Self the Concept of Self Research Paper

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The key to flexibility of motivation is intrinsically conflicting motivational structures. The self as defined by Jung is the core or central component that keeps these opposing forces operating as an integrated whole. To what closing stages does this process manage? It was formed by evolution and so survival is the architect but it is survival not just of the next generation but into an unclear future. The self as described by Jung is the psychic image of this limitless potential for prospect development. For itself it focuses on the various dimensions of human functioning that put in to survival including ingenuity in all its forms.

Sensing the self as something irrational, as an impalpable existent, to which the ego is neither opposed nor subject, but simply attached, and about which it spins very much as the earth does round the sun, accordingly the goal of individuation is reached. The word "sensing" is used to indicate the apperceptive nature of the relationship between ego and self. In this connection nothing is knowable, since nothing can be said about the contents of the self. The ego is the only content of the self that is known by people. The individuated ego senses itself as the object of an unidentified and supraordinate subject. It seems that our psychological inquiry must come to a stop here, for the thought of a self is itself a transcendental postulate which, although justified psychologically, does not give chance for scientific proof. This step further than science is an unconditional prerequisite of the psychological development because without this postulate no adequate formulation of the psychic processes that occur empirically can be given. At the very least, consequently, the self can claim the value of a hypothesis comparable to that of the structure of the atom.

The self is transcendent since it points to a limitless future and unrestrained creative expansion of the evolutionary process; this is something that cannot be comprehend by any being. Evidently we can have some sense of the future structure of the evolutionary process, but that tells us nothing of its real meaning, it tells us nothing of what it is like to be a more exceedingly evolved being. Is it reasonable that such a psychic structure would evolve and if so how can we agree to Jung's claim that this structure does not "give chance for scientific proof"? The key to this puzzle may lie in the earlier mentioned intuition of Jung that number is the archetypal intermediary between the physical and the transcendent. The function that number plays in mythology and in the unconscious gives food for thought. They are a facet of the physically real as well of the psychically imaginary. They do not merely count and measure, and are not only quantitative; they as well make qualitative statements and are thus a mysterious something midway between myth and reality, partly discovered and partly invented. Equations, for example, that were invented as pure mathematical formulae have consequently proved to be formulations of the quantitative behavior of physical things. On the other hand owing to their individual qualities, numbers can be vehicles for psychic processes in the unconscious. The structure of the mandala, for example, is intrinsically mathematical.

These hints are simply intended to point out to the reader that the conflict between the human world and the higher world is not supreme; the two are only relatively incommensurable, for the bridge between them is not completely lacking. Between them stands the great mediator, number, whose veracity is valid in both worlds, as an archetype in its very essence (Jung, 1970). Mathematics allows individuals to gain some understanding of the progression of structure over time by connecting with the transcendent. People can know about structural aspects of what will be although structures of the psyche that have developed to facilitate human creativity do not have a precise or scientifically understandable goal because if they did they would not be creative. One thing to keep in mind in interpreting Jung's intuitions about Number is that he did not understand mathematics at all. Maybe Jung's intuitive sense that structure never captures or even touches on real meaning underlies his trouble with mathematics. Mathematical identity is structural identity but mathematical identity is not existential identity. In the physical world every object has a location and notwithstanding the fact that two objects at different locations have identical internal structure
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their affiliation to time and space keep them from being identical, they are two essences and not one.

Perhaps Jung's scholarly morality would not allow the simulated separation of structure and essence that is at the core of present-day mathematics and science. That disjointing is an artificial game that is necessary in the hard sciences that have become solely mathematical. He surely could have learned to play the game; perhaps he would have been contented to do so if he understood it in these terms. But he was living at a time, as we still are today, when the discoveries of science about physical structure are all too often taken as the primary or ultimate reality. The problem with that is that science and mathematics deal only with structure and viewing structure as ultimate reality leads to a dead and meaningless universe. For Jung the universe is brimming with significance.


Freud states that when the need of the idealized self, also known as the superego, and the impulsive self, also known as the id, overcome the rational self, also known as the ego, anxiety results. In the words of Freud, one way for the rational self (ego) to provisionally reduce this anxiety is to alter ones thoughts and discernment of reality. These discernments can help one maintain an integrated self while looking for a realistic and satisfactory solution for the clash between the superego and id that generates anxiety, this might also be thought of in terms of humanist theory when ones experiences are inconsistent with their self-concept. The use of defense mechanisms is very frequent and many psychologically healthy individuals momentarily use defense mechanisms to deal with stressful events (Cavell, 1993).

However, when defense mechanism holdup continually alters "reality" or interferes with one's use of more constructive coping strategies, they can be counterproductive and keep people from learning from experience. Why? There are a number of defense mechanisms put forward by Freud which include mechanisms such as repression, displacement, sublimation, rationalization, projection, reaction formation, denial, undoing, and regression. In repression the individual pushes back unacceptable or unpleasant impulses into the unconscious, for instance, a woman may be unable to recall that she was raped, while in displacement the expression of an unwanted feeling or thought is redirected from a more threatening, powerful person to weaker one an example being a brother yelling at his younger sister after a teacher gives him a badgrade. In sublimation unwanted impulses are diverted into socially approved thoughts, feelings, or behaviors such as a person with strong feelings becoming a soldier (Deigh, 1996).

Rationalization involves distortion of reality in which an individual justifies what happens, a situation sometimes referred to as sour grapes, such as a person who is passed over for an award says he did not really want it the first place. In a case of projection unwanted impulses and feelings are attributed to someone else, an example in this case is where a man who is angry at his mother acts lovingly to his mother but complains that his mother is angry with him. A mechanism that is closely related to this is reaction formation where an individual thinks or behaves in a way that is extremely opposite of unacceptable urges or impulses, an example is a common behavior in adolescent boys who often go out of their way to tease and torment adolescent girls when threatened by their awakening sexual attraction to girls. In the denial mechanism the individual refuses to accept or acknowledge an anxiety-producing piece of information, for instance, a person who is convicted for 'driving under influence' more than three times in a year denies having a problem with alcohol. Undoing is a form of unconscious repentance that involves neutralizing or atoning for an unacceptable action or thought with a second action or thought, such as a woman who gets a tax refund by cheating on her taxes makes a larger than usual donation to the church collection on the following Sabbath day. The last mechanism is regression which is characterized by people behaving as if they were at an earlier stage of development such as a boss having a temper tantrum when an employee makes a mistake (Deigh, 1996).

These defense mechanisms are caused by different behaviors or experiences that an individual goes through and many at times they are used to categorize individuals into respective personalities. Individuals also do refer to themselves through these mechanisms, for instance, an individual who frequently employs…

Sources Used in Documents:


Cavell, M. (1993). The Psychoanalytic Mind: From Freud to Philosophy. Cambridge, MA:

Deigh, J. (1996). The Sources of Moral Agency: Essays in Moral Psychology and Freudian

Theory. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press,

Geller, L. (1984). Another look at self-actualization. Journal of humanistic psychology, 24:100

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