Sunday, 20 March 2016

John F. Kennedy (EIE): Personality Type Analysis

The 35th President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy is mainly remembered today (apart from his tragic death) for his unparalleled rhetorical skills and his charismatic personality. He probably embodies the image of the perfect president in the sense of an attractive, youthful yet tough, charming yet serious-minded man who was also an author of history books.

By all accounts, including his own, throughout his life he always found it natural and easy to charm those around him with his personality; his personal magnetism was extraordinary. This served him very well as a politician, especially when giving speeches and talking to the press.

His most memorable speeches as president combined the themes of a "twilight time" of threat from global communism and loss of will in the US with the optimistic vision that those were all challenges that could be faced. Interestingly, what people tend to remember from those speeches tends to be very different from their actual content, which tended to be hawkish in the context of the Cold War.

In that same context, Kennedy understood the power of an inspiring vision as a way to demonstrate strength and mobilise support - that was the fundamental thinking behind his launching of the Apollo project.

All of the above show a focus on, and comfort in, E with elements of F and T.

Although keen on projecting strength at global scale, Kennedy could be thrown off-balance, even intimidated, when facing at close range a ruthless adversary, as with Nikita Khrushchev in a Vienna meeting. That meeting left Kennedy shaken, and Khrushchev convinced that he could be bullied. This is consistent with F as a quadra value but not as ego function. Kennedy liked to appear strong but sheer pressure of will wasn't his main strength (F5 or F6).

Kennedy also went through great lengths to project the image of a strong, fit and healthy man. Yet, as is now known, he suffered from Addison's disease and of near-constant back pain, which he either ignored or neutralized with shots of painkillers and stimulants, despite their negative long-term effect on his health ("I don't care if it's horse's piss, it's the only thing that works"). This inclination to overrule his physical comfort and health in favour of his goals and image points to very low focus on S.

All of the above points to the Beta values of E, F, T, and subdued S.

As a politician, Kennedy wasn't known for clear ideologies or consistent visions, so a focus on L is not clear. On the other hand, he liked to surround himself with intellectuals or otherwise cerebral people, like Theodore Sorensen and Robert McNamara - he called the former his "intellectual blood bank". This points to L5.

So, a man with clear Beta values where the strongest are E, F, and T, with very low regard for S and with seeming L5. Everything points to EIE.

Recommended reading and sources: the amount of information on JFK, online and in books, is enormous. My own views on him were first shaped by Thomas C. Reeves's biography, "A Question of Character", and confirmed by more recent books.

To learn more about EIE, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.

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