Interpersonal orientations of Malcolm X


Interpersonalorientations of Malcolm X

Earlychildhood of Malcolm X

Malcolmwas the seventh born in a family of eight children. He had adifficult childhood that was brought about by tragic events happeningto his parents. He lost his father after a tragic road accident andhis mother was hospitalized in a mental hospital when he was barely12 years of age (Malcom, 2007). Malcolm blamed the white racists forhis father’s death. Most of his childhood was spent under fostercare. In his early life, he was accused of robbery and jailed for sixyears (Malcom, 2007). After his release, he changed his last name toMalcolm.He got back to school and emerged the top of his class in Junior HighSchool. The school described him as a smart and focused student whowanted to become a lawyer. However, his childhood dreams wereshattered when his favorite teacher told him that those dreams weretoo unrealistic for a black man (Malcolm,2007).


Conventionalpsychoanalytic biological orientation lays more emphasis on cultureand interpersonal relationships (Horney, 2013). It further explainsthat anxiety brought about by any form of insecurity during childhoodis very fundamental in character development. A child thereforedevelops ways of coping through these in three dimensions or trendscan move towards people, against people or away from the people(Horney, 2013). In this regard, it is clear that Malcolm’schildhood was one that was filled with insecurities emanating fromracism. He lived in a society that was defined along racialaffiliations. Inequality was prominent at the time and a blackstudent, however smart was not guaranteed a place in the society. Itwas for this reason he lost interest in school and began doing oddjobs at a young age.

Horney’stheory explains that these universal tendencies are experienced byanyone. One is able to move from one tendency to the other dependingon the current situation or need. It is quite clear from X that hedid not at any time choose to be comfortable at any dimension. He hada rather aggressive behavior of moving against the people the 8:3:1type (Horney, 2013). He employs this strategy to protect his selfworth as a person in a society that places less value to people ofhis kind. The eights believe that they are bigger than the world andhence they use all their power to moving away from the people. Theyhave grown up with a concept that they are small. The threes have toadjust to the world. In these regard they tend to employ all theirenergies and focus to achieve positive results. Finally the ones arecritical to themselves and their surroundings (Horney, 2013). It isclear that X navigated in all these trends to improve his self worthin a society that was unfriendly and biased.

Malcolm’scharacter has shown a society that was gender biased. He was a malechauvinist. That period did not offer women any significant roles inthe society. Their roles were limited to performing household dutiesand taking care of children. At a young age Malcolm’smother had a mental problem and was hospitalized(Malcolm,2007). Later in his older years when talking about his parents, heidentified his mother with religiosity and hysteria. He howeveridentified his father with masculinity traits such as strength andtoughness. Further, he described his father as a role model andattributed his destiny to his father’s death. That clearly displaysa stereotyped society on extreme gender disparity. He believed thatwomen were the weaker sex in the society that depended on men forprotection. He valued his mother for essentially fulfilling herfeminine roles of motherhood and housewife.


Themost prevailing attachment throughout Malcolm’slife was the unresolved attachment. This is an attachment thatrepresents a breakdown in the care giving process during childhood(George, 2012). His childhood contained no clear representationalstrategy of achieving love, support and care. He lacked protectionand security the basic needs of any child. He was a smart studentthat had faith in his favorite teacher. He wanted to be a lawyer andwas working hard to achieve that dream (Malcom, 2007). That teacher,‘the protective’ figure failed him. All his works, therefore,were aimed at creating equality and averting the oppressive, racistsegregation culture that was prominent. He had unresolved childhooddreams of making justice a universal right for everyone after hisfather was ran over by a car. All these unfortunate ordeals created acharacter that was determined to resolve all issues that made himfeel incomplete.


Thefirst aspect of individual personality is the psychoanalyticpersonality. It is mainly the unconscious mind with three differentkey areas. The id is the pleasure part hidden in the unconscious mindthat contains desires and wants. Superego exists both in theunconscious and conscious mind. It judges, one from making mistakesor making foolish decisions. The last part of the psychoanalyticpersonality is the ego. This part exists in the conscious mind and itrepresents one’s reputation (Horney, 2013). Neo-analytic involvessome parts of the psyche including the conscious ego and the personalconscious. The conscious ego involves the perceptions of otherpeople. This area is important to any individual as it is aware ofdecisions making processes. The personal unconscious is the part ofthe unconscious that one is unaware of.

Biologicalpersonality is naturally contained in the DNA. This cannot be changedor altered in any sense. Individuals are born with their own uniquepersonality traits. These traits cannot be influenced by theenvironment rather they are behavioral genomics. There are four basicprominent aspects in this regard the level of one’s activity assome people tend to be more active than others, the stability of aperson’s emotions where different people have different tempers ,the rate of socializing which determines the level of cooperation orteam involvement by different people and finally the level ofaggression.

Theseaspects learned from Malcolm X show that interpersonal orientationsvary from one individual to the other. Individuals often behave innew and creative ways that foster their own specific change ordefined growth. This usually happens during maturity when the currentneeds and wants change. These aspects or traits are distinguishedfrom the common traits and make it possible to have inter-individualcomparisons. All these personal traits form a dynamic organizationwithin individuals and finally determine distinct individualbehavior.


George,C., &amp West, L. (2012). TheAdult Attachment Projective Picture System, Attachment Theory andAssessment in Adults.New York : The Guilford Press

HorneyK. (2013).Ourinner conflicts: A constructive theory of neurosis.London. Digital Printing.

Malcolm,L. (2007). Autobiographyof Malcolm X. London.Penguin Publishers.