The Human Personality

 

Of course you have a personality. How would you describe it?

What It Is

Character is defined as the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. As such it is hardly pinpoint. And there is no system which clearly defines what makes up character.  But being open ended is part of its utility. Sometimes, though, it’s useful to have clear definitions about stable components of a person. When we turn to personality we find such a system is available. 

The American Psychological Association defines personality as “referring to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving”. Are you now perfectly clear? Probably not, because human beings are layers of characteristics, orientations, effects of history, biochemical interactions and on and on. But it is useful personally and in many environments to have an understanding of what is stable in how we are in our interactions and our approach to the world.

Multiple Realities But No Illness

It is important to understand that the description of a person’s personality has no connotation of mental illness at all. It may condition our behavior and reactions but primarily variations are normal and merely different. And, in describing a given person, their personality may have characteristics of certain groups and elements which are wholly idiosyncratic. It need not refer to intelligence because, more than anything, intelligence refers to management and processing of information, knowledge and abilities.

Distinct From Intelligence

We have been in a debate about intelligence for a very long time. Measurement initially was oriented toward having information about aptitude for school. But a man by the name of Wechsler divided it into Performance skills which are needed for hands on work and Verbal skills which are more closely related to education. I’ll leave it at that except to say that intelligence can relate only to being able to retain and regurgitate information but at other levels the person can be hopelessly “stupid”.

An Enduring Framework

Personality is another matter. Yes, it is enduring and it seems that we are born with the fundamentals of it. Decades ago when I was first studying psychology it was assumed that for both intelligence and personality a stable level was achieved with adulthood. A few people, among them Carl Jung disagreed. We now view ourselves as moving through stages of adult development and that major crises can reshape us.

A Lifelong Process

Part of Jung’s contribution was to see humans as continuing to develop through life and he put it in visual specifics. Later I will go into the details of his glorious personality typology but for now I will bring in the wheel. What he calls the four functions are paired in opposition and the pairs fall at right angles to each other. Picture a wheel with just two spokes across the diameter at right angle. Now place that wheel on edge in water and to begin with it floats halfway submerged. The part above the waterline is in consciousness and the balance in the unconscious. That means we have a full conscious command of some of it but the other parts play a role but not under our full understanding or control. 

Over our lifetime this wheel is said to rise and we gain more and more command of all facets of our personality. Our abilities broaden and we have a broader perception and experience of the world. It is a glorious process.

Coming to This Blog

In blogs that will follow I will present you with the information on the two attitudes and four functions that make up the parts of our personality as Jung defined it. The wonder of it is that Jung did not just sit in Switzerland doing an intellectual exercise leading to an organized system. He went far out into the world. Freud was focused on Western medicine and Jung on mythology and the substance of a rich and powerful world. He brought back the recognition of the existence of his typology which is found across the world and in all people.

As we proceed you will see yourself, your neighbors, people you utterly dislike and people who are dear to you. When we see our personality, we understand how people different from ourselves can be rewarding, how we can bond with people like or unlike ourselves and so on. 

I’m sure you will enjoy this journey.

How would you describe your personality?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Women in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy – Pt 1

 

Avery the Whiner

This post kind of comes down to the psychologist still learning about being a psychologist.

Avery is the lead character in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. She is a central focus throughout. Characters should come alive to the author if they are to be authentic. Avery certainly did that. But I had to learn a lesson and she had to get a grip.

Getting What You Wish For

It is hardly news that sometimes we have to tell someone they should be careful what they wish for. Avery had to learn that lesson and since I was the author it really was me who had to learn the lesson and get it across to her.

Avery had a pretty good life. She had been raised to do “good works” because her parents worked in third world health delivery systems. It was a challenging life and had its perils. They died in a car accident in the Middle East and Avery felt abandoned. Maybe that wasn’t quite fair of her because they had no intention of leaving her.

Then She Got a New Family

And later the family she got was not one she had known existed but suddenly they were very much in her life. Their arrival came with a large load of complications and threat. Here is where my problem began. In the first draft of the first book of the Gaia’s majesty Trilogy I finally had to face that Avery was whining a lot. Sure she got a grip at last but until then she could be really tiresome.

What I learned

At first I thought her reaction was perfectly understandable. Well, it was to me because, as a psychologist, I could feel her agony and her devastation and discomfort. You want a family but it didn’t have to be so complicated and even frightening. And you didn’t want to have people trying to kill you.

What I was doing was displaying my view of what was almost surely going on deep inside her. But what happens deep inside is often not what we display to the outside world. But consistently I got to see that side of people in my office and there were times when I had to encourage them to display their agonies. When someone comes for help it may be necessary for them to bring out all the nasty things they feel so we can together sort them out and help them come to terms with their burden.

In Avery’s case she hadn’t known she had a burden or perhaps it is better to say she didn’t have a burden until this strange, alien family showed up. What was she supposed to do with that? The more she learned, the more her agony increased.

What To Do

Avery could flee and take what was left of her former life with her or she could tough it out. Toughing it out was what she really had to do and in the life changes she had found a neat guy. Fleeing would have probably meant giving him up. So she hung in there and displayed her agony and feelings—whined.

My Turn

At last it was the turn of the author to get a grip. I had a picture of her agony and knew how she would almost surely feel inside. Fine! Nice for me to know but the reader did not have to endure her agony in that particular way. I had to serious revise what I had written and give her more strength, determination and composure. And her guy could help her.

Sometimes, in particular settings, it is not desirable to have truth and reality be writ too large.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Human Personality

 

dreamstime_m_39372113

Of course you have a personality. How would you describe it?

What It Is
Character is defined as the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. As such it is hardly pinpoint. And there is no system which clearly defines what makes up character. But being open ended is part of its utility. Sometimes, though, it’s useful to have clear definitions about stable components of a person. When we turn to personality we find such a system is available.

The American Psychological Association defines personality as “referring to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving”. Are you now perfectly clear? Probably not, because human beings are layers of characteristics, orientations, effects of history, biochemical interactions and on and on. But it is useful personally and in many environments to have an understanding of what is stable in how we are in our interactions and our approach to the world.

Multiple Realities But No Illness

It is important to understand that the description of a person’s personality has no connotation of mental illness at all. It may condition our behavior and reactions but primarily variations are normal and merely different. And, in describing a given person, their personality may have characteristics of certain groups and elements which are wholly idiosyncratic. It need not refer to intelligence because, more than anything, intelligence refers to management and processing of information, knowledge and abilities.

Distinct From Intelligence

We have been in a debate about intelligence for a very long time. Measurement initially was oriented toward having information about aptitude for school. But a man by the name of Wechsler divided it into Performance skills which are needed for hands on work and Verbal skills which are more closely related to education. I’ll leave it at that except to say that intelligence can relate only to being able to retain and regurgitate information but at other levels the person can be hopelessly “stupid”.

An Enduring Framework

Personality is another matter. Yes, it is enduring and it seems that we are born with the fundamentals of it. Decades ago when I was first studying psychology it was assumed that for both intelligence and personality a stable level was achieved with adulthood. A few people, among them Carl Jung disagreed. We now view ourselves as moving through stages of adult development and that major crises can reshape us.

A Lifelong Process

Part of Jung’s contribution was to see humans as continuing to develop through life and he put it in visual specifics. Later I will go into the details of his glorious personality typology but for now I will bring in the wheel. What he calls the four functions are paired in opposition and the pairs fall at right angles to each other. Picture a wheel with just two spokes across the diameter at right angle. Now place that wheel on edge in water and to begin with it floats halfway submerged. The part above the waterline is in consciousness and the balance in the unconscious. That means we have a full conscious command of some of it but the other parts play a role but not under our full understanding or control.

Over our lifetime this wheel is said to rise and we gain more and more command of all facets of our personality. Our abilities broaden and we have a broader perception and experience of the world. It is a glorious process.

Coming to This Blog

In blogs that will follow I will present you with the information on the two attitudes and four functions that make up the parts of our personality as Jung defined it. The wonder of it is that Jung did not just sit in Switzerland doing an intellectual exercise leading to an organized system. He went far out into the world. Freud was focused on Western medicine and Jung on mythology and the substance of a rich and powerful world. He brought back the recognition of the existence of his typology which is found across the world and in all people.

As we proceed you will see yourself, your neighbors, people you utterly dislike and people who are dear to you. When we see our personality, we understand how people different from ourselves can be rewarding, how we can bond with people like or unlike ourselves and so on.
I’m sure you will enjoy this journey.

How would you describe your personality?

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page