We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Origins Of The Concept Of Self

The whole doc is available only for registered users

A limited time offer! Get a custom sample essay written according to your requirements urgent 3h delivery guaranteed

Order Now

Literally, the concept of self concerns itself with the fact that individuals have a certain level of recognition of events and happenings in their immediate environment. The terms himself, herself, myself, and many others actually confine themselves to this concept of self. I n definition therefore we can refer to this term as the totality of all systems concerning an individual with certain opinions and attitudes he or she upholds for personal existence (Purkey, 1988). In his concept of doubt, Rene Descartes , a philosopher of the 17th century argued that if he thinks then he could be sure that he existed. According to his principle of doubt, Descartes suggested that it was a critical portion of developing inquiries about nature. Furthermore, he argued that he did not doubt that he doubted.

By the turn of the 20th century, a psychologist by the name Sigmund Freud came up with his theory of personality in which he demonstrated that internal mental processes determined to a large extent the development of the ‘self’ in an individual.  However, it was his daughter Anna (1946) who came with a clear insight of the theory of personality by describing the development of ego. Self consistency was the second idea brought up by Prescott Lecky (1945) who in his theory suggested that self consistency was and is central as a motivational force in an individual. Shortly after the description of self consistency, Raimy (1948) came up with numerous measures of self concept which he basically applied in sessions of counseling. According to Raimy, psychotherapy is just but a process of altering the process of self perception of an individual.

[1]It has been generally accepted that self conception as the most personal aspect of our human nature is as a result of our daily interaction with our natural environment including our social interaction with others. These interactions with others were expounded on by the famous ‘looking glass theory’ in which, Charles Cooley (1902) reflected appraisals we imagine others hold of us. In his views George Herbert Mead extended this idea that self conception reflects the views of other persons  by proposing  that the self comes from adopting as our own the orientations other people have towards us. As times goes we develop the notion of how other behave towards us. (Ruch, 1975).

[2]According to William James, this social self is only one of the three main components of self. The other two are the material self and the spiritual self. We realize that the our self conception is not a unitary entity, this means that we carry around as many social selves as there are people who recognize us and always maintain our image in their mind. What’s the implication behind this? Here we simply mean that we may end up suffering a deficiency of self by lacking a recognition of others or by even recognizing that the significant image that the society hold of us is a disgusting one and something completely negative.(Ruch, 1975). An employee who is told by his employer that he has ever known him as a lazy employee will most certainly suffer from the later experience. An exception cannot be a student who is told by her mother that she always found her boring, when she had always thought that the mother the mother had always taken her as a serious child whenever she around her. (Weed, 1986).

[3]In addition to the self development brought out as a result of appraisals from other individuals in the society, our concept of self conception comes from labeling with trait names the behavior pattern we have ever observed our selves engage in frequently or intensively. Furthermore, we kind of develop a fix of ourselves by virtue of social comparison processes.   In this case we try to develop the correctness of our ideas, the quality of our of our opinions, the appropriateness of our emotions, and the extent of our ability by comparing them with the behavior of others. Once we develop some self concept we tend to bias the information coming both from our environment and memory to be consistent with that image. Once again the implication behind this is that once we begin thinking highly of ourselves and have positive self esteem, negative feedback is rid or treated as an explanation of rule. On the other hand, once we develop low self esteem, positive feedback does little to change it. This because the negative feedback is taken as an inconsistent exception, whereas any failure or bad experience is readily accommodated as expected evidence.  It is noble to note that our self conception not only our relation with others but our sense of autonomy (because low esteem people are generally conforming than are highs), the goals we aspire to and perhaps the most important, the quality of our private emotional life.


[4]Philosophically, the term self can be described as an entity made up of those essential characteristics making a human being distinct from every other being. Furthermore, it describes an idea of a complete entity which is regarded as the source of one’s consciousness.  Therefore the self is all about the observable characteristics of an individual making the self as an agent through which responsibility for thought and individual’s actions get ascriptions. Therefore, the foregoing explanation of self can only mean that the self can be thought of as a substance which takes through a span of time and that the thoughts and activities happening at different spans are attributed to the self. The methodological problems experienced in the study of the concept of self usually affect the mind and the consciousness. The concept of self also involves the ideas of self- awareness which involves the thought that one understands his or her existence where a being is an individual, living as a separate entity from others with a complete separate mind. At the moment of self consciousness people know themselves as beings. The description can describe self concept, in regard to their own being, as a conceptual or mental awareness. Philosophically, a being poses components attributed to psychological, physical and social aspects.

[5]To bring a close relationship between psychology and philosophy as far as the concept of self is concerned; we study the idea of mind. We realize that psychology and philosophy of the mind are connected but the later is not the former. The difference comes in when we roughly consider psychology as the study of mind and philosophy of mind as striving to understand the mind by carrying out a series of investigations about the mind and the mystery behind its operation. The concept of self comes in because we perceive ourselves as persons and that we are rational beings by virtue of being intelligent, that is, an object in procession of mind which makes it possible for it to think and be able to feel. Therefore, in understanding the mystery behind the mind we in position to understanding ourselves, and even the mystery of what it is to be a person or a human being.


[6]Neurosis: – This occurs when an individual feels threatened by life hazards and inadequate to the task of coping up with them. In this case the ordinary ego defenses we all use are not adequate. With time such a person may end und up relying excessively on one or more neurotic defense patterns. These patterns have in common the search for relief from anxiety. Thus they are characterized by an absence of joy in living and by actions aimed at lessening pain rather than positive accomplishment or the constructive solution of objectively real problems. In essence an individual is driven away from the world of reality and the feeling of self being. Neurosis are viewed as providing temporary solution to the real problem that many people cling on them desperately despite the fact that they do not solve their real problem and may even worsen them. They therefore self defeating in the long run. With more realistic perception there will be no need for this feeling of loss of joy or tortured preoccupation with worries or threats. A normal individual functions as an organized whole and deals with frustrations more effectively.

[7] Shyness: – This psychological trait can be said to be an awareness of one’s inability to take social action when one both wants to and knows how to undertake such programmes. It is therefore a subjective state influenced by the label one attaches to a given set of reaction. Shyness is accompanied by a great deal of isolation from the social environment. Because of the feelings of inadequacy one tends to rid from the common action of the masses. Excessive harsh self-evaluations arise in part from ignorance about the commonness of such social anxiety and also lack of realistic standards against which to judge one’s social behavior (Zimbardo, 1980). The idea of self concept is important here because the feeling of self drives an individual towards the feeling of self confidence.

[8]Michiavalism: – This trait in the self is regarded as the degree to which individuals are manipulative and pragmatic. In the scales that have been developed to measure michiavalism among the members of the population, on one end is the High Machs, people with relative standards of behavior, and at the other end, those who are Machs and have absolute standards. Machiavellians are symbolized by emotional distance and are guided by what they know rationally, rather emotionally. Self concept here is explained in the behaviors of the High Machs who embrace the self confidence in themselves. (Zimbardo, 1980).


The concept of self is most associated with the eating problems, especially among the adolescents in any given population. From many researches that have so far been conducted it has been argued that Eating Attitude Test (EAT) measured problems of eating by studying diet, and Bulimia –food preoccupation. From these findings it was concluded that girls low across the scale were more often than not characterized by high self esteem which was accompanied high self perception attitude. On the other hand, low self esteem and unstable self perception was recorded in girls high on all eat scales. For older members of the community it was found out that Bulimic and dieting tendencies were common.


[9]When talking on the principle of the self-concept we realize people in their daily life have formed theories about themselves –recognizing selves as functional individuals. It is therefore possible to integrate the phenomologists’ ideas about the nature of self –concept.  We recognize this concept as a system of concepts organized in a hierarchy and that it is contained in a broader system of concepts. Furthermore, there several empirical selves contained within a system of whole and this include material self, spiritual self and even the physical and the body self. As we had noted earlier on, the self concept comes from experience, especially experiences accruing from our social life interaction with significant others. Consequensely,  self concept can be regarded as having two major functions in the recognition of our experiences and hence organizing data of the same, and the desire to needs while at the same time avoiding social disapproval of selves.


  1. Dimmitt, J. (1996). Woman Abuse, Assimilation, and Self-Concept in a Rural Mexican American Community. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 18(4), 508-522.
  2. Davies, C., DiLillo, D., & Martinez, I. (2004). Isolating adult psychological correlates of witnessing parental violence: Findings from a predominantly Latina sample. Journal of Family Violence, 6(19), 377-385.
  • Davis, R.C., Erez, E. (1998). Immigrant Populations as Victims: Toward a Multicultural Criminal Justice System. Research in Brief (pp.1-20). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.
  • De Vidas, M. (1999). Childhood sexual abuse and domestic violence: A support group for Latino gay men and lesbians. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, 10(2), 51-68.
  1. Dimmitt, J. (1995). Rural Mexican-American and Non-Hispanic White Women: Effects of Abuse on Self-Concept. Journal of Cultural Diversity, 2(2), 54-63.
  2. Douglas, C. A. (1990 May). Central American Women: Battered in the USA. Off Our Backs, 3 and 7.
  1. Duarte, P. & González, G. (1994). La Lucha Contra la Violencia de Género en México: De Nairobi a Beijing [The Struggle Against Gender Violence in Mexico: From Nairobi to Beijing].
  1. Davila, Yolanda R., Brackley, Margaret H., (1999). Mexican and Mexican American women in a battered women’s shelter: Barriers to condom negotiation for HIV/AIDS prevention. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 20, 333-355.
  1. Armstrong, David M. & Malcolm, Norman (1984). Consciousness and Causality: A Debate on the Nature of Mind.

10  van Gulick, Robert (1983).consciouness Starnford encyclopedia of philosophy.

[1] Van Gulick, Robert (1983).

[2] Dimmitt, J. (1996). Woman Abuse, Assimilation, and Self-Concept in a Rural Mexican American Community. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences

[3] Van Gulick, Robert (1983).

[4] Armstrong, David M. & Malcolm, Norman (1984). Consciousness and Causality: A Debate on the

[5] van Gulick, Robert (1983).consciouness Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy.

[6] Armstrong, David M. & Malcolm, Norman (1984). Consciousness and Causality

[7] Davis, R.C., Erez, E. (1998). Immigrant Populations as Victims: Toward a Multicultural Criminal Justice System. Re

[8] De Vidas, M. (1999). Childhood sexual abuse and domestic violence: A support group for Latino gay men and lesbians

[9] Armstrong, David M. & Malcolm, Norman (1984). Consciousness and Causality: A Debate on the

Related Topics

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay
Materials Daily
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
Free Plagiarism
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Can't find What you were Looking for?

Get access to our huge, continuously updated knowledge base

The next update will be in:
14 : 59 : 59