Introduction: The meaning of personality
Personality is a term that refers to unique, relatively stable aspects of a given character . Personality normally deals with a wide range of human behavior. To most theorists, one can conclude that personality includes virtually everything about a person: mental, emotional, social, and physical. It is worth mentioning that there are certain aspects of human beings that may not be observable.
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These include aspects such as thoughts, memories and dreams. On the other hand, there are certain aspects which are observable. These include overt actions. In addition to this, personality also includes aspects which might be concealed to oneself. These are termed as conscious or unconscious aspects which are normally within our awareness. Theories of personality
There are many theories which have been put across in an attempt to explain the nature of a man. It is worth noting the fact that there are four criteria that a theory of personality should satisfy: description, explanation, prediction and control of behavior.
Human behavior can be considered to be quite complicated. In this case, a coherent and clear theory enables a person to be able to bring order out of this chaos. A good personality theory explains the phenomena under study. It offers answers to such significant questions as the causes of individual differences in personality, why people are different in their own right and also why other people seem to be pathological as compared to other people.
To most psychologists, the litmus test of a theory is the ability of the theory to predict future events and behaviors among the human beings. A valuable theory usually leads to important practical applications. It facilitates control and change of the environment, for example, by bringing about better techniques of parenting, education, or even psychotherapy.
There are several theories which have been postulated in this light. These theories have been postulated by several psychologists who have attempted to explain the nature of man. In this case, we are going to be looking at two main theorists. These are Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.
The Psychoanalytic theory
Freud named his theory Psychoanalysis. This term is also used to denote the form of psychotherapy that Freud originated. In essence, this theory is based on the belief that people could be cured when their thoughts, which were unconscious, were brought to a conscious state and thus they were able to know what they were going through.
This was important because it enabled them to gain insight of what they were going through in the course of life. The main focus of this theory was to enable people to release repressed emotions and experiences. Psychoanalytic theory is a theory which is based on the concept that forces motivating behavior is derived from the unconscious mental processes.
The common occurrence of perception implies that much of our personality is usually beyond what we can call our immediate awareness. Freud concluded that most of our personality which was largely influenced by our mental activity was unconscious.
This implies that it cannot be called to mind even with great effort. Information that is not conscious at a given moment, but which can readily become so, is described as preconscious. The preconscious is considered to be closer to the conscious because it is largely within our control. Freud’s major theories of the mind follow.
The topographic theory of the mind
In this case, the mind is made up of the unconscious mind. This mind contains repressed thoughts and feelings. These feelings and thoughts are usually unavailable to the unconscious mind. In this case, primary process is a type of thinking which is associated with primitive drives, wish fulfillment and pleasure.
This does not involve logic and time. On the other hand, the dreams represent gratification of the unconscious instinctual impulses and wish fulfillment. Secondly, the preconscious mind contains memories that, although not readily available, they can be accessed by the conscious mind. Lastly, the conscious mind contains thoughts that a person is currently aware of but does not have access to the unconscious mind.
The structural theory of the mind
According to this theory, the mind is divided into three parts. That is the id, ego and superego. The id is usually present at birth. This represents the instinctual drives that a person has. These include the sexual urges and drives. In addition, this structural component is characterized with pleasure principle. In essence, the id is not influenced by circumstances that might be taking place in the external environment at all.
The ego begins to develop at birth. This component controls the id in order to adapt to the changes which are taking place outside the world. It is the component that uses reality testing in order to make sense of what is going on around the world. It brings a balance between the super ego and id in the course of life.
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The superego is a component which begins to develop about 6 years of age. It is the component which controls the id. It is usually associated with the moral values and the conscience.
The intra-psychic conflict occurs or takes place among the components of the mind. That is, the id, ego and super ego. This conflict is usually a direct result of behavior which might need justification in order to obtain balance. These conflicts at times lead to changes in personality as a person develops and learns to cope with the events within the environment. Personality development
Sigmund Freud developed five stages which he argued determined how a person’s personality develops over time. According to this theory, when a child is born, his or her center of pleasure revolves on the mouth. This is associated with activities such as suckling, chewing and biting. From one to three years, the centers of pleasure shift to the anal. This implies that the child derives her source of pleasure through defecating.
The third stage is the phallic stage; this takes place between three to six years. During this stage, the children derive sexual pleasure through stimulating their genitals. At this stage, the Electra and Oedipus complexes emerge. The fourth stage is the latency stage.
During this stage, the sexual urges are rechanneled to school work. The child, at this stage, internalizes societal values and the environment where one grows. Lastly, there is the genital stage, this is marked by the emergence of adolescence. It is worth noting that according to this theory, when a person does not fulfill the demands and pleasures at each stage, the person becomes fixated. Some of these traits later emerge in adulthood.
Application of psychoanalysis
This is a therapeutic approach which utilizes various techniques in order to ensure that the client is properly treated. These approaches include free association, resistance analysis, transference analysis and dream analysis. These techniques are used to treat anxiety disorders such as phobias.
In addition, these techniques are used to treat people who have depression. In this approach, treatment is a process which entails encouraging the client to speak and share their experiences. However, there is caution when it comes to dealing with transference and counter-transference issues when dealing with a client.
Psychoanalysis as a scientific theory
The scientific status of this theory has been under scrutiny by many. This debate has been raging on. This is because the basis of this theory is on the unconscious activities. These are activities which are not empirical.
Carl Jung: Analytical Psychology
Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist, called his new approach Analytical Psychology. This was done so that he could differentiate it from Freud’s psychoanalytic theory. Like Freud, he emphasized the unconscious determinants of personality. However, he had a different approach to the state of affairs when he proposed that the unconscious consists of two layers.
The first layer, he called it the Personal Unconscious, is essentially the same as Freud’s version of the unconscious. According to Jung, the personal unconscious houses material from one’s life that is within one’s conscious awareness because it has been repressed or forgotten. In addition, Jung theorized that the existence of a deeper layer he called the Collective Unconscious.
Essentially, the collective unconscious is a storehouse of latent memory traces inherited from people’s ancestral past that is shared with the entire human race. Jung called these ancestral memories Archetypes. They are not memories of actual personal experiences. Instead, archetypes are emotionally charged images and thought forms that have universal meaning.
These archetypal images and ideas show up frequently in dreams and are often manifested in culture’s use of symbols in art, literature, and religion. Jung felt that an understanding of archetypal symbols helped him make sense of great concern to him because he depended extensively on dream analysis in his treatment of patients. Let us have a detailed look at this theory.
Jung contributed much to this field. Key among his contributions wes the use of the personality typologies to foster understanding and reduce interpersonal conflicts, and the use of dreams to enhance personal growth and highlight important aspects of the dreamer’s life and journey. Contrary to Freud, he believed that the person who had the dream was the most likely person to ultimately understand what it meant.
He was always willing to work with patients to help them to interpret their dream. According to him, there was no right interpretation, however, believed that the dream was rightly interpreted when it made sense to the client.
Jung’s religious upbringing and exploration of diverse religious perspectives made him be sensitive and open to spiritual and religious possibilities. Jung held the belief that the voices people hear in the dreams may not be of their own making, rather they came from a source which was transcending us.
This was a term which was coined by Jung to explain the occurrence of events which seemed to be coincidental. He coined this term to refer to seemingly accidental life events that are tied together by the meanings we give them. These are acausal happenings, episodes that do not seem to follow the normal cause and effect processes. One can almost feel the flow of the interconnections and sometimes even laugh at them.
Essentially, Jung describes synchronicity in relation to his own etymological analysis of the linguistic unconscious of the term, finding the association with simple simultaneity. In this case, simultaneity as a term lacks the element of recognition that generates meaning due to mutuality of physical and psychological states.
Synchronicity, in Jung’s case, created the impression that some simultaneous activities which occurred in light of one or more external events appeared to be meaningful to a person subjective state.
Jung described eight personality types, each characterized by a predominance of one of the four functions, used in either extraverted or introverted attitude. According to Jung, people can be classified using the human mental functions, that is, seeing – intuition and thinking – feeling, a person’s attitude, which is, extraversion – introversion.
In essence, according to him, a person’s personality is derived from certain dimensions which include
- extraversion and introversion
- sensing and intuition
- thinking and feeling
- judging and perceiving.
When establishing a personality type, there is an acronym which is used according to this theory.
This is the ISTJ which can be decoded to imply introvert, sensing, thinking and judging or ENFP which might be construed to imply extravert, intuitive, feeling and perceiving. This typology is used to determine the personality type. Personality structure
According to Jung, the structural nature of personality reflected a redefined and expanded view of the unconscious mind. In this theory, the conscious ego is the center of conscious awareness of the self.
The major functions of the conscious ego are to make the individual aware of his or her internal processes, for instance, thoughts or feelings off pain and the external world that is, surrounding noises through sensation and perceptions at a level of awareness necessary for day to day functioning.
This is directly next to the ego and it is completely below conscious awareness, Jung called it the personal unconscious region of the mind.
Its contents included all those thoughts, memories, and experiences that were momentarily not being though about or were being repressed because they were too emotionally threatening. In his description, he came up with a complex which implies a collection of thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and memories that center on a particular concept.
The collective unconscious
In this case, the collective unconscious was conceptualized as being transpersonal in nature. According to him, a person’s mind contains an unconscious region which is shared by all people. This region is usually developed over time and it is usually transferred from one generation to another.
The principal function of this wisdom in the collective unconscious is to predispose individuals to respond to certain external situations in a given manner. This maximizes the development of the individual. There are several aspects which are associated with this aspect. They include the archetypes; these are universal thoughts, symbols, or images having a large amount of emotion attached to them.
Their special status come from the importance they have gained across the many generations and the significant role they play in day to day living. For example, the archetype of the mother is an image of a nurturer. The persona is an archetype which develops over time as a result of the tendency to adopt the social roles and norms that go along with living with other people.
The animus and anima are the aspects which bring out the aspect of being male or feminine. The shadow, on the other hand, represents the dark and the more primitive side of the personality. The self is considered to be among the important archetypes because is that which predisposes the individual to unite all of the other aspects to bring out an individual.
In conclusion, both Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung had a similar perspective regarding human personality. In this sense, they embraced the fact that the unconscious mind played a major role towards personality development. They also had a similar approach to treating patients in their approaches.
However, their background influenced their differing views to a great extent. Furthermore, it is worth noting that the differences which ensued from their practice and theory had contributed a great deal to the field of psychology.
Ewen, R. B. (2003). An introduction to theories of personality. New York: Routledge.
Sommers-Flanagan, J., & Sommers-Flanagan, R. (2004). Counseling and psychotherapy theories in context and practice:skills, strategies, and techniques. New York: John Wiley and Sons.