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Excerpt from "Personality: How It Forms" by Henry Kellerman

Excerpt from "Personality: How It Forms" by Henry Kellerman

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Excerpt from "Personality: How It Forms" by Henry Kellerman. Copyright 2012 by Henry Kellerman. Reprinted here by permission of American Mental Health Foundation Books. All rights reserved.
Excerpt from "Personality: How It Forms" by Henry Kellerman. Copyright 2012 by Henry Kellerman. Reprinted here by permission of American Mental Health Foundation Books. All rights reserved.

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Published by: wamu885 on Oct 17, 2012
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Te inadequate style

The Inadequate Personality Style is labeled in this man-
ner because the central problem here is in an under-response
virtually in every arena of the person’s life. In the contemporary
psychiatric-classifcation systems, as a category, this inadequate
type has been deleted. Nevertheless, clinicians see such people
more than just occasionally. Such individuals under-respond to
the complement of intellectual, emotional, and social demands of
life. Lassitude, ineptness, lack of stamina, and also less-than-uni-
formly good judgment, become evident in this person’s function-
ing, although in some cases this sort of problem is not necessarily
nor immediately refected in results of some IQ tests.
Tus, such a person can be quite able to navigate through life
in a way that continues to produce a typical under-response.
Although it is frequently seen that results on IQ tests are some-
times not signifcantly afected by such under-response, there are
other tests that do identify the problem indeed with lowered IQ
scores. When personality functioning does afect IQ, it is in the
area of motor behavior—that is, when required to perform or to
use one’s hands to manipulate objects the person’s typical lassitude
afects performance. In such cases, there will be a discrepancy
between those IQ tasks on tests that simply require verbal answers
in contrast to much lower scores on test items that require one “to
motorically” manipulate items. Te sense of inertly sitting and

Te Inadequate Style | 149

answering questions suits such a person better than when this
person is required, so to speak, to get up and go.
It becomes obvious that such a person manages tension and
anxiety through the style of remaining emotionally attached to a
primary caregiver as well as by behaving in a manner that requires
support from this primary caregiver. In addition, this person’s
under-response occurs in the arenas of relationships generally,
in sex specifcally, in school, and in jobs. It is the case however,
that such individuals, usually at some point in their employ-
ment history, lose jobs, and then inevitably, become essentially

By and large, such an inadequate personality style is one in which
the person functions with an obvious inferiority feeling, in which
performance is constricted, and even any trace of self-assurance
is, of course, almost entirely erased. In order to salvage some self-
esteem, such a person will exaggerate the importance of any given
interactional or interpersonal situation—so that a melodramatic
sentimentality is frequently seen in the person’s response to vari-
ous situations. Tis exaggerated so-called response-of-importance
invites such a person to feel as though involved in signifcant mat-
ters, but then also proves to contribute to less than good judgment
with respect to varieties of experiences.
In this sense of exhibiting poor judgment, it is the primary care-
giver who is called upon to rescue this person from all sorts of self-
defeating circumstances. Tese self-defeating circumstances leave
such a person with an ever-increasing sense of risk-aversion—so
much so that an increase in the tendency toward dependency,
passivity, and withdrawal begin (together, as a cluster of traits), to
act as major-personality signature that becomes characteristic of
the person’s emotional profle. In short, such a person is then seen
primarily as one who gains a sense of safety by fortifying and fur-
ther reinforcing an emotion-attached personality style in which
needs for dependency and attachment are basic orientations that
the person uses to navigate life.

150 | Personality

Similar to a classically dependent-personality style, this inad-
equate personality has the emotion of anger under complete con-
trol. Tus, in the absence of any show of anger, this person comes
across with a smooth exterior—especially when behavior is not
an issue; that is, in talking to such a person, it may be difcult to
predict the inadequacy of functioning. Tis is so because verbal
ability will usually be adequate—even good.
As evidence of the inadequacy of functioning of this kind of
person, it is pretty clear that a prediction of underachievement
usually would be accurate. For example, the inadequate personal-
ity style is one that needs step-by-step instruction for any func-
tion to be undertaken successfully, and then would beneft from
ongoing supervision in order to sustain whatever achievement has
already been accomplished.
Te particular defenses that comprise an emotional-security
platform for this kind of person include a regressive immature
tendency that assures an emotionally attached style (in order
to invite care), and also serves this particular style by assur-
ing shallow, immature, and fumbling behavior. In addition, the
defensive mechanism of compensating for inferiority feelings
enables this person to treat situations with an air of importance
(melodramatic sentimentality) which is, of course, essentially
inappropriate. Further, such a person utilizes excessive rational-
ization to try to massage and distract oneself from such inap-

All in all, it is the across-the-board under-response that charac-
terizes such a person, making it absolutely necessary for this kind
of person to be emotionally attached to a primary caregiver or
authority fgure, thereby successfully nullifying any anxiety about
functioning in life. Tis is essentially how such a person manages
tension and anxiety.

Te Inadequate Style | 151

Case Examples

Case 1: Inadequate Personality − A Symptom Sketch

A twenty-eight-year-old man was unemployed because on
his job and at the end of the workday he continued to leave
work unfnished. He was sorting mail in a large company, and
although bright, he couldn’t quite ever fnish the quota of work
required of him. And this inability to reach his goals became
typical for him.

Finally, he was fred from his job. Since over the past several
years this was the ffth or sixth job failure, he and his wife decided
that she would be the breadwinner while he kept house. Tis was
a perfect solution for him because then he could take his time
throughout the day so that the tasks required to keep the house
in order could, in fact, possibly be completed. Yet, here too, he
couldn’t quite organize his time or his energies to do whatever it
took to do the job in a way that would ofer him a decent closure

His typical grade at former jobs would probably at best be a
C minus. At home in his new task to keep the house in order,
he did better, but still not a grade “A.” His relationship with his
wife did not sufer, however. Since they were kids, she had always
been attracted to him, and in addition, she herself didn’t really
care very much about how the house was kept. Since they had no
children nor planned for children, then she was quite happy to
have landed him and was even happy about his attachment and
dependency on her.
Tis was a clear case of repetitive job-loss as a symptom of an
inadequate personality style in a person who was essentially a per-
fect example of an emotionally attached type.

Case 2: Te Inadequate Personality

A sixty-year-old man who was twice divorced had two sons and
found himself estranged from both. In addition, he had a history

152 | Personality

of underachievement and under-response to the various jobs that
he held, but at the age of ffty fnally found a menial job in a
hanger factory where clothing hangers were both manufactured
and exported. His job was mostly to count. He counted pack-
ages and noted their contents, and he counted packages going
to specifc clients. Te main point was that the president of the
company had known his family so that luckily his performance
didn’t depend on any particular quota of packages to be counted or
sorted. In addition, the president of the company apparently liked
him, so that his job was secure and he had now kept it for a decade.
If not for these fortuitous circumstances, this man could never
have maintained this job. It was his experience in life that almost
nothing ever worked out for him. In school he continuously got
grades with addenda attached on his report cards indicating that he
was bright but below par in his work, or that a check mark would
be placed next to the choice: “Could do better,” or, “Unsatisfactory
work.”Other choices on his report card listed: Is doing well; Is doing
very well; Excellent work. He was never blessed with any of these.
Each of his sons, at diferent times, felt exasperated with what
they experienced as his neglect but which in reality was his inabil-
ity to get it together to remember birthdays, or have the energy
to organize himself to purchase gifts, or to respond appropriately
with respect to the issue of “doing” in any number of other ways.
Gradually, their relationship to him became ify, and at some
point their contact with him was only occasional.
Terefore, this man’s only pleasure was in his job. He was
entirely engrossed in the satisfaction he got from the security of
being liked by the president of the company and took solace in
the fact that he could handle the job the way he wanted to. Tus,
his inadequate personality style met its corresponding environ-
mental situation that didn’t undo him, and this enabled him to
sustain a vital emotional attachment. It was his only decent rela-
tionship. Otherwise, he lived a rather secluded life.

Te Inadequate Style | 153

Te More Normally Inclined Inadequate Style

It is clear that there are better or higher-functioning people
who nevertheless can be categorized as inadequate types. In
many such cases, the person has better-than-average IQ scores,
and may even have savant-like abilities. For example, a man
of thirty-fve was unable to keep a job but was lucky to have
found a woman who had a career. He did the housework while
each day she went to her job as an accountant. He was a very
intelligent person and was particularly good at crossword puz-
zles. His vocabulary and general fund of knowledge was also
very well developed. Tis was especially interesting because in
school he could learn all of his required material but had great
difculty in taking and doing well on exams. On his own with
no demands from others he could function quite well. However
when a demand from another person was clear, he would falter
and was the reason he could not really hold a job or even take
an exam.

On his own, therefore, there was no lassitude or ineptness in
sight and he would not be generally under-responsive. His prob-
lem was always in working with others. With his wife he had what
he needed; that is, she wanted him there and so he had his attach-
ment need gratifed as well as feeling her support.
In such situations, an inadequate personality type can feel more
normal and can actually function better. Te consistent loss of
jobs, inferiority feelings, and poor judgment do not quite reach
the threshold when such a person feels accepted and is not placed
in circumstances where many requirements stare him or her in the
face. Again, in such circumstances where attachment needs are
satisfed, this emotion-attached person will in all likelihood have
all of his anger in control.
Te melodramatic displays that generate compensatory and
even grandiose feelings in such a person, the purpose of which

154 | Personality

is to obscure inferiority feelings, are absent when attachment to
another is secure, and especially when the job situation is not a
problem. Under such conditions that favor this inadequate type,
a more normally inclined functioning may be seen although
this kind of equilibrium will obtain when others are reasonably

Te Inadequate Style | 155

Category 4
Emotion-detached Styles

Emotion-detached Styles are those in which the person, in an
attempt to manage tension and anxiety, keeps the self from being
too infuenced by any other person. Tus the mantra with such
personality types is: no entanglements. As such, a primary need
of such individuals with this emotion-detached style is to remain
relatively socially isolated. In this way, emotional security is gained
from the social isolation. Such types of personality difer from the
schizoid personality of the emotion-controlled group insofar as
emotion-detached types are also highly sensitive (wired), feel vul-
nerable (fragile), and are usually and to some extent, withdrawn
(highly self-absorbed).
Te emotion-detached personality types include:

1. Te Borderline Personality
2. Te Depressed Personality
3. Te Avoidant Personality

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