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Words, words and more words!

One of the advantages (and disadvantages) of classifying is that it draws your awareness to things you might not have been aware of.

One classification of the self is as follows:

There is the self we know and others know
There is the self we know, but others don't
There is the self that we do not know, but others do
And there is the self that no one knows!

(This is not about identity by the way, but about how we are perceived by ourselves and others).

The self we know and others know is quite clearly one that we all have agreement about.

The self we know but others don't know is our secret self. This is the stuff we might foolishly put in our diary and then loose it!

The self we do not know but others do know, is probably the one we hear about when we have an argument. The other tells us things about us which we do not know and do not believe. They all include our little foibles and ways as well as our great qualities and our base ones. I once asked a question in a lecture when a group of other students started laughing. After they lecture they came to me and apologised. They said, being psychologists, they were carrying out a study on me. They noticed that after about 35 minutes in a lecture, I would ask a question.

This unnerved me a bit. I didn't like the idea of being predictable. But I suppose they carried out the study to overcome the boredom, and I asked the questions when the one-way boring communication from the lecturer became unendurable! The questions were presumably to balance the communication flow! Still I didn't like being predictable. This was an aspect of myself that I was unaware of.

Normally we don't tell others about these things we know about them of which they are unaware. Freudians call some of these things reaction formation because the other takes a too extreme opposite view that we think they are hiding something. Yet they are quite unaware of this.

We do often not believe others when they tell us about these aspects of ourselves that we are unaware of.

The final category is those aspects of ourselves that no one is aware of! These are probably parts of our nature we keep extremely secret, even from ourselves. This is the area that depth psychologists like to explore. We know there are such aspects because we become aware of some of them during very deep and personal conversations. Because we discover things that no one knew about us, not even ourselves, we reason that there may be more of them.

Using these categories may help us become more aware of ourselves and others.

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Most Recent Revision: 9-11-99.
Copyright 1998, 1999 Ken Ward,
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