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  1. #1
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Default Relationship to Authority

    I thought it might be interesting to have a thread to discuss people's relationship to authority. Some questions might include: How do you approach and resolve conflicts with authority? What sort of impression do you typically make on authority figures? Does some authority approval mean something to do? Or do you disregard authority whether earned by its merits or not? Is there any relationship between this and your earliest authority figures? I'm sure there are many other important angles to explore, but these are just suggestions.

    My own relationship to authority strikes me unexpectedly at times. I often tend to fulfill their requirements and don't intentionally cause trouble, and for that reason am often liked or accepted for the most part. I don't feel submissive exactly, but go for efficiency and the path of least resistance in my interactions. For some reason though, there is a pattern of certain types of authority figures who feel a great deal of contempt for me. They are usually the master of their domain, have some degree of emphasis on image creation, in my case they happened to have been male. Examples would be conductors in a relatively small community, department chairs at a college, a few instances online, and other such scenarios. I don't actively work to piss them off, but boy, something happens. Their reactions used to shock me, but even though my understanding is still dim on the topic, it doesn't surprise me anymore. It just brings to mind how complex these interactions are.

    Anyway, I included my own blurb in the OP, but would like to hear about other people's experiences and how they think about and relate to authority figures.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

    I want to be just like my mother, even if she is bat-shit crazy.

  2. #2
    Sniffles
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    I've always had a love-hate relationship to authority. On one hand, I have considerable respect and even admiration for what I perceive as legitimate authority; but at the same time I have absolute contempt for any authority arbitrarily imposed upon me, and certainly towards any authority that's misused or abused.

  3. #3
    Geolectric teslashock's Avatar
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    I don't react well to authority at all, especially when I see no good reason for somebody to have authority over me. If some jack-ass is in a position of authority and isn't actually more qualified then me, then I get particularly annoyed. Maybe I'm just a pompous asshole, but I feel like I'm more capable than most people in most areas that I actually apply myself, and I find that many of my authority figures are ultimately on a power-trip and don't have the kind of competence to warrant their authoritative position.

    I can be pretty hard to work with honestly. When I'm told what to do, if I don't see a good reason for doing it, then I will get pretty angsty. Being told to do something makes me want to do something even less, even if it's something that I wouldn't mind doing in the first place. I just have this natural spiteful attitude in me, and it's quite childish. I'd probably go so far as to hold my piss to my bladder's breaking point if somebody was trying to order me to go use the bathroom. I just really don't like being told what to do!

    However, if I am working in a field that is completely new to me, I'll gladly submit to the whims of somebody else, so long as I believe in their competence in said field. Once I start to master a particular skill, I'll start wanting to do my things my own way again though.

  4. #4
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Submissive.

    But with a desire to secretly sabotoge if the authority is ridiculously unfair.

  5. #5
    it's tea time! Walking Tourist's Avatar
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    My response to and relationship with an authority figure really depends on who the authority figure is. As an example of an authority figure that I will always defer to is a choir director. To get a good sound out of the choir, the director must be in charge. The director must determine the rhythm and the dynamics of the music, and the singers have to follow the director. A good choir director is also a good teacher. The choir director describes his or her impression of the message that the music is trying to convey and then teaches us, the choir members, how to produce the sound that will impart that message to the audience. A really confident choir director presents a positive approach and, thus, motivates choir members to want to follow all directions.
    I love music so I will defer to the choir director who, I am assuming, also loves music. I want to share my joy with the audience. And yes, the approval of a good choir director means everything to me.
    There are other authority figures who seem to be more concerned with power than with creating something beautiful. When I was in prison, the "people in charge" made all sorts of stupid, petty rules that changed at the whim of the correctional officers. Neither the rules nor the people setting them made any sense, so I violated the rules whenever I chose. And I got away with it. I followed only my own personal ethics. Be kind to others was pretty much it. And sometimes, being kind to others and following the rules clashed. So being kind to others won out.
    I'm a little teapot, short and stout. Here is my handle and here is my spout. Every time I steam up, I give a shout. Just tip me over and pour me out.

  6. #6
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    My own relationship to authority strikes me unexpectedly at times. I often tend to fulfill their requirements and don't intentionally cause trouble, and for that reason am often liked or accepted for the most part. I don't feel submissive exactly, but go for efficiency and the path of least resistance in my interactions.
    That pretty much describes my approach to authority figures -- they all viewed me as the "good kid," because I would not intentionally cause trouble and fulfilled everything they wanted from me. This is more efficient for everyone concerned, and gives me more autonomy in general, + more leverage in case a situation arises where I need to make waves.

    In actually, I'm indifferent to authority in general. I weigh out the rules, I follow the ones that make sense OR follow them if it seems more important to keep authorities off my back OR if there is some other benefit.

    I can however become inwardly contemptuous when I feel that authorities are becoming overbearing + are imposing illogical/non-constructive rules on people. I'll start shifting into passive-aggressive mode if I have to comply, or I'll just ignore the rules, and if a confrontation is forced, nowadays I will probably engage and fight pretty hard. I can even find myself having personally directed ire at the people in question and lose my respect for them and not want to be around them.

    As a side issue, "authority positioning" actually created issues between my ESTP dad and us kids when growing up. He of course despised authority, shot off his mouth, jockeyed for positions, played angles, always tried to get away with murder, was very disrespectful... all the typical maverick "I have something to prove" crap. Thus, he expected my sister and me to be like him, and he really misjudged us and opened a wide rift in how he treated us... accused us of lying when we weren't, was always suspicious, manipulated us to get the angle, etc. He never really understood that we were both generally "good kids" who obeyed authority in the sensible ways, so his approach was very insulting and demeaning to both of us and reduced any sense of family intimacy.

    For some reason though, there is a pattern of certain types of authority figures who feel a great deal of contempt for me. They are usually the master of their domain, have some degree of emphasis on image creation, in my case they happened to have been male. Examples would be conductors in a relatively small community, department chairs at a college, a few instances online, and other such scenarios. I don't actively work to piss them off, but boy, something happens. Their reactions used to shock me, but even though my understanding is still dim on the topic, it doesn't surprise me anymore. It just brings to mind how complex these interactions are.
    That is weird. i wonder how much the 'good ol' boy' complex is in place there, considering your general amiability. It seems to me they are either threatened by you or feel like they can't dominate you, and so they try to push down even harder.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  7. #7
    brainheart
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    I have serious issues with authority. I hate being told what to do. I hate it so much that jobs are often impossible for me. That said, I respect certain authority figures, like certain priests or teachers, because typically they have a good heart and really believe in what they're doing and I don't want them to feel bad or to hurt their feelings. I give them the same respect I give to everyone else. But if someone lords their authority over me, or expects me to respect them just because of their authority, forget it. I can't do it. I become an anarchic, rebellious teenager. So kind of like walking tourist, I guess...

  8. #8
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    That is weird. i wonder how much the 'good ol' boy' complex is in place there, considering your general amiability. It seems to me they are either threatened by you or feel like they can't dominate you, and so they try to push down even harder.
    I've spent time analyzing it. My motives towards them have always been without a problem. I never initially disliked any of them, worked hard in whatever task I was given, and thought I paid them some compliments. I don't flirt with them, and in a few cases felt like there was some pressure that way. I also have a sense that I don't compliment them enough, and my quietness is interpreted badly. I do make sure to say positive things, though. There is also something about people who are image based themselves and assume everyone is projecting a constructed image that have contempt for me. I don't consciously construct an image, but whatever it is I put out there, it goes off quite badly for those who think in terms of image.

    I think there is also a problem in being pleasant and amiable, but not submissive and controllable because it creates an expectation and disappointment for controlling people. But the thing is, as far as the fragment requirement they have assigned me is concerned, I do the task given and I do it well. I don't know what is gained for them to have such dislike for me in what feels like a more personal way.

    The negative reactions are deliberate towards me including nasty faces and intentional insults that are sometimes not particularly veiled. I usually cut them out of my plans at that point and end any professional ties because it seems so strange and I just don't have the energy to figure it out when it's my livelihood I am trying to negotiate. I'd rather work a job that doesn't require my training then deal with that contempt. (which on second reading is probably the entire point of their behavior)
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

    I want to be just like my mother, even if she is bat-shit crazy.

  9. #9
    Senior Member compulsiverambler's Avatar
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    I'm indifferent in principle. I don't like authority figures to act poorly, but I don't like anyone else to either. What's the difference?

    I feel really bad for people in authority when their authority is undermined, so I try not to disappoint or make them doubt themselves or feel anxious by being insubordinate. It's really just about how I imagine it must make them feel, which is probably skewed by how I know I've mentally gone to pieces when finding myself failing at work in any way. Sometimes, especially at school, I've wanted to stand up against something unfair or disobey an order I disagreed with, but I've felt guilty enough about the prospect to keep quiet.

    The fact that no one else seems to think like this makes me suspect I over-estimate how badly most people are affected by signs of failure.

    I don't think it has anything to do with my earliest authority figures. This came later, when I first started seeing teachers etc. as normal people, who had homes and families to go back to, not so entirely different from myself.

  10. #10
    it's tea time! Walking Tourist's Avatar
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    "anarchic, rebellious teenager"
    that's a good description..
    ... I respect certain priests and teachers, who have a positive, affirming approach... and I want them to be happy.
    I always try to respect people because they exist and deserve respect, not because they are authority figures.


    Quote Originally Posted by brainheart View Post
    I have serious issues with authority. I hate being told what to do. I hate it so much that jobs are often impossible for me. That said, I respect certain authority figures, like certain priests or teachers, because typically they have a good heart and really believe in what they're doing and I don't want them to feel bad or to hurt their feelings. I give them the same respect I give to everyone else. But if someone lords their authority over me, or expects me to respect them just because of their authority, forget it. I can't do it. I become an anarchic, rebellious teenager. So kind of like walking tourist, I guess...
    I'm a little teapot, short and stout. Here is my handle and here is my spout. Every time I steam up, I give a shout. Just tip me over and pour me out.

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