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Clin Psychol Rev. 2002 Apr;22(3):345-62.

Foundations of psychosocial dynamic personality theory of collective people.

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  • 1Haifa University, PO Box 14710, Nazerat Ellit 17000, Haifa, Israel.


The concept of personality emerged as a part of the development of individualism in the western world to understand the quality of the newborn (individual). In premodern society, roles were the elements that constituted the person. Presently, about 80% of the people (Africa, Asia, and South America) in the world still live in a collective, authoritarian system. Personality theories that have been developed in Europe and North America seem to be limited in understanding and predicting the behavior of these people. One major difference between individualistic and collective peoples is their degree of individuation from the family. Western social-political systems enable individuals at the end of their development course to form an independent personality (or self) that is unique and different from others. For westerners, personality structures and processes enable us to predict behavior. Psychopathology is attributed to an intrapsychic disorder within the personality. Typically, psychotherapy aims to restore that order. For people who live in collective social systems, individuation does not take place. Therefore, norms, values, roles, and familial authority directives predict behavior more than personality. Psychopathology among these people has to do with interpersonal disorder within the family. Therefore, psychotherapy should aim to restore that order. This manuscript suggests foundations of a new psychosocial dynamic theory of personality to better fit our understanding of people living in collective societies.

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