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During a recent session my therapist wound up on the topic of personality. When I got home I originally jotted down a few fast notes for a later blog entry. Tonight, I finally got the chance to write the entry I wanted to write last week.

These are a few of my personal thoughts on personality. I will start with a definition of personality as it relates to psychology. Personality is defined as:

  1. the sum total of the physical, mental, emotional, and social characteristics of an individual.
  2. the organized pattern of behavioral characteristics of the individual.


Social scientists would argue that the personality is strongly tied to and defined by our environment. This is something that I would have to disagree with and disagree with strongly. Our environment does not define our personality. Our environment may help influence it, it may contribute to it on some level, but it does not define it.

We should define our personality and not let our environment define it for us. When we talk about the environment defining our personality, we begin to talk more about personality disorders. When our environment defines our personality we run into the problem of an unstable sense of self-identity.

The reason I say this, is that if our environment were to change, it could cause a ripple effect within us. It could cause us to question everything about ourselves. It can lead to us to changing our behavior, possibly radically in order to adapt to the new environment. It takes away any sense of continuity of our identity.

If our environment controlled our personality, wouldn’t everyone in the same area have the same personality? Yes, you often see people living in the same area sharing certain personality traits, but they do not have the same personality. They still have individuality and unique personalities.

Also, if we say that our environment controls our personality, we start to go down the path of saying that a person is not responsible for their actions because of their environment. It takes away self-accountability. We need to remain accountable for our own actions. If environment controlled our personality, then there would never be ‘good’ people in bad environments or ‘bad’ people in good environments.

We need to be able to adapt to changes in our environment but at the same time our underlying personality needs to remain. Our personality is a fundamental part of who we are as human beings, it helps differentiate use from one other and from other parts of our environment.

We have to fight to maintain our own identity. We need to understand our personality and why it has formed the way it has formed. Yes, there are times when we will need to modify our personality, but it needs to be us that modify it not our environment that modifies it for us.

Posted: February 11th, 2012 under My Journey, Thoughts, Thoughts on Mental Health.


Comment from John Carter - 2012/04/12 at 00:53

Finding a new blog that’s interesting is always great – Thanks

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