Personality

Personality

Personality

Personality

Excerpt

What I have set out to do in this book is simple enough. I have wanted to produce a theoretically oriented text in the psychology of personality. The need for such a text clearly exists today. We have, on the one hand, a number of excellent introductory texts on personality, mental hygiene, personal adjustment, and the like and on the other, a number of more advanced technical books about personality written from some special viewpoint such as psychoanalysis or the Rorschach Technique. This book is aimed at a level somewhere between these two approaches, a level which will require the knowledge of basic introductory material and make use of specialized contributions within the clinical field. The treatment throughout is theoretical rather than practical and applied. The justification for this, if justification is needed, is that theory must always precede application. Today the social pressure for the application of psychological knowledge to problems of personal adjustment is enormous, yet as Angyal so rightly says, psychiatry, and one might add clinical psychology, is "the application of a science of personality which does not as yet exist." This book is intended as a contribution to the theory of personality. As such it may be useful in some way to clinical psychology, but that is not its primary purpose.

While the purpose of the book is simple enough, its execution is not. To do the job well requires a knowledge of practically all of present-day psychology, since all that psychologists know is needed to conceptualize adequately the single personality. This presents some difficulties. In the first place, how can I or any one person know that much? In the second, what about the prospective student? What must he know before he tackles such a complex subject?

The first difficulty poses some real problems. Consider for a moment what a psychologist ought to know before he ventures to speak with any authority about personality. To begin with, he must be thoroughly grounded in the basic principles of psychology, in learning theory, for instance, where he should be able to deduce a theorem from Hull's postulates, draw one of Tolman's "balloons" properly, master the facts on conditioning and learning, and so . . .

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