Personality Theories


A person is not born as a personality, but they transform into it in the course of their life. Apparently, most psychologists agree with this point of view. However, there is a controversy over the question concerning the ways law conforms to personal development. Differences in opinions are caused by diverse understanding of the importance of society and social groups for personal development as well as patterns and stages of development, management of personal development, opportunities for acceleration of development and other issues.

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According to various definitions of an individual, there are many theories of personality. Talking about the theory, it is a system of interrelated ideas, principles and assumptions that explain certain observations of reality. The theory cannot be right or wrong because it is only a checked deduction or hypothesis. In fact, theories of personality perform two functions, namely explain human behavior and forecast it. Psychodynamic approaches are presented by many theories, including psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud and analytical psychology of Carl Jung. Sigmund Freud is a wide-know psychologist, who had a great influence on psychology.

The Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality by Freud

S. Freud formulated the psychoanalytic theory of personality, where the starting point was the concept of the unconscious which provided an understanding of the complexity and ambiguity of human life. According to Louw (1998), Freud states that “all behavior is determined by the drives (urges) and moral rules in the personality”. Sigmund Freud believed that stable personality characteristics are formed usually pretty early, and then they are reproduced in various forms of adult behavior. Thus, a person’s life can be seen through their past stereotypes, establishing their relationship with each other and through the experience of the child and their fears accordingly.

S. Freud proposed a theory of personality development, where he identified and marked periods during which an individual implements the task, and described the crisis of development. In fact, the main incentives are arising from somatic sources. Thus, S. Freud recalled his generation of the primacy of the body as the center of the individual’s functioning. He claimed that all modes of human behavior are interconnected, and that there are no psychological accidents. The reason is that the choice of people, places, food, and entertainment, among others is determined by experience which humans do not or cannot remember. Human’s memories are colored with repression and distortions as well as processing and projections. The memory or version of the past gives not only a record of past events but also is the key to human’s existence and behavior. Careful observation and analysis of dreams as well as the analysis of patterns of thought and behavior are applied for the purpose of self-examination that is aimed at the psychological growth of the individual.

According to K. Jung, everyone tends to individuation that triggers self-development. In fact, individuation is his central concept of analytical psychology. K. Jung indicates the process of human development which includes the establishment of links between ego-consciousness and self-center of the soul as a whole, combining the conscious and the unconscious.

Throughout life, a person constantly returns to old problems and questions. Thus, the process of individuation can be represented by a spiral, in which a person continues to be exposed to the same fundamental questions, but in a more subtle form. Therefore, a person has to find their own identity, the center of personality, which is equally distant from the conscious and the unconscious.

The Concept of Self-Actualization of Personality by A. Maslow

The humanistic approach is most clearly represented by A. Maslow. The psychologist perceives psychology as one of the means that contribute to the social and psychological well-being. Davis Lester (1995) emphasizes that “as with Freudian psychoanalytic theory, psychopathology for Maslow is a result of frustration of needs”. Maslow introduces the concept of self-actualization of personality that means a complete use of their talents, abilities, capabilities, among others things. Personal growth, according to Maslow, requires the satisfaction of increasingly high demands that are needed for self-actualization. However, the move towards self-actualization cannot begin until the individual is free from the domination of the lower needs such as the need for security and recognition. Thus, the pursuit of a higher purpose is an indicator of mental health. Maslow notes that self-actualized people are not perfect and error-free. However, they choose complex creative tasks that require great efforts. Such personalities are always involved in some business. They devote their lives to what A. Maslow calls the highest values?(truth, beauty, goodness, excellence, integrity, etc.)

The summary of the positions of Freud and Jung shows that they are characterized by the appeal to the interrelation of biological and social in a person, and they emphasize the primacy of bodily functioning as a center of personality. Moreover, a common issue is the discrimination of conscious and unconscious layers of personality, emphasizing the significant influence of the unconscious on human behavior. Duane Schultz and Sydney Schultz (2012) state that

The personal unconscious in Jung’s system is similar to Freud’s conception of the preconscious. It is a reservoir of material that was once conscious but has been forgotten or suppressed.

However, there are some aspects in Jung’s and Freud’s theories that are different. It is evident that Jung does not agree with Freud about his perception of the role of sexuality. The second point of their disagreement deals with the forces which influence personality. Jung argued Freud’s perception of an individual as a victim or prisoner of the past. Jung also attached more importance to the unconscious than Freud. Thus, he observed that this effect is not fatal because individuals have a tendency to self-changing and growing.


Both theories differ from a humanistic approach of Maslow. The main difference between these approaches is the degree of freedom that is given to the person. While Freud and Jung state that behavior is controlled by unconscious impulses, Maslow emphasizes that psychology should focus on the unique life experience of men and self-actualization. Techniques that are used in these theories are different as well, namely clinical observation and discussion of feelings. Freud and Jung state that a man is primarily a biological being who seeks to satisfy natural instincts and desires, which are represented as a certain amount of energy. On the contrary, Maslow recognizes personality as a coherent system which is not something given, and, according to him, the opportunity for self-actualization is based on the belief in the possibility of flourishing of each person in case of creating the conditions that would let one choose their own destiny and direct it.

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