Personality Theory and Research: Personaility, Psychodynamic and Phenological Theories

1357 words (5 pages) Essay in Psychology

18/05/20 Psychology Reference this

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Approaches to Personality Research

The “idiographic method” of strategies for researching personality involves a clinician studying individuals as the primary subject of a case. The personality of the individual is analyzed in order for the psychologist to obtain a representation which includes their personality structure and the way in which the individual processes the world. I find systematic case studies to be appropriately befitting when advancing our knowledge in understanding the dynamics of the conscious and unconscious mind of humans. As the authors Cervone and Pervin (2018) elaborate, many psychologists developed their theory of personality by first studying their own patients. The insight gained by doing so later helped to construct their prodigious theory. When wanting to understand the particular details of an individual, case studies are capable of providing an in depth analyses and interpretations of the clinician.

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If a case study is not feasible, I would then attempt a correlational study by use of indirect measurements such as tests, interviews, or questionnaires. Correlational research also provides information as to how mutually connected two variables are. Unlike a case study, a correlational study would provide information of groups of individuals, as there would be no one single participant within the study. The characteristics of many people would be analyzed, thus rendering the ability to observe different traits in human personality. The importance of following the differences between people leads to a further understanding of humans as a whole. I would choose a correlational study when my intent is to research the psychological qualities of people. The results of this technique could potentially provide a more generalize scope of examining other people with similar personality structures and the advancement of personality theories as a whole (Cervone & Pervin, 2018).

Randomization not only reduces the difference within groups as each participant has equal opportunity to be placed within a group, the researcher themselves in unaware of the group placement. Such process lessens the likelihood of biases which are high probability within research. An experimental design would be appropriate if I were to have access to a laboratory setting where I could control for variables that may influence the aim of my study. In such an ideal setting, the results rendered would be most accurate in comparison to other methods. Much of what we presently know about humans derive from experimental designs from the earlier origins of psychology (Cervone & Pervin, 2018).

Overall, based on the strengths and limitations of each strategy, I would be most intrigued by a case study, though I am aware that an experimental design would be most accurate, yet I would implement a correlational study as it is most practical. Cervone and Pervin (2018) reiterate this method allows the researcher to manipulate the variables within the study, a cause and effect relationship can be derived from the study. Researchers are then able to analyze complex relationships without the interference of unwanted variables.

Cultural Bias in Psychoanalytic Theory

In contrast with the Western culture viewpoint on people being ultimately born innocent and good, Freud’s theory of the pleasure principle positions humans to be driven by sex and aggression from birth (Cervone & Pervin, 2018). The 19th century marked the era of Victoria. Many born to the Victorian age were frigid about sexuality or factually uninformed. These limits undoubtedly influenced psychoanalytical theory and psychoanalysts like Freud. They included not only their experiences within their theories, but their patients’, impacting their opinions of society and humanity as a whole. The core of psychoanalytic theory remains, which may or may not all be applicable to the 20th century or even to other cultures around the world during those times. Freud emphasized culture to be the product of denied sexual and aggressive impulses and satisfaction. He continues that if the human psyche conflicts are not alleviated by cultural practices, how will the individual face the consequences? Such a hypothesis would guide its clinicians in practice, which may not be befitting for all patients, depending on their background and how they see and represent themselves.

In 1882, hysteria was developed as the hysterical symptoms of a female patient was studied by Freud and Breuer (Hunter, 1983). Hysteric symptoms include emotional disturbances within women, creating somatic forms versus “ordinary’ physical disabilities (Hunter, 1983). Many would contend the underlining sexism in the diagnosis of hysteria. Although hysteria was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders by the American Psychiatric Association in the 1950s, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is an associated condition (Sayrs & Whiteside, 2006). Women still make up 75% of those diagnosed with BPD (Sayrs & Whiteside, 2006). The symptoms of hysteria and BDP share commonalities as often time women are labeled “hysterical” with this diagnosis (Sayrs & Whiteside, 2006).

Fundamentals of Freudian Theory

Freud’s development of the two conceptual models of the mind constructed what most psychological approaches continue to incorporate as consciousness. Such mental elements influence all humans beyond what is known or controllable. However, the power of this level of awareness is critical in understanding the human psyche, developmental processes, and overt behaviors.

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According to Freud, defense mechanisms operate at the unconscious level, warding off feelings of anxiety, as humans are intolerable of enduring this state of being. Various defenses such as denial, projection, repression, and sublimation all function to keep away disturbing thoughts. Freud’s ego defenses protect the ego from the rise of unacceptable thoughts and feelings which reveal how people “distort reality” and “exclude feelings”. Freud’s discovery allows for psychologists to analyze their patients by the use of their defenses as they become aware of how they interact and function with the outside world and internally process these elements. These are related to traumatic experiences that the individual is unable to recall or unwilling to.

Although there are seemingly healthier or more mature ego defenses, when such becomes a maladaptive is when an individual turns themselves away from reality. As not all patients are obliging when sharing their experiencing with their psychologist, certain memories and painful situations still shield them from feeling painful situations they have been through. Being aware of such primitive responses to anxiety provide clinicians with the information of how to work through them with their patients.

Immorality in Self-Actualization

When one has a discrepancy between their self- concept and the actual experience, psychological pathology can foster. When an incongruence between the self and psychological experience occurs, psychological distress can arise. Cervone and Pervin (2018) expound on Rogers’ theory of how this disruption can transpire, though humans remain to be motivated in their strive for self-actualization. The structure of the self-concept of an individual who experiences neurosis becomes distorted from their experiences. When one experiences a discrepancy between their ideal self and their out self, the emotions that arise could lead to anxiety and unsettling emotions.

Again, we see how imperative our understanding of the unconscious is across all theories as Rogers asserts how neurotic people deny threatening experiences and later disallow or alter them. Self-experience discrepancies then develop as the individual is unconsciously defending against any threats to the structure of their self-concept. Roger’s theory would therefore continue to be supported as human purpose is to reach self-actualization, though through emotional and sensory experiences, distortions of these experiences subsequently develop. Such distortions then lead to a loss in a person’s true self which could potentially construct a personality that is not positively-oriented in growth but geared more towards evil (Cervone & Pervin, 2018).


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