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Aung Sang Suu Kyi

By Sathis-Gedega Oct 13, 2013 2337 Words

Case Study:Aung Sang Suu Kyi Sathishdaren Moorthy

Personality theories are a part of psychology studies where it focuses more on the personality and individual differences. It explores on how did humans poses similarities and differences at the same time. Personality is a complex term where its cover all the internal part of human such as behavior, emotions, motivation and also cognitions. According to George Boeere (2006) ,a theory is a model of reality that helps us to understand, explain, predict, and control that reality and in the study of personality, these models are usually verbal where every now and then, someone comes up with a graphic model, with symbolic illustrations, or a mathematical model, or even a computer model but words are the basic form. The study of personality has a broad and varied history in psychology, with an abundance of theoretical traditions with the major theories include dispositional (trait) perspective, psychodynamic, humanistic, biological, behaviorist and social learning perspective (Diane Hamilton,2011).So, by using such theories, I would like to share my analysis on one of my inspirational person, Aung San Suu Kyi. She have big admiration in myself where she have done something that is unimaginable by the people in this modern world. For analyzing her, I have choose five theories to work with such as Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Learning Theory, Abraham Maslow’s Self-Actualization, Karen Horney’s Basic Anxiety, Henry Murray’s Need for Achievement and also a theory from Big Five method that is Conscientiousness.

Life Story Aung San Suu Kyi, born on 19 June 1945 in Rangoon ,now known as Yangon is a Burmese revolutionist where she fights for the freedom of Burma from the corrupted Junta Militaries reign. Her father, Aung San is also the Burmese revolutionist and considered to be father of modern-day Burma while her mother ,Khin Kyi was a politician and also a diplomat. She has two elder brothers which is Aung San Lin and Aug San Oo. When Suu Kyi’s father died, she was taken to New Dehli by her mother since she was appointed as Burmese ambassador in India and Nepal. While staying in India, she completed her secondary and the higher education where she was first briefed about Gandhi’s non-violence personality. She started to admire him day by day and even did some findings about him. Then, she continues her study in London where she met with her husband ,Dr.Michael Aris, who is a leading Western author about the culture and concepts of Buddhism. They have two sons ,Alexander Aris and also Kim Aris. During her visit to Burma for looking after her ill mother, that when her life changed into who is she now. She was entrusted by her mother to continue her father’s revolution of Burma’s independence. That’s when she was seriously involve herself in continuing the revolution till she have to be away from her husband and the kids for a long period of time. The Junta Militaries had try many tricks to send her back to London after watching Suu Kyi gaining a lot of popularity among the Burmese. One of the tricks is that they put Suu Kyi under house arrest for 15 years where she can’t communicate with the outer world .Her family members were only visited her 3 times during the whole house arrest period. The party that Suu Kyi lead, National League of Democracy won majority of the parliament seat. Since she was put house arrest,t he militaries claimed the election is null and void and continues to pressure her to leave the country. Her husband even denied a visa to Burma although he is seriously ill. Suu Kyi is also adamant to leave the country because she says it’s a ploy of the militaries to make sure she leave the country and denied her re-entry to Burma later. So, she stay in house arrest and keep fighting for the independence although she is badly disturbed by the family affairs. After a constant pressure from world bodies, Suu Kyi finally released from the house arrest on 13 November 2010.After her release, all of the world leading presidents and ministers pays a visit to praise her bravery and courage all the while she had shown. Even aft er her release, she doesn’t goes out from the country saying that she still have a lot more work to be done. In the latest general election ,she was appointed as the Opposition Leader after winning her constituency with a big margin. All the while when Suu Kyi is in house arrest, she was awarded with numerous title such as Rafto Prize, Nobel Peace Prize, Olof Palme Prize, Congressional Gold Medal and also the Jawaharlal Nehru Award. She is currently the most sought after leader by most of top politicians to gain some valuable tips and strategies about democracy and revolution.

Social Cognitive Learning Theory The first theory that I would be discussing is Albert Bandura’s social cognitive learning theory. Social cognitive learning theory means an action of replicating others behavior where the survival of humanity dependent upon. Its not necessarily we have to create our own behaviorism to succeed in this modern world. Sometimes we have the opportunity to learn from other people depending on whether being rewarded or punished. There are three core concepts at the heart of social learning theory where the first is the idea that people can learn through observation, second would be the idea that internal mental states are an essential part of this process and finally the theory recognizes that just because something has been learned, it does not mean that it will result in a change in behavior (Kendra Cherry,2008).In Aung San Suu Kyi’s life, the preeminent leader of Indian nationalism Mahatma Gandhi plays a big role in shaping her behaviorism and attitude. She was heavily influenced by Gandhi when was studying her secondary and higher education in Dehli, India. One of the example would be her freedom fighting strategy where she prefers to stand up, to take a stand and non-violent way just like what Gandhi did earlier. She even remained silent and goes for hunger strike when she was house arrested by the militaries. Big resemble of Gandhi behaviorism can be clearly seen on Suu Kyi which caused by the social cognitive learning theory.

Self-Actualization Next theory would be the Abraham Maslow’s self-actualization theory.Self-actualize happens when all the basic and mental needs are fulfilled where it leads to full personal potential takes place. Self actualized individuals were found to have acceptance of self, others, and nature where these individuals accept themselves without embarrassment or complaint, and with really no thought about the issue and they are also able to accept others in the same without trying to control them or perfect them in any way where they can see human nature as it is, not what they wish it to be.(David Mcgraw,2006).According to Derek Sivers (2011),one must satisfy lower level basic needs before progressing on to meet higher level growth needs and once these needs have been reasonably satisfied, one may be able to reach the highest level called self-actualization.As earlier known,her influencer,Gandhi is a major example for self-actualization where Suu Kyi also not far behind to be there.She is basically a spritiual person,a strong believer of Theravada Buddhist concepts and also great in philosophy.Her demeanor is that of someone of great humility and concern for people other than herself.The incidents in which she stood up to violence and death threats, show how she forfeited her own well-being for the democratic struggle in Myanmar.Even when her husband was ill in England,she doesn’t went to look him because she thinks that such action would ruin all the struggles they have succeed so far.She gives the peoples around her the first preference than to herself.

Basic Anxiety In this third theory, I have chosen Karen Horney's Basic Anxiety as my theory. I would be focusing more on the passive style concept which means people who are get along with other without any aggressiveness. According to Young (2010), passive style individual is the one the compliant personality, one who needs to move toward other people, expressing needs for approval, affection and a dominant partner. They would like to avoid disagreement and confrontation so that others will not leave. Basically, Suu Kyi believes in human rights and also law & order. What she did was, she create awareness among the people of Burma by telling them their rights also what the problems in current government. She goes end by end to acknowledge each and every people of Burma. She chooses not to use violence as her tool to overcome the problems of her people. Conversely, she just kept compliant with the military junta's futileness and even advised her followers to do so. She just keep content locally and stress out the problem and plight of Burma people towards International Leaders. She tries to marshaling the international attention and create the awareness to the Burma's people about her idea of doing so. So, from there we can see that she poses the attitude of passive style in herself to get her greater chance of reducing the anxiety. She even stressed out those approach towards the people of Burma to be practiced by them also.

Need For Achievement For the fourth theory ,I choose the Henry Murray’s need for achievement. Need for achievement means the desire or motivation of significant accomplishment and also mastering all the skills in their life. Their strong determination to win would make them to set high standards of achievement. People high in need for achievement are characterized by strong tendency to seek challenges and high degree of independence. This personality trait is characterized by an enduring and consistent concern with setting and also need to be influenced by internal drive for action (intrinsic motivation), and the pressure exerted by the expectations of others (extrinsic motivation) (Erica Ramos,2004).Suu Kyi is well-known for strong courage and independent characteristic where she always strive for her success. One of the reason for such achievement is that she poses the autonomy and blame avoidance of power needs quite highly that drive her to act in such way. When her father died, she took it as her intrinsic motivation for her to fight for peace and independence of Burma. From there, we can clearly see that Suu Kyi is well motivated for achieving because her willingness to do something and the persistence of effort toward attaining a goal is very high. She even at first rejected her appointment as the Member of the Parliament just because of the phrase in the taking oath ceremony was opposite to what are they fighting all the while .Finally, she did manage to convince the lawmakers to change the phrase and agreed to join the Parliament. That was some of her determination for achieving in her personal life.

Conscientiousness The final theory that I would be using is the conscientiousness. Conscientiousness is also one of the trait in the five-factor model of personality. Conscientiousness means the state of being self-discipline, efficient, organized and also systematic. Conscientiousness individuals are basically are hard working and reliable where they can turn into perfectionist and workaholics if they turn into extreme mode. Conscientiousness distinguishes organized and hard working people from people who are more impulsive and spontaneous where conscientiousness is a top predictor of job performance and success, but people low in conscientiousness are good to have around when the plan does not work out and some quick thinking is necessary (Kim Burell,2004).In related to Suu Kyi’s personality, she prefers all the people of Burma work together with her so that it would be more productive and effective. From there we can see that she had already well planned all the strategies for the independence of Burma. She thinks that the ability of the leader itself doesn’t bring the independence, but together with the people’s effort and good strategies it would be more effective in their attempt to free their country from being conquered by the Junta Militaries. She also did manage communicate with the people who are staying in the outskirt of city, in the deep forest by visiting them to persuade the people to join in the fight for freedom where other previous leaders doesn’t take such move in their strategies. She was even admitted to hospital when she fainted during her journey to reach the outskirt residence because of fatigue. That are some of the actions that suits her personality with the theory of conscientiousness.

Conclusion In conclusion, Aung San Suu Kyi has rewrites the history on women’s bravery where she did the world turn to look at her achievement and courage. That what makes me admire her simplicity and calmness although she had reached the peak of hill that only great people have went. Suu Kyi would be a good role-model for all the people who are looking for bravery and courage in their life. They can read her biography or even watch her life portrait movie to get know in detail her life personality and behaviorism. This assignment also gave me an opportunity to search in depth of Suu Kyi’s information and achievement. The assignment also expose to us on how does theories related to a person and how does it works.


1) George Boeree,2006. Welcome to Personality Theories.retrieved from 2) Diane Hamilton,2011. Top 18 Personality Theorist.retrieved from 3) David Mcgraw,2006.Self-Actualization.retrieved from 4) Kim Burrel,2004.Personality Traits:Conscientiousness.retrieved from 5) Hoge Warren,2005.Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.retrieved from

6) Erica Ramos,2004.Murray’s theory of psychogenic needs.retrieved from

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