Charles Bukowski was a German-American poet and novelist famous for his bohemian, non-conformist lifestyle, great social critique and excellent descriptions of ordinary lives of poor Americans, relationships with women, the drudgery of work and capitalism. Time magazine once called him the “laureate of American lowlife”. But have you ever wondered, what was his MBTI personality type?
Lets start with the most obvious things. There is almost no doubt that he was a perceiver (P). He was a spontaneous and relaxed guy. He led a messy life, both in his surroundings and relationships. He absolutely didn’t care about orderliness, responsibility, being on time, schedules, todo lists… in fact, he despised all of that.
Extrovert or introvert?
Bukowski spent a lot of time alone, enjoyed solitary activities like writing and wasn’t actually what you would call a social butterfly (except sometimes on booze). For these reasons, like many other people, I would lean towards typing him as an introvert (I).
He did have a lot of relationships with different women across his lifetime and socialized drinking in bars. It’s also important to note that he was depressed and had a major problem with alcoholism for the good part of his life. Those two can make an extrovert seem like an introvert. A large number of ENTPs and ENFPs to some extent have strong introverted streaks and many of them can fit into the category of “ambivert”.
Feeler or thinker?
Bukowski’s work definitely shows that he knew what compassion was, but it’s not like thinkers are devoid of feeling or compassion. His work also contains biting remarks, sarcasm and cynical attitudes towards humans in general, which points more to a thinker (T). Quotes like: “Of course it’s possible to love a human being if you don’t know them too well.” Now, again, I think his depression muddies the waters here, because even feelers can become cynical after years of depression. So I would say I’m very unsure about this aspect of his personality.
Intuitive or sensing?
His life was filled with both hedonism and asceticism. He would indulge in alcohol and sex a lot, but he was also attracted to the world of ideas so much that he didn’t care about his appearance, clothes, aesthetics in general. The only place where he seemed to care about aesthetics was in writing. Sensing people are very aware of their surroundings, they love making things with their hands, decorating, changing appearances, exploring the environment, making food, trying out new tastes and just enjoying the concrete world around us and engaging with it a lot. To me, Bukowski seemed to live in his head A LOT, and he would probably call most of those things mundane and trivial. So I would lean towards intuitive (N) here.
Popular opinion on a website that has a voting system for typing famous people has him typed as an ISFP (98% I, 85% S, 85% F and 99% P). This seems like a scientific approach, but it’s just popular opinion from people who might be quite bad at typing a person. The second choice on that site is INFP.
My best guess would be in this order:
6. Any other type
Things like depression and alcoholism have depersonalizing effects. They can also have personality changing effects. This is why it is very hard to type a person like Bukowski, since he was not a typical person in any way. This is also why it’s remotely possible even that he was a depressed INTJ, since depression can make your entire life a mess even when you’re naturally a person with a “judging” preference.