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Is Having Many Selves Necessarily Pathological?
On the surface, most people recognize a single self. Actually, life is much simpler when a single self is recognized simply because it is proportional to inhabiting one body. However, as the field of psychology and other mental studies continue developing, it has come to light that there are many selves within an individual body. This essay will answer the question of whether having many selves is necessarily pathological.
According to James, “A man has as many social selves as there are distinct groups of persons about whose opinion he cares. He generally shows a different side of himself to each of these different groups.” From this quote, it is possible to tackle the question in a bid to understand whether there is just one “self.” This long standing question has prompted various studies including that published by Armstrong titled The Masquerade of Life, Our Many Selves and Issues of Privacy. In her research, Arms indicates that present day psychology perceives all ideas surrounding human reality as social constructions. That is to say, the modern human recognizes the “soul” as a collage of social constructs.
Instead of looking at it from a pathological aspect, having many selves can actually be viewed as being highly enlightened. In fact, Dommer, Coleman and Winterich recognizes that so many selves can only be understood through a further study which looks into self-complexity. An individual with multiple identities has a higher level of self-complexity. Thus, it becomes easier to just rule out an individual with many selves as a pathological case. In his book, Allen explains that we all have our battles. As a result, the politics of ourselves should only be questioned as a pathological condition when we are not able to differentiate the many social identities.
Having many selves is not necessarily pathological. It only becomes a matter of concern when an individual is unable to control and differentiate between their “many selves.”
Allen, Amy. The Politics of Our Selves: Power, Autonomy, and Gender in Contemporary Critical Theory. Columbia University Press, 2013.
Armstrong, Karen. “The Masquerade of Life, Our Many Selves and Issues of Privacy.” Proceedings of World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology 75 (2013).
Dommer, Sara Loughran, Nicole Verrochi Coleman and Karen Page Winterich. “So Many Selves: the Effect of Self-Complexity on Attitudes Toward Identity Goods.” ACR North American Advances (2015).
James, William. “Quotable Quote.” n.d. Goodreads. Web. 30 August 2017. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/675713-a-man-has-as-many-social-selves-as-there-are.