Clinical Model of Personality
As a clinical psychologist, it is crucial to develop a personality model to establish a point of reference in personal practice. Through a comprehensive model, the psychologist is able to create a thorough perspective on personality to assess behavior, understand and help clients as much as possible by using the model to select the most appropriate interventions, and connect with colleagues with similar models, as well as being open to other perspectives. My personal model is a hybrid between the theories of two of my favorite psychologists: Carl Jung and Abraham Maslow. Their theories resonate with me because they originate in the humanistic, existentialist, and transpersonal psychology, giving life a purpose, and human consciousness a vast and brilliant interpretation.
Theory of Human Nature
Human beings are fascinating creatures. Each individual holds a personal unconscious, which is comprised of the ego, memories, and aspects of the self that one may or may not be aware of. The specific components are unique and vary depending on the person. However, we are all connected through the collective unconscious. It can be looked at as a conceptual web, holding images and influencing our experiences and behaviors unconsciously. We are born with this knowledge and tap into it’s memory banks through the lifetime, accessing it’s inherited predispositions to help us function and understand the world around us. One aspect of the collective unconscious are the archetypes. The archetypes help create a mutual understanding of personalities and life , and organize various roles and symbolisms to create an invisible structure. An example of an archetype is the persona, our social mask that helps us create an appearance we present to the world and how we relate to others.
Theory of Development/Socialization
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a perfect classification of our needs, motivations, and development. The model is formed as a triangle, starting with the most basic needs, and coming up to the more ethereal needs, in order of importance. At the base are the physiological and biological needs (air, drink, food, sleep, etc) , then come safety needs (security) , followed bybelongingness and love needs (relationships, etc) , esteem needs (self esteem, etc) , and finally, self actualization needs (self fulfillment, personal growth, etc.) towers at the top. When a child is born, their primal needs revolve around food and feeling safe. They then begin to develop a relationship with their mother, and the people in their lives. As a toddler, the child starts forming a personality and self esteem. Self actualization doesn’t come in the development until later, usually when the child is an adult, and is aware of personal growth and achieving their outmost potential. Within the one’s development and journey through different phases of life, the Hierarchy of Needs will constantly resurface, and the individual cannot move up the pyramid successfully when the lower needs haven’t been met. If need(s) is repeatedly not being met, it may cause dysfunction in the future.
There is a fascinating connection between Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the chakras. The chakras are an Indian/Eastern spiritual concept, and believed to be energy centers of the body. There are 7 chakras: the root chakra at the base of the spine (responsible of safety/security), the sacral chakra at the navel (considered to be the sexual and indulgence center), the solar plexus below the breasts (will and self esteem), the heart chakra at our heart (unconditional love and emotions), the throat chakra at the base of the throat (communication and expression), third eye in between our eyes (intuition and mental abilities) and the crown chakra at the top of our skull (enlightenment/self actualization). The ancient chakra perspective is parallel to the model and resembles it closely. Through ensuring that all the needs are met, in both the spiritual sense and psychological terms, one can be fully functioning and in a good state of being, and thus able to reach self actualization. As the person reaches self actualization, they develop the “self”, the archetype that encompasses both consciousness and unconsciousness. Human beings are complex creatures composed of many parts, and it is crucial for all the aspects of oneself to be acknowledged and expressed in harmony and acceptance, or else difficulties begin to arise.
Theory of Motivation
According to the Hierarchy of Needs, the nature of the individual’s inner conflict and evolution within the pyramid determines their motivation. If, for example, someone can’t afford food or doesn’t feel safe, they are stuck at the bottom of the pyramid and are motivated by their desire for physical/safety needs. Another individual who had a difficult relationship with their parents and never felt love, might not be able to move past belongingness and love needs. They will be motivated by having a relationship and needing to be loved in order to feel good about themselves, and thus raise their self esteem. Human beings are motivated to reach the next step on hierarchy of needs, until they reach their true capacity, self actualization. It is the personal growth, self awareness, and development of the self so that one’s capacities are fully engaged and utilized, passions ignited, and potential maximized. Later in life, once stability is achieved and the basic needs are met, the individual begins reaching for something higher. They start a search for their true self, and their unique purpose in life. This is not easily achieved and make take a lifetime, but it is a driving force of vital importance to well developed adults. Through becoming self actualized, the ego does not cloud judgement and the individual reaches their personal outmost potential. Peak experiences enhance self actualization, accompanying a sense of purpose with feelings of bliss. They are considered to be the most fulfilling of experiences, which are moments of the greatest joy, and usually result from doing something that makes the individual happy. This feeling of ecstasy is rewarding, and makes one want to achieve their wildest dreams and be in perfect harmony with themselves, living out their full potential.
Theory of Dysfunction
Understanding the nature of dysfunctions can drastically help individuals who have trouble functioning in their day to day lives and/or adjusting to their environment. The most prevalent and influential time of development rests in the younger years, however at any point of a person’s life, a need that is repeatedly unmet can cause dysfunction. Such as with Esme, the difficult relationship with her family from childhood created a block in her heart chakra (which later led to her cancer) and an imbalance in her belongingness and love needs, which isolated her and prevented from forming healthy relationships. Mr.A’s constant misunderstandings and fights with family caused his whole Hierarchy to crumble, making him lose not only his self esteem and love, but also his safety through constant anxiety and somatic issues. Our basic needs have a bigger effect on us than we realize. Trauma and unmet needs need to be examined and evaluated in order to understand the root of dysfunction and begin to change patters.
Carl Jung believed that archetypes exist not only through the perception of the outside world, but also within personalities. An important archetype that most tend to repress, is the shadow. This is an aspect of the personality that is hidden, a negative trait that the conscious self usually doesn’t recognize. Unless thorough inner work is done, the unwanted qualities of the shadow tends to get projected onto other people, or the individual might get dominated by the shadow all together. Issues stemming from the shadow can present themselves to be as seemingly mild, for example, as anxiety and social dysfunction, or as serious as neurosis and borderline personality disorder. Dysfunctions and psychological issues might stem from inability to face and work through the shadow, that is why it’s important to address and figure out the root issue through exploring the shadow side with the client. Another archetype that was mentioned earlier, the persona, can have a detrimental effect on someone who has an underdeveloped sense of self. Muriel, for example, over-identified with her social identity, and when the mask came falling down during a breakdown, she lost her very self that was transparent within. Lack of individuation prevents an individual from understanding and developing a self, thus relying on aspects such as the social mask (persona) to define them. It’s extremely difficult to examine one’s own trauma resulting in shortcomings and negative traits, therefore individuals should seek the help of a professional when they become burdened by inner turmoils to help bring clarity and lasting change.