Purpose and Functioning of the Self



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The self and our psyche

It would seem then that the self uses our psychological experience to camouflage itself, suggesting that we are functioning as authentic persons. This consolidates our self-awareness and serves the integration of the whole; the truth being of secondary importance.


Integration and control

This integrating function, which may appear a little deceitful after a hypnosis session, is in fact one of the most important functions of the self. In the face of all contradictory tendencies residing within us, this function is of vital importance. If this integration fails, our sense of self cannot collect itself. This can lead to disturbances in our self-awareness, in extreme cases resulting in dissociation.
Thanks to the self, we can name ourselves, orient ourselves in space and time, and consciously focus our attention.



Research into the phenomenon of hypnosis * shows that the self does exist within the field of the soul, but does not have a fixed place in it. It is able to move about freely between the domains of feeling, thinking and acting.
Thanks to this movability of the self, we are able to consciously direct our attention to one of those domains. We can say, for example: “Now I am going to engage in this, or attend to that.” So the self grants us the power to concentrate.



Through its controlling function, the self determines to a great extent what is allowed into consciousness and what is not. Thus the image we have of ourselves is dictated by the self. Subsequently, we start to live by this image, alienated to a greater or lesser degree from our inner essence.
The self is inherent to human beings, but to what extent we are in contact with it, differs from person to person. J. Krishnamurti in particular has put this self in the spotlight, with its thinking patterns, images, argumentations and tricks. However, not everyone is capable of sufficient inner detachment to be able to observe his own ways of reasoning.



Apart from its apparent qualities of constancy, continuity and control, the self has many more disguises. For the purpose of self-preservation, it may put on a front of great flexibility. In other cases it may well ‘look the other way’, in order to evade a confrontation with the truth.
The self or the ego is therefore often regarded as the culprit or villain, blocking all progress. Yet we must not lose sight of the fact that the self plays a vital and crucial role in our development.
Apart from the functions already mentioned (integration, self-preservation, constancy and control), the self protects our vulnerable part, the part that is not yet able to put itself up for discussion. The self accomplishes this protection by making use of any means it has at its disposal, proper or not. 


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