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Lindsay Lohan and Theories of Personality Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 12th, 2021

Lindsay Lohan is one of the young successful actresses in Hollywood. She was ranked #3 on the Forbes list of Young Hollywood Top-Earners with $6 million. Media portrays her one who parties heavily at various nightclubs and social events. She had three car accidents in 2005 which were widely reported (Rogers 1). In a highly publicized interview with Vanity Fair magazine, January 2006, 19-year-old Lindsay Lohan admitted she has experimented with drugs and suffered from bulimia. However, declaring that she is over drugs, she credited her boyfriend Saturday Night Live’s Lorne Michaels with saving her from the bulimia. She blamed the stress of newfound fame, her break-up with That 70s Show’s Wilmer Valderrama, and the nightmare divorce of her parents for causing her to go off the deep end. In 2007, Lohan has been in and out of rehab twice since the beginning of the year, managing to wreck a Mercedes-Benz between visits to the Wonderland Center in January and the Promises Malibu Alcohol and Drug Rehab Treatment Facility in June. The car crash, over Memorial Day weekend, also resulted in a drunk-driving charge and charge over possessing cocaine (TMZ 1). Why would such a young and talent woman who has tasted great success in her career resort to such undignified behavior? Thesis: Lindsay Lohan’s personality is one that can be explained by Freudian and Jung theories of personality according to which, she is a person who has a strong Id, a weak superego, high levels of creativity, a quest for the meaning of life and is extraverted.

According to Freud, we are born with our Id that is based on the pleasure principle. In other words, the id wants whatever feels good at the time, with no consideration for the reality of the situation. When a child is hungry, the id wants food, and therefore the child cries. When the child needs to be changed, the id cries. When the child is uncomfortable, in pain, too hot, too cold, or just wants attention, the id speaks up until his or her needs are met. The id doesn’t care about reality, about the needs of anyone else, only its own satisfaction. By the age of three, the child develops the second part of personality – the Ego. The ego is based on the reality principle. The ego understands that other people have needs and desires. It’s the ego’s job to meet the needs of the id, while taking into consideration the reality of the situation. The Superego is the moral part that develops at about age five. It dictates an individual’s belief of right and wrong. In a healthy person, according to Freud, the ego is the strongest so that it can satisfy the needs of the id, not upset the superego, and still take into consideration the reality of every situation. In the case of Lindsay Lohan, it seems that the id is too strong and her impulses and self gratification are taking over her life. Her superego is too weak and she is not able to judge her actions. Freud holds that the superego is developed through the values and rules of the society in which the child is raised, as represented usually by parents and initially enforced by rewards and punishments. But Lindsay had parents who valued money the most and also did not have any kind of parental control. The superego represents morality and is the evaluator of right or wrong in accordance with the moral standards of the society. Lohan’s underdeveloped superego may be attributed to the abuse and neglect she suffered at the hands of her parents (The Superficial 1). Because of this weakened superego, her id is allowed to dominate her personality. This explains her impulsive behavior, typical of id.

The ego while trying to strike a balance between the id and the superego often creates in the unconscious “the substitution of the external reality for the psychic one”. This is evident in the interview of Lohan given to Vanity Fair. The psychic reality is that Lindsay Lohan is dominated by the Id and does not have a strong Super Ego. To drink or not to drink is a personal choice. Her drunken driving, wild partying, bulimia, intake of cocaine and shallow relationships show can only be seen as impulsive behavior. But in her interview, she attributes her childish behavior to other external causes such as her parent’s divorce and her own breakup. She lives a fictitious reality in which she is a victim who is rescued by her boyfriend.

According to Freud, the highest achievement of the ego is the mastery of the environment, which is accomplished by the secondary processes of thinking and judgment. The mastery of the environment will permit safe instinctual discharge (Lazarus, p. 137). Thus, man’s creativity and higher mental processes originate in frustration and represent efforts to control the environment so frustration can be minimized. Lindsay Lohan is a very creative person and excels in the creative art form of acting. Looking at it in the context of Freudian concepts, Lindsay Lohan’s creativity might have originated in frustration. According to Lindsay Lohan’s former bodyguard, Tony Almeida, Lindsay had neglectful and abusive parents who saw her as a source of money. Michael Lohan often indulged in criminal activities and was often in prison (Gossage, p. 1). Dina Lohan, her mother, allowed her to do what she wanted. They just counted on her for money. So Lindsay Lohan got into booze, boys and drugs. When she was 15, they even allowed her to share a room with her then-14-year-old boyfriend, Aaron Carter, at Loews in Miami Beach. This must have been frustrating for Lindsay Lohan, who soon emerged as a successful singer and actress. This is in accordance with Freud’s view that man’s creativity and higher mental processes originate in frustration (Lazarus, p. 140).

Freud held that the contents of the id are composed of instincts. Freud defined an instinct is an inherited source of excitation arising in the tissues (need), which is represented psychologically as a wish. Freud classified all instincts into two groups, the life instincts and the death instincts (Lazarus, p. 139). Where the life instincts aim to preserve life and organization, the death instincts seek to destroy such organization. Aggressive behavior represents the death instinct that is directed or displaced outwardly against others instead of toward oneself, to whom it is originally directed. The death instincts are made relatively harmless by fusing with the life instincts. Freud said the death instinct could be inferred by observing repetition compulsion, a person’s tendency to repeat past traumatic behavior. Lindsay Lohan, by her addiction to alcohol and cocaine seem to be dominated by the death instincts very often. Her accidents also prove the same.

The conscious mind was called by Carl Jung as the ego; it consists of conscious perceptions, memories, feelings, and thoughts. Jung’s theory is unique in that it includes the collective unconscious or “psychic inheritance”(Boeree, p. 1) It is the reservoir of our experiences as a species, a kind of knowledge we are all born with. The contents of the collective unconscious are called archetypes. Lindsay Lohan like most of us has the mother archetype. She is able to project the archetype on her own mother whom she has kept as her manager. The persona archetype represents the public image. As an actress Lindsay Lohan does have an active persona archetype. She is constantly trying to put on a good impression in front of the public. Her hero archetype is evident in the way she is constantly going into rehabilitation and trying to rescue her self. The hero archetype generally represents the ego and is often engaged in fighting the shadow, in the form of dragons and other monsters. Lindsay Lohan seems to project her wise old man archetype on to Lorne Michaels in the interview where she says that he was the person who helped her out of drugs and bulimia. Jung gives us three principles, beginning with the principle of opposites. Every good thought is accompanied by its opposite (Boeree, p. 1). This gives a glimpse into the mind of Lindsay Lohan as she declares for a moment that she has given up drugs and yet returns to it again and again. The thought that she must give up drugs is accompanied by the thought that she must have them, which is in accordance with Jung’s theory of opposites. The second principle is the principle of equivalence (Boeree, p. 1). The energy created from the opposition is “given” to both sides equally. The energy provided by the thought to give up alcohol and drugs gives Lindsay Lohan the energy and will to move into rehabilitation. Sometimes, the other energy takes over and she falls into addiction once again. The final principle is the principle of entropy. This is the tendency for oppositions to come together, and so for energy to decrease, over a person’s lifetime. Here, we find that on one hand Lindsay Lohan is a successful actress and on the other hand she is failure as a person trying to give up drinking. Between these two extremes, she has lots of energy and feels conflicted. That is one reason why she rushes around party to party, projecting different images, drinking and trying to give up drinking. However, as she gets older, it is likely that she will get comfortable with the success and failures sides of her. According to Jung the process of rising above the opposites, and getting a glimpse of both sides of the identity is called transcendence (Boeree, p. 1). Jung suggests there are four basic ways, of dealing with the world: sensing, thinking, intuiting and feeling. From the impulsive manner in which Lindsay Lohan leads her life, it can be deduced that she is more of a feeling person but only her MBTI score can confirm that.

One of the theoretical differences between Freud and Jung is the latter’s emphasis on the self, a set of system principles within the personality that holds the various subsystems together. According to Jung, people strive to reach the self or find meaning in life. Lindsay Lohan’s quest for self is seen in her recent interest in the Kabbalah religion However, Jung also says that the self does not strongly manifest itself until the person is in middle life. Lohan is constantly fighting addiction to alcohol and drugs. Carl Jung recognized the importance of understanding the spiritual component of addiction. From the Jungian perspective, addiction is framed as a search for transcendence and personal redefinition (Richard, p. 1). While the early stages of addiction mark the initial outreach in search of personal redefinition, the turn to recovery and the redefinition (rehabilitation in the case of Lohan) implied by it provide a different meaning. In Jungian terms such efforts can be interpreted as reconfigurations of the ego complex to go to a level that is more capable of balanced expression of the needs of the whole. In each stage of development these changes are marked by whole-life reframes which mark the progress on the path to individuation (Jung, 1976).

Jung classified personality types based on their attitudes: the extroverted attitude represents an orientation toward the external world; the introverted attitude involves an orientation toward the inner, subjective world. According to him one of these attitudes dominates in a person. Due to her high level of partying it’s easy to slot Lindsay Lohan as an extravert.

According to the Freudian theory Lindsay Lohan is a person who is dominated by the Id. She has a weak superego due to lack of good parenting. Her creativity is based on her frustrations in early life. Jung’s theory of the self explains her addiction and also her affiliation to Kabbalah. It also shows her as an extravert personality.

Works Cited

  1. Boeree, . Web.
  2. Gossage, Shannon. Lindsay Lohan’s Family Problems.
  3. Gray, M. Richard. Addiction and the Nature of Meaning: Reframing in substance abuse treatment. 1997.
  4. Lazarus, S. Richard. Adjustment and Personality. McGraw-Hill. New York. 1961. Page 137-45
  5. Rogers, John. Lindsay Lohan: The Sunday Times. Web.
  6. Page Six. 9. Web.
  7. TMZ. D.A. to Lindsay – You’re Not a Felon. AOL news.
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