It’s a Slow Idea


Many people have asked why is Keirsey Temperament Theory not known broadly as “it should be.”

For a long time, I couldn’t give a good answer.

The answer is: “It’s a Slow Idea.”

My father outlines “The History of Madness”  in his lectures.  And the Wholistic Theory of Madness is a slow idea, its roots going back to over a century with my father adding the idea of Temperament in the last half century.   Fast Ideas about “madness” have been around since Homo Sapens possessed language.

The roots of the Idea of Keirsey Temperament also go back to ancient times.

In addition, there is the idea of: Slow Ideas <=> Fast Ideas

The root of this idea appeared just recently, thanks to Atul Gawande.

fast ideas work



slow ideas work better



And Longer in the The Long Run

Atul Gawande introduces the idea of slow and fast ideas with an example from the 19th century.  The fast idea was anathesia and the slow idea was antiseptics.  To quote him:

“Why do some innovations [ideas] spread so swiftly and others so slowly? Consider the very different trajectories of surgical anesthesia and antiseptics, both of which were discovered in the nineteenth century.”

“The first public demonstration of anesthesia was in 1846…”

“The idea [anesthesia] spread like a contagion, travelling through letters, meetings, and periodicals. By mid-December, surgeons were administering ether to patients in Paris and London. By February, anesthesia had been used in almost all the capitals of Europe, and by June in most regions of the world.”

One the other hand, antiseptics met with a huge amount of resistence from “doctors” particularly “surgeons”.  Joseph Lister who invented the method in the 1860s and publish it in Lancet, using carbolic acid to kill germs.  It took decades for the method to be adopted by all doctors and hospitals.

Gawande looked at the factors that made a difference that made one be adopted quickly and the other was resisted and actively blocked:

“So what were the key differences? First, one combatted a visible and immediate problem (pain); the other combatted an invisible problem (germs) whose effects wouldn’t be manifest until well after the operation. Second, although both made life better for patients, only one made life better for doctors.”

Now Gawande’s example highlights the difference and similarity between two “non-competing” fast and slow ideas.  Antiseptics and anesthesia are not competing ideas.   Another question to ask is: what about a fast idea and slow idea that is “solving the same general problem.”

A Kuhnian “scientific evolution” is in effect here.

Adherents of the old ways, outdated moral, religious, economic, political beliefs, which were fast ideas in their time must be pushed to the side and lose influence and power that they hold on to for their dear life [purpose, job, livelyhood].  Ideas need to adapt, improve, and be robust to the changing and widening of their context.

“Thus, the task is not so much to see what no one yet has seen,
but to think what nobody yet has thought about that which everybody sees”
– Arthur Schopenhauer.

So what about Keirsey Temperament.

If a man does not keep pace with his companions,
perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.
Let him step to the music which he hears,
however measured or far away.

— Henry David Thoreau

Keirsey Temperament Theory is abstract, complex, and integrated. Despite the fact that Please Understand Me (PUM) and PUM II have sold four million copies world wide without paid advertisements, when compared to the simple traits slice and dice models of personality (e.g., A-B types, MBTI, Enneagram, DISC, MMPI, yada yada) people most often balk at learning something that is not easily explained in a few minutes.

Four Temperaments, Eight Roles, Sixteen Role Variants.  Each description is broad: “applying” to millions of individuals.  For most individuals learning a complicated and general theory is not something they want or interested in doing. Understanding takes WORK. Hard work. However, WHAT IS IT’S CASH VALUE IN THE LONG RUN?

Please Understand Me.

All that is gold, does not glitter,
Not all who wander, are lost.

Just give me a blue pill or the Cliff notes?  Just Entertain me?

When logic and proportion.
Have fallen sloppy dead

Someday complex science will not be celebrity science.

The Wholistic Theory of Madness is even more abstract, complex, and integrated:  and it is mostly hidden. One of the functions of madness is to hide shame from the labelled “crazy” person and his/her significant others.  The current fast idea of a “chemical imbalance” based on the old idea of bad juice is a big business.

The American “mental unhealth system” is crazy rich and a big soft comfortable-uncomfortable gulag.

It’s a long time coming.  It’s a long time gone.

Remember what the doormouse said,
Feed your head.  Feed your head!

to be continued….

2 thoughts on “It’s a Slow Idea

  1. Jodi Horner May 30, 2015 / 8:17 pm

    I feel like I’m going mad in being one of the few who understand this. Something so useful yet resisted and ignored by the population at large. It’s maddening.


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