Rogue Scholar: Personality

Once in a bit my mind drifts upon thoughts other than food, games, or all things funny. Given the inclination toward the random such thoughts and pontifications seem to occur to me, when much like the Thinker, whilst seated upon, well in my case the throne. While what follows isn’t something solely conjured upon my throne it does cover a topic thought upon at great length, personality.

We begin with personality defined as the visible aspect of one’s character as it impresses others, or an embodiment of a collection of qualities. I’ve seen throughout my time in the study on personality theory that they are as varied as the traits they attempt to understand and predict themselves. At times I even challenged that this was no longer psychology since many of the theories don’t appear to provide any scientific evidence. but a facet of philosophy. These theories also appeared to me to be nothing more then people taking existing theories and changing them ever so slightly to more adequately fit the person’s disposition. The father of psychoanalysis for instance appeared to have an unresolved Oedipus complex which could have been part of the inspiration. Additionally need I mention Carl Jung who formulated most of his theory while isolated and in a state that to me seems analogous to someone on an acid trip. Although I felt frustrated at times as I looked for one theory to rule them all. It was at the end of my studies that I realized that like all things there is no definitive answer, no silver bullet. The theories and research methods are tools to be used to aid in unlocking the mind. It’s about using the right combination of all the theories to gain access to the inner self. All the theories and personality assessments in the world can seem as insightful or as helpful as a horoscope, but if at the end of the day, it serves to bring some benefit to those suffering from personality disorders then it’s worth it.

My theory begins with the unconscious, much like the beginning of any text on the subject of personality. In agreement with Freud and more so with Jung, I believe the unconscious to be a vital component to one’s personality. The unconscious is collective in nature and holds attributes that have been passed down from our primitive ancestors. The unconscious is the root to why animals completely isolated from each-other their entire life times can still have similar behavior patterns. A loving couple will engage in almost vampiristic rituals of biting and clawing during sexual intercourse due to these primitive unconscious impulses.

Accessing this unconscious for means of examination and evaluation can prove difficult. I don’t necessarily agree with most of the methods that Freud postulated like free association, dream interpretation, and Freudian slips. These methods are subjective and can be easily misinterpreted by the analyst, especially free association. There is also the possibility that they can be patient fabrications due to defensive mechanisms, or lack of a comfort level with the therapist. True assessments must be performed in a logical, and scientific manner. They should be in accordance with some sort of standard and should be monitored to weed out as much misinterpretation as possible. Lastly any assessment which will be used to prove a theory or provide evidence should be one that can be repeated on the subject at various time intervals to monitor any variations.

While the unconscious may constitute the building blocks to personality it is our environment as we observe it which is the biggest contributing factor to personality development. It is through our interaction with the environment that we, like George Kelly put it, develop our personal constructs. It is also through our various interactions that our unconscious reaches out to us. In times of extreme emotion I believe the unconscious to be like a geyser that can erupt during these times. This is where repression can occur due to trauma or nightmares that can echo your deepest fear manifest. It is the observational learning which can contribute to your unconscious and vice versa. As Albert Bandura stated, much of the learning comes from observation and is mainly an internal process. This appears to hold true when seeing how the conditioning method of rewards and punishments may appear not to work on some subjects. What you consider a reward for some may not match with the internalized reward the subject may have. Through the observational learning process we also establish our personal locus of control. In today’s era of doing more with less we see time itself becoming the guiding factor in so many lives. It is quite possible that those with an externalized locus of control can attribute time as having control. People who are overwhelmed from working and stressed, when asked the major contributer to the previous, it’s simply and typically shorthandidly put, I have no time. Needless to say that this could lead to learned helplessness and possibly depression or any of a plethora of debilitating emotions. If you were to measure yourself against Maslow’s hierarchy, and external locus of control would probably land you in the “belongingness and love needs” step. A truly astute observational learner takes in the environment and his/her interactions, and is conscious of the fact the value of something is determined by the person alone not the environment or situation. This insight coupled with the Deming cycle of self-monitoring lends itself to an internal locus of control and closer to self-actualization. This susceptibility to the outside influences has been found to effect your self worth and self-esteem stability.

In conclusion I feel that both the unconscious and our environment are the roots of our personality development. We should also endeavor to utilize today’s technology to aide in gathering consistent and viable research. For instance one can potentially program an artificially intelligent computer to simulate personality traits and interact with a controller. This type of scenario can possibly allow for research which has been or could be considered unethical if conducted on a person. Similar to the research done by Watson with the baby which could be considered unethical by today’s standards. Finally the research if it is done by assessments should utilize some type of standard format which prevents subjective interpretation.

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