Deutsch: Selbstsein / Español: Individualidad / Português: Identidade Própria / Français: Individualité / Italiano: Identità Personale

In the psychology context, selfhood refers to the quality or state of being an individual person; it encompasses the aspects of an individual that make them unique and distinct from others. Selfhood includes one’s sense of personal identity, self-awareness, and the internal narrative that integrates past experiences with the present and future aspirations. It is the foundation of one's self-concept and self-esteem, shaping how individuals perceive themselves, their roles in society, and their relationships with others.

General Description

Selfhood is a complex, multifaceted construct that involves several components:

  • Self-awareness: The ability to reflect on one’s own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
  • Self-identity: The way individuals define themselves, which can include their beliefs, values, and the roles they occupy in their personal and social lives.
  • Self-esteem: How much value people place on themselves, which can influence their motivation and emotional well-being.

Application Areas

Understanding selfhood is crucial across various branches of psychology:

  • Developmental psychology: Examines how selfhood evolves from infancy through adulthood, including the development of self-concept and identity formation during adolescence.
  • Clinical psychology: Addresses issues related to self-esteem, self-identity, and self-awareness within therapeutic settings, helping individuals build a healthier sense of self.
  • Social psychology: Explores how social interactions and societal norms influence the development and expression of selfhood.

Theoretical Foundations

Several theories in psychology address aspects of selfhood:

  • Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development: Particularly relevant to identity formation during adolescence.
  • James Marcia’s identity status theory: Explores the processes through which individuals achieve their sense of identity.
  • Carl Rogers’ concept of the self: Emphasizes the importance of self-concept in humanistic psychology.


Selfhood in psychology encompasses the essence of being an individual, including one's sense of identity, self-awareness, and self-esteem. It is a central theme in understanding human behavior and mental health, influencing how individuals navigate their internal and external worlds. The journey towards achieving a cohesive sense of selfhood is fundamental to personal development and psychological well-being.


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