Self-realization means in ordinary language the greatest possible realization of their own goals, aspirations and desires with the ultimate goal of " one's own being completely bring to unfold " (Oscar Wilde), and - by extension - the fullest possible utilization of the individual given opportunities and talents. The term has a negative connotation of selfishness ( Christian alder) and lack of a sense of family for his conservative critics. On the other hand, self-realization is just associated with altruism in the Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Even the humanism that can be considered as first philosophy of self- realization of man, rather suggests this connection. A philosopher who advocated the complete and boundless self-realization of the individual ( without the term to use ) was Max Stirner.

The neurologist Kurt Goldstein was concerned in 1934 in his major work The structure of the organism also detail the concept of self-realization. He notes that the organism is endeavoring to maintain some form of interaction with the environment in which he can realize his nature according to most adequately. This tendency towards realization of his being he later called self-realization. By " nature " Goldstein understands the peculiarities of the organism associated his individuality and the "maintenance of the relative constancy of the organism."

In psychology, Abraham Maslow has made the term prominently. Within a hierarchy of needs, he put him to the top of or the last place in the ranking body / security / love / recognition / self-realization.

In psychoanalysis, Carl Jung showed that man strives in the second half of life to the integration of split-off parts of the personality.

According to Marx, the self-realization should be done primarily by human labor. He distinguished between the self-realization as a generic in nature and self-realization as an individual in society.

Rogers sees self-realization as a basic motive of human action and uses the term actualizing tendency for its specific concept.

In philosophy, religion and science, there are many more views, what self-realization, usually without the expression explicitly to use, making up. They arise out of the man, which is based on or developed, and the resulting developed theory or doctrine of self or self-concept. Often individualism is regarded as a prerequisite for self-realization, but the self-realization ultimately succeed only by working together with other people, in so far as man is a social being and have a social identity, which needed confirmation and recognition by others. Max Stirner stands for a conception of self-realization, which does not require such recognition, as well as the existentialism of Sartre. The grant to the fellow man is not founded by such a view then in a need of man as a social being, but done out of freedom ( responsibility, love, design of the " good" life, etc.). Religious teachings consider the connection with the Divine as necessary for self-realization, the ill- linge otherwise.

Often the generation of 1968 is accused of her quest for self-realization. For many young people, however, the self-realization still an ideal dar. There are also current trends within the communist movement, who see in the self-realization of each of the goal of a future society.

After Johan Galtung violence is defined by self-realization: violence is present when the current self-realization is lower than it could be because of society's resources.