SOME ASPECTS OF THE PHENOMENOLOGY
OF THE PERSONALITY


by Mary Henle (1962)
(fn 1)

(first published in: Psychologische Beiträge, Band VI, Heft 3-4, 1962, S. 395-404)

2nd part

Another aspect of the experienced self is the facade, the front we present to the world. We say: "I could see I was making a bad impression." The critic is here not criticizing the innermost self, but rather the impression the self makes. The facade is what JUNG calls the persona (e.g., 1953, pp. 154ff.), again a phenomenal fact. We say somebody that he is a stuffed shirt, and we mean he is all facade with little of interest beneath. Facades present as great a variety as people do. Sometimes there is a considerable contrast between the real person and the front he presents, so that we occasionally have surprises when a person´s situation changes. On the whole, though, the persona is an expression of the person himself; and like other expressions, it is characteristic of him. Like our clothes, the persona serves the functions of protection and adornment.

We see another dimension of the phenomenal self in the following example: "That´s an idea of mine I don´t take particularly seriously." Here we see the realist in conflict with the dreamer. Some of us have a more developed dreamer than realist, while with others the realist carries more weight. For example MINNIVER, who curses the commonplace, is letting his dreamer crowd out the realist. On the other hand, THURBER´s man who "doesn´t know anything but facts" might well allow more scope to his dreamer. The dreamer says: "I think I´ll take a trip around the world," and the realist retorts: "Fine. And what will you use for money?"


Space does not permit a continuation of this analysis, though we have by no means exhausted the phenomenally distinguishable aspects of the personality. I will only add that, although conflicts are experiences, as in some of the examples given above, these experientially distinct aspects of the self work together, on the whole, in an organized manner, with reference to each other if not always in harmony. Furthermore, they are not all experienced together. Ordinarily, it seems, we divide ourselves phenomenally into two or possible three at any given moment. The paradigm is the dialogue, not the mob scene.


It has been indicated above that an adequate psychology of personality cannot be limited to a psychology of consciousness. Of what use, then, is this kind of phenomenological study? First of all, this is an important source of facts about the personality, most of which have been neglected by current theories. In addition, several problems will be mentioned, to whose solution this kind of material might contribute.

  1. As mentioned above, conscious experience itself points to a realm of existence that is not conscious (cf. KÖHLER, 1938). Whatever their disagreements, most psychologists of personality are agreed on a role of unconscious processes in the determination of behavior and experience. But unconscious processes, by definition, cannot be known. Whatever their nature, however, a great deal of evidence suggests that they can find expression only in behavior or by way of conscious processes; and other kinds of cooperation between conscious and unconscious processes - ways of working with mutual reference to each other - also seem indicated. In the light of such considerations, it is a plausible hypothesis that conscious functions have their unconscious counterparts. Thus any useful new categories on the side of consciousness might yield avenues of approach to corresponding unconscious processes.

  2. Another possible application of this phenomenological approach is to the psychology of interpersonal relations. As a starting hypothesis, it is suggested that the phenomenally present inner figures here described may give us a clue to the kind of person an individual seeks and the kind of person he is able to relate to outside himself. Thus we may seek the outer friend - or many outer friends - in place of the inner friend who is not sufficiently developed. Of course outer friends are essential, but they cannot replace the inner friend. In fact, without some development of the inner friend, it seems that we cannot relate to the outer one. If we do not like ourselves enough, we will not believe that the other likes us; if we do not accept ourselves enough, we will not let the other accept us.
    To take another example, the dreamer may seek his realist outside. Don Quixote had his Sancho Panza. But unless he has the experience of an inner realist, he will probably not be able to put up with the outer realist´s lack of imagination, his soberness, his concern for pedestrian realities. And the realist who has not developed his inner dreamer may search for an outer one; but when he finds him he will be distressed by his flights of fancy, his impracticality, his inability to keep his feet on the ground or to look where he is going.
    Again, our relations with the outer critic depend to a large extent on the development of the inner one. If our inner critic is fair, objective and judicious, we will be able to accept outer criticism when it is warranted and objective, and profit from it. If the inner critic is harsh, unfair and without humanity, we will experience outer criticism also as attack, and we will run from it or counterattack. If our inner critic is undeveloped, so that we have not had the experience of good inner criticism, the chances are that we will be able to use little of the criticism we are offered so freely from outside. Then criticism is likely to be met with exaggerated resentment, and unwarranted criticism is likely to be attributed to hostility rather than to error.
    It is perhaps unnecessary to add that the nature and development of our inner critic is importmant not only for how we take criticism, but also for how we give it to others. (fn 3)
    It was mentioned earlier that we often tend to personify the phenomenologically distinct functions of the self. The present discussion illustrates one sense in which we literally do this: the tendency so seek in other persons those functions insufficiently developed in us. But it has also been suggested that our relations with the individuals who personify these functions depend on our own inner development.

  3. To continue with the uses of the present approach: developmental problems, as well as new approaches to individual differences, suggest themselves as a consequence of our phenomenological approach.

  4. The present approach suggests a partial answer to the question of how it is possible to know oneself. When we become acquainted with any outside object, we stand apart from it and are thus enabled to examine it. In the case of knowing ourselves this essential condition of objectivity - the differentiation of subject and object, of knower and known - appears to be absent. (fn4) But if the self is not only single, but also dual or even triple at any given time, there is indeed a differentiation of knower and known, and we have the possibility of standing apart and observing. Knowing the self can now be seen to have something in common with knowing another person. It is not the actor who knows himself, but the observer who knows the actor, the realist who knows the dreamer or the actor, etc.

Corresponding to the various divisions within the person, we come to have a number of views of ourselves. For example, the views of the inner friend and the critic are likely to be different.

This divergence of opinion provides the possibility of a more balanced view of ourselves. Or, if we are less fortunate, one such partial view may become the dominant one. Or else, compartmentalization may occur: the dreamer is allowed his freedom, for example, so long as he keeps out of the actor´s way.

This paper has dealt in a preliminary way with only a single problem in the phenomenology of the personality, namely that of the experienced multiplicity of the self. Many additional problems remain to be studied. Some attention has been given to the matter of ego boundaries, the question of how much of the phenomenal world is experienced as "I" and how much as "not-I". The boundaries of the "you" or the "he" present equally interesting problems. Many aspects of the phenomenology of motivation and of the emotions likewise suggest themselves as ripe for study.


Summary

This paper has dealt with a problem in the phenomenology of the personality, namely that of the experienced multiplicity of the self. We do not experience ourselves as a single undifferentiated "I"; rather, a number of distinguishable functions are phenomenally present. Several of these were discussed briefly; the actor, observer, critic, friend, impulsive functions, facade, dreamer and realist. These act with reference to each other, even if not always in harmony, and ordinarily no more than two or possible three such aspects of the self are experienced at any given moment. In addition to calling attention to a neglected body of data about the personality, this approach seems to clarify a number of problems in the psychology of personality.


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Notes


(3) Of course in all these cases we are dealing with a circular process. Not only do our relations with outer friends, outer critics, etc. depend upon the state of the corresponding inner functions; the development of the inner friend depends on significant outer relations, that of the inner critic depends on our experience with criticism offered from the outside, etc. Since developmental problems have not been discussed here, only the former set of relations has been considered. [back to text]

(4) There are other difficulties in knowing oneself that are not relevant in the present connection . [back to text]


References


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BRUNER, J.S.: Freud and the image of man. Amer.Psychologist, 1956, 11, 463-466.

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FREUD, S.: New introductory lectures on psycho-analysis. Tr. by W.J.H. Sprott. New York: Norton, 1933.

HALL, C.S. & G. LINDZEY: Theories of personality. New York: Wiley, 1957.

HESSE, H.: Steppenwolf. Tr. by B. Creighton. New York: Ungar, 1957.

JUNG, C.G.: Two essays on analytical psychology. Tr. by R.F.C. Hull. Bollingen Series XX. New York: Pantheson, 1953.

JUNG, C.G.: Psychology and religion: West and East. Tr. by R.F.C. Hull. Bollingen Series XX. New York: Pantheson, 1958.

JUNG, C.G.: The structure and dynamics of the psyche. Tr. by R.F.C. Hull. Bollingen Series XX. New York: Pantheson, 1960.

KÖHLER, W.: The place of value in a world of facts. New York: Liveright, 1938.

KÖHLER, W.: Gestalt psychology (rev.ed.). New York: Liveright, 1947.

Mc CLELLAND, D.C.: Toward a science of personality psychology. in: H.P. David and H.v. Bracken (Eds.). Perspectives in personality theory. New York: Basic Books, 1957.

MONTAIGNE, M. de: Essays. Tr. by. E. J. Trechmann. New York: Oxford Univ. Press. n.d.

MURPHY, G.: Personality. New York: Harper, 1947.

NOTCUTT, B.: The psychology of personality. London: Methuen, 1953.

PLATO, Dialogues. Tr. by. B. Jowett, New York: Scribner´s, 1982.

THOREAU, H.D.: Walden. New York: Modern Library, 1950.

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