Sunday, July 22, 2012

Personality Overview

Allowing for different theories, allows for different perspectives, and since there are such a vast array of personalities that vary widely, the fact that there are so many theories helps one have a better understanding of oneself. The best way one can analyze personality is by choosing two and comparing them against one another.  When one does this, one can observe strengths and weaknesses; view assumptions; as well as limitations about what is considered when attempting to provide people with the explanation of what personality is.  Narrowing down the choice is complicated as there are many motivating theories that can explain why one does what he or she does.  Sigmund Freud’s work helps when attempting to discuss personality because of his assumptions and propositions in personality.  So how does this show about Freud?  While he is the best-known theorist when one begins to study personality, he also is criticized immensely for his beliefs regarding personality.  By choosing two of Freud’s theories, one can find our just how interesting and ahead of his time he really was.  By choosing two theories, it makes for easier research and a deeper comprehension of the subject matter.  Here there will be the ideas of Karen Horney examined.  This will give one the opportunity to see how they are different from one another.  By doing this one can have a clearer understanding of one’s personality. 
The Psychoanalytic Theory of Sigmund Freud
It is safe to say that not only is Freud’s theory interesting, but his personality was one to be marveled at as well.  In early years Freud was a determined medical doctor.  He is credited with discovering cocaine.  Because he was unable to complete his work on the newly discovered drug, he was not credited with the research because a colleague was.  He more than likely was upset over this, however he was destined to a higher deed in the foreseeable future.  This deed was enabling a better understanding of one’s personality and then being credited with the progress of psychoanalysis, the most well-known personality theory (Feist & Feist, 2009). 
Freud recognized that there must be some sort of ‘power’ that is responsible for one’s emotion.  Freud says this ‘power’ is a psychic energy which everyone possesses thus the body as well as one’s mind is a mechanistic energy system.  This specific form of energy consists of instinct but this instinct remains the same throughout life and the pleasure it releases when this energy is expelled.  Also note that Freud resolved that the mind is divided into three parts.  These three parts based on Sigmund Freud, are the conscious, the unconscious, and the preconscious.  In the conscious mind there are parts, which he labeled feelings, thoughts and memory of which one is aware.  In the unconscious mind, there are mental processes, which most are not aware, as well as intentionally suppressed mental processes where as the preconscious mind holds information that can be retrieved.  Besides these three parts, there are three different parts that go to one’s personality.  Freud designated them to be id, ego, and superego.  Superego is societal ideas and rules and can be unconscious or conscious.  Ego is the most sturdy of one’s personality and is the most conscious.  Freud thinks of id, as one’s unconscious and mostly biological in nature.   He took his idea one step further and said that personality goes through psychosexual stages.  The stages prior to the age of six are phallic, anal, oral, latent and genital (Cloninger, 2008).
The Psychoanalytic Social Theory of Karen Horney
Horney placed the same emphasis on society, as did Adler and Erikson before her.  She based her theory on assumptions that were made by cultural conditions that sway one’s personalities development.  Horney knew of Freud’s assumptions when related to gender.  In they eyes of Horney, biology only determined the sex of a person and that one’s culture has the last word when noting acceptance by the male race or female race. Karen wholeheartedly believed that culture determined how one turns out and it is gender by which it is defined.  Just as Freud did, Horney believed in the unconscious mind.  The unconscious plays a pivotal role in how one turns our personality wise.  However, she also laid blame on one’s childhood and the fact one could fell unloved and neglected as a youth.  The less a parent cared for a child the more hostility would be shown she theorized.  A child will try and resolve this issue in three basic ways.  The child will move away from him or her, move against him or her, or the child will move towards him or her.  If the child has a healthy personality, these three will all work, but if he or she is anxious, none of these will work.  Because Horney focused on the neurotic, research was done on how a neurotic patient worked through conflict.  The patient has four basic tactics externalization, eclipsing, idealized self, and detachment.  Karen’s theory was her own, while it did not expand on Freud, it did forge a path for researchers in neuroticism (Feist & Feist, 2009).
Theory Differences
            Karen Horney did not only differ in gender, but also in her inspiring thoughts on personality than did Freud.  Both theorists are important as well as interesting.  Point is they both differ.  They both agree that childhood is important in development and the difference is that Freud felt that everyone’s personality is fully developed by the age of six.  Freud also suggested that parents play a vital role in this development where as Horney thought that the love shared is strong enough to create his or her personality.  Horney also felt that the social conditions and culture are a part of the cause of one’s personality.  Horney and Freud butted heads on the gender.  Freud suggested that men and women have different personalities; Horney suggests that his thoughts were bias.  Turning to cultural and social aspects defining personality.  Neither one felt it was free will that shaped personality.  Biology was where free will fell in the mind of Sigmund Freud, and Karen Horney believed it was again the culture and social surroundings.  However the two did agree that the unconscious mind was powerful and played an immense role in the development of personality (Cloninger, 2008).
When writing as this did comparing the two different theories, it allows one to not only appreciate the work of the contributor, but it helps one understand each perspective.  By breaking down the theories, one can visually see the strengths and weaknesses on both sides as well as see assumptions are made as well as various limitations that are encountered.  For Freud personality formation stems from biology, Horney thought of the culture, and social environment.  While the other side of that coin is Horney suggestion that neurotic individuals were case studies limited her excluding healthy individuals in her studies.  Nevertheless, they could agree on one thing, the importance of one’s childhood and the role that the unconscious mind plays in it.
Sadly there may never be just one theory that will be able to explain the complexness of one’s personality and the personality of others.  By studying them, one can see the different perspectives the theorists have and how they play an important role in defining personality. 

Cloninger, S.(2008). Theories of personality: Understanding persons (5th.ed.). Upper
           Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.
Feist, J., & Feist, G. J. (2009). Theories of personality (7th. ed.). New York City, New     York: McGraw-Hill.

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