University of Phoenix
February 25, 2010
Psychoanalytic and Trait Approaches to Personality
The authors’ first question is, “What is a psychoanalytic approach to personality?” Sigmund Freud describes it as (1) a theory of the mind or personality, (2) a method of investigation of unconscious process, and (3) a method of treatment (Westen, 1999 pg57). With this thought process in mind the authors’ first progression would be to describe this approach to personality as kind of a ghost hunt. The authors’ intention here is to bring to light the differences between psychoanalytic and trait approaches to personality test. Understanding Psychoanalytic Personality
How is anyone supposed to understand what a person’s mind is doing in an unconscious state? If that person, themselves, does not have a clue as to what is going on inside his or her mind how is the psychologist going to come to a conclusion that it is an unconscious thought? Freud’s thinking was a simple assumption: if there is something the person is doing that they cannot explain or report, then the relevant mental process must be unconscious if they are to fill in the gaps (Westen, 1999 pg59). Freud himself did not fully look into this. He based his theory on test that was done on his more important research, understanding psychopathology. In these test he wrote and studied patients on what they did through free association test and transference phenomena. These test revealed patterns of interpersonal cognitive-affective behaviors of the person being tested. Freud’s theory is based on three types of thought: (1) the conscious, what a person is immediately aware of, (2) the preconscious, what a person is not currently aware of but can bring to the conscious thought and (3) the unconscious, what a person is not aware of and kept hidden due to...