Henry A. Murray: Personology Essay

1866 words - 7 pages

Henry A. Murray: Personology

     Personology is the science of people. It is used to interpret and organize the lives of humans. The central ideas of the science must be to “understanding of what we mean by the concept “person,” and for development of methods of understanding the lives of persons as the “long unit for psychology”” (Barresi & Juckes 1988 pg 1). It is important to take accounts when studying personology from first person perspective instead of a third person perspective. Henry A. Murray believed that personality psychology had to deal with the life course of person and came up with the word “personology” (Barresi & Juckes 1988). He developed the phrase because he felt that personality psychology was an “unwieldy” phrase. Personology means the study of “single, complex, lived lives over time, from a variety of different angles” (“Psychobiography: Personality”).
Henry A. Murray was born in New York City in 1893 to a wealthy family with and older sister and younger brother. During his childhood he traveled in Europe, spent summers in Long Island, and attended New England Prep school. Murray went to college at Harvard University. He majored in History but he was a poor student. Although he was a poor student he participated in Athletics which include football, rowing, and boxing. Murray suffered from being cross-eyed and having a stutter so he used sports to compensate for it. Murray attended Columbia College and received M. A. in Biology at the age of 26. In 1919 he was number one in his class. He became a teacher of physiology at Harvard University. He did a 2 year internship at the New York Presbyterian Hospital doing Embriology with chicken eggs. In 1927 at the age of 33 he received his Ph. D in Biochemistry from Cambridge. In 1923 Murray read young and was first introduced to psychology. He was bored with his study of eggs and began to explore personality. During that time at Cambridge Murray spent met and spent three weeks with Jung, and was even analyzed by Jung. Murray was impressed by Jung’s intelligence. In 1927 Murray became the Assistant Director of the Harvard Psychological Clinic. During the time of World War II he was involved with the office of strategic services, training and selection, espionage, and the secret service. Murray is best known for what he calls “personology” and coming up with the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)(“Henry A. Murray: A Study of lives”).
The TAT was developed by Murray so that they would be able to bring depth psychology into the lab. The test calls for the participant to look at a series of pictures involving one or more humans in ambiguous scenes and create a narrative in response to the picture. The test giver then has to use the narratives and identify what the central motivation is behind them which are usually outside the participant’s consciousness. Murray was so interested in a student from Harvard University that took his TAT test. He did a whole...

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