Friday, 16 September 2011 23:52

Body, Personality and Creation

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This paper points out that in the temporal universe the human body determines the human personality. This would seem to support the philosophy of materialism and tis epiphenomenalism, the belief that all that there is is matter and that matter shaped our thinking and behaviors. However, the paper says that things are a bit more complicated than that. It says that perhaps another self, one that we are not consciously aware of, is sleeping and dreaming and invented our bodies and personalities. It says that when we overlook our egos and bodies that we experience the unknown self in us, a self that in its true essence knows only love but in its confused state desires separation and experiences conflict.

BODY, PERSONALITY AND CREATION

Ozodi Thomas Osuji

Personality is the individual's habitual pattern of thinking, behaving and relating to his social and physical environment.

Personality is formed in childhood; each child uses his inherited body and social experiences as building blocks to construct his self-concept, his personality.

A child is born in a certain body. That body is impinged upon by environmental stimuli (physical and social). The child's body responds to its environment and by a certain age, usually age six, has formed a discernable pattern of responding to the environment.

Most developmental psychologists agree that by adolescence the typical human being has established a personality that, more or less, stays with him for the rest of his life on planet earth. The man of sixty behaves as he behaved at age sixteen.

Generally, it takes a whole lot to change the personality the individual formed in childhood. I have actually not seen a human being who has changed his personality. I have seen those who go to psychotherapists for thirty years and are not different from what they were before they began their psychotherapy.

Simply stated, people form their self-concepts and personalities before age thirteen and once formed those personalities remain with them for the balance of their lives. With efforts people can understand their personalities and massage their rough edges but radically change them, well, I have not seen any one do so.

Until I see something happen you can stand on your head and talk until you go blue in your face and I would not be persuaded. I have not seen a human being, with or without psychotherapy, change his personality. I have seen people understand their personalities, with or without psychotherapy.

The human child inherited a certain body; the exigencies of that body interact with its environment and he forms a particular pattern of thinking and behaving. He forms a self-concept, an idea of who he thinks that he is and behaves according to his concept of who he is. He also forms a self-image. He has an image of who he thinks that he is and tries to behave accordingly.

Where the self-concept and self-image is flexible the individual is said to be normal; where it is rigid he is said to be neurotic (aka have personality disorder), and where it is out of sync with his environment he does not successfully adapt to his world and he is said to be psychotic.

Normalcy, neurosis and psychosis are all formed by adolescence; they are formed in adolescence or before adolescence for properly put they are really personality styles, the individual's habitual pattern of behaving.

If you are normal at age seventeen you tend to be normal for the rest of your life; if you are neurotic by age seventeen you tend to be neurotic for the rest of your life and if you are psychotic by age seventeen you tend to be psychotic for the rest of your life. Psychiatry and psychology can understand your personality but at this time cannot change it.

In trying to understand the origin of personality, psychiatry and psychology tend place the cart before the horse; they do not really seek to understand the etiology of peoples personalities by studying their entire bodies but, instead, studying this or that aspect of them (studying the human brain is the current focus in the search for the genesis of mental disorders).

If you really want to understand your personality you have to study your entire body. You have to understand your body, all of it, not just this or that aspect of it. If you understand the particulars of your body you can then figure out why you responded to your environment with your particular type of personality. And when you have done that understanding, as long as you still have your body, you are not going to change your personality; you can make changes in it but cannot change your entire personality.

Forget what your neighborhood shrink tells you about the prospect of changing you; he is not going to change you for he does not have the ability to do so. He is probably out to make fast bucks by telling folks that he can change them; he cannot.

Only you can understand you; given the realities of your body you can only make so much change to your personality, and have to live with what you cannot change.

I am one of those observers of the human phenomenon who eschew abstract talking about people. I root my thesis on actual observation of human beings. Since the only person I know very well...whatever I say about other people is speculation for I am not in their head and do not really understand them...I examine my own personality and its causation. I have worked in the mental health field for over two decades and have seen all manner of people seeking my services yet the only person I know well is me. Let me therefore illustrate the thesis of this paper by looking at my body and personality. I urge you to do the same; that is, try to understand your body and personality and see if there is a correlation between the two.

At age six, when I began schooling and was cognizant of whom I am, any clinical psychologist would diagnose me as having traits of certain personality types, and those have remained with me to the present. My presentation then as now is:

Axis I: No psychosis; rule out anxiety due to medical issues.

Axis 11: Personality, rule out traits of dependent, avoidant and obsessive compulsive personality disorders.

Axis 111: Medical issues, Cytochrome C Oxidase Deficiency, Spondilolysis and Mitral Valve Prolapse.

Axis IV: Psychosocial Stressors, living in a racist society and its marginalization of black folks and attendant issues.

Axis V: Highest level of functioning attained, very high; intelligence, superior.

So why do I have traits of dependent, avoidant and obsessive compulsive personality disorders and anxiety? I have them for I had to have them given my inherited body. They are not a mystery; they are not what society made me develop. I was born with major medical issues (cytochrome c oxidase deficiency, spondilolysis and metal valve prolapse) and those necessarily led me to respond to my environment in a certain manner hence shaped my personality.

Those inherited physical disorders made me feel pained and weak, and as if I was about to die at any moment. As a child I felt unable to do things for myself and looked to my significant others (parents, siblings etc.) to do for me what I had to do to survive. Thus, I developed aspects of dependency. Of course I have understood it but whenever I have major difficulties in my life I still tend to expect other people to help me out even though experience tells me that no one would help me out. If you depend on other people to do for you what you need to do to survive you are going to die for people are essentially self-centered and look after their self-interests, not your self-interest.

I have avoidant traits because as a child I had to anticipate what could exacerbate the pain that I always lived in and avoid activities that I estimated would add more pain to my already pained existence. Other children are can be cruel and will harm you if you are not careful. Thus, I tend to anticipate harm from other people, especially aggressive people and keep away from them. People will accept you mostly if you do what they deem useful for their survival and reject you if they judge you not relevant to their survival. As Carl Rogers pointed out, in our society we tend to accept people conditionally, to the extent that they are deemed able to do what society likes. Folks deemed weak tend to be rejected. I am physically weak therefore expect folks to reject me and avoid their presence. Thus, in childhood I developed aspects of avoidance personality.

In avoidant personality disorder, aka shyness, the individual anticipates social rejection and feels anxious from the prospect of rejection and to reduce that anxiety mostly withdraws from society and keeps to himself. In avoiding other people's rejection he manages to retain a modicum of positive self-esteem.

I developed aspect off obsessive-compulsive thinking patterns. I had physical problems and my mind went to work trying to understand them. I think obsessively trying to understand my medical issues. That obsessive thinking became generalized and I tried to understand phenomena such as where we came from, where we are going to when we die and other philosophical matters (my superior IQ, I believe, is rooted in this tendency to think obsessively).

Simply stated, the exigencies of my body made me develop aspects of dependency, avoidance and obsessive compulsion. Given my inherited body it was inevitable for me to develop those personality traits. For me not to have them I had to have a different body. My body determined my thinking and behaving pattern.

Social factors played only a minor role in the development of my personality. Society tends to accept people conditionally, when they live up to social expectations and that obviously played a role in the avoidant person's fear of social rejection when he does not live up to other people's expected behaviors. Nevertheless, it would be an exaggeration to say that society determines the individual's personality.

Biology determines over 90% of the individual's personality, and society, if it plays a role at all, is no more than 10% in the formation of personality.

Be that as it may, I agree with George Kelly in stating that the human child takes his inherited body and social variables as building blocks and uses them to formulate his self-construct, his self-concept, his personality, his habitual pattern of relating to his environment, people included.

I know that this is very controversial but truth must be stated: the individual's level of intelligence is determined by his inherited body. Please note what I said; I said his body, not this or that so-called genes. The individual's entire body determines his level of intelligence. Intelligence is not determined by this or that genes or this or that race or by social class.

White folks would like to believe that they are more intelligent than black folks. That simply is not true. There are intelligent white folks as there are intelligent black folks. A handful of human beings (2% of the population) are superior in their intelligence (have IQ over 132), some have above average IQ (118-130...about 8% of the population) whereas the majority of mankind have average intelligence (IQ 85-115...about 88% of the population) and a handful are mentally retarded (IQ under 70...about 2% of the population). This pattern of distribution of intelligence is the same all over the world and it is shaped by individuals inherited bodies, not their social experiences.


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Ozodi Osuji Ph.D

Ozodi Thomas Osuji is from Imo State, Nigeria. He obtained his PhD from UCLA. He taught at a couple of Universities and decided to go back to school and study psychology. Thereafter, he worked in the mental health field and was the Executive Director of two mental health agencies. He subsequently left the mental health environment with the goal of being less influenced by others perspectives, so as to be able to think for himself and synthesize Western, Asian and African perspectives on phenomena. Dr Osuji’s goal is to provide us with a unique perspective, one that is not strictly Western or African but a synthesis of both. Dr Osuji teaches, writes and consults on leadership, management, politics, psychology and religions. Dr Osuji is married and has three children; he lives at Anchorage, Alaska, USA.

He can be reached at: ozodiosuji@gmail.com (907) 310-8176