This reflective essay presents my thoughts and responses to the widely known works on personality theories. Guided by the lecture materials provided, I was able to have a strong starting point to explore further on the crucial components for evaluating ones personality. Even though I became interested in this area, I must accept that it is quite demanding and complicated to come up with new ideas to consequently understand and predict human behaviour as stated by Dr Bellak in Psychoanalytic theory of personality. Before I started learning this area, I normally thought that behaviour was only unique and that genetics played a role only on the phenotype of an individual. However, most theories prove that heredity has a significant role in a persons personality. This has been illustrated by theorists such as Buss and Plomin in the Temperament theory (Schultz, 2012), Cattell in Behavioural genetics and others.
I found that Cattell's factor-analytic theory on personality is an interesting as well as a realistic approach to analyse an individuals behaviour, however, complex; since it considers very many factors. Cattell states that personality is ones behaviour when subjected to a particular situation. He further explains that traits build up personality whereby they are basically an individuals permanent reaction tendencies. In my opinion, the motive of the theory stands out as an ideal way to determine behaviour since it entails not to change ones behaviour but rather study it. On the other hand, Freuds psychoanalytic theory of personality states that ones personality can be determined from analysing the past. The Psychoanalytic theory also borrows much from doctors whereby doctors depend on a patients history so as to diagnose their illness.
While I was exploring the various theories and assessing my current personality in relation to my previous situations, I see that the people I have interacted with and my response to certain environmental stimuli have greatly actualised my personality. As explained by McCrae and Costa, the stability of the factors is inevitable if done over a particular period. This explains my current extroversive behaviour, which started soon after removing my braces. Furthermore, I second McCrae and Costas emotional correlates because ever since extroversive developed in me, my stress levels no longer hit sky levels as they did. I always keep my friends and parents close for support in such times who normally remind me that everything is/will be fine. However, I think their Big Five Factor model is greatly generalised therefore more research has to be done to further break the factors for a comprehensive list of factors for understanding human personality.
In the case of cultural influence to an individuals personality, I believe that personality development is certainly environmental rather than heredity. The Big five factors by McCrae and Costa present that the factors are cross-cultural depending on where you are. They illustrate this theory using findings from different countries around the world where those who resided in these environments scored higher on factors being promoted by the societal culture. Cattell also explains that behaviour can be moulded by environmental factors in his classification of traits, which as you should remember, are basic units of our personality. Because of my exploration of such theories, I developed the notion of fully understanding why some behaviour are tolerable in certain cultures while intolerable in other cultures.
Freuds perception of human personality really stood out in understanding my personality. However, this was the result of deeply going through his many theories since the word about him was popular although I did not understand his notion. In my case, I understand that my Id is responsible for my midnight crisps snack which satisfies my want at that but then my superego kicks-in making me feel bad for having a snack at that hour. Nonetheless, my ego has plays a crucial role in making my life instances in sync. I also came to the realisation that irrational behaviour is attributed by an over-indulgent Id seeking pleasures, both positive and negative. Thus, I think I understand why models strain themselves on a diet; it is because their Id is out of control.
The exploration of the psychological factors of human personality has also brought me in the light of how psychological defence mechanisms are responsible for maintaining our emotional homoeostasis. I have also realised that without these mechanisms, our conscious mind will be vulnerable to negative emotional stimuli like the ones emanated from sadness and anxiety. My psychological mechanism when someone I love, or have a crush on, breaks my heart, I usually apply disassociation until I get over them. It is a perfect way to defend the negative emotional input I get. Ultimately, I found that this tactic had been already been suggested various personality theorists such as Freud (1894/1964), Allen and Lolafaye (1995), Vaillant (1977) and others. Vaillant (1977) described dissociation as a psychological mechanism that allows the ego to change the internal state, therefore, making the pain of conflict seem irrelevant. My mechanism to emotional conflict is in the form of emotional numbing. However, disassociation can take numerous forms such as depersonalisation and derealisation, absorption and imaginative involvement, identity defragmentation, and amnesia. In a professional setting, this approach is used by those working in emergency situations since failure to do so will interfere with their work operations.
I found the topic on psychological defence mechanisms by Bowin (2004) interest as I read it and assessed it on my behaviour as well as that of my peers and others. The cognitive distortion mechanism was a fine topic that made me understand why and how humans cognitively make negative emotional input seem positive despite its reality. Bowin (2004) classifies cognitive distortion mechanisms into three defence categories whereby mature defences are presented by middle-age persons. Kaplan et al. (1994) state that mature defence mechanisms consist of sublimation and humour where humour makes a threateningly disturbing scenario seem light. In deed, this mechanism is usually exhibited by most people before they go on to solving the cause. Other defence mechanisms include neurotic/intermediate defence mechanisms such as rationalisation and immature defences such as projection, somatisation and hypochondriasis. Nonetheless, my reasoning on the psychological defence mechanisms is similar to that of Trijsburg et al. (2000) who suggest that the defence mechanisms should be perceived as levels of maturity. At my current age, I am used to particular negative input and sometimes put some humour into it or simply act rationally on it.
Position in family constellation influences lifestyle is an exciting personality theory that made me relate it totally to my behaviour and recap my experiences growing up as a first born in our family of four. The theory by Alfred Adler is based on a family setting that is not large enough where the first born and the following siblings may strive for their parents attention. Adler (1937) explains that it is possible for a first born to grow and be either good or the following siblings bad, or vice versa. Adler also discusses the challenges of growing up as an only child and the youngest child. The theory depicts how the eldest child fears to be dethrone hence does all possibilities to stay in his position and as the second child comes of age, he or she will take up the alternate trait not acquired by the eldest son. My opinion and a hypothesis on this theory is that it the dethroning effect may be present in a family when same gender children are brought up. To defend my point, the sibling after me and I have maintained good manners, however, our third born, being the same gender as our second born, grew to have bad traits. Though, mine is just a hypothesis based on our family structure.
Adler also explains the challenges of an only child, which have convinced me. He argues that an only child usually grows to be spoilt and dependant. In deed, this may be the case since an only child usually gets all he or she wants because they are at a position to enjoy much of the parent(s) budget on the extras. Also, Adler narrates of how an only child is more vulnerable to acquiring homosexual traits. Although his narration so as to bring out his point is convincing, I would feel more satisfied if the theory was formulated empirically.
This reflective essay has comprehensively documented my reflection of the existing works of theories pertaining human personality. It took into consideration my personality based on my experiences hence my developed personality and also the personal differences of other people and myself. The essay starts with theories aimed at personality development. The Factor-analysis theories focus on studying an individuals behaviour when subjected to a particular situation, rather than the classical approaches which aimed at changing an individuals behaviour. I found out that personality development is mostly related to heredity while environmental factors only shape a persons character.
On the other hand, psychological defence mechanism theories also play a huge role in presenting behaviour. They are theories that suggest methods by which negative emotional inputs are handled by different people. I found out that these theories were not comprehensive where they lacked an answer to the question: are they environmentally or hereditarily acquired. Generally, I found this exercise ideal to understand what milestones have been already moved and which ones are yet to be moved. I look forward to coming up with a profound hypothesis to look into based on the facts I have presented above.
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