A Psychological Profile Of Janis Joplin

A Psychological Profile Of Janis Joplin

“The greater the feeling of inferiority which has been experienced, the more powerful is usually the urge to conquest in addition to the more violent the emotional agitation.” —Alfred Adler

A Psychological Profile Of Janis Joplin

Biographical Overview

A Psychological Profile Of Janis Joplin

Janice Joplin was born January 19, 1943 in Port Arthur Texas to Seth in addition to Dorothy Joplin. Janice was the first born child in a family which might eventually include a sister Laura, who was born 6 years later, in addition to a brother Michael, who was born 10 years later. Janice’s early family life was relatively normal, in addition to as a child she was exceptionally curious in addition to bright. Janice often made up stories as a child in addition to began writing plays while inside first grade, in addition to even at a very young age her creative talent seemed to be developing.

A Psychological Profile Of Janis Joplin

One early story recounted in Myra Friedman’s (1973) book on Janis, recounts how Seth might take the Janis in addition to eventually her siblings down to the post office to look at the pictures of the wanted men as a form of entertainment. Given Janis’s later utter in addition to total disregard for the law in addition to conventionality in her life, one wonders if Janis didn’t develop some kind of sympathy for the “outlaw” through these early experiences, as she certainly began to view herself as existing outside of the bounds of normal society.

A Psychological Profile Of Janis Joplin

In Janis’s words, “The whole world turned on me” when she entered High School, in addition to these years seemed to have an especially profound influence on Janis as well as her later work. Port Arthur was in many ways a rough in addition to even violent city, in addition to as a port town had many bars in addition to houses of prostitution to service the men who came to work there. Janis witnessed extreme racism while growing up in Port Arthur, in addition to her tolerance in addition to acceptance of people through some other races quickly earned her the nickname “nigger lover” which was one of many which she might eventually acquire in Port Arthur. During This particular period Janis also gained weight in addition to developed bad skin, in addition to she was often also called a “pig” by the some other children inside school.

A Psychological Profile Of Janis Joplin

Following High School Janice enrolled at Lamar State College which she found was much like her High School in Port Arthur, as she again experienced a great deal of rejection here in addition to eventually dropped out. With her parent’s blessing, Janis moved to Los Angeles to live with one of her aunts. Janis eventually moved out of her aunt’s home into a place of her own in Venice Beach in addition to the item was during This particular trip which she began to seriously use drugs including heroin. Having nearly died during her experiences in Venice Beach, Janice again returned to Port Arthur, in addition to eventually decided to return to school, This particular time at the University of Texas in Austin.

A Psychological Profile Of Janis Joplin

the item was during This particular period of her life where Janis began performing seriously as a musician. She had discovered the blues through listening to records by Odetta in addition to Bessie Smith, in addition to Janis showed an amazing ability to imitate these singers, which was a lifelong talent she had developed even as a young girl. Janis might often play in coffeehouses in addition to some other campus spots around Austin, in addition to the item was during these formative years where she was able to put together her blues, folk, in addition to rock influences into her own integrated in addition to unique sound. Janis’s favorite place to play was the legendary Threadgill’s where she became close friends with owner Ken Threadgill who was a very positive force in Janis’s life.

Although Austin included many more anti-establishment types than Port Arthur, Janis was still ridiculed in addition to mocked at the University of Texas, in addition to her sense of inferiority as a result of This particular reached its pinnacle when she was nominated for the “Ugliest Man on Campus” award while attending school in Austin. This particular was the final blow to Janis in Texas, in addition to shortly after This particular even she packed her bags in addition to moved to San Francisco to pursue a career as a singer.

Janis moved to Haight Ashbury in 1966 which at the time was the epicenter of the 1960’s. Bands such as the Grateful Dead in addition to the Jefferson Airplane were also coming up at This particular time, in addition to the music in addition to freedom made the Haight inside 1960’s for many a magical time in addition to place to be. Janis found an incredible sense of belonging with Big Brother during This particular time, in addition to their early work as a band represented the raw energy in addition to improvisational nature of rock in addition to Roll which people were beginning to take notice of.

Janice soon began to outshine Big Brother however, in addition to although they were a highly energetic live band, their improvisational style did not translate well in recording sessions. Janice on the some other hand took a great interest inside recording sessions, in addition to was committed to recording an album which demonstrated Big Brother’s in addition to more importantly her own unique style. With Albert’s encouragement, Janice eventually left Big Brother, in addition to This particular act was seen by many inside band, as well as many of Janice’s personal friends, as an act of selfish betrayal.

Janice next formed the Kosmic Blues Band, which she spelled which has a K in honor of Franz Kafka, who was one of the many novelists which Janice loved to read. The band was supposed to mark a return to Janice’s blues roots, however her first gig in Memphis, a city rich inside blues tradition, was a disaster as the fresh band received a very lukewarm response through the Memphis crowd. During her time with Kosmic Blues, Janice, already a regular heavy drug user became more enamored of Heroin. Janice’s Heroin use continued to enhance throughout her time with the Kosmic Blues band, in addition to by the time the item came to play at Woodstock inside summer of 1969 she was most likely addicted to the drug. In one particularly disgusting story, Janice’s friend in addition to lover Peggy Caserta (who might later go on to write “Going down with Janis” recounts how Janis snuck into the portable toilets to shoot Heroin prior to her performance at Woodstock. In any case Janice’s performance at Woodstock was not thought to be one of her best, in addition to the item was at This particular juncture of her career where her Heroin abuse in addition to continued heavy drinking seemed to adversely begin affecting her music.

Realizing which the Kosmic Blues band was not working, Janice also left This particular band, in addition to inside last year of her life formed her final band which was known as Full Tilt Boogie. the item was also during This particular period which Janice formed a friendship with Kris Kristopherson who might eventually become her lover, in addition to who also wrote Janis’s seminal hit Me in addition to Bobby McGee which is usually the song she is usually most known for today. During This particular last phase of her life, Janice began referring to herself as “Pearl” which to her represented the tough- talking highly sexed festive side of her nature.

One significant event which occurred at the end of her life was Janice’s ten year High-School reunion. Janis announced her plans to attend the reunion on the Dick Cavett show while also telling the host Dick Cavett which during her time at Port Arthur which her classmates “laughed me out of class, out of town in addition to out of the state, man”. Janis wanted to return to Port Arthur to show those which had picked on her in addition to ostracized her which she had made the item after all, while also still craving acceptance through the town which she thought her fame might bring her. Janis was drunk most of the time during the reunion, in addition to because she had made several negative remarks about the town inside national press, her visit did not achieve what she had hoped, in addition to Just as before she left Port Arthur feeling rejected in addition to unloved.

Upon returning to San Francisco Janice’s Heroin usage had increased significantly, in addition to the item was also during This particular time which she met in addition to quickly became engaged to a man named Seth Morgan who was through a wealthy east coast family. By all accounts Seth was a dishonorable man, in addition to his stormy relationship with Janis did not appear to be based on any kind of fidelity through either party. During Janis’s last months in San Francisco she also reconnected with Peggy Caserta whose appetite for Heroin nearly matched Janis’s. Peggy in addition to many others of Janice’s friends continued to use Heroin with her in her last month, however Janice was using the drug alone in a seedy hotel when she eventually died through an overdose on October 4th 1970.

Janis’s death deeply saddened her friends as well as her fans, however many, including Janice herself, did not expect her to live a particularly long life. Her rampant alcohol in addition to Heroin use had set her on a collision course with death which seemed inevitable, in addition to with This particular in mind, many people considered the idea which Janice Joplin’s death was not in fact an accident however rather a suicide. While a coroner’s report showed which the Heroin Janice had used which night was especially pure, one can certainly speculate which Janis Joplin contributed greatly to her own demise. Despite the fact her death was eventually ruled an accident, the item is usually clear which Janis Joplin’s sad in addition to unhappy life ended as a direct result of her own actions.


Gender Role Preparation perceived through Gender Guiding Lines in addition to Role products

One of the ways a child makes his or her way inside earth begins with an acceptance or a rejection of their gender guiding lines. In This particular regard, Janis Joplin’s relationship with her mother becomes fascinating to analyze, as Janice in addition to her mother’s interactions were often characterized by a battle of wills in addition to a great deal of turbulence. Janis’s mother, who was a Sunday school teacher, expected Janis to conform to the rules, wear dresses like the some other little girls, while also generating the family proud with her accomplishments. In This particular regard Mrs. Joplin had high expectations for her daughter concerning both conformity in addition to accomplishment, in addition to This particular seemed to send a mixed message to Janis which affected her future ambitions in addition to desires.

Despite Janis’s rejection of the maternal guiding line, she did identify strongly with her father who was an intellectual man who enjoyed reading in addition to was much more accepting in addition to permissive of Janis than her mother. Janis seems to have strongly identified with her father instead of her mother, in addition to This particular speaks directly to her eventual embrace of many more traditionally masculine qualities in her life.

Janis eventually almost totally in addition to completely rejected her mother’s wishes which she be like the some other girls, in addition to therefore rejected the female guiding line inside family which also seemed to have an effect on her sexuality. Although Janis talked a few times of achieving married life which has a “white picket fence” she found belonging by wearing pants in addition to acting like one of the boys, in addition to for Janis This particular included sleeping with by her own account “a couple of hundred” women throughout her life, including one in her High School years.

Much has been made of Janis’s sexuality, in addition to one feminist writer attributed Janis’s drug use in addition to lifelong pain as resulting through being unable to fully come out in addition to experience life as her lesbian self. In essence she made Janis a martyr for lesbian causes, in addition to This particular idea is usually provocative in addition to interesting to consider with regard to Janis. the item certainly must have been difficult for Janis to reject the feminine guiding line inside family without the item having some affect on her sexuality, in addition to therefore the item seems highly plausible which Janis may have been predominantly attracted to some other women. On the some other hand Janis did also sleep which has a great many more men than women in her life, however her inability to sustain lasting relationships with these men may speak directly to Janis’s confused in addition to even tormented sexual feelings. Although she often bragged about her conquests with men, one could see This particular as a dramatic overcompensation for her lesbian feelings, as well as a compensation for her rejection by the boys of Port Arthur when she was young. As a star Janice spoke often about her increased access to “pretty young boys” in addition to one wonders if her often false bravado when speaking about men may have simply been attempts to deal with feelings of childhood rejection in addition to inferiority.

When children reject their parental guiding lines, they may often turn to role products to guide them. In Janis’s case because such a role type was not available in Port Arthur, she found This particular guidance through emulating in addition to studying the music of Bessie Smith, who had died several years before Janis was born. Bessie Smith was in addition to is usually one of the most influential Blues singers in American history in addition to Janis felt a kinship with the blues where she was drawn not just to the music however also to the sadness in addition to pathos which produced the music. Janis remarked often throughout her career which singing the blues required suffering, in addition to Janis used This particular belief to justify in addition to rationalize her Heroin abuse.

Janice did draw strength through visualizing the blues singers which had come before her however, in addition to the anguish in addition to pain in her voice while she was singing appeared to be a true representation of Janis’s often tortured life. Much like the Blues singers she was emulating, Janis did use music to make sense of painful feelings, in addition to the power in addition to influence of Blues singers like Bessie Smith provided for Janis a roadmap of how to process these feelings. Bessie Smith was in fact such a powerful influence on her, which Janis contributed half the money for Bessie Smith’s memorial so she could be properly honored in addition to remembered.

Interpersonal Style perceived through Experience of Family Atmosphere

One thing which Janice seems to have inherited through her mother was a sense of frugality which Dorothy had developed through her experiences seeing her family farm lost to the depression. Janice was not particularly generous with money over the course of her career, in addition to despite her blatant disregard for the rules, friends who went through Janice’s possessions (Friedman 1973) following her death found several “meticulously organized checkbooks, all balanced to the penny.” Janice also always scoured for the cheapest item when she was grocery shopping, in addition to might spend extra time comparing differences in cost on items although money was genuinely no object in This particular instance. Considering Janice’s otherwise highly disruptive life, This particular seems almost miraculous, in addition to certainly speaks to the fact which Janice respected at least some of her family’s established values.

Another instance where Janice seems to have rejected her mother’s guidance was inside area of spirituality, where Dorothy who was a Sunday school teacher, tried to instill in her children ideas consistent with conventional morality. Janice wildly rejected This particular idea, in addition to adopted an extremely hedonistic attitude where if something felt Great to her she was quick to do the item. Janice often expressed This particular philosophy of the immediate throughout her life, in addition to This particular ran directly opposed to the family’s religious convictions which there was a life after This particular one where we received our final rewards.

The family’s experiences with music are also important to consider with regard to Janis’s interpersonal style. At one time Dorothy was such a talented singer which she received a full scholarship for her musical abilities to Texas Christian University. Dorothy continued to sing inside church choir when Janis was little, in addition to the family had a piano to celebrate Dorothy’s love of music. When Janis was young Dorothy had one of her vocal cords severed in an accident during a surgery, in addition to Dorothy could no longer sing as a result of This particular experience. Seth then sold the piano in addition to This particular seemed to convey an unusual message to Janis about music, in addition to may have a relationship to Janis’s fear, repeated often throughout her career, which she might loose her voice in addition to therefore her career.

Janice’s eventual embrace of music could be interpreted a couple of different ways. First, which she carried on the family torch passed down through Dorothy, or second, which she took to music because the item was something her mother could no longer do. Considering how stormy the relationship was between Janis in addition to her mother, in addition to the fact which Seth sold the piano because the item was too painful to have around for Dorothy, the item seems possible to speculate which Janis’s music was in some ways a reaction against her mother. The kind of music Janis did go on to produce was certainly far different than the music Dorothy studied in school in addition to perhaps Janice’s embrace of music could be interpreted as both an ode to, as well as a reaction against, Dorothy’s love of music.

Perspective on the earth perceived through Experience of Psychological Birth Order

Janis was the first born child in a family of three, in addition to This particular also influenced her perspective on the earth. First born children are often the responsible in addition to conservative children inside family, in addition to can become in many ways like second parents to the some other children. In Janis’s first 6 years of life she behaved much like you might expect an oldest child to behave, as her mother reports she learned to sit in addition to cut her food in addition to eat in addition to talk like an adult at a very early age with amused in addition to surprised Dorothy. Janice was also very well-behaved in addition to had excellent manners, in addition to her mother reports which her behavior was nearly beyond correction in these early years.

Things changed when Laura was born when Janice was six, as not only was Janis right now dethroned as the only child, however Laura had health complications which took up even more of her mother’s attention. Interestingly Janis did not at This particular time become a jealous in addition to overbearing sibling, however instead became very attentive to Laura in addition to cared for as a kind of surrogate parent.

A fascinating switch inside psychological birth order perspective did happen later however, when Janis began to get jealous which Laura appeared to do things which met her mother’s high expectations whereas Janis consistently let her down. Children often find belonging in families by engaging in behaviors which are different than their siblings. inside case of the Joplin’s This particular happened much later when Janis was in High School, where Janis was right now finding belonging as the misbehaving child where Laura assumed the role of the responsible one. Normally This particular dynamic is usually exactly reversed, however inside Joplin’s case Laura right now assumed the vantage point of the first born child in addition to Janis as the reckless in addition to wild second born.

This particular pattern continued throughout the rest of their lives, as during her periods of conservative behavior Janis might often ask for Laura’s assistance picking out the proper clothes in addition to seek her advice on style in addition to some other matters. Although Laura was six years younger, she seemed to eventually surpass Janis emotionally as well, in addition to her story is usually very much intertwined with Janis’s even today. Laura eventually earned a PHD in education in addition to became a motivational speaker. She also wrote a book called Love, Janis which provided letters Janis had written home to the family throughout her career, in addition to This particular book, which was later made into a Broadway production, helped a lot of people reach a greater understanding of Janis Joplin’s inner world.

Self Assessment perceived through Genetic Possibilities

the item is usually impossible to talk about Janis Joplin without talking about her physical appearance, as This particular was at the root of a great deal of Janis’s inferiority in addition to perhaps even a partial explanation for her extreme talent. Although Janis was by all accounts an average looking girl growing up, she went through a particularly awkward stage in High School where she gained weight in addition to also developed skin problems. In Texas inside 1950’s This particular must have been particularly difficult, as beauty was certainly a cherished value for women in This particular time in addition to place, in addition to a person’s self-worth could easily become tied to their appearance which seems to have happened to Janice. Rather than attempt to play a game she felt she could not succeed at, Janice instead chose to respond inside exact opposite manner, in addition to she made her personal appearance a very low priority.

This particular is usually classic safeguarding behavior where a person creates a sense of rejection themselves before others have a chance to reject them. In Janis’s case she might put on a brave front when others might call her a “pig” in High School, however then go home in addition to cry about This particular rejection. the item must have particularly painful for Janis to be nominated for “Ugliest Man on Campus” while at the University of Texas, as This particular was a place where she had finally found some belonging in addition to had experienced some success as a singer.

Being constantly rejected for her appearance, Janis only felt beautiful in her life when she was performing. the item was on the stage where her wild sexuality in addition to charisma finally shined, in addition to This particular for Janis meant the stage became the only place where she every truly felt accepted. Janice spent the rest of her life following High School chasing the “pretty boys” in addition to This particular seems to be overcompensation for the rejection she felt through the well-liked boys both in High School as well as at the University of Texas. She made much of her one night stand with fresh York Jets quarterback Joe Namath, even announcing their affair over the microphone while doing a fresh York concert, in addition to also bragged about sleeping with Jim Morrison, Dick Cavett, in addition to many some other men which may have been simply further attempts to prove which she was indeed wanted by the “well-liked” crowd.

This particular certainly seemed to be a large part of her motivation to return to her High School reunion where she hoped to show those which had rejected her how she had made the item. When Janis was again rejected at her High School reunion the item seemed to bring all of her intense feelings of inferiority back to the surface, in addition to have at least some relationship to her final in addition to fatal Heroin binge.

the item is usually also interesting to consider Janis’s engagement to Seth Morgan with regard to the timing of her reunion. Seth, whose east coast pedigree led Janis to believe which he was in fact one of the “well-liked” boys she had always sought after had also assured Janis he did not want any of her money, in addition to even signed an agreement which assured This particular. For Janis This particular may have been a last grasp at fitting in in addition to dealing with the feelings of inferiority her reunion stirred up, in addition to a final attempt at finding the belonging which she so desperately craved.

Openings for Advancement Perceived through Environmental Opportunities

the item is usually impossible to attempt an understanding of Janis Joplin without also understanding the times she came of age in. The 1960’s was a period of great revolution in addition to change, in addition to provided the perfect backdrop for Janis to unharness her raw energy in addition to power through her music. Prior to the 60’s women had no such opportunity, in addition to the classic type of the Rosemary Clooney type lounge singer was a paradigm which Janis helped change in addition to recreate for many future generations. The fact which Janis came along concurrently at the height of the woman’s movement was also significant, as she became for many a symbol for women’s sexual freedom in addition to experimentation which had previously been taboo. Had Janis come along in another era, her brazen sexuality might not have been well received, in addition to Janis was a direct benefactor of as well as a contributor to, the women’s movement.

Range of Social Interest perceived through some other Particularities

In Adlerian psychology, a person’s mental health can be measured by examining a person’s social interest in some other human beings. In Janis Joplin’s case her early inferiority produced such violent insecurity which she had a very difficult time getting close to others in addition to maintaining intimacy in her personal relationships. Although Janis was often taken advantage of by others in her life, she relished in thinking of herself as a victim as the item confirmed her existing feelings about herself.

For Janis the circumstances of her life must have contributed greatly to her confusion about some other people’s motives concerning their feelings for her. Before she was famous she was mocked in addition to ridiculed by nearly everyone she came into contact with, excepting a few select friends she made along the way. She felt inferior in her home life in addition to which she wasn’t living up to her mother’s expectations as to what a woman should be. Then when she became famous suddenly the whole world took an intense interest in her, in addition to the item is usually easy to see why she might doubt the motivations behind This particular interest given her prior experiences.

No where was This particular more evident than at Janis’s reunion where she wanted to show the people who had mocked her how important she had become, while also badly seeking their acceptance. For Janis the Thomas Wolfe axiom which “You can’t go home again” seemed especially appropriate, in addition to all of these conflicting cognitions in addition to emotions must have created a great deal of psychic turmoil in Janis which she numbed by using Heroin.

In This particular regard, Janis remarked to Myra Friedman (1973) which “her only true friends were the junkies she used to hang out with” in addition to This particular is usually a telling statement which speaks directly to the fact which drug addicts often gravitate to each some other in a kind of shared misery. The fact which Janis made This particular remark seems to confirm her low opinion of herself, in addition to how This particular low opinion affected her interactions with others. Because Janis was so in need of love through others, she surrounded herself with sycophants who might often tell her whatever she wanted to hear, which was a fact Janis was well aware of.

Although many singers through This particular era including Janis’s one time lover Country Joe McDonald became very involved in political causes inside 60’s, Janice’s message seemed to be more about freedom through breaking off the shackles which society imposed. Perhaps because the 60’s were such a time of freedom, many serious addictions such as Janis’s were overlooked under the guise of free living. The dream of Timothy Leary in addition to others like him which drugs could be a mind expanding tool has not been realized, in addition to many such as Janis developed severe in addition to pathological addictions as a result of This particular idea. This particular was the paradox of the pairing of drugs in addition to freedom, as, although the drugs were meant to free a person’s mind, they often made them virtual slaves to their addictions as was the case in Janis Joplin’s life.


Janis Joplin’s life was clearly very sad, in addition to demonstrates the pathology in addition to sadness which exists in someone who, despite achieving considerable wealth in addition to fame, never learns to overcome feelings of inferiority towards the self. Alfred Adler’s quote “The greater the feeling of inferiority which has been experienced, the more powerful is usually the urge to conquest in addition to the more violent the emotional agitation” seems especially relevant to Janis’s life. In many ways Janis positively channeled in addition to compensated for her feelings of inferiority through her work on the stage, however when the music was over Janis was always left with the same uncomfortable feelings. Several of the books on Janis’s life describe how despondent she might be following a performance, in addition to This particular may be because the stage was the only place she truly found the love in addition to acceptance she so desperately craved.

Many factors contributed to Janis’s inferiority, in addition to the stars all aligned in a very unique way to create the life which was Janis Joplin’s. Her early in addition to continued rejection by the some other children, particularly in High School created a lifetime of negative feelings about her physical appearance, in addition to these feelings were probably exacerbated through her interactions with her mother who wanted her to be more like the some other children. Because Janis was not like the some other girls, she assumed many masculine traits, in addition to somewhere along the way her feelings about sexuality became very confused. Although there is usually significant evidence to demonstrate a genetic link to homosexuality, there are also almost certainly environmental factors which can contribute to This particular, in addition to Janis Joplin’s life seemed to be an excellent example.

Despite Janis’s sexually ambivalent feelings, she many times remarked about a mythical “white picket fence” kind of life which she longed for which might bring her some consistency in addition to stability. however Janice was also terrified of giving up her stardom, as This particular was also the only thing she had to cling to which gave her a sense of accomplishment in life. She had created the “Pearl” image in addition to right now she had to consistently live up to the item, in addition to This particular required a pace which no one could possibly maintain.

Janice was also a product of her times, as more than any some other decade before or since, the 1960’s were a time of great change, paradigm shifts, in addition to revolution, in addition to Janis helped define these times while also being swept away by them. The music of the 60’s reflected a large break in society where kids were anticipated to “never trust anyone over 30” which never quite considered what happened when they reached 30. For Janis, her reckless lifestyle, intense feelings of self-loathing, in addition to raging feelings of inferiority eventually overwhelmed her, in addition to her death at the age of 27 was truly tragic considering the further contributions she may have gone on to make.

A Psychological Profile Of Janis Joplin