3. Construction of Personality

Read Carl Rogers’ essay “On Becoming a Person”, chapter “The Place of the Individual in the New World of the Behavioral Science”.

Q1. Carl Rogers mentioned two fiction writers who he described as having seen the coming influence of behavioral sciences. Who are they?

Q2. What was Rogers’ personal reaction to Skinner’s vision of society mediated by behavioral science?

Q3. What did he see as the most essential element in being a person?

Discussion: Behaviorists vs. humanistic psychologists

Psychoanalysis – Freud’s personality model

Previously, we looked at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We explored the drive that moves us from lower to higher, starting from basic needs, then moving into social and psychological needs.

There is force working in each person that can drive us toward manifesting our highest potential. Sigmund Freud also observed this force, especially certain drives that effect the development of a person’s personality.

There were two basic principles: The pleasure principle and reality principle

Freud put forward the model of personality, aimed to describe how the mind works by creating three categories in the personality: the id, the ego, and the superego.

Id, 1st, the biological component, little devil, always selfish and needy. One’s needs are to be met immediately. Then superego, concerned about what is socially acceptable and what is considered to be moral. Ego –part of a personality that makes decisions based on various considerations.

Id– Every person is born with an id, the need for most basic needs to be met -very primitive part of our humanity. This is based on pleasure principle. It wants whatever feels good in the moment. A drive to get what we want without concern for consequences of our actions.

Ego – (tip of the iceberg) is based on reality principle. It begins developing over the first 3 years of childhood. Through ego, we come to recognize how there are other people around us who have their own desires and needs. The ego begins to consider the reality of others, while also listening to Id’s desires and finds a way to balance these elements.

Ex: A child wants to eat an ice cream, but realizes it belongs to someone else and ego asserts itself to stop a child exerting its wish.

Superego –is made up of morals and ideals acquired through learning from people around us and also rules placed by society, parents or authority figures. It begins to develop when a child is five years old and judges what is right or wrong.

“Freud believed that, in a truly healthy person, the ego would be stronger than the id and superego so that it could consider the reality of the situation, while both meeting the needs of the id and making sure the superego was not disturbed” (as cited in Kleinman, 2012, p. 25).

Carl Jung (1875-1961)

Jung’s separation from Freud

Jung disagreed with Freud, specifically in his fixation on sexuality in understanding drives and psychological problems (like childhood sexual trauma, libido etc).

He departed from Freud and created his own psychology.

Psyche: It originally meant soul and it came to be regarded as mind in modern psychology. Jung brought back psyche as a totality of a person, including mind, emotions and soul.

Individuation – self-actualization

Jung accepted the prevailing notion of man in his time, seeing man as a social animal. He assessed how the majority of humanity is content to live within conventions of society and just meet basic needs and comfort (in Maslow’s word, fulfilling the survival needs in the lower plane of the pyramid). Yet, he contended that there are some exceptional individuals who dismiss conventional ways of living and seek a path that allows them to discover their unique individuality.

Individuation is a process by which a person becomes a psychological ‘in-dividual’, that is, a separate, indivisible unity or a ‘whole’ (Storr, 1983, p. 212).

“Individuation means becoming a single, homogeneous being, and, in so far as ‘individuality’ embraces out innermost, last, and incomparable uniqueness, it also implies becoming one’s own self. But individuation is far from meaning individualism in the narrow, egocentric sense, for all that individuation does is to make a man the individual that he really is. By individuation he does not become ‘selfish’; he fulfills his individual nature, which is something very different and must not be confused with egotism or individualism. He becomes not only an individual but also a member of a collectivity, and the wholeness has achieved is in contact, through consciousness and the unconscious, with the whole world” (Jacobi, p. 106)

A journey toward wholeness

A task for the second half of one’s life “In the first half, a person is, should be, concerned with emancipating himself from parents and with establishing himself in the world as spouse, parent and effective contributor.” (Storr, 1983, p. 19)

“In the modern world, especially, a certain one-sidedness might be needed to fulfill these conventional demands; but once a person had done so, then he could and should look inwards” (Storr, 1983, p. 19). “This path needs to be chosen by each individual consciously.” (p. 199 ) “A call to move away from unconscious identification with the masses. It is a path followed by the few rather than many” (p. 226). Individuation requires “parting company with the crowd; and this at first accentuates loneliness, and may seem alarming” (p. 20).

The Self – Where does the individuation process lead us?

Last point of the individuation process is a midpoint between the conscious and unconscious; “bridge the opposition between individual and collectivity through full personality rooted in both” (Jacobi, 1967, p. 151).

Self – the archetype that signifies a union between opposites and the totality of the psyche expressed in a mandala symbol (Storr, 1983, p. 229).

“If the unconscious can be recognized as a co-determining factor along with consciousness, and if we can live in such a way that conscious and unconscious demands are taken into account as far as possible, then the center of gravity of the total personality shifts its position. It is then no longer in the ego, which is merely the center of consciousness, but in the hypothetical point between conscious and unconscious. This new center might be called the self” (Storr, p. 19).

Self is also depicted as an ancient symbol, Uroboros, the snake biting its own tail (Jacobi, 1967, p. 149). “tail-devouring snake”

The Matrix – A call for individuation

Look at Neo’s awakening. When did he first wake up to a calling to become who he is?

It was when Neo received a phone call from Morpheus.

Structure of psyche

Like Freud, Jung believed that the human psyche was made up of three parts, divided into ego, personal consciousness and collective unconscious.

Ego – everything related to consciousness
Representation of Conscious mind

Personal consciousness
Collective unconscious –
“contains the whole spiritual heritage of mankind’s evolution born anew in the brain structure of every individual, elements characteristics of human species” (Jacobi, 1967, p. 35)

Persona

“The persona is actually a part of the ego, the part that is turned toward the outside world;” (Jacobi, 1967, p. 27).

The metaphor given to this term is the ‘mask’. “Persona is the place in the personality where public and private meets, where who we are collides with who we are told we should be.” (Hopcke, 1995, p. 7) “The persona is that which shields, protects, and also, reveals who we are” (p. 23) “Not simply how the world makes you appear, but also how you like to appear to the world”.

Jung called persona a ‘false self’ and distinguished from what he called ‘soul’ – one’s true inner self, (or essential self, individual). Persona is a compromise between individual and society as to what a man should appear to be. This is a secondary in relation to the essential individual.

Something that feigns individuality -Yet at the same time, He emphasized that this mask can embody the soul – the more essential personality of an individual. Interplay between the persona and collective, between the ego and the unconscious, between persona and the soul.

Persona responds to the messages from society (implicit covert messages) One’s persona can conceal parts of oneself.

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” – William Shakespeare


Social expectation

It creates a conflict between who you intrinsically are and roles expected in society. Jung described it as the following:

“The persona is a complicated system of relations between individual consciousness and society, fittingly a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and, on the other, to conceal the true nature of the individual. That the latter function is superfluous could be maintained only by one who is so identified with his persona that he no longer knows himself; and that the former is unnecessary could only occur to one who is quite unconscious of the true nature of his fellows. Society expects, and indeed must expect, every individual to play the part assigned to him as perfectly as possible, so that a man who is a parson must not only carry out his official functions objectively, but must at all times and in all circumstances play the role of parson in a flawless manner.” (Storr, 1983, p. 94).

What goes on behind the mask is called one’s private life. Oftentimes, in a smooth functioning of persona, success defined in society requires a self-sacrifice of one’s soul. Adaption of certain attributes represses voices from the soul. Society provides roles for each individual to play and calls for identification with them. Roles are given from outside, associated with race, nationality and gender roles etc.

KEY QUESTIONS

• What are some of the roles you are expected to play in your life?

• What are the general expectations of mainstream culture in regards to our personality?

• Are there factors in the formation of a persona related to gender, race, nationality or socio-economic class?

References:

Hopcke, R. H. (1995). Persona: where sacred meets profane. MA: Shambhala.
Hunt, M. (1993). The story of psychology. New York, NY: DOUBLEDAY.
Jacobi, J. (1967). The psychology of C. G. Jung: An introduction with illustrations. (R. Manheim, Trans.). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. (Original work published 1942)
Storr, A. (1983). The essential Jung. New York, NY: MJF Books.
Kleinman, P. (2012). Psych101: Psychology, facts, basics, statistics, tests, and more! MA: Adams Media.
Wachowski, A. (Writer/Director), & Wachowski, L. (Writer/Director). (1999). The Matrix. [Motion Picture]. United States: Warner Brothers.

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