Psychodynamic And Social Cognitive Theories In Determining Personality Essay Samples

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Psychology, Personality, Theory, Development, Character, Environment, Family, Human

Pages: 10

Words: 2750

Published: 2020/12/12


We are presented with a film that was produced in America entitled ‘Silver Lining Playbook'. The central character in this text is Pat Salatano Jr., who takes the major role in the plot of the film. Pat Solatano Jr. is a son of Pat Solatano Sr. and has been institutionalized for a minimum period of eight months until the plea by the parents to discharge him as they planned to move to Philadelphia that was their home. The institutionalization followed a court order after Pat Salatano Jr. beats his workmate teacher whom he found having sex with his wife Nikki as he was coming from the work. Pat beats the man until the man almost died due to the action that he found in the bathroom. The extensive beating of wife's lover leads to the institutionalization that then leads to the change in personality of this character. In the Maryland mental health institution, Pat Salatano Jr. was diagnosed with bipolar disorder that leads him to be put under court-mandated therapy (Quick, 2010). The diagnosis was done by a psychiatrist in the mental hospital.
At the discharge of Pat Salatano Jr., he finds that everything he had left was now in the total mess. First, he had lost the teaching job that he did as a substitute teacher. Secondly, he had also lost his house through the term he was institutionalized. Thirdly, Pat Salatano Jr. wanted to reunite with his wife Nikki who he had also lost the restraining order tied to the Pat Salatano Jr.’s mental disorder. Pat Salatano Jr. is therefore trying to trace where he left and tried to get back into a relationship as a means of satisfying his desires and consciousness (Quick, 2010). He also tries to prove to the people that he does not have any mental disorder (bipolar disorder), as it was stated. She also tries to prove that he should not be under medication as suggested. Moreover, he tries to prove to Nikki that he is okay so as Nikki would consider them going back to their relationship (Quick, 2010).
Personality is a very important aspect of the human life and defines the interaction ability of one person to others. One's personality is an attribute that defines the society position in which one takes and also defines once survival ability in the environment in which one lives in. One's personality is highly defined by the environment and once the state of mind which is the ability to judge the environmental happenings. Additionally, once personality is also defined by the experiences that a human being has come across and the impact of these experiences. Personality is, therefore, an attribute that is created in once life and which can be changed by the nature and characteristics of the nature itself. Theories explaining the determinants of human character have been widely explored in trying to understand the varied human characteristics. In this context, we will explore two important theories that have gained a lot of interest through their development in the history. These two theories are the psychodynamic personality theory and the social cognitive theory. The two theories will be used to explain the nature of the character in the quest (Pat Salatano Jr.) and explain the reasons for his character and the changes that have occurred in this character.
Psychodynamic theory is a theory that developed with the neurologists as they tried to understand the varied nature of their patients. They tried to understand the various characteristics in the nature of the human being as expressed by the varied characteristic by the people and the patients around them. The psychodynamic theory explains that human personality was and is shaped by the unconscious motives and desires in human live (Taylor, 2009). Additionally, the theory expressed the importance of childhood experiences and their part in shaping once personality. It explained that once personality is shaped mainly by a combination of the childhood experiences as once mind forms and the childhood and adulthood unconscious motives and desires (Taylor, 2009). More so, this theory incorporates the attempts to resolve conflict in one’s mind. These types of conflicts in this context are aggressive impulses, unconscious sexual and societal demands to restrain some impulses. This means that internal conflict in trying to regain or attain one's normal state of mind which defines the comfort and the satisfaction as defined by the environment. This theory applies to trying to explain the personality of Pat Salatano Jr., which reflects the actual state of mind. By using this theory, I will be trying to evaluate the just passed experiences have affected the personality of Pat Salatano Jr. and hence the current behavior.
Secondly, I will assess the social cognitive theory, which was developed and continuous to be discussed by most professional bodies as the determinant of one’s personality and the state of mind determinant (Caprara & Cervone, 2010). This theory argues that one's behavior is as a result of observing others behaviors. This can be done through outside media influences, social interaction, and experiences. It states that observance of the behavior others engage in, and the subsequent consequences of the behavior may highly define what one may engage in the future. The theory argues that the survival of the humanity highly depends on the replication of others behaviors. One adopts the behavior as observed by others depending on whether the behavior engaged in led to reward or punishment of the initial person.
Additionally, the theory went further to explaining that one’s personality is also defined by the environment one lives. This meant that the personality one adopts is dependant in the environmental characteristics (Caprara & Cervone, 2010). Further still, the theory goes deeper in explaining that the personality is dependent on one's initial state of mind which would judge and define the cognition ability in the environment. Through the studies, research has also discovered and argued that social cognitive theory would in other way change the environment itself a situation which has been defined as reverse cognition (Caprara & Cervone, 2010). This theory will be applicable in our case as we evaluate the reasons behind the personality of Pat Salatano Jr., who argues that his condition does not need therapy. We will evaluate the environment that changes the personality of Pat Salatano Jr. in this context.
In our context, Pat Salatano Jr. has developed a strange character from the time he was institutionalized. As we can observe from the film, Pat Salatano Jr. is trying understand the situation that life has put him into. He now behaves in such a manner that he is a normal person. With this, he intends to prove to the world that he is a normal person and to the hospital psychiatrists and the parents that he should not be under therapy. In the beginning, the character and the personality of Pat Salatano Jr. were not by the nature of life he had lived in the situations and the environment he found himself in.
The hostile personality expressed in beating up the lover of his wife Nikki was not determined by the inborn personality. This is the unconscious personality that developed instantly from the situation Pat Salatano Jr. found himself in. In this context, when she found his wife engaging in sex with that stranger, both the conscious and the unconscious urge and motives for aggressive conflict resolution grew instantly as she tried to prove his worth. The aggressive impulse changed his consciousness, and she was ready to do anything (Taylor, 2009). This is thus the personality that is instantly created in this person who was not the real person. According to the psychodynamic explanation of one’s conscious, pre-conscious and unconscious behaviors, there are some components in one’s mind which are the Id, the ego, and the superego contents. In the instant action taken by Pat Salatano Jr., it is worth understanding that there is a biological urge in human beings mentality that generates such impulses desired for this aggression, sex, and survival. The primary process in our case was the need to avoid the pain and the mental suffering which came from the occurrence he was faced with. The id that is composed of the primary process thinking generated the personality that forced him to fight back and avoid such humiliations. In such a situation, the ego component that would have delayed the action taken by Pat Salatano Jr. would not have taken part due to the impulse situation that the character faced.
On the social cognitive theory, Pat Salatano Jr. Actions at this juncture were defined by the environment he faced. We can be able to deduce that such occurrence was not common in the environment in which he had grown in and so at this point he could not imagine the reality he was faced with. He would therefore not hesitate from taking the action of beating the lover as a way of protected the morality and the bitterness in him.
After Pat Salatano Jr. has been discharged from the mental hospital, he portrays another personality that is probably as a result of conscious and unconscious human characteristics. On the onset, it is worth appreciating that Pat Salatano Jr. is faced with many conflicts with the real world and the society he is living. More so, this character has varied anxieties and the superego demands as he tries to restore himself back into the society. Therefore, this person personality changes as he tries to acquire the self-defense mechanisms as he tries to be restored and accepted back into the community. It is worth noting that Pat Salatano Jr. has suffered severe pain due to loss of his wife, house and the job that was the income source. Additionally, there was some mental torture with the sexual activities that happened earlier between Nikki and the lover. This leads to the sense and feeling of denial from within him and with the society at large.
According to psychodynamic theorists, the sexual desires in the human being are one of the major causes of personality changes. This may explain the reasons behind the new personality with this character that shows high aggressiveness for sexuality. Pat Salatano Jr. seems very aggressive to get his wife Nikki back as a way to satisfy his sexual desires as well as proving to her that he was sane and with no bipolar disorder as earlier stated. In this context, he is ready to do anything with Tiffany, who promises to connect him back to Nikki. This shows the change in character due to the relationship desires that need to be satisfied. We are also told the Pat Salatano Jr. had developed some feelings of love with Tiffany, which shows the weak personality that has been created in the name of love and sexual desires. Additionally, Pat Salatano Jr. went to the dance intending to prove to the society as a whole that he was not suffering from the bipolar disorder or any other mental complication as it was earlier held.
According to Sigmund Freud, who is the father and inventor of the psychodynamic personality theory, the behavior/personality adapted by Pat Salatano Jr. seems very standard to any other human being. According the explanation of both the maladaptive and psychosexual concepts, Freud's theory clearly defines that Pat Salatano Jr. was justified to adopt the personality. The psychosexual concept explains the desire for sex and the aggression that is created towards the desire for sex. In this context, we can see the character in this film going far and wide to get the satisfaction of sex. We can see him trying to impress Nikki through the dance only for the relationship and sexual desires.
The change in personality which is seen as the urge for showing the doctors, parents and the community that he is normal is explained by the maladaptive concept which explains the needs to adapt to the real world and be accepted by the people. This is the reason there is personality change with this character as he tries to portray a better picture of the society (Cervone, 2009). On the social cognitive theory, the personality of Pat Salatano Jr. may change due to the experience and the social needs of the society. Also, we are aware that through living in the society, the character in the quest is aware and has observed the social needs of the society. Due to the awareness of the functional values of the behavior in their environment, Pat Salatano Jr. may change the personality to adopt the values that the community rewards highly. The personality change is therefore highly attached to the need to create the reward that the society gives to those with upright moral characters and uprightness. This gives the urge for the continuous self-approval to the community or the society.

Analysis of internal and external factors

The setting of the film has clearly defined the internal and external environmental factors that have led to the change in the personality of this character. It is these environments that have led to the gradual and the continuous personality change of Pat Salatano Jr. The external environment causing the change of the personality includes his wife Nikki's unfaithfulness as expressed by having sex with another lover. This external environment causes the gradual change of personality to a fierce person who beats up the wife's lover.
Additionally, the society itself which he tries to adapt to after the discharge is an external environment which he may not manage to change but rather remains with the option of adapting to it (Nevid, 2013). This external environment according to Sigmund Freud seeks to get him change the personality to attain the need for self-worth that is borne in the ego part of the human mind. More so, Tiffany also represents an external environment that drives towards the personality change in this character. His actions and promises to restore back the relationship between Pat Salatano Jr. and Nikki drive makes this the character in the quest to change his personality and agrees to participate in the dance as the pay for Tiffany's efforts. This is, therefore, the other external environment that triggers the change of character. Additionally, the family status and the background is an external factor that leads to the changes in the personality of this character. Essentially, according to the social cognitive theory, the family explains some of the personality held by Pat Salatano Jr. (Nevid, 2013). The family that character has grown in and may, therefore, tries to adapt from the experiences from the family and what the parents does. Lastly, the external factors and environment may be expressed by the time he has spent in the institution of the mental hospital. In this case, the personality can focus mainly on what Pat Salatano Jr. has been experiencing in the hospital. The character in the hospital may be aligned to what he would observe with other patients in the hospital.
On the other hand, the internal factors that affect the personality of Pat Salatano Jr. are the results of the mental growth and the mental changes probably since the childhood and the mental changes due to the environment. Stress and the unusual experiences that are difficult, in this case, are seeking the conscious and the unconscious motives which seeking the self-approval and regaining one's position among the people in the society. It is all about the unconscious insisting on having defense mechanisms from the social aggressions in oneself (Guntrip, 2005). It is also the desire to attain back all the belonging as it is the character of the human person. This, therefore, leads to the aggressive personality of this character. According to Sigmund, they are various internal factors that Pat Salatano Jr. suffers from since he bears the burden of proving to the societal. Inferiority complex experienced due to the initial experience of his wife having sex with her lover and the later claims that the characters suffer from bipolar disorder is also an important internal factor. According to the psychodynamic theory, everyone's personality changes during the attempts made to prove against the inferiority complex that exists as at birth (Guntrip, 2005).

Analysis of the crisis or trauma causing events

The crisis experienced by Pat Salatano Jr. emanates from various situations and settings as seen in the film. The exposure to the reality of the sexual act between his wife and her lover was the beginning of the crisis that at that point forced him to take the actions of beating up the person. The court ordered eight-month stint is another source of conflict where Pat Salatano Jr. is subjected to therapy that in his consent is not the reasonable dealing with his situation. This further worsens the state of crisis in him. Additionally, the losses incurred by the character at the time of institutionalization also causes increased crisis of this person. More so, the position of the parents is also a source of the crisis to the character. His father’s position of the 5 out of 10 performances in the dance and the love towards Tiffany also causes crisis, in this case.
Psychodynamic and the social cognitive theories of personality change and development has strengths as well as weaknesses in explaining the concept of the changes in the human personality. First the psychodynamic theory was established during the work of the Sigmund in the psychiatric/mental hospital where he had direct interaction with patients (Taylor, 2009). He was, therefore, able to develop the feasibility of the personality change theory. Strength is that the theory explains varied personality aspects that adequately define the development personality characteristics that are rare with many theories.
The theory on social cognitive has contributed highly to the learning of the personality development since it can be experimented and through the various placements of individuals and allowing observation in the field (Cervone, 2009). Secondly, social cognitive theory can be tested with the idea of locus of control that is a further confirmation of its applicability. However, the social cognitive theory has a weakness of lacking the unification concept. As applied to the psychodynamic theory, social cognitive theory does not show the aspects of cohesion that takes into consideration various parts of the social behavior and personality. Secondly, the theory ignores the maturation and the development stages concerned with the personality. The theory fails to track the various steps and the motivations in these steps that cause the change in the personality.
In conclusion, however, the application of the two theories has shown the competitiveness in analyzing the change in the personality and the character change. The weaknesses of the one theory are overlapped by the strength of the other theory and hence the success in the character analysis.


Caprara, G. V., & Cervone, D. (2010). Personality: Determinants, dynamics, and potentials. Cambridge, UK [u.a.: Cambridge Univ. Press.
Cervone, D. (2009). The coherence of personalities: Social-cognitive bases of consistency, variability, and organization. New York [u.a.: Guilford Press.
Guntrip, H. (2005). Personality structure and human interaction: The developing synthesis of psychodynamic theory. London: Karnac.
Nevid, J. S. (2013). Psychology: Concepts and applications. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Quick, M. (2010). The silver linings playbook. London: Picador.
Taylor, E. (2009). The mystery of personality: A history of psychodynamic theories. New York: Springer-Verlag.

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Psychodynamic And Social Cognitive Theories In Determining Personality Essay Samples. Free Essay Examples - Published Dec 12, 2020. Accessed June 17, 2024.

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