Describing myself is a complex thing to do because there are different layers to my personality and different events and experiences that shaped me into the person I am today. My name is Shaleah Rice and I am a twenty three year old student at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in the faculty of Science and Technology. I would start off by saying I am strong, motivated, hard-working, loyal, shy, creative and I dislike a lot of attention on myself. In addition, I think that I am compassionate, caring, nervous and independent. In my opinion I am very family oriented and culturally aware of those who came before and I like to be aware of the current events in society. I am an only child and had a mature thought process from an early age. For example, as other ten year old children were outside playing games, I found it necessary to read a book or do homework. From a young age, I was overlooked or had negative experiences with others such as bullying and was timid to the world and afraid to speak up for myself. As I age and develop, I am now open to the world around me and new experiences it has to offer though cautious due to my past episodes in life. At times I tend to be passive in certain situations and resort to my younger self and let others have their way. Balance is something I strive to achieve in life. I often find that I am my self’s worst critic and I can be very hard on myself resulting in low self-esteem at times. I am always thriving to do better or push myself further. I am very analytical and usually think of all the possible scenarios which could occur before I attempt a task. In addition, I am very self-conscious and aware of the way I carry myself and the way others perceive me. I at times find myself wanting to belong and find my place in the world, ultimately leaving my mark on society. I intend to further describe of myself by using Carl Jung’s personality theory as well as Alfred Adler’s personality theory.
Carl Jung was a Swiss psychologist who founded analytic psychology, which emphasized the unconscious mind. Jung believed the purpose of psychic energy was to motivate an individual in several ways, including creatively, intellectually and spiritually. He also stated that it was an individual’s motivational source for seeking pleasure and reducing conflict. Jung agreed with Sigmund Freud that our the past and childhood experiences determined future behavior, he believed that we are shaped and motivated by the future as well. (McLeod,2018) According to Jung’s theory of Personality, the psyche can be divided into three parts. These are the ego, the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. The conscious ego is concerned with the sense of self, it includes emotions and memories we are aware of. Through the ego we are motivated by the future. This applies to me because as a student I am motivated to learn and achieve my degree due to the future possibilities gaining a good job and living a comfortable life. This is a driving force for me at this stage in my life. An important aspect of this theory is the mental attitudes of extraversion and introversion. Introverts are people who prefer their internal world of dreams, thoughts, feelings while extroverts prefer the external world of objects, interactions and activities. From Jung’s theory, I am an introvert, meaning my energy is focused towards myself, my shy personality is evidence of this. However, according to Jung, we can possess both attitudes though one may be more dominant over the other.
The next aspect of the psyche is the personal unconscious, this is not a part of conscious awareness. It is made up of repressed or forgotten memories. Little mental effort is required to recover these memories. The personal unconscious is also applicable to my life as any childhood trauma such as bullying would be stored in my personal unconscious and may influence my future behaviour and how I approach relationships with others. Due to past experiences, I am now wary of others and tend to observe before I interact with them in fear of being hurt. Lastly, the third part of the psyche is the collective unconscious, this is the most controversial contribution to personality theory. This aspect is comprised primitive latent memories, images, symbols or ideas that are shared with other members of the human species which came from ancestral and evolutionary past. ‘The form of the world into which a person is born is already inborn in him, as a virtual image’. (Jung, 1953) Certain aspects of our personality such as culture and beliefs are passed down from generation to generation. The collective unconscious is present in my life as I know there is a higher power, God, and I possess the desire to do the right things and draw closer the that higher power. My grandparents are religious, the generations that came before them are also religious, so I believe this was imprinted in me from birth to know there is an entity in the universe, which stronger than I am. I identify with certain religious symbols such as the cross and understand the importance of it. The fear of being punished by God for doing wrong is a part of what drives my moral compass. In addition, I am historically aware of my ancestors and the mark slavery left on the world. I know of the sacrifices they made and that motivates me to do better for not only myself but for them as well. In order to know your future, you must be aware of your past. I believe I received my interest in history and historical artifacts from my father. At times when there is a topic at hand to discuss, I at times imagine the worst-case scenario. This is a characteristic of mine that was perhaps developed as a result of my grandmother. For example, when she hears her children are going to the beach, she becomes anxious and the word “drowning” immediately comes to mind. Now, the same goes for me and I hear a word and think of negative outcomes and become extremely cautious.
There are various aspects of the collective unconscious that have developed into sub-systems of the personality. Archetypes are images and thoughts which have universal meanings across cultures which show up in dreams, literature, art or religion. (Boeree, Personality Theories Carl Jung, 2006a) Jung labeled these archetypes the persona, the self, the shadow and the anima or animus. The persona is the outward face presented to the world. It hides our real self and Jung describes it as the “conformity” archetype. This is the public role, an individual showcase to others as someone different to who we truly are. The persona aids describing myself because depending on my setting I adjust my behaviour to match. When I am comfortable with people such as family and friends, I can tell jokes and laugh but when I am in a professional setting or just meeting someone, I am quiet and reserved. Then there is the self, which provides a sense of harmony in a person’s life. Jung, the believed that the aim of every individual is to achieve a state of unity and completeness in the personality. Personally, I am always striving for balance and wholeness of my personality. I would always like to stay true to who I am. The Anima/animus is another archetype which is mirror image of our biological sex, the unconscious feminine side in males and the masculine tendencies in women. Lastly, the shadow. It is the animal aspect of the personality. It is the source of both our creative and destructive energies. I am a creative person and enjoy arts and crafts therefore I agree with the is aspect of Jung’s personality theory. Jung’s stages of development are childhood, middle adulthood and middle age. I am in the stage of middle adulthood where Jung stated the libidinal energy is focused on education, family, career and community work. I agree with this as I am currently at the stage in my life where I am focusing on my academics, my career as well as being very family-centered. For these reasons I believe that Carl Jung’s theory of personality describes certain aspects of my personality well. However, Carl Jung’s theory on personality does have its faults. One of these was the use of his techniques for assessing the functioning of the psyche is based on both science and the supernatural. This results in both a mystical and objective approach. He included myths, cultures, religions and symbols in this theory to explain his personality theory. In addition, his theory is unfalsifiable and many of Jung’s concepts have not been tested so it is unknown if it is accurate for the general population.
The other theorist I intend to use to describe my personality is Alfred Adler. He founded individual psychology and was a colleague of Sigmund Freud. Individual psychology is focused on the uniqueness of each person and denied the universality of biological motives and goals that were told by Sigmund Freud (Schultz & Schultz, 2009). In his opinion, personalities are designed by unique interactions and social environments. Adler concluded much of his theory from his own childhood experiences. He believed that children are constantly striving for the goal of superiority to overcome the feeling of inferiority (Adler, 1927). Another important aspect of this theory is that the futures goals of an individual serve as motivation in their life. He stated that humans all have goals they strive for and when those goals are not met, we doubt ourselves and our abilities. With this doubt the inferiority complex is introduced. The inferiority complex is the condition when a person is unable to compensate for normal inferiority feelings (Schultz & Schultz, 2009). Feelings of inferiority may also serve as a driving force to accomplishment. Compensation may occur as a result; this is the motivation to overcome inferiority to strive for higher levels of development. (Schultz and Schultz, 2009) Adler’s personality theory can be used to describe me to some extent as well. Feeling of inferiority may be present when I am disappointed by a failure in my life, I work harder the next time around though it may not be easy. For example, If I do not do well on a test, the next time around I am motivated to do better even employing coffee and long hours in order to remain awake and study. Feeling inferior has always been a driving force for me, when I was bullied in my younger years and made to feel inferior by others, I just worked harder in order to succeed in other aspects of my life, this is said to be compensation. At times, I become overwhelmed with events in life and feel inferior. I resort to my younger years when I did not feel like I was good enough and my self-esteem was low. Then I use music or think of what I have been through as a source of motivation. As humans we are all striving for perfection and superiority. People who have a sole focus on their own superiority at the expense of others are said to have a superiority complex. This factor does not apply to me as Adler viewed these persons as boastful and arrogant. I do not bask in the downfall of others and I am able to realize that no matter how much I try I can never be perfect because the truth is nobody is perfect in this world.
Adler’s theory suggests social interest is the potential to cooperate with others and achieve personal and societal goals. Though it has a biological element, he believed that social interest is innate. I am compassionate, caring and generous, I believe I get these attributes from my mother, who is a nurse and receives fulfillment by helping others. As human beings in this world, we cannot be fully functional without a community or some interaction from others. I believe we have obligation to help others the best way we know how. He also noted the importance of a mother-child relationship and how components of the personality such as cooperation can be passed down from mother to child. My mother is one of the most important people in my life and played a vital role in my development. She nurtured me and we share a similar personality. Therefore, I believe the mother-child relationship portion of Adler’s theory is accurate. Adler proposed that birth order is an important social influence in childhood and in turn, shape our personality throughout our lives. He spoke of four situations: the first-born, the second-born, the youngest and the only child. I am an only child; this has shaped my personality in some ways because I did receive more time and attention from my parents. I am independent and self-sufficient because I never had any siblings to depend on or to communicate with, so I learned to do tasks on my own. In addition, being an only child has taught me to enjoy my own company, therefore I do not always require the presence of others. He stated that the only child always remains the focus of the family and matures at an early age accurately describes me and explains my maturity and high level of responsibility before some of those in my age group who had siblings. Adler added that only children experience difficulties outside of home due to them not being the center of attention. I however do not agree with this assessment because I do not enjoy being the center of attention. This aspect of the theory may not be generalizable because some people react different ways despite their birth order. Not all only children have the same personality and not all second-born behave the same. Adler also believed that early recollections help to shape a person’s beliefs or views of others. An example of this in my life would be as a child I observed my parents working hard and going to work daily to achieve things they want in life, now I have the mindset that in order to achieve what I want in life such as a house, I must work hard. Therefore, that approach to work ethics has stayed with me throughout my life. He also believed that dreams are always an expression of one’s lifestyle. Adler had four personality types, dominant, getting, avoiding and socially useful. My personality matches the socially useful type because this type of people cooperates with others and acts in accordance with their needs. These people cope with problems within a well-developed framework of social interest. The issue with Adler’s theory is that it is difficult to falsify.
In conclusion, it can be said that both Jung and Adler’s theories both describe my personality to some extent. There are various aspects throughout these theories that explain why I am the way I am, some may be due to childhood experiences, family history or those who I am surrounded by. However, some aspects do not apply to me for example, the superiority complex and the birth order theory from Adler’s Individual Psychology because I do not require a lot of attention. These theories may not be accurate to everyone, as it depends on the individual, they are not generalizable. Though these theories may be used to describe my personality at present they may not be used to describe it twenty years from now, as I believe this is not the final phase of my personality and there are more layers to come when I age and go through more experiences in life.