Prince Personality

Which theory best describes the musician Prince personality?

  • Psychoanalytic
  • Behavioral/Social
  • Trait/Cognitive
  • Humanistic/Existential
Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The artistic persona of Prince has salient traits that aim to not only cause shock, but also to sort of mislead the audience. This is presumably done to deflect the attention away from the actual personality traits of Prince Roger Nelson, the man, and focus it on Prince, the artist.

Some of the salient traits for which Prince has gained notoriety and fame in an equal form include:

  • the use of androgyny to represent himself
  • flamboyant appearance
  • sexually-charged behaviors and mannerisms
  • outspoken and harsh criticism of his record label

However, when looking into the artist's biographical information, it is surprising to see that the artistic imagery that Prince offers his followers differs greatly from his personal life.

For example, while Prince (the artist) is defiant and openly abrasive against those who prevent him from growing independently as a musician, his biographers describe him as extremely shy and seldom outspoken in his personal life.

While his androgynous looks might label him as someone of a specific sexual orientation, we find that Prince, the man, is very much heterosexual, and has had relationships with many famous women who all agree in that Prince's real persona is quite masculine.

The flamboyance and eccentricity in dress and style apparently hide a very emotional artistic side which, according to biographers, became quite affected during his adolescence; he was physically abused by a cruel stepfather, and the divorce of his natural parents earlier in his life came as a shock from which he took a long time to recover.

Hence, what we see is someone eagerly trying to deflect attention from his real personality and, to achieve this, creates an alternative persona that naturally attracts attention and allows his private life to remain that way.

All of this been said, a personality such as Prince's would fit the psychoanalytic theory because of his switch of personas, his need of monitoring one personality in order to protect another, and his tendency to over-exaggerate his artistic behaviors. These activities show a swap between the id, ego, and superego. The ego, as the median point between the id and the superego would represent Prince's true nature whereas he uses a Superego (his artistic persona), and the Id (his outrageous, flamboyant and eccentric behavior) to deflect attention form the person that he really is. This psychoanalytic approach is true for everyone who engages in this type of dynamic, and is representative of the human tendency to wear social masks to either unveil or cover intimate aspects of our personal lives.