According to some psychoanalytic and psychological theories there are five personality types. These personality types grow out of the experiences we have during the first seven years of our life, called the imprinting phase. Unmet needs from these early childhood experiences carry into adulthood and shape our personality traits and our defenses. Below, I have outlined the five personality types and their associated unmet needs. By examining ourselves through this structure we can gain insights into our own traits, defenses, and needs.
Experiences in infancy shape this personality type’s strong connection to and awareness of the spiritual aspects of life, great capacity to connect with feelings, and profound creativity. This type is also often ungrounded and has a difficult time creating and sustaining relationships, and dealing with the day to day.
An early wound occurring in the womb or around birth, in which the child’s needs for safety were not met, results in a chronic lack of safety. This lack of safety creates a fear of connection and a fundamental lack of groundedness. The adult tries to protect herself from feeling the rage and fear brought on by these early experiences by avoiding contact with others, disassociating, and prioritizing the spiritual.
Experiences in the first year of life shape this personality type’s deeply nurturing nature, capacity for abundance and joy, and deep intuitiveness. This type is also often needy, has difficulty standing on her own two feet, suppresses her emotions, and believes that she must give to get.
The early wound of abandonment by caretakers early in life results in a sense that this type’s needs might never be met, as well as a difficult time using the energy and resources they do have. This type will use depletion, dependency, and compulsive giving to defend against feeling.
This type has a high capacity for pleasure, humor, optimism, playfulness, and joy, and a deep desire to be of service to others. This type also believes that she must please others, suppress all negative emotions, and suppress her own will in order to be loved.
Extreme efforts to be nice, kind, and pleasant defend against losing love and a feeling of inferiority. A deep anger rooted in not being allowed to express oneself results in intensely felt emotions that are repressed. This person may have a difficult time knowing what they think or feel and may use passive aggressive methods to communicate.
This type is a natural born leader with strong abilities to guide and inspire others. They are true adventurers and seekers of truth. They can be humble, honest and loyal. They can also have a difficult time being wrong, be skeptical about everything, and have a difficult time with vulnerability.
This type will defend against being wrong , vulnerable, or out of control by getting aggressive or controlling others. They are likely to use divisive tactics to gain the upper hand in situations and protect themselves from feeling controlled and dominated by others.
This type can be incredibly passionate in relationships, competent in life, and have a strong ability to go with the flow. They can have an appreciation for beauty and the capacity to create beauty. This type can also be unwilling to be vulnerable, have a strong need for perfection, and may choose superficial superiority over real connection.
This type will often use an intense focus on superficial perfection to protect from feeling rejected. In relationships they are likely to withhold either sexual or emotional feeling to protect against re-experiencing the rejection they fear from their childhood. This type will also often use overworking as a defense mechanism.
Our defense mechanisms can be extremely pervasive and determine much of our existence. The extent that they do so is usually determined by the severity of the wound we experienced and our awareness of it. It is interesting to note that what we defend against is often also our greatest potential asset.Using this five personality model we are able to identify what we are most afraid of, find mature ways of creating what we need, and begin to find the gifts hidden in our wounds.
To explore deeper, take the quiz here on our website and sign up for the extraordinary life series. The quiz will help you determine your core wound and the extraordinary life series will help you find positive ways of working with it so that you become less hampered by your defense mechanisms.