Ego or Self-Concept Psychology

Erikson lived into the 1990s (when he was in his 90s himself) but his influence probably reached a peak in the 1960s and 1970s. Meanwhile, the basic assumption of ego psychology-that the ego can play an active role in organizing or changing a person's life-became quite popular among personality theorists. The word ego itself became less popular, being associated with Freudian theory. A more common term used in the 1990s and 2000s is self-concept. The self-concept, as the phrase is used now, is more than just an idea; it is a force. Markus and Wurf (1987) described the now common view that "the self-concept [is] active, forceful, and capable of change."

What word is often used instead of "ego"?< In what respect is the self-concept no longer seen as a unitary thing?

The self-concept or ego is not necessarily viewed as a unitary thing. One of the trends in modern theories of personality is to view the personality as consisting of many different potential selves. The self-concept is "a set or collection of images, schemas, conceptions, prototypes, theories, goals, or tasks" (Markus & Wurf, 1987). Markus and Wurf write, "It is now commonplace to refer to the multiplicity of identity." But not all of the self-representations are equally important. For example, a young man might say, "My 'musician' self is not nearly as important as my 'father' self,' and if I have to make a choice, the music can wait."

What is the advantage of the "dialogical self"?

Hermans, Kempen, and van Loon (1992) argue for the importance of the dialogical self. "The self can imaginatively occupy a number of positions that permit mutual dialogical relations." This is reminiscent of Jung's ability to converse with figments of his imagination, but not so extreme. The dialogical self is used whenever you hold an internal debate or second-guess yourself after making a decision, or look at a problem from several different perspectives. You may hold a dialog with yourself, occupying first one position then another, arguing both sides of an issue.

Write to Dr. Dewey at

Don't see what you need? Psych Web has over 1,000 pages, so it may be elsewhere on the site. Do a site-specific Google search using the box below.

Custom Search

Copyright © 2007 Russ Dewey