The Social Dynamics of Self-Esteem: Theory to Therapy

By R. A. Steffenhagen; Jeff D. Burns | Go to book overview

7
The Conflict Theory of Personality

Chapter 6 discussed culture and its impact on the development of personality; now we will develop a conflict theory of personality from our self-esteem model. First, we need to recall the three levels of ego: the worldimmersed level, the transcendental level, and the ego-strength level. The world-immersed level of ego we equate with Mead's Me. Behavior mediated through this level of ego is consistent with the mechanistic model, as mechanism is a function of science and technology grounded in a physical reality. The mechanistic model lays the groundwork for the later work in behaviorism, which presupposes that all behavior is a function of the stimulus/response pattern. McClelland's definition of personality stems from the mechanistic tradition, epitomizing the behavioristic approach. It presupposes that the conceptualization of behavior is quantifiable by the scientist and is a function of the unit of time. This is in contradiction to Gordon Allport's definition -- it is devoid of the abstract concept of the soul or the psyche and presupposes that man is a function of biological evolution. The Me or material level of the ego results from participation in a social milieu -- people's perceptions of others' perceptions of them. It is a hard-core deterministic conceptualization of behavior, resulting from the socialization process and consistent with the childhood deterministic approaches to personality theory.

In our model we will equate the world-immersed level of ego with the material/situational model, consistent with the mechanistic position. It would be totally ludicrous to deny the existence of a distinct material reality, since we are physical bodies operating in a physical universe, all of us controlled by physical laws. The material level is composed of mental, physical, and social components, as we have stated. The situational

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