Saturday, March 5, 2016

Tasks of Ageing 5: Finding new rooting in the self

Jung’s fifth task of aging, “finding new rooting in the self,” accounts for significant behavioral differences between how we act and react in the first half and second half of life.

In the second half of life, we tend to be more introspective; less dependent on external cues; more individuated; and more autonomous. In the first half of life we tend to be more deeply rooted in the external world; in the second half we are more deeply rooted in the inner world or self.

Where does our sense of self come from, John Locke views self as a series of memories taken from as episodic memory. Both episodic and semantic memory systems have been proposed to generate a sense of self-identity: personal episodic memory enables the phenomenological continuity of identity, while personal semantic memory generates the narrative continuity of identity.

The nature of personal narratives depends on highly conceptual and ‘story-like’ information about one’s life, which resides at the general event level of autobiographical memory and is thus unlikely to rely on more event-specific episodic systems.

In Jungian theory, the Self is one of several archetypes, which are ways of responding to the world in particular ways. The Self signifies the coherent whole, unifying both the consciousness and unconscious mind of a person. The Self, according to Jung, is the most important and difficult archetype to understand.

What distinguishes Jungian psychology from previous theories is the idea that there are two centers of the personality. The ego is the center of conscious identity, whereas the Self is the center of the total personality—including consciousness, the unconscious, and the ego.

For Jung, the Self is both the whole and the center. While the ego is a self-contained little circle off the center contained within the whole, the Self can be understood as the greater circle.

The Self, besides being the centre of the psyche, is also autonomous, meaning that it exists outside of time and space. Jung also called the Self a  imago dei. The Self is the source of dreams and often appears as an authority figure in dreams with the ability to perceive the future or guide one in the present]

So for Jung, this task requires us to gain self-knowledge. In knowing about ourselves, we are more capable of knowing how to be socially acceptable and desirable.  Self knowledge means that we have:

This can be divided into two categories: private self-awareness and public self-awareness. Private self-awareness is defined as the self looking inward at oneself, including emotions, thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. All of these cannot be discovered by anyone else. 
Public self-awareness is defined by gathering information about your self through the perceptions of others. The actions and behaviors that others show towards a person will help that person establish a sense of how others perceive them. For example, if a person likes to sing, however many other people discourage their singing, that person can conclude that they might not be the best at singing. Therefore, in this situation, they are gaining public self-awareness about an aspect of themselves

Which is how a we evaluate ourselves. Four factors that contribute to self-esteem are:
·        the reactions we get from other people
·        how we compare people to ourselves
·        social roles
·        our identification.

Our social roles can sometimes be conceived as higher intelligence or ability, such as an Olympic athlete or biotechnologist. Other social roles might be stigmatized as being negative, such as a criminal or homeless person. People with high self-esteem view their selves as containing positive traits. They are more willing to take more risks and aim for success. People with high self-esteem tend to be confident, gain self-acceptance, do not worry as much about what others think about them, and think more optimistically.

In contrast, people with low self-esteem view their selves as containing few or no positive traits, rather than viewing their selves as containing negative traits. It is rare for a person to rate their overall self as being terrible. People with low self-esteem typically:
·         do not wish to fail
·         are less confident in their success rate
·         have confused and diverged notions about their self (self-concept confusion)
·         focus on self-protection more so than self-enhancement
·         have more pessimistic thinking

Social norms constitute the “unwritten rules” that we have about how to act in certain scenarios and with various people in our lives. For example, when a person is in a classroom, they are more likely to be quiet and attentive; whereas at a party, they are more likely to be socially engaged and standing. Norms act as guidelines that shape our behavior. Without them, there would not be any order, as well as lack of understanding in situations in society.

Social roles are defined as the parts that a person plays in different situations and with other people. Our roles change in order to fit the “expected” behaviors in various scenarios. For example, a person may be a mother, a doctor, a wife, and daughter. Her behavior would most likely change in her transition from being a doctor to coming home to her daughter

As we find new roots in self, we recognize our social roles and our social norms and make decisions about whether we want to continue to follow these of whether we want to create new roles and norms for ourselves. 

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