There are numerous theories of personality that form the foundation for the theoretical orientations used by mental health professionals. Two of these theoretical orientations are psychoanalytic and trait.
The psychoanalytic theoretical orientation includes the ideas set forth by the controversial pioneer in personality theories, Sigmund Freud. His psychoanalytic personality theory describes the mind as operating on three layers: conscious, preconscious (or subconscious), and unconscious. In his theory, personality evolves from what is buried in the unconscious that drives behavior and emotion. The conflict between the conscious and unconscious creates an array of defense mechanisms that further determine thought and action. By uncovering inaccessible memories and examining them through therapy, individuals can address sources of struggle in their lives and work to alter destructive aspects of personality. Freud’s view of personality, as seen through the general use of his ideas and terms such as id, ego, and superego, has had profound influence, as has the notion of psychoanalysis, or “talk therapy,” making an understanding of Freud’s concepts vital for exploring personality theories.
The trait theoretical orientation includes the ideas of Allport, Eysenck, Cattell, and Costa and McCrae. As the name implies, trait personality theories examine how traits combine to define personality. Unlike other personality theories studied thus far, trait theory views personality as uniquely individual, shaped by the mix of traits that characterize each person. Key trait theorists diverge on the number of traits that matter and how to rank them. Allport, for example, recognized thousands of traits but emphasized three main types: cardinal (dominant, e.g., narcissism), central (major, e.g., intelligence), and secondary (transient, e.g., situational anxiety) traits. Other theorists have both expanded and contracted the number and measurement of significant traits, identifying specific factors and dimensions. As you will explore, trait theory requires consideration of the extent to which traits are predictors of behavior—such as, cardinal traits like narcissism—and in what ways they are not.
This week, you will examine two theoretical orientations – psychoanalytic and trait, including their respective theorists, cultural considerations, assessments/interventions, limitations, and unique aspects. You will also apply one theory from each orientation to a case study analysis.
Required Readings ALL are attached except Cervone, D., & Pervin, L. A. (2019). Personality: Theory and research (14th ed.). Wiley. I do have access to the ebook and will give you access.
Post one key idea from the psychoanalytic theoretical orientation and one from trait theory. What is a main difference between these theoretical orientations? What is similar between these theories? Which one do you more closely align with?
Cervone, D., & Pervin, L. A. (2019). Personality: Theory and research (14th ed.). Wiley.
Chapter 3, “A Psychodynamic Theory: Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality” (pp. 53–84) ·
Chapter 7, “Trait Theories of Personality: Allport, Eysenck, and Cattell” (pp. 180–204)
Chapter 8, “Trait Theory: The Five-Factor Model and Contemporary Developments” (pp. 205–240)
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