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The Concept of
Personality Revealed Through The Pancanikaya - Ven. Thich Chon-Thien
Institute of Buddhist Studies
III.1 Chapter 1
Contemporary Personality Theories
As described in Part two, the truth of man and the world is Dependent Origination which says that a man, or the world, is conditioned, selfless, and belonging to nobody, it is but the operation of the five aggregates (Pancakkhandha). So what is called "Concept of personality" is just empty. The authors effort is not to search for any personality theory revealed through the PancanikÓya, but to observe individuals mental, oral and bodily activities, which he calls the operation of "Name - and - Form" element or of the five aggregates, to find out the way of life leading to happiness for individuals in the here - and - now. However, he believes some of contemporary personality theories in education remain useful in helping man understand others behaviours and some psychological aspects, he comes to take a review of them for their improvement before entering into the deep operation of the aggregates
Most of personality theories applied in modern schools were formed in the second part of nineteenth century A.D. and in the twentieth century A.D. All of them aiming at discovering what a man really is are relatively practical and useful. Here, the author only mentions the typical theories through three basic steps: concept of personality, features of personality and his reviews of them.
III.1.1 CONCEPT OF PERSONALITY
Calvin S.Hall and Gardner Lindzey in their book titled, "Theories of Personality", wrote:
All the above concepts of personality come from mans thinking of self - thought and from the sources of information given by the six sense - organs of man. Both mans thought and sense - organs are unbelievable agents as the author discussed before, so all conclusions about personality achieved must be reviewed in the light of Dependent Origination.
In real life, a man is the existence of mental and physical processes of becoming. All personality theorists efforts to define what he is only means stopping those processes: This is not what he really is, and not a good way to understand a man himself, wherefore any research for personality as entity is always on the way. This point will be proved when one follows the features of personality theories and their reviews.
III.1.2. FEATURES OF PERSONALITY
From what Larry A. Hjelle and Daniel J. Ziegler wrote about the features of personality in their book titled "Personality Theories" (2), the following common features may be mentioned:
1.Most definitions emphasize the importance of individuality or distinctiveness. Personality represents those distinct qualities that make one person stand out from others.
2.Personality is something abstract based on inferences derived from behavioral observation.
3. Personality represents an evolving process subject to a variety of internal and external influences, including genetic and biological propensities, social experiences, and changing environmental circumstances.
4. Personality definitions differ substantially from theorist to theorist. We should add that definitions of personality are not necessarily true or false, but are more or less useful to psychologists in pursuing research, in explaining regularities in human behavior...
Each definition of personality, or each personality theory, evolves a feature of personality. Sigmund Freud believed that human behaviour is determined by irrational, unconscious factors. Maslow believed most of our actions result from reason and free choice. Carl Gustav Jung claimed that people have two types of personality: introvert and extrovert. For Carl Rogers, who supposed, differently from Freud, that it is our present interpretation of past experiences rather than their factual existence that influences our current behaviour.
It may be said that psychologists, psychotherapists or personality theorists can discover many different features of human beings personality according to their points of views, or their own professional experiences. This fact proves that the true nature of human beings, or true personality, really is selfless: because of the existence of selflessness, personality may appear in various factual aspects as it has been viewed. Therefore, the more features of personality are discovered, the more knowledge of human beings can be gained. There is only one thing to be noticed that is a man himself appears as a river flowing on and on, and the features of personality mentioned here are but the river watering places it passed through. This can be seen plainly in the contemporary personality theories themselves.
III.1.3. REVIEW OF TYPICAL PERSONALITY THEORIES
There are many personality theories used in the study of educational psychology of today. All of them belong to either behaviorism or humanism. The following are some of them considered as the typical by the writer.
Sigmund Freuds theory (1856 - 1939)
In the middle of nineteenth century, in Germany, Psychology was understood as "the analysis of consciousness in the normal adult human being". Freud had a different point of view. For him, the mind appears as an iceberg in which the smaller part showing above the surface of the water symbolizes the region of the activities of consciousness, and the much larger part of iceberg below the water symbolizes the area of the existing unconsciousness, where the urges, the passions, the repressed feelings and ideas strongly influencing on the individual thoughts and deeds exist.
In Freuds opinion, the structure of personality includes three parts: id, ego and superego.
... The id cannot tolerate increases of energy that are experienced as uncomfortable states of tension. Consequently, when the tension level of the organism is raised, either as a result of external stimulation or of internally produced excitations, the id functions in such a manner as to discharge the tension immediately and return the organism to a comfortably constant and low energy level. This principle of tension reduction by which the id operates is called the pleasure principle..." (3)
" The ego comes into existence because the needs of the organism require appropriate transactions with the objective world of reality. The ego is said to obey the reality principle..
The reality principle suspends the pleasure temporarily although the pleasure principle is eventually served when the needed object is found and the tension is thereby reduced..., it decides what instincts will be satisfied and in what manner..." (4)
The super ego:
"It is the internal representative of the traditional values and ideals of society...
It represents the ideal rather than the real...
The main function of the super ego are:
(1) To inhibit the impulses of the id, particularly those of a sexual or aggressive nature, since these are the impulses whose expression is most highly condemned by society.
(2) To persuade the ego to substitute moralistic goals for realistic ones, and
(3) To strive for perfection." (5)
In concluding the introduction of the "id", "ego" and the "superego", Hall and Lindzey added: "... They work together as a team under the administrative leadership of the ego". (6)
In the authors opinion, the id Freud mentioned is the root and very important part of human personality. It exists only under the form of sexual instincts or sexual desires. So a man, for Freud, is but the existence of sexual activities: sexual desires and the response to their requirements. Such a man is nothing but a forever slave of the "id" and the "superego" and the contradictions happening between them, or he is but a slave of the inborn of the past and of conventional values created by speculations which is called the good or morality of society. If people do not want to accept such a destiny, they will never accept Freuds theory of personality. In reality, people are free to make every choice they want for their actual lives, they even can control or deal with sexual desires without pain or tension.
According to the truth of Dependent Origination, every thing cannot exist by itself, but it is conditioned, or it is the existence of temporary or immediate conditions. This shows that sexual instincts must be conditioned, so they cannot be regarded as the basis of what is called personality.
Moreover, with regard to the truth of life, when a thing exists,the opposite of it also exists. This supposes that mental states dealing with sexual instincts, which may be called non - sexual desires, comes into existence as well. This is what Sigmund Freud did not mention in his personality theory.
For Freuds principle of pleasure or the tension reduction principle, it is but the manifestation of making love repeatedly again and again in a mans life which will remove tensions or pains from him, and bring pleasures or happiness to him, but this result is doubted about, because in daily life people always are on the way to search for happiness: Searching for it says that it really does not exist; it still is out of the reach of men. So, how can people say the pleasure principle removes mental tensions ? Again, peoples experiences disclose that making love may cause tiresome of it or cause another tension stronger, how can people explain the meaning of reducing tensions of it ?
In life, a mans tensions may come from other sources than sexual problems. In these cases, pleasure principle built up by Freud can bring tension reduction ?..
From the above questions, the writer comes to the following estimates:
Carl Gustav Jungs theory: (1875 - 1961)
Carl Gustav Jung was a young psychiatrist in Zurich. In 1907, after his visit to Freud in Vienna, he was claimed by Freud to be Freuds successor. Three years later the relationship between Jung and Freud was completely broken, because Jung rejected Freuds pansexualism as Jung said, "The immediate reason was that Freud identified his method with his sex theory, which I see to be inadmissible" (7). Jung then proceeded to build his own theory of psycho-analisis and his own method of psychotherapy.
Calvin S.Hall and Gardner Lindzey wrote:
For Jung, ego means conscious perceptions, memories, thoughts and feelings; the unconscious consists of experiences which were once conscious but have been repressed, suppressed, forgotten or ignored, and experiences too weak to make up conscious impression upon the person; collective unconscious means the storehouse of latent memory traces inherited from ones ancestral past...; the persona is a mask a person wears in response to the demands of social convention and tradition, and to his (or her) own inner archetypal needs; the anima and animus are terms showing a person as a bisexual animal (masculine and feminine characteristics are found in both sexes); the shadow archetype consists of the animal instincts that human beings inherited in their evolution from lower forms of their lives; and finally the self, according to Jung, means the total personality or the mid-point of personality, around which all of the other psychological elements of a person are constellated.
Jungs effort, the author feels, is to show the limit of Freuds theory of personality, but the personality theory built by him, as mentioned above, is also limited. It can only introduce to us the subjective and objective influences put on the human beings mind, but cannot say what human personality really is. So it cannot be considered either as an ideal personality theory or a pattern of education.
Alfred Adlers theory (1870 - 1937)
Alfred Adler, born in Vienna in 1870 and died in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1937, was a psychiatrist, a member of the Vienna psychoanalytic Society and later its president. He followed Freudian Psychoanalysis then terminated his connection with it and formed his own group called Individual Psychology. He published over a hundred books, among them "The Practice and Theory of Indvidual Psychology" may be the best introduction to Adlers theory of personality.
Calvin S.Hall and Gardner Lindzey appraised that :
The most interesting discovery of Adlers theory of personality is the emphasis upon social interest, creative self and consciousness as the center of personality. This discovery can give a significant contribution to the sphere of personality theories. However, in the light of Dependent Origination as the truth of life, consciousness is but theresult of the operation of Ignorance (avijja) and Activities (SankhaÓra) elements, but not the center of personality. Somehow his theory needs to be adjusted as well as Freuds and Jungs.
Erich Fromns theory (1900 - ...)
He was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1900. He got Ph.D. degree from the university of Heidenberg in 1922; then came to the United States of America in 1933 and taught at Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute as a lecturer. He also taught at a number of Universities in the U.S.A. and Mexico. His essential points of view, as Calvin S.Hall and Gardner Lindzey pointed out, are as follows:
So, Erich Fromns regard to men in a society is very practical and rather open. His theory just synthesizes the attitudes and ways of life of men that he believes they can exist in an individual. The first attitude and way of life to respond to physiological needs and desires requires food, water, physical comfort and sex and some other things relating to them, such as money, attention, affection and success (or good grades). The second attitude and way of life manifesting the qualities of a human being responds to mental requirements as the above quotation mentions. Those things belong to what is called Name - and - Form (NÓma - Ru°pa) following the operation of Ignorance (avijjaÓ) leading to sufferings and troubles only. Fromn cannot make any further steps in opening a way to true man and happiness in the here - and - now. As many other theorists, he really fell into troubles of individual and social problems.
Skinners theory (1904 - ...)
He really was a very well - known behaviorist who refused the existence of unconscious impulses, archetypes, traits as the presumed existence of internal factors determining a mans behavior, as he wrote:
So, Skinner theory regards "personality" as nothing but a group of behavior patterns which are characteristics of an individual, and regards an individual behavior as a product of prior reinforcements: we do what we have been reinforced to do.
Such is a very pratical contribution of Skinner to the branch of educational psychology in understanding human beings behaviours and such is the limit of his theory in realizing what a man really is, because a mans behaviours are far different from a man himself.
As a behaviorist, B.F. Skinner cannot do any otherbetter thing to help men recognize themselves, the real causes of troubles and the way to enter into mental peace and happiness in the here - and - now. All behaviorist theories are based on the philosophical point of view of Scientific Realism governed by self - thought and the limit of the six sense - organs of men, as what the writer can take out of the U.S. Educational Psychology. In this branch of study, on the other hand, all humanist theories of personality are based on the philosophical point of view of Existentialism and Phenomenology which sounds much better, but they cannot either say the truth of man, life and the way to happiness. Lets continue examining the latter.
Maslows theory (1908 - ...)
Abraham Harold Maslow was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1908. His parents were uneducated Jewish who had emigrated from Russia with their seven children, Maslow is the eldest. Maslow wrote:
He studied psychology at Wisconsin University, obtained B.A. degree in 1930, his M.A. in 1931 and his Ph.D. in 1934. Maslow also worte:
In the book titled "Personality Theories", Larry A. Hjelle and Daniel J. Ziegler wrote about Maslow that:
In the world of educational psychology, if Skinner was known as one of the best - known behaviorist theorists of personality, Maslow was considered as one of the best known humanist theorists of personality whose point of view is based on the philosophical course of Existentialismand Phenomenology, as mentioned above, generally expressed as follows:
According to Hjelles and Zieglers regard to Maslows point of view written in their book mentioned above (p.461), Maslows belief is that a human being is fundamentally free and responsible in choosing a way of life to lead. His freedom helps him decide how and what to be. Maslowsview is therefore really optimistic, he did conclude that a self - actualizing person, who appears as a good pattern for education, manifests the following characteristics:
Human nature or personality, according to Maslows point of view, seems to be very human, existential and positive, but in fact it is just a concept of what is compounded by a couple of characteristics as conditions of mental development. It is not a man himself. Maslow cannot show the subject creating the above characteristics and the root cause of mans troubles and sufferings, how can an individual train himself for those characteristics? How can he deal with troubles ? There seems to exist something like fog in his theory ? In his thought ?
Carl Ransom Rogers theory (1902 - 1987)
Carl Ransom Rogers was born in Oak Park (a Chicago suburb), Illinois, in 1902. He was the fourth of six children of a family of financial success and happiness. In high school, he had no close friends outside his family and spent much of his time on reading books - any book he could find, even dictionary or encyclopedia. He received straight "A" grades in almost all his courses he attended. He obtained his B.A. degree in History in 1924, at Wisconsin University, then got married and found such happy life with his wife and lover, Helen Elliot Rogers wrote, "I made friends, found new ideas, and fell thoroughly in love with the whole experience" (1967, p.353)
Rogers followed educational psychology courses and got his M.A. degree in 1928, then Ph.D. in Clinical psychology in 1931. He accepted a position as staff psychologist at Child Study Department in Rochester, New York, then was offered a Faculty appointment with the rank of full professor in the Psychology Department at Ohio State University in 1939. He published his book entitled "The Clinical Treatment of the Problem Child" also in 1939, his "Counseling and Psychotherapy" in 1942; took a position as Professor of Psychology and Director of the University Counseling Center at the University of Chicago. Here, from 1945 to 1957, he completed his major work, "Client - Centered - Therapy: Its Current Practice, Implications and Theory". (1951).
In 1957, Rogers returned to the University of Wisconsin and worked there in the Department of Psychology and Psychiatry. In 1964, he worked in Western Behavioral Sciences Institute (WBSI) in Lajolla, California.
In 1969, he left WBSI for working in the Center of Studies of Person, in Lajolla, Calif. until he died in 1987 by a heart attack.
During his lifetime Rogers received many awards:
* In 1946, he was selected as the President of the American Psychological Association (APA) and was awarded the APAs First Distinguished Professional Contribution Award. In this occasion he gave an address, in which he said: "I expressed an idea whose time had come, as though a pebbe was dropped in water and spread ripples. The idea was that the individual has vast resources within himself for altering his life and these resources can be mobilized given the proper climate" (1937, p.4.)
Rogers published a couple of books.
As Hjelle and Ziegler (Ibid. pp. 488 - 489) appraised, Carl Ransom Rogers may be the best known Psychologist and Psychotherapist of the time from 1950 to 1983. Lets follow his thoughts on human nature or personality:
The above quotations proves that for Rogers, a human being can perceive reality through the limit of what he is, and only that reality is real to him. It is his subjective perceptions and experiences constructing that reality and the basis of his actions. Such is the world (or experiential world) and such is personality!
His point of view, on the one hand, manifests the regard to things of Phenomenology and Humanism which sounds very human and very impressive, on the other hand, indirectly recognizes the limit of that regard which is governed by the wrongness of mans subjective perceptions and experiences. Rogers accepts those perceptions and experiences as truth of life, while in reality, under the light of Dependent Origination, they are false and only lead human beings to sufferings. This is a big gap of his theory of personality. However, in the meaning of helping individuals reduce troubles caused by their negative regards or attitudes of life, it remains rather interesting when Rogers suggested a pattern of "a fully functioning person" in 1980 which requires a person to follow the following factors: (24)
For the first attitude of life, "openness to experience", to the author, means it always is open but not stops at or grasps anything. This attitude can expect an experience of emptiness of things which is the highest experience of thought and feeling. It needs only the right way to go, as the way Lord Buddha taught, that Rogers couldnt imagine.
For the second attitude of life, "Existential living", it can help a person get out of troubles caused by histhought of past and future, and concentrate his thought on the very present moment which is always new, fresh and unique. But his experience of this truth exists only when he can control completely his wrong thoughts and desires. Rogers couldnt show the way to do as Lord Buddha did introduce the Eightfold Noble Path or the Four Noble Truths to human beings.
For the third one, "Organismic trusting", it means a person should make a choice for his course of actions on the basic of what he feels right, but not on any external source of influence or any judgment of others. This is a good sense. But there are various thoughts, feelings and desires arising in him, at first he should make a choice among them before he could make a choice for the course of action. What is the standard for the rightness to follow? What is the subject of making a choice ? - Rogers did not and could not mention these things, so his theory needs to be completed as well as possible.
For the fourth one, it means self - responsibility. This is necessary for any good way of life.
For the last factor, it sounds truly creative, wise and human. It works mainly for the deepest needs of a person. But which are the deepest needs leading to true happiness for a person in the here - and - now ? Rogers theory lacks this point which will be clarified by Lord Buddhas teaching the writer will introduce in the Part Four of this work.
In short, Rogers ideas on human nature, on his way of "client - centered therapy" and on a "fully - functioningperson" are very interesting. They could help the people in education open a course of education for good educational spirit for the development of individuals. But the soul of that course of education must be looked for in the doctrine of Dependent Origination (PaticcasamuppÓda) and the Five Aggregates (PÓncakkhandha).
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