connection, atoms, shine, wholeness theory of self esteem

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Click below to listen to this article:

The wholeness theory of self-esteem


This theory states that, at its core, inner wholeness is the fundamental driver for self-esteem. The concept presented, is that if we have large parts of our personality missing through personality dissociations which have been sent to the unconscious mind, and distortions which impact how we see ourselves, then we will fail to connect to our true-self. That for many, the sense of connection with self will be missing, since potentially, large parts of true-self will be missing and inaccessible. This loss of connection with true-self will mean for many, that they will feel unable to access their emotions, feelings, innate skills and abilities. This includes that inner confidence where we know something is right for us. This also means that the concept of loving self will fall flat for those individuals, as they will not be able to connect to the entirety of their true-self to love it, many may well even lack the capacity to feel love.

I also propose that the human mind is not a single entity, but a collection of intelligent “aspects of self”, a multiplicity, which ordinarily work together in synchronisation to create a cohesive whole, and that through a process of dissociation and distortion caused by self-denial and rejection, this cohesive whole can become disconnected and dysfunctional.

I suggest that such personality dissociations and distortions which cause this loss of connection to true-self is far more widespread than may be indicated by statistics tracking the population’s mental health difficulties. And that many people tend to mask their lack of connection with self, their inner sense of wholeness, in order that they may feel like a normal human being. Indeed, I will suggest that society, as it’s perceived by the individual, is often toxic to the individual sense of connection and wholeness. That society tends to reinforce the idea that individuals should change themselves to fit in, and that this in itself promotes loss of connection to the individual’s true-self.

Sign up for our Newsletter!
We will send you regular updates regarding new articles, as well as hints and tips regarding self-transcendence. We aim to limit this to once per month, though some months we will have additional special editions covering significant articles worthy of being the sole focus of a newsletter. There will be no sales spam or selling your address to third parties.

I will argue that although there are other theories which show people can gain self-esteem in other ways, such as through achievements, social success etc. That actually, this loss of core self-esteem is the fundamental driver for an individual’s happiness, and that, in many ways, these other methods of allowing an individual to prove to themselves, for example, that they are worthy of love, are actually more akin to coping mechanisms for this lack of connection.

I suggest that this lack of connection to true-self will tend to act as a drag on those other methods of feeling good about oneself. That successes will feel less positive for the individual than they should, and may often feel hollow and go unnoticed by the individual. Failures, on the other hand, will be doubly impactful, they will cut deep, the smaller the portion of the core of self that is available and recognised by the individual, then the lower their level of resilience will be, and the harsher the failure will seem.

It is commonly known that low self-esteem can lead to some grave mental health outcomes, including depression, anxiety, even suicidal ideation. However, I will show that these dissociated and distorted aspects of self are not just missing from the individual’s awareness or presenting an internal falsehood about that individual’s true self-concept. But that often, they are active as internal critics and adversaries, which can be the source of intrusive thoughts, negative self-talk, false beliefs and delusions, even potentially psychosis, all of which serve to undermine still further the individual’s self-esteem, and often drive them towards serious mental illnesses which are in effect, a misinformed effort to cope with this feeling of emptiness and of disconnection.

therefore, I suggest that this theory, which proposes that a great many of us have lost that feeling of inner wholeness, means that re-establishing this inner wholeness, is the key to self-esteem and mental wellness in not just people who have for example, suffered trauma, but also to the potentially large numbers of other “normal” people who, it is suggested, are successfully masking their low self-esteem and sense of lacking and appear to lead normal, well-adjusted lives.

This theory should make it obvious that anyone with personality dissociations or distortions, to feel genuinely mentally well and able to exist in society in any form of normal, happy way, then those personality issues need to be healed. It will also show that such issues are fundamental to an individual’s sense of wellbeing, and that they can’t be masked successfully for any length of time. Indeed, it also suggests that many of our existing coping strategies, even some mental health therapies, may actually make the individual’s problems worse, by encouraging further dissociations and distortions to that individual’s personality and self-concept.

Note: This theory represents the thinking of one person who has studied psychology extensively and has brought together several established psychological and spiritual theories, together with their own to create a cohesive theory explaining human behaviour and spirituality, this should not be seen as anything official and has not been peer-reviewed or published in any established journals.

New article alerts!
We will notify you of new articles as soon as they are published. There will be no sales spam or selling your address to third parties.

self-esteem is a complex and multifaceted construct that has been defined in various ways by different scholars and disciplines. According to the APA Dictionary of Psychology, self-esteem is “the degree to which the qualities and characteristics contained in one’s self-concept are perceived to be positive” (APA, n.d.).

It is seen as reflecting a person’s self-image, view of his or her accomplishments and capabilities, and values and perceived success in living up to them, as well as the ways in which others view and respond to them. self-esteem is also seen as a dynamic and context-dependent phenomenon that can fluctuate over time and across situations.

However, this common view of self-esteem, we suggest, misses the fundamentals of self-esteem, which is, that for a person to feel “whole”, then they need to have a self-concept which recognises and connects to all of their inner-self. And that once this connection to the inner-self is established, that self-esteem is not so dynamic and variable, that it will tend to remain high, regardless of the inputs of the external environment which our current theories of self-esteem seem to consider so important.

Brown and Zeigler-Hill (2018) provide a brief historical sketch of self-esteem research and a general definition of self-esteem as “a subjective evaluation of one’s worth as a person” (p. 41). They also discuss the dominant theoretical perspectives on how self-esteem regulates human behaviour, such as the sociometer theory, the terror management theory, and the self-determination theory. Additional factors to consider are to reference self-esteem in relation to self-discrepancy theory, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and attachment theory.

Self-discrepancy theory

The theory of self-discrepancy states that individuals compare their “actual” self to internalized standards or the “ideal/ought self” (Higgins, 1987). Inconsistencies between “actual”, “ideal” (idealized version of yourself created from life experiences) and “ought” (who persons feel they should be or should become) are associated with emotional discomforts (e.g., fear, threat, restlessness) (Wikipedia, n.d.). Self-discrepancy is the gap between two of these self-representations that leads to negative emotions. The theory proposes how a variety of self-discrepancies represents a variety of types of negative psychological situations that are associated with different kinds of discomfort (iResearchNet, n.d.).

Self-discrepancy theory also suggests that different types of self-discrepancies are related to different kinds of emotional vulnerabilities. When the actual self is discrepant from an ideal, people feel sad, disappointed, discouraged— dejection-related emotions that relate to depression. When the actual self is discrepant from an ought, people feel nervous, tense, and worried—agitation-related emotions that relate to anxiety (Higgins, 1987).

self-esteem is one’s evaluation of one’s own worth or value. self-esteem can be influenced by the degree of discrepancy between one’s actual self and one’s ideal or ought self. The larger the discrepancy, the lower the self-esteem. Conversely, the smaller the discrepancy, the higher the self-esteem. Therefore, self-discrepancy theory implies that reducing the gap between one’s actual self and one’s ideal or ought self can enhance one’s self-esteem (Fandom, n.d.). This shows that self-discrepancy theory is closely aligned to our own theory of wholeness being a basis to self-esteem in so far as it effectively covers that area of self-esteem lacking, we propose to come from distortions to our self-concept, where those distortions are known. However, or own model expands on the concepts proposed by the self-discrepancy model by suggesting there are unknown (dissociated) aspects of one’s true-self (actual self) which also serve to undermine the individual’s self-esteem. Another dimension to this, is that these dissociations and distortions are the cause of our specific vulnerabilities, that our emotional triggers serve to remind us of this inner denial, and our over-reaction is a function of this denial.

Attachment theory

Attachment theory is a psychological perspective that explains how humans form emotional bonds with others and how these bonds affect their sense of self (Mikulincer & Doron, 2016). According to attachment theory, there are two major dimensions of adult attachment orientations: attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance. Attachment anxiety reflects the extent to which a person worries about being rejected or abandoned by their attachment figures, while attachment avoidance reflects the extent to which a person avoids intimacy and dependence on their attachment figures. These attachment orientations are shaped by early experiences with caregivers, but they can also change over time and across situations (Thompson, 2006).

Attachment theory suggests that attachment orientations have important implications for self-esteem, which is the overall evaluation of one’s worth and competence. People with secure attachment, who have low levels of both anxiety and avoidance, tend to have higher self-esteem than people with insecure attachment, who have high levels of either anxiety or avoidance or both (Sroufe, 2002). This is because secure attachment provides a sense of security, acceptance, and support that fosters positive self-views. In contrast, insecure attachment undermines self-esteem by creating feelings of insecurity, rejection, and isolation that foster negative self-views.

However, the relationship between attachment and self-esteem is not static or simple. It can be influenced by various factors, such as the context, the type of feedback, the source of feedback, and the activation of mortality salience (Koç & Kafa, 2019). For example, some studies have found that people with high attachment anxiety can boost their self-esteem when they receive positive feedback from their romantic partners, while people with high attachment avoidance can protect their self-esteem when they distance themselves from negative feedback from their romantic partners (Mikulincer & Doron, 2016). Moreover, some studies have found that people with insecure attachment can cope with the existential threat of death by adhering to their cultural world-view or seeking symbolic immortality, which can also enhance their self-esteem (Koç & Kafa, 2019).

Attachment theory provides useful clues as to how an individual’s sense of inner wholesomeness may be established, maintained and lost. It suggests that it is our relationship to our major caregivers, as we progress through childhood and beyond, that will impact the individual’s sense of connectedness to themselves.

For example, if a child finds itself poorly supported, it will assume that it is their fault, and they need to change to receive the required levels of care. It therefore follows that such changes mean that they will distort their concept of self, and that this distortion will eventually be accepted by itself as being true to self.

If the child finds itself rejected by its caregiver, it follows that they will, again, blame themselves and reject that aspect of self that they perceive as being the cause of that rejection. This will usually result in a dissociation, where a significant aspect of itself is rejected from the child’s self-concept and is sent to its unconscious mind.

Therefore, the concepts of attachment theory are critical when it comes to my own theory of wholesomeness as being a driver for our core self-esteem. The care and support the child receives will directly affect the extent to which its self-concept becomes distorted and dissociated. It can be seen that such attachments styles such as anxious or avoidant are clear indicators of a lacking in that sense of inner wholeness and connection.

Or course, it is not only during childhood where individuals can adopt distortions or denials to their self-concept, such things can and will occur throughout their lives. However, my suggestion is that it is the childhood of the individual which provides the fundamental basis for stability of our self-concept. If a child enters adulthood, for example, with avoidant or anxious attachments styles, then it is highly likely that they will react to future challenges to their self-concept with further adjustments. Such changes will ultimately lower their connectedness to true-self and increase the potential for mental instability and illness.

Regarding those individuals with secure attachment style, I would like to comment that such individuals may not be without their own issues. I regard such individuals as potentially having lesser challenges to their self-esteem, but it is likely that they will have had to modify their sense of self in some way. This implies that they may still suffer from self-esteem related issues that may need to be addressed.

Overall, my suggestion is that very few individuals progress through to adulthood without having potentially significant impacts to their inner connectedness and core self-esteem.

Indeed, there is a suggestion that almost every child creates some form of dissociation and that this is an almost natural response to finding itself born into its environment. And that is not a consequence of parenting as such, but it is simply a result of the child-birthing process.

Therefore, attachment theory provides a useful framework for understanding how early childhood care can support, or distort the child’s connectedness with self and therefore their core self-esteem. The theory also provides clues as to how we as a society could avoid giving our children this burden of a lacking of self-worth as they enter into adulthood.

By examining these underlying mechanisms and moderating factors of this relationship, attachment theory can also inform clinical interventions that aim to improve both attachment security and self-esteem in individuals who suffer from various psychological disorders (Mikulincer & Doron, 2016).

Self-determination theory

Self-determination theory (SDT) is a psychological framework that examines human motivation, behaviour, and wellbeing. It proposes that people have three basic psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Autonomy refers to the need to act in accordance with one’s own values and interests. Competence refers to the need to feel effective and capable in one’s actions. Relatedness refers to the need to feel connected and cared for by others. SDT suggests that when these needs are satisfied, people experience optimal growth and development, as well as positive emotions and intrinsic motivation. However, when these needs are thwarted, people experience negative outcomes such as anxiety, depression, and extrinsic motivation.

SDT suggests that self-esteem is not an end in itself, but rather a reflection of how well one’s psychological needs are met (Ryan & Deci, 2004). When people feel connected to others, capable of achieving their goals and free to make their own choices, they tend to have higher self-esteem and psychological wellbeing. Conversely, when these needs are thwarted or frustrated, people may experience lower self-esteem and psychological distress (Ryan & Deci, 2004).

A key aspect of this theory is the concept of an individual feeling connected to others. As I have described, my theory of wholeness involves an individual feeling connected to themselves. I propose that this feeling of connection to self or lack thereof has a direct impact on their ability to connect to others. The proposal is that we connect to others through mutual understanding and empathy, which is related to the sharing of feelings, emotions and thoughts. It therefore follows that when an individual is disconnected from their own feelings, emotions and concepts in relation to the theme of the desired connection to others, that they will struggle to establish and maintain the desired empathic connection. Therefore, my own theory has a direct impact on the levels of self-esteem that can be derived from the concepts within the self-determination theory.

This, again, underlines the thought that such theories of self-esteem, as self-determination and sociometer theories, are effectively secondary to our my theory of personal wholesomeness when it comes to an individual’s ability to derive such self-esteem benefits.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory of human motivation that proposes that people have five levels of needs that they seek to satisfy: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and Self-actualization. According to Maslow, esteem needs include two components: self-esteem and the esteem of others. self-esteem refers to the feeling of self-confidence, competence, and mastery, while the esteem of others refers to the feeling of respect, admiration, and recognition from other people (Pichère & Cadiat, 2015).

Esteem needs affect self-esteem in several ways. First, satisfying esteem needs can enhance one’s self-esteem by increasing one’s sense of efficacy and confidence. For example, achieving a personal or professional goal, learning a new skill, or overcoming a challenge can boost one’s self-esteem. Second, satisfying esteem needs can also protect one’s self-esteem from threats or challenges. For example, receiving positive feedback, praise, or support from others can buffer one’s self-esteem from negative events, criticism, or failure. Third, satisfying esteem needs can also motivate one’s self-esteem to grow and improve. For example, pursuing higher goals, seeking new challenges, or improving one’s performance can foster one’s self-esteem (Esteem Needs | SpringerLink).

However, esteem needs can also negatively affect self-esteem if they are not satisfied or if they are satisfied in unhealthy ways. For example, failing to achieve one’s goals, experiencing rejection or humiliation, or losing one’s status or reputation can lower one’s self-esteem. Moreover, relying too much on external sources of esteem, such as approval, validation, or comparison with others, can make one’s self-esteem unstable and vulnerable. Furthermore, seeking esteem at the expense of other needs, such as belongingness or Self-actualization, can undermine one’s self-esteem and wellbeing (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: What Is It? – WebMD).

Therefore, Maslow suggested that esteem needs should be satisfied in a balanced and authentic way that reflects one’s true-self and values. He also argued that esteem needs are not the ultimate goal of human motivation, but rather a stepping stone toward Self-actualization, which is the highest and most fulfilling level of human potential (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Explained – ThoughtCo).

self-esteem is therefore seen by Maslow, not only as an individual characteristic, but also a social and relational one that is influenced by the interactions with others and the feedback from the environment. self-esteem can have significant implications for various aspects of life, such as academic performance, mental health, interpersonal relationships, and work outcomes. Therefore, it is important to understand the factors that affect self-esteem and the interventions that can enhance it, especially for students who may experience low self-esteem or low perceptions of competence in certain domains (APA, 2020).

There is, however, another dimension to self-esteem that seems to be missed in much of the current debate. Maslow touched on it when he mentioned that self-esteem should include authenticity and should reflect one’s true-self. These insightful comments point the way to an alternative, and additional understanding of self-esteem, which brings in my notion of core self-esteem. Core self-esteem is based on an individual’s personal sense of self. To a greater extent, it is standalone in so much as it is a self-valuation with holds firm without the need for enforcement through interaction with others, for example. I propose that without it, an individual cannot achieve or maintain a satisfactory level of self-esteem and that no amount of externally derived self-esteem can replace it.

In addition, Maslow’s other needs of love and belonging are also implied to be affected by this notion of inner connectedness and wholesomeness in so much as an individual’s level of connectedness to their ability and understanding of love directly affects how they perceive the love they may get from others.

Scott Peck said – “Not only do self-love and love of others go hand in hand, but ultimately, they are indistinguishable.”, this underlines the idea that if an individual does not love themselves, then they will find it extremely difficult to share love with others. My theory implies that if a person lacks connection to themselves, then they do not know themselves, and following from this, that it’s this lack of self-knowledge which means they will be unable to truly love themselves. This therefore undermines their ability to achieve Maslow’s need of love.

There is also an impact on the individual’s sense of belonging, since belonging typically means a sharing of values, concepts and feelings. An individual that lacks this connectedness to themselves will struggle to find within themselves those genuine values, concepts and feelings to share.

Of course, in reality, many people do feel like they have love and a sense of connectedness. However, I propose that as a disconnected person travels through life, they come to realise that these qualities are desirable. They therefore determine to foster such values within themselves. Finding themselves lacking in personal insight, they adopt a solution which involves copying others, who they perceive as being successful in those domains. They may well find this course of action to yield what they think of as success. However, this success is false. What we mean by this is that it does connect to that individual’s core set of values, concepts and feelings, it is a mask that they are wearing that’s been designed to satisfy their perceived sense of lacking. They have adopted someone else’s values, concepts and expression of feelings and this is not authentic and ultimately will be hollow.

Sociometer theory

The sociometer theory is a psychological framework that proposes that self-esteem is an indicator of how well we are perceived and accepted by others. According to this theory, humans have a fundamental need to belong and to maintain positive social relationships, and they use self-esteem as a gauge of their social value. The sociometer theory suggests that when we receive positive feedback from others, our self-esteem increases, and when we receive negative feedback, our self-esteem decreases.

The theory suggests that people are motivated to maintain or enhance their relational value, and that self-esteem serves as a feedback mechanism that signals the need for social adjustment when relational value is threatened or diminished. Sociometer theory differs from other theories of self-esteem in that it does not assume that people have an innate need for self-esteem or that they pursue it for its own sake. Rather, it views self-esteem as a by-product of the adaptive process of social inclusion and exclusion. Sociometer theory has been supported by empirical evidence showing that interpersonal acceptance and rejection influence state self-esteem, state self-esteem relates to perceived social acceptance, and trait self-esteem reflects one’s general level of relational value (Leary, 2012; Leary et al., 1995; Kirkpatrick & Ellis, 2001). Sociometer theory also has implications for understanding and improving various aspects of psychological wellbeing, such as coping with rejection, enhancing social skills, and promoting positive self-regard (Leary, 2012).

For this thesis, I agree that the need to connect with others is indeed a strong driver in most people. However, I suggest that a significant aspect of this, is that it’s a coping mechanism that attempts to replace the lack of connection with self, with a connection to others. One such driver, is the feeling of loneliness that the individual may experience when they perceive that they are lacking in self-comfort, and they therefore seek that comfort from others. The sociometer theory suggests, for example, if they can obtain that comfort from others, then their self-esteem will improve. However, I counter this concept with the notion that for many people, obtaining this external comfort often means they have to change in some way, to make themselves acceptable to those other people, and that this change will cause a distortion to their concept of self. This distortion will ultimately cause them to lose still further their inner sense of connectedness. This will tend to drive them to need even more external comfort to make up for this increased, often suppressed inner sense of lacking.

Thus, it can be seen that our social interactions can be something of a two-edged sword. Our lack of connection to self, drives us to seek the comfort of others. However, to achieve that comfort, we often have to change ourselves, and this in itself causes that fundamental driver, this sense of lacking, to get worse.  This means that seeking the comfort and acceptance of society can become an addictive tendency, one that ultimately will fail to deliver the desired outcome, as our need for external comfort will outstrip supply.

Of course, even for the individuals who find themselves to be whole, the need for social engagement and acceptance is still a strong driver. However, we suggest that in the case of a wholesome individual, it is far less of a driver than for the individual who finds their inner connections to be lacking. In the case of a wholesome individual, social interactions will be far less important to their personal concept of self-esteem. It will be a secondary, and an optional, aspect of their self-worth. It will not be something which can seriously impact their self-worth if, for example, they find themselves isolated from others for any significant period of time.

Terror management theory

The terror management theory (TMT) suggests that humans cope with the existential threat of death by creating and maintaining a cultural world-view that provides meaning, order, and value. However, this world-view can also create self-image concerns and conflicts with others who hold different world-views.

According to TMT, self-esteem is a crucial component of this anxiety buffer system, as it reflects the extent to which individuals perceive themselves as living up to the standards and expectations of their world-view (Pyszczynski, Greenberg, & Solomon, 2004). Therefore, self-esteem can reduce the fear of death by affirming one’s significance and worth in a meaningful universe. However, self-esteem for most may not be a stable or innate characteristic, but rather a dynamic and relational construct that depends on the quality of one’s attachment to significant others (Koç & Kafa, 2019).

Attachment theory posits that humans have an innate need for security and closeness with others, and that the early experiences of parental care shape the development of internal working models of self and others that influence one’s expectations and behaviours in later relationships (Bowlby, 1982). These attachment styles can affect how individuals cope with death-related anxiety, as well as how they seek and maintain self-esteem. For instance, individuals with secure attachment tend to have higher self-esteem and lower death anxiety than those with insecure attachment, as they feel more confident and supported in their relationships (Mikulincer & Florian, 2000). In contrast, individuals with insecure attachment may have lower self-esteem and higher death anxiety, as they feel more anxious and avoidant in their relationships (Mikulincer & Florian, 2000). Moreover, insecure attachment may also influence how individuals respond to threats to their world-view or self-esteem, such as mortality salience (MS), which is the awareness of one’s own inevitable death.

Research has indicated that MS can trigger defensive reactions such as world-view defence, which is the tendency to uphold and reinforce one’s cultural beliefs and values, and derogate or punish those who challenge or violate them (Greenberg et al., 1990). However, these reactions may vary depending on one’s attachment style. For example, individuals with anxious attachment may show more world-view defence than those with secure or avoidant attachment, as they seek more validation and approval from others to boost their self-esteem (Mikulincer et al., 2003). On the other hand, individuals with avoidant attachment may show less world-view defence than those with secure or anxious attachment, as they distance themselves from others and rely more on their own self-reliance and autonomy to protect their self-esteem (Mikulincer et al., 2003).

TMT suggests that self-esteem is a key factor in coping with the existential threat of death, and that attachment styles can influence how individuals seek and maintain self-esteem, as well as how they react to MS and world-view defence. These ideas have important implications for clinical practice and social science, as they can help understand and address the psychological and physical problems that result from low self-esteem and death anxiety, such as depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, aggression, violence, prejudice, and terrorism (Pyszczynski et al., 2004; Koç & Kafa, 2019).

Since my theory suggests that true self-esteem comes from a feeling of a wholesome connection to true-self, then it follows that individuals with such a connection will be less inclined to have significant existential concerns about their mortality. This means that they would not have the psychological driver to want to latch onto beliefs which ease such concerns, and they would be less impacted by the principles enmeshed in TMT. It follows, therefore, that a society comprised of mainly wholesome individuals would be one of peace. Such individuals would not feel the need to defend their self-esteem, since this was not based on any external concepts of belief.

Of course, they will still explore such concepts, and may well adopt beliefs shared with others. However, challenges to those beliefs from external parties would be regarded by the wholesome individual as far less of a threat to their self-esteem. This means they would be much more likely to cope positively with that alternate view, and more likely to find acceptance of the other’s right to hold alternate views.

self-esteem therefore is quite complex as we perceive it in today’s society. Overall, we fail to recognise this notion of inner connectedness as the true provider of genuine self-esteem. Instead, we encourage individuals to make up for this lacking in core self-esteem via a number of coping strategies which involve adopting the values, concepts and feelings of others to allow the individual to convince themselves that they have self-worth. We believe that this modality will ultimately fail to deliver any true sense of self-esteem. It is a strategy doomed to fail because it does not come from our true-self, cannot be a natural flow. Instead, it requires effort and continual maintenance, which most people are unable to sustain.

In addition, adopting the values of others as a solution to our own sense of lacking also means that we are again changing ourselves, and this may involve further personality distortion. As has been mentioned, such distortions ultimately have a detrimental impact on our ability to connect with our true-self and therefore, this short-term fix will have a long-term detrimental vale.

The human mind as a multiplicity

“We must accept our multiplicity, the fact that we can show up quite differently in our athletic, intellectual, sexual, spiritual—or many other—states.” – Dan Siegel

“Each of us has a variety of selves, which we draw out and put away according to the situation.” – Daniel Goleman

The human mind is a complex and fascinating phenomenon that has been studied from various perspectives and disciplines. One of the topics that has intrigued researchers and practitioners is the possibility that the human mind is not a singular entity, but a multiplicity of selves or identities that coexist in the same body. This experience of multiplicity has been conceptualized in different ways, such as dissociative identity disorder (DID), other specified dissociative disorder (OSDD), plurality, polypsychism, or simply diversity of self.

Multiplicity can be understood as a broad term that encompasses any experience of more than oneself in one’s mind or body. People who identify as multiple may have different understandings of the origin, function, and nature of their parts, alters, or selves. Some may see them as internal aspects of their own psyche, while others may see them as external entities, such as spirits, ancestors, or soul-bonds. Some may view multiplicity as a disorder, a trauma response, a disability, or a diversity. Some may experience multiplicity as distressing, impairing, or life-threatening, while others may experience it as enriching, empowering, or life-saving.

One of the psychological theories that propose that the human mind is a multiplicity is the multiple social categorization theory. This theory suggests that people can perceive themselves and others based on more than one social category, such as race, gender, age, religion, etc. For example, a person can be a black woman, a Christian, and a lawyer at the same time. These different social categories can interact and influence how people perceive themselves and others in different situations. Multiple social categorizations can have various effects on intergroup relations, such as reducing stereotyping, increasing empathy, and enhancing diversity.

Another psychological theory that implies that the human mind is a multiplicity is the cognitive theory. This theory posits that people’s thoughts and beliefs influence their emotions and behaviours. cognitive theory assumes that people can have different types of cognitions, such as schemas, automatic thoughts, irrational beliefs, etc. These cognitions can be adaptive or maladaptive, depending on how they fit with reality and how they affect one’s wellbeing.

One of the branches of cognitive theory is the theory of multiple intelligences, which proposes that human intelligence is not a single, general ability, but rather a differentiation of specific intelligences that reflect different ways of interacting with the world. According to this theory, there are at least eight types of intelligences: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily kinaesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. Each person has a unique profile of strengths and weaknesses across these intelligences, and can develop them through education and training.

The theory of multiple intelligences suggests that the human mind is a multiplicity, meaning that it consists of different aspects or facets that can operate independently or in combination. This implies that people can use different intelligences to solve problems, create products, and express themselves in various domains. The theory also challenges the traditional view of intelligence as a fixed and unitary trait that can be measured by standardized tests. Instead, it proposes a more dynamic and diverse conception of intelligence that respects individual differences and cultural diversity.

The theory of multiple intelligences has been applied to various fields of education, psychology, and neuroscience, and has inspired many educators to adopt more flexible and personalized approaches to teaching and learning. However, the theory has also faced some criticism and controversy regarding its empirical validity, its definition and classification of intelligences, and its implications for educational policy and practice.

The psychodynamic theory is a psychological theory that explains the origins and development of human behaviour in terms of the dynamics of the mind, such as drives, impulses, wishes, affects, unconscious processes, conflict, and defence mechanisms (Boag, 2018). According to this theory, the human mind is a multiplicity, meaning that it consists of different parts or agencies that can have conflicting goals and motivations.

Freud (1923) proposed that the mind is divided into three main agencies: the id, the ego, and the superego. The id is the source of instinctual drives and operates on the pleasure principle, seeking immediate gratification. The ego is the rational part of the mind that operates on the reality principle, mediating between the id and the external world. The superego is the moral part of the mind that represents internalized values and ideals. The ego often has to cope with the demands of the id and the superego, which can create anxiety and guilt.

To protect itself from these negative feelings, the ego uses various defence mechanisms, such as repression, denial, projection, rationalization, etc. These defence mechanisms are unconscious mental operations that distort or deny reality to reduce psychological conflict (McLeod, 2023). The psychodynamic theory also emphasizes the importance of childhood experiences and object relations for personality development. Object relations refer to the mental representations of oneself and others that are formed through early interactions with caregivers. These representations influence how people relate to themselves and others throughout their lives. Psychodynamic therapy aims to help people understand their unconscious dynamics and resolve their conflicts by exploring their past and present relationships and emotions (Good Therapy, n.d.).

The humanistic theory is a perspective in psychology that emphasizes the individualized qualities of optimal wellbeing and the use of creative potential to benefit others, as well as the relational conditions that promote those qualities as the outcomes of healthy development (Bland & DeRobertis, 2018). Humanistic psychologists contend that personality formation is an ongoing process motivated by the need for relative integration, guided by intentionality, choice, the hierarchical ordering of values, and an ever-expanding conscious awareness (Bland & DeRobertis, 2018). They also employ an intersubjective, empathic approach to understand the lived experiences of individuals as active participants in the life-world, situated in sociocultural and eco-psycho-spiritual contexts (Bland & DeRobertis, 2018).

One of the implications of the humanistic theory is that the human mind is a multiplicity, meaning that it is composed of multiple aspects or dimensions that are not reducible to a single unity or essence (Bergson, 1912). Humanistic theorists say these individual subjective realities must be looked at under three simultaneous conditions: as a whole and meaningful, not broken down into small components of information that are disjointed or fragmented; as unique and not comparable to other minds or averages of groups; and as dynamic and evolving, not static or fixed (McLeod, 2023). Therefore, the humanistic theory suggests that the human mind is a multiplicity that reflects the complexity and diversity of human experience and potential.

Behavioural theory is a theory of learning that states all behaviours are learned through conditioned interaction with the environment. Behavioural theory does not focus on the internal mental processes of the mind, but rather on the observable behaviours that can be measured and modified. Behavioural theory suggests that the human mind is a multiplicity of conditioned responses that are triggered by different stimuli and reinforced by consequences. According to behavioural theory, the human mind does not have a single self, but rather a collection of learned behaviours that vary depending on the situation and the history of learning.

Social cognitive theory (SCT) is a learning theory that emphasizes the role of cognitive processes, social interactions, and environmental influences on human behaviour. SCT was developed by Albert Bandura as an extension of his social learning theory, which posited that people learn new behaviours by observing and imitating others. SCT adds that people also learn from the consequences of their actions, their own expectations and beliefs, and their self-regulation skills. SCT argues that people are active agents who can both influence and be influenced by their environment (Bandura, 1989).

One of the key concepts of SCT is the notion of multiplicity, which refers to the idea that the human mind is not a single entity, but rather a collection of different subpersonalities or aspects that can have different goals, motivations, and perspectives. Multiplicity suggests that people can switch between different modes of thinking and behaving depending on the situation, the task, and the social context. Multiplicity also implies that people can have internal conflicts or dialogues among their subpersonalities, which can affect their decision-making and problem-solving processes (Hermans & Kempen, 1993).

SCT and multiplicity theory can help explain how people cope with complex and dynamic environments, how they adapt to changing demands and expectations, and how they develop a sense of identity and agency. SCT and multiplicity theory can also provide insights into how people can enhance their learning and performance by using various cognitive strategies, such as self-monitoring, self-evaluation, self-reinforcement, goal-setting, and self-regulation (Zimmerman & Schunk, 2001).

Evolutionary theory is the scientific framework that explains how living species, including humans, have arrived at their current biological and psychological form through a historical process of natural selection and adaptation to environmental changes (BBC, n.d.). According to evolutionary psychology, the human mind evolved to benefit the individual by enhancing their chances of survival and reproduction in various domains of life, such as social interactions, mate choice, language, memory, and consciousness (Al-Shawaf, 2021).

One of the implications of this perspective is that the human mind is not a single, unified entity, but rather a multiplicity of specialized mechanisms that operate in different contexts and for different purposes. This view is supported by evidence from neuroscience, cognitive science, and psychology that shows that the brain consists of multiple modules that can function independently or in coordination with each other, depending on the situation (Psych Central, 2021).

The concept of multiplicity also has a historical origin in the 19th century mesmerism, which revealed that some individuals could manifest different personalities or identities under hypnosis, suggesting that the self is not a fixed or coherent construct (Wikipedia, n.d.). Therefore, evolutionary theory suggests that the human mind is a multiplicity of adaptive functions that emerged from the interaction between biological and environmental factors over time.

All of these theories show that many of our greatest thinkers have concluded that the human mind is a multiplicity of discrete intelligent self-aspects, which each can have their own character, values, motivations etc.

dissociation as a common theme

dissociation is typically perceived as a phenomenon that involves a disruption of the normal integration of psychological functions, such as memory, identity, perception, and consciousness. dissociation is recognised as being thought to occur in various clinical conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dissociative disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (ocd). However, it is looking increasingly likely that a great many more common mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety may also have their roots in some form of dissociation.

One example of personality dissociation is Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder. DID is characterized by the presence of two or more distinct personality states that recurrently take control of the person’s behaviour, accompanied by memory gaps for important personal information (APA, 2013). DID is often associated with severe childhood trauma, such as abuse or neglect, that leads to the development of different parts as a way of coping with overwhelming emotions and experiences (Mind, n.d.).

Another example of personality dissociation is dissociative amnesia (DA), which involves an inability to recall autobiographical information, usually related to traumatic or stressful events. DA can affect specific aspects of one’s life (localized amnesia), one’s entire life history (generalized amnesia), or one’s identity and life history (dissociative fugue) (APA, 2013). DA is also thought to be a result of psychological defence mechanisms that block out painful memories from conscious awareness (Verywell Mind, n.d.).

However, I suggest that dissociation has a wider context, and that we currently tend only to recognise what can be called significant, major, or clearly recognizable dissociations. A theory which goes some way to recognise this is Internal Family Systems.

Internal family systems concept of parts in relation to dissociations

Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a psychotherapy model that conceives the mind as a system of subpersonalities or parts, each with its own perspective, interests, memories, and viewpoint. These are led by a core Self, which is the core or true essence of a person, and which has the qualities of compassion, curiosity, clarity, courage, confidence, creativity, calmness, and connectedness (Schwartz, 1995). IFS views dissociation as a continuum of experiences, from mild detachment to severe fragmentation of the self (Schwartz & Sweezy, 2019). This concept expands on the current notion that personality dissociations are extreme forms of dissociation that involve a loss of continuity in one’s sense of identity, memory, or consciousness (NHS, n.d.).

The IFS model distinguishes three general types of parts: Exiles, Managers, and Firefighters.

Exiles are parts that carry emotional pain or trauma from the past. They are often young, vulnerable, and wounded. They feel rejected, abandoned, or ashamed by other parts or by external people. They are usually hidden or suppressed by other parts to avoid triggering overwhelming feelings.

Managers are parts that try to control the internal and external environment to prevent Exiles from being hurt again. They are proactive, protective, and strategic. They may adopt roles such as perfectionist, planner, critic, caretaker, or achiever. They often try to please others, avoid conflicts, or follow rules.

Firefighters are parts that react when Exiles are activated by a situation or a memory. They are impulsive, desperate, and extreme. They may adopt behaviours such as substance use, binge-eating, self-harm, anger, or dissociation. They aim to distract from or numb the pain of the Exiles.

The goal of IFS therapy is to help clients access their Self and heal their wounded parts. By doing so, clients can achieve internal harmony and balance among their parts. IFS therapy uses techniques such as asking parts to step back or unblend from the Self, getting to know each part and its role and history, developing trust and compassion between the Self and the parts, and releasing the burdens or negative beliefs that the parts carry.

Therefore, the parts identified in IFS are a wider form of personality dissociation and could also be understood to include what we term as personality distortions.

Not all parts are necessarily dissociative in nature. Some parts may be more integrated and coherent with the person’s sense of self, while others may be more separated and disconnected. (IFS Institute, n.d.).

Jung’s concept of the personal unconscious and its shadow

According to Jung (1959), the personal unconscious is the layer of the psyche that contains the complexes, or clusters of emotionally charged thoughts and memories, that are not part of the conscious awareness. The personal unconscious is shaped by the individual’s personal experiences, such as childhood traumas, repressed feelings, forgotten events, and cultural influences. The personal unconscious also contains the shadow, which Jung (1938) defined as “the thing a person has no wish to be” (p. 131). The shadow is the dark side of the personality, the aspects that are unacceptable, immoral, or inferior to the ego ideal. The shadow may include impulses such as aggression, sexuality, greed, envy, or power, as well as qualities such as laziness, cowardice, selfishness, or ignorance. The shadow is often projected onto others, resulting in negative judgments, conflicts, or scapegoating. However, the shadow also has a positive potential, as it can be a source of creativity, spontaneity, intuition, and insight.

Therefore, the shadow can affect our behaviour and mental wellbeing in various ways, such as:

  • Causing us to act out of fear, anger, or resentment towards others who remind us of our repressed aspects.
  • Preventing us from developing a balanced and authentic sense of self, as we deny or disown parts of ourselves that are essential for our growth and integration.
  • Limiting our creativity and potential, as we avoid exploring or expressing our hidden talents, passions, or desires.
  • Triggering psychological problems, such as anxiety, depression, or addiction, as we struggle to cope with the inner conflict and tension between our conscious and unconscious selves.

To overcome these negative effects, Jung (1959) suggested that we need to confront and integrate our shadow, by becoming aware of its existence, acknowledging its value, and accepting its influence. By doing so, we can achieve a more harmonious and holistic personality, as well as a deeper understanding and compassion for ourselves and others.

Jung suggested, therefore, that there were aspects of self, which become rejected (dissociated) and moved to the unconscious mind, and that these had both “positive” and “negative” perceived qualities. These ideas can inform our concept of dissociation and it’s impacts, and they also be applied to the IFS notion of parts.

Wholeness, dissociation and distortion

In the terms of my theory, I suggest that within the human mind there are multiple aspects of self, each having its own character, objective, functions and goals. Each aspect of self carries out certain executive functions as part of its normal operation. In a “normal” human mind, these aspects of self are fully synchronised with each other and, as such, are perceived by the individual as a single harmonious whole. In a person where they have been able to maintain this harmony between these disparate self-aspects, then we call this state, one of wholesome connectedness. This means that the individual’s true-self is available for reflection to the outside world, and all aspects of self are available to that individual to inform them of their true sense of self.

However, in some people, due to their childhood and later experiences, they are caused to reject, deny or modify aspects of their self-concept in such a way that these aspects of self become dissociated or distorted. They have to either modify their own individual self-concept (impose a falsehood), or in some cases become completely rejected from the unified self. We therefore have the notion of distorted aspects of self and also dissociated aspects of self.

Because each self-aspect holds the task of carrying out certain executive functions, which may include biological as well as cognitive tasks, then the impact of a dissociation may be even more significant to the individual, than simply the denial of an aspect of one’s personality. The implication is, that there may well be physical, as well as intellectual detriments, which could result in physical as well as mental symptoms.

When we reject an aspect of self, another aspect of self may take up the role of enforcing that rejection, yet another aspect of self may take on the role of mediating the impact of that loss of self-aspect on the core self. Thus, we can link our concept to the IFS concept of exiles, managers and firefighters.

However, with my concept of personality distortions I add a new dimension, that of self-aspects which are still connected to the unity of self but which are not presenting their true self in their interactions with the whole. Instead, they hold themselves in a state of inner denial and present some modified characteristic. This still represents a loss of self and an undermining of the individual’s true-self, and will cause a loss of confidence in self, since it’s an inner conflict between true-self and the imposed self-concept.

My theory suggests that there is a limit to the extent to which an individual self-aspect can support these distortions before themselves becoming disconnected from the unity of self and becoming lost to the unconscious mind. In other words, they can cope when only a small percentage of their self-concept is in denial, however as those denials build up, then there will come a point where they become rejected from the unified self.

Low self-esteem and dissociation

It is worthwhile thinking about these concepts of true-self and authenticity, in relation to dissociation. The question being; if a person has dissociated aspects of their personality through rejection of one form or another, how, then, would they know their full true-self? and what does authenticity mean to them?

I ask this question because I notice that a great many individuals who have experienced trauma, for example, often feel as though aspects of themselves are missing. They can feel empty, hollow inside, bereft of emotion and of those aspects of self that they would need to be fully authentic, and true to self.

I propose therefore. that there is a highly internal aspect to self-esteem, and it is in direct relationship with an individual’s inner connectedness. I call this core self-esteem, and I propose that this state of inner connectedness has a great impact on the ability of any other self-esteem impacting factors, such as social interaction, to have an impact on the individual’s valuation of self.

There are three psychological models that can be referenced when it comes to dissociation; Structural dissociation theory, Internal Family Systems, and Jungian psychotherapy. Each of these models discusses the idea of an individual losing connection to aspects of their personality, typically though trauma. IFS also suggests that simply participating in social interactions can cause aspects of self to become distorted, often due to an interaction with an individual’s attachment style. Jung spoke of the personal unconscious as a home for rejected aspects of the self.

One psychological theory that could explain the link between dissociation, self-esteem and sense of wholeness is the structural dissociation theory. This theory proposes that traumatic experiences can cause a fragmentation of the personality into different parts, such as the apparently normal part (ANP) and the emotional part (EP). The ANP is responsible for daily functioning and coping, while the EP holds the traumatic memories and emotions. As a result of a traumatic event, the ANP and the EP can become disconnected from each other, resulting in a loss of integration and coherence of the self. This can lead to low self-esteem, as the person may feel defective, inadequate or unworthy. It can also affect the sense of wholeness, as the person may feel incomplete, divided or conflicted. The goal of therapy based on this theory is to help the person achieve a more balanced and harmonious relationship between the ANP and the EP, and to foster a more positive and realistic self-image.

Internal family systems (IFS) therapy is a psychotherapy approach that views the mind as being composed of multiple parts or subpersonalities, each with its own beliefs, feelings and characteristics. These parts interact with each other and are led by the Self, which is the core essence of who we are and has positive qualities such as compassion, clarity, creativity and confidence. IFS therapy aims to help people free their parts from extreme roles, restore trust in the Self and achieve harmony and balance among the parts (Psychology Today, 2022).

One of the implications for self-esteem in relation to IFS therapy is that self-esteem is not a fixed trait that depends on external factors, but rather a dynamic state that reflects the degree of connection with the Self. When people are in touch with their Self, they experience high self-esteem and can access their inner resources to cope with challenges and pursue their goals. When people are disconnected from their Self, they experience low self-esteem and may rely on unhealthy or unhelpful behaviours to manage their emotions and needs (Schwartz, 2021).

Another implication is that self-esteem can be improved by working with the parts that interfere with the access to the Self, such as managers, exiles and firefighters. These parts may have developed in response to trauma or adversity and may carry negative beliefs about the self, such as unworthiness, shame or guilt. By cultivating compassion, curiosity and acceptance toward these parts, people can heal their wounds, transform their burdens and integrate them into their system. This process can increase self-esteem by reducing internal conflicts, enhancing self-acceptance and fostering self-compassion (Sweezy & Ziskind, 2013).

Jungian psychology is a form of psychotherapy that originated from the theories of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, who believed that the unconscious mind plays a large role in shaping people’s thoughts and behaviour (Verywell Mind, 2021). Jungian therapy aims to help people find their true selves, which he called their “self”, and to achieve individuation, which is the process of self-realisation and personal growth (The SAP, n.d.). According to Jung, individuation requires the integration of both collective and personal elements, and it depends on the synthesis of opposites, such as conscious and unconscious, psyche and soma, and divine and human (The SAP, n.d.). Jungian therapy can be helpful for people who are struggling with issues like depression, anxiety, and self-esteem, as it can help them access their unconscious material and explore their inner potential (Calmsage, 2022). Jungian therapy uses various techniques to facilitate this process, such as art, dream analysis, active imagination, and word association (Verywell Mind, 2021).

If indeed these three, often complimentary models hold some level of validity, then it follows that each individual with personality dissociations will either have lost touch with aspects of their personality, or have aspects of their personality which are distorted, and no longer true to self. I propose that an individual who finds themselves in this state, depending on the extent and nature of the dissociations, will find it difficult to attain or maintain a high level of self-esteem. That the more dissociations and distortions of personality they have, then the lower the base-level of their core self-esteem will be.

I further propose that this flawed core self-esteem, that exists in individuals with inner rejections and denials, highly increases their susceptibility to mental illness and disorder.

An individual, whose core self-esteem is very low, will find themselves in a very needy place. They will tend to desperately reach for anything that might give them some modicum of self-esteem boost, or they may just as desperately seek to avoid their feelings of worthlessness with distraction, even drug related oblivion.

Of course, the symptoms described have yet to consider the potential impact of those personality dissociations and distortions themselves, in so much as typically, a rejected personality aspect will be the cause of negative thoughts, negative voices, exaggerated emotions and feelings and various symptoms we can associate with trauma-based disorders.

What I am suggesting, is that losing an authentic aspect of self through dissociation has a twofold impact. First there is the loss of self, which undermines the individual’s concept of self, their self-esteem and self-confidence. Then there is the dissociative response from the injured and isolated dissociated aspect, which more often than not seeks revenge through negative intrusions into the individual’s peace of mind.

Low self-esteem

According to Mann, Hosman, Schaalma, and de Vries (2004), low self-esteem is associated with both internalizing problems, such as depression, suicidal tendencies, eating disorders, anxiety, and externalizing problems, such as violence and substance abuse. These problems can further undermine one’s self-esteem, creating a vicious cycle of negative self-evaluation and maladaptive behaviour. On the other hand, high self-esteem can lead to better health and social behaviour, as it enables one to have more realistic expectations, positive emotions, and constructive coping strategies. High self-esteem can also buffer against the negative effects of stress and trauma, and help one to overcome difficulties and setbacks.

Impacts of low self-esteem

Lacking self-esteem can have a negative impact on one’s mental and emotional wellbeing. People who lack self-esteem may feel insecure, unworthy, or inadequate. They may have difficulty trusting others, expressing their feelings, or setting healthy boundaries. They may also struggle with low motivation, poor performance, or self-sabotage. Lacking self-esteem can affect one’s relationships, career, and happiness.

There are many possible reasons for someone lacking self-esteem. However, if we look at typical causes and relate them to dissociation, then it becomes clear how great this lacking of core self-esteem can be as well as the potential for it to have a close relationship with dissociation:

Childhood experiences: People who grew up in an environment where they were criticized, neglected, abused, or bullied will almost certainly develop personality dissociations and this will lead to low self-esteem. The dissociations may cause them to internalize negative messages about themselves and their worth.

Social comparisons: People who compare themselves unfavourably to others may feel inferior or inadequate. They may focus on their flaws and shortcomings rather than their strengths and achievements. Dissociated parts of their personality will tend to accentuate this psychological position, creating negative thoughts that reinforce their sensitivity to those shortcomings.

Unrealistic expectations: People who have unrealistic or perfectionist standards for themselves may feel dissatisfied or disappointed with their performance. They may feel like they are never good enough or that they always fail. Dissociations can all too often become inner critics, criticizing everything the individual does and undermining their ability to lift their self-esteem through action.

Negative self-talk: Dissociations are often at the root of negative self-talk, causing individuals to think negatively about themselves, reinforcing their low self-esteem. The dissociation may blame them for everything that goes wrong, magnify their mistakes, and minimize their successes through such negative self-talk.

Life events: May in themselves create additional dissociations as the individual seeks to escape from their inner pain caused by stressful or traumatic events such as divorce, loss, illness, or failure. This will tend to cause a further in their core self-esteem and create other internal critics. This may lead to them feeling overwhelmed, helpless, or hopeless.

These are some of the more common reasons for someone why an individual’s personality dissociations will lead to them lacking self-esteem, but they are not the only ones.

Therefore, it is important to promote and protect one’s self-esteem as a way of enhancing mental health and wellbeing. However, I would argue that the more traditional methods of improving our self-esteem would tend to fail in the case of dissociated individuals, at best these would be short-term sticking plasters, unless the therapy was to heal those dissociations themselves. I also suggest that when left to fester without healing, that the problem will tend to get worse; anxious attachment will turn to, for example, depression, which will in-turn develop into a personality disorder.

I also suggest that the majority of people throughout the world have personality dissociations and distortions, and it is this, which is the fundamental driver for what has been termed “the human condition”.

The reasoning behind this suggestion, which is, in effect, that the majority of us are ill, is that it is from the observation that, in general, society is toxic to the people it serves; society asks us to conform, rather than be individuals, as a people, we self-enforce this in numerous ways, through stigma, jokes, social isolation, rejection of individuals uniqueness. Even schools and families play a part in this, and it very much boils down to our ignorance about ourselves, and our fear of new ideas and viewpoints. It’s true that society has a veneer of acceptance. We even have laws that promote equality and difference. However, society is slow to change and those issues, for the most part, remain.

Research on the human mind as a multiplicity

Research on multiplicity has been largely influenced by the clinical psychological perspective, which focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of DID and OSDD. These are considered to be dissociative disorders that result from severe childhood trauma and involve disruptions in memory, identity, emotion, perception, and behaviour. According to the International Society for the Study of trauma and dissociation (ISSTD), DID and OSDD are characterized by the presence of two or more distinct personality states or parts that recurrently take control of the person’s behaviour, accompanied by amnesia for important personal information that cannot be explained by ordinary forgetfulness. The ISSTD provides guidelines for the assessment and treatment of DID and OSDD, which include a phased approach that involves establishing safety and stabilization, processing traumatic memories, and integrating the parts into a cohesive sense of self (ISSTD, 2011).

However, not all people who experience multiplicity identify with the diagnostic labels of DID or OSDD, or agree with the trauma-based aetiology or the integration-oriented goal of therapy. Some people prefer to use terms such as plurality or polypsychism to describe their experience of multiplicity as a natural variation in human identity construction that does not necessarily imply pathology or impairment. Some people may embrace their multiplicity as a source of strength, creativity, or spirituality, and seek to foster cooperation and harmony among their parts rather than integration, in this case, we would suggest, that cooperation is, in fact, integration. Some people may also have different cultural or spiritual explanations for their multiplicity that do not fit within the Western linear framework of understanding the self.

Therefore, research on multiplicity needs to be more inclusive and respectful of the diversity of experiences and meanings that people who identify as multiple have. There is a need for more qualitative research that explores the lived experiences of people with multiplicity from their own perspectives and voices, rather than imposing predefined categories or assumptions on them. There is also a need for more cross-cultural and interdisciplinary research that examines how multiplicity is understood and expressed in different contexts and traditions. Furthermore, there is a need for more collaborative and participatory research that involves people with multiplicity as co-researchers and co-producers of knowledge, rather than passive subjects or objects of study.

Some examples of recent research that has adopted these approaches are:

Eve Z., & Parry S. (2021). Exploring the experiences of young people with multiplicity. Youth & Policy.

Ribáry G., Lajtai L., Demetrovics Z., & Maráz A. (2017). Multiplicity: An explorative interview study on personal experiences of people with multiple selves. Frontiers in Psychology, 8: 943.

Stocks R.J.T. (2007). Toward an inclusive model of dissociation: Exploring cultural factors in dissociation theory development (Doctoral dissertation). University of Auckland.

Evidence for the relationship between dissociation and low self-esteem

The relationship between self-esteem and personality dissociation is a complex and controversial topic in psychology. Some studies have suggested that low self-esteem may be a risk factor for developing dissociative disorders, such as dissociative identity disorder (DID), which involves having two or more distinct personalities (2). Other studies have found that dissociation may serve as a coping mechanism for people with low self-esteem, who may feel disconnected from their core self and create alternative identities to escape from negative emotions (3). However, these findings are not consistent across different populations and measures of self-esteem and dissociation, and some researchers have argued that the association between self-esteem and dissociation is weak or non-existent (4).

One possible explanation for the inconsistent results is that self-esteem and dissociation are multidimensional constructs that may vary depending on the context and the type of assessment used. For example, self-esteem can be global or specific, stable or unstable, explicit or implicit, and influenced by social comparisons or feedback (5). dissociation can also be measured in different ways, such as self-report questionnaires, clinical interviews, behavioural tasks, or physiological indicators (6). Moreover, dissociation can be influenced by various factors, such as trauma, stress, emotion regulation, attachment styles, and personality traits (7). Therefore, it is important to consider the diversity and complexity of both self-esteem and dissociation when exploring their relationship.

Another explanation, is that it is indeed possible to be fully integrated, and yet dissociated, and that this is the state of people who have reintegrated their dissociations, but still maintain contact with their dissociated aspects of self. In such cases, those aspects simply move from critic to supporter as part of the integration process. The individual who previously suffered with negative voices, finds themselves in the company of loving friends. This knowledge should be used to inform future research.

Some recent studies have attempted to address these issues by using more sophisticated methods and models to examine the link between self-esteem and dissociation. For instance, a study by Kelleher et al. (2019) used latent profile analysis to identify four subgroups of individuals with different patterns of self-esteem and dissociation: low self-esteem/high dissociation, low self-esteem/low dissociation, high self-esteem/high dissociation, and high self-esteem/low dissociation (8). The authors found that the low self-esteem/high dissociation group had the highest levels of psychological distress, trauma exposure, borderline personality disorder symptoms, and emotion dysregulation. They also found that the high self-esteem/high dissociation group had higher levels of positive affect and extraversion than the other groups. These results suggest that self-esteem and dissociation may interact in different ways to influence mental health outcomes.

Another study by van der Hart et al. (2018) used structural equation modelling to test a theoretical model of how self-esteem, dissociation, and trauma are related in individuals with DID (9). The authors proposed that trauma exposure leads to a disruption of the sense of self, which results in low self-esteem and high dissociation. They also hypothesized that low self-esteem mediates the relationship between trauma and dissociation, meaning that trauma affects dissociation through its impact on self-esteem. Their results supported their model and showed that low self-esteem was a significant mediator between trauma and dissociation in individuals with DID. They also found that low self-esteem was associated with more severe DID symptoms, such as identity confusion and alteration.

These studies illustrate some of the challenges and opportunities in studying the relationship between self-esteem and personality dissociation. More research is needed to clarify the causal mechanisms, moderators, mediators, and outcomes of this relationship in different populations and settings. Furthermore, more attention should be paid to the clinical implications of this relationship for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of dissociative disorders.

Evidence for attachment style as a driver for low self-esteem

Research has shown that attachment styles are associated with various aspects of self-esteem, which is the overall evaluation of one’s worth and competence (Rosenberg, 1965). self-esteem is influenced by both internal and external factors, such as self-concept clarity, feedback from others, and social comparison.

Several studies have found that secure attachment is positively related to self-esteem, while insecure attachment (anxious-preoccupied, fearful-avoidant, and dismissive-avoidant) is negatively related to self-esteem (e.g., Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991; Collins & Read, 1990; Mikulincer et al., 2003). People with secure attachment tend to have a positive and consistent view of themselves and others, and they are confident in their abilities and relationships. They also receive more support and validation from their partners, which enhances their self-esteem. On the other hand, people with insecure attachment tend to have a negative and unstable view of themselves and others, and they are insecure in their abilities and relationships. They also experience more rejection and criticism from their partners, which lowers their self-esteem.

Moreover, some studies have suggested that different types of insecure attachment may have different effects on self-esteem. For instance, people with anxious-preoccupied attachment may have lower self-esteem than people with dismissive-avoidant attachment because they are more dependent on others’ approval and more sensitive to negative feedback (Feeney & Noller, 1990; Wei et al., 2004). People with fearful-avoidant attachment may have the lowest self-esteem among all attachment styles because they are conflicted between their desire for intimacy and their fear of rejection, and they often avoid or sabotage their relationships (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991; Litvinenko et al., 2020).

In conclusion, attachment styles and self-esteem are closely related concepts that influence each other in various ways. Secure attachment fosters high self-esteem, while insecure attachment undermines low self-esteem. Different types of insecure attachment may also have different impacts on self-esteem. Therefore, understanding one’s attachment style and its implications for self-esteem may help improve one’s wellbeing and relationship quality.

Evidence for wholeness as a driver for self-esteem

The relationship between the individual’s sense of wholeness and inner connectedness and self-esteem has been explored by various researchers and psychologists. Sense of wholeness refers to the feeling of being complete, integrated and satisfied with oneself, while inner connectedness refers to the feeling of being in harmony with one’s values, beliefs and emotions. self-esteem, on the other hand, is the evaluation of one’s worthiness and competence as a person.

Some studies have suggested that a sense of wholeness and inner connectedness are essential aspects of wellbeing and happiness, and that they can foster secure self-esteem, which is based on a realistic and positive self-image rather than external validation or comparison (Taylor, 2013). Secure self-esteem is associated with lower levels of anxiety, depression, stress and aggression, and higher levels of resilience, optimism, self-compassion and life satisfaction (Orth & Robins, 2014).

Other studies have indicated that low self-esteem can result from a lack of sense of wholeness and inner connectedness, which can stem from various factors such as childhood trauma, abuse, neglect, bullying, discrimination, social isolation or unrealistic expectations (Mutiwasekwa, 2020). Low self-esteem can lead to a negative self-image, self-criticism, self-doubt, self-hatred and self-sabotage, which can impair one’s mental health, relationships, performance and happiness (Mind UK, n.d.).

Therefore, it can be concluded that there is a positive and reciprocal relationship between the individual’s sense of wholeness and inner connectedness and self-esteem. By cultivating a sense of wholeness and inner connectedness, one can enhance one’s self-esteem and well-being. By improving one’s self-esteem, one can also increase one’s sense of wholeness and inner connectedness.

Therapeutic options

Many current psychoanalytic therapeutic options available today tend to focus on helping the individual cope with their symptoms of personality dissociations and distortions, rather than aiming to treat the originating cause of the problem; the dissociation or distortion itself. Whilst these indeed can be useful, clearly what is needed is a therapy which can reintegrate those disparate aspects of self, back into a contiguous and integrated whole.

It should also be said that many therapists are not aware of this multiplicity potential for the human mind, and that without this awareness, they are likely to suggest coping methods which involve setting up further denials of the client’s true-self. They could inadvertently, therefore, make matters worse for the client by suggesting that the client further denies the existence of their dissociated self-aspects.

Clearly, it can be distressing for anyone without prior knowledge of our potential for multiple internal personalities to find out such aspects of their inner self may be real. For example, if they extremely negative, perhaps encouraging them to harm themselves or others. However, our suggestion, is that such denials may well create further dissociation and therefore increase the amount of negativity they are being subjected to.

I recommend a therapeutic approach that is based on the idea of compassionate and cooperative integration, such as is offered by Jungian and Internal Family Systems Therapy:

Jungian-based psychoanalysis

Jungian psychoanalysis is a form of in-depth, analytical talk therapy that aims to help an individual reintegrate the disparate aspects of themselves by bringing together the conscious and unconscious parts of the mind (Psychology Today, n.d.). Jungian psychoanalysis is based on the theories and concepts of Carl Gustav Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist who was initially a follower of Sigmund Freud but later developed his own approach to the psyche (Wikipedia, 2022). Jungian psychoanalysis involves exploring both the personal and collective unconscious, which contains archetypes, complexes, symbols and patterns that influence one’s behaviour, emotions, thoughts and personality (Routledge, 2022). Jungian psychoanalysis also uses various techniques such as dream analysis, word association, active imagination and amplification to access and interpret the messages from the unconscious (Psychology Today, n.d.). By doing so, Jungian psychoanalysis can help an individual achieve individuation, which is the process of becoming a whole and authentic self that is not dominated by external or internal forces (, n.d.).

Jungian-based transcendence therapy

My own Jungian-based transcendence therapy combines Jungian psychotherapy with the concepts of self-transcendence theory to create a therapeutic approach which can lead to the discovery and integration of an individual’s dissociated and distorted aspects of self. It’s a good example of the kind of therapeutic approach which could allow for a significant improvement in the individual’s sense of wholeness and self-esteem.

Internal Family Systems Therapy

Internal family systems therapy (IFS) is a form of psychotherapy that helps people understand how each person in the inner family system has their own feelings, thoughts, and behaviours. This method can be very effective for healing childhood wounds and other emotional issues. IFS assumes that every person has a core Self that is confident, compassionate, and whole, and that also has access to qualities such as calmness, clarity, courage, creativity, and connectedness. However, the Self may be obscured by different parts that act as sub-personalities or families within the mind. These parts can be divided into three types: managers, firefighters, and exiles. Managers are parts that try to protect the person from pain by controlling aspects of their life, such as their emotions, relationships, or performance. Firefighters are parts that try to extinguish the pain when it becomes overwhelming by engaging in impulsive or addictive behaviours, such as substance use, binge-eating, or self-harm. Exiles are parts that carry the pain of past trauma or rejection, and are often isolated or suppressed by the other parts.

IFS therapy aims to help the person access their Self and relate to their parts with curiosity and compassion, rather than judgment or fear. By doing so, the person can heal their wounded parts and restore harmony and balance in their inner system. IFS therapy can be used to treat various conditions and symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, trauma, phobias, substance use, physical health problems, and general functioning and well-being. IFS therapy has been designated as an evidence-based practice by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2015.


In this thesis, I have stated that, at its core, inner wholeness is the fundamental driver for self-esteem. The concept I presented included the idea that if people have large parts of their personality missing through dissociations and distortions of their self-aspects, then people will fail to connect to their true-self then this will drive down their self-esteem and tend to lead to mental illness.

I proposed that for many, the sense of connection with self will be missing and that potentially, large parts of true-self will be missing and inaccessible. I further proposed that this loss of connection with true-self will mean for many, that they will feel unable to access their emotions, feelings, innate skills and abilities, and self-confidence. I also implied that the concept of loving self, will be unobtainable for those individuals, as they would not be able to connect to the entirety of their true self to love it, and that many may well even lack the capacity to feel love.

I also proposed that the human mind is not a single entity, but a collection of intelligent “aspects of self” which ordinarily work together in synchronisation to create a cohesive whole, but that through a process of dissociation and distortion, this cohesive whole can become disconnected and dysfunctional.

I suggested that such personality dissociations and distortions which cause this loss of connection to true-self is far more widespread than is being indicated by statistics which track the numbers of people having mental health difficulties. I also suggested that many people will tend to mask their lack of connection with self, and their inner sense of wholeness, in order that they may feel like a normal human being. I suggested that society, as it’s perceived by the individual, is often both toxic to the individual sense of connection and wholeness. In addition, we proposed that society tends to reinforce the idea that individuals should change themselves to fit in, and that this in itself promotes loss of connection to the individual’s true-self.

I argued that although there are other theories which show people can gain self-esteem in other ways, such as through achievements, social success etc. that actually, this loss of core self-esteem is the fundamental driver of an individual’s happiness and that, in many ways, these other methods of allowing an individual to prove to themselves, for example, that they are worthy of love, are actually more akin to coping mechanisms for this lack of connection.

I suggested that this lack of connection to true-self will tend to act as a drag on those other methods of improving self-esteem and worth. That successes will feel less positive for the individual than they should, and may often feel hollow and go unnoticed in them. Failures, on the other hand, will be doubly impactful, they will cut deep, the smaller the portion of the core of self that is available and recognised by the individual, then the lower the level of resilience will be, and the harsher the failure will seem.

I also illustrated that whilst it is commonly known that low self-esteem can lead to some serious mental health outcomes, including depression, anxiety, even suicidal ideation. That these dissociated and distorted aspects of self are not just missing from the individual’s awareness or presenting an internal falsehood about that individual’s true self-concept. But that often, they are active as internal critics and adversaries, which can be the source of intrusive thoughts, negative self-talk, false beliefs and delusions. All of which serve to undermine still further the individual’s self-esteem, and often drive them towards serious mental illnesses which are, in effect, a misinformed effort to cope with this feeling of emptiness and of disconnection.

I suggested that this theory means that re-establishment of inner wholeness is the key to self-esteem and mental wellness in not just people who have, for example, suffered trauma, but also to the potentially large numbers of other “normal” people who, it is suggested, are successfully masking their low self-esteem and sense of lacking to appear to lead normal, well-adjusted lives.

This theory made it obvious that for anyone with personality dissociations or distortions to feel genuinely mentally well, then those issues need to be healed. It has also shown that such issues are fundamental to an individual’s sense of wellbeing, and that they can’t be masked successfully for any length of time. Indeed, it also suggests that many of our existing coping strategies, even some mental health therapies, may actually make the individual’s problems worse, by encouraging further dissociations and distortions to that individual’s personality and self-concept.

Self-discrepancy theory references:

Higgins, E. T. (1987). Self-discrepancy: A theory relating self and affect. Psychological Review, 94(3), 319–340.

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Self-discrepancy theory. Retrieved from

iResearchNet. (n.d.). Self-Discrepancy Theory in Social Psychology. Retrieved from

Fandom. (n.d.). Self-Discrepancy Theory | Psychology Wiki | Fandom. Retrieved from

Sociometer theory references:

Leary, M. R. (2012). Sociometer theory. In P. A. M. Van Lange, A. W. Kruglanski, & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of theories of social psychology (pp. 151–159). Sage Publications Ltd.

Leary, M. R., Tambor, E. S., Terdal, S. K., & Downs, D. L. (1995). self-esteem as an interpersonal monitor: The sociometer hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68(3), 518–530.

Kirkpatrick, L.A., & Ellis, B.J. (2001). An evolutionary-psychological approach to self-esteem: Multiple domains and multiple functions. In G.J.O. Fletcher & M.S. Clark (Eds.), Blackwell handbook of social psychology: Interpersonal processes (pp. 411–436). Blackwell Publishers.

Terror management theory references

Bowlby, J. (1982). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Attachment (2nd ed.). Basic Books.

Greenberg, J., Pyszczynski, T., Solomon, S., Rosenblatt, A., Veeder, M., Kirkland S., & Lyon D. (1990). Evidence for terror management theory II: The effects of mortality salience on reactions to those who threaten or bolster the cultural worldview. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,

58(2), 308–318.

Koç V., & Kafa G. (2019). The roles of self-esteem and attachment within the framework of terror management theory. Psikiyatride Güncel Yaklaşımlar,

11(1), 129–139.

Mikulincer M., & Florian V. (2000). Exploring individual differences in reactions to mortality salience: Does attachment style regulate terror management mechanisms? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,

79(2), 260–273.

Mikulincer M., Florian V., Birnbaum G., & Malishkevich S. (2003). The death-anxiety buffering function of close relationships: Exploring the effects of separation reminders on death-thought accessibility. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,

29(3), 354–368.

Pyszczynski T., Greenberg J., & Solomon S. (2004). Why do people need self-esteem? A theoretical and empirical review. Psychological Bulletin,

130(3), 435–468.

Solomon S., Greenberg J., & Pyszczynski T. (1991). Terror management theory of self-esteem. In C. R. Snyder & D. R. Forsyth (Eds.), Handbook of social and clinical psychology: The health perspective (pp. 21–40). Pergamon Press.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs references:

Pichère Pierre & Cadiat A.-C., 2015. Maslow’s hiararchy of needs. Namur: 50minutes.

Esteem Needs | SpringerLink.

Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs: What Is It? – WebMD.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Explained – ThoughtCo.

self-esteem and low self-esteem references

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). self-esteem. In APA dictionary of psychology. Retrieved February 21, 2023 from

Mann, M., Hosman, C. M. H., Schaalma, H. P., & de Vries, N. K. (2004). self-esteem in a broad-spectrum approach for mental health promotion. Health Education Research, 19(4), 357–372.

Internal family systems references

APA. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). American Psychiatric Association.

IFS Institute. (n.d.). What is Internal Family Systems?

Mind. (n.d.). What are dissociative disorders?

NHS. (n.d.). Dissociative disorders.

Schwartz, R. C., & Sweezy, M. (2019). Internal family systems therapy (2nd ed.). Guilford Press.

Verywell Mind. (n.d.). dissociation: Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment.

Schwartz R.C., Internal Family Systems Therapy: Second Edition (New York: Guilford Press), 2020.

Attachment theory references

Koç, V., & Kafa, G. (2019). The roles of self-esteem and attachment within the framework of terror management theory. Psikiyatride Güncel Yaklaşımlar, 11(1), 129–139.

Mikulincer, M., & Doron, G. (2016). Adult attachment and self-related processes. In M. Kyrios, R. Moulding, G. Doron, S. S. Bhar, M. Nedeljkovic, & M. Mikulincer (Eds.), The self in understanding and treating psychological disorders (pp. 19–28). Cambridge University Press.

Sroufe, L. A. (2002). From infant attachment to promotion of adolescent autonomy: Prospective longitudinal data on the role of parents in development. In J.Grossmann K.E.Grossmann & E.Waters (Eds.), Attachment from infancy to adulthood: The major longitudinal studies (pp. 159–184). Guilford Press.

Thompson R.A.(2006). The development of the person: Social understanding relationships conscience self. In W.Damon R.M.Lerner & N.Eisenberg(Eds.) Handbook of child psychology: Vol3.Social emotional and personality development(6th ed.pp24–98).Wiley.

Jung’s concept of the personal unconscious and its shadow references

Jung, C. G. (1938). Psychology and religion. In H. Read et al. (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung (Vol. 11). Princeton University Press.

Jung, C. G. (1959). The archetypes and the collective unconscious. In H. Read et al. (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung (Vol. 9). Princeton University Press.

Jung, C. G. (1963). Mysterium coniunctionis: An inquiry into the separation and synthesis of psychic opposites in alchemy. In H. Read et al. (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung (Vol. 14). Princeton University Press.

Regain. (2023). Light and shadow: Psychology and Jung’s insights into personality. Retrieved from

Wholeness, dissociation and distortion references:

Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.;1 Harold D. Foster, Ph.D. (2000). Why Schizophrenics Smoke but Have a Lower Incidence of Lung Cancer: Implications for the Treatment of Both Disorders. in Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine Vol. 15, No. 3:

Research on the human mind as a multiplicity references:

Herman J.L. (1992). trauma and recovery: The aftermath of violence – from domestic abuse to political terror. Basic Books.

International Society for the Study of trauma and dissociation (ISSTD). (2011). Guidelines for treating dissociative identity disorder in adults (3rd revision). Journal of trauma & dissociation 12(2): 115-187.

Lifton R.J. (1988). Understanding the traumatized self: Imagery, symbolization, and transformation. In J.P Wilson et al., Human adaptation to extreme stress: From the Holocaust to Vietnam (pp. 7-31). Plenum Press.

Parry S., Lloyd M., & Simpson J. (2018). ‘It’s not all roses’: A biographical study of a psychological therapy service for people with dissociative identity disorder. European Journal of trauma & dissociation, 2(1): 37-47.

Şar V., Akyüz G., Doğan O., Öztürk E., & Yargiç L.I. (2007). The prevalence of dissociative disorders among women in the general population. Psychiatry Research, 149(1-3): 169-176.

Şar V., Akyüz G., Kugu N., Öztürk E., & Ertem-Vehid H. (2014). Axis I dissociative disorder comorbidity in borderline personality disorder and reports of childhood trauma. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 65(10): 1338-1346.

Evidence for the relationship between dissociation and low self-esteem references:

(1) Dissociative disorders – NHS.

(2) Healing from dissociation and Integrating the Self – Welldoing.

(3) dissociation and the self: What part of the brain makes you … – Lumosity.

(4) In-Depth: Understanding Dissociative Disorders – Psych Central.

(5) Orth U., Robins R.W., Widaman K.F., Conger R.D. Is Low self-esteem a Risk Factor for depression? Findings from a Longitudinal Study of Mexican-Origin Youth. Developmental Psychology. 2014;50(2):622–633.

(6) Spiegel D., Loewenstein R.J., Lewis-Fernández R., Sar V., Simeon D., Vermetten E., Cardeña E., Dell P.F. Dissociative disorders in DSM-5. depression & anxiety. 2011;28(12):E17–E45.

(7) dissociation, trauma, and borderline personality disorder.

(8) Kelleher I., Keeley H., Corcoran P., Ramsay H., Wasserman C., Carli V., Sarchiapone M., Hoven C., Wasserman D., Cannon M. Childhood trauma and psychosis in a prospective cohort study: cause, effect, and directionality. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2013;170(7):734–741.

(9) van der Hart O., Nijenhuis E.R.S., Steele K. The Haunted Self: Structural dissociation and the Treatment of Chronic Traumatization. W.W. Norton & Company; 2006.

Low self-esteem and dissociation references

Psychology Today. (2022). Internal Family Systems Therapy. Retrieved from

Schwartz, R. (2021). No Bad Parts: Healing trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model. Boulder: Sounds True.

Sweezy, M., & Ziskind, E. (Eds.). (2013). Internal Family Systems Therapy: New Dimensions. New York: Routledge.

Calmsage. (2022). What Is Jungian Therapy: Techniques, Benefits, And How To Get Started. Retrieved from

The SAP. (n.d.). individuation and the Self. Retrieved from

Verywell Mind. (2021). Jungian Therapy: Definition, Techniques, and Efficacy. Retrieved from

Evidence for wholeness as a driver for self-esteem references:

Taylor, S. (2013). Self-Sufficiency: An Essential Aspect of Well-Being. Psychology Today. Retrieved from

Orth, U., & Robins, R. W. (2014). The development of self-esteem. Current directions in psychological science, 23(5), 381-387.

Mutiwasekwa, S. L. (2020). 14 signs of low self-esteem- Wholeness bliss. Retrieved from

Mind UK (n.d.). What is self-esteem? Retrieved from

Therapeutic options references (n.d.). What is Jungian Psychoanalysis. Retrieved from

Psychology Today. (n.d.). Jungian Therapy. Retrieved from

Routledge. (2022). What is Jungian Psychology? Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2022). analytical psychology. Retrieved from psychoanalysis can be quite long winded as many of the techniques involve collecting data and analysing it over a long-term period.

Schwartz, R. C., & Sweezy, M. (2019). Internal family systems therapy (2nd ed.). New York: The Guilford Press.

Psychology Today Staff. (n.d.). Internal family systems therapy. Retrieved from

WebMD Staff. (2020). What is internal family systems therapy? Retrieved from

MantraCare Staff. (n.d.). Internal family systems therapy: History, benefits and more. Retrieved from

Psychological theories suggesting the human mind as a multiplicity references

Theory of multiple intelligences – Wikipedia. (n.d.). Retrieved August 10, 2023, from

Armstrong, T. (2018). Is MI Theory Research-Based? | Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. Retrieved August 10, 2023, from

Boag, S. (2018). Psychodynamic perspective. In V. Zeigler-Hill & T.K. Shackelford (Eds.), Encyclopedia of personality and individual differences. Springer.

Freud, S. (1923). The ego and the id. In J. Strachey (Ed.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 19). Hogarth Press.

Good Therapy. (n.d.). Psychodynamic therapy. Retrieved from

McLeod, S. (2023). Psychodynamic approach in psychology. Simply Psychology. Retrieved from

Bergson, H. (1912). The idea of duration. In H. Wildon Carr (Ed.), The philosophy of change: A study of the fundamental principle of the philosophy of Bergson (pp. 1-32). Macmillan.

Bland, A. M., & DeRobertis, E. M. (2018). Humanistic perspective. In V. Zeigler-Hill & T. K. Shackelford (Eds.), Encyclopedia of personality and individual differences. Springer.

McLeod, S. (2023). Humanistic approach in psychology (humanism): Definition & examples. Simply Psychology.

McLeod, S. (2017). Behaviorism. Simply Psychology.

Lester, D. (2012). A multiple self theory of the mind. Comprehensive Psychology, 1(5).

Bandura, A. (1989). Human agency in social cognitive theory. American Psychologist, 44(9), 1175-1184.

Hermans, H. J., & Kempen, H. J. (1993). The dialogical self: meaning as movement. Academic Press.

Zimmerman, B. J., & Schunk, D. H. (Eds.). (2001). Self-regulated learning and academic achievement: Theoretical perspectives. Routledge.

Al-Shawaf, L. (2021). Evolution explains puzzling aspects of the human mind. Psychology Today. Retrieved from

BBC. (n.d.). Evolutionary psychology. Retrieved from

Psych Central. (2021). How evolutionary psychology explains human behavior. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Multiplicity (psychology). Retrieved from


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content