Personality Analysis Of Michael Jackson


Michael Jackson is one of the most famous singers in the history of pop music. He was often referred to as the “king of pop” worldwide. Throughout his life and career, his actions were perceived as both intriguing and controversial ranging from his alleged plastic surgeries, divorces, changing of his skin tone, to his pedophilia allegations. In Michael’s early life, his relationship with his family members, more specifically his father, were perceived as contributing factors to the major issues he faced in his adult life. Known as one of the best entertainers and singers in his time, Michael was associated with a particularly lavish lifestyle because of his fame but an equally difficult personal life. Michael Jackson’s personality can be analyzed with several theories of personalities including the psychoanalytic approach and the neo-analytic approach. These two approaches to personality analysis provide a better understanding of who Michael Jackson as a person.

Biography of Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana on August 29th, 1958. Michael Jackson was the seventh child of a total of nine children born to Joe and Katherine Jackson. Michael had five brothers named Tito, Jermaine, Jackie, Marlon, and Randy, and three sisters named Latoya, Janet and Rebbie. This family was full of musical talent and at a young age, Michael showed a great passion for music. His father, Joe Jackson, had always dreamt of becoming a famous musician himself but he failed in doing so. He lived out his dream vicariously through his children. According to Jefferson (2010), Joe wanted to become a guitarist, but was forced to give up his dreams early to raise his children. In 1964, Joe formed a band with his sons, which came to be known as ‘The Jackson 5’. The groups made their breakthrough and were signed a recording contract with Motown Records.

Gladys Knight, a famous actor, introduced the group to Berry Gordon who owned Motown records. The singing group recorded some of their most memorable songs with this record label including the famous hits, ‘ABC’, ‘Never can Say Goodbye’ and ‘I Want You Back’. They continued to record with this label until the mid-70s. The Jackson 5 faced a great deal of stress as a group, especially since they were all so young. Nevertheless, their father was not discouraged by the age of his children. He continued to push his sons to work harder and aim at achieving nothing less than perfection. Their father paved the way for the young singers, which played a significant role in launching Michael’s music career.

In 1976, another milestone was made in the Jackson 5’s music career, especially because they were given the opportunity to sign a contract with a different record label, Epic Records. After signing with Epic Records, the group changed their name to “The Jacksons” as a way to move forward from Motown Records, who was still holding ownership to their original name “The Jackson 5”. While with Epic Records, Michael made his debut in the film industry and played the scarecrow in the famous movie “The Wiz”. Michael met Quincy Jones during this time and collaborated to compose Michael’s very first single album, “Off the Wall”. To him, this album was the start of a very promising solo career, especially because the album contained four singles that topped in the U. S. charts. However, 1982 the album “Thriller” was born, and it marked greatest breakthrough in Michael’s career because it became the best-selling album in history. This album is what put Michael on the map worldwide and Michael gained eight Grammy awards for this album. From then on, Michael’s career continued to flourish, and he went on to continue making hit records. There were several other events that happened in Jackson’s life that caught the attention of the public eye. One major event was that he surprised the world by getting surgery change the way his nose looked and changed the color of his skin from a darker skin tone to a whiter skin tone. Jackson was also involved in a fire accident while shooting a commercial for Pepsi, which left him with serious injuries and burned hair.

Michael’s was very reserved when it came to his life away from the limelight, including his marriage life. However, there were rumors that he had gotten married twice. He first married Elvis Presley’s daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, in 1993 but the married only lasted two years. Later, in 1995, he married a woman named Debbie Row but that marriage last about 4 years. During that marriage, he had 3 children. In 1993 and 2005, he was accused with sexually molesting boys he invited to stay in his home Michael liked to call “The Neverland Ranch”, but he was acquitted after a lengthy trial when the allegations turned out to be false. Michael Jackson finally died drug related cardiac arrest on June 25th, 2009. Regrettably, this death was very tragic and untimely because it came while he was preparing for huge performances in Europe, which was meant to be a comeback for his music career.

The psychoanalytic perspective

Michael Jackson’s personality can be analyzed from psychoanalytic perspective. In this case, the word personality is used to describe people’s cognizable behavior or how they interact with their environment. For example, a person can be described as having selfish, cheerful, introvert, or extrovert characters. In psychology, personality has varied definitions, which also lead to application of different theories that are used to describe people’s attributes. According to Clarkin et al (1999), personality theory can be used to determine how a person’s attributes are defined by a certain psychologist, and the aspects of an individual’s personality, which are most prominent or emphasized. Ideally, psychoanalytic theory by Sigmund Freud is used in discussing and explaining an individual’s personality is the psychoanalytic theory. Sigmund Freud developed this theory after making observations on his medical patients who exhibited irrational behavior, and linked this behavior to their real life situation.

Psychoanalysis is divided into two aspects. The first one is the link between the conscious and the unconscious, which portrays the mind as consisting of three subsystems, including the unconscious mind, which means that a person is not aware about something; thoughts that a person is not aware about, but which can be brought to their attention from time to time; and the conscious aspects which means that a person is fully up to their thoughts. Freud maintains that the human’s unconscious mind is strongly capable of controlling their conscious and overt behavior. This theory, essentially, provides that the human’s conscious mind represents the unconscious urges, when they are not conscious about it. In view of this, psychoanalysis can be used to describe Michael’s personality.

Blatt and Lerner (1983) affirm that humans’ cognitive thoughts have an impact on their behavior, especially on their interpersonal relationship. The manner, in which people think about themselves and other people that surround them, is significantly determined by their early interpersonal encounters. In view of this, the problem with Michael Jackson’s personality can be attributed to his early-years’ poor relationship with other people, including his own father. In most of his interviews, Jackson did not even want to share the ordeals he went through in his childhood, meaning that this could have significantly affected his mind.

In fact, any question touching on his childhood experiences went unanswered or sometimes this even tempted him to cry. In one of the interview with Oprah Winfrey, he revealed that his father was a strict disciplinarian, with hard and stern rules. He jokingly stated that a mere look at his father was enough to scare a person. Even so, he tried so much to keep off the topic about his childhood experiences, but considering his profile a lot could not be kept away from the public domain. As a matter of fact, his father was known to be harsh and strict disciplinarian. Sometimes he could use threats or even beat his children when they failed to perform well in music. While it could be argued that it is this strictness that shaped Michael’s music career, regarding psychoanalytic theory, it can be argued that it is this harsh background that left a permanent scar in his personality, to an extent of getting involved in unthinkable acts such as child abuse.

What’s more, the association of Michael’s personality with the events that had happened in his life can be analyzed in terms of his Id, Ego and Superego. The Id defines a person’s desires, which one would want to do even if it is not acceptable in the society. The superego constitutes what the society considers acceptable and what is not acceptable. From the perspective of a child, this could be represented by the parental controls. On the other hand, Ego attempts to reconcile Id with Superego. As a child, Michael could have desired to do things that are done by any other child, such as playing games, and going to school, among many others. In addition, he may not have wanted to have “big nose” or “dark skin” or shunned by other children because of his physical appearances. As such, these descriptions could have constituted his most prominent Id. Nevertheless, his father could not allow him to do most of the things he desired. He must have been struggling to do well in music so that when he is able to come out of that kind of captivity he could do things that he desired in life.

Besides the trouble he got from his own father, Jackson had to undergo a lot of embarrassment from his friends and family - who used to tease him about his appearance. Consequently, as a child, his Ego would help him cope with all these challenges. Although it was not his best wish, Michael followed his father’s orders, which helped him keep developing in his music career. Furthermore, as a child, he was too innocent and naïve to negate his father’s orders. Unlike his brothers, Michael could not master his own balance as a person, to cope with all the pressures of life that he was undergoing. This is the reason why he was struggling, in his adulthood, to accomplish the childhood desires that he never got an opportunity to fulfill. Also, that is the same reason he found a children’s entertainment park at his ranch, where he used to play with kids from time to time. Also, in order to become the kind of a person he desired to be, physically, he went to a greater height by undergoing a plastic surgery – which saw his skin color and facial features altered.

His inability to grow from the phallic childhood stage to the latent stage can explain his adulthood’s strange personality. He grew up without fitting to any particular category of sexuality, meaning it was hard to establish if he was gay or straight. His attitude towards himself was egotistical and showy, and it was clear that he loved nobody a part from his children. This personality can be attributed to a sort of disconnect in his childhood life as well as the kind of parenthood he underwent, which totally tainted his character. For example, he has severally revealed in his interviews that their father would not allow them to mingle with girls, which possibly acted as the foundation for the strange sexuality in his adulthood. In addition, it is was clear that in his adulthood he had problems forming any true friendship relationship with friends, which was possibly acquired from parenthood - since their father used to restrict them from forming any friendship because they were warned that such friends would take advantage of their fame.

The Neo-analytic Perspective

The Neo-Analytic theory is largely concerned with the individual person and his sense of self, which is also referred to as the ego. The theory was developed by a number of psychologists who believed that a person did not have the freedom of choice about his destiny because it was largely already determined. According to Friedman and Schustack (2006), most of the theorists who developed the Neo-analytic approach were previous believers in the psychoanalytical theory, but who departed from it to develop the Neo-Analytical approach. These psychologists departed from Freud’s theory by rejecting the proposition that the personality of an adult is developed by experiences of childhood, particularly the period before 6 years of age.

They instead moved towards the recognition of socio-cultural influences in the development of individuals. Basically, the Neo-Analytical approach is entrenched in the feeling that the main instinct in a person’s personality is ‘aiming to be superior’. The approach presents two complexes in which a person’s personality is based - the inferiority complex and the superiority complex. The approach also presents the concept of the “Neurotic Person” versus the “Normal Person”. Most importantly, for this case, the Neo-Analytic approach insinuates that the conscious memories of a person about their childhood life can tell us about the person’s current and future life since the two are determined by the relationships the person has had with family and other people close to them.

On approaching Michael’s life from the Neo-analytic perspective, the fact that he was not allowed by his father to do as he wished can be used to explain his adulthood personality. In other words, his father was not only making him to feel inferior to himself, but also to every other person around him. Even though most of his attributes were phenomenal and his achievements were amazing, he did not feel like he was good enough. Michael Jackson can also be said to have had a sense of organ inferiority, particularly his physical appearance and skin color, which he thought were preventing him from being loved by those around him - hence eliciting feelings of inferiority. This may have affected his social life as his father’s strict demands prevented him from forming healthy relationships as a child. As a result, when he grew up to become an adult, it became quite difficult to form more complex relationships. This could explain why the few friends and companions he had were either children or even animals at times. It is clear that he suffered from an inferiority complex; even with the popularity and the fame that came with his career, he still felt as if he was not making everyone happy, including himself.

Erikson’s stage theory is another aspect of the neo-analytical approach that can be used to explain Michael Jackson’s personality. His problems would have started in his early childhood. The lack of control over his own life through abuse by his father would have compromised his entire life. At the middle childhood stage, a person usually learn to handle guilt and responsibility, which was not possible for Michael to achieve because his father still controlled most of his actions and made most decisions for him. The late childhood stage is the most important in personality development, since this is where Michael missed the link to define his entire life. He almost entirely spent this stage on the road in performances and not in school interacting with peers. This lack of interaction and comparison with peers could have hampered his connection to other people in his adult life.

During his teenage years, Michael had a problem finding his identity because at this time he was surrounded by everything in the middle of stardom that still hampered his freedom. During his early adulthood, Michael found himself unable to establish quality intimate relationships because he had never developed the skills needed to develop this kind of relationships. This is evident from his marriage to Lisa Marie Presley who admitted in an interview that Michael was not quite capable of loving somebody. The last stage in Michael Jackson’s personality development was in his middle adulthood where he seemed to change quite suddenly and exhibit caring and generative qualities. In the 1990s, he came out with the “Heal the World” campaign and also had his children. The most plausible explanation for this could be that that he simply gave up trying to seek an identity and started pretending to be everything he should be.


Michael Jackson’s personality is well defined by both the psychoanalytical and Neo-analytical perspectives, which give great evidence of the real person behind the mask of musical genius and fame. Although over the course of his life, he developed a great career as a musician and performer, this came at the cost of his own life as an individual in society. Due to events in his childhood life as explained by the two theories above, he lost his identity, his confidence, and largely developed into a dormant personality with a great part of his missed childhood experiences dominating his adult life.

There is evidence that Michael either consciously or sub-consciously tried to challenge the situation his personality was driving into. The lyrics of songs like “Man in the Mirror” where he challenges the man in the mirror to change his ways, and “Black or White” where he tries to battle racism and show people that there is no difference between people in the world illustrate this attempt. Both theories apportion a large part of the blame of what Michael turned out to be on his father Joe Jackson, not just for his physical and emotional mistreatment of his children, but also for the way he placed them in a situation they would not have ended in. In reality, it is evident that Michael just wanted to live a normal life, be happy, be loved, interact with people and make friends, all the things that people often take for granted. This cannot be made clearer than from Michael’s own words; “People think they know me, but they don’t. Not really. Actually, I am one of the loneliest people on this earth. I cry sometimes, because it hurts. It does. To be honest, I guess you could say that it hurts to be me”.


Human personality can be explained well through a number of theories developed by psychology. There are no better theories that explain the life and personality of Michael Jackson than the psychoanalytic theory developed by Sigmund Freud and the Neo-analytic theory developed by his students. Michael’s personality comes out as one suffering from disorders resulting from his abused and deprived early life occasioned upon him and his siblings by their own father in his pursuit for ultimate success. His adulthood is seen as involving an older Michael trapped in his own childhood and a very lonely person.

10 October 2020
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now