Primary Male Personality Development English Literature Essay

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My primary male personality development theorist is Erik Erikson and my primary feminine personality development theorist is Carol Gilligan. I intend to first briefly describe the background and theories of both and then demonstrate how and why I apply their theories in supervision using student vignettes as illustrations.

My choice of Erikson is due to his unique expansion of Freudian theory of development to eight stages and his Montessori [1] trained background which makes him client/student centered, as am I. Unlike Freud, however, he believed that we also develop within a social context; that culture, society and social interaction play an important role on the development of the child. According to Erikson, personality development functions by the epigenetic principle, that is, a step by step growth such as that of the fetal organs.2 "This principle states that anything that grows has a ground plan, and that out of this ground plan the parts arise, each part having its time of special ascendancy, until all parts have risen to form a functioning whole" (Erikson 1980, 53). Dr. C. George Boeree metaphorically represents this growth to the unfolding of a rose bud. Each petal opens up at a certain time, in a certain order, which nature, through its genetics, has determined. If we interfere in the natural order of development by pulling a petal forward prematurely or out of order, we ruin the development of the entire flower.2a Erikson states: "At birth the baby leaves the chemical exchange of the womb for the social exchange system of his society, where his gradually increasing capacities meet the opportunities and limitations of his culture" (Erikson 1980, 53). He claims we develop through a predetermined unfolding of our personalities in eight stages or crises. Our progress through each stage is determined by our ability or lack thereof to outgrow the stage we are in or regress to the previous stage (Erikson 1980, 128).

Erikson's eight stages, which are outlined in detail in both his Childhood and Society and Identity and the Life Cycle are: 1) infancy or learning basic trust versus basic mistrust, 2) early childhood or learning autonomy versus shame, 3) play age or learning initiative versus guilt, 4) school age or industry versus inferiority (this stage affects future student comprehension), 5) adolescence or learning identity versus identity diffusion (many students fall into this immature category), 6) young adult or learning intimacy versus isolation (most of my students fall into this category), 7) adulthood or learning generativity versus self-absorption, and 8) mature age or integrity versus despair (Erikson 1950, 247; 1980, 128-129). According to Erikson, these stages emanate tension and anxiety within our psyche. As a consequence, we morph into learning new methods of reducing tension and anxiety. This learning is what is meant by personality development.

My critique of Erikson is that, like Freud, he is solely male oriented. As a result, I use Gilligan for assistance when dealing with women's developmental issues not related or not described in Erikson's stages of development.

Carol Gilligan has been instrumental in research on adolescence, moral development, women's development and conflict resolution.2b Her book, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development, is a rebuttal against the male centered personality psychology of Freud, Erikson and Kohlberg's moral development theory.3 Her main grievance is that it is not good psychology, or just, to leave out half of the human race. Women's personality development reflects men's oppression of them. According to Gilligan, "For centuries, women's sexuality anchored them in passivity, in a receptive rather than an active stance, where the events of conception and childbirth could be controlled only by a withholding in which their own sexual needs were either denied or sacrificed. Thus women have traditionally deferred to the judgment of men, although often while intimidating a sensibility of their own which is at variance with that judgment" (Gilligan 1982, 68, 69). Gilligan also states that "men think in terms of rules and justice and women are inclined to think in terms of caring and relationships." [4] At the same time, Gilligan argues that women worry that if they were to develop their own powers it would be at the expense of others. Not only are they concerned to live up to the cultural standards that hold that women should be the listeners, subordinate, and unassertive; but they also worry that if they excel, those they love and care for will be automatically penalized (Gilligan 1982). In her book she uses Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice to illustrate women's caring side when a female character poses as a male judge in the male world of justice, and brings the feminine plea for mercy for the accused!

My critique of Gilligan is that her conclusions are based primarily on data from interviews with only 144 persons; too small a sample of the population in my view. Of these 144 only 8 girls in the 6-9 age stage were interviewed. This sample is also too small to determine early developmental issues in women. In addition, she does not provide data on why some women are assertive, alpha females and act like men.

Application of Erikson's and Gilligan's theories in supervision I do in several ways. My first objective, during the student initial interview, is to attempt to determine in which of Erikson's stages of personality development the student resides. This is important because my perception allows me to supervise the student in accordance with the student's developmental stage and experiences which complement the environment and culture from which he/she comes. I asses intuitively, through observation, by asking relevant questions about his/her autobiography and informed by Erikson, noting behavior. If my assessment is insufficient or inaccurate or if the student during the course of the unit moves emotionally from one stage to another (and this may happen when growth or regression occurs), I will modify my supervisory stance and strategy in order to meet that move and be congruent with that shift. Nevertheless, I have found that most of my students tend to be in Erikson's seventh stage, or Adulthood or Learning Generativity versus Self-Absorption (Care) Stage. Another stage, in which a good number of my students tend to reside, is in Erikson's fifth or Adolescence or the Learning Identity versus Identity Diffusion (Fidelity) Stage. I am nevertheless cognizant that students can be quite adult in one circumstance and adolescence in another.

Ray, a young Caucasian Episcopal seminarian, initially seemed a mature person. During one session, he became quite agitated and anxious when telling me he could not shake the patient's suffering from his mind when he went home and was not sleeping well. To me, this over identification with the patient seemed somewhat immature, not too much unlike the way some teenagers can over react when parents scold them about their behavior. However informed by Erikson, I assessed him, in this situation as somewhat immature; in Erikson's adolescence stage. He asked: "What can I do"? I thought of Ellis but did not think it appropriate to confront him based on his present personality factor. It was the 9th week of the unit and knowing the peer group had been Ray's support system in the past, and that in group process students can learn by revealing their emotions,4a I suggested he share his problem with his peers during IPR if he felt comfortable doing so. He said he was comfortable with that and would share. When we met in IPR, the group was indeed supportive. One peer suggested he go to the Chapel before going home to pray he leave the patient's suffering at the foot of the cross. A Jewish peer suggested he wash his hands after Chapel, symbolically removing the memory of the patient's suffering from his person as was symbolic in this peer's faith tradition. Ray heard their suggestions and in follow-up IS sessions told me he had learned from the group to be less anxious and was now able to cope more effectively with his issue. The group learned that they can offer pastoral care and support and also learned from the benefits of supportive dialogue.

Another important understanding of Erikson that informs my supervisory interventions is the impact of Erikson's fourth stage of development on a particular student. Future learning depends on the student's culture and circumstances of how the student's personality development occurred during the fourth stage. Erickson states: "The behavior of individuals whose imagination was tamed and harnessed to the laws of impersonal things, even the three R's will behave better with direction" (Erikson 1950). It's possible, therefore, that students, having experienced demanding, oppressive learning systems, such as the British, Swiss, Latin American or our own Roman Catholic parochial system, might find a student centered non-directive, process oriented approach illegitimate or confusing. Some of my Indian students call me Master or Guru and greet me with a bow. Some of my Nigerian students rise when I enter the room. Their view of the supervisor is quite different than mine. Some of these students accept and sometimes demand directiveness. I supervise these students in accordance with their developmental experiences and with their own sense of values which complement the environment from which they came and in which they can succeed and not in one in which they may fail. A student vignette illustrating my supervisory goal for the student and the impact Erikson's fourth stage of development had on the student is demonstrated in my education paper.

Alicia, a Hispanic American lay woman, was raised in a strict patriarchal community; in a culture that believes that women belong in the kitchen and do not disrespect the dominant males. Alicia and I had a good alliance and it was the 5th week of the unit. She told me during IS that she had had an abortion against her will as a teenager. My assessment of her had been that she was functioning in Erikson's adolescent stage in this situation which can lead teenagers to act first and think of the consequences later. "Against your will?" I asked. She said her boyfriend had insisted she have an abortion. Informed by her culture and Gilligan, that women tend to defer judgment to men, I asked why she had allowed her boyfriend to make decisions for her. "I did not want to damage my relationship with him. My relationship with my boyfriend was especially important to me" (This is classic Gilligan!). Informed by Gilligan, I wanted Alicia to learn that she was allowing herself to be dominated. I hope you realize," I said, "that you gave in twice to your boyfriend." "How?" she asked. "By first agreeing to have sex with him and then by then abiding to his wishes to have an abortion." "You're saying I'm letting myself be controlled by my boyfriend, right?" "Yes" I said. My strategy was to help Alicia reflect more deeply that she needs to think for herself; wanting to help her educational growth by understanding that she need not acquiesce to male domination. She teared-up and I offered her a tissue saying: "I'm saddened you've had to go through all this, Alicia, but I'm glad we had an opportunity to talk about your relationships and your feelings."

Heidi a Caucasian seminarian in my summer unit was shy and reserved during IS. I said; "Heidi, I've observed in your verbatims that you often do not use your pastoral authority when conversing with male patients. Does this have anything to do with your father?" (Heidi's father is a retired Army Colonel of German decent who Heidi had shared is very domineering). She said it probably had to do with the way she was controlled by him while growing up. My strategy was help Heidi move away from the countertransference she was experiencing with male patients so that she could provide better pastoral care to them. "Those patients in the bed are not your father, correct? "Correct she said." "Good. You have insights and feelings that can help your patients, both male and female" I said. Informed by Gilligan that Heidi use her voice and exert her pastoral authority, I suggested she make one of her learning goals to focus on the fact that male patients are not her father and that she exert her pastoral authority when talking to them. I wanted to help her to self supervise and improve her ministry which was being diminished due to her cultural and early childhood personality development. To her credit she did and her case studies began demonstrating a more assertive Heidi. This student's efforts would serve her educational growth in pastoral care if she can work on her growing edge and change her view of herself. In addition, my modeling sensitivity and emotional attunement to Heidi and Alicia was important because it might help improve their ministry to their patients and others by modeling me.

Elizabeth, a young 27 year old female Methodist seminarian in my summer unit, wanted to withdraw from the unit. She was nervous and anxious about coming and being in the hospital. At times she did not even want to get out of her car. It was the second week and during an IS session I asked her what was the cause of her anxiety. "My mother died in this hospital and it has brought back painful memories for me" she said. I was struck by her comment that her mother had died in our hospital. I was empathetic and naturally told her I was saddened by her loss. "Is this the reason you want to drop out?" I asked. She said yes. Informed by Gilligan's theory that women are strongly focused around compassion, my strategy was to use the peer group, which was mostly female and moms, as a support system that hopefully would nourish and encourage her to stay. I asked if she would be willing to reveal her situation and feelings to her peers in IPR. She said she would try. She did and the peer group was pastoral and very supportive, encouraging her to stay. Elizabeth, at our next IS session, acknowledged that by telling the peer group of her anxiety, she had "unburdened" herself of it. She said the peer group demonstrated care for her and she felt much better. She decided to remain in the unit. In providing understanding and sound pastoral care, which she could model with her patients, I helped Elizabeth to cope and reduce her nervousness. In follow-up IS sessions she confirmed she had learned that by being supported by her peers, her anxiety had been greatly reduced. The group members learned they had provided pastoral care for Elizabeth and helped her growing edge

Culture affects the way we see, converse and feel about other people. Erikson states that personality development meets the opportunities and limitations of our culture. My Spanish culture and privileged upbringing influenced the way I developed and think today. It and my family gave me permission to ignore and silence women and be condescending on people of lower socioeconomic backgrounds, while remaining respectful of my teachers and elders. Conversely, I experienced bigotry and antagonism as a student in Germany from the Germans. Germans view Spaniards as inferior being influenced by their culture's imposition to their thinking that they are superior to all. This cultural tradition affects the personality development of Germans by impacting their human psyche. Cultural identity challenges my supervisory stances as I am conscious of my own biases. However, informed by Yalom about rejection and having experienced the feeling of rejection, I work very hard at mutuality and transcending my own biases.

Gloria Watkins, known as "bell hooks" (lower case intentional) has written on the unwillingness by some educators to approach teaching from a standpoint that includes awareness of race, gender, sexual orientation and class due to their belief that the classroom will become uncontrollable with the possibility of confrontation and conflict.5 Confrontation and conflict is educational in a unit of CPE. Fortunately, uncontrollable behavior has not occurred in any of my units. A Caucasian heterogeneous group supposedly will produce less tension. However, one can never be certain because adults from Kansas, Alabama or Maine think quite differently about the world as their personality development is a product of the culture of their States. Confrontation and conflict as a result of differing values can occur in this setting as well.

The US "mythical norm," as defined by Audre Lorde is "white, thin, male, young, heterosexual, Christian, and financially secure" that diminishes those outside this mythical norm, although this norm is changing today.6 Juanita Johnson-Bailey (African) examined the common experiences shaping the persistence in higher education of African-American women who enrolled at a non-traditional age. Johnson-Bailey notes, "Racism and sexism impact the educational experiences of black women in many ways. As blacks, they are thought to be intellectually and morally inferior. As women, they are held to task for the alleged inadequacy of their gender's intellect" (p. 91).7 This can impact personality development by keeping black mothers from encouraging their daughters to improve their social standing and thereby keeping black women down.

My cultural identity development and that of my students can pose interesting challenges in supervision. I work at great lengths at transcending challenging transferences and become sensitive to cultural and developmental differences in order to practice what ACPE standards affirm. I strive to provide a relational context that enables differentiation; individuation and validation which can be transformative for students from any culture, providing a better insight in the knowledge of self all within the framework of mutuality. However, at times, there are exceptions.

For example, Janice, an African American seminarian showed some traits of Erikson's adolescence stage. She demonstrated immaturity, defensiveness, and difficulty with following the syllabus. She arrived consistently late for IS, clinical seminars, and when presenting case studies at her scheduled time. I confronted her about her tardiness. She said it was due to her having to take care of her teenage son. At first my gut feeling was to dismiss her from the unit but informed by Gilligan, I decided to use her caring side in order to educate her on relationships. I said her lateness was unacceptable and she was being disrespectful of her peers and supervisor who arrived on time. If she cared for her son, I asked why she was not demonstrating care for others or caring about her relationships. "Will you be late for leading worship service when you become a pastor"? I asked. She said no, that she was very sorry and not aware she was hurting others. She would try to be punctual. She improved quite a bit towards the end of the unit. Becoming aware she was not caring for others apparently struck a nerve and by improving her care for others hopefully she will improve her ministry to patients and her congregation.

Personality Theory Position Paper

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