Many theories have been proposed by various psychologists on understanding the origins of one’s personality. One of the highly authoritative theories is based on the work of a famous neurologist from Australia Sigmund Freud. He was the first to propose the psychoanalysis theory. Collectively, all these personality theories are called psychodynamic theories. Despite the fact that there are a various number of psychodynamic theories that exist the main emphasis of all the theories are given on the unconscious desires and motives and the significance of childhood events or experiences in developing and shaping the personality of an individual (Lyon, 2013).
Leonardo DiCaprio is a famous American actor, as well as, a film producer. Leonardo Dicaprio began his career in the early 1990s by performing in the television commercials. After that, he played recurring roles in various television series and films (Editors, 2016). He is the man who has faced so many ups and downs both in personal and professional life. While various celebrities chose their career of acting due to their pleasure seeking behavior and hence, dominated by id, Leonardo’s career choice was due to the domination of ego based on his early childhood events and experiences. Hence, the main purpose of this research report is an investigation of the personality of Leonardo Decaprio in terms of psychodynamics and humanistic conception of personality.
Sigmund Freud formulated the Psychodynamic theory that provided an elaborate description of various levels of awareness, which are conscious, preconscious, as well as, unconscious. This theory also explained that how the feelings and thoughts of a person can impact his/her actions. According to a psychodynamic theory proposed by Freud, human personality consists of three distinct parts, which are the id, the ego, and the superego. The id is the source of instinctual energy, which operates on the principle of self-pleasure. The ego tends to allow instinctual satisfaction by regulating the needs of the id based on the reality principle. While the super-ego tends to regulate the satisfaction of the instinctual demands as per the social convention and can be called as the moral arm in the societal status. The id, ego, and the superego performed at conscious, preconscious, and unconscious state respectively. Freud also stated that the personality of the individual is formed during his/her early five years of the person’s life (Lyon, 2013).
Leonardo Dicaprio who is now a famous Hollywood actor once leads a very unglamorous life. His childhood was spent in an unglamorous and poor world. Once in an interview, Leonardo Dicaprio said: “I grew up very poor and I got to see the other side of the spectrum.” Leonardo had spent his childhood in the slum area of Los Angles where prostitution, violence, and crime was present on his streets. He had seen “people smoking crack and shooting heroin,” and his whole childhood was spent looking at these. He states that he never tried the drug in his life, though Hollywood parties are the main source of temptation for drug use. In this case, Leonardo Dicaprio’s ego has overpowered his id. His ego resisted him to try drugs at the Hollywood parties where it is the main source of temptation. His ego was driven by the incidences he had witnessed during his childhood as in his interview he said that “Never done it, that's because I saw this stuff literally every day when I was 3 or 4 years old.” Hence, his early childhood experiences have made him resistance towards the temptation of the drugs and his personality is ego driven (Editors, 2016).
Leonardo’s parents got divorced when he was a toddler. This had a huge impact on his personality development as after his parent’s divorce, he used to pass his time in Echo park, which was a drug-dominated, poor, and dirty place. Leo during his early childhood was used to be a misbehave and naughty child and was nearly thrown out from the educational program of Romper Room he took at the age of 3 years. Moreover, when he first performed in a children's TV show and appeared for the first time on screen in a Romper Room show he was fired for his disruptive nature (Editors, 2016). As Leo’s parents got divorced when he was a baby, it had a negative impact on his anal stage and leads to the development of anal-expulsive personality, which leads to the development of Leo’s disruptive and misbehaved personality.
Though fantastic and outstanding roles have been played by Leonardo, but it took 23 years to win an Oscar award for his marvelous work. Every time Leo used to be nominated for the Oscar awards but never achieved it for years and years. But still, Leo never allowed his failure to rule his career. He used ego employed defense mechanisms. Freud’s defense theory states that to deal with problems and conflicts in one’s life, the ego plays a vital role in mediating a range of various defense mechanisms. (Lyon, 2013) Leo used his ego as a defense mechanism to overcome the failure to win Oscar award for years. Losing an Oscar was not a hindrance for Leo to continue living his highly meaningful and successful life. He once said, “ You can either be a vain movie star, or you can try to shed some light on different aspects of the human condition.” He became an environmental activist and brought public awareness to humanitarian and environmental concerns. Leo’s ego was aware of a greater need and made him realize that what he actually had and what he can do for the environment, which helped him cutting down his disappointment’s size (Editors, 2016).
The psychodynamic theory based on the influence of events and experiences of childhood on one’s personality suits the personality of Leonardo Decaprio. However, there is certain criticism linked to this approach. The one primary criticism linked to Freud’s development theory is the over-emphasis of the theory on the sexuality of an individual. Moreover, as this theory states that the development of the personality of an individual is driven by the events and experiences he had during his childhood, it failed to analyze the changes in the personality of the individual during his adulthood, which can be acquired by observational learning and conditioning during his upcoming stages of life (Bornstein, 2010).
Humanistic theory of personality emphasizes that a person’s inherent drive is towards his/her creativity and self-actualization. According to Rogers Humanistic theory, the one basic goal of an organism is self-actualization. He emphasized that the key indicator of an individual towards reaching self-actualization is his/her experiences he/she had during their childhood. According to Roger, self-concept is one of the most vital feature of one’s personality, and it consists of all the feelings, thoughts, and beliefs individuals have about them. He believed that everyone is aware of their self-concepts (Kirschenbaum, 2012).While, Kelly’s humanistic theory is focused on the basis of Fundamental Postulate that states that the way in which an individual anticipates events or things psychological channelizes the process of an individual (Gruber, 2012). The childhood experiences of Leo motivated him to become an actor. Leo’s rough upbringing led to the path of self-actualization as it was the event that led him towards his career of choice. Leo’s during one of his interview said that he once got beat up as he went to private elementary school being a student of the public school. He used to have a thinking that everyone in the private elementary school lived harmoniously with each other. This incidence was the motivational event that happened to him as he told his mother after this incidence that he wants to be an actor because he wants to get out of the public school. Hence, the life of students in the private school and an urge to get out of the public school system led him to the path of self-actualization (Editors, 2016).
The humanistic approach emphasizes on individual’s responsibility and choice and suits to explain the decision of Leo of becoming an actor. However, there are certain drawbacks to this approach of personality. The primary criticism faced by this approach is that this theory fails to define the impact of social interaction, personality continuity, or presence of deviance. Moreover, this theory focuses on the individual’s capability of seeking positive goals, it fails to define the presence of evil in the society or deviance within normal personalities. Hence, it lacks the empirical evidence, as well as, does not have enough falsifiability (Gruber, 2012).
Personality is the complicated organization of behaviors, cognitions, and affects that provides direction, as well as, pattern to the individual’s life. It involves both the structures, as well as, processes, which reflects the nature and nurture of an individual. Moreover, the development of the personality includes the impact of past of an individual that includes the memories of an individual and its role towards the construction of the individual’s present and future. While Freud’s personality theory is based on the fact that an individual personality is a result of childhood experiences and events and is unchangeable (Lyon, 2013). Roger’s humanistic theory is based on the actualizing tendency of an individual that enables the person to grow and realize their potentials. The humanistic approach is focused on suggesting that the commitment to change is a result of self-concept and self-actualization tendency of an individual. Though both the theories are focused on different approaches but both emphasize the role of childhood experiences in the development of the personality (Gruber, 2012).
Bornstein, R. (2010). Psychoanalytic theory as a unifying framework for 21st century personality assessment. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 27(2), pp.133-152.
Editors, B. (2016). Leonardo DiCaprio Biography. [online] Biography.com. Available at: https://www.biography.com/people/leonardo-dicaprio-9273992 [Accessed 30 Aug. 2016].
Gruber, C. (2012). Humanistic Cognitive Behavioral Theory, a Value-Added Approach to Teaching Theories of Personality. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, pp.252-259.
Kirschenbaum, H. (2012). What is “person-centered”? A posthumous conversation with Carl Rogers on the development of the person-centered approach. Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies, 11(1), pp.14-30.
Lyon, C. (2013). A brief introduction to psychoanalytic theory. Psychodynamic Practice, 19(4), pp.431-435.
Robertson, R. (2003). Freud's Theory and its Use in Literary and Cultural Studies: An Introduction (review). American Imago, 60(2), pp.246-252.
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