Analysis of a Personality
For this assignment, you will have a chance to put into practice all you have been learning throughout this course. You will analyze the personality development of one of the theorists studied in this course from three different theoretical perspectives.
Choose one of the theorists you have studied this term. Use your textbook, the Internet, and the Argosy University online library resources to research the life history of the theorist.
Do the following:
Describe the major life events of the theorist that you feel influenced his or her personality development.
Describe the cultural influences that had an influence on the chosen theorist’s personality development.
Analyze this person from Freud’s psychoanalytic perspective.
Analyze this person from two other theoretical perspectives studied in this course, except for the trait perspective.
Summarize and present your critical opinion about how well (or not) these theories explain the person.
Grading Criteria Maximum Points
Description of influential life events that shaped the theorist’s personality development.
(Course Objective [CO2]) 44
Description of cultural influences on the theorist’s development
Analysis of theorist using Freud’s psychoanalytic perspective
Analysis of theorist from two other theoretical perspectives
Evaluates how well these theories explain the person
(CO 2) 52
Usage and Mechanics (16)
APA Elements (24)
Style (8) 64
The chosen theorist is Erik Erikson. Erikson is widely known for his famous theory of psychosocial development together with the notion of an identity crisis. The theories of this theorist brought about a shift in thinking when it comes to personality. The theory by Erikson redirected focus from just early childhood events to how social influences bring about personality throughout the entire lifespan.
Life events that influenced his personality development
The major life event that influenced the personality development of Erikson not knowing his biological father. Erikson was born on June 1902 in Frankfurt, Germany (Batra, 2013). What turned out to be clear is that his mother and father had separated before he was born. A fact that is closely guarded is that he was a child of his mother from an extramarital union. He got a chance to see the first husband of his mother, that is, his father. He was raised by his mother (Karla Abrahamsen) for a long time before the mother getting married to Dr. Theodor Homberger, a physician.
The idea that Dr. Theodor Homberger was not the biological father of Erikson was concealed for a long time. When Erikson came to know the truth that Theodor was not his father, he was left with a feeling of confusion, especially when it comes to his true identity.
This past experience helped to steer Erikson’s interest when it came to the formation of identity. This may look like a mere interesting anecdote regarding Erikson’s heritage. But the mystery relating to the biological parentage acted as one of the major key forces the propelled the theorist’s interest in personality development and identity formation. As a child, Erikson felt confused most of the time when it came to who he was as well as how he fits into the society he was living in.
The cultural influence that had an influence on the personality development of Erikson was his own experience in school. His interest in identity and personality development was based on experiences in the school where he was learning. Erikson was learning in a Jewish temple school. He was teased so much by other learners since he was a tall and also blonde Nordic and blue-eyed boy. It turned out that he stood out among the other learners in the school. During the grammar school, he was not accepted simply because of his Jewish background. These early cultural experiences helped to propel the interest of Erikson in identity and personality development. They also went on to influence the work of this theorist throughout his life. What turns out to be interesting about Erikson is that he never got a formal degree in psychology or medicine. His primary interest was in subjects, such as art, Latin, and history. This was while he was studying at the Das Humanistische Gymnasium. Erikson’s stepfather wanted him to go to medicine school; however, he performed a brief stint in art school. He, later on, dropped out and spent some time wandering around Europe in the company of his friends while contemplating his identity.
He was encouraged by Anna Freud to study psychoanalysis. This was after Anna noticed the rapport of Erikson with children. All these happened after he had got an invitation to take a teaching position that was available at a progressive school that was created by Dorothy Burlingham. Dorothy Burlingham and Anna Freud were friends (Batra, 2013).
Analysis of Erikson from Freud’s psychoanalytic perspective
According to psychoanalytical theory by Sigmund Freud, human behavior is as a result of the interaction between 3 components parts. These are parts of the mind, and they are the superego, id, and ego. The conflicts that were occurring among the parts of mind of Erikson helped to shape his personality and behavior. The identity crisis that was being evident in Erikson with regards to who he was the community he belonged to was as a result of the conflicts between the parts of his mind. Erikson’s personality was majorly shaped during his childhood. There were a number of conflicts that Erikson was presented with as he was developing. The first type of conflict was the biological drive. He has questions regarding his biological father. This brought confusion in his life. The second type of conflict he was presented with was social expectations. There were challenges Erikson faced when it came to social expectation, such as being teased by other kids due to his look. However, he was able to move past all these challenges that he was faced with (Eysenck, 2012). According to the Freud’s psychoanalytical perspective, moving past the internal conflicts that one is faced with leads to mastery of each development stage as well as one attaining full mature personality. Erikson was able to attain good personality development due to properly navigating past the internal conflicts that he was facing. All these shaped his personality and behavior.
Analysis of Erikson from two other theoretical perspective
As per Carl Rogers’ humanistic perspective, for an individual to grow properly, he or she requires an environment that offers genuineness, acceptance, and empathy. Some of these conditions were not offered in the environment the Erikson grew in. This is the reason why he was faced with issues on identity crisis as he was growing. There was no openness in his environment. The fact regarding his biological father was concealed from him. He later on came to realize that whoever he believed to be his biological father was his stepfather. Also, he was not accepted by so of his peers, especially in the Jewish temple school. Furthermore, he was rejected during the grammar school. Lack of genuineness (openness) and acceptance affected healthy personality and relationships as Erikson was growing up. Rogers also argues that individuals are creative and good, but one may end up becoming destructive, especially when there are external constraints and self-concepts. These have the ability to override the valuing process. Erikson, later on, was able to attain self-actualization. This was possible through aligning his self-ideals with his actual behavior. Self-ideals means who a person would like to be. Erikson was not interested in doing psychology or medicine. He attained self-ideal through the study of psychoanalytic.
The second theoretical perspective that can be applied to in this case of Erik Erikson is symbolic interactionist perspective. As per symbolic interactionist perspective, people attach meaning to symbols, and they act in accordance with the subjective interpretation of the symbols (Luyten & Blatt, 2013). Erikson was able to come up with stages of psychoanalytic development and identity crisis due to the interpretation of the challenges he went through while he was growing. Interpretation and acting as per the subjective interpretations enabled him to explain the five stages of development.
How well theories the person
The use of theories makes it possible to understand Erikson and his personality development. The Freud’s psychoanalytic perspective explains why Erikson with faced with the identity crisis. The identity crisis as per Freud arises from conflicts of the parts of the mind. Navigating past the conflicts enhances personality development. Also, through the Freud’s perspective, it is possible to categorize the issues that Erikson was facing as he was growing up. The issues can be categorized into biological and social context. The problem relation to his real father and stepfather can be classified in the biological context while that relating to his experience in school can be classified in the social context.
How Erikson was able come up with stages of psychoanalytical development and identity crisis can easily be explained by symbolic interactionist perspective. Erikson went through a number of challenges as he was growing up, such as those relating to being teased while in school and confusion regarding his true identity and the community where he fits. Being able to attach meaning to these challenges he was facing made it possible for him to act as per the interpretations he made. Interpreting and getting the meaning of the challenges he went through enabled him to understand the stages of development that one has to go through. Completing one stage of development makes it easy to move into the next stage and past it to another stage. Good intention and interpretation is needed when it comes to personality development. There are a number of things in people’s lives that can act as symbols as long as they are things beyond themselves.
Batra, S. (2013). The Psychosocial Development of Children: Implications for Education and
Society–Erik Erikson in Context. Contemporary education dialogue, 10(2), 249-278.
Eysenck, H. J. (Ed.). (2012). A model for personality. Springer Science & Business Media.
Luyten, P., & Blatt, S. J. (2013). Interpersonal relatedness and self-definition in normal and
disrupted personality development: retrospect and prospect. American Psychologist, 68(3), 172.