Psychoanalytic and Trait Approaches
Personality may well be one of the most fascinating fractions in which many fields of psychology have spent decades trying to understand and explain. Because of the possible multiple dimensions involved in a single personality could offer explanation into why so many theories and sub-fields of psychology have been dedicated to this process. For the purpose of this students research the two approaches for gaining some understanding and explanation into personality will be the psychoanalytic approach and the trait theory approach. Throughout the following pages a comparison and contrast of the psychoanalytic approach and the trait theory approach will be examined. Two characteristics of each approach will be offered in which this student agree and two in which she does not agree along with an explanation for the agreement and disagreement. The oral and anal components of Sigmund Freud will be examined and offered to explain characteristic of personality. Three of Freud’s defense mechanisms will be presented along with real-life examples to illustrate each of these mechanisms. One of the five factors in the Big Five factor theory will be presented and used to describe this student and why this student believes this to be the best fit. Finally, the approach, psychoanalytic or trait, will be shown in relation to which best suits this student. Comparison and Contrast
In order to compare or contrast these two approaches, first, there must be a definition of each approach. “The psychoanalytic approach understands us from the point of view of our unconscious and early childhood experiences.” (Keegan, 2010, para.1) “The trait approach to personality suggests that individuals personality are composed of broad dispositions.” (Kassin, 2003, para.5) The definition of each approach alone states the obvious differences in each approach. The psychoanalytic approach seeks to explain personality via expansion of behaviors based on an individual’s experiences during childhood which shapes the individuals personality. However, the trait approach, believes that an individual is born with specific traits which are enhanced through environment and experiences over the individuals life-span. The only common ground these two approaches seem to offer is that both try to understand and explain personality. Characteristic
The psychoanalytic approach contains many different characteristic, of which, a few this student can agree with. The first which agreeableness is found is defense mechanisms. “Defense mechanisms are processes that the ego uses to distort reality to protect its self.” (Friedman and Schustack, 2009, p.77) While there are many different types of defense mechanisms, at some point in every individual’s life, he or she will use this to either protect him or herself or avoid dealing with an unpleasant situation until he or she is ready to face the situation in a better frame of mind. The second characteristic of the psychoanalytic approach which agreeableness is found is the attempts to understand how the unconscious affects the conscious. The psychoanalytic approach uses the effects of the unconscious as a main explanation for variations is behaviors, which this student completely agrees with as a possibility. There are, however, a few characteristic of the psychoanalytic approach which this student disagrees with and the first would be the psycho sexual components. Penis envy would be on the top of this list. This student cannot agree that a young woman becomes consumed with wanting to be with her father or jealous of the fact that he has a penis and she does not. The other characteristic of this approach which this student disagrees with is the fact that there is no way to empirically prove test results or compare data which is gained. For this student, any data collected must have a method to falsify. Trait approach also is founded in many different characteristic. The first of these...
References: Friedman,H.S.,and Schustack, (2009) Personality:Classic Theories and Modern
Research,(4th ed) Boston: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon
Kassin, S. (2003) Psychology,Prentince-Hall Inc.
Keegan, G. (2010) Psychoanalytic Approach, retrieved September 18.2010 from
McCrae, R.R., and Costa, D.T. (1997) Personality trait structure as a human universal,
American Psychology,Vol.52, pp.509-516
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