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Personality Theories Argumentative

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In history, many psychologists have had theories such as Freud, Jung, Rogers, and Maslow. These psychologists have suggested a number of theories based on personality to attempt to explain similarities and offer reasons for differences in personalities. The following approaches such as psychoanalytic, humanistic, social learning, type, and trait theories will be defined through emphasizing both the strengths and weaknesses for the different theories. Sigmund Freud was the main promoter of the Psychoanalytic Theory; however, other psychologists known as Neo-Freudians such as Jung, Adler, Erikson, and Horney are also major contributors (Coon and Mitterer, 2013). Freud believed that every personality has an unconscious component and that childhood experiences, even if not consciously recalled, continue to influence people’s behaviors (Coon and Mitterer, 2013).

The psychoanalytic theory states that a personality has three parts such as the id, the ego, and the superego, which assist to regulate instinctual energies, and shapes our personalities (Coon and Mitterer, 2013). The dynamic unconscious is populated by anxiety that drives ideas, which have been exiled from conscious awareness by psychological defense mechanisms such as repression (Coon and Mitterer, 2013). Defense mechanisms are the domain of the Ego, the portion of personality concerned with mediating between external reality (material reality) and the internal reality (psychical reality). They operate to prevent the experience of intense conscious anxiety caused by a conflict between base energies and the moral aspect of the psyche, known as the Superego (Coon and Mitterer, 2013). Freud proposed that the molding of the core of personality is during the first six years of life, which is known as the Psychosexual Stages of Development (Coon and Mitterer, 2013).

A maturing child theoretically experiences a number of discrete and biologically motivated psychosexual phases, during this time, their essential sexual energies become invested in particular areas of the body (Coon and Mitterer, 2013). Therefore, the Id dominated oral stage, where sensual pleasure is derived by means of the mouth, gives way to the anal stage and the birth of the Ego. The Ego stage leads to the phallic stage, during which the Oedipus occurs complex that consists of children aspire to be the partner of the opposite-sex parent (Coon and Mitterer, 2013). Resolution of this complex results in the formation of the superego. However, unsuccessful resolution and development of any stage leads to a fixation within that particular stage defining hyperbolic characteristics related with that physical zone on the body (Coon and Mitterer, 2013).

An example would consist of an individual that experienced excessively strict potty training would in turn be plagued with an anal fixation or anal personality and would typically exhibit excessive discipline (Coon and Mitterer, 2013). Psychoanalytic theory of personality has both strengths and weaknesses. Unlike some other theories, the psychoanalytic approach is a complete theory and can explain behavior. In addition, the psychoanalytic approach emphasizes the role of the unconscious and that the unconscious part of the mind can distinguish things without conscious awareness (Coon and Mitterer, 2013). On the other hand, its main weaknesses are that any experimental evidence does not back it up (Coon and Mitterer, 2013). Freud’s case studies were subjective and interpretative. Freud also placed an over emphasis on sexual drive and provides us with an extremely negative outlook on personality (Coon and Mitterer, 2013).

The role of emphases in the unconscious and conscious from Freud and Jung’s theories were the importance in the change of view in the past up and until now (Coon and Mitterer, 2013). Sigmund Freud found the unconscious and attempting to embrace people’s minds in ego-psychology. These techniques consist of sympathy, trust, rhetoric, and fragmentary knowledge. By use of the dream analysis, which gives the explanation to study the unconscious, but on the other hand this caused many people to criticize him (Coon and Mitterer, 2013). Freud believes that the only treatment that can be proved and being correct could produce true and permanent cures in his psychoanalysis (Coon and Mitterer, 2013). Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers led the humanistic movement and concentrates mainly on an individual’s potential in terms of growth and satisfaction.

Humanists have a positive viewpoint on human nature. They focus on the ability of human beings to think consciously and rationally along with the ability to achieve their full potential (Coon and Mitterer, 2013). In the humanistic view, people are in control of their own lives and actions, presenting the idea they also have the freedom and will to change their attitudes and behavior (Coon and Mitterer, 2013). Maslow believed a human has a hierarchy of needs to achieve before becoming a self-actualized individual. Once the basic needs are met, such as food and shelter, humans seek out safety and security and then look for love and acceptance (Coon and Mitterer, 2013). Once all these things are completed, then a person can fulfil their potential or achieve self-actualization. Rogers agreed with most of what Maslow believed in terms of striving towards self-actualization on the other hand, through the self-concept or an individual’s opinion of himself or herself (Coon and Mitterer, 2013).

Roger’s approach is called person-centered. He believed that for a person to “grow”, they need an environment that provides them with legitimacy and self-disclosure, unconditional positive respect such as acceptance, respect, love, and empathy (Coon and Mitterer, 2013). Without these feelings, relationships and healthy personalities will not develop as they should. Another basic foundation to Roger’s theory is the self or self-concept, i.e. what one thinks of oneself is the self-concept, what one wants to be is the self-image, and how others see one is the actual self (Coon and Mitterer, 2013). The humanistic approach is widely held from a phenomenological viewpoint, it is about a person living their life with meaning and authenticity (Coon and Mitterer, 2013). It also has the capacity to enrich people’s lives by understanding and appreciating their own. All of the achieved goals from each of the psychologists have helped the psychological research in many ways, and will continue to grow within the knowledge of science.

Coon/Mitterer (2013) Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior with Concept Maps and Reviews, Thirteenth Edition, © Cengage Learning.

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