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Character Styles 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0393701715
ISBN-10: 0393701719
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

This book presents a theoretical and research-based integration of personality. But it is not some academic, sterile dissection of the substance of human heroism and tragedy; rather, in describing life's most basic, existential issues, it shows how tragedies in human development create painful psychopathology that requires heroism to overcome. The book shows how these basic life issues underlie the severe pathology of personality disorder, the nagging symptoms of neurosis, and the more functional coping and adaptation of the character styles. Further, it details both an external description of these personalities along the continuum of psychic structure and the internal experience or phenomenology that makes people's behavior understandable and worthy of empathy. Johnson's dimensional model captures the complexity of human personality, while allowing for variability not seen in categorical systems such as DSM-IV. His descriptive names of the character styles - the hated child, the abandoned child, the owned child, the used child, the defeated child, the exploited child, and the disciplined child - not only link childhood experiences to later personality and psychopathology but also put flesh and bones on psychiatric diagnoses. The first part on theory and four of the chapters on the individual character styles have been revised from Johnson's earlier books. The final three chapters on patterns of self-defeat, the histrionic personality, and obsessive-compulsive personality are new to this volume and complete the description of all character styles outlined in his original model. The result is an extremely comprehensive, integrated, and readable account of human personality.

About the Author

Stephen M. Johnson, Ph.D., is a professor and chair of the faculty at Pacific Graduate School of Psychology in Menlo Park, California. He divides his time between clinical teaching and the private practice of psychotherapy in Menlo Park and San Francisco.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (May 17, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393701719
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393701715
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stephanie Silva on May 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Over a ten year period, Stephen M. Johnson wrote a series of extraordinarily useful and well organized books integrating theories of personality development and therapeutic objectives at neurotic and borderline functioning. In the introduction here he writes about his integrated theory: "It is not psychoanalytic, not object relations, not self-psychology or ego psychology. It is not behavioral or cognitive or affective. It is not characterological, developmental, interactive, phenomenological. It is not theoretical, empirical, experiential, intuitive, or deductive. It is all of this and more in a mix. It attempts to answer important questions with the information available. For each of us who are curious about such questions, this is what we must do."
Character Styles includes revised chapters from Characterological Transformation, Humanizing the Narcissistic Style and The Symbiotic Character, but the addition here of chapters on masochistic, hysterical and obsessive-compulsive characters makes the entire series a little masterpiece. Dr. Johnson's work seems to have grown most out of The Symbiotic Character since, as he writes, "the strategies found successful in liberating the symbiotic character can be of nearly universal significance." The first books in the series contain diagrams for energetic body work based on Reich and Lowen that are curiously missing here.
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Format: Hardcover
Once I started a chapter, I *had* to read it through no matter the hour. Despite the jargon, despite the too infrequent "for example"'s, he clearly describes a dozen friends, relatives and, of course, myself -- *anyone* whose early childhood is known to me. His uncanny grasp of my "inner life" experience astounded me and was worth the price right there. I particularly appreciate his using the same structure for each chapter, always winding up with that style's Therapeutic Objectives. Professionals should also appreciate his indicating what difficulties a therapist can encounter when treating a given style. This is one of the three most important and rewarding books in my forty years of reading.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was the only text used in my graduate Psychopathology class. Five years later I have gone back again and again for use in my practice. Johnson brilliantly integrates most of the psychodynamic schools of thought to construct a "characterological-developmental" model of motivation, personality development, and treatment of psychopathology. He delineates components of character in terms of etiology, symptoms, cognitive styles, defenses,pathogenic beliefs, self and object representations, and affective characteristics. In addition he outlines treatment goals and objectives for each character in cognitive, affective, and behavioral areas. Johnson manages to bring psychoanalytic terminology down to earth and put it in existential terms (e.g. The Hated Child, The Used Child, etc).

Johnson's work constitute his attempt at constructing a paradigm shift in the sense that he proposes a cohesive integration of psychoanalytic developmental models as a move away from classical drive psychoanalysis. It is at once aesthetically stimulating and immanently useful. It is hard to agree with everything he says, but a paradigm shift is a very ambitious project.

I think it is pretty challenging reading--for the professional or the very dedicated. However, those who stick with it are likely to learn something about themselves (he speaks of "styles" rather than just extreme "personality disorders"), learn valuable lessons about parenting, and understand their relationships better. I agree with a previous reviewer's comment that it is a treasure.
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By A Customer on October 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I have bought this book a long time ago and it has been invaluable resource. It helped me through my self-managed process of integration. It has helped me understand some of the traits of the people I know. And it has helped me understand that it is sometimes just a fine line that separates a personality trait - or a cluster of traits - and a disorder.
The amount of work behind that book must be impressive. Written with understanding and compassion, this is a wonderful book for layman and professional alike.
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Format: Hardcover
I will never part with this book. It's an eye-opener like no other book on human nature that I know of. I wish I read this book when I was younger; it would make my life a whole lot better. I also would've been a better parent. This book should be mandatory reading for every couple that's expecting a child -- but also the adult children with charcterological problems.

I'm just out of words to convey my admiration for Stephen Johnson. The West Coast is lucky to have him and his practice there. I live in Boston and wish I had access to this brilliant psychoterapist as a student or a patient on behalf of somebody else, but who knows, maybe I need it too :-)

The book discusses the most destructive personality types and explains how those personalities were formed in childhood. It also talks how these people should be treated, and the obstacles that therapists and other helpers face with such individuals. Worth every dollar!

I would only ask Dr. Johnson what happens to the character of the person when they were overindulged as a child -- not excessively controlled or abused as is the case with most people who have personality disorders,

Also, the picture on the dust jacket of this book is quite silly and irrelevant -- bu that's the publisher's fault.
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