Personality Theory and Biographies of Its Creators


Many personality theories are influenced by the biographies of their creators. Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud are among the greatest psychoanalysts of the 20th century, who underlaid the basis of personality theories. This paper aims to analyze the interconnection between the theories of Freud and Jung and their environment. In the 20th century, the structure of personality was an unknown field for researchers, and some of them became pioneers in this branch. The desire to explore the structure of personality, find the causes of psychosomatic disorders and explore the symbolism of dreams had to be formed by the environment. Thus, Jung’s and Freud’s personal experience and social climate shaped their views and were reflected in their works.

Sigmund Freud’s Theories and Biography

Sigmund Schlomo Freud, the greatest neurologist, and psychoanalyst were born in 1856 in Austria-Hungary. Later his family moved to Vienna, but in 1938 they had to escape from the Nazi regime to England. At the age of 17, Freud entered the University of Vienna to study medicine (Ellis et. al. 2009). He worked in the psychiatric department and in 1885 was appointed to the position of an unsalaried lecturer at his university. Under Jean-Martin Charcot, a French neurologist, Freud started a study on hysteria (which is now called somatization disorder). He revealed a deep interest in personality disorders and pathological states of mind. Together with Charcot, they scrutinized the patients with paralysis, blindness, seizures, and sexually aggressive behavior that seemed to be caused by psychobiological distress connected with sexual frustration. In the 19th century, the sexual discourse was forbidden in society, and many people suffered from the limits set by morals. Freud found out that sexual problems underline psychosomatic problems and are deeply

Freud’s initial interest in hysteria led to further interest in the structure of personality. According to Freud’s theory, personality involves conscious, preconscious, and unconscious parts (Freud, 1923). The theory describing personality was called Freud the topological theory of mind. In the tripartite theory of personality, Freud regards personality as consisting of three parts (ego, superego, and id) (Freud, 1923). The id is primitive and reflects the person’s instincts, such as sex instinct and aggresstion instinct (Eros and Thanatos). The id operates the pleasure principle, according to which all the primitive desires should be fulfilled instantly. The ego is a mediator between the id and the superego. The superego incorporates social norms and values which are learned in childhood. In Freud’s time, the society there were strict moral values, and there was a hidden conflict between people’s desires and norms. Freud’s works reflect this tension and controvercy, which was accumulated and burst into hysteria and other psychological problems.

Jung’s Biography

Carl Gustav Jung has a rich biography that influenced his theories as well. Jung was born after 19 years after Freud, in Switzerland in 1875, in a family of a poor pastor of the Swiss Reformed Church (Ellis et el., 2009). His father was suffering from clinical depression, and his mother also had some psychological problems. It made Jung a lonely and unhappy child and led to psychological stress. When his sister was born, he was 9 years old, so he did not have any companions to communicate with and play with. Jung’s father took care of him while his mother was hospitalized, although being irritable and moody. According to Jung (1961), his father implied two characteristics: reliability and powerlessness. Jung’s mother left the family for a long time, staying in a rest home near Basel, and suffered from mood swings. Being a child, Jung felt that his mother manifests two different personalities. On the one hand, she was an ordinary housewife, but sometimes she started to behave like an “incoherent mystic” and spoke of “mysterious spirits” who visited her at night (Ellis et al., 2009, p. 18). As Jung puts it, he was deeply troubled by his mother being away. He felt “mistrustful when the word ‘love’ was spoken (Jung, 1961, p. 8). Thus, Jung’s parents influenced his personality, having created a fundament for the desire to escape from the world of fantasies and to explore people’s inner dimensions.

From his early childhood, Jung spent a lot of time alone, fantasizing and dreaming. It seemed to him that he had two personalities, the one was a modern Swiss, and the other was an 18th-century man. He was “prone to neurotic fainting spells” that drew him into the world of the unconscious (Ellis et al., 2009). He often made decisions based on his unconscious and communicated with the contrasexual part of his personality, his anima (Ellis et al., 2009). Thus, lonely childhood and ambivalent relationships with parents made Jung interested in the inner dimension, which was later transformed into psychoanalytical theories.

At a young age, Jung dreamt of being an archaeologist, but his parents did not have enough finance to send him to the university where archaeology was taught. Thus, he chose medical faculty instead, building the map of human personality, compensating for his frustrated dreams of archaeology (Ellis et al., 2009). Jung studied religions, mythology, medieval mysticism, dreams of people, and alchemy. Although these methods are not considered scientific today, the miscellaneous knowledge of cultures helped Jung to create his theories, including the personality theory.

One of the key points in Jung’s biography which influenced his scientific views was his professional and personal communication with Freud. Freud chose Jung as a successor for his position as the President of the International Psychoanalytic Society He regarded Jung as the “heir” of his psychoanalytical theories, but Jung has chosen to develop his own field instead. Jung denied Freud’s pansexual views and founded analytical psychology instead.

Jung’s Personality Theory

According to Jung, a personality presents a complex network of systems that interact with each other, some of which are conscious, and others are unconscious. All these systems are constantly seeking to be harmonized and balanced, which could be achieved through a person’s self-realization. He refers to Aristotle’s concept of telos, a goal or purpose that is essential to every human being (Ellis et al., 2009). The personality theory was introduced by Jung in his book “Psychological Types”, where he reflected the ideas on rational (thinking and feeling) and irrational (intuition and sensation) functions. He also introduced the notions of extraversion and introversion, which in combination with the attitudes form eight types of personality. An introverted person tends to focus on their inner self, while an extrovert is more likely to communicate with other people and to be interested in external things. According to Jung, the sensation is “to establish that something exists”, thinking tells the person “what it means”, intuition allows to predict the situation, and feeling refers to the value of the object (Jung, 1971, p.6). Thus, there are such types of personality as the extraverted sensation type, the introverted sensation type, the extraverted intuition type, and the introverted intuition type. Other types are the extraverted thinking type, the introverted thinking type, and the extraverted feeling type.


The concepts of extraversion and introversion further became the basis for other trait theories, for example, the Big Five taxonomy. Thus, Jung and Freud have laid the basis of psychoanalytical theories. Their biographies and environment have formed their personalities and have been reflected in their works. Jung’s early childhood and sphere of interest became the trigger that led him to research the mystic concepts and their connection with people’s personalities. Freud’s work in the hospital and overall atmosphere of strict morals has developed his interest in personality disorders.


Ellis A., Abrams M., & Abrams L., (2009). Personality theories: Critical perspectives. SAGE Publications, Inc.

Freud, S. (1920). Beyond the pleasure principle. SE.

Freud, S. (1923). The ego and the id. SE.

Jung, C.G. (1971). Psychological Types. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

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