Henry Murray’s Personology

Daniel M. Ogilvie

in Fantasies of Flight

Published in print January 2004 | ISBN: 9780195157468
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199894024 | DOI:
Henry Murray’s Personology

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Hermeneutics is defined as the art and science of interpreting texts. It is used, for example, to describe the activities of priests, rabbis, and others in ministerial professions, whose jobs require them to decipher the meaning of religious texts. Normally, when one thinks about texts, the thought of words written on a page comes to mind. But there is a branch of hermeneutics that, taken to its extreme, considers the person to be a text. We all tell stories and in doing so provide bits and pieces, paragraphs and even chapters of our life sagas in progress. In some respects, one can say that we are our stories. Dan McAdams suggests we are carriers of a grand text that, as Bertram Cohler has convincingly shown, is periodically revised and updated. The application of hermeneutics to that text (read person) involves a subjective dialogue between the author and the interpreter who seeks to gain insight into the multilayered meanings of the text. This strategy for studying lives was featured in the work of Henry Murray, who promoted the idea that there are no more fertile grounds than in-depth case studies for making progress in meeting the challenge of understanding the operation of the human psyche. This chapter describes how Murray became an early spokesman for person-centered, idiographic research and presents some of the premises and guidelines for case study work.

Keywords: Henry Murray; hermeneutics; case study; personal psychology

Chapter.  1891 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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