In this article we take a look at & compare three of the most prominent hypothesis related to the discrepancies in our sense of Self.
The True Self vs False Self Hypothesis was proposed by Donald Winnicott. The Real Self vs the Ideal Self hypothesis has been proposed by Carl Rogers & by Edward Higgins in differing contexts. Heinz Kohut developed these theories further to create a psychoanalytic theory called Self Psychology.
True Self vs False Self Hypothesis
According to this hypothesis, the true self is a self concept based on spontaneous uncontrolled learning from actual experiences. The False Self is a construct that one develops as a defensive facade, in order to either meet other peoples expectations(primarily parents), or as a result of various aspects of society manipulating the True Self through education, culture, commerce etc.
The True Self vs False Self concepts are primarily used in the context of narcissism.
Real Self vs Ideal Self Hypothesis
According to the hypothesis proposed by Carl Rogers, the Real Self is based on our tendency to seek Self Actualization. The Ideal Self, on the other hand, is based on our need to find social self worth by ascribing to social ideals even if those are against our own. Rogers termed the discrepancy between the Real Self vs the Ideal Self as Incongruence. The extent of this Incongruence is dependent on how much a society is out of sync with the Self Actualization drive of the Self, and how stringent such socio-cultural norms are.
The Real Self vs Ideal Self are used in the context of Self Actualization, the lack of which can be a precursor to neuroticism.
The Self Discrepancy theory
According to the Self Discrepancy Theory, the Self concept of an individual can ascribe to three different systems. The Actual Self, Ought Self & the Ideal Self. The Actual Self comprises of the attributes you believe you possess. The Ought Self is the set of attributes you must possess, on order to be comfortable with yourself. The discrepancy between the Actual & Ought is a cause of negative emotions. The Ideal Self is the set of attributes based on your archetype ideal. The discrepancy between the Actual & Ideal forms the basis of Self Driven Behavioural Change.
Actual Self vs Real Self vs True Self
The three ideas of Actual Self, Real Self & True Self form the core of our sense of Self in three different theories. While the Actual Self represents attributes you believe you possess, the Real Self is the set of attributes you possess, desire and aspire to, for Self Actualization. True Self, n the other hand, is your core Self Concept, based on your individual experiences.