Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

The Self as Narrative: Is it good to tell stories about ourselves?

Philosophy News image
Is the self divided? Since the time of Freud the notion of a fragmented self has taken deep root in how we think of ourselves. Freud thought we were subject to competing forces, some conscious and some unconscious. It was from the conflict of these forces that the self emerged. Enduring conflicts between different elements of the self could lead to mental breakdown and illness. Many other psychologists and psychotherapists have proposed similar theories, suggesting that we split ourselves into different roles and identities and sometimes struggle to integrate the competing elements into a coherent picture. In his book, The Act of Living, the psychotherapist Frank Tallis argues that achieving integration between the elements of the self is one of the primary therapeutic goals of psychotherapy. Why? Because personal fragmentation is thought to lie at the root of human unhappiness: The idea that fragmentation or division of the self is a major determinant of human unhappiness, anxiety and discomfort appears in the writings of many of the key figures in the history of psychotherapy. Our sense of self accompanies all our perceptions, so when the self begins to crack and splinter everything else begins to crack and splinter too. The world around us (and our place in it) becomes unreliable, uncertain, frightening, and in some instances untenable. We experience ourselves as a unity and threats to cohesion are deeply distressing. (Tallis 2021, 150)  You may have felt this distress yourself. I know I have. There are parts of my identity that I struggle to reconcile with others. There is, for instance, the conflict between the ideals of my working self and parenting self. I often ask myself how can I justify spending time writing articles like this when I could be spending time with my daughter, particularly when she is so young. I don’t know how to reconcile the two sides of myself. How can we resolve the distress into something more psychologically appealing?. . .

Continue reading . . .

News source: Philosophical Disquisitions

blog comments powered by Disqus