Transpersonal Tidbits: 8 Traits of the Healthy, Mature Personality – Gordon W. Allport |

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March 9 by The Running Son

Gordon W. Allport (1897-1967)

8 Traits of the Healthy, Mature Personality

Gordon W. Allport is more known for being the founder of modern trait psychology than for being one of the first psychologists in America to concentrate on the healthy personality instead of the neurotic personality. Allport’s (1955/1969) criteria of the healthy, mature person include many of the personality dispositions that were later found to be characteristics of what Abraham Maslow (1971) called “self-actualizers” (chap. 3) and “transcending self-actualizers” (chap. 22).
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These personality characteristics have also been found by other researchers to characterize transcendence and mature thought in adulthood (Miller & Cook-Greuter, 1994).
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They include the capacity for:
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1. extension of the self
2. warm relating of self to others
3. self-acceptance and self-affirmation,
4. realistic perception
5. meaningful work and service
6. self-insight
7. a unifying philosophy of life
8. religious sentiment.
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1. Extension of the sense of self.
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Gordon Allport was one of the first personality theorists to recognize that as the personality develops and matures and its experience grows, its identity and interests extends beyond the self (beyond ego) into a widening range of people and objects, abstract values and ideals. This extension of the mature personality beyond the egocentric portions of the self requires that the person becomes a direct and full participant into activity that is genuine and personally-meaningful to him or her. Far from being a passive, isolated, withdrawn, and totally ego-centered spectator of life, the mature person is fully and vitally immersed in life, actively involved and committed to something or someone beyond the self. The healthy person is able to love and extend the self into meaningful work and deeply caring relationships with others such that the growth and fulfillment of others becomes at least as important as his or her own growth and development. Fully invested in these meaningful activities, they become extensions of the sense of self.
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2. Warm relating of self to others.
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Compassion and intimacy are transpersonal emotions that bring the individual outside of him or herself to identification with another living being who may be separated from the self in time and space. What brings forth this capacity for intimacy and compassion is a well-
developed sense of self and self-extension. Empathy involves an understanding of the basic humancondition and a sense of kinship with all people that comes about through an “imaginative extension” of one’s own feelings to humanity at large. The healthy mature person recognizes that we live in a universe in which all other beings also possess the same undeniable individuality and self-worth that we perceive in ourselves. The mature healthy person, therefore, does not tear down the value of others, or neurotically insist that others attend to our needs. Love always implies freedom. The healthy mature personality acknowledges that we share the same weaknesses with other beings who are also experiencing their own journeys in their own ways and therefore we need to be gentle not only with ourselves but kind to others as well. In love’s eyes, even faults are redeemed. The welfare of the loved one becomes as important as one’s own welfare.
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3. Self-acceptance and self-affirmation.
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Mature, healthy personalities are capable of accepting all aspects of their being, including weaknesses and failings, insecurities and fears, without being passively resigned to them. Despite setbacks and frustrations, and even though the means of goal-achievement may be unknown at the time, healthy, mature persons have faith that desired ends will indeed be achieved when sought with persistence, effort, and discipline. They have learned that life’s problems and challenges are methods of learning set by the inner Self, and should always be faced in this light. Capable of accepting human emotions, they are not prisoners of their own nor do they fear or try to hide from them. Although not free of life’s insecurities and fears, they feel less threatened and better able to cope with them than less healthy mature individuals.
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4. Realistic perception.
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Healthy persons can recognize what they cannot change, change what they can, and learn to tell the difference. Their perception of “reality” tends to accurately reflect “the nature of things”. They are less likely to distort their perception of events and others in order to make it compatible with their wants, needs, and fears.
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5. Meaningful work and service.
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The healthy, mature person uses his or her skills in a whole-hearted, enthusiastic, committed manner and invests the self fully in their chosen work. Healthy, mature persons love what they do and do what they love which brings an excellence to their work and life. Their dedication to work is related to the notion of responsibility to the species and to future generations which provides meaning and a sense of continuity to the individual life. For Allport, it is not possible to achieve maturity and positive psychological health without having important work to do and the dedication, commitment, and skills with which to do it.
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6. Self-insight.
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This criterion is embodied in the old prescription: “Know thyself.” Adequate understanding and knowledge of the self requires insight into what one thinks one is and what one actually is, between one’s self-image and the way one is in fact, between one’s ideal self and one’s real self, between what one thinks one is and what others think one is. The closer the correspondence between these two ideas, the greater the individual’s maturity. The goal is to achieve some degree of self-
objectification, or self-insight, in order to formulate an objective picture of oneself. A person who possesses a high degree of self-insight is less likely to project personal negative qualities onto other people, more likely to be an accurate judge of others and to possess a sense of humor that permits one to laugh at oneself and at life’s seeming incongruities and absurdities.
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7. A unifying philosophy of life.
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Healthy mature personalities are forward looking, motivated by long-range goals and plans, have a sense of purpose and underlying directedness that makes work worthwhile, gives a reason for living, and supplies continuity to the personality’s actions. Value-fulfillment and the selection of strong values provides an underlying motivation to personality action as reflected in the saying: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” The neurotic’s values are not strong or permanent enough to link or unify all aspects of life.
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8. Religious sentiment.
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Allport (1955/1969, pp. 93-98) recognized that there is a natural religious sentiment with which our species is born – a feeling that places the individual in a spiritual world and a natural one at once. It is “a comprehensive attitude whose function it is to relate the individual meaningfully to the whole of Being” (Allport, 1955/1969, p. 94). From a transpersonal perspective, “religious sentiment” provides the natural religious knowledge that we spring from the earth as all other beings and living structures do, and that our existence and the world’s rises from another source that is both within and outside of the natural framework. It is the feeling that our birth, our life, and our death are cushioned by all the resources of nature, and that nature itself is sustained by the greater source that gave it birth. As with all phases of becoming, the fully developed religious sentiment tends to occur only in adulthood, is influenced by temperament and training in the home or church, and is subject to arrest as well as growth.
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Unbelief, while it may be the product of mature reflection, may also be a reaction against parental or tribal authority, or may be due to a one-sided intellectual development that rules out other areas of normal curiosity. We find many personalities who deal zealously and effectively with all phases of becoming except the final task of relating themselves meaningfully to creation. For some reason their curiosity stops at this point. (Allport, 1955/1969, p. 97)
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Unfortunately, while mainstream psychologists are unable to think about the human personality in terms of a soul, religious leaders and theologians have refused to comprehend the soul’s psychological characteristics even in the most simple of terms.
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Others, however, [such as transpersonal psychologists] devote themselves wholly to this task. Their religious aspiration is their cardinal characteristic. For them the religious form of propriate striving alone seems worth while. It provides them with a synthesis of all that lies within experience and all that lies beyond. It monitors the growing edge of personality. Such individuals exercise their capacity for self-objectification, viewing with detachment their reason and their unreason, seeing the limitations of both. They hold in perspective both their self-image and ideal self-image, thus providing themselves with a criterion for conscience. They discriminate between their propriate striving and their opportunistic adjustments, thus distinguishing matters of importance from mere matters of fact. They weigh probabilities in the theological realm, and ultimately affirm a view of life that seems to leave the least possible remainder. Intricate as the process is, it seems to be the way in which mature personalities adopt and validate the religious premise of their course of becoming. (Allport, 1955/1969, pp. 97-98)
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Allport recognized that humans are by nature religious creatures. Religious feeling is one of our species’ strongest attributes and is the part of human psychology most often overlooked by behavioral science. As Allport concluded: “The final truths of religion are unknown, but a psychology that impedes understanding of the religious potentialities of man scarcely deserves to be called a logos of the human psyche at all” (Allport, 1955/1969, p. 98).

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END

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The Running Father Blog

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[ excerpt from: “CHAPTER 9 – Transpersonality Theory” http://www.rivier.edu/faculty/pcunningham/research/chapter_9_transpersonality_theory.pdf ]

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RFB editor Jim Aldrich, Joshua Tree CA 2013

RunningSon aka Jim Aldrich, Joshua Tree CA 2013 | This site is dedicated with the deepest gratitude to Dr. Cláudio Naranjo, whose writings gave me life.

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