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Personality Assessment of Waylon Jennings

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 1972 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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Personality Assessment


After reading and furthering my knowledge on the famous singer Waylon Jennings and then applying the information I have learned throughout this course; I have a better and more accurate understanding of why Waylon abused substances and how he coped with things he struggled with.

Waylon Jennings

 The famous bearded man in a black hat, park cowboy, part rambler, and always his own man, Waylon Arnold Jennings was born on June 15, 1937 in a small Texas town called Littlefield to William and Lorene Jennings. (Pareles, 2002) Lorene was the reason behind it all, she taught Waylon to play guitar at the young age of eight. Waylon would play and perform at family gatherings until he advanced his performance at a youth center, local Jaycees, and Lions Club.

At the age of sixteen Waylon dropped out of school and moved to Lubbock, Tx where he met Buddy Holly at a local restaurant. Buddy took Waylon as his first artist under his wing. Buddy worked with Waylon by improving his image and arranged a recording session where Waylon recorded his first single “Jole Blon”.

Buddy hired Waylon to play the electric bass for him in his backup band during the “Winter Dance Party Tour” not knowing this would be his last tour ever. On February 3, 1959, Waylon was supposed to get on a private airplane with Holly after a show in Iowa, however, Waylon gave his spot up to another band member who wasn’t feeling well. Shortly after takeoff the plane crashed with no survivors left including Buddy Holly. Waylon blamed himself for years for the crashed that killed his friends and that guilt is what was the start of Waylon’s substance abuse addictions.

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 In 1960 he formed a band called “The Waylors”, although the band never really took off, he landed a contact with A&M Records in 1963 but only made one album before he ended his contract and moved to Nashville, where he became roommates with the famous Johnny Cash, who also played a huge part in his drug addictions. Waylon’s music really took off at this time and started to evolve where he worked on song with artists like Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson. Jennings got his first taste of real success in 1975 when “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” made its way to the top of the charts. Around that same time, he was honored by the Country Music Association as Male Vocalist of the Year. (Pareles, 2002)

With his fame came struggles, Waylon was known for his partying ways and his drug use escalated into a very expensive habit with cocaine and amphetamine. During the early 1980s, his cocaine addiction intensified. Jennings claimed to have spent $1,500 a day on his habit, draining his personal finances and leaving him bankrupt with debt up to $2.5 million. (Pareles, 2002)

After quitting cocaine, Waylon’s health began to deteriorate as he was diagnosed with diabetes, he eventually quit his habit of smoking six packs of cigarettes a day as well. By the 2000’s his diabetes worsened and the pain reduced his mobility, forcing Jennings to end most touring. On February 13, 2002, Jennings died in his sleep of diabetic complications at the age of 64.


 When it comes to the psychoanalytic theory of personality development, Sigmund Freud had developed what he believed to be the psychic drive of motivation for all human beings. He called this drive the Psychosexual Stages of development. There are five distinct stages to his model: the oral stage, anal stage, phallic stage, latency period, and genital stage (Friedman & Schustack, 2012).

 When it comes to Waylon, it seems as if he may be fixated in the anal stage. Being fixated at this stage is psychologically said to be characterized for making messes out of their own life, as well as others lives (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). This is quite evident in the facts that he was very stubborn and did what he wanted to do no matter the consequence. Later on, he gets involved with harder drugs, and makes things harder for the people that care about him. This lifestyle led him to lose marriages, fans, and even caused him to be arrested.

 The Neoanalytic theory focuses on the self. The most influential theory that I believe pertains to Waylon Jennings is Alfred Adler’s theory on the role of birth orders. The reasoning for this is that there were five children residing in the household, all boys at that. Waylon was the middle child and according to Adler’s role of birth order the middle child is said to be more rebellious than the other children. This is due to rivalry and competition with older siblings and trying to teach different things to younger siblings that leads to feelings of inferiority (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). This is quite evident in Waylon’s case because he is portrayed to act out more than his siblings.

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 The Psychosocial theories concentrate on an individual’s lifespan identity and identity crisis. Erik Erikson was fascinated with personality development and developed the stage theory of personality development. This was built off of Freud’s psychosexual stages of development; however, Erikson’s theory involves eight stages and the main focus is on conflicts and choices that can result in personality (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). In Waylon’s case, intimacy vs isolation is evident because he can’t seem to develop a relationship without losing himself. Waylon was married multiple times and was so caught up in drugs and his music that he completely lost his sense of family.

The trait theories are very reliable in their testing. The most influential trait theory is the Big Five. This theory is based off of five dimensions: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). This can explain Waylon’s personality development because he appears to be extroverted to a high degree because he exhibits behaviors that stand out and is very sociable.

When it comes to conscientiousness, I believe towards the end of his life he was conscientious; however, back in his musical fame peak he exhibited many impulsive self-destructive behaviors. On the concept of neuroticism, he would have scored extremely high; however, if he was still alive today, I feel as though he would be very content with his life because right before his death, he was sober and also obtained his GED at the age of 52 for his children. I believe Waylon would have always scored high on the openness scale with his musical abilities.

 With Waylon you can see the evolutionary perspective very clearly, through articles and his music you can clearly see how Waylon’s mind and perspective evolve throughout. Before your eyes he transforms from a young boy working in a radio station to a drug addicted country star. Ultimately, it was his environment, the people he befriended and the lifestyle he was living.

 With the cognitive theories it would be correct if it was said that Waylon was conditioned to behave the way he did. He was praised and given fame for hanging out with questionable artists and singing songs with questionable lyrics at times. The social learning theories also tie into this because it focuses on a reward/punishment system that is observed in others (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). It can easily be hypothesized that he learned his self-destructive behaviors from the people that he surrounded himself with, while he was on the road touring because they never got punished for doing drugs or drinking. These two theories also tie into the behavioral theories. These theories function on the learning of new behaviors through reinforcement (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). Clearly Waylon continued down his self-destructive path because there was no negative reinforcement for his actions; therefore, he continued to do drugs and drink until he started getting arrested and losing his family, which ultimately led to him quitting.

 The humanistic theory that best fits Waylon would be Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. My reasoning behind this is in his younger days Waylon thought he had achieved what he wanted; however, he was completely unhappy with his results. Even though, he thought he had everything he ever wanted when he became famous, he was unhappy and never achieved self-actualization. When he hit “rock bottom” he had to work for his health and for his family relationships, and ultimately achieved self-actualization before his death. It took Waylon many years to get to this point because you cannot move up the ladder unless you complete the lower level needs first (Friedman & Schustack, 2012).


 With Waylon the test I would use to measure and assess his personality are the MBTI. The reason I chose the MBTI is because it was built on Jung’s type theory and is still widely used today for employment and counseling purposes. This assessment is a self-report test; however, when answered honestly it will give an accurate representation of an individual’s personality and their perception of situations (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). To ensure you get honest answers from a client it always helps if you build positive rapport before administering the test. 

 Within this course we have discussed many assessment tools. These tools are the self-report tests, which include the MMPI, ACT, NEO-PI, MBTI, and the PRF. These tests must be evaluated carefully because the client may enter false information if there is not any kind of positive rapport built with them to establish trust. These tests focus on the perceptions of individual’s and answers are usually rated on a scale. Another useful tool are Q-sort tests, which can be used to evaluate an individual’s relations with others, their concept of themselves, and their overall self-esteem. There are also technological measures that can be used to measure personality biologically. For example, a PET scan can be used to monitor an individual’s reaction to the exposure of something by viewing the active parts of the brain. Lastly, there are projective tests, such as the Rorchach Inkblot, TAT, and Draw-a-person tests. These tests are not used very much today; however, it does assess a person’s perception of pictures, and the draw-a-person method is mostly used with children (Friedman & Schustack, 2012).



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