Personality Development

Personality Development

Personality Development

Personality Development


This book draws out the essence of a range of personality theories in a clear and accessible way, moving from the seminal works of Freud and other prominent analytical theorists, to the stage theories of Erikson and Levinson and the development of personality as it is viewed in existential and person-centred theory. The text:

Highlights the salient points of different personality theories
Critiques the theories
Examines important aspects of personality development neglected by previous books on this topic such as spirituality and the development of racial identity and gender.

The book reflects strongly on the context from which the theories sprang and seeks to trace how this context has influenced the theorists and their disciples. It also highlights the similarities between the concepts and structure of many of the theories. The authors, both themselves experienced counsellors and trainers, try to evaluate which elements of the theories can be useful to the work of the therapist in the twenty first century. The book is illustrated by examples from their case work.

Personality Development is a valuable new resource for practitioners, lecturers and trainers as well as students of counselling, psychotherapy and psychology.


A major aspect of intellectual and cultural life in the twentieth century has been the study of psychology – present of course for many centuries in practical form and expression in the wisdom and insight to be found in spirituality, in literature and in the dramatic arts, as well as in arts of healing and guidance, both in the East and West. In parallel with the deepening interest in the inner processes of character and relationships in the novel and theatre in the nineteenth century, psychiatry reformulated its understanding of the human mind, and encouraged, in those brave enough to challenge the myths of mental illness, new methods of exploration of psychological processes.

The second half of the twentieth century in particular witnessed an explosion of interest both in theories about personality, psychological development, cognition and behaviour, as well as in the practice of therapy, or perhaps more accurately, the therapies. It also saw, as is not uncommon in any intellectual discipline, battles between theories and therapists of different persuasions, particularly between psychoanalysis and behavioural psychology, and each in turn with humanistic and transpersonal therapies, as well as within the major schools themselves. Such arguments are not surprising, and indeed objectively can be seen as healthy – potentially promoting greater precision in research, alternative approaches to apparently intractable problems, and deeper understanding of the wellsprings of human thought, emotion and behaviour. It is nonetheless disturbing that for many decades there was such a degree of sniping and entrenchment of positions from therapists who should have been able to look more closely at their own responses and rivalries. It is as if . . .

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