Bill Clinton was born on August 19, 1946 in a town called Hope, with the birth name William Jefferson Blythe. His birth father died in a car accident just three months before his birth. When he was born his mother sent him to live with his grandparents, due to the fact that because of the current economy she couldn’t possibly support a child by herself. He lived with his grandparents for two years while his mother was away at nursing school in New Orleans trying to advance her career.
His grandparents tried to instill in him strong southern Baptist principles and a desire to get a good education. When Bill was four his mother returned to Hope where she met and married Roger Clinton Sr.. A few years later Bill and his family moved to Hot Springs, where despite his Baptist upbringing Bill attended a catholic school. When he was nine years old he changed schools and went to Ramble Elementary. When Bill was ten Roger Clinton Jr.
was born, and at age fifteen Bill took his step fathers last name in hopes of helping his mothers troubled relationship. While Bill was growing up in Hot Springs, the town was plagued by illegal gambling, but Bill had little contact with this part of society despite his parents frequent participation in these illegal practices. As time went by his mothers relationship became more and more unstable with the alcoholic Roger Clinton Sr.. The relationship turned abusive and his parents often separated.
In high school Bill was a member of the band, student government, honor society and numerous other organizations. One summer at a political summer camp called Boys State, Bill ran for delegate to Boys Nation. He won this election and was on his way to Washington to meet John F. Kennedy and Senator William Fulbright. Bill said of his victory as delegate to Boys Nation, “I didn’t know if I could win a race like that, because when I was a student politician, I was about as controversial as I have been in my later life” (Allen pg.10). After meeting JFK and Senator Fulbright face to face, Bill became determined to enter politics. After high school Bill went to the University of Georgetown where he concentrated on international studies, in order to prepare himself for the world of politics. While enrolled at Georgetown, he had to get job to help pay the tuition cost. He took advantage of the meeting he had with Senator Fulbright to get a job as Fulbright’s assistant. While at school Clinton was awarded a Rhodes scholarship and went to Oxford to study for two years. After traveling through Europe and graduating form Oxford, he then went on to study law at Yale in 1971. At this time in his life, Bill did something that would come back to haunt him in his political career many years down the road. During the Vietnam war Clinton tried to receive a draft deferment for his education. Also, despite his hatred for the war enrolled in ROTC. He failed to fulfill his enrollment in the program when he realized that if he got a lottery number for the draft, his chances of being called were slim to none. While attending Yale, he met Hillary Rodham and the two started a friendship that turned into a relationship. After graduation from Yale Clinton planned on returning to Hot Springs to set up a small law practice, but on before he left Yale one of his professors suggested that he seek a position as a professor of law at the University of Arkansas. Bill thought about this on the way back to Arkansas and when he arrived there he called up the University and requested an interview. After a few tries, he successfully landed a job on the faculty and began to teach law at age twenty-eight. In 1974 he decided to run for congress in his district and was narrowly defeated by his elder opponent John Paul Hammerschmidt. After this narrow defeat, he received a lot of attention as an up and coming politician. In 1975 Bill and Hillary got married at a house that Bill had just bought. In a small private ceremony, at the wedding reception he announced his intention to run for office in 1976 but was not positive as to whether he would seek the office of States Attorney General or run again for Congress. In 1976 he ran and was elected to the position of States Attorney General. His term as States Attorney General had many problems which Bill attributes to a lack of tax income which affected his plans for the public school system. After his term was over Clinton then ran for governor in 1980 and was beaten by Frank White, in the same year his daughter Chelsea was born. In 1982 Clinton ran for governor again and this time was elected over the former Lieutenant Governor Joe Purcell. He served as Governor until he decided to run for the presidency in 1987. He changed his mind about his election bid and toured the country giving speeches and attending public events. In January on 1991 Clinton finalized his intention of running for president in 1992 and after his campaign, he was elected over George Bush and has since been re-elected. More currently Clinton has been plagued by many scandalous events including his affair with Monica Lewinsky.
Three theories we use to analyze an individual’s personality are Psychodynamic, Humanistic and Social-Cognitive-Behavior. Proponents of the Psychodynamic theory include Freud, Erikson, Horney and Jung. Two of the major Humanistic theorists include Rogers and Maslow, and for the Social-Cognitive-Behaviorists they are most strongly represented be Kelly, Rotter, Mischel and Bandura. Of these theorists I will use Freud, Rogers, and Rotter.
Freud believed that peoples actions were controlled by unconscious forces from within, Bill Clinton’s self set goals in education were attributed to his grandparents instilling in him a great sense of pride in his educational achievements. I would believe it safe to say that his great achievements were the result of a deep need for competition and his over competitiveness. His mother remembers a time when Bill came running into the house after a big math test yelling “… I beat Jim McDougal on a math test!”(Allen pg.10), even at a young age he felt driven by competition. Freud’s psychosexual stages of development might shed some light on Clinton’s competitiveness as Freud would say that Clinton is orally aggressive, because he was taken from his mother at an early age and was not nursed for very long, this is evident by his overwhelming need to dominate all situations he finds himself in. Freud might say that Clinton’s personality predisposes him to dominating situations he finds himself in. Freud’s anal stage might also give some insight as to Clinton’s sexual deviancy, because during this stage in his life he became attached to his grandparents. After his mother came back to take care of him he might have felt that he couldn’t make any further psychological attachments with anyone, after he was taken from his grandparents. This might have lead to a distrust for people in general. Freud believed that the super ego was important to our goals in life because it embodied everything that we had grown to desire for ourselves. The super ego is in essence who we think we should be, growing up without a father Clinton may have looked to other sources for interjection. Interjection is how we come to understand what we should be and act like and it is usually gained from our parents and others we look up to. Clinton may have had to look up to public figures and as such might have set in his mind the belief that he should be a politician. Clinton’s id may be the most powerful, his insatiable appetite for female companionship outside of his marriage may be evidence of this statement. But, that is only speculation. I didn’t note any use of Freud’s defense mechanisms, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. The books I used to research were very factual and didn’t offer as much insight as I would have liked.
“Humanistic psychology emphasizes the present experience and the essential worth of the whole person, promotes creativity, intentionalism, free choice, and spontaneity, and fosters the belief that people can solve their own psychological problems.” (Allen p. 203). Rogers a humanistic psychologist would see Bill Clinton as a self actualized person. Rogers would examine Clinton as a whole from his success to his failures and from his private life to his public life. Rogers would say that Clinton saw himself as a politician and therefore he started early in his life trying to develop the skills he needed to become a good politician, a young Clinton stated “For years I have worked to prepare myself for a political life characterized by both practical ability and concern for rapid social progress.” (Allen p. 269). Rogers would take great interest in this statement made by Clinton because, Rogers thought that people could reveal the most about themselves when given a chance. Rogers didn’t think that a therapist had to draw out answers but that the answers would present themselves when the individual had a good listener at their disposal. Using accurate empathy, Rogers would have tried to perceive Clinton’s inside world by listening to him talk without judging or interrupting, after hearing this statement Rogers would say that Clinton has a high self actualizing tendency. Rogers would also say that Clinton has a high level of congruence between his experiences relating to his self and his self concept. Clinton has always thought of himself as a good leader and this is in agreement with his experiences, “Bill also displayed leadership skills at the time by involving himself in many community projects and services. He was a member of the Kiwanis Key Club, and the Hot Springs High School faculty selected him as a Civitan Junior Businessman. He received the Elks Youth leadership award for Arkansas.” (Levin p. 31). Rogers would focus solely on the present and would say that Clinton’s success is impart due to his high general actualizing tendency and his high level of congruence with his experiences.
Rotter took the social-cognitive approach to personality, Rotter believes that people’s behavior changes dramatically from situation to situation “People gripped by the forces of a powerful situation show a general trend in behavior not characteristically displayed in others circumstances.” (Allen p.283). In such situations however, people continue to show differences in behavior among individuals. Rotter also believed that environments can control behavior, behavior is goal oriented, and determined by expectations. Rotter has six basic categories of needs which are recognition status, dominance, independence, protection, and dependency and physical comfort. Recognition status is the need to be seen as competent in socially valued situations. Clinton fulfilled his recognition status need by learning how to perform in the public arena, The National Committee for an Effective Congress stated that Clinton’s campaign was “the most impressive grassroots campaign in the country today.” (Allen p.50). Clinton fulfilled his need for dominance by trying to be the best at everything. His need for dominance was so great that during a campaign for senior class secretary he told a close friend “If you beat me, I’ll never forgive you.” (Allen p.10). Clinton has also fulfilled his need for independence by making important discussions throughout his life, even at a relatively young age. Protection and dependency is the need to have another person to provide so form of security and protection. Clinton had his mother and his grandparents to support him and later in his life Hillary. Last there is physical comfort, which is a learned need for physical satisfaction.
Clinton shows a classic example of Rotter’s expectancy, because he kept running for office so his name would gain recognition . This was the reinforcement he hoped to gain from these actions. A good example of a psychological situation is when Bill first met Hillary, “I was so embarrassed…” (Allen p. 34).
Bill had temporarily forgotten his own name and was embarrassed because he thought he looked foolish. Hillary most likely found this episode cute and sweet. Reinforcement value is the “degree of preference” of an intended outcome. A reinforcement won’t work if it has a low reinforcement value. Rotter had two important generalized expectancies, one being an external locus of control and the other being internal. The locus of control is the degree to which you expect that the reinforcement of your behavior is dependant on your behavior, personal characteristics (internal) versus the degree you see the reinforcement of luck, chance or fate (external). Rotter would see Clinton as internal. Clinton is a self made man, he worked hard and started applying himself at a young age in order to reach a certain goal. He didn’t sit back and wait for a lucky break.
Applying theorist to Bill Clinton was more difficult then I thought it would be. The easiest to apply had to be Rogers because his ideas on self actualization fit Clinton very well, it is quite obvious that he has applied himself from an early age with one goal in mind. Politics. The hardest theorist to apply would have to be Freud because his theory is very pessimistic and does not fit Clinton at all. Clinton doesn’t exhibit many characteristics that would fit well in Freud’s stages of development. I think the easiest theory to understand was the Humanistic theory which made more sense to me than any of the rest. Clinton is an interesting character to read about. I was hoping to be able to apply some of Freud’s ideas to explain his “cheating ways”, but I failed to see any strong connections that were worth mentioning.
Cite this William Jefferson Clinton
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