Essay On Psychology

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Personality is a term that has been used to refer to a long-standing thinking patterns, behavior and feeling. Someone’s personality constantly displays the traits, for instance the person’s mood are described as showing the person’s overall personality (Miller, 2011). Someone’s personality is inclusive of traits such as, attitude, coping of styles which are developed throughout childhood and as well as adolescents. Personality could be thought of as consistent style that governs how you relate with others as well as the environment and develops as a result of both genetic and influences from environment (Keefe, 1999). Through the deep study of the child development theory as stated by Erik Erikson, there is a relation which links the trust and mistrust state of a person to their personality.

Depending on how the child develops through these stages, the person can have various personality disorders (Sneed, 2006). The stage is said to occur at the period between birth and 18 months of any child. This is because it shapes the personality of the person. According to Erik Erikson; childhood is one of the most significant stages in life. In order for us to understand what personality disorders entail, it is very important to establish the definition of personality. From this point, it is easy to be able to explain what the disorders are for and establish their relationship to personality (Sneed, 2006). This paper studies Erik Erikson’s state of trust and mistrust aiming at finding its relation with personality.

For us to have the best understanding of personality disorder, it is very essential to understand the disorders are for what. This means that we have to first understand what personality is. Personality is quiet stable construct. There are various ways through which the definition of personality can be approached. The most important and significant one is that of trait theory. This theory describes personality on a number of scales, the most common one being the OCEAN model (Miller, 2011). The major traits that are depicted in this particular model are: openness to novelty, extraversion, and agreeableness and as well as conscientiousness. Clinically, these traits can be used while mapping the personality of an individual. It is very important to note that personality is very stable over time. Personality is influenced very much by the temperament, which happens to be a genetic factor.

Personality also is determined by some experiences that were faced while still during the childhood. The age is particularly that of between 0-2 years (Sneed, 2006). There are other factors that slightly influence the kind of personality that an individual have. However, it is significant to mention that the major determining crises are as stated by Erik, trust versus mistrust, autonomy versus shame as well as doubt and guilt versus initiative.

As stated by Erik, the very first crises that the child experiences are that of trust vs. mistrust. During this particular time, the child will decide whether to trust the world and has confidence that they are safe in the world, or fail to trust the world and have the perception that the world is cruel and harsh and cannot be trusted. It is significant to state that temperament also influences the child’s choice of perception of whether to trust the world or not with the most prominent impact coming from the mother of the child or the caregivers of the child. A mother who is very caring, nurturing and who always ensures that the child is well nourished and satisfied, the child will likely resolve to adapt the trusting perception (Miller, 2011). However, love and affection is the most important gift that the child will receive from the mother. If the child receives affection and love and the mother shows the child that they are important; they will resolve to have a trusting perception as opposed to distrusting.

The second crisis which a child faces in their early childhood is the autonomy versus shame and doubt. This takes place when the child is between the age of 1.5 and 3 years. This is the second stage that comes immediately after the trust versus mistrust stage. During this stage, the child decides whether he will act freely and express his agency or he is to follow his feeling of uncertainty that prevents their will (Keefe, 1999). Failure to make this an important step in each child may result to the child becoming a fearful and indecisive adult who experiences difficulties coming up with valid decisions.

At this stage, ego is demonstrated to be at its highest level since it’s the time that determines the child is able to act on his own. Meanwhile, another process is taking place simultaneously (Turner, 2005). This is known as the separation-individualism. This stage is very crucial in developing the personality of any child. When the stage takes place in a good environment the child has minimal chances of developing antisocial personality disorders (Miller, 2011). On the other hand, the opposite is also true and could lead to the person experiencing problems conforming to social norms.

The other crisis is that of Initiative versus Guilt (Sneed, 2006). This crisis occurs when the child is about 4-6 years. At this time, the child has to resolve whether to they can take the initiative to seek out desires and thus respond with the required agency they have developed with the establishment of the ego, or if they will be prevented by their huge ego from acting appropriately(Miller,2011). As time goes on, the child gets an opportunity to learn the various social norms and the acceptable social behaviors which are not suspicious to the society.

Many researchers and theorists describe early personality development as a complex time for any individual. According to Erik Erikson’s stage one of trust versus mistrust, the child becomes what they are given. Erik states that the child becomes what they are given by the caregivers. An infant is innocent and helpless at this age and solely depends on their caregivers for needs (Keefe, 1999). It is at this stage that the child gets to learn whether the world that they are living in can be trusted. When the child is hungry, and cries, what is done in response to their situation make them have a certain perception of the world and this gets into them (Miller, 2011).

This way they judge the world around them by either having the trust or the mistrust notion (Turner, 2005). What happens when the child’s bottom is wet? What does the child’s caregiver do when the child I am afraid? If at these circumstances the child is attended to, shown comfort and fed, they will learn to trust the world around them. However, it is important to state that just by feeding the child; changing their diapers and comforting them do not guarantee that the child is going to trust the world around them. They require more than just this simple gestures, and this can be only achieved with the right attitude. What this does is that it creates a better communication channel between the child and the caregivers.

They learn that whenever they are in need, there is someone who is going to take care of them. Some people argue that too much attention is harmful as the child will become spoiled (Miller, 2011). Contrary to this claims, the child at this stage requires all the love that they can get from their caregivers, and spoiling is not a big deal to the infancy stage but in the childhood stage. Sigmund Feud initially described early personality using his drive theory as well as the psychosexual development. Some of the most pertinent include the oral, anal and phallic steps. These same stages correlate with what Erikson had earlier stated. In spite of the fact that very many psychologists have shunned away from the use of psychosexual terms, the American culture which still makes reference of the psychoanalytic terms, referring people to as anal when this is highly restricted(Sneed,2006). Some of the most prominent derivation of psychosexual developments is the Erikson’s stage s of development, previously mentioned. Structural theory shows the internal psychological structures which comprise the self of a person (Miller, 2011). These include structures such as the Id (which operate on the principle of pleasure), ego (which is controlled by the principle of reality) and the superego which is the portion of ego that can be described as the conscious (Turner,2005). The id demands instant gratification of desires. People develop ego in order to control their Id (the power to determine what is to be pursued and what is not to be pursued).

The personality development and theories have been a great topic of interest for some of the most prominent thinkers for the field of psychology. It is also important in terms of the concerns raised by the psychiatrist while understanding how we become what we are. In addition, while understanding our personality, some basic principles and tools used in the diagnosis of psychiatry are important while being analyzed. It is very important to note that personalities make us unique. Some of the theories normally focus on the various aspects of personality development, which include the cognitive, social and moral development (Russell, 2011)...

The Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development is a theory that is relevant while understanding personality from different views. The central idea of this theory remains to be an important aspect in spite of the fact that most of his aspects did not stand the test of time. One of the critics received from Albert Einstein referred to Piaget’s discovery as simple. He continues to state that any genius would have thought of his idea by having quite some time on his own. The cognitive development involves changes that occur in the cognitive processes as well as abilities. According to Piaget, early cognitive development encompasses processes based upon actions and later develops into changes in operations of the mind. Another aspect that determines the personality of a person is the schema. A schema depicts and describes mental as well as the physical actions which are involved in the understanding as well as the knowing. These are categories that enable us to interpret and understand the world in a wide and comprehensive manner. According to Piaget’s, a schema incorporates the category together with the knowledge. With the development of experiences, the information that is received as new is used to modify, to add as well as to change the schemas that are already in existence. For instance, a child may have been having a schema about an animal, example being a dog. If a child’s experience has been all about small dogs, he might think that all dogs are small, furry and have four legs (Miller, 2011). When the child experiences a bigger dog, they will modify the information that they previously held about dogs.

Personality disorders are a group of disorders which show inflexible and maladaptive patterns of showing the relationship with others which bring about the destruction of day-today functioning. Personality disorders have extreme traits that make the interaction with other people difficult. The signs of personality disorders are evident from early adulthood, which is the period that personality patterns are already established in most people. There are more than ten personality disorders

These disorders are classified into clusters according to the similarities that they have in terms of symptom logy (Russell, 2011). Antisocial personality disorder is classified together with borderline personality disorder, narcissistic disorder, and histrionic personality disorder. The people who have these disorders have significant impairments in terms of establishment of interpersonal relationships (Russell, 2011). Antisocial personality disorder is a kind of chronic mental condition which makes that person’s ways of thinking, situations concerned with perceiveness and the manner of relating with other persons fail to function as appropriately as it is meant and instead makes it destructive.

Those people who have these disorders tend to disregard all the legal frameworks of the set rules and are less concerned with other people’s feeling and emotions. Generally this people have a tendency of crossing the line and violate other people’s rights (Keefe, 1999). This behavioral pattern begins at childhood and develops into adulthood and becomes a way of life for that particular person. This particular disorder is distinct as it exemplifies persistent behavior that violates other people’s rights. From the term, anti-social, it is clear that these people tend to be having behaviors which are not compatible with the norms of the society (Turner, 2005).

These people initially appear to be very charming and intelligent but come out finally as being manipulative and grandiose. Such people are likely to engage in criminal activities, behaviors which are manipulative and enjoy exploiting others. This people are immune to punishment as they do not have. It is commonly referred to as a psychopath in some well known cultures. The symptoms of anti-social personality disorders are numerous. Some of the most conspicuous ones include a general tendency of conforming to social norms.

They also have a deceitful behavior. Anti-social people tell lies to avoid confrontations and facing the truth as established by the social norms. People with this disorder also display a high level of impulsivity. Their careless attitude makes them not to recognize the need to plan ahead. Therefore, they never plan for the future. The level of aggressiveness in these people is high and is evident from constant physical fights that they occasionally engage in. People with anti-social personality disorder are irresponsible which is characterized by the fact that they fail to show any consistency in work behavior. These symptoms are as a result of the trust-mistrust that they experienced in their childhood. It is clear that among other factors, these people have the mistrust perception of life and their environment, and this makes them feel as outcasts in the society.

There are many causes which have been attributed to be the causative agents of disorders of personality. The biological point of view examines the roles of genetic as well as the brain functioning in the development of disorders of personality. Evidences have shown that some personality disorders are caused by the genetic combinations in the individuals. Research has shown that patients who have these anti-social disorders have in one way, or the other experienced some mistreatment or harsh environment in their youth such as sexual abuse, domestic violence as well as the early loss of a parental figure (Russell, 2011).

It is said that such experiences may have contributed heavily on the personality disorder of these patients. According to a theorist of development Erik Erikson, a sense of trust especially at the early stages of childhood development is a very important component of the normal personality development. Erikson maintains that the basic sense of either trust or mistrust is developed at the early childhood years. Therefore, as previously stated, the harsh experiences, which a child faces when they are young, are very important influencing the choice of either trust or mistrust of the world around them. Some experiences such as being abandoned by a parent foster a mistrust sense about the world in the child’s mind which later affect the personality of the child. This effect not only affects the individual’s personality temporarily but also is attributed to a permanent negative attitude towards the world. An experiment which was conducted by Harry Harlow explored the effects that attachment has on the personality development of individuals. Harlow comes up to a conclusion that rhesus monkeys, which were separated from their mothers just after they were born, displayed abnormal behaviors later on in their life. Some of the behaviors that these monkeys displayed include fear, aggression, having difficulties engaging in mating behaviors and as well as having difficulties parenting their offspring.

Another proof of the relationship between anti-social personality disorders and trust-mistrust state is the genetic factors. It has been proved that children of parents who engage in criminal behavior are also likely to engage themselves in criminal activities as well. Learning theorists also suggest that behaviors which are anti-social can be picked up from mimicking parents who have similar behaviors.


Miller, P. H. (2011). Theories of developmental psychology. New York: Worth Publishers.
Russell, D. L. (2001). Literature for children: A short introduction. New York: Longman.
Sneed, J., Whitbourne, S., & Culang, M. (January 01, 2006). Trust, Identity, and Ego Integrity: Modeling Erikson's Core Stages Over 34 Years. Journal of Adult Development, 13, 3-4.
Keefe, P., Jackson, K., Alberta Educational Communications Corporation., Trouble in Mind Productions., & University of Alberta. (1999). Anti-social personality disorder. Seattle, WA: Trouble in Mind Productions.
Turner, F. J. (2005). Social work diagnosis in contemporary practice. New York, N.Y: Oxford University Press.