Divergent is making waves in popular culture with the release of part one of the hollywood movie trilogy inspired by Veronica Roth’s books. This follows the mammoth success of The Hunger Games starring academy award winning actress Jennifer Lawrence.
There are two main themes in Divergent. The first is that it is bad and possibly even fatal to fit into more than one aptitude. The second major theme relates to growing away from your parents.
In Divergent’s futuristic world it is seen as threatening to fit into more than one faction made up of five temperaments which are selfless, peaceful, honest, brave and knowledgeable. It is difficult to compare this directly to personality theory as it is generally regarded that there are in fact sixteen types of people in the real world.
However, this does compare to our four defined learning styles which are the ways that people take in information from the world. Our four categories of psychological profiling methods include auditory, visual, practical and kinesthetic.
All of the students we work with that do not fit in a box and struggle in school have what we call multiplicity. This means, like in Divergent, they have all four aptitudes. They are quite often overwhelmed by the amount of information they absorb from all environments. Multiplicity is what people commonly see as “clever” and “intelligent.” All of our ideas of cleverness and intelligence come from people who can absorb ideas quickly and have a multitude of interests. This is where we break away from the norm.
Multiplicity is drilled out of children in school by age fifteen. Only a very small percentage of the older students we meet have still retained their natural multiplicity. They are quite often seen as “freaks.” Some of them were very heavily medicated before working with us for just having too much energy or being too “distracted.”
In the film Divergent the main character takes an aptitude test at the age of sixteen. This is true to school life. There have been some pretty hilarious conversations within our team about what they were told at sixteen. The Senior D.N.A. Geneticist on our team was told at sixteen that he would never be any good a science.
This brings us to the second main theme in the film and the challenges the main character experiences when she realizes that she cannot follow her family. She does not easily fit into their faction and this is a real life experience for many of our students. Children really struggle when in their teenage years they appear to have nothing in common with their family and parents don’t understand them.
In many cases the students we work with have just simply skipped a generation in aptitudes and personality. It is quite often revealed that they are much more like their grandparents and great grandparents. A mother or father can feel that their children have nothing in common with them and this can also be the case in partnerships where there are children from different relationships.
We work with adult clients in the business world in their late thirties too who had struggled to find their path in life. Having attempted the career path of their parents they have not fitted in. They quite often do not feel any real support or understanding from home about who they really are.
The good news is that it is perfectly alright to be divergent and movies like this can only help to shine a positive light on psychological profiling and our ongoing research in the area of personality types and achievement. Anyone who works in personality theory does so because they have an overwhelming desire to help people find out who they really are and wish to help them to succeed.
Dr. Naoisé O’Reilly & Marie O’Riordan