My Father, The Greatest, and Of the Greatest Generation

He was My Father.

He died July 30th, 2013 at 91.

I have many memories of him, some early memories have that misty, but warm quality, of the fifties, an age of innocence.

You kinda of realize things slowly.  Kids must learn.  Things emerge into your consciousness.

I remember when I realized he was just a man around the time I was a young teenager, he wasn’t all powerful, he was human.  And later I realized what a man.  A Rational Man,  just like me.  And his ideas have changed many lives for the better.

And of course, he is of the Greatest Generation.  An American marine fighter pilot, who at one time was sitting on a carrier off the coast of Japan, ready to invade their homeland.  Not thinking of a future.  Then there was the news.. Atomic Bomb.  He now had a future, he could go home.

He returned, married my mother, went to school on the GI bill, and embarked on career as a psychologist.  School psychologist. Helping troubled and troublesome kids.

And he was Maverick, in ideas.

Dr. David West Keirsey with self portrait.Dr. David West Keirsey with self portrait.

He was “Just like me..”  — Oh, what a lucky person I am. 

What did “just like me” mean?

As it turned out this situation was unusual, although I did not know it at time and it took me a few years to realize it.  And as a father myself, I understand it much more as time goes on.  Your friends and family are rarely “just like you”.

The Father-Son relationship is complicated, whether or not you are a chip off the old block.

Being “A Chip Off the Old Block” — is not the usual situation, in life, as I was to learn from my father.

We both were interested in ideas.  As it turned out he would name our type of person as “an Architect Rational” (and lastly a “Designer Rational”  he was always tinkering with his theory) — but that is much a later in life.  We both loved to examine and debate ideas, he respecting my thoughts despite my youth and naivety.

He was a great listener. But he was always willing to debate ideas, and question the conventional.

My most vivid memory, and recurring memory of him was when I was about 12 years old, I came back from school and he had asked me what I learned and queried me about my new found knowledge.  Can a set be a subset of itself? That is the question my father put to me when I was about twelve years old, when I was being taught “new math” in junior high school and trying to explain to him math. I said “Yes, a set can be a subset of itself.” My answer at the time was less than satisfactory for my father, for he understood things much more than I did. A lively debate about this question ensued for many years between us and this question morphed to many other questions. The ensuing life-long dialog and debate between the two of us has covered a wide range of issues about life, both in the physical and behavioral sciences. My father spoke more of the behavioral sciences, I, more of the physical and computer sciences, and all the while both of us spoke of how words best be used.

He was well read in philosophy and psychology — and he loved history, particularly Civil War and WWII history, given that he was in the WWII.  But ultimately he considered himself a “wordmeister.”  He studied words.  And he studied persons.  He considered himself a personologist.

Beginning at an early age, my father would talk about the works of Oswald Spengler, Herbert Spencer, Will Durant, Charles Darwin, Adam Smith, Arthur Schopenhauer, Ayn Rand, Georg Hegel, Maurice Merlau-Ponty, Edmund Husserl, Wolfgang Kohler, William James, John Dewey, Ernst Cassirer,  Isabel Myers-Briggs, Milton Erickson, Jay Haley to name a few.

In the last years he had physical ails that dimmed and slowed his brilliant mind, as the impromptu video below shows. But he still retained an intelligence and humor far beyond the ordinary, up to his last few days.

By the by.  Yes, I contended with my father on the ideas.  He needed someone to bounce his ideas off.  And, in the last few years he kept forgetting that I did put up some of his publishable work on madness (after trying to get him agree to let some of it out for about the last 10 years), here.  — David Mark Keirsey.

History of Madness

0 thoughts on “My Father, The Greatest, and Of the Greatest Generation”

    1. David,

      I am really sorry to hear about your father’s passing. His work changed my life and the life of many people around me. This is a debt that cannot be repaid.

      Please rest assured that I share your pain and that my thoughts are with you and your family at this difficult time.

      Jeremie

  1. I am so sorry for your loss and for us all who admired and respected this great man and his great work. I am deeply saddened by his demise, but what is life, so short, why can’t it let the greatest of all live longer??! but who are we to ask??
    I also respect you for getting in his boat and riding with him and eventually taking his work forward.
    The keirsey temperament theory is the best that there have ever been!!

    ps/; can you type me by my use of words, try,(it is a little challenge)??, [hint, I love winning, I love a good challenge, I hate weakness]

  2. Dr. David West Keirsey lived for 91 years, many aren’t so lucky. Also you are very lucky that you had your father along your side for a relatively long time. Be nostalgic but not sad. From now, you got the very hard task to keep the Keirsey Temperament Theory in this level despite of its founder being no longer alive.

  3. Please accept my sincere condolences.

    Dr. David Keirsey was indeed a great man and He will be sadly missed by all those, including myself, who ware touched and inspired by his works.

    His books helped me to understand myself and find my way, as a Rational, through life. He will live in my memory forever.

  4. I loved David Keirsey although I’ve never been able to meet him. Please Understand Me was a revelation and helped me so much to understand others as well as myself. I hope he is busy analysing the angels’ temperaments. Aren’t there 4 archangels? I’m sure Gabriel was an NF, but I’m sure Professor Keirsey will find out the others – bless him!

  5. Wow. I’m so sorry to read that your father died. He really was a Great Man. I was lucky to have met him once. I’m grateful to you for that. I’m so glad you were able to convince him to let you post his madness writings. It makes me look at everything differently. Thanks for posting this video, too. And his books changed me forever, and I am so grateful to him for that. My heart goes out to you, your family, Edward Kim, and all who loved him.

  6. It is a sad day but let us celebrate what Dr. Keirsey has given us. His work on temperament theory could serve as a catalyst for later generations to apply on a massive scale leading to understanding and maybe even a little acceptance of one another.

    I wish I could have met Dr. Keirsey. I feel “sort of” a connection to him because I was in the Marines too. I went to school using the GI Bill as well and even majored in psychology but I could never reach the level of a designer architect like himself. He really impressed me with his knowledge and his ability to describe people so accurately.

    If it wasn’t for a room of Rational men, the atomic bomb wouldn’t have come soon enough and Dr. Keirsey would have had to attack Japan and maybe not have lived. We need not only to be grateful of Dr. Keirsey’s contributions but also the contributions of all people of the Rational temperament because I get the feeling that they have saved the human race from more problems than we will ever know about.

    Dr. Keirsey was one hell of an American. Rest in Peace and Semper Fi.

  7. I had the privilege of being one of his students. Although he worked my ass off, I can truthfully say he was one of the two best teachers I had in my college career. He was not a hard man even being a Rational and showed much compassion for those of us who didn’t quite get everything he patiently tried to explain. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see him in his last years but I’m sure we would have had a laugh together if that had happened.

  8. Please accept my belated condolences. I would have commented sooner, but I had run away from Facebook for a few days and fallen out of the loop.

    Thank you for posting the beautiful video of the man discussing what he knew so well. His work on madness may yet spark the needed revolution to overthrow the DSM. I am particularly grateful for his willingness to defend us Artisans against many of society’s harsh judgments. He will be missed.

  9. My sincere condolences. I was saddened to read of his passing today when I opened my email.

    I had the priviledge of meeting your father last year and exchanging a few emails with him since then. I have read all his books and incorporated the KTS into my teaching and consulting practice. As a Rational Inventor, his theories provide a practical framework for me to navigate the world and my interactions with people. He was a great man, and the many people he has touched and the many people who discover Keirsey Temperament Theory everyday through is books, classes and keirsey.com will ensure that his legacy lives on.

    His work changed my life in the early 1990s and I am so thankful for that gift.

  10. I’d like to pay my condelences to you David and your family. Your personal blog on your father moved my deeply, especially the video – he was so sweet in his old days 😉 (and a briliant thinker till the end).
    I consider myself as a “Keirsey-disciple” (I’m an INFJ Idealist from Switzerland and purchased all three works from your father, including Personology – which is a real challenge for me as you can imagine 😉
    KTT had and still has a great influence on understanding my own and the people around me.
    As far as I can say, he was an enourmously inspiring and likable man.
    His ideas will be for eternity and will be of great use for mankind – I am sure about that.
    Best Wishes

  11. Reblogged this on Cathy’s Blog and commented:
    David W. Kiersey, author of “Please Understand Me” passed away on 30th July 2013. His books, both PUM and PUM 2, were part of the reasons I studied psychology. Kiersey’s Temperament Theory helped the world to understand the misunderstood.

  12. I’m sorry to hear this news David and I offer my condolences to you and your family. KTT is one of the most significant theories I have had the fortune to stumble upon and I have found it continually useful in my dealings with others. I trust you will do your part to ensure KTT continues on.

  13. Thank you for your August Keirsey Newsletter and for the shocking and very, very sad news of your father’s passing… Please know my heart aches for both you and your family during this heart-wrenching period of deep personal grief…

    To share my story, I first learned about “type”, the MBTI and “temperament” and Keirsey in my 40’s, during a mid-life career and marriage-changing period, which absolutely changed my life. As an INFJ I’d never understood why I’d never seemed to really fit into the “business” world, nor feel fully appreciated by my ISTP husband. However, after this astounding revelation, not only did I begin to learn to accept myself but to even revel in individual differences and “gifts”. And since then I continue to try to read everything I can get my hands on.

    Surely, it is thru your father’s work that we can only begin to learn to first “understand”, that very crucial and essential first step towards being able to live out our commandment to “love one another”… (We must first understand, forgive and love ourselves before we can understand, forgive and love others.) May his work blessedly continue to change people’s lives…

    As a “pin” heading my Pinterest board on “type” acknowledges, “discovering those four little letters can be life-changing,” I can only pray that the knowledlge of the absolutely profound differences your father made in the lives of so very, very many may help ease if only a part of your pain…

    My most sincere condolences,

    Linda Pletka

  14. Reading the book ‘Please Understand Me’ was one of the turning points in my life. As a female of a rare type, it explained many things that other publications about psychology did not touch upon. It made me explainable and life much easier. Thank you for sharing your tribute.

  15. I am typically not the commenting type, but I am a fervent believer in the power of knowing oneself and the freedom that comes with pride in our gifts as individuals. Your Father’s work has been greatly liberating for me and for others I have shared the Personality Sorter with. Many peace and blessings to you and your family during this time, and take pride knowing your Father leaves behind a tremendous legacy that will continue to liberate countless others and guide them to making a bigger impact on the world than they might have otherwise.

  16. I’m sorry to hear Dr. Keirsey passed away. I’m actually reading Please Understand Me right now. Over the past few years I’ve developed quite an interest in Personality Typology. Again, I’m very sorry the loss of your father.

    That damn question: “Can a set be a sub-set of itself?” has got me all tangled up. I’ve come up with some nice Venn Diagram permutations to attempt to answer both ways….ugh…. 🙂

    The fun continues…

  17. I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a parent is never easy, but to lose a mentor and friend such as your father makes it exponentially harder. His work will live long past our lifetimes, and I am grateful to have benefited from his studies. Blessed be.

  18. My sincerest condolences to you and your family David. I pray that you will find comfort at this difficult time. I know that the work of your father has helped improve many lives through the ability to understand, cherish and celebrate both our uniqueness and our differences and we needed someone like David Keirsey to show us the way…

  19. Condolences to you and your family. Thank you for sharing your father with the rest of us. He and his work lives on in all of us. I look forward to continued knowledge from him through you.

  20. I am sorry that the world has lost a bright light. I’m grateful for the insights his work brought me. My condolences to you and your family, and my gratitude to your father.

  21. I think at one point i could reference any chapter in please understand me 2. I am an intp or NT myself. My greatest respect and condolences to your father.
    Thanks for sharing this video! What an interesting man! And thanks for keeping this torch burning sometimes i feel like his works have not recieved the attention they should! Maybe we can change that 🙂

    With warmest wishes,
    Donovan D
    Alberta, Canada

  22. My sincere condolences. David Keirsey arrived in my life at a time when I was starting out my work with troubled youth. He helped shape the approach I took, without ever knowing that of course, and inspired me to enter the school system in Australia to share the message if individual differences.There are now more than 50 schools across Queensland that have introduced Temperament theory to their curriculum, and while it is myself that has done the leg-work, it would not have been possible without the influence of man I never met. RIP David Keirsey; The man has gone but his work lives on. Michael White – Australia

  23. “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

    My deepest condolences to his family. May David West Keirsey rest in peace. He changed many lives and opened many minds – and hearts, including mine

  24. My sincere condolences.
    Continue to celebrate the memories of his well spent life.
    Kind Regards
    Lillian Davis
    South Africa

  25. David, please accept my most sincere condolences for you and your family. Your father impacted me greatly, at a time when I was at my lowest point. A counselor administered the MBTI and then had me read my temperament summary. Being a 1%er explained so much to me; half a lifetime of feeling out of place and alone was replaced with understanding and appreciation. Thank you for sharing about your Dad’s life and your relationship with him.

  26. Please Understand Me I and II were eye openers for me and the beginning of what has verged on an obsession with trying to understand myself and others better. Thanks for your efforts in continuing David Kiersey’s work. The world would be a better place if the fundamentals of temperament and type were made part of everyone’s basic education. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood” are wonderful words to live by. Heartfelt sympathy to you and your family.

  27. Sorry for your loss. I just retired after 23 years in the school system. Trained and prepared as a counselor and school psychologist when your Dad was head of the program at Fullerton. My sincere condolences.

  28. Like Kim G. I was trained in counseling/school psychology by the great Dr. David West Keirsey in the 1970’s at CSUF. Well into my career, I enjoyed several long discussions with Dave in the context of Jay Haley/Cloe Madanes conferences. Keirsey’s ideas were by far the most influential and useful during my 37 years in the schools. Clearly, Dave’s professional life was marked by sublime contributions to human development. Coined by a fellow student, “Keirsey’s Crusaders,” his magnificent influence continues. All of the best to you, Dave, and your family.

    Mark Bockstahler

  29. I was so very sorry to hear about your father’s passing. I only just came across this section of the .com and so am only just now able to express my condolences. I can not being to tell you how much your father’s work impacted my personal career as well as my personal life. I was always searching for more information from him.

    I wish you many happy memories of your father and I look forward to you carrying on with not just his work but your own.

    Sincerely,
    Allyse Hall

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