Russian Political Leaders Gallery
Open Letter to Joe Butt and Marina Margaret Heiss).
December 8, 2001
Dear Ms. Heiss, Mr. Butt!
I am a Russian personality typologist, and I must say that your web page is well known in our country and often referred to in works of personality typologists. Attention is often paid to the gallery of celebrities you have placed at
www.typelogic.com, and in many cases I agree with your conclusions.
May I offer you to extend your celebrities gallery with portraits of Russian leaders I have collected? I hope it will be interesting for you in regard to your researches of personality typology. The personalities I will talk about have been researched by Lithuanian, Russian and Ukrainian typologists A.Augustinaviciute, V.Gulenko,
A.Bukalov, E.Filatova, G.Chikirisova and many others, so that in most cases I represent not only my own opinion.
Peter the Great. I met opinions in American sources that he was either INTJ or ENTJ. First of all, I wonder how people could come to the conclusion about his "introversion". According to all Russian sources, his thoughts were always at his tongue, and he was the one who strived for opening Russia to Europe and vice versa. He could easily fall out with his best friends, and forgive them the very next day. In his reactions he was impulsive, "flammable" and very quick; he did things before he realized their outcome. In spite of his wide interest to many things, he was not intellectual at all: he easily allowed other people to be smarter than he himself, and had lots of hobbies related to hand working: dentist work, shipbuilding, surgery… and torturing his political opponents. His behavior in critical situations was just what Doug Dean wrote about ESTPs in his "Types under Stress"
(www.dougdean.com/profiles). Many Russian typologists believe that Peter was ESTP.
Let us skip Russian czars (I noticed that Americans are not much interested in their personalities) and take a look at Russian leaders of the XX century (after 1917).
Alexander Kerensky, the "Super-Persuader". Many features of his personality made him similar to
Adolf Hitler, which allows me to classify him as ENFJ. The same should be said about
Leon Trotsky, Lenin's right hand. They both were capable of "conducting" a crowd of angry people; both could convince angry soldiers to fall in and go fight; both were good orators and bad organizers. In fact, they both disliked "details" and laborious work, while Russians always disliked easy winners.
Vladimir Lenin. His multivolume "Collected Works" make people think he was an intellectual. In fact, he was not: most of these papers are his orders, i.e. things hardly classifiable as "literary work"; he liked discussions only for the opportunity to humiliate his opponents; and he was the first of Russian revolutionaries who established relations with organized criminality. He was incapable of doing forecasts (two months before the revolution he said: "Only our grandsons will see socialism in Russia") while possessing at the same time extremely great improvisational skills. He disliked intellectuals and used the whole wealth of Russian vocabulary to describe them :) Russian typologists believe he was ESTP; and, in fact, many features really make him much similar to Peter the Great.
Joseph Stalin. I agree with you about his being TJ (all other American sources say the same); but let me add some more information. The thing I cannot understand is how American typologists arrived at the belief in his extraversion. In fact, he was a model introvert! In spite of his enormous power, he was extremely shy and closed towards people he had to communicate with. Leon Trotsky describes this feature in a very colorful way; and what I know is that Trotsky's books are easy to find in the US, so that you can easily disprove or verify my words. He liked to present his own opinion as that generally accepted: he used to say, "there is an opinion" instead of "I think". He spoke rarely and thought a lot. His strategy was not extensive - he persuaded the party to forget about expanding revolution outside Russia and to think about the internal order of the country; unlike Lenin, he did not believe that people outside Russia would gladly meet revolution in their own countries, and relied in this problem only upon weapons.
Another important thing is that he could not be intuitive. Even much more than Lenin he tended to practice more than to pure ideas. He used to say "we people of practice" opposed to "worthless idealists". In the Soviet era, he was glorified as a "great developer of Marxist theory"; in fact, he was incapable of abstract thinking. A good example - Lenin wrote him a memo with a proposal to make a forecast: Stalin was offended by that proposal, and replied "Do you think I am incapable of serious working, if you want me to spend time for such worthless things?" He collected a big library of anti-Soviet literature, but read all books with a narrow practical objective: to detect enemy's weak points. Characteristic for his weak abstract thinking is his "friendship" with Hitler - he did not want to realize Hitler' strive for expansion; he only noticed similarity of two regimes. He was suspicious to people around him and used to say "a man - a problem, no man - no problem".
Another good example of such leader type is Saddam Hussein, the "sworn friend" of Russia, and
Some other characteristic persons of Stalin's era: marshal Zhukov, the national hero of Russia (I would compare him to
general George Patton - they both look like the same person in different uniforms), and
Lavrenti Beria, head of the secret service - both ESTP; Nikolay
Yezhov, Beria's predecessor, known for his cruelty and homosexuality - ISTJ;
Vyacheslav Molotov (do you remember the "Molotov cocktail"?), Stalin's right hand - ENFJ. People knew nothing about Molotov at that time; actually, since lots of memoirs about him have been published, he appears to have been an artistic and emotional man with sharp thinking, Stalin's intellectual advisor (but in no way NT - he relied much more upon emotions in convincing other people than upon hard logic).
Nikita Khrushchev. He was a specialist in balancing between different groups; impulsive, emotional, incapable of deep elaboration of any problem, tending to improvisations. For sure he was SFP, but Russian typologists still argue about his being either ISFP or ESFP. Many features of his character make him comparable to President
Leonid Brezhnev. ISFJ. He said once: "I am not specialist in theory; but I understand people". He was in no way dictator; and he showed indifference to ideological problems, however, in Brezhnev's years Russian life standards grew up. I understand the last thing is hard to believe for you, since you saw a lot of movies representing Russian people hunting for toilet paper - but, believe me, it was really much better than under Stalin's rule. The difference is that any critics were prohibited under Stalin; but under Brezhnev, we Russians rediscovered the Western culture. Brezhnev understood the West as a competitor; but he applied this attitude only to political affairs (like Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan) while remaining tolerant to the rest; and he was the one who began to import widely foreign goods to Russia.
Yuri Andropov. Unlike Brezhnev - a pure intellectual not familiar with real life. He said once: "We do not know the country where we live", and people who worked with him say he paid much more attention to brilliant phrases in articles and "smart solutions" like Afghanistan than to anything else. INTP.
Constantine Chernenko. So similar to Brezhnev that I just say he was ISFJ, and have nothing more to add.
Mikhail Gorbachev. David M. Keirsey (www.keirsey.com) classified him as ENFJ. I would agree about EF, but let me make some further comments.
1) ENFJs are capable of infecting people with their emotions, of awaking people's enthusiasm. On the contrary, Gorbachev disliked such an approach: he is known for his phrase "Tolerance, comrades, tolerance" and for his balancing between different political groups (unlike him, ENFJs are known for their hate for compromises).
2) He was not good orator, too. On the contrary, he is known for his "hostility" towards eloquence, like: "A year ago we stood at the abyss edge; since then, we made a decisive step forward".
3) Incapable of intellectual elaboration of problems, he created a group of intellectuals around himself, among them - his closest friend
Edward Shevardnadze, the actual leader of Georgia.
His incapability of seeing far reaching implications of his behaviors, together with his emotional outbursts and his preference for balancing among interest groups instead of being "severe but just" make us think he is ESFP. We Russians do not like him: a common opinion is that he "sold Russia to Germans for pfennigs".
Another good example of the same personality type is Victor Chernomyrdin, our former prime minister.
Gorbachev's wife Raisa - smart, sharp-minded and sharp-tongued - is an example of a woman not characteristic for Russia. Typologists agree about her being INTP, and in fact this personality type was characteristic for many other people around Gorbachev
(Edward Shevardnadze, Yevgueni Primakov - later another prime-minister etc.).
Andrei Sakharov, Gorbachev's ideological opponent number one: INTJ. In spite of his brilliant mind and humanistic views, he was tough-minded and unable to understand political realities; he offered beautiful but still-born political schemes, logically well-elaborated but standing very far from reality; and unlike INTPs, he was incapable of making compromises - being J, he wanted other people to accept his schemes as a whole. In my opinion, INTJs are too lazy-minded for ruling Russia.
August coup leaders: STs (Yanayev, Pugo, Baklanov, Tizyakov, Lukyanov) and NFs (Kryuchkov, Pavlov).
We have noticed that ST and NF leaders tend to authoritarian or charismatic ruling, while SF and NT - to "pragmatic" or liberal. One more important thing:
personalities should be understood in comparison; if you say that "liberal" is not descriptive for Brezhnev, I will reply - do not compare him to American leaders, you had better compare him to Lenin and Stalin, and you will discover the difference. In the Russian version of the Jungian typology, NF and ST are called "aristocrats", SF and NT - "democrats".
Boris Yeltsin. People called him "a cowboy who ascended the Throne". ENTJ. If you like, I can send my comments later.
Vladimir Putin. INTP (did you notice certain similarity between him and Yuri
Andropov? I mean not their career in the secret service, but their political attitudes). His judo career may make people think he is sensing rather than intuitive; however, just look at the way he make s his conclusions - he prefers to discuss them paying attention to lots of details but always leaving space for maneuvers; and he is capable of finding "all-national ideas". He is very popular among us Russians just because he realized the national idea: one nation, one country, one president (which means: no national quarrels, no separatism, no chaos), which makes him comparable to general
Charles de Gaulle, another INTP.
To complete this long letter, may I make some more remarks about your List of Celebrities?
I (and many my Russian friends) was embarrassed as we "met" Homer and Virgil in the list. People said: how could it happen? So smart psychological portraits - and so flippant conclusions? There is only one Homer's bust made 300 years after his death - did you classify him according to that bust? Or according to his poems consisting of fragments written in different dialects (I apologize for my mental arrogance, but I could not keep myself from making such comments, since I studied philosophy and so had to learn a lot about the ancient Greece)?
In my opinion such references as to Homer, Virgil etc. make the whole list ridiculous (a fly in the ointment!). However, I will easily and gladly accept your viewpoints about
Socrates and Blaise Pascal - because old sources OF DIFFERENT AUTHORS described their habits, character etc. in lots of details (but would you try to compare
Rene Descartes rather to INTJ?).
One more comment. Plutarchus left a good description of Alexander the
Macedonian classified by you as ENTP. I think that his personality looks unlike ENTP. Being ENTP, I can easily discover a serious difference. I do not mean that I am not a world conqueror :) - I mean the S/N criterion. Having
Aristotle as his teacher, Alexander did not show specific interest to know-hows and abstract problems; he preferred physical training and sports. Comparing him to
Lenin or Peter the Great, I can discover much more common features, so I would prefer to say he was ESTP.
Some words to say about myself. I specialize in psycholinguistics and published a work concerning MBTI application in these researches, as well as several works about personality types of certain celebrities (e.g.
I will appreciate your interest to the problems I wrote you about.
Dmitri Lytov, 26, ENTP
St. Petersburg, Russia.