Social Psychology

By Daniel Katz; Richard L. Schanck | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
THE NATURE OF PERSONALITY AND METHODS IN ITS STUDY

The social world presents such a complex scene that it cannot be grasped in its entirety from any one approach. The man on the street perceives a cross-section of social phenomena. He sees the uniformities and differences in human behavior, and he beholds the interaction of people in primary-group activity. He misses, however, the development of social processes, for he does not stay with one situation long enough to see its historical unfolding. He also lacks an intimate knowledge of the specific people who are playing roles of varying degrees of importance in the social drama, since he has not been able to follow the same individual through a long period of time. In this section we shall supply this second omission of the man on the street, namely, the knowledge of specific people, more technically known as the study of personality.


The Clinician as the Observer Who Sees the Problem of Personality

Until yesterday our knowledge of personality was largely derived from the field of abnormal psychology. While laboratory workers were exploring the processes of the generalized normal mind, psychiatrists were investigating the personality organization of maladjusted human beings. Pierre Janet and Morton Prince contributed their classical studies of dissociated personalities. Sigmund Freud described the stages of development through which the individual passed in his psychological maturation. While social psychologists observed the overt struggles of men adapting themselves to society, Freud concentrated upon the internal conflicts associated with this process

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