Self as a determinant


Self is the proprium, or the body senses. Proprium: (Allport) the aspects of personality forming the integrated unity that constitutes the individual’s uniqueness and sense of individuality. It is awareness on the part of the individual of one’s, identity, continuity, striving, and image.When we learn to distinguish between self and non-self. It is defined as “me,” “I,” or “self.” The self-structure becomes the integrating core of the personality. According to Coleman,”Problems that arise are perceived, thought about, and acted upon in relation to the self; that is, we come to perceive our self as an active agent in determining our own behavior.”

“In the ELBS edition of Oxford Dictionary one example is given under the meaning of nature 2, that is,”Man is engaged in a constant struggle with nature”. Huxley (1953) also had explained in other words the same thing, “Human life is a struggle-against frustration, ignorance, suffering, evil, the maddening inertia of things in general; but it is also a struggle for something…..And fulfillment seems to describe better than any other single word the positive side of human development and human evolution-the realization of inherent capacities by the individual and of new possibilities by the race; the satisfaction of needs, spiritual as well as material; the emergence of new qualities of experience to be enjoyed; the building of personalities.”

Fundamental to determining are some basic assumptions. It is called cognitive map or frame of reference . It is one`s guide as it includes one`s views of what an individual is, what the individual might become, what’s important to the individual. It is called self-identity: What one knows and what one believes, what one holds dear and what one reveres. It is also the source of many of our vulnerabilities, many of these can predispose one to abnormal behavior. Things of our cognitive map may be valid, some invalid; what is true for us but not for others; it may be due to others are more or less explicit and conscious. Many decisions and behaviors are shaped by our frame of reference but we remain quite unaware of the basic assumptions or even of having taken assumptions. In other words, a thought comes in our mind that we are simply” taking things the way they are.”It occurs because of our cognitive map or frame of reference that our perception make us unthinkable of other pictures of the world that might be possible or that other rules for “right” also exist. In this way, many of our thoughts,actions, and feelings take into account the internalized rules and ways of seeing things.

Principles or rules

There are various aspects of the self that are considered as principles or rules. The individual makes use of these principles or rules for processing information, for organizing one`s harsh or unjust experience. To a large extent these principles or rules are “invisible”. The individual looks “through” these principles or rules rarely as these are once established it may become hard to identify or difficult to deliberately change the same. Moreover, new experience tends to be assimilated after interpretation or distortion to make new experience fit. The individual tends to cling to existing assumptions, why because, accommodation or to incorporate discrepant information-is more difficult and threatening, especially, when very important assumptions are challenged.

The self becomes very core of existence. That’s why, ego-defense mechanisms give rise to adequacy and are worth to defend oneself from self-devaluation. The assumptions about reality, possibility and value give way to a sense of self-identity and self-ideal. A serious inner conflict between “real” and “ideal” selves may arise if there is unclear self-identity or a marked discrepancy between the two. The pattern of assumptions remain behind the consistency in perceiving, thinking, feeling, and acting to make it a lifestyle. The assumptions not only serve as guides to behavior but as inner controls. A socialized person who has inner controls strong and direct one’s behavior as per expectations and norms of the society is called normal as value assumptions may or may not encourage to steal or behave in unethical ways. An increasing sense of Self-direction is achieved.

Development of the self

The inner and outer determinants pave the way for growth in a predictable sequence and characteristic direction as differentiation, integration, and complexity in a favorable environment and individual`s learning essential information and competencies along the lines maintain progression. The principles or rules in mental organization of the self were acquired appropriately are neither assured nor these are trivial as a determinant.

1.Developmental stages and tasks. According to psychologists human development depends on a definite sequence not only in physical and motor development but also in intellectual, emotional and social development. It is important to know that certain tasks or competencies must be specialized at each stage of development. If these are not mastered at the appropriate stage the individual is led to immaturities and incompetencies. There may occur a serious disadvantage in adjustment at later developmental levels. Therefore one becomes increasingly vulnerable to failures in psychosocial requirements. The developmental tasks are set by the individual oneself because of needs, physical and social environment. These tasks are different for various socio-economic and sociocultural groups.

2.The crucial roles of maturation and learning. The built-in maturational processes require an order in progression of development if the favorable environmental conditions are given. The critical periods in development occur, in that, certain types of stimulation and learning are essential. Biological development may be hindered if adequate stimulation is absent. It is the same for psychosocial development. Early deprivation gives way to mental retardation, inability to form warm interpersonal relationships, and antisocial behavior.

Requirements and needs of the self

The psychological requirements are greater than the biological requirements. A common core of psychological strivings in relation to maintenance and actualization exists.The requirements for food, water, sleep, and the like are more readily identified than the psychological requirements. One should note that disruptions or blocking of any of psychological strivings can make more vulnerable to abnormal behavior. Basic core of psychological strivings are as under:

1.Understanding, order, and predictability. The individual strives to know the meaning of one`s world. It is essential for evaluating new situations and deciding adjustive actions. Intelligent response depends on capability to see order and predictability.No One likes ambiguity, lack of structuring, chaos, or the things that seem beyond the individual’s understanding and control.

2. Adequacy, competence, and security. If one is to deal with life’s problem the need to feel capable must be fulfilled. If one is incapable of coping with a stressful situation it may cause confusion and disorganization. Feeling of adequacy is dependent on the intellectual, social, and other skills to deal with demands. The need for security is related to the need for adequacy.

3.Love, belonging, and approval. Healthy personality development and adjustment need love or to be loved. Needs for love, belonging and approval describe the nature and effects of the “silent treatment”. The need for close ties to other individuals keeps continue throughout life.

4.Self-esteem, worth, and identity. Need to feel good about oneself is very much important. One must be worthy of the respect of others. It is one’s sense of self-identity as it is influenced by “significant others”.

5.Values, meaning, and hope. The individuals who are unable to find satisfying value patterns are “planless”, or lack hope. Values, meaning, and hope if present energy is mobilized, competencies develop and used and satisfaction is achieved. Devoid of them life seems futile.

6.Personal growth and fulfillment. The individual strives to maintain oneself and survive. To express oneself, to improve, to grow- to get one`s potentialities are other strivings. The strivings for fulfillment are different for different individuals. It depends on one’s ability, values, and life situations.

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Next post: Motivation and behavior.

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