Summary of Psychological Theories

Ruth is looking at the writings of Reiss and his list of human motivators.

16 Basic Human Motivations, by Steven Reiss: Acceptance; Curiosity; Eating; Family; Honor; Idealism; Independence; Order; Physical Activity; Power; Romance; Saving; Social Contact; Status; Tranquility; Vengeance.

I became curious to find a synopsis of all the major psychological analysts and their basic theories (looking for a “Psychologies in a Nutshell”)

I commenced with this link by John E. Smethers, Ph.D. which concerns itself with addictions but mentions many of the key psychologists.

I realize that many people dislike Wikipedia but this article is a pretty good starting point and names the major players:

William James

Sigmund Freud

Carl Jung

Alfred Adler

Karen Horney

Erich Fromm

The culmination of Fromm’s social and political philosophy was his book The Sane Society, published in 1955, which argued in favor of communitarian socialism. Building primarily upon the works of Karl Marx, Fromm was the first political and social commentator in this school of thought to introduce the ideal of personal freedom, more frequently found in the writings of classic liberals, such as Frederic Bastiat, and objectivists, such as Ayn Rand. Fromm’s unique brand of socialism rejected both Western capitalism and Soviet communism, which he saw as dehumanizing and bureaucratic social structures that resulted in a virtually universal modern phenomenon of alienation.

“Erich Fromm sees clearly that for many people Christianity is a thin veneer over the idolatrous worship of power, success, and the authority of the marketplace; or it is a cover masking their idolatrous fixation on their clan, religious or ethnic group, or nation-state. Fromm’s insights about the dynamics of our modern idolatries illuminate many of the growth-blocking religious beliefs, practices, and institutions one encounters both in doing therapy and in society.” – Howard J. Clinebell

Harry Stack Sullivan

Erik Erikson

Another protégé of Freud, Erikson was only a mediocre student, and he never earned a university degree of any kind, but his credibility is well established with one of the most widely accepted models of human development.

Gordon W. Allport

Allport believed that most adult motives consist of cognitive processes that are relatively independent of biological drives; for example, Kamikaze pilots during World War II followed the manifestly unpleasurable course of sacrificing their lives for their country. Instances like these lead Allport to conclude that much of adult behavior cannot be explained in terms of drive reduction.

Allport describes the personality in terms of traits: friendliness, ambitiousness, cleanliness, enthusiasm, seclusiveness, punctuality, shyness, talkativeness, dominance, submissiveness, generosity, prejudice, and so forth. He estimates that there are some 4,000 to 5,000 traits and 18,000 trait names.

Allport (1954) justifies the normality of prejudgment: Everywhere on earth we find a condition of separateness among groups. People mate with their own kind. They eat, play, reside in homogeneous clusters. They visit with their own kind, and prefer to worship together. Much of this automatic cohesion is due to nothing more than convenience. There is no need to turn to out- groups for companionship. With plenty of people at hand to choose from, why create for ourselves the trouble of adjusting to new languages, new foods, new cultures, or to people of a different educational level? It requires less effort to deal with people who have similar presuppositions?

Carl R. Rogers

Abraham H. Maslow
Maslow’s self-actualization, according to Goble (1970), “is prominent only in older people. The young are more concerned with issues like education, identity, love, and work, which Maslow regards as preparing to live. As self-actualized people are usually sixty years of age or more, most people do not belong in this category; they are not static, they have not arrived; they are moving toward maturity. The actualization process means the development or discovery of the true self and the development of existing or latent potential” (pp. 24, 25). Maslow, therefore, refers to the needs of self-actualizing individuals as metaneeds, among which are a love of beauty, truth, goodness, justice, and usefulness. Self-actualizing individuals have strong moral and ethical standards.

Rollo May
Each of us has an inherent need to exist in the world into which we are born, and to achieve a conscious and unconscious sense of ourselves as an autonomous and distinct entity. The stronger this being-in-the-world or “Dasein,” the healthier the personality. According to May our dynamic being-in-the-world comprises three interrelated modes: biological drives (Umwelt), relationship to others (Mitwelt), and the affirmation of one’s self and values (Eigenwelt)

B. F. Skinner

James Hillman
His ‘acorn theory’ proposes that each life is formed by a particular image (which he calls the daimon), an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny, just as the mighty oak’s destiny is written in the tiny acorn.


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