Human mind is one of the greatest mysteries of the world
The ways one thinks, perceives, and reacts to the changing environment have always been the most intriguing and desirable things to know for scientists. Psychology as a science that explores people’s mind has emerged not so long ago and began to develop rather rapidly. Such state of things was dictated by the growing interest to the inner world of a human being. Scientists wanted to know the natural laws and regularity of the human behavior. People needed to know how the brain works because of various reasons. The understanding of the human brain development and self-perception were among these reasons. Thus, only the theories of such kind can be helpful in understanding the main topic of Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”.
The concepts and theories were emerging during the decades of the human mind exploration. Scientists intruded into the most mysterious, incomprehensible, and unpredictable area of our existence (Suler, 1998). Since most of the common people did not understand these researches. In fact, these matters are so deep, still undiscovered, individual, and sometimes irrational that even modern people do not understand themselves as deeply as it is necessary to be free from different complexes, fears, and bad features of character (Sherer, 2005).
However, the essence of human being is in its perception of itself and the environment that surrounds people. Only the combination of these two processes creates personality, influences the behavior, dictates particular actions.
As it was mentioned before, people are who they are because of how people think about themselves (position) and how they behave. Could anyone imagine just for one second that everyone around expresses his own thoughts and behaves strictly according to his own thoughts and desires? Of course, some people do so however, it does not fall into a pattern; on the contrary, such cases are exceptional and rather rear. Thus, the divergence in these two processes occurs more often than people think. It is conditioned by the difference between the concepts of true self and false self, proposed by Donald Winnicott (Suler, 1998; Sherer, 2005).
Winnicott proposed to use term “self” as the description of both ego and self-as-object
In order to develop his research, Winnicott proposed concepts of true self and false self as the two inherited parts of our existence (Suler, 1998). Both of them are connected with human behavior and represent the difference between the inner world of a human being and the actions that are conditioned by the outside factors. Thus, the concept of true self can be described as the real, true, instinctive reactions of a human being.
The concept of false self, on the other hand, is used when it is necessary to do something that has to be done according to the situation. The most obvious example is being polite in the society, disregarding the true feelings that people have regarding the person they have to be polite with. Since the development of a personality starts at the very beginning of human existence, these concepts can be applied to the human behavioral patterns at different stages of living (Suler, 1998; Sherer, 2005).
True self, as it was mentioned before, is the instinctive reaction, need, basically, core of the personality. At the beginning of life, human mind is “clean” and open. People begin to percept the outside world, imbibe information like a sponge, people learn to live in this world. At the same time, infants react in any situation according to the instinctive needs for self-expression (Sherer, 2005).
True self, developed and strengthened since the infant age, gives numerous advantages to the developing personalities (Sherer, 2005). Creativity, honesty, open heartiness, and other positive features of character are the results of the true self, supported by the appropriate attitude of a mother. The responsiveness of the mother supports the weak ego of an infant. It is very important for the further development of a child (Suler, 1998).
False self, on the contrary, is a conscious reaction to a situation, in which true attitude to it differs from the commonly accepted one. Actually, social life is full of such situations. Anyone could remember numerous situations when their reactions were dictated by the social need to be nice and polite but not the actual attitude to a person. After a while, the conscious reaction becomes unconscious and old people accept their loneliness as it should be.
It happens because it is applied too many times and too often in the society to think about it
True self and false self are the two sides of the same coin and it is not possible to live without any of them. These concepts are interconnected and interdepended during life (Sherer, 2005). People cannot be completely open and honest with every person they meet because the world is built on the principles that do not accept such state of things.
However, it is very important to maintain the balance between honest, real, true reactions and false analogs. Otherwise, pathological false self could develop. The situations when people are not happy because they do not like their actions, when they feel like they have betrayed their essence are not that rare in the world. These are the results of false self-development into the major line of behavior (Sherer, 2005).