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Chapter 11: Personality


Part One: What is Personality?

Part Two: Freud's Theory

Part Three: NeoFreudian Theories


Overview of Chapter 11: Personality

This chapter explores various approaches to studying personality. It ranges from modern approaches based on computer analysis of personality traits to classic ideas of Freud and Jung.

Sigmund Freud was a psychiatrist, not a psychologist. He had a large impact on our culture. An acquaintance with Freudian theory is important to understand later personality theories, as well as to be literate in Western culture.

Carl Jung become increasingly popular and influential with psychologists after the mid-20th Century. Like Freud, he was a psychiatrist with a background in medicine, not psychology.

Jung's psychology had several novel elements such as a proposal for species-wide unconscious elements. Jung called these archetypes and said they were evoked by distinctive patterns in our environment. Jung also pioneered several techniques for probing psychological conflicts.

The socially-oriented personality theories of Adler and Horney resonate with current ideas in developmental psychology. They both emphasized early formative influences and the importance of family dynamics such as child's need for approval and comfort in early years.

The newest approaches to personality, in recent decades, celebrate the power of the conscious self. Psychologists acknowledge that we put on different faces for different occasions, hold dialogs with ourselves, and modify our personal tendencies as we face life's challenges.

How this chapter is organized

First we grapple with the basic issue: "What is Personality." This leads us to review Allport's categories of definitions, from the 1930s, and the three layers of personality every theorist seems to accept: masks or facades, ego, and unconscious processes.

Then we examine modern trait theories, evidence for genetic influences on personality, and the topic of personality testing. We also look at multiple personality syndrome and why it might no longer be considered a psychiatric disorder.

Next we meet Sigmund Freud, one of the dominant influences on psychology for over 100 years. We discuss his model of the human psyche or mental universe and some of his basic concepts.

The third major part of the chapter discusses theories that reacted to Freud by emphasizing factors Freud neglected. Jung shared Freud's fascination with unconscious processes but de-emphasized sex and brought in an appreciation for mythic elements.

Adler and Horney focused on the influence of the early family environment. We end the third section with a quick look at ego psychologies, notably the stage theory of Erik Erikson and recent ideas of a multi-faceted self.

Relevant material in other chapters

Serious mental disorders such as psychosis and depression are the subject of Chapter 12 (Abnormal Psychology). The humanistic approach is found in sections on Abraham Maslow in Chapter 9 (Motivation and Emotion) and Carl Rogers in Chapter 13 (Therapies).

Therapy ideas of Freud, Jung, Adler, and Horney are in Chapter 13 (Therapies). Erich Fromm, another neoFreudian who emphasized humanistic and existential themes, is discussed in Chapter 16 (Sex, Friendship, and Love).


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