THE ROLE OF PERSONALITY IN MARRIAGE COUNSELLING

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Chapter 2 The Role Of Personality in Marriage Counselling

The purpose of this chapter is to do a literature study on personality theories and the use of these theories in marriage counselling. Baumeister and Tice (1996:372) write that personality psychology is concerned with some of the most fascinating questions to be found in the entire sphere of intellectual endeavour. How and why do people (read marriage partners) differ? In what ways are they the same? How do they get that way and how do they change? Answers to these questions will be of interest to scholars and researchers working in a broad range of disciplines and their own efforts may often be of interest to personality psychologists. For this reason, they argue that personality psychology should naturally be a major clearinghouse for most of what is discussed in all the social sciences and humanities. Their recommendation for the future of personality psychology is therefore that personality psychologists take seriously the role as administrators of that clearinghouse.
Epstein (1996:435) agrees that personality psychology is the hub of the wheel because of its integrative nature. He says it is distinguished from the rest of psychology because it is a study of the whole person, rather than of intangible variables.
The argument of Epstein, Baumeister and Tice is also applicable to the broader field of marriage counselling. In chapter 5 Gottman is quoted who says that perpetual problems in marriage are mostly fundamental differences in couple’s personalities that repeatedly create conflict (1999:218).
The question is what is personality? Do certain characterizations capture the essence of each person? Indeed, what is someone’s essence? What is the origin of these characterizations?
The answers to such questions are often implicit in the particular approach that a pastoral marriage counsellor chooses. These questions affect a person’s view of sensation, perception, learning, motivation, emotion, or development. In personality psychology, these assumptions are explicit. They not only influence the field; they literally are the field. The psychology of personality concerns itself with people in their entirety, including those aspects that are general, characteristic, enduring, integrated, and functional.
But what are a person’s fundamental characteristics? How changeable is personality? How did someone acquire a personality? How is personality organized? What factors determine behaviourmotives, the self, traits, thoughts, and emotions? How do all those factors interact and interrelate? Are all aspects of personality conscious, or are some parts determined by unconscious forces – how well can someone know himself?
What role do emotions play in personality and behaviours? Why are some people more able than others to handle stress and conflict? Are humans aggressive, or loving?
In the context of this study the field of personality theories addresses the most basic questions of what it means to be a functioning human being in marriage and how to use those theories in marriage counselling. The question the pastoral marriage counsellor should ask is: “Which one do I choose and why?” That is the question of the literature study in the next two chapters. Different personality theories will be discussed and how they are used in marriage counselling in broader terms (not only pastoral).
Before we can discuss personality theories and identity we must also to take note of criticism from another point of view.
Myburg (2000:101) wants to deconstruct identity as it is understood by modernist psychology and agrees with authors such as Hoffman (1992:9) who rather strongly argues that the modernist psychological approach to therapy « with its tests and statistics and probability quotients … (is) a pious hope if not a downright lie ». This « pious hope » or « downright lie », based on the assumption of cognitive psychology that a person’s essence is rational, leads to the notion that not only have humans an essence, « but failing to possess one … [is] tantamount to illness » Myburg (2000:101) further says that in defining treatable conditions, in establishing correct ways o treating them, in inventing newer and better outcome studies, modern psychology is reiterating its strong belief in objective social research. Myburg also quotes Gergen (1991:41) to strengthen his point: « Erik Eriksson proposed that the major achievement of normal development was a firm and fixed ‘sense of identity.’ To cast about in a state of ‘identity diffusion’ was to fail in the basic task of personality development. For Carl Rogers the quest for essence took the form of ‘becoming the self one fully is.’ If others set conditions on their love, the victim begins to set conditions on the acceptance of self. The therapist’s task is to restore a full sense of self-acceptance to the individual. Most existential therapists attempted to restore the individual’s capacity for conscious choice – to establish the centre of active being. »
Myburg (2000:108) does not want to define identity. He says: “Identity per se does not exist. It is not part of « reality » in the sense that identity exists « out there ». At the most, it might be perceived reality. The common perception of the person as « a relatively autonomous self-contained and distinctive universe » is nothing more than a fictitious character, the illusion of a bourgeois ideal. What I perceive to be identity, might therefore tell me more about my world or my place within that world than about my self.”
Myburg (2000:109) also says that social constructionism has … [argued] that selves, persons, psychological traits and so forth, including the very idea of individual psychological traits, are social and historical constructions, and not naturally occurring objects.
Liebert and Spiegel (1974: 9) too say: « Personality is an abstraction and is not observed directly; instead, it is inferred from behaviour which is observed. Personality is an example of a theoretical construct. Theoretical constructs do not actually exist, nor can they be seen or touched. Personality is a construct; constructs do not exist…. It is obvious that our direct knowledge of others is limited to what we can see of their behaviour and what we never directly know that is inside a person. By abstractions, we mean summary labels. » There are voices against this acuity of the constructionists like Van der Ven (2002:291-292) who writes: “The title of this contribution, in which I reflect on some previous articles in this volume in as much as they deal with the relation between social constructionism and theology, expresses a certain ambivalence. It is a response to the title of Gergen’s first article in this book, « Social constructionism and theology: the dance begins”.
Social constructionism makes some interesting points, especially the general insight that every kind of human activity—from perceiving, thinking and feeling to interpreting, evaluating and communicating—is socio-historically and socio-culturally determined. This also applies to activities that we tend to consider extremely individual, private and intimate such as meditation and prayer. It applies equally to those aspects of human existence that relate to the self, such as the moral and religious self, and to what – also in the moral and religious domains—constitutes the individual’s personal identity. This general insight is so fundamental that it seems worth while continually to wrest it from oblivion, expose it, polish it and make it sparkle in all its selfevidence, like a crystal whose multifaceted reflection of light does not blind but attracts and fascinates us.”
Van der Ven (2002:292) says that what he is saying is that this insight is not new and that we should be cautious of thinking that it will help us to explore a brand new, until now unexploited goldmine. The debate on the relation between the individual and society is as old as systematic philosophy itself. Judging by metaphysical, philosophical and social anthropological discourse it is as old as the debate on Durkeim’s The rules of sociological method (1908). It is as old as the tradition of symbolic interactionism established by George Herbert Mead’s Mind, self and society (1934) and, finally, it is as old as the debate on the paradigm of the historian Maurice Halbwachs that has been raging ever since his La memoire collective (1950). This is not to renounce social constructionism, but rather to acknowledge that we are dealing with an ageless theme, an ever-recurring problem or evenas Van der Ven is inclined to think-an insoluble perplexing difficulty. Whatever your starting point, let’s say it is the individual self, sooner or later you come up against the limits imposed by the relational self, the group, the collectivity, the institution. Alternatively, if you start with the relational self, group or community, eventually you come up against the limits imposed by the individual self. These historical references of mine are simply a forewarning that it may be wise to incorporate the history of philosophy and the social sciences into any discussion of social constructionism in order to protect oneself against the pitfalls of facile, one-sided statements.” In the same article Van der Ven (2002:300-301) writes: “I don’t know whether I am being altogether fair to social constructionism if I say that it is based on a twofold claim: firstly, that the self is a social construct, which it indisputably is provided it is not reduced to just that; and secondly, that it is itself constructed in terms of, and even by, the alterity of the other, which is likewise not disputed, again provided it is not reduced to that. In order to prevent such reduction I consider it necessary briefly to put the various « dramatis personae » in the spotlight.
First of all there is the I. This I is indeed a social construct, but it is more than just that. It would be absurd to ignore the body that the I call « mine » and not « yours » or « hers ». Of course one could object that this body, and bodiliness generally, certainly are also social constructs, but again one has to add that they are more than just social constructs. There is something like a physical substratum comprising a trunk, a head and limbs which together constitute « my » body and do so in terms of the dialectic that I both have and am my body. In philosophy the concept « body » is called a primitive concept, referring to the body as a basic particular situated within the irreducible parameters of time and space. The bodily I forms the basis of the individual—in the sense of indivisible and irreducible—person that I am, the centre of knowledge and action. Of course, the individual person that is « I » cannot be divorced from its interaction with others, but that does not mean that this I is simply a result of that interaction. Here the dialectic tension between « I » and « the other » must be kept intact.”
The remarks of Myburg, Gergen, and the answer of Van der Ven are relevant to this study and an answer must be given according to the assumption about personality and “the self” in the context of this study (marriage problems and personality). Myburg is an exponent of the new trend of narrative and social construction theorists and their point of view must be taken in consideration to give an answer on the presuppositions of personality theory.
The discussion of Myburg’s arguments above immediately opens the debate about the nature or nurture controversy in the formation of personality. If personality is formed only by context and by social influences there can be no predictability in the behaviour of human beings and between marriage partners there will always be uncertainty as to what may happen next. The selection of a marriage partner might also be a very dubious act and cause more uncertainty as it is.
The arguments in the study of personality will hence focus on the nature or nurture theme as it is discussed in the literature. From the discussion above, we want to show that the importance to study personality and its innate motivation is that it may shed more light on stability and change (nature and nurture) in a marital relationship. Stability and change are in an important sense opposite sides of the same coin. The stability of a personality trait is in a sense a resistance to, or a rejection of, the processes of random change. Meanwhile, change can be understood as a transition from one stable condition to another, and without stability, change becomes merely chaos (Baumeister and Tice 1996:372).

Definition of personality

Each of us, in perceiving and interacting with other persons, relies on an « implicit personality theory” that acts as a filter or perspective in gathering and organizing information about another individual or groups of people (Massey 1981:3). That in turn determines how we interact with and behave towards certain people and our marriage partners in particular.
Maddi (1976: 9) defines personality as a stable set of characteristics and tendencies that determine those commonalities and differences in the psychological behaviour (thoughts, feelings, and actions) of people that have continuity in time and that may not be easily understood as the sole result of the social and biological pressures of the moment.
Eysenck en Eysenck (1985: 9) define personality as: « … A more or less stable and enduring organization of a person’s character, temperament, intellect, and physique, which determines his unique adjustment to the environment. »
Mayer and Sutton (1996:5) give the definition of Allport as a definition of personality to be compatible with their own: « Personality is the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his unique adjustments to his environment and his characteristic behaviour and thought. »

Nature Or Nurture Controversy

Feshbach, Weiner, and Bohart (1996:5) say that Charles Darwin introduced the controversial conclusion that the human species is the product of a long period of evolution in The Origin of Species and the Descent of Man. His arguments had an enormous influence on the field of personality. First, his theory of evolution assumed scientific determinism—that is, the theory assumed that the most complex aspects of behaviour in all species are subject to scientific and rational analysis and are not due to accident or divine intervention. Second, Darwin focused attention on the function or adaptive value of biological structures and behaviour. Psychologists have been guided by this viewpoint as they search for the usefulness of a particular pattern of action.
Darwin proposed a simple yet powerful theory to explain the process of evolution that linked the development of species with the concept of inheritance-the spread of characteristics from one generation to another. Darwin’s theory hypothesized that any variation, however slight and from whatever cause proceeding, if it be in any degree of profitability to an individual . . . will tend to the preservation of that individual, and will generally be inherited by its offspring. The offspring, also, will thus have a better chance of surviving, » because the « variations » are transmitted from generation to generation.
The question is: do humans have instincts, or innate urges and unlearned patterns of behaviour and can it be demonstrated scientifically that personality characteristics and behavioural problems are in part genetically influenced? Diener (1996:390) discusses different studies conducted to determine genetic influence on temperament and subjective well – being and he says these studies give evidence of inborn biology that influence personality traits. They summarize their point of view as follow: « Behavioural genetic research consistently indicates that individual differences in personality are genetically influenced. However, behavioural genetics has much more to offer to the study of personality than heritability estimates. The present paper describes some recent findings from behavioural genetics research in personality that go well beyond the rudimentary nature-nurture question. These findings include the importance of nonshared environmental influences on personality, genetic continuity and environmental change during development, personality as a mediator of genetic influence on environmental measures, links between personality and psychopathology, and harnessing the power of molecular genetics to identify specific genes responsible for genetic influence on personality. »
The opponents of the innate urges theory are the theorists that argue that if personality and behaviour are shaped by learning and experience, humans are subject to change, because new habits, attitudes, and modes of action can be taught. They say that if the cause of action is perceived as a fixed and immutable inborn characteristic, it is easy to reach the pessimistic conclusion that change cannot be accomplished. This reasoning has discouraged the acceptance of genetic principles (Feshbach, Weiner, and Bohart 1996:9).

Content
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION

1 PROBLEM FORMATION
2 LACK OF RESEARCH ON THE INFLUENCE OF PERSONALITY TYPE IN MARRIAGE PROBLEMS
2.1 PERSONALITY, SELF-AWARENESS AND CHANGE
3 SELF-AWARENESS AND PERSONALITY ASSESSMENT
4 RELEVANCE OF THE STUDY
5 GOAL OF THE STUDY
6 RESEARCH APPROACH
6.1 A PRACTICAL THEOLOGICAL STUDY
CHAPTER 2 THE ROLE OF PERSONALITY IN MARRIAGE COUNSELLING
1 DEFINITION OF PERSONALITY
2 NATURE OR NURTURE CONTROVERSY
3 PERSONALITY THEORIES
3.1 THE PSYCHOANALYTIC APPROACH
3.2 THE TRAIT APPROACH
3.3 PHENOMENOLOGICAL APPROACH
3.4 SOCIAL LEARNING APPROACH
4 CONCLUSIONS:
CHAPTER 3 MYERS-BRIGGS PERSONALITY TYPE INDICATOR
1 BACKGROUND OF THE MYERS-BRIGGS TYPE INDICATOR
2 THE THEORY BEHIND THE MBTI
2.1 PREFERENCES AS DICHOTOMIES
2.2 THE ATTITUDES: INTROVERSION-EXTRAVERSION PREFERENCES
2.3 THE FUNCTIONS: PERCEIVING AND JUDGMENT
2.4 THE ATTITUDES:  JUDGING AND PERCEIVING
3 INTERPRETING THE MBTI
3.1 NUMERICAL VALUES
3.2 MBTI QUESTIONNAIRES
3.3 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN TRAIT AND PERSONALITY TYPE ASSESSMENT
4 THE DESCRIPTION OF TYPE
4.1 A DESCRIPTION OF THE ISTJ TYPE:
5 THE DYNAMICS OF TYPE
5.1 THE DOMINANT FUNCTION
5.2 THE AUXILIARY FUNCTION
5.3 TERTIARY AND INFERIOR FUNCTIONS
6 CONSIDERING TYPE PATTERNS
6.1 COMBINATIONS OF THE TWO ATTITUDES, ENERGY AND EXTERNAL ORIENTATIONS
6.2 COMBINATION OF THE FUNCTIONS: PERCEPTION AND JUDGMENT ST THE PRACTICAL AND MATTER-OF-FACT TYPES
6.3 COMBINATIONS OF ORIENTATION OF ENERGY AND PERCEPTION 103 IS THOUGHTFUL REALISTS. IN THOUGHTFUL INNOVATORSES ACTION-ORIENTED REALISTS EN ACTION-ORIENTED INNOVATORS
6.4 COMBINATIONS OF JUDGMENT AND EXTERNAL ORIENTATION: LOGICAL DECISION MAKERS TP    ADAPTABLE THINKERS FP SUPPORTIVE COACHES VALUES-BASED DECISION MAKERS
6.5 THE TEMPERAMENTS NF « IDEALISTS » NT « RATIONALS »  « ARTISANS » « GUARDIANS »
6.6 CRITIQUE ON THE KEIRSEY TEMPERAMENT SORTER
7 THE THEORY OF TYPE DEVELOPMENT
8 THE VERIFICATION OF TRUE TYPE
9 THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRAITS BASED ASSESSMENT AND MBTI ASSESSMENT
10 VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY OF THE MYERS BRIGGS TYPE INDICATOR
10.1 CONSTRUCT VALIDITY
10.2 VALIDITY OF THE TYPE DESCRIPTIONS
10.3 TEST- RETEST RELIABILITY OF THE MBTI
11 GENDER AND THE MBTI
12 THE MBTI AND NARRATIVE
13 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 4 OVERVIEW OF MARRIAGE COUNSELLING APPROACHES
1 MARRIAGE COUNSELLING APPROACHES
1.1 RATIONAL-EMOTIVE THERAPY (RET)
1.2 THE MARRIAGE CLINIC BY GOTTMAN
1.3 PROBLEM -SOLVING OR TASK CENTRED APPROACH BY THORMAN
1.4 REALITY THERAPY / CHOICE THEORY
1.5 IMAGO THERAPY
1.6 ECLECTIC PROGRAM OF BERG-CROSS
1.7 NARRATIVE THERAPY
1.8 COGNITIVE BEHAVIOURAL APPROACH BY NORMAN WRIGHT
1.9 PASTORAL, COGNITIVE AND BEHAVIOURAL APPROACH OF WORTHINGTON
1.10 HOPE-FOCUSED THERAPY OF WORTHINGTON
1.11 PASTORAL CARE TO BE VICTORIOUS BY DJ LOUW (OORWINNINGSORG)
2 INDICATORS FROM MARRIAGE COUNSELLING RESEARCH
3 CONCLUSIONS:
CHAPTER 5 THE INTEGRATION OF THE MYERS – BRIGGS TYPE INDICATOR IN A MARRIAGE COUNSELLING APPROACH
1 THE ASSESSMENT OF COUPLES AND THEIR MARITAL RELATIONSHIP
1.1 THE INITIAL INTERVIEW
1.2 THE GENOGRAM
1.3 ASSESSMENT WITH THE MYERS-BRIGGS TYPE INDICATOR
2 TRUST AND GOAL SETTING
2.1 LIVING GOD’S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, BUILDS TRUST
2.2 FAITH BUILDS TRUST
3 RECOGNIZING AND ACCEPTING INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES
3.1 POTENTIAL STRENGTH AND PROBLEM AREAS
3.2 REFRAMING
3.3 EXTERNALISING THE PROBLEM
3.4 IDENTIFYING EXPECTATIONS
3.5 IDENTIFYING EMOTIONAL NEEDS
3.6 BASIC NEEDS AND REALITY THERAPY
4 GIVING AND RECEIVING FEEDBACK
5 SOLVING PROBLEMS
5.1 TURN IT INTO TYPE
5.2 IS THIS A LOVE-HATE SCENARIO?
6 LETTING GO
CHAPTER 6 CASE STUDIES
1 CASE STUDIES
1.1 CASE STUDY 1: ROBERT AND ESTHER
1.2 CASE STUDY 2: JOHN AND VERONICA
1.3 CASE STUDY 3: CLIVE AND ELIZE
1.4 CASE STUDY 4: VERNON AND LIZZY
1.5 CASE STUDY 5: HENRY AND MARY
2 CONCLUSIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHY
APPENDIX

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