The Concept of Self

The Concept of Self

The Concept of Self

The Concept of Self

Excerpt

Of all the topics that draw students to the study of human behavior none is more compelling than self-interest. Human motivation is basically narcissistic, and self-understanding is a major means of avoiding pain and achieving pleasure. We have all heard the voices, “I wonder why I said that,” “I just don’t know why she doesn’t like me,” “I just can’t seem to get myself going,” “How can you love me with all my faults,” “This just doesn’t feel like the real me,” and “I feel so wretched about myself that I just don’t care anymore.” In each of the voices the pivotal concern with “self” is clear. To understand who one is may provide answers to why one is loved or hated, why one succeeds or fails, why one feels whole and intact or fragmented and artificial, and so on.

The quest for self-understanding is usually a haphazard one—a glimpse of “reality” emerges here, a sudden insight occurs there, and in between the person stumbles through the disconnected and ambiguous events of daily life. In part this occurs because he is not trained to observe; he is unsystematic and does not utilize the appropriate tools. The present volume attempts to furnish the means for better self-understanding. It will provide concepts with which the flux can hopefully be rendered more coherent; it will provide arguments about the nature of “self” that are often grounded in empirical evidence. And it will point to critical issues in the process of self-understanding that should focus the search and increase its yield for the individual.

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