Psychological Self-Help

Navigation bar
  Home Print document View PDF document Start Previous page
 7 of 115 
Next page End Contents 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12  

constantly fights injustice may need to criticize and express anger. It
is common to speculate about these kinds of internal dynamics. 
Modern theories—Myers-Briggs and Jungian types
The idea of personality types is still very much in use today; for
instance, types of personality disorders are used as part of modern
psychiatric diagnoses. The current types used for diagnosis
emphasize the negative or "problem" end of a dimension and include
(the # indicates the Enneagram type which are likely to have this kind
of problem): Antisocial personality (#3 & #8), Avoidant personality
(#4 & #5), Borderline personality (#6 & #9), Dependent personality
(#6 & #2), Histrionic personality (#4 & #7), Narcissistic personality
(#3 & #8), Obsessive-compulsive personality (#1), Paranoid
personality (#5), Passive-aggressive personality (#9), Schizoid
personality (#4 & #5), Schizotypal personality (#5 & #7), Self-
defeating personality (#6), and Sadistic personality (#3 & #8). As you
can see, 5000 years later we haven't changed our thinking about
personality very much. If you are interested in learning more about
these personality disorders, see a personality or abnormal psychology
textbook or American Psychiatric Association (1994). 
The term "type" refers to a person's general disposition; most
theories describe only a few types. The term "trait" also describes a
characteristic or tendency, but a person may have many, many traits--
or needs or motives or talents or handicaps. Indeed, Cattell (1965)
factor analyzed over 50 human traits and found they could be
summarized by just 16 major personality factors. Some say only five
factors will describe our personality: (1) nervousness vs. feeling
secure, (2) sociable vs. reserved, (3) independent (flexible) vs.
conforming, (4) helpful (trusting) vs. hard-hearted, and (5)
conscientious vs. disorganized. Whether it is 50 or 5 is pretty arbitrary. 
The notions of types or traits or motives are useful because they
help explain and predict behavior that isn't easily explained by
external forces. A motive explains behavior in more general terms
than a habit (like a habit to eat a candy bar in the afternoon). For
instance, if we know a person has a "sweet tooth," we may not know
exactly what behavior will occur (eating candy, ice cream, cake, pie,
etc.), but we can predict that such a person will be motivated get
something sweet. Henry A. Murray named 39 specific needs, such as
to socialize, nurture, be taken care of, have sex, etc. We have already
discussed achievement needs in chapter 4. 
Keep in mind that labeling a trait or attempting to explain a
behavior by merely naming a need supposedly underlying the behavior
is hardly a full, adequate explanation. To understand a person's
actions or feelings you must know the origin of that behavior; you
must explain how the trait or need developed. Don't let your
psychological explanations get too glib, sloppy, and lazy. Example: to
say that someone is a high achiever because he/she is "driven" does
not say anything; you must explain in detail how the person became
Previous page Top Next page

« Back