Psychodynamic Personality Theories

Psychology is complicated and contestable science, which may never be studied till the end, as personal behavior reasons and relations between people may not be simply explained. Considering people’s behavior, some characteristic features were gathered in groups and the psychodynamic personality theories were offered. The psychodynamic personality theories are one of the main explanations of people’s behavior. Moreover, individual personality characteristics are affected by the psychodynamic personality theories as well as influence interpersonal relationships.

Before considering the rate of effect, which is provided on individual personality characteristics, and the role of the psychodynamic personality theories in interpersonal relationships, the description of these theories should be provided. Psychoanalytic theory, individual psychological theory, analytical psychological theory, object relations theory, psychoanalytic social theory, and interpersonal theory are the psychodynamic personality theories, which are going to be discussed in the paper.

The psychoanalytical theory is based on Freud’s understanding of people’s dreams and their unconsciousness. People desire to fulfill their dreams and their behavior is based on their past experience. The strength of this theory is that dreams really influence people’s behavior and cannot be falsified, at the same time this is considered as the main limitation, as this assumption was not proved by Freud. Considering the interpersonal relations within this theory, the children’s recollections were taken and parents’ impact on them. People’s unconsciousness usually tries to provide the relations and behavior according to unconscious impact (Feist & Feist, 2006).

The individual psychological theory describes people’s desire to be unique. Being born with such intentions, people’s behavior is mostly directed to “striving for success or superiority” (Feist & Feist, 2006, p. 61). The strength of this theory is people’s desire to be the first, to occupy leading positions, while the limitation is that the theory cannot be either verified or falsified, as there are plenty of other factors, which influence people (Feist & Feist, 2006). The theory ensures that a person cares only about his/her profit, but the parentage is not taken into account, while it is of great power (Feist & Feist, 2006).

Analytical psychological theory was provided by Jung, who is sure that people’s behavior is also influenced by emotions, not only experience or surrounding situations. The theory may not be proved for sure, but people’s relations with other people are usually influenced by the emotional coloring of the situation and the personal (read emotional) attitude to the person (Feist & Feist, 2006). The impression from the person and his/her actions may be the main reason for either continuing the communication or stopping it.

Object relations theory, provided by Melanie Klein is structured on the relations between object and person. An example is an infant and his/her mother’s breast. The main idea is that interpersonal relations are formed in the early stages of personal development and that age is the starting point for future personal behavior and attitude to other people. People are driven by objects from their berth and this consideration of relations and behavior remains till adult age and death (Feist & Feist, 2006). The strength of the theory is that the instincts in relation to objects are discussed; the limitation is that only objects may not construct behavior and relations.

Psychoanalytic social theory is focused on “cultural conditions” and “childhood experience” (Illinois Valley Community College, 2009), which is considered to be the main character and behavior shaping of the personality. The surrounding culture, the family traditions, and the upbringing, which was implemented on a person, are the main influential issues on his/her character and behavior construction, as well as the people relation characteristics. Psychoanalytic social theory gives the person three options for behavior development, moving toward people, moving against people, or moving away from people (Illinois Valley Community College, 2009). The strength of the theory is that the family traditions are included; the limitation is that the emotional and unconscious issues are missed.

The interpersonal theory is based on the interpersonal relations between people, and these relations provide an impact on people’s behavior. Personal behavior is mostly directed to the people who surround the person, their ideas and considerations become the main behavior structuring. The behavior is provided not by the person’s intentions and ideas but influenced by the people, who are in constant contact (Melucci, 2004). The limitation of the theory is that person’s behavior is influenced by lots of factors, not just people are around the person, while the strength is that person is always influenced by friends and relatives and this concept is taken into account.

In conclusion, the psychodynamic personality theories describe influences on people’s behavior and their interrelation with other people, but there is no one strict theory, which may be taken as the basic, which includes all influences on people’s behavior. Moreover, most of the discussed theories may be neither proved nor rejected as people’s behavior is directed by people’s consciousness and a lot of other factors, which may not be checked.


Feist, Jess & Feist, Gregory J., (2006). Theories of Personality. Chapter 1: Introduction to Personality Theory. McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc, New York.

Illinois Valley Community College. (2009). Psychoanalytic Social Psychology – Karen Horney. Web.

Melucci, Ph.D., Nancy J. (2004). Psychology the Easy Way. Barron’s Educational Series, Inc, New York.