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What was Marilyn Monroe’s personality type?

Marilyn Monroe was one of the most iconic actresses and models of the 20th century. She was known for her glamorous persona and films like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, and Some Like It Hot. But behind the Hollywood glitz, who was the real Marilyn Monroe? Understanding Marilyn’s personality type can provide insight into what made her tick. Let’s explore Marilyn Monroe’s likely personality type based on psychological frameworks like the Myers-Briggs and the Big Five personality models.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) categorizes personality types along four spectrums:

  • Extroversion (E) vs Introversion (I)
  • Sensing (S) vs Intuition (N)
  • Thinking (T) vs Feeling (F)
  • Judging (J) vs Perceiving (P)

Based on biographical accounts, Marilyn Monroe most likely would have tested as an ESFP personality type:

  • Extroverted (E) – Marilyn was outgoing and thrived being the center of attention.
  • Sensing (S) – She was observant of details and focused on the present moment.
  • Feeling (F) – Marilyn was sensitive, emotionally expressive, and valued harmony.
  • Perceiving (P) – She was spontaneous and flexible, preferring to keep her options open.

As an ESFP, Marilyn would have been passionate, charming, and engaging. She likely made decisions based on personal values over logic or objective analysis. ESFPs tend to be generous, optimistic people who want to have fun and bring joy to others. But their need for constant stimulation could leave them restless at times.

The Big Five Personality Model

The Big Five personality model categorizes personalities across five spectrums:

  • Openness to experience
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism

Based on available information about Marilyn Monroe, she likely would have scored as follows:

  • High openness – Marilyn was creative, imaginative, and appreciated the arts.
  • Low conscientiousness – She was impulsive and flexible rather than organized and achievement-focused.
  • High extraversion – As mentioned, Marilyn craved social interaction and attention.
  • High agreeableness – She aimed to be liked and avoid conflict in relationships.
  • High neuroticism – Marilyn experienced emotional instability, anxiety, and depression.

This Big Five profile paints Marilyn as creative yet unstable, outgoing but conflict averse, spontaneous but disorganized. She likely faced inner turmoil between wanting attention and avoiding criticism.

Enneagram Type

The Enneagram categorizes personalities into nine types based on core motivations and patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. Marilyn Monroe most resembles Type Four in the Enneagram, also known as the Individualist.

Fours are expressive, dramatic, and focus on their emotional depths. They seek to understand themselves and want to be understood by others as unique individuals. Fours can be moody, envious, and self-conscious, especially when feeling misunderstood. But they can also be very inspiring, creative, passionate people.

As a Four, Marilyn likely felt vulnerable about being authentic and struggled with fears of rejection. She wished to be accepted for who she really was underneath the Hollywood persona. Her introspective nature helped her profoundly inhabit the characters she played on screen.

Marilyn and Borderline Personality Disorder

Some psychologists have speculated that Marilyn Monroe exhibited symptoms consistent with borderline personality disorder (BPD). People with BPD often experience:

  • Unstable moods and emotions
  • Impulsivity and reckless behavior
  • Unstable sense of self
  • Intense but unstable relationships
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness

Many of these BPD traits align with Marilyn’s personality patterns and struggles with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and tumultuous relations with men. However, retroactively diagnosing a public figure is controversial without their direct assessment.

Marilyn’s Confidence and Insecurities

Despite Marilyn’s shy off-screen persona, she exuded confidence and glamour as an actress. Where did this on-screen magnetism come from if she was so internally insecure and anxious?

Some key factors in Marilyn’s public confidence:

  • She felt in control when playing a character versus being herself.
  • Preparing extensively for roles bolstered her confidence.
  • Makeup, costumes, and lighting helped her physically embody a character.
  • The admiration of fans and being in the public eye gave her validation.
  • Acting and performing gave Marilyn a means of cathartic emotional expression.

However, her private self-confidence was often shaken by:

  • Fears of not being accepted for who she really was.
  • Criticism and rejection in romantic relationships.
  • A trauma history of abuse, neglect, and loss.
  • Mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and substance dependence.

Marilyn’s personal struggles at times clashed with her public persona, but she managed to successfully compartmentalize most of the time. Acting allowed her to feel in control and validated while masking her painful inner demons.

Marilyn Monroe’s Cognitive Functions

Jungian cognitive functions offer another framework for assessing Marilyn Monroe’s likely personality type and thought patterns. This model suggests she had:

  • Dominant Extroverted Sensing (Se) – Tuned into the sights, sounds, and experiences of the moment. Observant of sensory details.
  • Auxiliary Introverted Feeling (Fi) – Guided by personal values and emotions. Focused inward on her feelings.
  • Tertiary Extroverted Intuition (Ne) – Saw possibilities and meanings beyond the surface. Appreciated metaphors.
  • Inferior Introverted Thinking (Ti) – Disinterested in logic or internally organizing concepts. Trusted feelings over rational analysis.

This function stack is typical of ESFPs and aligns with Marilyn’s outgoing nature, emotional sensitivity, creative mind, and tendency to overlook practical details for big-picture vision and values.

Conclusions on Marilyn Monroe’s Personality Type

Marilyn Monroe most likely exhibited an ESFP personality type across various frameworks such as the MBTI, Big Five, Enneagram, and Jungian cognitive functions. Some key traits included:

  • Outgoing, gregarious, and charming
  • Driven by emotions, personal values, and desire for validation
  • Loved being the center of attention
  • Creative, imaginative, and comfortable with metaphor
  • Impulsive and flexible rather than organized
  • Prone to emotional instability, anxiety, and depression

Of course, Marilyn was far more complex than any personality label can encapsulate. She cultivated an alluring public persona that enchanted the world, while privately battling intense insecurities and mental health issues. Understanding Marilyn’s personality provides insight into her magic as an entertainer, as well as the vulnerabilities that led to her tragic early death.