We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Can personality change? Well, it depends on how you define "personality" and on how you define "change."
Certainly manner of behavior and attitudes can change over time as people adapt and "grow," but the deep foundations of personality are genetically hard-wired (we term that "temperament"), along with the first few layers above that (which we often think of using concepts like "character structure" or "constellations of unconscious assumptions/fantasies about people, one's self, and the world"), are highly resistant to alteration - which is where psychoanalysis comes in.
That question was asked in the context of two movies at PsyBlog, who took the trouble to review the best of the psychology blogs: Part 1 and Part 2. (h/t, Neurophilosophy.) I am going to check them all out.
I am not aware of any dedicated psychoanalytic blogs. There should be at least one, but analysts tend not to be compulsive talkers and, when they write, it is always too long-winded and jargon-packed for the average ADD reader. The shrinks on our blogroll are more politically-driven than focused on the art and science of the analytic therapies.
I would be interested in reading what the modern analysts have to say. My best friend of 19 years has been in traditional four times a week psychoanalysis for about five years (it costs her what I earn and support a family of five on....go figure!) My friend is very fortunate, but she is a dear and virtuous person who deserves that kind of attention and is probably benefitting a lot from it. If you can afford it, great!
Us plebs who have to earn a living doing work that congeals our blood (baby birds will keep squawking for worms, so no point in complaining about getting dirty!) are fascinated from a distance.
The college courses, the hundreds of books studied in the course of caring for three psychotic family members growing up, and now two kids with multiple diagnoses, the friends and adversaries in the profession, the support given by patient therapists, have led me to search for anything good that is free on line...But almost every time I find an article I want to read (ie: that isn't Good Housekeeping schlock) it is in one of those databases you have to pay through the nose for...
Have read all the books by the writing shrinks in our local library. And have at least forty book feet (mostly from courses) at home. The jargon is awful, yes, but the worst is when guys like that over-valued Yalom maunder on. He is so lacking in humility. Adam Phillips, tho equally pleased with himself, is a great read. Who knows if he helps his patients, but he can write like a dream!
One problem with many writing shrinks is that they give away patient confidences and I suspect that this is why so many conscientious clinicians don't. Either that, or they are too busy working and looking after their families to spend the time running blogs or writing books? But as far as disguising patients go, if they are dutiful about disguising them, their case histories are no longer accurate. I find it incredible when analysts who devote an hour to the nuances of one word choice (try "bereft") can claim that you still get an accurate feel for a patient when you turn her from a poet into an artist, and say that her parents were suburban banker and housewife when in fact they were urban professors...Professions, geography, appearance, etc. are not interchangeable. Yet, if they present close to the truth, the person may be recognized.
It is not simple voyeurism when people want to read stories about other people's problems. It is perhaps because most people are only truthful (to the degree that any of us are capable of being truthful, given original sin) with their shrinks and their ministers. Living in a world of salesmen and liars "Oh, everything's marvellous!" it is refreshing to read about other people's struggles and character defects. One doesn't begrudge those who have suffered and struggled their Christmas card brags. They have earned them.
In my own youthful profession, I worked with people whose stories were sometimes horrifying,often inspiring, at times hilarious, always better than any fictional characters. As a writing person, it was incredibly frustrating not writing about them, not telling people about them. But to have written about them would have been to betray the conditions under which I came to hear their stories.
My frustration with shrinks who chiefly write about politics is that while their comments are often insightful, and it's probably therapeutic for the shrinks, and better reading than most other journalism, they are always writing about what somebody else knows better than they do. What shrinks are best at is eliciting people's stories and helping guide them thru the jungle (hopefully not too much like Jumanji). Hopefully to a spot where one can get one's bearings, and chart a better course, with some meaning and direction, even if still difficult and dangerous. Even tho some problems and many patients may seem repetitive after a while, a shrink's work is what they know best, do best, and what other people are far more interested in than their views on politics. I wouldn't ask a politician what they thought of psychoanalysis or even of loathsome cognitive behavioral therapy. Why ask a shrink how the world should be run or why political animals savage each other so?!
Of course, the most appealing thing about this blog is the Renaissance men and women who post in it, and find interesting links. And friendly commenters. A virtual haven for social misfits like myself. I love reading people who relate disparate disciplines, and who opine on a variety of topics. People who love to read and write. But it is simply that in the end, unless we are very burned out, or regret our choice of profession, that's what we know best, that's probably where our knowledge and experience is unique.
My dearest friend frequently castigates me for not using the tools of my own profession in analyzing problems, just because I currently have a day job so dull it puts people to sleep.
But you shrinks, you've had to work like the devil to get educated and trained, you have to put up with all kinds of difficult and scarey and boring as well as interesting patients, but you have one of the most fascinating and useful professions known to man or woman. I am sure that I am not alone in being curious and eager for more of your reflections on your own profession.
Lest this sound too fulsome, don't even get me started on the appalling local shrinks on call when my psychotic kid was taken by ambulance to our local hospital. Or the insurance-company-whipped ones in one hospital said kid ended up in when there wasn't another child psychiatric bed in several hundred miles...or the socialized medicine hacks who drugged my other relatives insensible and gave none of them any therapy worth a damn. I have encountered more bad shrinks than many people, because the most severely mentally ill patients are generally cared for by the worst shrinks. I know, I know, there are occasional exceptions. I saw some of those in a state facility, who outclassed the suburbanite child shrinks where I live by light years! It takes a rare person to be willing to risk caring for people who may never get better, who may be dangerous, whose harried relatives may not be grateful or pay the bill.
Oh well, more blathering. Only to wonder, do any shrinks actually take seriously what patients or relatives of patients think or feel about them? It is an interesting difference from my profession, where we take the opinions of the people we serve far more to heart than those of our peers (with the latter, I am ashamed to say, we are generally competitive, suspicious, and hypocritically uncharitable!) But at least we listen and take direction from those whose needs justify our existence. The problem with treating crazy or disturbed or obnoxious or hurting people is that by definition they have problems, so it must be easy not to take their criticisms seriously.