The Normal Personality: A New Way of Thinking about People

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Cambridge University Press, Jan 28, 2008 - Psychology - 212 pages
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Many Psychologists regard personality and mental illness as closely related. The shadow of Freudian analysis looms over modern psychopathology, driving many psychologists to try to understand their clients' personal troubles and personalities using constructs developed to study mental illness. They believe that dark, unconscious mental forces that originated in childhood cause personality traits, personal troubles, and mental illnesses. Steven Reiss thinks problems are a normal part of life. In The Normal Personality, Reiss argues that human beings are naturally intolerant of people who express values significantly different from their own. Because of this intolerance, psychologists and psychiatrists sometimes confuse individuality with abnormality and thus over-diagnose disorders. Reiss shows how normal motives, not anxiety or traumatic childhood experiences, underlie many personality and relationship problems, such as divorce, infidelity, combativeness, workaholism, loneliness, authoritarianism, weak leadership styles, perfectionism, underachievement, arrogance, extravagance, stuffed shirt-ism, disloyalty, disorganization, and overanxiety. Based on a series of scientific studies, this book advances an original scientific theory of psychological needs, values, and personality traits. Reiss shows how different points on motivational arc produce different personality traits and values. He also shows how knowledge of psychological needs and values can be applied in counseling individuals and couples. The author describes new, powerful methods of assessing and predicting motivated behavior in natural environments including corporations, schools, and relationships.

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The normal personality: a new way of thinking about people

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This latest from Ohio State University psychology professor Reiss (Who Am I?) takes on a good majority of working therapists and academics by positing that "values, not unconscious psychodynamics ... Read full review

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In this book Steven Reiss, Ph.D. and Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Psychiatry of Ohio State University, follows up on his earlier innovative book ‘Who am I?’ (2000) first introducing the Reiss Motivation Profile (RMP) to the general public. ‘The Normal Personality’ focuses on explaining what may appear to be ‘abnormal’ behaviour and personality traits and often is labelled as such by describing ‘normal’ differences based on goals, values, and personality traits that are different between human beings. ‘The Normal Personality’ is a must read for anybody interested in understanding what motivates human beings and what makes us different; together with ‘Who am I?’ this book constitutes a substantial paradigm shift in the way we understand human motivation and its applications to personal development, HR development, organizational development, and leadership.
The RMP as presented in this book is a scientifically developed standardized psychological test that helps people discover their values, goals and personality. Based on the completion of a 128 item questionnaire by an individual (can be done online in 15-20 minutes) the individual scores for 16 basic desires / life motives can be assessed. The RMP has been tested and validated in numerous scientific and peer reviewed studies.
Because of its very individual motive combination the RMP meaningfully complements the more type oriented approaches (e.g., Myers-Briggs Type Indicator – MBTI, DISC Personality Profile). While the respective tools very effectively describe typical behavioural preferences (e.g., DISC) or ways of perceiving and responding to one’s environment (e.g., MBTI), the RMP identifies very accurately to what extend each of the 16 desires motivate our behavior, inform our personal and professional goals, and shape our respective behaviour. The RMP’s particular strength is its predictive power based on the combination of scores for the 16 desires that are specific to an individual; it does very accurately predict how comfortable and effective an individual will be within a particular personal and professional context. Furthermore, based on one’s motive constellation and the given current context, the RMP effectively can serve as goal-setting platform and planning tool for professional and personal development, for example in the context of career and leadership development.
(Thomas Mengel, Ph.D., Professor of Leadership Studies, University of New Brunswick; C.E.O. of Reiss Profile Canada Corp.

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About the author (2008)

Professor Steven Reiss is the executive director of the World Society of Motivation Scientists and Professionals. He produced an influential scientific model of anxiety, called anxiety sensitivity (AS), that facilitated early identification of people at risk for various anxiety- and stress-related disorders. AS created new opportunities for ongoing large-scale NIH-funded research projects on prevention, military research on possible inoculation methods for post-traumatic stress disorder, and new psychological research on chronic pain and substance abuse. He constructed the Reiss Profile, an assessment instrument for determining what motivates someone, and published the first ever scientifically validated taxonomy of life motives (psychological needs). His motivation methods have been successfully used by major league professional teams, an Olympic gold medalist, a world champion team, and a growing clientele of human resource managers and executive job coaches.

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