our own self provides us with our primary means of understanding all
Thus, this chapter, of necessity, explores both our "personality"
and our social interactions. For most people, this is the "crux" of
psychology. Of course, we need to know ourselves. But interpersonal
relationships are the most important part of living for most of us, i.e.
our family relations while growing up, our teenage friends and early
loves, our serious romances and marriage(s), our children and
grandchildren, our close friends and colleagues, and so on. This is the
heart of life--for better or for worse. This chapter reviews information
useful in each of those parts of life, and the next chapter deals in
greater depth with the most intimate relationships--dating, sex,
marriage, and divorce.
Earlier chapters have already dealt with some of the major
features of our personalities and our interpersonal relations: values,
habits, anxiety, sadness, anger, and dependency. So if you need help
deciding what to do with your life or what will raise your self-esteem or
what can reduce your prejudice or how to control your stress or anger,
see those previous chapters. This chapter focuses more on common,
normal development and relationships. To some extent it is a catch-all
but all-important chapter covering various topics about understanding
ourselves and our relationships.
The chapter starts with several general descriptions of human
personality and its development. Then relationships are discussed,
including "games" we play, family relationships, and the long-term
effects of childhood experiences. The chapter ends with a review of
common interpersonal problems, the difficulties we have keeping
relationships together, and the continuing conflicts between men and
women. Select the topics that interest you at this time.
Theories of Personality
Ancient theories about personality types--Enneagram
Scientific psychology, like many modern disciplines, tends to
discredit anything discovered or written more than a few years ago.
Actually, it is enlightening and humbling to know about the personality
theories of many years ago. An old theory has recently surfaced. It is
the Enneagram, which may be 5000 years old, i.e. 2500 years older
than Buddha, Confucius, and Aristotle and 3000 years before Christ.
This psychological folk wisdom was developed in the Middle East and
passed along orally, probably by minstrels as well as Jewish and
eventually Christian and Moslem teachers, and certainly taught by the
Sufi masters. The theory describes nine different personality types,
hence the name Enneagram (ennea means nine in Greek). These