Monday, April 14, 2008

Personality Quirks

A totally unscientific theory of personality.


An area of interest to me for most of my adult life, which has filtered through my puny brain in various guises for a long time, is the development of personality. Which has intertwined itself, with my ever constant, sometimes rather narcissistic search for the who of me (or whole me).

This idea of the forming of our personality, is somehow, mixed up with my very inadequate understanding of quantum physics. Crazy combination? Doubtful, since I am far from alone in my attempt to combine the causality of personality with science in the determination of various characteristics (there are many scientists much smarter than I who have done so).

The earliest theories of personality were based on the divine aspect...the Gods made man and gifted him with some of their divine essence, that free will inherent within us all, but man kept defying the Gods......the Gods did not like this one bit, thus they needed a place to hide the essential divine self of each human. Humans are instinctive explorers...they can find anything (was the Gods way of thinking). So, the Gods found a place to hide our essential nature, (our intellectual soul as Plato called it), in a place it would be most difficult for us to find and examine...they hid it within man himself. We humans have been searching for it ever since.

Other theories, such as Darwin's theory, followed along his lines of survival of the fittest, we are born with our personality intact, we have no control over it. The nature side of the argument.

Some theorized that we are solely shaped by our environments, our personalities develop in direct response to the who/what/where/how/when of our lives. The nurture side of the argument.

I am of the Adlerian mind set. The other three theories, are intuitively too simple. At their bare bones definitions, we are either born with our personality wholly formed as in the nature or divine theories, or it is solely shaped by our environment...nature vs. nurture. Each alone just does not seem logical, I have known too many people who's characters have changed over the years of their living, some quite drastically, some would say it was done to survive...but there is change, control, choices made...thus a single influence just doesn't work. Alfred Adler, called it "soft determinism, heredity and environment are modified by personal decisions."

That makes the most sense to me. We are born with basic personality traits (the divine or nature)...but from that point on, the environment in which we live, (what we experience), and, how we emotionalize/intellectualize it, has great influence on how our personalities develop over time. Gender Roles and Birth Order are good predictors of certain personality characteristics, thus environment has to play a role. Yet within us all, is that basic belief that we just we are...deep inside. Think of a newborn baby, is it a "blank slate" waiting to be filled?

The nature side of the equation: Even though there have been no definitive answers (that I know of) found in regard to a genetic predisposition for certain characteristics...I have to question. What about distant family members whom we have never met, yet when we do meet, we find so many similarities between ourselves? With only one of my multitudes of cousins, there is a bond, we have only met twice in our lifetimes, meetings that were 20 years apart, yet, both times we did meet, it was as if we were two halves meant to be together. The connection between us was palpable to all, it was commented upon...oh was it commented upon! We were drawn to each other, so much so, that we would unconsciously find ourselves wandering off alone together to talk. Even though we had a family connection, we were also strangers, yet it never felt that way. We now talk on the phone at least once a year, but each conversation is like it is a continuation of our previous conversation. One could argue against the nature aspect by saying, our parents were raised in the same environment, and much of our western world culture during certain time periods is very much alike, thus it is environment that defines personality, and created our emotional connection...but I think it is more, because I do not have that bond with my other cousins.

More on the nature side of the argument: Are we all not made up of matter? So...broken down to the smallest known unit...or my known unit anyway...we are all made up of quarks. Think of their names, these infinitesimally small quarks: Up, Down, Strange, Charm, Top and Bottom. There are times when those labels feel very descriptive This is nature, yes? But, quarks observed are affected by the observation itself...they come into existence as an influence of the environment, which in turn influences/changes the environment itself. (thus nurture?)

The nurture side: "Some parents can really fuck up their kids." ( I am paraphrasing a comment made by a friend). If our personalities are inborn and unchangeable, how can parents fuck up their kids? Yet, we all think of it as verity of life.

This is a subject my mind has often noodled around with; How many parents do and can fuck up their children. (one of my main goals as a mother was to have children NOT in therapy by the time they reached the age of 35)

Well before I reached adulthood, I considered myself to be...quite...fucked up. The first time I heard the definition of neurotic, I thought, "Hell that's me!" But then I realized I am not emotionally unstable...although...I do have my moments of extreme emotional unease...I have a complete understanding of why I often behave the way I do/did (the emotional choices). I may act, or have acted in ways I have often found unacceptable, but I don't lose myself for long in the utter neurotic emotionality of it all. When I search for the reasons behind my actions, I have always been able intellectualize them, find the answer. I may not always wish to accept it, but I do know. This seems very practical to me, it fits who I know me to be. I can become lost in the emotional aspects of my life, but, I will eventually change my focus to the causation of the emotion and or subsequent behaviors, and begin to think much more clearly, in a more logical way.

Ever constant flip flopping emotionally, and existing solely on emotionalism, isn't one of my character flaws. But I do find aspects of my personality confounding. My intuitive knowledge of what I know to be a good 'fit' for me (divine and/or nature) is often counterbalanced by what I have learned over the years.

A most influential part of our early development is our environment, and who creates that early environment? Our parents, our families, whether they be biological or not.

As we age and leave home, we then help determine our environment (free will again)...but it is still influenced by our basic personality traits.

By the time I was eight years old, I knew I lived in a very unusual family...we were not like other families I had experienced. There were secrets I wasn't supposed to tell. I had two families, the social one, and the one hidden behind the walls of our home. By the time I was 12, I knew I was different. But I didn't blame my parents. Children are very narcissistic, I was sure it was something about me. In my youth, I always imagined the best part of being an adult, was not being fucked up. As an adult, now well into my 48th year, I still consider myself...fucked up. One theory of youth blown!

In the way I interact within intimate relationships with others, I see many flaws in the portrayal of my personality...these flaws were learned behaviors, a direct consequence of my childhood and early adult environments. My early experiences shaped the way I give and take, shape the way I often move openly forward, then withdraw at a midpoint in a relationship, then move back... a learned fear plays a big role there. Early environmental dysfunction influenced my behavior as a lover, daughter, sister, friend. I keep a distance, then I allow closeness, then pull away again, it takes effort, (my basic nature battling nurturing and free will), for me to continue to be open to others.

Maybe...this search for a whole sane homogenized the need to have all of our quirks bond into one. But, instead, due to the various aspects of our selves and our environments interacting, all those nanoseconds of perceptions and realities that make up our lives, that fill our brains with memories... all of that, has us in a constant state of ionization. We want to bond, but instead we find so much about ourselves that is nonsensical, illogical, separate from who we want to think of as our 'whole self''. The introspective among us humans are often seeking a self that bonds into one serenely peaceful contented happy clump of an entity.

But instead we had parents. And. Parents fuck up.

My parents are only human. Far from perfect. They screwed up big time in some ways. In response to the varying degrees of positive nurturing or lack of they provided me, my basic personality skewed off in different directions. If nurture alone determined personality, my siblings and I would not be such different beings, we shared the same environment. If nature alone were the determining factor...again why we would be so different, as we share the same genes? It was how we intellectualized our environment, it was how our essential selves incorporated what we learned, that helped to form our many differences, which in turn influences the choices we now make.

Thus my environment, my genetic predispositions, and my divine (intellectual) soul shape my personality. As a child I learned a certain mind set that continues to determine my character, my...self. As a young adult this mind set led me to other environments, which led me to form various relationships, who more often than not, were very much like one or both of my parents or siblings. I, in turn, incorporated all of this data into my...self. My developing personality determined the choices I made then, which continued the process of my growth as an adult.

To me personality is a combination of nature and nurture, genetics and environment, and the divine. Because, along with all of the nature/nurture stuff, there is some mystery to us, some entity, some force, some something, within us that is more than flesh, blood, and bone. Our spirits, our souls, that part of ourselves which is a combination of our conscious and unconscious minds, and more...I don't know how to describe just fits...we are each more. We have the divine within us.

In this somewhat narcissistic seeking to accept myself, my many illogical oxymoronic personality quirks, I have to accept all of my quirks...the me-quirks that make up the charge which in turn creates the composite which is me, myself and I. The clumping together of my personality quirks.


I really am just...fucked up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

is it possible to express your thoughts in a less profane way?