Personality Dynamics and Development

Personality Dynamics and Development

Personality Dynamics and Development

Personality Dynamics and Development

Excerpt

In this book, I have attempted to trace the formation of human personality from infancy through old age. In undertaking such a broad objective, I have had to grapple with an almost infinitely complex process which is determined, in turn, by a galaxy of intraindividual and interpersonal forces. No single book can pretend, therefore, to exhaust the range of variables that might be applied to an elucidation of this topic. Instead, it is necessary for an author to select those determinants that, to his mind, appear best to account for the most significant aspects of personality development.

If he were confronted by complexity alone, the exercise of judgment would be difficult enough. Unhappily, however, anyone who presumes to deal with the dynamics and development of personality must also contend with the prevailing paucity of theoretically crucial and methodologically unequivocal research. In short, a solid base of scientifically verified knowledge in this field is lacking.

Having so quickly exposed our vulnerability, I feel obliged to assure you that we psychologists abhor the vacuum of uncertainty and endeavor to fill it with reliable knowledge. We have put our trust in science as the most efficacious tool of enlightenment. Yet, owing precisely to our dedication to objectivity, we are mindful of the chasm now separating our scientific aspirations from the actuality of their attainment. Indeed, it is probable that we may never fully overcome some of the problems inherent in our attempt to adapt the scientific method to the vagaries of human behavior. Accordingly, in the closing chapter of this book, I have striven to enlist your sympathetic understanding of the obstacles that block the path to the fulfillment of our scientific intentions.

In the light of the current state of our science, the principal contribution which any account of personality development can hope to make lies in the extent to which it succeeds in imposing coherence upon ambiguity. Since the challenge of conceptualization is the most . . .

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