Oksana Samoshchuk
G.S. Kostiuk Institute of Psychology, National Academy of Educational Sciences of Ukraine
PDF 119-129 (Українська)


personality traits
creative process
psychological impact
Franz Kafka
character of a literary work
zone of illusion

How to Cite



The article presents the results of research on Franz Kafka's personality and oeuvre. The influence of cultural and historical factors on the development of the writer's personality was examined. The period and place of Kafka's residence had signs of social instability and conflict, including such events as the First World War and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. However, the analysis based on autobiographical facts showed that the writer had seemingly a low level of interest in global historical events, and, therefore, the latter had insignificant influence on Kafka’s writing.

The factors that had a significant impact on Kafka’s personality and works were divided into several groups. The micro factors include close social environment and micro events. In these groups, the following facts played a significant role. The most important figure in Kafka's life was his authoritarian and oppressive father. Through their relationship the writer’s main personality traits were developed. Constant acts of psychological tyranny, negative reinforcement of any Kafka’s initiative, including creative writing, and the feeling of guilt regarding everything that Kafka would do, led to the development of shyness, low self-esteem, insecurity, social isolation, permanent fear of the outside world, despondency and continuous unreasonable feeling of guilt. In this relationship, the mother played a role of a buffer, and over time, the son and the father started to communicate only through her. Kafka often endowed the main characters of his works with all of the above features, and portrayed their lives as depressing, sullen and hopeless.

The psychological childhood trauma inflicted by Kafka’s father had substantial consequences, the emotions of its experience were embedded in the storylines of the writer’s novels (e.g. "The Trial", "The Castle"), where the protagonist is under complete control of a higher authority that punishes and humiliates him for unknown reasons.

Although writer's loyal friend, Max Brod, provided psychological support and encouraged him to write, Kafka’s disappointment in his own talent sometimes led to the destruction of manuscripts. Research also revealed that personality characteristics of certain writer’s relatives were portrayed as his characters’ features in the novels, in “The Trial”, for instance.

According to the study, it was found out that although the plot of the main works of Franz Kafka and his characters have fictional decorations and names, the emotions that run through his works have entirely real grounds and the writer experienced them at certain periods of his life.


PDF 119-129 (Українська)


Camus, A. (1990). Nadezhda i absurd v tvorchestve Frantsa Kafki [Hope and the Absurd in the Work of Franz Kafka]. Tvorchestvo i svoboda: statyi, esse, zapisnye knizhki, pp. 110-118. Moskva: Raduga. [in Russian].

Davydenko, G. (2009). Istoriya zarubizhnoi literatury XX stolittia [History of foreign literature of the 20th century]. Кyiv: Centr uchbovoyi literatury. [in Russian]

Kafka, F. (1991). Zamok [The Castle]. Moskva: RIF. [in Russian].

Kafka, F. (1999). Dnevniki Frantsa Kafki [Franz Kafka's Diaries]. Kharkiv: Folio. [in Russian].

Kafka, F. (2006). Perevtilennia [The Metamorphosis]. Kharkiv: Folio.

Kafka, F. (2008). Protses [The Trial]. Kharkiv: Folio.

Karl, F. (1998). In The Struggle Between You and Kafka, Back Yourself. American Imago, 55(2), pp. 189-204. URL:

Korol’kova, O. (2004). Slovo v nemetskoi i avstriyskoi poezii kontsa 19 – nachala 20 vekov [A word about German and Austrian poetry of the turn of the 20th century]. Zbirnyk naukovyh prats’ z filosofii ta filolohii, 2004(6), pp. 301-314. URL:

Librett, J. (2007). "With These Repulsive Things Indissolubly Bound": Kafka as Primal Scene. American Imago, 64(4), pp. 513-533. URL:

Meletinskiy, E. (1976). Poetika mifa [The poetics of myth]. Moskva: Nauka. [in Russian]

Neumarkt, P. (1970). Kafka's "A Hunger Artist": The Ego in Isolation. American Imago, 27(2), pp. 109-121. URL:

Neumeyer, P. (1977). Franz Kafka and the Lie. Journal of Modern Literature, 6(3), pp. 351-365. URL:

Seyppel, J. (1956). The Animal Theme and Totemism in Franz Kafka. American Imago, 13(1), pp. 69-93. URL:

Webster, P. (1951). A Critical Examination of Franz Kafka's "The Castle". American Imago, 8(1), pp. 35-60. URL:

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Copyright Notice

Articles in the Psychological Journal are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License International CC-BY that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal. For more detailed information, please, fallow the link -