WAPLT? 5: Self and Other

The third set of opposing forces in the evolutionary theory of personality is self-propagation versus other-nurturance. This dichotomy arises from the advantages of random and recombination processes that promote reproduction. While asexual organisms were the first form of life, sexual organisms eventually emerged. Why did sex become the norm? After all, it requires a lot of energy to find a mate, which is not an issue for asexual species that simply replicate themselves. However, sexual species are more likely to survive as they possess a range of genotypes. Asexual species face a problem where if any environmental factor hinders an organism’s ability to reproduce, it will similarly affect all of its descendants and ancestors. Sexual reproduction solves this problem by combining the genes of the mother and father to create a unique combination in the offspring. In sexual species, if a disturbance affects the reproduction of specific genotypes, at least the entire family won’t be wiped out. Now, let’s talk about the random part. Mutations can sometimes be beneficial for reproduction.

Millon (53) explains that a species can extend its existence by generating new potentials for survival. Duplicating oneself prior to death dooms the replica to repeat the same fate. However, chance or routine events can create new potentials for extending existence and achieving a different, superior outcome. This prolongs the existence of a species. The co-occurrence of random and recombinant processes is the third hallmark of evolution’s procession, and it underpins the fundamental polarity between self and other.

Recombinant replication is a process that requires two parents to partner up, with each contributing their genetic resources in a distinctive and species-specific way. This process leads to selective diversification and extended species existence. Additionally, the attention and care given to offspring is also distinctive, with differences in the degree of protection and nourishment provided by each parent. This discrepancy in reproductive investment strategies, especially among animal species, underlies the evolution of male and female genders and provides the foundation for the self-versus-other-oriented polarity. Not only do species differ in where they fall on the r- to K-strategy continuum, but there is also an important distinction between male and female genders within most animal species. Humans, for instance, can be both self-actualizing and other-encouraging, although most people tend to lean toward one or the other side. A balance that coordinates the two provides a satisfactory answer to the question of whether one should be devoted to the support and welfare of others or fashion one’s life in accordance with one’s own needs and desires.

The polarity pair of self-orientation and other-orientation in sexually reproducing organisms has a different norm for each sex. However, it is important to note that these polarities are shaped by evolution and do not neatly fit into a binary system. Many products of evolution do not fit into a sex binary, including humans. While intersexuality may not be considered normal, it is important to consider expanding the definition of “normal” with regard to sex. The distinction between what is considered normal and abnormal is made based on our purposes, and it is not necessarily a good or bad thing. The author does not take abnormality to be a negative thing and will continue to use the two normals for self and other unless a significant reason arises to change it. If the norms for sex do change, it should not be difficult to adapt the model, as the bodies being distinguished have degrees of maleness and femaleness, and personalities have degrees of self and other orientation. It is worth noting that personality is not just psychological but is also lived by the whole person, including the human part. It’s also worth noting that failing to provide reproductive nurturance does not lead to reproductive propagation, but rather the absence of such nurturance. Therefore, one’s potential cannot be fully actualized by simply neglecting to love others in a constructive manner. Both abilities, to provide nurturance and to actualize one’s potential, should and can coexist in a normal and healthy individual.

According to Millon, the negative effects of not recognizing the importance of the “others” polarity are particularly evident in individuals with antisocial and narcissistic personality disorders. These personalities display an imbalance in their approach to reproduction, relying primarily on themselves rather than others. They have come to believe that the best way to achieve reproductive success, as well as maximum pleasure and minimum pain, is by focusing solely on themselves. This self-centered tendency follows two main lines of development.

The biosocial theory characterizes individuals with an active-independent orientation as exhibiting traits similar to those with antisocial personality disorder in the DSM. These individuals engage in socially unacceptable behavior and try to counter the expectation of pain from others by exploiting them for personal gain through duplicitous or illegal actions. They tend to be skeptical about the motives of others, desire autonomy, and seek revenge for past injustices. They often act irresponsibly and impulsively, justifying their actions by judging others as unreliable and disloyal. Their primary means of avoiding abuse and victimization are insensitivity and ruthlessness towards others. (54)

8 responses to “WAPLT? 5: Self and Other”

  1. […] DAD and SPH are particularly worth comparing as both are characterized by an imbalance between a high other and low self polarity. Both see others as the primary source of good in their lives, but they vary in whether they pursue […]


  2. […] the narcissistic personality is characterized by the primacy of both passive/accommodation and self/individuation in their adaptive style. Narcissists focus on themselves as the center of their existence and show […]


  3. […] the self (individuating) and active (modifying) polarities are both prominent in these personalities. This suggests that […]


  4. […] figure shows the accommodating (passive) and nurturing (other-directed) extremes, with a conflict between the self and other orientations indicated by the arrow between […]


  5. […] characterized by conflict and ambivalence, as indicated by the double-pointed arrow between the self and other polarities. This indicates that they struggle to find a balance between acting in their own interest […]


  6. […] masochistic, self-defeating personality is passive and accommodating, similar to the depressive personality. The distinction is fine, but significant. Passivity in […]


  7. […] masochistic personalities. These personalities experience both ends of the pain-pleasure and the self-other polarities, which sets them apart from emotionally extreme and interpersonally imbalanced […]


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