Self is a person’s essential being that distinguishes them from others, especially considered as the object of introspection or reflections action. The psychology of self is the study of either the cognitive, conative or affective representation of one’s identity or the subject of experience. The earliest formulation of the self in modern psychology derived from the distinction between the self as I, the subjective knower, and the self as me, the object that is known.
Current views of the self in psychology position the self as playing an integral part in human motivation, cognition, affect, and social identity (Bell and Sanford 1902). The self has many facets that help make up integral parts of it, such as self-awareness, self-esteem, self-knowledge, and self-perception. All parts of the self enable people to alter, change, add, and modify aspects of them in order to gain social acceptance in society. “Probably the best account of the origins of selfhood is that the self comes into being at the interface between the inner biological processes of the human body and the sociocultural network to which the person belongs.” (Bernfeld and Siegfried 1944).Others is used to refer to a person or thing that is different or distinct from one already mentioned or known about that, is distinct from different form or opposite to something or one self.
The goal of life is to realize the self. The self is an archetype that represents the transcendence of all opposites, so that every aspect of your personality is expressed equally. You are then neither and both male and female, neither and both ego and shadow, neither and both good and bad, neither and both conscious and unconscious, neither and both an individual and the whole of creation. And yet, with no oppositions, there is no energy, and you cease to act. Of course, you no longer need to act. To keep it from getting too mystical, think of it as a new center, a more balanced position, for your psyche. When you are young, you focus on the ego and worry about the trivialities of the persona. When you are older (assuming you have been developing as you should), you focus a little deeper, on the self, and become closer to all people, all life, even the universe itself. The self-realized person is actually less selfish.
The deconstruction of individual consciousness and exploration of inner space (individuals mind) is approached in Ursula leGuin’s critically acclaimed feminist science fictional novel. The Left Hand Of Darkness. In her novel LeGuin creates a science fictional world in which mental communication is possible and therefore the reconnection to the inner space of others is possible (Le Guin, 1989). LeGuin implies that for all of its benefits a shared consciousness is fraught with danger not only to the self but to the community. Self and the Other runs parallel with the theme of love, because only love can bridge the chasm between aliens and turn the Self and the Other into I and Thou. The concept of the self and Other is a complex one (Le Guin 1980).
In The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir maintains that it is in the human nature of people to treat those who do not belong to their group as “others.” “Otherness,” she writes, “is a fundamental category of human thought,” and “as primordial as consciousness itself.” Thus, people from out of town are “strangers,” those from other countries are “foreigners,” and people from other planets would be “aliens.” Likewise, states de Beauvoir in her philosophical treatise about the condition of women, men treat women as the “Other.”
According to Freud, we are not born with an ego; our sense of “having a self” evolves during infancy and early childhood. According to Freud, our self-concept (our sense of ourselves, including our confidence, our pride, and our sense of attractiveness to others) stems from three sources: the residue of our original primary narcissism, which never fully disappears; our fulfillment of the imagined expectations of our ideal ego (for example, our sense of being “virtuous”; the satisfaction we get when our love is returned to us (Gill, 1959).
Freud seems to imagine early infancy as a realm of existence in which what we desire is fully integrated into what we are, where there is no separation between ego- and object-libido. It is a return to this state, he claims, and that we are striving for in our pursuit of happiness. Returning to his treatment of idealization, Freud suggests that since this ideal (an unattainable) condition is what we are looking for in our sexual and emotional lives, every object of our desire is idealized.
Freud’s central concept is split up into three different parts, and is based on biological and environmental factors. His theory combines “basic human drives and the influence of society”. He divides the self, or personality, into three parts: the id, ego, and superego. The id represents a human’s basic drives, which are present at birth (biological). These drives include hunger, attention, etc.
Because society often opposes the demands of the id, humans develop the ego, which is “a person’s conscious efforts to balance innate pleasure-seeking drives with the demands of society”. It arises as we become aware that we cannot have everything we want; we basically come to understand that certain things are unattainable or wrong, but do not yet fully understand why. When we begin to understand why we can’t have or do certain things, the superego develops (Rieff, 1959). The superego is “the cultural values and norms internalized by an individual”; it is our conscience. The id simply tells one to seek pleasure over pain, or what feels good.
The superego tells them to look past personal desires and to partake in behavior that is appropriate or beneficial for society. These two, the id and superego, are in conflict, and when managed properly by the ego, the result is socially acceptable behavior; one can satisfy their id impulses by compromising them with the superego, a process he calls sublimation. For example, if the id impulse were for aggressive behavior, the superego would say to only do this if it is socially acceptable, and the ego would put the two together to figure out a solution, such as participating in competitive sports (Whyte and Lancelot, 1960). Freud believes that if the conflicts of the id and superego are not balanced in childhood, it could lead to personality disorders later in life, thus negatively affecting a person’s self-image.
Freudian theory sees each individual initially existing in a state of undifferentiating experiencing natural self love, unseparated and not yet distinguishing between self and other.
- Bell, Sanford, A Preliminary Study of the Emotion of Love Between the Sexes. American Journal of Psychology 1902.
- Bernfeld, Siegfried, Freud’s Earliest Theories and the School of Helmholtz. Psychoanalytic Quarterly. 1944.
- Bernfeld, Siegfried Sigmund Freud, M.D.: 1882–1885. International Journal of Psycho-analysis. 1951.
- Cranefield, Paul F. The Organic Physics of 1847 and the Biophysics of Today. Journal of the His tory of Medicine 1957.
- Gill, Merton M. The Present State of Psychoanalytic Theory. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology.1959.
- Le Guin, Ursula K. Dancing at the Edge of the World. New York: Grove Press, 1989.
- Le Guin is quoting Robert F. Heizer and Albert B. Elsasser, The Natural World of the California Indians .Berkeley: 1980. Print.