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Conceptions of the Mature Personality from Dr. Graves' Research


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"I suspect as I start this, that each human being, as he sits back, alone with himself, considers his character to be fundamentally okay, or at least, headed in the right direction with good intention. In the social market place this attitude most assuredly gives way to a more self-critical state of mind, a consciousness in which ideals to be aimed at are evolved - however, it seems that solitude breeds a kind of tacit self-consent. My problem then becomes this: should I describe myself or what I would like to be? On the other hand, as I consider the vague presence of some sort of evaluative force which seeks by means of this document to classify my personality, I would imagine that if I describe what I think I am, it would in that way be aided.

But the intent of the question with which I am faced, namely to define what I consider to be psychological mature human being, seems to point toward the ideals of the social market place, the psychological goals and aspirations of self-critical man. What I am driving at seems to be this: there appears to be a gap within the nature of this "evaluative force" of which I speak between its consideration of the personality itself and the intellectualizations of this personality, between actual behavioural skills and the sorts of fantasies which the behaving being aspires to.

At this point, consideration of this question appears to me as crucial; yet for now a resolution of just who I should describe shall have to wait and I shall acquiesce with the supposed intent of this project, attempting to imagine my psychological ideal. I suppose the best way to approach such a consideration would be an outline of the dynamic sort of tendencies of the mature individual, then to be illustrated by the subject's attitude toward different realms of human experience - i.e. friendship, religion, authority, etc. Specifically, I envision the mature human as a vital, growing entity, potentially susceptible to change and influence at all times, experiencing happiness, suffering and developing. Since the self can only be a derivative of what is outside the self, since man's self consciousness, his "selfhood", seems necessarily to be socially founded, an obsession with individuality and autonomy appears a bit unrealistic, yet within its capacity as a reasoning entity, as an arbitrator of conflicting forces, the mature self finds its dignity, its separateness. Its peace is inner, unanxious over, and tempered to the realities of the outside. Social participation is motivated by enjoyment and a kind of personal curiosity, and not by a sense of quest. Emotionally, affection is esteemed, other emotions being a part of humanness. Rationality is valued as a means of growth, though owing to man's nature, by no means an exclusive means.

Regarding specific life's activities, physical activity, whether it be sport or manual labour, is seen as a fulfilling activity. Career goals of material, political or social nature are seen as insignificant. Consistent with this sketch of an overall attitude seems to be these opinions:

On friendship - Inner security is such that friendships are not of a dependent nature. Friends are viewed more as "companions in the world" than as necessary to the satisfaction of need. Large circles of friends are sought but not required. The ability to be affectionate without expecting or requiring its return is also a sign of maturity.

On authority - Authority as a social expedient and necessity is recognized and accepted, though social mores will not mold the individual in the sense of ruling him; critical evaluation on the part of the individual is here the final judge. In the case of political and economic sorts of imperatives, having to abide by them is neither a matter of hardship or pleasure.

On the mystic urge - often deemed the religious attitude, the theological need to explain the unknown - mystic, a-rational, Zen-like attitudes toward reality are recognized as legitimate. The complimentary of this general state of mind with the tendency toward rational understanding is seen as a whole view of reality. The concept of God as a moral force is virtually dismissed, and as a first cause determining force, respected though considered irrelevant for personal peace of mind.

As a final note, maturity also engenders a sort of overview of what such a paper as this has an object - i.e., something of a self-reflexive awareness of the relative nature of opinion; a recognition that although I can and must (because of my humanness) argue out of my own position, argumentation and opinion from other positions is equally valid in the sense of being understandable and defensible. But then again, it would appear that such a perspective cannot be humanly, vitally maintained and that we must therefore jump in and outside ourselves in the process of growth."

Copyright 2001 NVC Consulting