Personality Theory Paper

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Personality Theory Paper

Personality Theory Paper


In 1993 Susanna Kaysen released a memoir titled 'Girl, Interrupted'. The book was about her 18 month stay in the McLean Hospital's mental Institution. Her experiences were unique in the sense she managed to forge reasonably stable friendships. Although her stay was tainted by episodes of violence and nonconformity, but in the end she did manage to get out. The book was adapted into a Hollywood movie and the paper attempts to look at the main character as portrayed in it. The paper is also going to look at Kaysen's personality from a Psychologist's perspective. In that, we are going to examine the character and apply the theories of three individual theories. The theories we intend to examine in the light of the character of Susanna Kaysen are, Freud's Psychodynamic theory, Allport's theory of traits and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.


Demographic Background

Before we attempt to examine the character under discussion, let us first take a look at the character. Susanna Kaysen was born in Cambridge, MA and was the daughter of an MIT professor and a child suffering from possible neglect. She grew up to become a writer, and her works are mainly autobiographies as she was able to record her experiences not only in McLean Hospital, but also Faroe Islands (Kaysen, S 1993). She had a gift for remembering details and this helped her a lot as a writer. She voluntarily checked in to the Mental Institution in McLean Hospital after she took an overdose of aspirin. Her personality was multifaceted, and when she checked in to the hospital, she showed signs of that personality. She had the capacity of imbibe from her environment, hence her friendship with inmate Lisa, who was a diagnosed sociopath. We will now see how the three chosen theories may be applied to the character of Susanna.

Freud's Psychodynamic theory

Freud's Psychodynamic theory can most importantly be applied in case of what Susanna was diagnosed with. Hers was a case of Borderline Personality Disorder. According to Freud a person's early experiences play a big role in the development of his or her personality (Cherry, 2012). In Susanna's case, her diagnosis came about after she had spent some time at the mental hospital. The basic argument in BPD or Borderline Personality Disorder is that it is marked by prolonged personality disturbance. Susanna's life in the early stages may have suffered from acute negligence due to which her personality could not develop fully (Clark, L. et. al 1999 pp. 293 - 323). Also, if viewed from his psychosexual approach, Susanna's personality was incomplete at the time she was eighteen. She had an affair with a much older teacher of hers. This could also indicate towards a sense of belonging which her own household failed to provide her. Furthermore, her personality was not changing with the changing environment that eventually led to the diagnosis of BPD. Her grades at school were not satisfactory, and the fact that she dropped out of school at an early stage only ...
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