As this semester is drawing to a close, Professor Geoffrey Blowers, who is teaching Personality Psychology course, asked us to write a paragraph of ourselves starting with our names while giving a lecture on George Kelly’s theories. Given the shortness of time, neither were we able to complete the task in class, nor Professor Blowers required us to. He, however, asked each one of us to speak out the first sentence we wrote in turn. Having found the exercise quite fun to start with, I decided to pick up where it was left off after class. The more I wrote, the closer I examined how I thought of all the notable theorists the course has covered this semester. I might as well share it here for everyone’s interest.
“Frank, unlike Oscar Wilde, has no wit to declare while being asked to produce his character sketch at such a short notice. Besides, Frank finds his ‘self’ being eternally intangible and elusive, yet always fascinating and inviting exploration that he can hardly conclude its nature in a few words. That’s why he keeps reading, thinking, searching online, and taking psychology courses believing that they may unfold parts of the picture to him if not entirely. The more he reads, though, the more confused he becomes since the dimension of the subject keeps changing as if it is a shifting target.
While reading Freud, unconscious being spoken of as a real entity was buried deep beneath everyone but Freud’s detection as if it remained hidden under the canopy of his beard. Each thread of the hair, like dreams and slips of tongue, might hopefully lead us to the unconscious deep once groomed properly. When it didn’t budge or ended up in a tangle, the beard must be plucked out hair by hair until the repressed substance was uncovered. It (psychoanalysis) was painful and by no means pleasant. Neither was a happy ending guaranteed after the repression was removed. Even Freud himself never shaved, the jaw cancer lurked behind his beard still took its toll. It seemed that his obsession to tragedies from which he drew all his Oedipal fantasy had not freed him from Fate but tragically hastened his own demise. Besides, usually only man grows beard, right? Frank wonders if Freudian beard fits on female chins as well.
Jung, on the contrary, attempted to break free from all kinds of complex throughout his life, including the one with Freud, and sought reconnection or reconciliation with what he termed as “Self” as if no one had ever realized its significance although Frank found Jung’s idea reverberating much with Buddhist notion of “enlightenment”, “awakening”, and “realization and reunion with the ultimate reality” which had been practiced well before Jung’s times. Unfortunately, every break in Jung’s life ended up with more complexes than anyone could resolve. Not until the notebook he kept to himself made accessible in print as The Red Book did his readers get a glimpse of the other side of his “self” apart from that portrayed in his MDR. Frank was not sure if “individuation” was a good idea, but he was sure that “himself” should have been much simpler than Jung’s.
With sympathy for Alder’s physical deformities, Frank found Adler easy to identify with. Having been brought up somewhat like an underdog himself under the shadow of his academically and professionally bright elder brother, Frank endeared himself with Adler’s inferiority complex immediately after he read his life. What keeps Frank inferior psychologically still is the fact that Alder was a real psychologist, and he is not! To compensate the absence or the inability to grow beard with which so much passions could be repressed, Karen Horney, whose name Frank couldn’t help making perverted association (“Horny”, huh?), appealed to her beloved female audience with her reframing of psychoanalysis as well as her exemplary sexual (mis)conduct. But Frank could never have been born the other way round, could he? Horney, except for her name, unfortunately failed to make him click. She was eventually buried in Frank’s mind with a coffin, named feminism.
Frank had come thus far to learn that every one of these individuals ranking high on either side of the Hall of Fame within psychoanalytical circle had his or her own conundrums to brood. Ironically, the solutions they offered which were supposedly catered for themselves individually did not work out as fine as they had expected or for everyone else. Yet their quest of “self” lived on.
Erich Fromm’s idea of turning love into art, which required practice and hard work, offered Frank momentary bliss. Eventually he believed that he had found something workable and worth working on. However, the everlasting upbeat undertone anointed by Fromm’s religious upbringing presented a problem. The language Fromm employed somehow resembled evangelical Christians’ with which Frank found a bit hard to reconcile. On the other end, computational measurements emerged and were followed by a package of traits which Kelly eventually incorporated with his techniques which looked like peeling onions. Of course, the experience, just like peeling the onions, would make one cry once the person who underwent such a procedure realized his own imperfection. At this point, Frank did not find Kelly’s approach much different from Freud’s hair-plucking analysis. The circle seemed to have come a full round.
Nonetheless, Frank is still as curious as another classmate, who started her character sketch by saying so, about what is in store for him on his quest of himself in the personality course. He has not found his answers just yet.”