Accessible, Nuanced Personality Description for Therapy: A Series

Nails show personality styles give relationships, work, and creativity their variety

I am a self-rediscovered fan of a book and system I again ran into. It was from my earliest psychology days and written by John Oldham, M.D. and Lois Morris: The New Personality Self-Portrait. The book is a straightforward, realistic way to look at the personality styles, strengths, and challenges of individuals, while not getting into pathological aspects.

Looking at such a system is one way to better understand the aspects of relationships and work that reliably produce contentment, anxiety, and / or conflict for each of us. My main areas of specialty include helping individuals with personal and work relationship changes, conflicts, and losses, life transitions, and job burnout. Thus, it is a natural ‘re-find’ for me and a fit for what I do.

Personality Styles for Individualized Understanding of Relationships, Stress, and Work

Dr. Oldham developed the system by ‘toning down’ the personality qualities of the DSM personality disorders (including those in the DSM-III-R and DSM-IV appendices). The resulting styles of personality are also differently named. While extreme scores might suggest that investigation is a good idea, Oldham & Morris state such scores do not automatically mean there is a personality disorder present.

One thing I like about this system is that it allows those who take the related test to score mildly, moderately, or intensely on each of 14 dimensions or styles. That means that the nuances of an individual’s personality can be weighed and considered to interact with and modify one another. Many other popular, normal personality systems try to rigidly ‘type’ the person. It is just my opinion, but I see typology as less lifelike.

My plan over the next weeks is to briefly look at the strengths and weaknesses of several of these styles in the areas of relationships, work, and stressors. I may also preview how, in my view, each of the styles might be addressed in therapy and counseling.

I of course give credit for the topical content to Oldham & Morris (1995). Here is a link to the book (if you want much more detail than I will give, buy it). Finally, please recognize that the test related to this book is not meant for use in clinical diagnosis or in forensic settings, and I do not use it for such. I also have no business relationship with the originator of the NPSP and am freely writing about it and giving full credit for the subject matter.

Looking forward to this.

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