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Emergence Personality Theory

a New Theory of Human Personality

An Introduction to the The First Fractal Theory of Personality

This article describes a new theory of human personality, wherein [1] the primary drive in human nature is to resolve the experience of aloneness and [2] human nature is organized in layers which describe the degree to which people experience this drive.

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An Introduction

Everyone has a theory of personality.

To see this as true, just spend some time eavesdropping in a busy coffee shop.

"I'm sure he just told her that because he wanted to make her feel better."

"But how can you say that?"

"Because all men say things like that when they . . ."

Strangely, few notice, let alone call these beliefs, "theories of personality."


This observation, that few people call their beliefs about human nature, "theories of personality," extends far beyond the coffee shop though. For instance, how many people see "formal" astrology as a theory of personality? Yet it is. In fact, formal astrology is a pretty extensive, even thought provoking theory of personality, given you set aside judgments as to whether it is true or not.

Greek mythology? A theory of personality. Buddhism? Another theory of personality. Transpersonal Psychology? Yet another.

Why so many theories of personality? I believe this is just human nature, simply a part of the way we are made. More specifically though, I believe human beings are programmed to "need" these theories; that to not understand who we are and how we are made is painful even to those of us do not self examine; those of us who just "show up for life."

An important question, then, would be, if we are programmed to need these theories, and if so many exist, how do we know which one is best for us?

The obvious answer and one that actually has a lot of truth to it is, "you choose the one that works best for you." This, in fact, is what most of us do.

Is this answer enough though? I think not. Why? Because pretty much all theories of personality contain some truth, even the coffee shop theories. So why are they all so different from one another? And why do none of them work for all people, implying, none of them contain the whole truth?

Confusing? Yes. And then there is the question of the "personal metaphors."

The "personal metaphors?"

What I am referring here to are the imaginary characters these theories often contain. For instance, take the character we hear most often about, the one we call, the "unconscious."

What is the "unconscious?" The "unconscious" is a rather mysterious character whom many believe functions as an inner "boss," an invisible being who, at times, compels us to do things we would rather not have done. So, OK. I admit. It is pretty easy to imagine we each have an "unconscious." And this idea does explain a whole heck of a lot of what we have no easy answers for. But does this character literally exist within us?

And what about that other devious fellow, the one from whom I believe the "unconscious" was evolved. To whom am I referring?

I'm referring to the fellow people sometimes refer to as Mr. Lucifer, or Beelzebub, or Satin, or the Devil or a thousand other names. Yes, I know we sometimes do things we shouldn't do to each other. And at times, it really does appear that someone else has told us to do these things. But can't there be a more literal explanation for these behaviors, one which doesn't involve personal metaphors?

And then you have what could surely be considered the more gentle, loving relatives of this evil fellow, the illusive beings the Buddhists call, "the ghosts of wanting." Buddhists use these metaphors to teach people to see what they consider to be the root cause of human suffering; desire. To this end, these metaphors can be quite helpful. But do these characters really exist?

Please know, I mean no disrespect when I refer to these characters as "metaphors." Even so, my point still stands. None of these characters are real beings. They are all simply made-up characters, each an attempt to explain a part of human nature wherein we lack empirical evidence.

So, OK. These characters are just metaphors. Is this point really so important though?

I think so. Yes. Why? Because unfortunately, many people invest so deeply in these metaphors that they lose sight of the fact that these characters are only metaphors. Often, then, people end up arguing, with each other, the nuances of these metaphors as if they literally and physically exist. Sadly, these people are often the very experts we turn to when we need help relating to each other.

So what is happening here? How can people be mistaking these metaphors for real beings?

I believe what is happening here is that we have a hard time admitting we do not know the truth about human nature. And that metaphor is one of the main ways we avoid admitting this to ourselves.

So what does all this really mean?

It means more often than not, we base our theories of personality in and around an imaginary being or beings. Often, too, we invest so deeply in these metaphors that we lose sight of the fact that they are not real beings. Ultimately, then, we end up spending more time defending these ideas than in learning how to get along with each other.

In the end, how much does this really matter though?

I think it very much matters. And you can get a pretty good idea as to exactly how much it matters simply by asking yourself one question: What would happen if you and everyone else were to suddenly stop referring to these metaphors? How would we explain human nature? And how would we explain why we struggle so to get along?

Here, then, is the real point and substance of this discourse.

If we were to suddenly see these imaginary characters for what they actually are; just metaphors, not real beings; then in all likelihood, we would have to face a truth that most of us would rather not see. What truth? The fact that there is a whole heck of a lot more to know about human nature than we care to admit, especially when it comes to being able to get along.

Am I saying then that we should discard these metaphors and simply rely on what we can empirically see and measure?

No. Actually, I'm not. Why not? Because made-up or not, these metaphors often do help us to deal with parts of our natures which normally lay hidden. More so, many of these metaphors contain great beauty, which probably explains why people so often trust these metaphors to guide their lives. In the end, however, while these metaphors make wonderful starting points, we humans need and deserve more. We need and deserve a truer understanding of ourselves, one with which we can create the real, loving relationships we all want and desire. And while I openly admit these theories have benefited us greatly, more often than not, wouldn't it be better if we just spent the time learning to love each other rather than on arguing the details of these theories?

Ultimately, I see this last point as the most relevant.

So what literal truths stand behind these metaphors? And what does drive us to need these theories in the first place?

Answering these questions is the point of what I'm writing.

Have I peaked your interest?

I hope so.


Now if you look at the drawing which begins this article, what you will see is the diagram of yet another theory of personality. I formally call this theory, Emergence Personality Theory. Informally, I call it, "The Layers of Aloneness," a title taken from the two main ideas on which this theory is based; first, that resolving the personal experience of aloneness is the driving force from which all personality develops, and second, that human nature is constructed in layers which describe the degree to which we experience this drive.

Obviously, both ideas have predecessors. What is markedly different from other theories, though, and what is important to see right from the start is that, the theory of personality I present here includes and values all previous theories. Further, it offers a clear and concise way to understand the relationships between all theories of personality regardless of the nature of the theory.

My goal here is to not displace the good things we already have. Rather, I intend to offer a more accessible way to understand human nature, one with which all people can better understand and manage their lives. More so, I intend to present a system of human personality in which people are blameless for their nature's while at the same time, responsible for their actions.

Even as I write these words, I realize the enormity of my goals. None the less, I fully believe what I present here will meet these criteria.

"Aloneness" as What Drives Personality

As I have already stated, the theory I am presenting here posits that the basic drive present in all human experience is to resolve the experience of aloneness. Thus, like all previous theorists, I assume there to be an initial driving force or motive from which all else develops. Here, I assume this force to be one's "personal experience of aloneness."

Why "aloneness?" First, please know that my use of this word is probably quite different from what most people would at first picture. For instance, I am not implying we are driven by a need to resolve our feelings of "loneliness," nor by a need to "relate to others," although I do believe both are powerful forces. And at the risk of confusing you more, let me also state I believe "aloneness" is what underlies both these experiences.

However, let me further state that I also see "aloneness" as what drives people to repeatedly overeat, as well as the force underlying peoples' struggles with sex and with money. In addition, I also see "aloneness" as what causes our struggles with relationships and addictions, as well as what prompts peoples' sudden urges to harm people, themselves and others.

How can this one experience be so powerful and all pervasive? Simply because it stems from what I see as peoples' earliest and most impactful experience; the moment of their birth. To what exactly am I referring?

To be honest, I have much I must say before elaborating on this idea. For now, let me offer but a brief picture, so you can get at least some sense of what I am saying.

"Pregnancy" as Our "First Relationship"

Have you ever imagined what you must have felt like in the weeks just before you were born? If you are normal, you haven't. Just the same, try, now, to imagine what it must have felt like.

Obviously, you and your mother had to have been very intimately connected, regardless of who she was and what she was like. Why? Because you literally shared the same body in the same space and time. By this, I mean you literally shared pretty much everything; the same breath, the same food, the same clothing, the same sleep. Wow! Talk about intimacy!

I call experiences like this a "two that are one" and in this case, I am literally referring to "two people" that are "one person." Odd that we never seem to think of pregnant women this way.

What I mean by this is that, normally, when we refer to pregnant women, we refer to them as women with a second being growing inside them.

Now consider what I'm saying. When people see a pregnant woman, they usually refer to this woman and her baby as two separate beings right from the moment of conception. Obviously, this idea is true. What is also true, though, and what we do not usually consider is that this mother and baby are also literally one being; a pregnant mother.

Does this idea sound like only semantics? Perhaps. Just the same, my point is still true: while pregnant, a mother and her baby must feel incredibly close and intimate.

Now take a moment and try to actually picture this closeness. Can you imagine how close these two beings must feel? And if you are a mother, try now to think back on what you felt when you were pregnant. Did you actually notice this closeness?

If you are like most folks, even imagining being this close to another person is hard to do. Yet we all begin our lives this way, with this same, incredibly intimate experience.

I call this relationship, our "first relationship," and I believe we grossly underestimate the extent to which this time affects us. In fact, I believe this experience, the one wherein we were once literally two beings that were one being, is the fundamental experience upon which all our other experiences are built. I would even guess this "first relationship" is the basis for stories like "soul mates" and "happily-ever-aftering."

So what makes this experience so hard for us to imagine?

This difficulty is our first real clue to what has been missing in our theories.

I call this experience, the state wherein we feel profoundly connected to another, being in an "us" state.

"Birth" as Our "First Broken Heart"

Now try once more to imagine being so incredibly close to someone. Now think about what it must have felt like to suddenly and with no understanding give up this warm, safe, intimate connection. How painful do you think this event was?

I believe this experience is so painful, it becomes the defining moment in all of our lives, the one to which we will compare all other experiences. Equally important, I believe this loss of connectedness is so incredibly painful that it creates in us a drive to avoid ever connecting again. So where does this then leave us?

It leaves us with an incredibly strong "need" to find alternatives to connecting, ways to deal with aloneness which do not involve connecting to others.

Take a minute now to think about what I am suggesting.

In a sense, I am suggesting that we all once had the closeness so many us deep down crave and desire; the "Cinderella" story Walt Disney put onto film. No wonder even children love this story. Further, I believe we all once had this wonderful connection only to have had it taken from us in our most vulnerable moment; the moment in which we were born. In a sense, this means that, as we entered this world, we each had our heart broken.

Now consider the implications of what I have been saying.

Ever fall deeply in love only to have your heart broken? If so, how did this event affect you? Afterwards, did you shy away from anyone wanting to get close to you? Were you overly cautious? Cynical even?

Imagine feeling this kind of inner caution times a thousand. Times ten thousand maybe. No wonder babies cry when they're born.

So where does this painful loss leave us? I believe it leaves us with a profound desire to avoid connecting to others, even in times wherein we desperately need others. This means we must face an incredibly deep "aloneness"; the residue of our first and most painful ever "broken heart."

Now try to see how these two ideas connect.

If I am right, then as babies, we each get our hearts broken, and feel abandoned, as we enter this world. In addition, after having experienced the incredible pain of this first broken heart, we each feel compelled to do whatever it takes to avoid ever experiencing this hurt again.

This means we are all left with an incredibly deep desire to resolve our feelings of aloneness in a way which does not require us to reconnect.

How do we voice this need then? As things like our need to understand "why" everything happens, which is just another way to refer to our drive to have a theory of personality.

I also believe it gets expressed as our need to get from or give to others, anything from material gifts to respect and obedience. I see these kinds of expressions as the most basic ways we try to resolve our aloneness without reconnecting.

Does what we do work? To some degree, yes. We do hurt less. In reality, though, the relief we feel from getting these "needs" met is actually just a poor substitute for what we would feel if we were to actually reconnect. More so, no matter how many times our "needs" get met, we are still left with the profound desire to be connected to others. Nothing will ever change this. This is just our nature.

Now consider what I have just said.

I believe we all begin life with a sequence of three painful experiences which together create the basis for all of human personality. These three experiences are [1], feeling profoundly close to our mothers; in other words, being in the state I call an "us" state, [2], being painfully and suddenly separated from our mothers which then sends us into the state I call "aloneness," and [3], having been programmed by the pain of this separation to want to avoid ever reconnecting, we attempt to resolve the feelings we are left with, our painful feelings of "aloneness," by expressing them as some variety of "I need something to relieve my aloneness, something other than reconnecting."

Now, as I have mentioned, in the theory I am presenting, I have arranged personality into layers, ten layers actually. Please know, the sequence of three experiences I have just mentioned form the basis of the three, initial, empirical layers of personality; layers 9, 8, and 7.

And what about the rest?

What I'll now offer will be a brief look at the other seven layers.

Why "Layers" as What Organizes Personality?

What I have just stated is that the human birth experience is really a sequence of three experiences; "us," "aloneness," and "need." I've also stated that this sequence forms the basis of the theory of personality I am presenting here, wherein these three experiences form the initial three layers. Why layers, though? Why use layers to organize a system of personality?

My answer: this is simply how we already organize our systems of belief. We just normally never notice. What do I mean?

Let me start with an easy example. This example involves computers and how we design them in our likeness and image. In fact, one place wherein this is obvious is in the recurrent science fiction theme wherein computers take over the world.

Will this ever happen? Not so far, thank God. But have you ever wondered why this theme is so common? Or why we all can so readily imagine it?

We can so readily imagine it because we design our computers to mimic how we ourselves are designed, and the way we by nature organize what we know about our world.

In truth then, the way we design our computers very much parallels our own ways of thinking and being. Makes sense, doesn't it. No wonder we call them "artificial intelligence." No surprise then that we create our "artificially intelligent" machines as mirrors of our own intelligence. And guess what. We create what we program these artificially intelligent "beings" with in "layers."

OK. Some of you probably know this already and in far more technical detail than I. For those who don't though, let me offer a brief explanation.

All modern computers have what is called, an "operating system." This "operating system" is literally a program which loads into the computer's memory each time you turn the computer on.

In a sense, this "operating system" is the middle man between the machine and us. More to the point though, we could also say that this program, the computer's operating system, is the computer's "personality."

This analogy, in fact, happens to be a very good way to describe computer operating systems. These operating systems are the guidelines and logic from which computers make decisions.

Even people who do not know this about computers though know the name of at least one or two of these computer "personalities." Windows XP. MS DOS. Mac OS X, etc. And when we refer to these names, we are in a very real sense referring to the computer's "personality," the "mind and heart" upon which our relationships to these computers are built.

And again, how are all these computer "personalities" designed? We build all of these operating systems in layers wherein each layer is named for the part of the relationship it is responsible for; things like the "hardware" layer, and the "transport protocol" layer, and the "network services" layer, etc.

Human beings are very similar. Including that we each have an "operating system" which is organized in layers.

Thus, if we allow ourselves to call our personalities, an "operating system," we could say then that we each have a system of "personality" programmed into us. In a way, we could say it is this personality which interfaces between our inner lives and our outer lives, between our physical and nonphysical inner selves and the rest of our world.

And again, if we were to take this analogy further, we could also say that our personalities have been designed in layers which are based on the idea that different parts of us are responsible for different needs, things like our "muscles and bones" and our "autonomous nervous system," or our conscious minds and our subconscious minds.

Now, if you want to get an even more detailed picture of how we are internally programmed; our human "operating system"; you can get a pretty good sense of what I'm talking about by looking at the diagram above, and then by reading the following introduction.

Introducing the Three Groups of "Layers"

First, notice there are ten layers, numbered one (outside) through ten (center).

Now if you start with layer number "five" and work out (5, 4, 3, 2, 1), what you will find is the first group of empirical layers. These five layers are titled, [5] symptoms and painful events, [4] "uncivilized blame," [3] "time-limited blame," [2] "civilized blame," and finally, [1] "personal non existence."

These five layers are where the empirical parts of all current conventional theories of human personality fall, beginning with an awareness of symptoms and painful events, and extending up through a total lack of this awareness, a state which conventional theorists typically call "denial" but which I prefer to call, the "experience of personal non existence" (the unconscious experience of no aloneness; in other words, personal numbness.)

Next, if you start at layer number "six" and this time work inward to layer "nine" (6, 7, 8, 9), what you will find is the second group of empirical layers. These four layers are what Emergence as a Therapy adds; layer 6: BLocks (the invisible, hypnotically created structures from which all symptoms and painful events derive); layer 7: "need" (character types & social priorities: the reference framework for personality created during the first four years of life; the voice and direction of our neediness); layer 8: "aloneness" (the origin of all of our thoughts and emotions); and finally, layer 9: the "personal us" state (the state wherein we conscious experience no aloneness, the state wherein we begin to go beyond all thoughts and emotions; the state in which we connect to all "beings.")

Finally, if you go all the way in to the tenth layer (10), what you will find is the third group which actually, is but a single layer. This single layer is titled, "The Great Unknown," and is the only non-empirical layer.

What happens in this layer? In this layer, we find all the non-empirical parts of our theories of personality, everything from things like the Freud's "id" and Jung's "meaningful coincidences" to Christianity's "divine interventions." This layer is also the only layer wherein where we connect to the divine, in what is actually a second variation on the "us" state; this time, the "divine us" state; the state in which we connect to all non beings.

Noteworthy too is the idea that only in this layer and it's neighbor (layer 9) do people have the profoundly conscious experience of no aloneness.

The "Two Mistakes"

In a moment, I will begin to describe each of these ten layers in more detail. In addition, I will show you how all theories of human personality, both conventional and unconventional alike, connect to each other, by fitting somewhere within these ten layers. Finally, I will show you how seeing the order in which these ten layers occur can be used to guide and direct peoples' efforts to grow and heal. How? By making visible the structure of and bugs in our "operating systems."

Before doing this though, I would first like to point out two very important concepts. The first involves the pain of aloneness and the two directions we take to resolve it. I call this our "resolving aloneness" issue. The second involves the difference between the founders of the great schools of religion and philosophy and their formalized teachings. I call this "the founder and his philosophy" issue.

First, our "resolving aloneness" issue.

Our "Resolving Aloneness" Issue

Begin, first, by first noticing the inner two layers of the diagram. Here, beginning in layer 9, and extending into layer 10, is the state wherein we are consciously not alone; in layer nine, by being consciously connected to each other; and in layer ten, by being consciously connected to everything in our world.

As I've said, I call both layers the "us" state, and they differ only in whom we connect to. What does this state represent though?

This "us" state represents the state in which a person feels not only the absence of aloneness but also a profound connection to someone else, something I refer to as "the conscious experience of no aloneness," or in other words, "the experience of connectedness."

This "connected" state then is the one I assume we all once existed in, in the time before we were born. It is also one of only two states wherein we feel no aloneness.

Why do we feel no aloneness in this state? Because in this state, we are literally and profoundly connected to some other being, either human or divine or both. Thus, in this state, we feel no aloneness because we are not alone. We are connected.


This state, the "us" state, is where the first "no aloneness" experience occurs.

Now notice the outer most layer in the diagram, the one entitled, "personal non existence."

This state, "personal non existence," is the second state in which people feel no aloneness. However, this time, rather than feeling no aloneness because they are consciously connected to someone else, here, people feel no aloneness because they are alone but do not know it.

In other words, people in this layer, the state of "personal non existence," feel no aloneness, not because they are connected, but rather because they are numb and so, do not recognize their aloneness.

This state, the state of "personal non existence," is the second state in which people feel "no aloneness."

Now consider how these two experiences compare.

Both people in the "us" state (layer #9/#10) and people in the state of "personal non existence" (layer #1) feel no aloneness. More over, these two states are the only two states wherein people do not experience aloneness.

Despite this similarity, though, these two "no aloneness" states are qualitatively quite different. Why? Because the reasons people feel no aloneness are quite different.

In the first case, then, people feel no aloneness because they are not alone, while in the second case, people feel no aloneness because they are unaware they are alone and so, do not feel the pain of being alone.

In a sense, this difference is very similar to the difference between real healing and anesthesia. In both cases, people feel better. But in the case of anesthesia, people feel free from pain because they are numb, while in the case of healing, people feel free from pain because they have no pain.

Learning to recognize this difference, the difference between the two experiences of "no aloneness," may be the single most significant idea I could teach here. Why? Because most people, lay people and therapists alike, mistake these two kinds of "no aloneness" for the same experience. This means they mistake the "absence of suffering" or the lack of symptoms for "healing."

Imagine how this affects peoples' efforts to heal and grow?

This mistake is also what allows drug addicts to mistake their absence of suffering for true joy, or their drug induced euphoria's for true spiritual experiences.

Now what about the second issue, "the founder and his philosophy" issue?

Our "Founder and His Philosophy" Issue

Interestingly enough, mistaking the two experiences of "no aloneness" for the same experience is actually what leads people to make this second mistake as well, the one wherein people mistake "formalized" philosophies and religions for the true wisdom and wonderment of the actual philosophers and spiritual teachers themselves.

What am I saying?

Think about it. What draws most people to formalized religions? Most people are looking to find inner peace and comfort. How many of these people practice the same way the founder did though, actively seeking their own source of peace and wisdom? Obviously, very few. Why? Because most people can not tell the difference between "inner peace" and "numbness" and so, they mistake the "peace" they feel from say, following formalized Christianity, for the more literal, inner peace Christ himself must have felt. Likewise, many people mistake the "gentle power" they feel from following formal Pacifism for the more literal, inner power of Gandhi's truth.

My point?

Both mistakes, confusing the two experiences of "no aloneness" and confusing the "founder" with "his philosophy," stem from the same error; people mistake the absence of suffering for the joy of connecting. More important, the system of personality I am presenting here focuses entirely on preventing these two mistakes. How? By teaching people the skills they need to recognize the differences between the two experiences of no aloneness and also, between founders and their philosophies.

Once learned then, people can use these skills to access the truths and powers previously accessible only to the great philosophers and spiritual healers themselves, the greatest of which is the power to love ourselves and each other.

One final note before going on to more fully describe the "Layers of Aloneness."

Recently, I realized, rather painfully to be honest, how similarly my inner life is organized to people with a certain kind of autism. By this, I mean, I tend to think in pictures as my first language and then translate these pictures into words. In a way, I guess, like most people, I'm bilingual. I'm fluent in both pictures and words.

Why mention this? Because unlike most people who tend to explain and organize their ideas first with words, I tend to explain my ideas first by offering a picture or drawing and then by explaining this picture.

This process is similar to how cartoonists start when they first draw scenes and then later, add captions in balloons to these scenes. This is also very similar to how babies first organize their life experiences into an inner resource.

What makes this so important? Because, in all likelihood, you are normal and so, my sequence will be backwards from the one you usually use to organize your inner life. Thus, remembering how I organize my inner life will help you to understand what I've written here and why I offer diagrams first, and then tie what I say to these diagrams.

In the end, I simply hope we can connect on these pages in a way in which we both can see the value in each other. And feel the first kind of "no aloneness"; the kind in which we feel the connectedness of an "us."

Introduction Layer 10 Layer 9 birth moment layer 8 layer 7
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