Publications on the 'Real Self'

From Carl, R. Rogers (2004) Edn; 'On becoming a person', A therapists view of psychotherapy. pp 107-124, 'What it means to become a person'.

"It seems to me each person is asking "who am I really"? "How can I get in touch with this real self. How can I become my-self".

Rogers believed that people had many different masks of their self that they presented to the outside world and in some cases themselves. But he also believed that these same self people also "wondered how to get to the real self underneath"(i.e. the different masks).

"The real self is something that is comfortably discovered in one's experiences, not something imposed upon it".


 Rogers also indicated that through his observations of clients. It seemed that gradually the individual explores what is behind the masks with which they have been deceiving their real self. They experience the various elements of their self which have been hidden within. To an increasing degree they become their real self. Not a facade of conformity to others, not a cynical denial of all feeling, nor a front of intellectual rationality, but a living, breathing, feeling, emotively fluctuating person. 

 Also that individuals became noticeably more open to life experiences as opposed defensiveness or rigidity, which tended to be replaced by increasing openness to experiences. Its is as though the person is able to process the life experiences they are having in a new or here and now situation, as it is, rather than distorting it to fit a pattern of relation in the there and then (i,e, their past). This increasing ability to be open to experience makes the person far more realistic in managing new situations, new people, new problems in their life. It means that their beliefs are not rigid, but flux and able to flow, in short the person can tolerate the ambiguity of life. 


From Soren Kierkegaard Danish philosopher (1813-1855), Indicated that the most common despair he had observed in people was the despair of not been able to choose how to be their real self "to will to be that self which one truly is". He also said "They (i.e.people) find themselves removing the false faces which they had not known were false faces". 

A number of quotes taken from Masterson ,F,J. (1990) 'The search for the real self', Unmasking the personality disorders of our age. Masterson claimed that through 'appropriate' therapeutic counselling and therapy the client slowly learns how to identify their real individuated human needs and articulate these in their daily life. 


Published by Jack Walker June (2019) 'Helping clients to nurture their real self'


Today as a global society we know that scientific research in emotional neuroscience presented by modern day investigators such as Antonio Damasio (2015) and Allan Schore (2010) inform us that people are neurologically constructed in such a way as to promote the emanation of a healthier ‘real self ’. Although this type of self within a person will only mature through the healthy nurturing it receives from caring others, particularly it seems by parents and significant others within a person’s immediate environment. Individuals who have been supported in this way demonstrate the emergence of a premiere way of being their ‘real self ’. With this realness in life experiences these people learn to possess a consciousness that is clear and congruent with insights into their own implicit (inward) feelings and thoughts besides how they shall express them explicitly (i.e. outwardly through their behaviours). They become able to assert their real self in an emotionally regulated way with others. They are also able to maintain intimate relationships and long standing friendships while continuing to be their real selves. They possess the ability to steer their self through the choppy waters that the reality of life throws at them. To others they have an observable sense of mastery and well-being in attaining their goals in life. In addition they see themselves as being worthwhile and positive individuals who have their strengths, but who are also able to acknowledge their personal weaknesses. Such a healthy self-esteem as this is maintained through nurturing in these ways of being.


Although it is appreciated here, that not everyone is as fortunate as these people in life's selection of guardianship.  In contrast and as a result, adults and adolescents can experience what I would refer to as a 'seizure of their real self'. These I find are individuals who present for therapy suffering from low self-esteem, who have inabilities in encountering and acknowledging their real feelings. They have an ingrained sense of feeling “down” and “not good enough” about themselves, which then can create problems in taking action in asserting their real self. These difficulties manifest further if left untreated, where the client can possess an inner consciousness which challenges and potentially totally mutes the needs and desires of the real self within. Additionally this can adversely impact upon a person’s ability to form secure and lasting relationships with others. Example symptoms of a real self-seizure can be observed within clients bouts of depression, emotional regulatory difficulties with anger and excessive levels of anxiety.


The client’s impaired and seized real self, is therefore blocked from existing by the psycho-social defences of a maladapted and reactive ‘false self’. It was Carl Rogers (2004) who first realised this, meaning that clients real self thrived when he provided three essential conditions in his therapy sessions, including initially a non-judgemental approach. Then in addition, presented himself as being empathetic toward individual’s narratives from their lives and then sharing an honest, open and congruous exchange within interactions. As a therapeutic counsellor, therapist and mental health professional, I too have found these said methods of practice to be very effective in relieving the ailments of a clients real self. But in addition I have also established  the significance of enabling a person to identify and set their own individual therapy conditions/needs which encourage their real and authentic self to bloom and reach its full intended potential.


Damasio ,A (2010) Self comes to mind: Constructing the conscious brain; Pantheon Books.

Rogers,r,R (2004) On becoming a person: A therapists view of psychotherapy; publishers Constable and company.

Schore,n,A (2015) Affect regulation and the origin of the self: The neurobiology of emotional development, psychological press and Routledge classic editions.


© 2020 by Jack Walker