Over a ten year period, Stephen M. Johnson wrote a series of extraordinarily useful and well organized books integrating theories of personality development and therapeutic objectives at neurotic and borderline functioning. In the introduction here he writes about his integrated theory: "It is not psychoanalytic, not object relations, not self-psychology or ego psychology. It is not behavioral or cognitive or affective. It is not characterological, developmental, interactive, phenomenological. It is not theoretical, empirical, experiential, intuitive, or deductive. It is all of this and more in a mix. It attempts to answer important questions with the information available. For each of us who are curious about such questions, this is what we must do."
Character Styles includes revised chapters from Characterological Transformation, Humanizing the Narcissistic Style and The Symbiotic Character, but the addition here of chapters on masochistic, hysterical and obsessive-compulsive characters makes the entire series a little masterpiece. Dr. Johnson's work seems to have grown most out of The Symbiotic Character since, as he writes, "the strategies found successful in liberating the symbiotic character can be of nearly universal significance." The first books in the series contain diagrams for energetic body work based on Reich and Lowen that are curiously missing here.
The major character styles he addresses include The Hated Child: The Schizoid Experience, The Abandoned Child: The Symbiotic Withdrawal, The Owned Child: The Symbiotic Character, The Used Child: The Narcissistic Experience, The Defeated Child: Social Masochism and the Patterns of Self-Defeat, The Exploited Child: Hysterical Defenses and the Histrionic Personality and The Disciplined Child: The Obsessive-Compulsive Personality.
My copy of Character Styles is dogeared and contains scribbled notes that are a record of the development of my own understanding and thinking about personality over the last ten years. I owe that development and understanding and where it's taken my thought today much more than I've realized to Dr. Johnson's insightful, compassionate, well-referenced work.