John Jay D'Amour
Theories of Personality
December 18, 2006
Without theories about personality and the complexity of its nature it would be difficult if not impossible to help those who suffer from behavior related problems. Throughout the years different perspectives regarding this type of therapy have been formulated in an effort to understand and treat people experiencing difficulties related to their ability to function as a member of society. By studying the personality and traits displayed by a patient; counselors, psychiatrists, and social workers can determine the source of negative personality aspects and utilize different approaches directed towards their resolution. However, no two personalities are the same, therefore the methods used to treat each individual case are equally as diverse. It is then the responsibility of the therapist to determine which theoretical perspective is best suited to the patient.
In regards to the application of theoretical perspectives to counseling and therapy, the Dispositional perspective approach is considered the most basic and fundamental. Based on the study of people's dispositions and their ability to maintain the same set of qualities throughout their lifetime this perspective enables a practitioner to measure and predict the future behavior of a patient. The constancy displayed amongst patients can be categorized into groups known as types and traits. A type can be defined as "distinct and discontinuous categories of persons" (Carver & Scheier, 2004). In other words personality types would be obvious as well as exclusive to the person in question. For example, a person regarded as having a type A personality would display qualities of aggressive behavior and an overall impatient demeanor. It is unlikely that this same person could also be submissive and capable of being calm. While the grouping of personality types is mainly concerned with the similarities shared between individuals, the concept of traits focuses on the differences between prevailing characteristics of personality. Traits distinguish one person from the next based upon the varying aspects of their personalities and to what degree they exist. Studying the traits of a patient allows the practitioner to better understand their personality and discover the origin of their problems. Related to trait psychology are five factors that each individual possesses to varying degrees. The five factors taken into consideration; extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and intellect are all measured when determining the mental state of a patient (Carver & Sheier, 2004). The level of each factor as it is displayed by a patient is in direct correlation with their personalities and abilities to function as a member of society. Whether a person is extroverted and exudes confidence or they are neurotic and emotionally unstable a therapist can utilize these factors to determine the best approach to their behavioral reconditioning.
The Biological perspective and it's relation to therapy focuses on how much of our personalities are acquired through heredity and genetic transference. When assessing the behavioral concerns of a patient it is also necessary for the counselor or therapist to research the patient's family tree. To what extent a patient's personality is a result of their genetic makeup can establish the reasoning for their behavior and temperament. In simplest terms biology directly affects how we look; eye color, height, and body type, causing us to appear as a particular person both in the mirror as well as to other people. If in fact our parents are short in stature then there is a good possibility that we too will be shorter. In society people that are taller usually exude more confidence and presence giving them an advantage. With this in mind our biological makeup pre-determines our position in society as well as the personal...