Theory of Personality: Introducing Myself as a Theorist Kaila Stevens Bethel College Personality Theory: Introducing Myself as a Theorist BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH During high school I excelled at all aspects of her life. Bright student who was on the board for the National Honor Society. Leader of Student Athletes for PACT. Academics was not the only thing I excellent at; sports was a big part of my life. I was 3rd team all state in basketball by the time I got to my senior year. I placed 8th in state in the 400, and was top ten ranked all of my junior and senior years.
I was offered countless scholarships spread across the board in terms of divisions of schools and for more than one sport. I was a well rounded individual ready for college. I moved into Grace College in the fall of 2008 on a full track scholarship and my life took a turn for the negative. School and sports were no longer important to me. I was so dependent on my parents I did not know how to make my own choices. I spend the next three years rebelling against the authority of Grace College, because I did not know how to handle myself.
In 2011, I realized my rebellion was due to all the attention my brother was receiving for being autistic, and I wanted “something wrong with me too” so my parents could worry about me. Also, around this time of insight, I volunteered at the Crossing, an alternative middle school where I developed relationships with some amazing kids stuck in horrible situations. My life outlook changed from needing attention to wanting to give all my attention to others. THE BASIC NATURE OF HUMAN BEINGS My theory takes a humanistic approach in almost all aspects. I agree with Horney and Adler that our inherent nature is constructive. We strive to develop our healthy potential and pathological behavior occurs if this innate force toward positive growth is blocked by external social forces” (Introduction to theories of personality, 2010). However, unlike Horney and Adler I believe these social forces are of a sin nature. God’s will for our lives is for us to spread his word and impact others with his teachings of love and truth. My definition of sinful nature is the inherited and deeply ingrained drive to rule our own lives by rebelling against God by meeting our own needs and our own wants apart from God.
Our sinful nature is how we please ourselves and where our drive for superiority starts. Striving for superiority in my theory is established during the making of our sinful nature. We want to control ourselves and control others around us, we do this in sin by not following God’s orders. My striving for superiority definition is not as complex as the sinful nature theory, because it is only a small part to our sinful nature. Our internal sinful nature mixes with our external actions to create blocked social forces. My opinions have come from my own understanding of Mark 7:21-23. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornication, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, all these evil things proceed from within and defile the man” (Bible, ). Since people are born inherently good, their behavior becomes blocked by our sinful nature, we spend our life driving towards self-actualization. My definition of self-actualization is the ongoing process of establishing oneself as a whole person and gaining the abilities to understand oneself. When we understand our sinful nature and we realize how deeply sinful we are we can reach self-actualization.
My time spent with teens at the Crossing seeded this concept. The Crossing is an alternative Christian Middle School that specializes in transforming teens’ hearts and minds as well has teaching the Indiana State requirements of education. All the teens attending the Crossing have been expelled from their precious schools because of fighting, foul language towards other students and teachers, or for drug use. Most of the teens come from broken homes and many do not live with their actual parents due to custody battles. Along with these factors many of the teens come from homes that place a low value on education.
Sadly most do not reach their goals in the classroom because of many reasons due to family troubles. Most of the children have a blocked self-actualization because of the negative society they live in but they initially set out to do well for themselves by working towards good grades. The sinful nature of wickedness and evil things, as spoken about from Mark 7:21-23, block their will to establishing their whole self. Honrey states, “man has the capacity as well as desire to develop his potential and become a decent human being, and due to relationships with others disturbers growth” (Horney, 1942).
My theory, like Honrey’s passage, states people can try to do well for themselves but if this is done within a sinful nature, they cannot reach their full potential. Since I believe self-actualization is blocked by social forces, another aspect of my basic nature is that individuals are always trying to compensate and overcome. In my theory as people strive to become superior they do so in two ways; compensation and overcoming. The term overcoming is defined as conquering a fear or challenge presented in an individuals mind.
While the term compensate is borrowed from Adler. Compensation is a strategy where a person covers up frustrations, desires or feelings in one aspect of their life to excel in another. Since people are striving for self-actualization, “if a child faces weakness with optimism and courage, and strives for superiority by making the necessary effort satisfactory to feel less superior” (Adler, 1933). I interpreted Adler and used his words to form my own opinion of compensation and related it to my own personal experience.
I have had a stuttering problem all of my life. I went to many speech pathologist from prekindergarten all the way to my senior year of high school. In high school I overcompensated my stuttering by being number one on the sports field. On the field no words were needed, I expressed my true self without words by being the best and showing everyone I could do something above and beyond others. I used sports to compensate for my lack of verbal skills. My faith and my theory have an explanation for compensation and why as humans we feel the need to compensate.
Christianity tell us to love ourselves because God made us in his image. As part of our sinful nature, I believe we compensate because we do not fully believe yet that we are made perfectly in his image. As people we find tiny imperfections within us and on our bodies all the time. We believe if we were perfect we would not have our imperfections. We compensate to hide our imperfections from ourselves. This is a good example within my theory regarding our sinful nature and how we need to first discover our sinful nature to reach our self-actualization.
THE STRUCTURE AND DEVELOPMENT OF PERSONALITY I believe our unconscious is extremely important to the development of our personality within society. The unconscious consists of the processes in the mind that occur automatically and are not available for the conscious to digest; that is it is outside of our understanding. My theory also states that a person does not wish to understand their unconscious because it holds their deepest darkest secrets they would not like shared with the social world in fear of being rejected. These deepest darkest secrets are called shades.
Instead of using the term shadow like Jung I decided to make my own. Shade is an appropriate name for deepest darkest secrets, because shading is the blocking of the secrets and the shadows it has created. Shade is also consisted of the colors gray, black and white. These colors represent the blur of what we do not understand in our unconscious and the dark place it is. A person will use a number of defense mechanism like; repression, projection and rationalization to cover up their sinful nature and to strive for superiority.
A person does not want to face reality of their sins because they realize how much more deeply sinful they are than what they initially realized. I believe a person strives to be superiority in other aspects of their life to make up for their sinful nature and use defense mechanism to cope with the things that are unconscious. A persons shade is dark that a person must use defense mechanism to protect themselves. My definition of repression is a mental process of suppressing memories into the unconscious.
My experience with stuttering at a young age was a traumatic experience and in order to protect myself I needed to repress those experiences. Elementary children do not understand why someone has a disability and making jokes about it is considered cool because at that age the understanding is not there. By repressing the memories I could move past the negative experience and try to have healthy relationships. Repression in my theory is not always a negative trait, sometimes a person needs to repress experiences to move on in their life to reach self actualization.
A person uses projection has a means of an outlet to protect their unconscious emotions. My theory blends from Alders’ definition of repression which is, “attributing one’s feelings, shortcomings, or unacceptable impulses to others” (Adler, 1957). I interpreted this into my theory by stating projection is releasing tension without letting the conscious understand what is happening and my experiences at the Crossing furthermore proved my theory. The children at the Crossing would cuss and attempt to start physical fights with teachers because they were releasing their tension onto the teachers.
A normal conversation could start a fight, because that’s all it took for the projection to be triggered. The students would release their shortcomings in their lives onto others as a defense mechanism. My theory realizes that a person does not comprehend they are even using projection. My theories last defensive mechanism is rationalization. This is the easiest defense to understand. A person unconsciously gives themselves a false explanation of their own behavior. Freud states, “rationalization was supposed to be an automatic self-protection reaction” (Feud). I agree with Freud but I explore the rationalization theory in more detail.
Adler had another name for rationalization and that was private logic. “In the kind of erroneous and self-centered reasoning that supports what we want to do rather than what’s good for us or for others” (Adler, 1957). My theory combines both definitions to create my own. A person thinks they understand what is good for them so they realization to self protect themselves only because they do not understand their potential. They rationalize because their self actualization is blocked by social forces therefore they only think something is good for them because they do not understand their potential.
Therefore, a health person does not need to self rationalization their behavior because their self actualization is being meet and is not blocked. DEVELOPMENT OF PERSONALITY Erik Erikson had the epigenetic psycho-sexual stages of man in his personality theory. My theory has a similar stages of man but mine does not focus on the psycho-sexual but rather the development of personality through stages of life. A person on one side of the spectrum could stay in one stage their whole life or move progressively through, a person can only move through the stages after mastering the crisis at that stage.
My theory is designed this way because I always have considered myself a late bloomer compared to others. Every person is different and finding their niche in a stage is up to the development of that person and their state of self actualization. My first stage starts at the beginning at birth and ends in an individuals thirty’s. My first stage is labeled the environment stage. This is the first stage after a child is born and ends around 18 months. A baby cannot speak or communicate in any way except for cry. In this stage a baby first becomes aware of their environment.
Since they can do nothing for themselves, a baby learns early on if their environment is a positive or negative environment. Hence, the start of self actualization within their environment. In this stage a child also chooses to be a positive or negative contribution to society. My second stage is the trusting stage, similar to Erikson’s oral-sensory stage. This builds after the environment stage because a baby learns to trust their environment or mistrust it. Erikson backs up my claim with, “the amount of trust is derived from earlier infantile experience depends on the quality of the maternal relationship” (Erikson,1964 ).
The caregiver is the child’s main environment. If caregiver does not feed children or hold while child is crying mistrust is created. If the child has more mistrust over trust self actualization has already been blocked. Social forces have already showed the child their environment is flawed. Proving rising above hard. The third stage is the power stage. This is usually the potty training stage and starts around 18 months and last till around age three. A child wishes to express their needs and wants and pushes their environment anyway they can.
This is where a child begins to want to achieve and rise about their negative environment. They want to express their power over their caregivers who have provided for them. A child wants to show they can do things themselves. This is the beginnings of a child thinking of being superior over others. Superior in that this stage is the start of the striving for superiority. A child understands their limitations and tries to gain power in other ways. This idea of superior is a new concept and a child does not understand how to express it yet.
The fourth stage is the curiosity stage and starts at age three and last till the child is about five years old. A child is becoming more involved within their environment. They want to contribute but since they have no knowledge base to contribute they explore the options presented in their environment. They learn and this is the beginning of understanding what is acceptable in society and what is not. A sense of pride when mastering a learned activity is a common trait in this stage. The four stages listed above happen early on in life, usually between 0 and 5 years.
Most hit the stages when their peers do but some do fly through them while others take longer in some areas. My theory does not put set ages on stages because each person is different. My theory on developing personality does not put a set age on a stage because I know people can still be healthy and be slow in some stages and master others quickly. The fifth stage is labeled the character stage, like Erikson’s stage of identity vs confusion and becomes around age five and seven. This is where the child needs to be a heard and an appreciated connection in their environment. Their self esteem is built and destroyed in this stage.
I based this part of my theory on my interpretation of Erikson’s passage of, “Like a trapeze artist, the young person in the middle of vigorous motion must let go of his safe hold on childhood and reach out for for a firm gasp on adulthood” (Erikson, 1964). The sinful nature of people can negatively affect self actualization and blocked a persons growth. This is also the stage a person picks what they want to try to excel in and go for their fit, triggering their beginning introduction to adulthood. The sixth stage is closely following the character stage and sometimes can happen at the same time.
Usually this stage starts around seven years and lasts till around age 12. No matter if self actualization is happening or not this stage is where a person learns they cannot excel at everything better than everyone else. This is where compensation is developed. A person tried to compensate what they lack into something they are good at so they feel a sense of superiority. This is a very important stage for the developed of a person. When a person realizes their sinful nature is much more than what they original thought a child will try to make up for it by being superior in another area.
A person driven by a sinful nature always has to feel superior over someone else in some aspect of their life. This stage is considered the compensation stage. A person cannot become fully self actualized t unless they realize they cannot be the best at everything and their sinful nature will always be present. If a person does not overcome this stage they cannot have developed lasting relationships with others. The later stages are harder to achieve if defense mechanisms are in place due to prior experiences. A person must work through some of their repression, projection, and realization to achieve the later stages of life.
Not every shade has to be revealed but some has to come into light so a person can understand themselves well enough to grow into the next stages. The seventh stage is the acquaintance stage and starts around age twelve and lasts till early twenties. This stage resembles Erik’s intimacy vs isolation stage. After the sixth stage a person begins to develop deeper feelings for others around them. Since they have felt superior over others a person feels they can gain recognition and support from significant others. This is where a person finally feels it is okay to be them because they have felt superior.
My theory is important to understand that a person cannot maturely love another without feeling a sense of superiority over someone. The reason being because they have to first appreciate themselves before they can let others appreciate them. A person struggling at this stage can cause problems in their relationships from past broken relationships they watched as a child. The eighth stage involves another person and has an age around between twenty to thirty years. Intimacy is where two people have enough trust in each other to put aside their superiority complex.
The two people enter into mature love. This is the stage people consider getting married and sharing their future with someone else. They realize their partner is going to be better at things then them and that is okay because they have trust that their significant other likes them for who they are in God’s image. Signs of divorces happens in this stage due to the lack of putting aside their superior attitude and letting their own will dominate. Divorce can happen in any later stage but in this stage if superior attitudes are not put aside, the marriage could be marked for divorce.
A person still believe they are better than their partner and nothing their partner does is ever good enough. This thinking can lead to fights, problems and built up of negative emotions. This is the result in lack of trust. This is where moving on from the trust stage correctly is key. If a person mistrust others they cannot fully give themselves to their partner. The mistrust leads to fear. Fear that the other person sees their true self and that self is not good enough. The Bible tells us in John 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear because fear hath torment.
He that that fearth is not made prefect love” (Bible). The Bible points to mature love and fear as being opposites. When a person is confident in themselves they do not fear their partner loving them for their true self’s. My theory states above that a better cannot become confident in themselves with feeling superior to someone. Thus stage seven and eight follow each other. The ninth stage in my theory is the stage of asserting themselves into their world and begins after marriage. This is a stage where that person is ready to accept full responsible of themselves and their significant other.
Usually a person strives for a profession not just simply a job. They want to assert themselves and use their superiority to expand into their work. In this stage a person establishes themselves in the adult world. This is the largest stage in my theory because a person is always growing and changing to become who they wish to become. If self actualization is blocked a person cannot reach their full potential and they underachieve. A person will compensate in this stage to make their dreams come true. My last stage is the mature adult stage and is found somewhere in middle adult life.
This stage is defined has understanding that as an adult taking care of significant others you will have to do unpleasant tasks that they know will have to be achieved. In this stage a person takes responsibility for their own life, even the parts they do not like or didn’t particular choose to live. I believe in this stage a person understands their sinful nature and understand how they have been been made in God’s perfect image. Everyone has heard of a midlife adult crisis, and my theory explains how a person can go through it.
A midlife crisis is defined has an identity and self-confidence that can occur in the middle of life because a person is struggling to find who they are in God’s image. Life stated above I believe we are all different and will all hit the stages at different times. I believe a person must complete all stages to achieve self-actualization. If a stage is not overcame correctly, it will affect the next stage. My theory is different in that I believe a person can fix previous stages while being in a different stage. I believe this because we can realize our past mistakes and correct them. God has made it clear that we are his sinful people.
FUTHER APPLICATIONS Unlike most psychologists, I do not believe our dreams have much stock in our unconscious or our shades we store within it. I believe we are merely human and do not have all the answers but we try to pretend that we do. We try to base a decision largely on a piece of information only because we saw it pop up in our dream or we rationalize that we are supposed to do something but we dreamed about it. I believe dreams are only created from the last things we think about before we drift into sleep. The things we think about right before sleep are fresh in our minds so our brain continues to process them.
I have come to this conclusion because of how I study. I study normal during day but right before going to sleep I can read over my notes and drift off to sleep rereading them to myself. Most likely than not I will dream about something I have studied. My theory is the opposite of Freud and his followers regarding dream interpretation. His dream interpretation is defined has the assigning of meaning to dreams. He has concepts of manifest content, latent dream-thoughts and dream work. He is also under the impression we remember our dreams upon waking and dreams are supposed to be fulling.
The only aspect of his theory that my theory agrees with is the symbolic nature of dreams. I cannot possible begin to describe every dream I have ever had. Nobody can remember each dream so his term of manifest content does not hold truth in my theory. I disagree with latent dream-thoughts concept as well, as stated above, psychologists cannot interpret symbols within dreams. But, my theory agrees somewhat with the symbolic nature of dreams. Like I said dreams are only the last thoughts we have before sleep. If a person has a thought of someone they do not like they could dream of punching that person in their dream.
The act of negatively hurting the person shows how they dislike them. My theory does agree with the symbolic nature of dreams. With this being stated, symbolic dreams are defined has the dreams representing an action or thought you have hidden within a person’s shade. The neurosis of a person is their sinful nature and how society alters a person from God’s image. A Christian can only be free of the burden of their sinful nature by believing and understanding Christ sent his only son to the cross for us. A person has a negative neurosis when they have an excessive tension because of lack in trust of God’s plan for them on this world.
Tension is built when a persons sinful nature is overpowering and a person knows their nature is wrong. A person is only fulfilling their needs, not God’s plan for them. Isiah 61:1-3 shows us what God planned to do with each of our lives. He knows we have problems but since he is God we can only overcome our sinful nature. To fix a persons neurosis they must obey God above their sinful nature and discipline themselves to read his word and understand our personal struggles have already been overcome by our Lord. My psychotherapy approach understands fixing a persons’ neurosis is not always has simple has following God’s words.
If it was that easy everyone would live a life without sin; which is not possible. This is where a trained psychologists can have a positive impact in your life. Like many humanistic approaches, my theory called for a personal relationship between patient and therapist. A therapist can use their own life and experiences as an example of how a Christian life should be lived. A Christian is not perfect nor do they not make mistakes. By developing a personal relationship the therapist can show examples of their past mistakes and how with God’s grace they have moved past that aspect of their sinful nature.
The therapist can help a patient work through their sinful nature to come to self-actualization. If a person is not a Christian and they go to a therapist using my theory the therapist must bring the person to Christ or at least have the understanding of where my theory is based on. Without understanding how they can never really out live their sinful nature, but God loves us for who we are. EVALUTION There are strengths and weakness involved when dissusing any theory but for mine specifically s