"I told him about scientists who had begged to come with me, some because they wanted to measure Bushman heads and behinds... others to study his family relationships, and one to analyse his spit; but when I asked them if they were not interested in the Bushman's mind and spirit, in the man as a living whole, they replied: 'That is not our department of science'. The Heart of the Hunter' Laurens van der Post: To regard a person 'as a whole' can mean many things. It cannot reasonably mean knowing everything about a person, but it must involve an adequate idea of the various aspects of their personality, from character, attitudes, behaviour, to personal history and abilities... plus more besides. Any concept of the person's whole being must allow for a meaningful inter-relationship therein of the many 'parts' or aspects of the person's entire life. This must include both the facts and values of a person's life, how all kinds of feelings, thoughts, behaviour and relationships appear to that person, including the relation to the perceived past and present or the anticipated future.

To grasp the essentials of the person we require again and again to start from something akin to a biographic understanding of the individual life and life-view and this must precede advance judgements, leading cues or generalisations like those derived from analytical theories. This does not exclude all generalisations or even all preconceptions (as long as these are kept as if 'in parentheses') but it accents personal human understanding, which opens itself to learning about both the depths and the breadths of each person as a subject.

The integrated (holistic) nature of human being itself can be lost almost entirely to view by the over-dominance of the analytical approach without a synthesistic overview. Much modern psychology of the academic-scientific kind is so varied and divided into specialities that a person is left unaided to make whatever overall picture he can of a mass of disparate research fragments and information. Only when scientific empirical analysis is balanced by synthesis in understanding - reviewed in conscious reflection and by explicit, systematic means - can part and whole mutually fulfil each other in a science, which then itself approaches the ideal of being holistic.

There is a relationship between a person's 'wholeness' and personal integrity. Firstly, a whole is an integral unit, as when we speak of degrees of 'integrated personality'. A lesser or non-integrated personality is seen in the severe pathological conditions of persons who are suffering such disorders as split or even multiple personality, schizophrenia and a variety of other conditions which reduce or split up the 'integrated personality'. A truly integrated personality virtually implies a higher level of integrity of character One key aim of psychological knowledge is to examine how character integrity or personal self-integration arises - or is achieved, maintained, or apparently lost. These questions have long been investigated in many human cultures well before the advent of European science, but is it one with which modern psychological science is concerned, even if not stated in these terms. Psychological theories and therapies which aim to understand and cure mental problems invariably have assumptions - if not always consciously known or clearly stated - about the goal of a 'healthy', 'sane' or 'integrated' personality, though the literature tends to emphasize those problematic features which lack such qualities.

Where fragmented understanding of the human psyche arises, it is likely to result at least partly from rejecting the nature and validity of personal experience, people's own accounts, as being unreliable, 'subjective' or only anecdotal. The nature of scientific method is such that the unique and unrepeatable, the particular and accidental, are systematically eliminated so as to arrive at statements having general validity. Clearly, in view of the huge variety of cultures and of the tremendous personal differences between persons representing them, a strict scientific method based on the physical sciences will not provide information valuable to any fuller understanding of persons as such.

To deduce 'factors' that influence behaviour, such as by experimental psychology or by statistical measurements ('multi-variable factor analysis') have their own value in throwing light on behavior and general trends, but contribute little to aid our understanding of the individual human as a 'whole. Psychological statistics are sought in respect of many variables of behaviour and circumstances, being derived from questionnaires and interviews which collect many bits of information from a large number of subjects and then pick them out of their contexts and cross-reference them to arrive at supposed general facts about people. There are, however, very many sources of possible error involved. Just to know how a person understands and interprets a question is itself a great difficulty, making questions flexible and not too narrow to enforce arbitrary answers, then the selection of which information may be relevant to a hypothesis requires great precision and care. question, gathering the data, interpreting it, processing it and drawing correct conclusions about it.

Yet the main problem is the fragmentation is perhaps that precisely measurable data seldom bears any relation to the experiential world of a person, which encompasses a great range of intricately inter-connected events, ideas, judgements, circumstances, values, hopes, problems, actions, reasons and so on, almost ad infinitum. But this human sphere is 'reduced' to a system of co-ordinates: 'reductionism' discovers sets of 'multi-variable factors' that are then supposed to indicate the causes of what we do, regardless of the personal reasons we may have. However intelligently gathered and accurately processed the data may be, it can simply not even approach the essential - and hence most important - character of persons because it reduces qualitative phenomena to quantity.

Such 'reductionism', doubtless increases the amount of information available about human behaviour in general, which adds to the fund of validated hypotheses upon which psychologists can draw when trying to improve their understanding of people. Studies in physiology and neurology or the conditions of our physical environment cannot penetrate the meaningful subjective sphere of any person, the qualitative personal experience of being and living with purpose, but they can at least have a supportive function in human studies. Likewise with genetics, where the study of genes may reveal how personal characteristics, even mental and emotional inclinations are passed down, yet cannot penetrate the inner experience of consciousness, of its memory continuity or scope, the actual values and ambitions held at any stage in development and so on.


The development of a balanced personality, having sufficient autonomy, sound principles and the character to practice these principles in life, is the essence of personal integration. (Integration is also related to the word 'integrity'). The 'human whole' is an ideal of integrity and consistent unity of personality. Such integration implies moral soundness, purity and virtue of character as exemplified in sincerity, consistency, accountability and honesty. Ultimately, the ideal of integrity is wholeness (what has been called 'holiness', but intended here without any religious connotation).

The relative absence of character integration in a person is seen in the predominance of negative traits like duplicity, discrepancy of words and actions, falsity, untrustworthiness, violence. At the opposite pole from the perfectly integrated human personality is personality disintegration, exemplified by cognitive disorders of many kinds up to extreme (so-called) schizophrenic disorder. The phenomenon of personality integration is seldom studied at a broad and understandable empirical-rational level. The key connection between integrity as truthfulness and personality integration, for example, is easily overlooked. Much the same applies to all the positive personal qualities that go to make up what used to be regarded so highly as 'character' perhaps because these are simply no longer sufficiently understood or valued in the modern Western humanities where they have been developed primarily on the background of physical science.

To know what integration involves and how it is attained requires personal and practical psychological insight. There are many factors to take into account and systematic research into this subject is in its infancy. What integration means in practical or concrete terms will obvious vary with different people, the stages of their lives and the actual situations that confront them. The quality of 'personal integrity' is often highly individual or arising within such special circumstances as to be almost indefinable. Yet the general nature of integration can be outlined in understandable ways, at least as regards some fairly typical life situations, some problems commonly experienced, and some possible directions of personal growth.

In trying to anticipate perfect integration we cannot overlook the ideal human condition of original sinless innocence and the consequent uninterrupted bliss of being, which is palpable in infants. The thesis that the human being is in general or overall developing towards realizing a latent unity and wholeness of personality, may be considered as a supplement to the anticipation of evolutionary human progress. It may help to inform the more pessimistic 'animalistic' thesis that has arisen from popular ideas of Darwinian biology and of Freudian psycho-analysis.

Many attempts at 'value-free' science in explaining the human condition 'strictly by analysis' from a physical-factual standpoint can eventually prove self-defeating if the researchers themselves fail to take into account their own underlying values and 'world-view' assumptions about who and what we are and to make these sufficiently evident to those who read their conclusions.


The first caution in studying individual persons is primarily to regard them precisely as 'non-divisible'. That is, a person is both a subject and an object, both in their being embodied and and being an object in the field of awareness of other subjects. The person is self-experiencing, by virtue of consciousness, which is individualised through the differing minds of each one. Because each person is first and foremost a subject, their fuller nature is not observable as such, for it is primarily inner and only thereafter expressed in outward ways through word and act etc. This calls for great consideration and perspicacity when trying to understand persons. The task is to subtract one's own judgements and inferences in so far as these do not stem directly from one's relations with the person concerned. Even so, long acquaintance with a person does not itself guarantee an understanding of them, though it is a prerequisite. The breadth of contact with a person and the depth of understanding vary and depend on many qualities, from intuition to compassion, experience to frankness. We must therefore systematically avoid the temptation to 'carry over' typifications or inferences from previous experience in the form of premature pre-judgements or prejudices. This tendency is counteracted by the discipline of writing accurate descriptions of observations as a case study, using verbatim material where relevant and preferably having these checked by independent observers.

Any categorization of personality type or the like usually depends for its intelligibility upon the purpose of making it. To apply it willy-nilly outside such a context, as it if were an absolute, is a typical confusion found in much psychology. 1 It is a great mistake to assume any fixed, natural categories of the human psyche. Everyone is changing or developing and, historically, new and unique kinds of personality keep on evolving. So comparisons aiming at general human types or psychological functions should always be seen on the background of the specific applications for which they are intended. Otherwise they can become fixated as false scientific generalities, treated as if independent of the personal, cultural and other conditions in which they arose. This danger, inherent to all classification, is what be called 'misplaced objectivisation' or 'ontologisation': the tendency to fixate categories as if they were once-and-for-all 'objectively-determined' forms of being (Gr. ontos).

With the battery of psychological tests available today (eg. Binet's IQ, Rorschach and many another) one seeks the correct slot for the 'case' or 'instance' in question. Popular psychological literature has long shown a fixation on personality 'types'. The profession also still is peopled by many who, in assessing their personalities of their clients, apply classifications fairly uncritically by failing to consider serious social and other consequences of any kind of labelling of a person.

The tendency to define persons according to 'type' is quite a primitive kind of thinking, for it often causes them to see themselves - and be looked upon and even be treated by others - as unchanging and confined to their type. To approach persons in this way neglects our natural propensity for self-transformation and transcendence of given conditions, especially over time. Psychological 'type-casting' easily generates an alienated view of people and has subtle depersonalizing influence both on the minds of psychologists their clients. The person, who is also always more or less an unique individual, is thus denied real personality.

The arbitrary nature of most characterologies becomes the more evident when we consider that each usually prescribes a very limited number of types, but seldom above 12 in all.2 The appeal such typologies have rests on their containing generalisations about aspects of personality which can prove valid when correctly applied and not used in a rigid fashion. It is crucial, however, to realize that no set of character types can cover all aspects of personality and that therefore they easily create illusory and foreshortened images of the individual. They are probably best used for self-reflection as guides and reminders, but not for any decisive classification of others in making practical decisions.

Types and classifications of many kinds are perhaps unavoidable in trying to understand the bewildering variety of forms that differ from culture to culture, society to society and person to person. Where such mutually-exclusive types are defined, they tend to be of a superficial character or of trivial interest. The philosopher Wittgenstein has illustrated this view very well in his Philosophical Investigations. He demonstrates how, rather than there being distinct and separate types, there are usually only what he calls 'family resemblances' between things (and persons). These are similarities and shared characteristics but not predominant types, for there are always many individual differences and varying combinations of traits.

Once a person's character has become fairly well-defined it is not, despite all, entirely unreasonable to group people for some general purposes with the above qualifiers in mind. The groupings chosen will depend upon a number of circumstances of which the most decisive one is obviously the observable characteristics of a person: predominant characteristics of ego-development, character traits or other elements that go to make up the personality, not excluding distinguishing variations due to nation, culture, creed etc. Studies based on the central values dominating a man's behaviour are more pragmatic and fruitful than more theoretical typologies, which are less arbitrary and empirically-testable.3

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1.Evelyn Waugh wrote, "There is an unwelcome contemporary appetite - the product, perhaps, of psychiatry and the civil service - for categories of all kinds. People seem to be comforted rather than outraged when they are told that their eccentricities entitle them to membership in a class of 'psychological types'. Noblesse Oblige - An Open Letter. London. Penguin 1956.

2. Some better-known examples: the largely-discredited Kretschmer characterology bases character on 3 body-build types Friedman/Rosenman have 2 types - A & B-personalities; C.G. Jung's typology has a maximum of 8 types by combining introvert/extravert with thinking/sensing/intuiting/feeling; the Ennead theory employs 9 distinct types; Wilhelm Reich operated with five character types; horary astrology relies on 12 basic types (Sun-signs) yet goes much further than most typologies in combining these with a complex of other variables (house-sign/ planetary positions etc.), which can produce a very large number of types, whatever the validity of relating the type-data to the individual may be. Intelligence tests (I.Q.) based on Binet typify people by numbers ('intelligence quotients') based only on certain, limited types of conceptual skill and knowledge. Classic psychiatry has a gallery of symptomatic 'types', many of which are based on doubtful empiri and fanciful theory.

3. For example, Spranger's classification as operationalised by Allport.