pairings to achieve maximum benefit from said test results.  Here I go.

I will briefly discuss two of the hundreds of personality tests or inventories available.  The Myers Briggs Personality Inventory  has been given to individuals since 1962. It stresses the value of naturally occurring differences in how people perceive the world and how they think in general. It is not excruciatingly stressful as some of these tests can be both in length and in content. The best part is that the results all make each of us look rather exceptional. There are no wrong answers.  Just you learning about how you interact with the world. This test is not the end-all or be-all of personality information.  It is probably more entertaining than it is reliable over the long haul, but I find it helpful in giving basic strengths in people as well as the differences in how people see the world. I consider it the Kool-Aid of personality exam beverages.

 ⇒I’m about to go out on a limb here and share what makes me tick. There’s a waiver at the bottom of this blog. Be a doll and sign that, would you? It protects you from my wrath if you happen to, at any time in our association, make fun of my personality quirks.⇐

I am an I/ENFP, for example. In a nutshell that tells people that I am an intuitive feeler who tends to see the big picture – how things connect. I am rather spontaneous and open-ended. Not much of a rule follower, I might add. I like people, however, in small doses. Rather I enjoy being in my head or reading or writing as much or more. I believe in causes and exposing elephants or other varieties of overt mammals in the room, pink or otherwise. I care and care deeply – for people, animals and nature.  Perhaps that is why I tend to retreat.  I give 500% or maybe nothing.  You people exhaust me. Some believe me to be too much.  I agree.  I  exhaust myself.  I see the world as open to change, optimistic overall, full of blessings if we take the time to consciously embrace them.  I am a hippy in soccer mom’s clothing.

With regard to the Enneagram personality inventory  we are talking about a whole different beast, mammal, if you will.  According to the Enneagram Institute ( the Enneagram can be seen as a set of nine distinct personality types, with each number on the Enneagram denoting one type.  It is common to find a little of yourself in each type, although one of them will probably stand out as being closest to yourself.  Mine screamed at me.  There are two easy tests you can take if you are so inclined.  They are both at the site I have listed above. One is free and takes about 10 minutes and the other is ten bucks and takes about thirty minutes. Naturally I took both…just to be thorough.  (I didn’t believe any of the 47 pregnancy tests I took either). I came up with an 8w7.

Keeping in mind that I am essentially a hippy by MBPI standards above, with the Enneagram I am labelled “The Challenger”.  According to this I am “powerful, dominating, self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational”.  All true.  Have you ever heard of a hippy in those terms? Not particularly like that.  Hippies have been  known for nonviolence and peace-loving but also as nonconformists who aren’t too awfully excited about authority. These are historically the weed-loving, sit-in having, acid-twirling, love-making, braid wearing types, right? Clearly I am born in the wrong generation, however I am as close to that as people in this suburb get. If my hippy friends were doing less acid they might be more confrontational, i.e. using something I am now becoming proud of: the Socratic Method!  Let’s face it.  None of us are 100% any one trait.  It’s just easier to place ourselves in a box.

Back to my initial musing: it IS entirely possible, then, that I could pull off the Socratic Method and still enlist my empathetic self at other times…like if I were giving this pal of mine therapy, for instance. For which s/he may very well need after I get a hold of her/him!  So perhaps as an integrated personality trait coercion tactics can be toned down, perhaps softened around the edges a bit.  There is hope for me!  Which means there is essentially hope for everyone.

And that, my friends,  gives me great joy.


What is your personality type?  Do you find that it is accurate?  Do you believe it helps you to understand others in a different way?

Waiver of Liability:

I__________________understand that is only trying to educate me on this day________.  I will under no circumstances hold her accountable for using the Socratic Method on me at any time during our relationship.  However, verbal and physical abuse will not be tolerated.  Henceforth, I acknowledge that her Enneagram score of an 8w7 may delude her into thinking she is God-like.  I have her word that I may suggest ever so gently, however, that she enlist her affable, I/ENFP side (right brain) to soften the blow.  I have her express permission to ignore her completely and go on with me day if all else fails. Amen

The Author

I am a licensed clinical social worker who just happens to adore the written word. I have had a private practice and am now writing a memoir on my life in the company of my father and many of my clients who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I hope to dispel some myths and break down some barriers for those with mental illness. I write out of need and complete joy, which I hope to convey throughout my blogs. The human experience is not exclusive to one group. I hope to appeal to most as I touch on some pretty heady material with some self-deprecating humor and raw emotion thrown in for good measure. I have four amazing children, one HUGE dog and a tolerant husband. I am blessed.


    • Thanks, Tony. You know, being more passive isn’t a bad thing unless you end up resenting people for taking over or you judge yourself too harshly for not speaking up. I am NOT the passive type and tend to get myself in loads of trouble because I don’t filter properly (oops!)…either way, not enough balance makes “Johnny” an unhappy boy! 😉
      Thanks again for stopping by!


  1. I’ve taken the Myers Briggs Personality Inventory before, but I went ahead and took it again because I’d like to think I’ve evolved over time. I used to be a firm ENFP Now it appears I am an INFJ:

    Introvert(11%) iNtuitive(25%) Feeling(50%) Judging(22%)

    You have slight preference of Introversion over Extraversion (11%)
    You have moderate preference of Intuition over Sensing (25%)
    You have moderate preference of Feeling over Thinking (50%)
    You have slight preference of Judging over Perceiving (22%)

    Like you, I consider myself a hippy at heart (minus the patchouli oil, than you very much). I’m not sure when I developed a preference for Introversion over Extroversion. I think it’s linked to my Depressive Disorder. It was that “Judging” one that threw me, so I looked up the brief description:

    “Vision and meaning oriented. Quietly intense. Insightful. Creative. Sensitive. Seeks harmony, growth. Serious. Loves language, symbols. Persevering. Inspiring.”

    Huh. Most of that seems pretty right on. Serious? Occasionally. Inspiring? HA! I’ll take it, though. 🙂

    When I have $ to spare I’ll take the other one, too. For now, this is what I’ve got, sister.

    Liked by 1 person

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