Philip K. Dick
Type: Six, mild wing Five – extremely unhealthy.
MBTI: Ni dominant/Fe secondary [INFJ]
Type based on: primary type based on type specific behaviours, holy ideas. Some themes suggestive of 5-wing, though wing is less clear.
Subtype: So/Sp ? (Subtype is difficult – society is a factor in Dick’s work, but social factors seem driven by self-preservation in Sixes to some extent).
Special notes: abuse of psychedelics.
“It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.”
Philip K. Dick was a prominent SF author who had a large and significant output, many of his novels or concepts from short stories having been adapted to film.
A huge amount of analysis could be done on Dick, but here interesting works which I’ll cover:
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep [filmed, heavily adapted, as Blade Runner] [which I’ll refer to as “Blade Runner” for convenience’s sake, and Eye in the Sky (which shows functional allocations fairly clearly and showcases some of his explorations of ‘nature of reality’).
Themes: themes in Dick’s works include the nature of reality and whether it is ‘real’, control by the State, the nature of humanity/empathy, paranoia, xenophobia.
He likes android or alien characters – some stories starting with the idea that people have been replaced by robot/alien copies (‘the father thing’), with others eventually exploring the idea that the protagonist is themself a robot and unaware of it (inability to trust yourself). Overall this has obvious paranoid (Six) overtones, and is present as a subtext in Blade Runner, where the main character Decker has androids try to convince him he is an android. In other stories, ‘the electric ant’ has a character who discovers they’re a robot but deals mainly with his accidentally destroying reality fiddling with his perceptual hardware. In ‘Imposter’, a scientist warned he is being hunted by a robot copy intending to replace him finds he is the android, the discovery triggering a bomb that destroys the Earth.
Dick’s characters frequently have an “Us and Them” mentality leading them to be nationalistic, or even xenophobic with this being represented fairly neutrally or justified, likewise something that may be an unhealthy Six tendency. Cases of this include mutant hunting in ‘The Golden Man’, or “specials” in Blade Runner. An “Us and Them” or nationalistic state-vs-state mentality appears sometimes modified to SF context with humans/aliens – an interesting story there being ‘oh to be a blobel’ – a man converted to sometimes become an alien blob as a spy, in peacetime marries a blobel spy who sometimes becomes a woman (this striking me as something like a parody of US/Russian relations).
Religiously speaking, he sometimes seems religious but with a sort of conviction that a God may be evil or uncaring.
Intuition appears as a theme in ‘the Golden Man’, where a mutant can adapt by literally seeing into the future but has no actual higher brain functions (mixing of Five paranoia’s here), or precogs in ‘Minority Report’. He seems to have an Ni-dominant system as shown in ‘Eye in the Sky’ (inferior Se)(see later), with inferior Se also shown in bad connection to reality generally.
Dick is of particular interest because he was actually insane – with delusions e.g. of being a persecuted Christian in the first century AD, of the significance of an energy beam seen on a travelling saleswoman, etc. I haven’t gone through his later works on this (Valis), with his earlier works being enough for type-identification and discussion of some themes.
Note that loyalty and ‘conservative’ themes, Six tendencies traditionally considered to be S tendency, can actually be fed by anxiety which can be one source of an iNtuitive attitude. The key is perhaps that which Ne is focussed on ‘visionary’ solutions to problems and so is a sort of positive imagination, Ni is negative and works by destruct testing new ideas.
Dick’s Ni [+tertiary Ti] is perhaps apparent in the output of concepts in his books, appearing occasionally in main characters’ problem solving as well.
Eye In The Sky
Eye in the Sky is IIRC one of Dick’s earlier works. In it, several characters fall into a ‘bevatron’ energy beam, which causes most of them to lose consciousness and enter (initially unknown to them) a delusional consensus reality controlled by one of them. Knocking unconscious the creator of it, lets another character’s delusional system take over.
The main characters in the book can be function-mapped fairly easily as: Jack Hamilton (Ni), his wife Marsha (Fe), Bill Laws (Ti), and McFeyffe (Se). Prior to the accident, Marsha is accused of ties to the Communist Party by McFeyffe, leading Jack to be suspended from his job working on missiles. It is slightly weird that McFeyffe and Jack continue together to the Bevatron, which is probably a narrative necessity but also something that is at least more plausible for a phobic Six than some other types, without additional justification.
Hamilton shows a degree of problem solving, but in a somewhat weird” way which is largely him unravelling things conceptually [Ni], or finding innovative solutions. Marsha displays fairly conspicuous feeling. Their African-American tour guide meanwhile is a ‘graduate student in physics’ and is cynical but also involved in thinking stuff (Ti/5ish) such as some conceptualizing about how the miracle principle works.
McFeyffe is described as an ‘innate opportunist’ and is also a hedonist; he sometimes factual data, at times offensively (when Laws comments that he has begun to shuffle in one world, due to Sylvester’s racism, his comment is ‘they all do’; he narrowly avoids having the Irish including himself eliminated by Pritchett by listing artistically-oriented Irish people). McFeyffe as the inferior function is, in a shocking twist not, the final bad guy of the book.
Dick shows a moment of particularly weak Se in Eye when the characters plummet from a great height (visiting god with an umbrella) and are uninjured.
Each world the characters visit is seriously delusional, but generally represents just “reality” as they imagine it. The first world is religiously dominated with a god constantly meddling in affairs, the second created by a reality-ignoring housewife, the third by a paranoic (ending when she herself imagines the characters turning into monsters and eating her) and finally a decadent America created by a communist spy.
An interesting character in Eye is Edith Pritchett, who ignores things she doesn’t like and creates a world where annoying things like car horns, Russia, and sex have vanished. She shows some 9-like traits, weird if Dick is a 6 author. She is particularly interesting perhaps in almost exactly matching the description of the “introverted sensation” type in Jung – being artistically inclined, detached from reality, and with the lack of sex suggesting the differentiation of Se rather than Si. The question then is whether she is based on some real person (a parent of Dick’s?) when he needed someone crazy, is a manifestation of some part of Dick’s mind, or whether she may be actually based on Jung’s description – there is at least one reference to Jung’s “Psychological Types” in another Dick book, so he may well have actually read it.
A theme perhaps is the ‘authoritarian’ nature of the worlds. The book is quite pro-capitalism and pro-America, but with it being interesting to wonder how much Dick wrote it that way for fear of being persecuted for anything that was pro-communist – it has Communist ‘witch hunting’ as a theme that must disturbs Dick (as it happened to him), but is firmly pro-American.
Counterphobic traits show in Dick occasionally – his main characters can be reasonably argumentative, Jack in Eye in the Sky being one example [“I’m going to do something futile. I’m going to kick the bejesus out of you”]. Another would be a character in Man in the High Castle, e.g. when a character irked by anti-semitic comments declares that surgically disguised Jews run the Reich and will come after the guy, at risk to himself.
This is a dystopian novel where humans have started migrating off a nuclear-war damaged Earth to offworld colonies. A religion called “Mercerism” preaches empathy, worship being accomplished with an “empathy box” where one feels they are the Christ-like Mercer being damaged and persecuted, and with people also keeping animals to show their devotion, which are now rare due to fallout. After his sheep dies, the main character temporarily gets a robot one and takes on a dangerous job to track down and kill escaped androids to buy a replacement. The book focusses on the idea that the androids are deficient in empathy, being unable to feel others’ emotions. A ‘love affair’ occurs between one (Rachel) and the main character, despite his being married (unhappily), ending in her murdering his new goat out of spite. A “mood organ” appears briefly as an idea – letting someone modify their own feelings – this briefly looks like a Four theme but is developed very little and if anything seems to suggest the wife in the book has a resemblance to one of Dick’s own wives.
Paranoid themes appear, justified with the idea of synthetic memories – meaning one literally cannot trust themselves. Rachel initially believes she is human, while the main character is also unsure if he may be a replicant.
Reality themes appear in that the androids hope to discredit Mercerism with its worship of empathy (to be more accepted?). Popular TV show Buster Friendly is android-run and exposes Mercerism as a fraud with evidence, only to have people be unfazed in their belief.
Presumably Rick here would be Ni (though e.g. wondering if he’s a replicant is rarely useful, he also can ‘read’ if people are really replicants); secondary Fe is more apparent in Isidore, who wants to help the replicants.
Fairly generally, we could say this shows some of the distinction between a 6w5 and 5w6, i.e. a structure of Ni/Fe/Ti/Se and Ti/Se/Ni/Fe – the androids represent “Se”. The conflict between facts and faith with emotion-based belief dominating, shows that Fe is higher in the stack than Se, letting someone adapt much more readily to take on others’ beliefs without questioning.
Note that the movie version of Blade Runner is significantly different, removing morally ambiguous bits (infidelity) and making the androids more sympathetic in that they are not empathy-deficient; it focusses instead on them as searching for identity and being deliberately built to ‘wear out’ in four years, as well as deepening the relationship between the main character and Rachel. Paranoid elements are reduced to vague suggestions only. Overall it seems more Four-ish perhaps. Films are more difficult to interpret (involving in this case the original author, as well as one or more screenplay writers, a director and assorted meddling, in this case a revised ending where Rachel doesn’t have a 4-year lifespan), but this also shows a Four tendency to rework other authors’ material dramatically (pun intended) when given the chance.
Holy Ideas: words like “faith” and “truth” are mentioned periodically by Dick. His discussion of nature of reality is reflective perhaps of what Gurdjieff called “faith of feeling” – that is, he doesn’t so much believe in nothing as having beliefs that tend to be irrational and feeling-based. At a deeper level, he has a belief that “belief creates reality” which seems to be a particularly harmful- under this idea, it becomes unnecessary to fact-check reality at all, since everything you believe becomes true. This idea is illogical in that of course people do disagree, and there’s no reason that your opinion is more important. Unless of course they are all just figments of your imagination, the next level down and something that potentially attacks empathy.
Other 6s, especially 6w5s:
Dick is a very unhealthy Six, and most Six authors don’t show themes around ‘reality’ as much, though extraverted-sensation is presumably going to be their fourth function still. Awareness of lower-level functioning if they deteriorated badly could give moments of or fear of madness.
Sixes generally show high anxiety with safety being important, and a preoccupation with things like danger or immortality. The inferior function (Se) can of course have sexual overtones, which may be more pronounced in 6w7 [overtones of feeling as 3rd function, whereas inferior sensation in 6w5 meshes with tertiary thinking and has a more dry quality e.g. the replicants).
Empathy and feeling themes generally in a Six are probably suggestive of 5-wing. One example would be the recent Robocop movie remake (reality themes in that his perceptual systems were fiddled with, high anxiety levels, near death when he becomes a cyborg, Fe auxiliary appearing in the overly moral scientist dude).
C. J. Cherryth shows definite Ni/Fe structure with high levels of anxiety. Her “Morgaine” books are interesting in that the main character Vanye is more Fe-based (judgments based around loyalty, honour, etc), while the titular Morgaine remains mysterious and in the background. High Fe development here drives strong interests in sociology, etc. – this would seem to indicate a weak 5 wing, which therefore only slightly hampers Fe development. Characters are somewhat prone to suspect things or jump to conclusions, but without Dick’s belief that “reality isn’t real” or serious low-level stuff, that is noticeable.
Male authors with secondary F often have female sidekicks, but she’s interesting in doing the reverse.
Fredric Brown is another probable 6 (w5?), with themes including ‘reality’. Some xenophobic themes appear as well, though are relatively common in period SF. ‘Arena’ has a god-like alien intervening in a battle between humans and an alien race by choosing one soldier of each side, with the loser’s race to be annihilated – the alien being basically pure evil/sadistic. Religious faith appears as a theme in ‘Answer’ where supercomputers are joined together to determine if there is a god…”NOW there is a god.”. Reality themes appear in e.g. “Martians Go Home”, where one main character discovers he imagines the universe.
Brown could actually be a 6w7 – drinking and comfort appear as themes fairly often.
Another interesting comparison to Dick is Mel Gibson [6w7 – INTJ, though he may be socially extraverted despite function orientation).
Nationality/patriotism appears as a theme in e.g. Braveheart, while odd belief structures support some of his other works like “Passion of the Christ”. Apocalypto seems to suggest an Ni/Te structure – intuition and thinking in creating e.g. traps for his enemies (although plausibility is limited since they don’t seem practical for getting meat without e.g. getting pig stomach contents all through it). Of particular interest is the detachment from reality evident – one main character is easily manipulated into rubbing his groin with a burning substance as a joke, being told it increases fertility. Later in the movie, we see mass sacrifices being made for no rational reason to end a drought, until a fortuitious eclipse that’s seen as an omen.
Importance of family and religion here are also somewhat Six-ish issues. Gibson himself has substance-abuse issues which are probably somewhat indicative of his Seven wing.
Note on 6 vs. 5
Note that its sometimes e.g. in Riso’s description of types, thought that madness at lower integration levels would be a ‘5’ quality, rather than a ‘6’ quality. A good example of a portrayal of a crazy 5w6 would be Nash in ‘A Beautiful Mind’. While he has serious paranoia etc. this would relate actually to the ‘wing’ – Mel Gibson for example, shows that 6w7s can equally be paranoid and crazy, indicating that its a core 6 quality. Nash’s actual primary problems as a 5 include evident significant detachment from feelings and consequently problems with social situations and the like.