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Postby Princessvenom » Sun Oct 07, 2012 3:17 am

I've been reading some material lately on the development of personality, and in particular narcissism and borderline personality traits, both of which seemingly link back VERY heavily to Freudian theories of development.

I was just wondering what you lovely cultured people thought of Freud? Complete maniac or genius and on the right tracks? I don't know what to make of it all, really. He seems a little mad, but also makes some logical sense at the same time.

Boring personal bit: I'm currently undergoing analysis(I guess it's that?) by psychiatrists sort out some issues which for a good 15+ years have interfered quite severely with life. We're aiming to finally get my diagnosis, so I can get some help with my university degree course for the life disrupting aspects. But I was quite surprised by the suggestion that it could be my personality at 'fault'. So I was advised by the last doctor to read up on these things and see what I thought.

I know Freud is extremely controversial in some circles; who wouldn't be for being obsessed with penises, faeces and a cocaine addict?! But, personal issues aside, it makes me wonder whether or not a person can develop debilitating/dysfunctional personality traits due to severe traumas at 'key' life points? And if so, is it even possible to change these things? Once it's happened and is 'set' in your personality, is that who you are forever once you've reached adulthood - you can't undo any 'damage' done once you've matured to adulthood, via whatever kind of therapy available? Can a personality even BE disordered?
Or is your personality something you're born with?
Can you change a personality?
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Postby MySanityDoesFly » Sun Oct 07, 2012 4:27 pm

I can't pretend I have read up on Freud on any serious level, but I do take a great interest in some of the issues you've raised here...I am strongly of the view that when a child is born, he/she is essentially a blank canvas (on a psychological level). It's from the instant that the child is exposed to outside influences that their personality character is shaped. All life experiences, no matter how great or small, shape it in some way. I firmly believe that no one is born with a set personality. That would imply that personality is genetic, which I don't believe it is.

I do believe that any alteration to a person's psyche can be 'undone', for better or worse. If one life experience can make that change, another life experience can potentially change it back.
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Postby muskurov » Sun Oct 07, 2012 8:17 pm

I've tried many times to read and enjoy Freud's works, with almost no success so far. Last attempt was a few weeks ago with "Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality" whose ideas I find odd, mad and at times amusing.

MySanityDoesFly wrote:It's from the instant that the child is exposed to outside influences that their personality character is shaped. All life experiences, no matter how great or small, shape it in some way.


Very well said. Totally agree.

I think that in most cases personality does not change suddenly and easily. Instead it slowly develops or evolves with time and experiences. In that sense every new experience changes a bit of one's personality. Yes, dysfunctional personality can be developed as a result of emotional trauma. And then with proper technique/therapy/support it can be treated.
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Postby Princessvenom » Sun Oct 07, 2012 9:35 pm

I've just downloaded the complete works... we shall see how this pans out ...
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Postby MySanityDoesFly » Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:45 pm

muskurov wrote:I think that in most cases personality does not change suddenly and easily. Instead it slowly develops or evolves with time and experiences. In that sense every new experience changes a bit of one's personality. Yes, dysfunctional personality can be developed as a result of emotional trauma. And then with proper technique/therapy/support it can be treated.


:beerchug:
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Postby The She-Wolf » Mon Oct 08, 2012 2:13 am

I am holding in my hands (or rather was, before starting to type :)), Steven Pinker's "The Blank Slate". I bought this book in the hope of getting an answer to one of my biggest enigmas: What the hell is that thing they call human nature?

I've only read two chapters so far and then had to stop for lack of time (I need a reading vacation). Those chapters are very interesting, describing the historical importance of the blank slate theory and how it contributed to the modern world. I hope to be able to resume my reading very soon.

I basically always believed the blank slate theory to be correct, although not to an extent of 100%, since Genetics also plays a part (as recent research has shown). Upon reading an interview with Steven Pinker, I understood the author thinks the same way. So, we can be basically shaped by our culture, but we are not born a blank slate. Every person is already born with a potential, let's say, to develop in one of various possible directions, and it is this potencial that is subsequently shaped by the environment. It's just not the case that you can be anything, can have any personality whatsoever and what you turn out to be is just due to the environment you grow up in.

Here's what's written on the back cover of the book:

"In the past century many people have assumed that we are shaped by our environment: a blank slate waiting to be inscribed by upbringing and culture, with innate abilities playing little part.
Steven Pinker's profound and essential book shows that this view denies the heart of our being: human nature. We are prepared for sex, aggression and jealousy -- and also love, compassion and reason. Violence is not just a product of society; male and female minds are different; the genes we give our children shape them more than our parenting practices. To acknowledge our nature, Pinker shows, is not to condone inequality or callousness, but ultimately to understand the very foundations of humanity."

In case anyone has a good idea of what is human nature, I'm willing to know it.
Freud is a fine example of 19th centuries prejudices against women. And for many people, including myself, Psychoanalysis is a pseudoscience.

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Postby Princessvenom » Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:28 am

Good ol' Freud certainly did worship the penis a bit, didn't he! hehe.

I know there are certain genes which are shown to influence personality, but again these are genes which have the ability to be 'switched on/off' (for lack of a better phrase!) depending on environmental stimuli. I wonder if this would explain as to why mental illness/personality disorder and so on are more prevalent in certain societies than others. Such as, would you ever find a borderline or a sociopath in an Amazonian tribe who has had extremely limited contact with anyone outside of their secular society? Or is it that we have 'evolved' such a peculiar way of raising children in modern 'developed' society, that it, to put it bluntly, fucks up kids' heads for the future?

Certainly does give me food for thought. Especially when I consider the upbringing me and my sister had; we're both girls, same parents, 2 years age difference, and one of us is pretty functional, the other has spent over a decade in and out of psychiatric treatment. One of us loves kids, the other abhors the thought of caring for other humans. One has a slightly below average IQ, the other qualified for MENSA. (I'm not admitting which way around all of those statements are! :P ) all in all we've had very similar life experiences but have ended up complete opposites. Yet, by the little Freud I have read, we both appear to have serious 'Daddy issues' lol.

I just wonder whether there really ARE certain developmental milestones, where if something happens at the wrong age, even seemingly trivial, it can change the course of your mind or personality for the long term. Whereas if it happened a year later or earlier, it would be completely trivial and not effect you at all? Which could explain how me and my sister end up completely different, despite having the same upbringing?
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Postby muskurov » Mon Oct 08, 2012 6:30 pm

First I should state that I’m far from being a biologist, so please correct me when I’m wrong.
The She-Wolf wrote: "the genes we give our children shape them more than our parenting practices."

I do not agree with this as it is unprovable which is more and which is less. I tend to agree more with the way you described it. Genes define potentials which will be or not developed according to the environment and decisions the person makes in life. As I see it, we are born blank with some limitations and predefined genetic properties.
The She-Wolf wrote:(as recent research has shown)

This sounds rather interesting. My next “reading vacation” :) should include some of these researches.
Princessvenom wrote:One has a slightly below average IQ, the other qualified for MENSA.

As far as I know there is no gene (or group of genes) that define the range of one’s intelligence. Also intelligence is not inherited from our parents. Of course if I were a result of an incest (which I suspected as a child), the probability of being mentally and/or physically retarded are higher. And therefore my possibilities of being anyone I want would decrease.

This subject is rather interesting to me and I can’t stop to wonder, would it be possible in a given time, your intelligence and this of your sister to be switched. In the sense of one to be reduced and the other stimulated and increased. Of course such an experiment would be rather unethical.
The She-Wolf wrote:In case anyone has a good idea of what is human nature, I'm willing to know it.

Here is an idea, if it is good or not is it for you and the others to decide. Human nature is the behaviour humans have, independent of any outside influences. Under this definition I would put basic human instincts like self preservation and procreation. I’m still not sure about hunger/hunting and sleep. If we consider some common human fears, let's say of spiders, I think it is a result from the surrounding culture and experiences the subject has. As it turns out I actually believe that the human nature are our beastly traits :idea:
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Postby Princessvenom » Mon Oct 08, 2012 6:43 pm

Precisely, there are genes which can influence but it's the environment which activate the genes, like flicking on a switch if you wish.

Such as there is some genes which predispose individuals to anorexia nervosa (the disease, not the band) but you can possess this gene harmlessly. It's an environmental stimuli which 'turns it on' and can cause anorexia to manifest in the subject. It's theorised to be a virus which does this, similar to mononucleosis. That's the only one I can think of off the top of my head currently, but there's quite a few.

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/born-rag ... rior-gene/

Here's a good documentary about the 'Warrior gene' which was theorised to cause aggression, but has since been somewhat disproved, but it has advantages in other areas.

Another very controlled example would be things such as genetic modification of genes to be 'turned on' by medications, such as antibiotic. Tph2 gene (to do with serotonin production in the brain) can be controlled in genetically modified mice to be inactive until you give the mouse tetracycline. Then it 'turns on'. The same can be said for environmental stimuli, viruses, bacteria, etc. to humans. It occurs naturally in nature too :) so perhaps this is the case with certain personality influencing genes?
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Postby Danhod » Thu Oct 11, 2012 7:13 pm

I like the beard :)
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Postby Princessvenom » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:51 pm

It is a cracking beard
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