Carving out his personality

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Senior Member
In the TV series Prison Break, When Sara asks a member of the Company about what they're doing to Michael (her spouse), a woman says: ''They're carving out his personality. That's how they recruit.''

Is ''carving out someone's personality'' an expression? And what does it mean?
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    It's not a set expression.

    It might mean "they're taking raw material and shaping it to create a personality for him" (c.f. Michaelangelo took a block of marble and carved out a statue of David).

    Or it might mean "they're taking him and destroying his personality" (c.f. The boy took a pumpkin to make a Hallowe'en lantern. He carved out the middle and threw it away).

    Which is it? We don't know without more context than you have given us.
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