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On Personality

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Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea

0 posted 04-23-2000 09:58 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

In the Feelings forum Nan made a comment that your personality is more or less set by the age of five. I've heard this idea before (actually as I remember it, it was three).  I wonder where this idea comes from?  I wonder if a 'disinterested' person could meet someone at six and then at sixty and tell if that person were indeed the same (without little clues likes names, history and so forth).

Does this come from the idea that brain development stops at an early age? Kris, maybe you could help out here?  If so, how does the recent (last ten years) discovery that the brain continues to grow throughout our lives change this idea, if any?

I also have some ideas on why so many people who see each other after a long period of time often remark: "Why, you haven't changed a bit."  I'll try to get back to this later but do not wait for it.  I'm squeezing this one in as it is.  

Senior Member
since 12-18-1999
Posts 1566

1 posted 04-24-2000 12:28 AM       View Profile for warmhrt   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for warmhrt


Yes, they do say that personality is set early in life...some are saying one is born with a certain personality. I know my two children had totally different personalities from the time they were young, and many of those traits are still with them. They have changed in the way they express those traits, however, as they mature. Hasn't your mother or another relative said, "You still have that sense of humor", or "You've always been shy", or something similar?

They've found that shyness is inherited, and shy people are usually hypersensitive. This is a part of their personalities. I can attest to that...I, and my youngest daughter were shy from whenever it is possible to detect. I have found that as you grow older, it (the shyness) has lessened, or perhaps I have just learned coping strategies. I'm not sure, but I'm leaning toward the latter.

They are learning more and more about the human brain every day...we really know very little. If shyness is genetic, wouldn't other personality traits be also? Then environmental and other factors could come into play in how these traits are expressed, often changing as we grow and mature. Make any sense?

P.S. Thank-you, Brad, for making me feel more welcome. I sincerely appreciate it.

 the poet's to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name ~ Shakespeare
Member Elite
since 09-18-99
Posts 2641
Whole Sort Of Genl Mish Mash

2 posted 04-24-2000 10:52 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Interesting post, Brad.  I tend to agree that personality is something at becomes more or less set at an early age.  

During the interview process for my current job I had to take a personality profile survey that pegged me as an analytical/contemplative and task oriented personality (Type "C" of four types ... Type "D" is Dominant personality, Type "I" is influencer and then there is one other I cannot quite remember).  Most people tend to show strengths in on or two of the types on the test.  

After I was hired, the interviewer told me that my falling under the high "C" category was initially a concern of theirs, fearing that I would not take the initiative, etc. But in relating how I have approached problems in my past work experience, I convinced the interviewer (now my boss) that I am capable of performing tasks well that usually wouldn't fall under the Type "C" strengths.  I recognized, however, that I was only able to develop some of the Type "D" strengths by will and discipline.

To my point ... I think it is a mistake to suggest that a person's personality is locked in such a way that they are unable to overcome their natural tendencies through persistent discipline (Brad & Kris ... I don't think either of you are suggesting this, by the way).  It may take considerably more effort for a naturally shy or tentative person to be aggressive but it is certainly very possible for a person to overcome natural tendencies.

I am not certain if the organization of the brain determines personality type or not but I am well aware that our behavior shapes the organization of our brain.  It follows that personality is not set inside impermiable boundaries, but rather, is shapable, given time and effort.

Just some random thoughts on the subject.

Brad ... if behavior has been shown to shape the organization of the brain, what does that do to those who argue that brain organization is genetically determined?


[This message has been edited by jbouder (edited 04-24-2000).]
since 04-26-2000
Posts 118
Amherst, MA, USA

3 posted 04-26-2000 05:35 PM       View Profile for 7   Email 7   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for 7

Argh. I had just finished typing a REALLY long reply to this and then my computer froze. Don't you hate that?

Basically what I was writing was a reply to the personality type thing. Types and definitions can be helpful and interesting, but for me they've always been restricting. When I was twelve or thirteen I discovered the Myers-Briggs test on the Internet. I became fascinated with my "personality," ENFP, and I bought a book and began to figure out other people's types. I then fell into the habit of thinking that this definition was what I *had* to be, otherwise there must be something wrong with me. For example, if I came across a situation where I had to be rational and logical, I became discouraged because ENFP's aren't "supposed" to be logical. And if I felt shy or quiet I immediately felt ashamed because Extraverts (the E in ENFP) are "supposed" to be outgoing. Now I constantly label people and put them in boxes, and I become confused or even annoyed when they jump out of those boxes for whatever reason.

I understand that these type systems make psychology more convenient, but it really screws things up sometimes. Who you are really can't be defined by a few letters. We are all unique, after all.

Great topic! Sorry if I'm straying from the original question.

Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea

4 posted 05-04-2000 03:06 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I've heard many people say these things and I've wondered at what point are relatives, friends, or whoever looking for those similar traits and the expense of the different one's.  I'm not suggesting that they aren't there but I am suggesting that such comments inevitably de-emphasize the different. I'm questioning the ability of any person to see the whole of another.  I worry that, like Jim's and Seven's post above, there is the danger of essentializing a personality to a certain point and then NOT being able to other facets to that person (I think we agree  on this by the way).

I don't believe that a person can become a completely different person but I believe change is what happens to us all.  I wonder if at times we should spend more time looking at the difference and less time looking at the similarities to our past.

Anyway, sorry it took so long to get back to this.


Angel Rand
since 09-04-99
Posts 140
London UK, and Zurich Switzerl

5 posted 05-04-2000 06:14 PM       View Profile for Angel Rand   Email Angel Rand   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Angel Rand

This is indeed a very intersting topic. I agree with warmhrt on this.
I have recently read up on abusive ppl and their co-dependents. It is suggested that especially co-dependent ppl (rather than just "mere" victims) enable and attract abuse through-out their lives because they have learned at an early age to be care-givers rather than takers. Children are very self-centred, meaning that they attribute anything that happens around them as directly connected to some of their own behaviour. It is after all very common for children to think that their parents are getting a divorce for example because they weren't good enough. I have read that since children with depressive or substance abusing or ill parents/siblings do not get the attention they naturally need, they try to deserve it as they again see themselves at fault. Apparently very often such children grow up to become co-dependants. This means that they attract and are attracted to ppl and situations familiar to them. Meaning ppl who cannot or will not give them the attention and/or love that is healthy and normal in a relationship. They follow what they have learned from early on and try to deserve love by giving beyond a balanced give and take. They feel responsible for other ppl's feelings and actions. In fact to be able to make some one feel good, gives them a sense of selfworth that they lack otherwise. They try by their actions to control the feelings of an other.
Abusers are not that different. Abuse like co-dependence is a set of maladaptive, compulsive behaviors learned by family members in order to survive in a family experiencing great emotional pain. They try to control their environment just like co-dependents do. Like co-dependents, abusers try to to be safe from hurt. They strike out precisely at those ppl who are dearest to them because the closer you are to someone the greater their power to hurt you.
In both cases it has been suggested that these behavioural patterns are formed in early childhood. It has also been suggested that these compulsive behaviours can be passed down through generations after generations.
So it would be simple math to say, if the character of a co-dependant or an abuser is determined by the age of no older than five, that these cannot be changed. Luckily there are many recovery stories that prove otherwise.
But on the other hand, interestingly enough, there is a helpgroup for co-dependants called CodA which, in its set up is very similar to the AA. Alcoholics call themselves alcoholics for the rest of their lives even if they haven't touched a drop of the stuff in 20 years, say. So it might follow that a co-dependant and an abuser alike really remain that for the rest of their lives too, even if they have recovered and have successfully changed their bahavioural patterns.
Just thought I'd throw in my newly acquired knowledge on such matters.
Angel, recovering co-dependant/victim  

[This message has been edited by Angel Rand (edited 05-04-2000).]
Member Elite
since 09-26-1999
Posts 2646
Ontario, Canada

6 posted 05-11-2000 07:33 PM       View Profile for Marilyn   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Marilyn

What if we went deeper into personality? Where does it come from you ask? Is it chemical? Is it electrical? Is it found in our DNA strand?

Personally I believe our personality is directly linked with our brain function (chemical and electrical impulses). Look at people who have sustained serious head injuries. Their personalities are changed and in some cases completely altered. The brain is a highly complicated organ and we know so little about it. There are also cases of personality changes when there is an imbalance in the chemistry in the body. Electrolite balance in the body plays an important role not only in our physical well being but also our mental state.

This whole area fascinates me and I have done some reading on the matter. Scientific minds have tried to analyze and explain the function of our grey matter and we still have serious questions. How can we ever really know how the human brain works when it is such a complicated mass of chemicals and electrical path ways.

It is amazing to me how the brain (when sightly damaged) can find new pathways for the currents to run. Human tissue (other then the epidermic tissue) do not recreate themselves to repair damage (like a reptile can). So can can a person who's, say speak pathways, have been damaged in someway, relearn how to speak?

Just some food for thought.  

[This message has been edited by Marilyn (edited 05-11-2000).]
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