?Interview With a Personality Theorist
Recently someone wrote me and asked:
Dear Mr. Paglierani, I am a student at ********* University and am doing a research project on a personality theorist. I chose to research you as the new Therapy you developed sounded extremely interesting. There were a couple of questions I would just like to ask to fill out this presentation. OK here goes!
1. What was your childhood like? Parents, home life etc . . . 2. If you could sum up how you feel about human nature, how would you do it? I know this is hard, but I’m just curious 🙂 3. What is the most interesting discovery you have made lately in your work?
I understand that you must be incredibly busy, but hopefully these questions won’t be to time consuming and they would certainly be helpful. Thank you so much for everything and I hope that life is well!
Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. Hopefully what I have to say will suffice for your assignment.
 What was your childhood like? Parents, home life etc . . .
First, I assume you are asking this as it pertains to my becoming a personality theorist. Thus like Jung whose minister father’s loss of faith affected him for his whole life, my mother’s religious zealism had a similar affect on me. In fact, I have pictures in my head of me at age seven walking by her room to say goodnight to her but knowing that I could not and should not disturb her prayers. Not the best use for a religion.
My mother’s mental condition too permanently affected me, creating an endless desire in me to understand human nature. As best as I can reconstruct then, she had both anorexia (which she died from at age 48) and a form of schizophrenia wherein her senses were like the bother and sister in Poe’s book, Fall of the House of Usher. To wit, I grew up in a beautifully neat and perfectly clean but acoustically sterile home. Neither my younger sister Teresa nor I were ever allowed to talk, in fact. Let alone to ask questions. Silence then was the golden rule and even from the time I was still in a crib, I can picture this being the way it was. Break the silence and get severely punished.
As you might imagine, this rule of perfect silence had a profound affect on me. Not the least of which was that it prevented me from learning how to socially connect to others. This then forced me to look elsewhere for connections, pushing me, quite by accident, to learn how to connect to nature itself. Trees. Clouds. The little purple flowers that grew wild in our lawn. I had conversations with all of them. And everything else I could personify.
Fortunately for me I grew up in a very, very beautiful area. On the hillside of a mountain overlooking the Hudson River. I even remember at five walking into the stream near our house one day in my Sunday best shoes. Somehow I had become so entranced by the Spring water rushing down the mountain side that I literally stood in the stream, leaned over, and had a conversation with the little green moss people who lived under the water. Tiny single stemmed beings with little round heads was what I saw. A whole community of little people who could somehow breathe under water was what I thought.
Of course, because I was not allowed to talk, I never got to tell anyone this story. Until I became a personality theorist that is.
Finally, my father was a hard working, rough handed truck driver – diesel mechanic whom I still can picture studying by the light of a single floor lamp with an orange colored shade. Not personality, mind you. Mostly exploded views of “”engines being repaired”” kinds of books.
I, myself, have studied similarly all my life, and while the books I study are not about machinery per se, they are about the machinery inside of us all. Peoples’ cultures. Religions. Philosophies. Human arts and frailties and misconceptions and such. I mention this as this picture of my father very much inspired me to become who I am. Especially my using books to teach myself what other people think about human nature.
I guess if I was to summarize this, what I have been saying is, it was from these three foundations that I came to write an entire theory of personality; my mother’s love of her religion; my inner life being based on anthropomorphic conversations with nature; and my father’s love of books and learning through how-it-works self instruction manuals.
 If you could sum up how you feel about human nature, how would you do it? I know this is hard, but I am just curious 🙂
Again, I assume you are asking as it pertains to my becoming a personality theorist. Thus, like Freud, who lived in times wherein being openly sexual was forbidden but discoveries in physics were openly worshiped, I am a product of my times. Reading James Gleick’s book, Chaos, for instance, many years ago was for me like Freud discovering the work of the Nineteenth Century physicists. And while I so agree with Freud that energies created within a mind cannot simply go away and so therefore, there must be an unconscious (an idea he derived from The First Law of Thermodynamics), we greatly disagree in that I see human nature as being fractal, while he searched it for linearity. Which means, while I very much respect the efforts of others in my field, at the same time, I also see research based on attempts to force human nature into a linearity (for instance, statistics as the way to prove something is true in human nature; traits as a way to describe human nature) as being an entirely spurious endeavor. Entirely
As for my personal sense of human nature, I find it and people infinitely beautiful, in the same way all things fractal are beautiful. For instance, can you sense the difference in beauty between a silk rose and a real one? Here, the silk rose is even made of fractal materials. Still, it in no way compares to the beauty of a real rose.
Similarly I see attempts to dissect human nature, and human beings, into manageable chunks of data as being as futile as dissecting a butterfly in order to know it’s nature. Dissecting the butterfly destroys its nature. So does dissecting personality. Thus I see therapies which do this as bordering on cruel.
This leaves us with only one authentic research tool. Creating fractals which visually represent human nature. Thus, my use of Russian Nesting Dolls to represent the structure of personality. Ten, nested, developmental layers of interdependent beauty. Or my ten layered Onion of Personality which is simply another variation of this same fractal nature.
 What is the most interesting discovery you have made lately in your work?
Only weeks ago I discovered a set of two fractals with which I can describe the entire essence of all things addicting. The first fractal describes how what we get addicted to is the ability to alter our mind’s perception of time. The second reveals where euphoria (getting high) comes from.
With regard to the first fractal, the Time Addicts Fractal, I see it as no coincidence that we name our addictions, “”uppers,”” and “”downers.”” Both words refer to how some particular addiction allows us to somewhat predictably alter our mind’s perception of time. Moreover, this applies to everything from drugs and alcohol to over eating and gambling.
With regard to the second fractal then, the Body / Mind Euphoria Fractal, I have found that in some almost magical way, Descartes was right. Mind and body are in some important way separate. And at the same time, they are the same thing, a single person’s nature. (Descartes would probably gag if he heard what I just said. Oh well.)
What I am saying is, it turns out we all have two senses of time; the one we sense in our bodies and the one we sense in our minds. And if we do something which creates a rapidly increasing difference between these two clocks, we feel the feeling of euphoria. Or as addicts call it, we feel “”high.””
Equally interesting is the idea that when we learn, heal, fall in love, or become more conscious, we experience a similar thing only it is more a sort of “”double”” euphoria. What I mean is, whenever we have an aha, we experience a simultaneous increase in the speed of both our body and mind clocks. This then creates the essence of what many folks would call, a spiritual experience. Or as my theories call it, the experience of an “”emergence.””
Finally, yet another implication of this body clock / mind clock fractal thing is that we now have a way in which describe the essence of all mental illnesses. In essence, on one end of the spectrum is mania which is simply a condition wherein our mind clock is racing far ahead of our body clock. On the other end then we have depression which is simply that our body clock is racing far ahead and faster than our mind clock.
BTW, at a conference this week lead by my friend and fellow personality explorer, John Ortiz, John and I had a two minute conversation about these recent discoveries. An hour later, he and I had the simultaneous realization that folks who self stim (such as people with Asperger’s and other Autism) are doing this because physically simulating themselves brings their body clocks up to speed with their racing mind clocks. That this happened eye to eye, right there in the midst of him giving one of his lectures made it even more wonderful.
M*******, I hope what I have written satisfies your class requirements. And if you or anyone you know has more questions, please do feel free to write again.
P. S. If you do, please do call me Steven. My father is “”Mr. Paglierani”” (smile.)