Explorable.com is a website that allows anyone to publish essays (?) or short informative pieces. I chose this piece because it sets up “pop” interpretations of “self-concept” – which are made possible by the “conceptual sloppiness” of the original theorists. I would guess this is from a psych major, or perhaps a high school student.
How Do You See Yourself?
Self-concept, strictly defined, is the totality of our beliefs, preferences, opinions and attitudes organized in a systematic manner, towards (about?) our personal existence. Simply put, it is how we think of ourselves and how we should think, behave and act out our various life roles. WOW! Bizarre but true in this person’s mind. Note the “prescriptive social” nature of SELF, especially when one’s opinion of “self” is at odds to that of society: “should think and behave” negates the “Self” in self-concept. “Organized…” Hmm. What the F—? Are we arranging our shoe collection?
The self is perhaps the most complex unit to study in psychology. (Not the actual self, that is, if it even exists, but a “psychological” construct) Each of us have different personality, traits, abilities and preferences that sometimes we cannot understand what is really going on inside of us. While we may not be able to exactly explain why we think this way, or why do we behave in that manner, the self-concept theory is a good foundational knowledge on the importance of our perceptions towards our personal existence. Odd. Very odd. What theory? Nowhere is the “theory” laid out. Or is the theory that we have a theory that “self-concept” exists.
History of the Self-Concept Theory
(what follows is not much of a history -)
In order for us to study this theory, we need to know first the history of the development of self-concept theory. The earliest milestone in the self-concept theory is that of Rene Descartes, who proposed that a person’s existence depended on how he perceives so. (Typical American memorization without grasping the “meaning”) Sigmund Freud, one of the most prominent psychologists (psychiatrist) proposed many theories that talk about our internal mental processes (as opposed to external mental processes?) His theory holds that we have 3 main aspects within us, the id (pleasure-oriented), ego (balance between id and superego) and the superego (conscience-driven) which may influence the way we think of ourselves. No matter how long and hard one looks, one will never find “id, ego and superego” inside or outside of a human body. These are word concepts that can not be “tested” or “proven” by the scientific method. So why do we “believe” that they exist? Will we ever rid ourselves of this “supernatural” dichotomy of projecting “inside and outside” spaces that our brains may occupy?
Aspects of Self-Concept Theory
The self-concept theory holds many assumptions about our personal judgment towards our selves. Here are some of them: These are not “personal” judgements, rather, “proposals” about how imaginary mental states operate. Imaginary, because no one can prove the “authenticity” of “Self”. Recognizing oneself in a mirror is not exactly stringent – what exactly is one responding to?
- Self-concept is learned.
One of the very basic assumptions of this theory is that no person is born with a self-concept. Self-concept is believed to develop as a person grows old. (!!!) This means that our perceptions towards our selves can be shaped and can be altered, and can also be affected by environmental factors. In this sense, self-concept is actually a product of socialization and development. A person may have a perception of himself different from what other people thinks of him. For example, an individual feels that he is generous while others see him as a selfish person. SO – “Self-concept” is an opinion that may or may not reflect reality (correlation with one’s actual behavior, or is it correlation to social opinion about one’s behavior?) Welcome to the non-quantifiable or describable neurotypical universe, which quickly devolves into interpersonal struggle for dominance.
- Self-Concept is organized.
A person may have numerous views of himself. He may think that he is kind, patient, loving and caring, or selfish, cruel, rude and stubborn. No matter how many different perceptions you have on yourself, still, there is one perception that facilitates all of these insights, causing one organized self-concept. When a person believes something that is congruent to his self-concept, it is more likely that he would resist changing that belief. He tends to stick to his present view of himself for quite a long time, and changing this perception of his self may take too long, but change is feasible. WOW! That “organized” thing again. Aren’t we clever! Now “self-concept” is a measure of neatly arranged “beliefs”. We also see the egregious abracadabra of transforming fleeting behaviors (a kind act, a rude act) as “Objects” that make up the “Self” – useful to perpetual involvement in socially-driven self-torture.
- Lastly, self-concept is dynamic.
As a person faces different situations and new challenges in his life, his insight towards himself may constantly change depending on the way he responds to such life changes. We see things (interpret) depending on our self-concept. We behave according to how we see ourselves in a situation. Therefore, self-concept is a continuous development wherein we tend to let go of the things and ideas that are not congruent to our self-concept, and we hold on to those that we think are helpful in building a more favorable perception of our personal existence. Oh dear! American education strikes again. Grammar is a tool that is necessary to constructing “verbal meaning” – Instead we have “nonsense inflation” – the awkward use of “academic language” instead of the use of concepts and words that express ideas simply and directly.
What a tyranny we have made of “SELF-CONCEPT”
I’m so happy to know that Carl Rogers really, really liked himself! LOL