Henry A. Murray: Personology Personology is the science of people. It is used to interpret and organize the lives of humans. The central ideas of the science must be to “understanding of what we mean by the concept “person,” and for development of methods of understanding the lives of persons as the “long unit for psychology”” (Barresi & Juckes 1988 pg 1).
It is important to take accounts when studying person ology from first person perspective instead of a third person perspective. Henry A.
Murray believed that personality psychology had to deal with the life course of person and came up with the word “person ology” (Barresi & Juckes 1988).
He developed the phrase because he felt that personality psychology was an “unwieldy” phrase. Personology means the study of “single, complex, lived lives over time, from a variety of different angles” (“Psychobiography: Personality”).
Murray was born in New York City in 1893 to a wealthy family with and older sister and younger brother. During his childhood he traveled in Europe, spent summers in Long Island, and attended New England Prep school. Murray went to college at Harvard University. He majored in History but he was a poor student.
Although he was a poor student he participated in Athletics which include football, rowing, and boxing. Murray suffered from being cross-eyed and having a stutter so he used sports to compensate for it. Murray attended Columbia College and received M. A.
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in Biology at the age of 26. In 1919 he was number one in his class. He became a teacher of physiology at Harvard University. He did a 2 year internship at the New York Presbyterian Hospital doing Embryology with chicken eggs. In 1927 at the age of 33 he received his Ph. D in Biochemistry from Cambridge.
In 1923 Murray read young and was first introduced to psychology. He was bored with his study of eggs and began to explore personality. During that time at Cambridge Murray spent met and spent three weeks with Jung, and was even analyzed by Jung. Murray was impressed by Jung’s intelligence. In 1927 Murray became the Assistant Director of the Harvard Psychological Clinic. During the time of World War II he was involved with the office of strategic services, training and selection, espionage, and the secret service.
Murray is best known for what he calls “person ology” and coming up with the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) (“Henry A. Murray: A Study of lives”).
The TAT was developed by Murray so that they would be able to bring depth psychology into the lab. The test calls for the participant to look at a series of pictures involving one or more humans in ambiguous scenes and create a narrative in response to the picture. The test giver then has to use the narratives and identify what the central motivation is behind them which are usually outside the participant’s consciousness. Murray was so interested in a student from Harvard University that took his TAT test.
He did a whole case study about it. The student was much like Murray in that he was making terrible grades. Murray looked at the stories that Grope gave in response to the pictures and realized that Grope’s personality outclassed everyone else’s because of his dream of power, fame, and glory. Murray believed that because of his outlandish view of a successful future is linked to a fear of failure. Murray found from Grope’s autobiography that a rejecting mother and ambitious parents who praised him for his early displays of success were very important things in Grope’s background. Grope perceived his current failure at Harvard as temporary and all he needed was fire (internal or external) to get him started.
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After Harvard, Grope entered into Summer Theater. Murray believed that it suited his desire to have attention and admiration from everyone. Murray’s was very interested in the life of Herman Melville. Murray and Melville strongly identified with each others experiences. Murray never completed his biography of Melville but he did publish four studies and was perhaps one of the most successful attempts by a psychologist to delve into the mind of what was known as a literary genius.
Herman Melville is known for being the author of Moby Dick, Pierre, and Bartleby the Scrivener. In the articles Murray wrote he discuss Melville life during the time of his works and central problems that were in Melville’s conscious and unconscious mind. When Melville wrote Moby Dick, Murray wrote that Melville was writing at a time when he felt most disillusioned by the world and he projected his resentment and anger through his book Moby Dick. In the book Pierre Melville is giving more of a reflection and a semi autobiographical account leading up to him writing Moby Dick. Melville destroyed the novel Bartleby and Scrivener because it came to close to revealing Melville’s private emotional life and it almost pushed him to insanity.
So when writing Bartleby and Scrivener he portrayed a safer character. Murray’s most incisive and original article on Melville would have to be his fourth. Murray correlates Melville’s life history and the growth of his self-understanding to Melville’s works of grief, self pity, inward and outward aggression, guilt, depression, egression, desertion, affectlessness or death to the world. During this study Murray is struggling with the development of a new analysis to “where actual emotions in micro sequence and in macro sequence in an individual’s life are exhibited and related to universal human experience” (Barresi & Juckes 1988).
The Core characteristics of Murray’s Personology have to deal with his interpretation of Freud’s Id, Ego and Superego and what the mean and / or stand for.
The Id according to Murray consists of the basic energies, needs and emotions. It has a selfish instinct, an acceptable instinct such as a need for love, achievement, and to be nurtured, and tension reduction is pleasurable. The Ego has defensive functions. It also has promoted expressions of acceptable impulses. Some of the ego functioning can be conflict free. The Superego has more emphasis on the “Ego-Ideal.” The natural tendency of the superego is to get the maximum gratification with minimum anxiety and guilt (“Henry Murray: Personology”).
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According to Murray there are two types of Needs: Viscerogenic (internal source) and Psychogenic needs (external source or press).
Needs are arranged according to their hierarchy of strength. The strongest of the needs are called “Prepotent” needs. If needed needs will combine to achieve the same goal. Needs can conflict with one another.
According to Murray needs are based on internal influences on behavior. External behaviors are called press. There is an Alpha press and a Beta press. The Alpha Press is the objective characteristic of an object in that environment in comparison with Beta press which is a person’s evaluation and perception of that object.
Viscerogenic needs include lacks (leading to intakes), Inspiration (of oxygen), food, water, sex lactation, expiration, urination, defecation, sentience (sensuous impressions), distensions (leading to outputs), harms (leading to retractions), noxa voidance, heat and cold avoidance, and harm avoidance. Psychogenic needs are of dominance, deference, autonomy, aggression, , affiliation exhibition abasement (to be submissive or weak), endurance, heterosexuality, (to be taken care of), and (analyze your own feelings) ( (“Henry Murray: Personology”).
Murray believes that the roles we play are known as “the mas.” Themas follow a pattern which is: Alpha press is greater than Beta press which is greater than Need which is greater than Vector and finally that Vector is greater than Value. Vector is the direction we use to satisfy our need (“Henry Murray: Personology”).
“Themas” occur in five sequences.
Number one is: Proceedings (shortest of “the mas”) which is like going to the store. Number two is: Durance’s which usually overlap like a semester at school or a person’s adolescence. Number three is: Serials which are long proceedings such as marriage. Number four is: Ordination which are a series of planned proceedings such as what must I do to become a doctor. The final one is Unity the mas. A pattern of related needs and presses that repeats throughout your life.
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Unity the mas are also called “Complexes” and are usually the result of unfortunate developmental experiences. People who have “complexes” usually have limited flexibility and have a narrow pattern of “vectors” and “values.” The course of an adult life is unconsciously determined because of unity the mas (“Henry Murray: Personology”).
There is a Murray Center that is full of data sets. These data sets are pulled from many different areas outside of psychiatry. Some of the areas include political science, sociology, and anthropology. The data at the Murray Center has shaped many of the hailed scientists of psychology today.
Murray Center is also called by many El Dorado in that the information there is like gold and it’s open for people to use (“Henry A. Murray Research Center of Radcliffe”).
There is a group called the Society for Personology which was created about fifteen years ago to provide a forum for discussion person ology and its research. It is also there to encourage the advancement of person ology. The members of the society are all practicing person ologists and are committed to living out the legacy of Murray and his vision. The society meets yearly at various U.
S. locations (“Psychobiography: Personology”).
However methodological or conceptual Murray’s contributions were. He has contributed a lot to the area of Personology. The main conceptual view that Murray tried to get across was that the idea of personality psychology was to draw from individual life so he generated things like “the ma” and “unity the ma”, but only to be interpreted as a part of life-historical framework. The TAT was Murray’s Methodological approach.
TAT is used to identify unconscious motivations that a person is not aware of. Murray also tried to determine differences in the “needs” by using the TAT. Murray had many influence when it came to person ology but the biggest influences where Freud, Jung and McDougall (Barresi & Juckes 1988).
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According to Murray Life can be thought of like a book and that our life makes up the different chapters. Murray thinks that personality is not what makes us unique, but it makes us unique over time. Murray also believed that the advancement of personality psychology can only be made by a systematic, and in-depth study of an individual person (Geriatrics 1998).
Henry A. Murray has definitely had an impact of Psychology of personality. He has influenced the field just as much as Fred, Jung, Adler or even Fromm. He has influenced many psychologist such as Robert white and Silv in Tompkins. They are two of Murray’s most influential followers (Psychoanalytic Inquire 2005).
Through them and many other just like them they will continue to make advancements in the field of psychology.
Works CitedBarresi, J. , & Juckes, J. T. (1988).
The Personology and the Narrative Interpretation of Lives. Retrieved April 10, 2005, from http: // web A.
Murray: A Study of Lives (n. d. ).
Retrieved April 10, 2005, from web A.
Murray Research Center of Radcliffe. APS Observer. Retrieved April 9, 2005, from web Murray: Personology (n. d. ) Retrieved April 9, 2005, from http: //www. Uwm.
edu/People / hunan /407/407 MURRAY. html. Geriatrics. 2005. Personality and psychopathology in late life: 1998. Retrieved April 13, 2005, from Proquest database.
Murray Research Center (n. d. ) Retrieved April 10, 2005, from web redirect/Psychoanalytic Inquire. (2005).
Autobiographical Reflections on the Intersubjective History of an Intersubjective Perspective in Psychoanalysis: 2004. Retrieved April 13, 2005, from Proquest database. Psychobiography: Personology (n. d. ).
Retrieved April 9, 2005, from web.