The school of social psychology, as well as the school of cognitive theory and psychoanalysis define personality as a series of antitheses that, in the research by Allport and Maslow, among other major theorists, can be summarized into our personality is formed:
- freely versus by determination
- by inheritance or by our environment
- whether it is unique or universal (essentially similar)
- active versus reactive
- optimist or pessimist
Since the theoretical perspective of psychoanalysis attempts to balance out the conscious and unconscious mental processes that drive our behavior, the best theorist to cite would be Allport and his Nomothetic versus Idiographic approaches (1937).
Although there are plenty other theorists and psychologists in the area of universal versus unique personality, Allport explains through his theory that all humans present a series of similar needs that drive their behavior. For example, people are "essentially" needful, dynamic, interactive, sociable, accepting, and tolerant. However, each life experience can mold the environment of the individual in a way that factors such as traumas, stressors, personal issues, and inherited disabilities create salient traits that, when extrapolated, makes us also unique.
In Allport's view, those extrapolated traits that makes us unique are seen under the Idiographic eye. "Idios", which is Greek for "private", entails that the traits that makes us unique are a product of interactive, personal events and Life Changing Events (LCE's). Under the psychoanalytic theoretical perspective, the unique traits are correlated to specific developmental events such as epigenetic stages, and psychosocial stages. Therefore uniqueness is expected under a psychoanalytic eye, but the tenets of the approach are based on the universality of human behavior which is researched by sociologists such as Raymond Cattell, Victor Frankl, and Carl Rogers.