Forms of Personality: Personality Theories

Forms of Personality
Forms of Personality

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Personality Theories

Various psychologists have developed theories that explain certain forms of personality. One of most influential set of counseling theories originates from Sigmud Freud- an Australian neurologist. He was the first to propose the psychoanalysis theory; which collectively are referred to as psychodynamic theories.

Although there are different psychodynamic theories, all of them lay emphasis on unconscious desires and motives, and how childhood experiences shape an individual’s personality. In particular, I will explore on Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis and Jungian theory which belongs to the school of psychodynamic theories; and  theories from  school of humanistic theories including Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow (Thurn, 2015).

The main tenets

 Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis was developed by observing patients. Based on this theories, people’s personalities are established when they attempt to resolve conflicts between the societal demands, aggressive impulses and unconscious demands.  The main tenets of this theory are the three levels of consciousness.

These include;

a) consciousness which refers to what a person is thinking and or experiencing at a particular time. For example, the book Myre is reading, the objects that are near her sight, the sounds she can hear, and other experiences such as pain, thirst or hunger at that moment are her conscious;

b) pre-conscious which refers to what one can readily remember (call to consciousness). For example, Myre’s home address, make of her vehicle and other past experiences are in pre-conscious level; and

c) unconscious which refers to desires, thoughts as well as impulses that a person is not aware of.  These include desires, feelings and memories that influence each aspect of Myre’s life. For example, she could contain feelings of anger towards her classmate for a bullying incident that she may have experienced at age five (Tobin, 2011).

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According to Freud, the structure of personality comprises of 3 major systems namely Id, ego and super ego. Any action taken by a person or any problem they have arises from the degree of balance and interaction among these three systems. Id operates based on the pleasure principle. It is the primitive unconscious part of personality that is present at birth. It comprises of two instincts that compete. These include the life/sexual instincts and the aggressive instinct. Ego works according to the principle of reality.

It acts as a mediator between the id and superego (Davies, 2009). The superego comprises of conscience and moral ideas which are used to judge the id activities. The defense mechanism of Freud’s theory includes repression, denial, displacement and projection.  Repression occurs when one have a threatening idea or memory that makes their emotion blocked consciously or unconsciously.

Projection defense mechanism arises when the repressed feelings are associated with someone else. The displacement defense mechanism is directed towards other people or animals that are not real part of the emotion. Reaction formation occurs when a feeling of belief causes anxiety is transformed into the feeling of belief in an individual’s consciousness.  Denial is when a person refuses to admit that she has undergone unpleasant experience that provokes their anxiety (Ferrari, 2016).

 The other psychodynamic theory is Jungian theory also known as the analytical psychology.  This theory divides unconscious into two different parts. The first part is the personal unconscious which is a reservoir of individual’s information as well as memories that were at one point of life was conscious, but it has been forgotten or suppressed. Jungian theory states that personal unconscious theory is unique to each person. Collective unconscious refers to the deepest level of a person’s psyche which consists of the universal memories, experiences and symbols of humans.

It is the reservoir of experiences that are inherited that appear in stories, myths and dreams. According to this theory, personalities arise not only due to system conflicts but also by individuals future goals and desire to fulfill them. Basically, these psychodynamic theories share a general belief that one must explore the unconscious origins and dynamics. The main challenge of these theories is that it is not possible to disconfirm unconscious motives and they violate falsifiability principles (Steinberg, 2015).

 Unlike psychodynamic theories, humanistic theories focus on the goodness of a person and their needs to achieve their full potential. Carl Rogers’s personality theory focuses on the importance of self-actualization in shaping the personalities of a human being.  According to this theory, human react to stimuli subjective to their reality, and over a period of time, the person develops a self concept. 

He further divided self in to two categories namely the real self and the ideal self.  He stated that a patient experiences congruence when thoughts on ideal and real self are similar. Therefore, high congruence leads to greater sense of self concept and a productive life. Conversely, if there are any discrepancies between the ideal and actual selves, the patient experiences incongruence state which results into maladjustment (DeRobertis, 2015).

 Rogers’s theory also elevates the importance of unconditional positive regard which is determined by the environmental conditions.  Unlike Freud, Rogers described the life based on the principles instead of stage of development. Therefore, a healthy person continues to fulfill their potential and ends up having what is known as a good life. Such kind of people allows their personality and self concept to emanate from experience. Based on this theory, fully functioning person posses several traits including openness, existential lifestyle and have organismic trust. Such people have higher degree of freedom, creativity, and reliability which make their lives rich of experiences.

   Maslow’s humanistic theory of personality argues that people attain their full potential by moving their basic needs  to reach their self actualization.  The humanistic psychologist approached the concept of personality by evaluating on a patients subjective experiences, innate drive and free will towards self actualization.   The theory explores ways human needs transform throughout a person’s lifespan and the way they influence their personality development.

The tenets of this theory are his established hierarchy of needs which basically lists   human needs from the most basic needs to the most advanced needs of actualization which have been developed inform of a pyramid. Each layer of the pyramid must be attained and mastered before one can move up the pyramid. This process is continuous throughout a person’s lifespan (Himelstein, 2011).


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