The 5 Personality Patterns: Which One Fits You?

Learn about your personality pattern and how to move out of pattern into wholeness for a happier and healthier life

Sandra Pawula


Do you feel like you’re repeating the same frustrating personality patterns again and again? Do you react to others in the same tiresome ways, but don’t know how to stop?

If your answer is yes, I invite you to explore the Five Personality Patterns. Once you know your particular survival style, you can learn to move out of patterned behavior into presence and a far happier life.

Deeply held propensities from childhood exert a powerful influence on adult life. After years of repetition, certain ways of thinking, speaking, and acting become automatic even though they create distress, drama, and discouragement.

But there is a way out of these defeating patterns. It begins by getting to know your core wound, and the specific survival strategies you embraced as a child and then later brought into your adult life. That might seem impossible or too complex, but I have good news for you.

In his book, The 5 Personality Patterns, Steven Kessler, M.A. provides a lucid description of the main emotional survival styles used by most people, and a clear map of how to heal and transform them. It’s written expressly for everyday people like you and me rather than clinicians — easy to understand, but not sparse on details.

The Origin and Essence of the 5 Personality Patterns

A licensed psychotherapist for more than 30 years, Kessler adapted and modernized the “Five Character Structures” originally formulated by Wilhelm Reich, a prominent student of Freud, into his own version, which he called the “Five Personality Patterns.”

This approach to personality differs from more static systems of personality type, like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which tell you about who you are.

Instead, the Five Personality Patterns represent automatic, body-based reactions — conditioned responses from childhood — which you employ to protect yourself from distress when you feel overwhelmed. Instead of revealing who you are, they hide who you are. Unlike…



Sandra Pawula

Essays to calm your mind, ease your heart and connect with your inner wisdom. Writer | mindfulness expert | trauma survivor.