About Me

The Development of the Personality

The Development of the Personality

Jung believed that personality is determined by what we hope to be as well as by what we have been in the past and by what happened to us then. He criticized Freud for emphasizing only past events as shapers of personality, to the exclusion of the future. Jung believed we develop and grow regardless of age and are always moving toward a more complete level of self-realization.

Jung took a longer view of personality than Freud, who concentrated on the early years of life and foresaw little development after the age of 5. Jung did not posit sequential stages of growth in as much detail as Freud, but he wrote of two general periods in the overall developmental process (Jung, 1930)

Childhood to Young Adulthood

The ego begins to develop in early childhood, at first in a primitive way because the child has not yet formed a unique identity. What might be called children’s personalities are, at this stage, little more than a reflection of the personalities of their parents? Obviously, then, parents exert a great influence on the formation of the child’s personality. They can enhance or impede personality development by the way they behave toward their child.

Parents might try to force their own personalities on their children, wanting them to be an extension of themselves. Or they might expect their children to develop personalities quite different from their own as a way of seeking vicarious compensation for their own deficiencies. The ego begins to form substantively only when children become able to distinguish between themselves and other people or objects in their world. In other words, consciousness forms when the child is able to say “I.”

Childhood to Young Adulthood


It is not until puberty that the psyche assumes a definite form and content. This period, which Jung called our psychic birth, is marked by difficulties and the need to adapt. Childhood fantasies must end as the adolescent confronts the demands of reality. From the teenage years through young adulthood, we are concerned with preparatory activities such as completing our education, beginning a career, getting married, and starting a family.

Our focus during these years is external, our conscious is dominant, and, in general, our primary conscious attitude is that of extraversion. The aim of life is to achieve our goals and establish a secure, successful place for ourselves in the world. Thus, young adulthood should be an exciting and challenging time, filled with new horizons and accomplishments.

Middle Age

Jung believed that major personality changes occur between the ages of 35 and 40. This period of middle age was the time of personal crisis for Jung and for many of his patients. By that age, the adaptation problems of young adulthood have usually been resolved. The typical 40-year-old is established in a career, a marriage, and a community. Jung asked why, when success has been achieved, so many people that age is gripped by feelings of despair and worthlessness. His patients all told him essentially the same thing: They felt empty. Adventure, excitement, and zest had disappeared. Life had lost its meaning.

The more Jung analyzed this period, the more strongly he believed that such drastic personality changes were inevitable and universal. Middle age is a natural time of transition in which the personality is supposed to undergo necessary and beneficial changes. Ironically, the changes occur because middle-aged people have been so successful in meeting life’s demands. They had invested a great deal of energy in the preparatory activities of the first half of life, but by age 40 that preparation was finished and those challenges had been met. Although they still possess considerable energy, it now has nowhere to go, and so, Jung believed, it has to be rechanneled into different activities and interests.
Middle Age


Jung noted that in the first half of life we must focus on the objective world of reality—education, career, and family. In contrast, the second half of life must be devoted to the inner, subjective world that heretofore had been neglected. The attitude of the personality must shift from extraversion to introversion. The focus on consciousness must be tempered by an awareness of the unconscious. Our interests must shift from the physical and material to the spiritual, philosophical, and intuitive. A balance among all facets of the personality must replace the previous exclusive focus on consciousness.

Thus, at middle age, we must begin the process of realizing or actualizing the self. If we are successful in integrating the unconscious with the conscious, then we are in a position to attain a new level of positive psychological health which Jung called individuation




Post a Comment

0 Comments