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Psychodynamic Personality Overview

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By msharris
Words 609
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Psychodynamic Personalities Overview

Angela Harris

PSY/405

December 4, 2012
Dr. Patricia Stem

Personality Overview

Theories of Personality like other topics in psychology consist of many theories along with a very diverse group of theorists who developed these theories. Like other theories in psychology there are strengths and weaknesses that have to be examined. The purpose of this paper is to discuss two theories of personality, the psychoanalytic theory and the interpersonal theory. This paper will focus on a comparison of the two theories, the basic assumption of each, deterministic versus free will and the conscious motives versus the unconscious motives in a person’s behavior. The creator of the Psychoanalytic Social theory was Karen Horney. Horney’s psychoanalytic social theory devoted the same emphasis on society, just like Adler and Erikson. She developed her theory based on the assumptions that society and culture are major contributors to one’s personality development. One assumption in her theory is that a person’s social and the cultural experiences are primarily responsible for the shaping of an individual’s character. (Feist, & Feist, 2009). Other assumptions that Horney had was the importance of a child being raised in a stable loving environment. Horney believed that if a child’s parents did not provide a loving, stable environment, he or she could develop basic hostility, which could lead to basic anxiety. Horney also believed that because of hostility or anxiety a child would try to resolve conflict in three different ways. The child would gravitate to people, move against people, or he or she would alienate themselves. But, if a child has a healthy personality then he or she can use any of the three. However, if the person is neurotic then he or she cannot use all of them. Because Horney’s theory relied strongly on neurotic individuals, she was also able to research how neurotic patients could work on any of the three conflicts. Horney strongly believed that society is what shapes and determines our sense of self worth, behavior, and the roles we play in society. Harry Stack Sullivan’s interpersonal theory of personality is similar to Karen Horney’s both theorist believe that social and personal interactions play a part in the development of our personalities. Both places emphasize on the importance of interpersonal relations. Both insisted that personality is shaped almost entirely by the relationships we have with other people. Sullivan’s principal contribution to personality theory was his conception of developmental stages. Each stage involves specific interpersonal challenges or tasks, and specific types of interpersonal relationships. Sullivan believed that personality change is most likely during the transitions between stages. He also believed that a persons’ personality continues to evolve from infancy through adulthood. One of his assumptions was that humans have no existence outside the interpersonal situation. His theory emphasizes social influences over biological ones; high on unconscious determinants, average on free choice, optimism, and causality, and low on uniqueness. The theory further states that the purpose of all behavior is to get needs met through interpersonal interactions and to decrease or avoid anxiety. Two different theories, two different perspectives both allow for a better understanding of personalities. By researching each theory, a person can see the strengths and weaknesses of each theory, the assumptions on which each are based, and where its limitations are. However, there is not one theory that can explain something entirely, as complex as personalities. However, by comparing each theory and their different perspectives a person can pick the one that provides a better understanding, making each of the theories significantly important.

References • Feist, J., & Feist, G. J. (2009). Theories of personality (7th. ed.). New York City, New York: McGraw-Hill.

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