Here is a new version. I think it's going to be better if we keep the content in the FAQ lite (thank you @Coriolis) and then have pointers to threads and links that have more information.
What is type?
We all have habitual patterns of thinking/cognition. Personality type attempts to capture these habitual attitudes, preferences or ways of orienting of our psyche via some functions over others. The best way to think about type is that it provides a little bit of information about you as a person.
There are many different systems out there and new ones are being created as time goes on. Some die out. Others gain acceptance and as more is written about them, professional certifications are created related to testing instruments. Some examples of typing systems include the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Eneagram, Socionics, Gallup StrengthsFinder, Big 5, and DISC. On this forum, the two most popular ones are based on Jungian Cognitive functions (e.g., MBTI™) and Enneagram. There is a wealth of information available about both, which provides a rich set of information for practical use. HR consultants, personal coaches, counselors and others use these systems as a tool in their profession.
These systems have a variety of practical uses or applications but the primary ones are that they provide tools for you to:
Understand yourself better
Understand others better
Understand the dynamics behind conflict between individuals
Understand how different types can complement each other
Provide a better understanding of one's type's typical weaknesses, and how to compensate
Provide a more precise template for discovering how you don't (and do) follow the patterns of your type
Support personal development
Facilitate more effective communication and interaction
What type is not
Our DNA, our surroundings, the culture we live in, our life experience and choices – these things help to shape us as individuals. Type is merely one way to aid in understanding. The best way to think about it then is that type can provide information or data points about us as individuals. Your type is not complete and precise definition of you, your true self, and all that you are or can be. In practice there are a limited number of types, and at best each is a general pattern or template. You, as an individual, will never match any given type precisely in every detail. Keep in mind the idea "best fit," rather than "perfect fit." Even so, it may be that two types describe you equally well and you may have to flip a coin to decide, or you may just accept that there's not even a "best fit" type for you. Also, your type is not a way to confer virtues and abilities you wish you had. Deciding on a type will not make you suddenly insightful, selfless, powerful, strong, sensitive, or intelligent. Nor will it, conversely, make you weak and vulnerable. Finally, your type is not a way to excuse all your shortcomings as forgivable and/or unchangeable. You don't get to opt out of areas of life "because you are an INTP" or "because you are an enneagram type 4." We all have to find a balance between who we are and how to successfully adapt to our environment. While your type may allow you step down from judging yourself overly harshly for a particular shortcoming, your type is not a "get out of jail free" card.
The following are some good links to introductory videos.
Thanks for that intro. I'll read it if I ever get the time.
My thoughts are that enneagram type is basically a psychological orientation rather than any "personality" type per se. I certainly lack many of the stereotypical characteristics of someone of my core type. But my mindset is right.
Cognitive functions seem to be your particular filter for receiving and evaluating information and your environment, as well as the sorts of logical and interpersonal decisions you are inclined to favor, in what order.
They're brain processes, possibly biochemical, and that's about as far as I like to get into it.
You could say that about both MBTi as well as Enneagram
Different aspects of psychology.
The commonality of the personality typing systems is that "personality" is used to help determine the type. And they thus all share the same flaw: it's nearly impossible to map all personality traits of a human being to a single type, whatever the system. This is because each type is really an underlying psychological tendency, whether cognitive processes (MBTI) or raw emotional reactions (Enneagram), which TENDS TO indicate particular personality traits, but doesn't govern all personality traits.
I do see what Sanjuro means, however, as Enneagram is strongly related to the DSM, thanks to the Riso-Hudson work on the topic. MBTI, especially due to Keirsey's work, feels more related to pure personality, than to any particular aspect of psychology, to the point that a lot of people will take MBTI as it stands, but reject "function theory" which tries to relate it more closely to Jung's original work.
An argument is two people sharing their ignorance.
A discussion is two people sharing their understanding, even when they disagree.