Source Book For Social Psychology
PERSONALITY AND FAMILY AND GROUP PRESSURES
The present chapter consists largely of case studies intended to illustrate certain factors of social conditioning in the rise and direction of personality. The particular life organization of the boy or girl is limited by factors of original nature : physical conditions, emotions, instinctive tendencies, and intellectual capacities. But the specific organization and development of one's traits is quite within the influence of the environment.
The quotation from Groves sketches the main stages in the development of the personality of the boy. It is shown that the fundamental attachment is at the outset to the mother, that is heterosexual, and then later the boy moves in his affection over toward the father, and then again in adolescence to the other sex. Specifically, however, this is but a general outline. Circumstances play a considerable part in modifying this general pattern. This is nicely illustrated in the second paper which shows that in the absence of a father at home, the boy's attachment to the mother persists and is later moved over to the sisters. The third paper from a man who was raised in a very orthodox family shows the interplay of family attitudes and a certain resistence to authority which later led to complete break with the family and with the traditional religion leading to membership in socialistic groupings. The projection of class standards upon the child, the intellectual analysis by the boy of certain inconsistencies of attitude, as seen in his defense of the Boers and in his growing disgust with the artificiality of his social status, are well shown. The fourth paper shows the development of an inferiority complex in the presence of physical retardation and ill-health.
Following these life histories of boys is another selection from Groves tracing briefly the personality development of the girl from attachment to the mother to heterosexual attachment of adolescence,
( 350) As Groves points out, the course of development for the girl is often more difficult than for the boy, owing to the fundamental homosexual nature of her first fixation on the mother. There is always some danger that this fundamental conditioning may be so excessive or else so incomplete that difficulty in normal development arises later.
The paper by Miss Taft is a very valuable analysis of the development of a life-organization, wherein the roots of the behavior are traced backwards through childhood to early infancy. The maladjustment of the mother-daughter relation is well portrayed. The paper on projection of ambitions of parents on their children reveals another phase of parent-child relationship.
It should not be imagined, of course, that these few histories give more than a meagre sample of the variety of life organizations in terms of social conditioning. Every personality is a unique combination of original nature and acquirement welded together into a more or less harmonious whole. The reader should extend his acquaintance with the variety of personal life histories by following the bibliographic suggestions.
- E.R. Groves. Personality and Social Adjustment. New York: Longmans, Green (1923)
- J. Taft. “The Effect of an Unsatisfactory Mother-Daughter Relationship on the Development of a Personality.” The Family 7 (1926).
- K. Young. “Parent-Child Relationship: Projection of Ambition.” The Family 8 (1927)