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  1. #1
    ⒺⓉⒷ Eric B's Avatar
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    Default Stevie Wonder INFJ/ISTP analysis

    Been planning for this for a while, for the greatest musician, after mentioning him in a "celebrity type" thread or two, and getting the usual "INFJ" answer after suggesting ISTP. As was said on the last "Jesus' Type" thread, "anyone who...has sympathy for people, and who is insightful or a visionary gets typed INFJ". My theory of ISTP came from reading profiles of that type that portrayed it as artistic, and because it is Melancholic on the social level, which he seems. He also seemed to have the pragmatism of the SP, though this mellowed out later, for a possible reason we shall explore.

    To start analyzing his music, we cannot really go by the first decade of his career, as he was young, and had little creative control. So he did a lot of what was most popular, which was of course, "love" songs. Yet, with all the sociopolitical turmoil going on at the time, he had much to say, yet had to wait until he came fully of age and negotiated a new contract. He gained more creative input as time went on in that original contract, but it was with the last album of under it, that you really see "where he was coming from" as the title even indicates. He was planning to leave the company, and put together a collection of self-written and produced songs that marked a radical departure from the company's previous style.
    So in this album, and the three that followed it:

    Initially appeared to be a "man of the head" rather than a "man of the heart"
    very focused on "the mind", in song lyrics and album titles
    photos from this period are portraits of a deep Thinking type.
    Appeared to have more of a concrete focus, though the abstractness was there.

    His musical engineers during most of this period described having to coax emotion out of him!

    This first self-produced album consisted of nine songs, the only hit and familiar song from it being the standard love song "If You Really Love Me". Three others were also love songs; one of which played upon a theme of the war ("Think of Me as Your Soldier"), with Vietnam as an underlying theme of the album, with even a picture of him as a soldier handing out a cookie. The opening song was very abstract in language, (though focusing on the mind, and lamenting its "emptiness"), followed another song using similar abstract discourse, but then offering the very concrete advice of "educate your mind". The first song on the other side is an analogy of the freedom he was fighting for under Motown, cast in the theme of the equally relevant issue of race relations. It's hilarious as he vocally alternates between a poor, destitute version of himself, and a southern redneck. afterwards is a song saying to "Take Up a Course in Happiness", and closing is a sort of double song passionately pleading for impoverished children, and then lamenting rising crime and war in the modern US.
    In this experimental album, we would see a wide range of S, N T and F, but the next period would seem to shift more to S and T.

    The majority of songs in the first three albums of independence followed his love life, with the breakup of his first marriage, and the beginning of new relationships. You had political commentary songs such as Big Brother and Living for the City (and You Havent done Nothing on the next album). Spirituality songs were only Evil, Higher Ground, and Jesus Children of America. Then, you had general wisdom/knowledge songs, such as Superstition, Too High (about drugs), and Hes Misstra Know It All on this last pre-accident album, you also have a new direction, the almost title track Visions (which still focuses on the mind rather than the heart).
    While the love songs would have technical metaphors (such as Sunshine or Big Brother), they were really more concrete in focus. Love and politics are concrete realities in the world. Superstition and Too High may be seen as using a lot of metaphors, but both songs are actually speaking against the ignorance induced by either unsubstantiated beliefs or drugs, and are very concrete focused. His overall ST communication during this period made remind me a lot of my ISTJ father, who also similarly criticized a lot of abstraction and illogic.


    The dominant and auxiliary functions are confident and mature "ego-achievers", while tertiary and inferior are immature and often deal with vulnerability and childlike innocence and ideals.
    Even though he has promoted himself as such a humanitarian, he is primarily a musician. His genius clearly lied in the music, which would naturally tie to his more mature functions, and was a product of Ti and Se, not Ni and Fe.
    If he were INFJ, Ti and Se would be the immature, "innocent ideal" functions, but in reality, Ni and Fe seem to fit that better.

    The obvious limitation he already had in one of the main sensory faculties might have helped push him more toward the abstract. Ni would be the tertiary and "inflate" itself anyway.
    Still, he appeared to be very Sensory focused; as much as he could be, and of course, the biggest evidence of this being the musical genius. He clearly fit the profile of an "Artisan" (which is the name of both the temperament group, as well as Keirsey's old name for just that one type. SP was called "Dionysian" back then, and that definitely seems to fit him as well).


    Either type would make him a Chart the Course or Melancholy in Inclusion (introverted, directive), which will appear to be a deep "thinking" type, in the generic sense, and is what he did appear as. Still, his "social image" as I call it (E/I+T/F), appeared in this period of his career to be IT, rather than IF. Sociability temperament appears to be IP, a dominant introverted judging ["rational"] type.
    He seemed to be more "pragmatic" than "cooperative" in leading the rebellion, so to speak, against the Motown machine, and warning Berry Gordy that as soon as he hit 21 (and the contract ended), he was "going to do my own thing".
    Either type is Motive-focused, meaning "focus why people do things in order to work with the people they are communicating with rather than trying to force them into a preconceived structure".



    At age 23, trauma to right side of head (through a log dislodged from a truck ahead on the road) seemed to push him to his left-brain functions (PiJe), making him more resemble the INFJ type, (using the same four primary functions, but with the "mature" and "immature" pairs reversed) and it was thereafter that he became more focused on things of "the heart" (peace, love, altruism, etc), and even more abstract in language. He considered himself "moving in a new direction".
    At this age, the tertiary would normally have been fully developing anyway, so if his inferior now became strong as well (while perhaps his dominant and auxiliary suffered), then he would in effect appear to "become" an INFJ.

    Hence, it is also afterward that his talent seemed to wane a bit as well. While most fans will uphold Songs In The Key of Life as his greatest work; most will admit that the four preceding albums (which comprised his first contract in total independence) were better.
    One biographer, John Swenson ([I]Stevie Wonder[I], Harper & Row, 1986) even describes this album being produced in a state of chaos, as he suddenly switched engineers (promoting studio technicians to the position, due partly to some sort of power struggles within his organization), and constantly pulling the project back to remix songs. This seems to mark a big increase in the "perfectionism" he became known for.
    Albums also started being released further apart at this same time, and he began devoting more time to humanitarianism, even planning to quit the business and move to Africa at one point.
    Songs became more about "universal love, peace, joy" as well, and he spoke about God a lot as well. Swenson also criticizes a new "philosophy" he tried to introduce in the sleeve text accompanying the album, called "love mentalism", and that songs such as Love's In Need of Love Today and Have A Talk With God lacked the powerful message of ealier ones. So it seems that a lesser N and F focus was really trying to take over, but was not as skilled as the earlier S and T focus.

    Many fans will find Swenson's book anathema, since it is so hard on "Songs", but even these fans will acknowledge the previous string of albums as a better run, and will also tend to be very critical of the albums made after Songs. In fact, it was not until the last album (A Time 2 Love, in which he made an attempt to restore some of the retro sound and go lighter on the synthesizers), that fans and editorial reviewers were generally pleased with a new album. Some people had even hoped he would allow someone else to produce him, such as Wyclef.

    The accident had occurred right after the release of Innervisions, the third album under the second contract. A sort of omen was the song "Higher Ground" ("Teachers, keep on teaching; preachers, keep on preaching; world keep on turning... ") which spoke of "second chances" ("So darned glad He let me try it again, cause my last time on Earth, I lived a whole world of sin. I'm so glad that I know more than I knew then" gonna keep on tryin'; 'till I reach the highest ground"). This is the age when a tertiary Ni would be developing, so it makes sense, and he didn't seem to be very Ni-heavy before this.

    His whole them then became this spiritual awareness and elevation of consciousness. This was reflected in the next album, Fulfillingness First Finale. The change towards F and N is evident with the opening song, "Smile Please", followed by "Heaven is Ten Zillion Light Years Away". On side two, you have "They Won't Go When I Go" (also about Heaven), and "Bird of Beauty" (which also still retains some of the earlier "T" focus on the mind).

    What's interesting are the transitional material, produced at this same time, some left off from this album, and then promised for a "Part II", and eventually becoming apart of Songs and later albums. Several examples of these have leaked out online in the past couple of years; first on file sharing sites, and then many of them being picked up by fans and posted on YouTube.
    Like you had one beautiful sounding love song (a typical lament about a broken relationship) which by the time it is released on Songs, becomes a song about a planet (Saturn), which he wants to run away to, to escape all the turmoil of earth.
    Nearly the same instruments in both versions, it clearly sounded more natural (especially emotionally) as the love song. In the final version, the vocals were very monotone. (Keep in mind, the emotions involved in love do not indicate "Feeling" preference, nor orientation. It would be what we call an "undifferentiated" natural human emotion).
    Other songs were changed significantly, and the result was usually to become more formulaic, and less free-flowing, such as Contusions (inspired by the accident; performed in live shows well before its official release), and Another Star (an early session contains the recurring phrase "deep inside your heart" and sounding like the earlier hit "You Are the Sunshine").
    Hence, Swenson being so hard on the final "Songs" release.

    So all of this shows Stevie was now focusing more on N and F than his earlier S and T. This is also around the time he became more playful and people-connecting (devoting more time to other people's projects, shows like Saturday Night Live, etc. into the 80's down to the present), as opposed to his earlier "serious" image. Afterwards, albums would continue to be a mix of the same themes, but the titles and concepts behind them would be deep, and he would continue to grow as a humanitarian figure.
    all of this could be viewed as just the natural development of Ni and Fe, but it does seem to have been jump-started by the accident. Anyway, in either case, it would make more sense for an ISTP to be developing his Ni and Fe, than for these changes to be that of an INFJ developing Ti and Se.
    APS Profile: Inclusion: e/w=1/6 (Supine) |Control: e/w=7/3 (Choleric) |Affection: e/w=1/9 (Supine)
    Ti 54.3 | Ne 47.3 | Si 37.8 | Fe 17.7 | Te 22.5 | Ni 13.4 | Se 18.9 | Fi 27.9

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  2. #2
    jump sleuthiness's Avatar
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    I used to know a skyscraper of a man who would sing on the streets like there was no tomorrow, a tall, overweight black fellow who constantly wrote in a book of poetry and inspire complete strangers like me. This guy was amazingly sensitive but very comfortable in public and always made out whenever life threw him a curveball. Maybe the most adaptable person I've ever known. After some time, I told him I thought he was a genius, someone like Stevie Wonder, acting so muse-like, then came to the conclusion that enfp was the best fit. That's where I stand.

    thinking of you

  3. #3
    Senior Member Jaguar's Avatar
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    Calling Stevie Wonder ISTP is like calling Pee Wee Herman ESTJ.

  4. #4
    Earth Exalted Thursday's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
    Calling Stevie Wonder ISTP is like calling Pee Wee Herman ESTJ.
    what would you call him?
    I N V I C T U S

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thursday View Post
    what would you call him?
    Pee Wee Herman.
    "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

  6. #6
    Senior Member Jaguar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thursday View Post
    what would you call him?
    I wouldn't.

    I don't know Stevie personally, nor does Eric.
    I'm not in the mood to get into what's wrong with making cases using rigid, predefined, function orders.
    I'll do that another day.

  7. #7
    ⒺⓉⒷ Eric B's Avatar
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    OK, it's not as sure as knowing someone personally, but we can still get evidence, especially from someone whose artistry has included so much self-expression.
    Remember, don't look just at the outward persona that has developed. This is going beneath that.
    APS Profile: Inclusion: e/w=1/6 (Supine) |Control: e/w=7/3 (Choleric) |Affection: e/w=1/9 (Supine)
    Ti 54.3 | Ne 47.3 | Si 37.8 | Fe 17.7 | Te 22.5 | Ni 13.4 | Se 18.9 | Fi 27.9

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    Senior Member Jaguar's Avatar
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    What an ironic response.
    What goes on in this forum IS typing personas, and you know it.

    That's exactly why I said I don't know Stevie personally, nor do you.
    To type someone based upon their lyrics is not exactly professional,
    and how you interpret Stevie, and his music, is filtered through your own subjective lens.
    Mine too!

    You know what my real issue is here, Eric.
    It's not with you personally, it's with the theory.

  9. #9
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    There's an interesting thread idea / question:
    Are personas attached in any way to the "identity" underneath, so that any sort of connection can reasonably be made? (And what type/sort of connections could be reasonably made, if any... and of what nature are they?)

    Another question would be:
    Is there any such thing as an underlying personality, or are we each merely a collection of personas that are displayed depending on who we are with?
    "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

  10. #10
    Earth Exalted Thursday's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
    I wouldn't.

    I don't know Stevie personally, nor does Eric.
    I'm not in the mood to get into what's wrong with making cases using rigid, predefined, function orders.
    I'll do that another day.
    Agreed
    I N V I C T U S

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