Self-knowledge (psychology)

Self-knowledge is the knowledge of a person about one's self. Self-knowledge is closely related to self-reflection, thinking about yourself, and the self-criticism, the critical questioning and judging of his own thinking, their own views and actions. The ability to self-knowledge presupposes the existence of self-confidence, which can be defined as " reflexive, prudent awareness of one's self ". But self-knowledge also presupposes a certain objectivity of self-observation and self-image, that is the "correct assessment of the characteristics, dispositions, powers, values ​​of self, drawn from a comparison of the activities and reactions of the ego in life, in the social community. "

Self-knowledge is a basic human skill that is not only on the philosophy examines, inter alia, from psychology and especially of those who understand psychology. It is also the basis of intersubjectivity, ie of understanding of other people, and thus an important precondition for a functioning social coexistence. The opposite of self-knowledge is self-deception.

A consequence of too little self-knowledge may be hubris or self-depreciation. The latter is a little used term; it is used mainly in psychological contexts (see also inferiority complex, wallflower ).

Philosophical concept

For the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates self-knowledge is a prerequisite for morality. The traditional inter alia, Heraclitus, often Thales or the Seven Sages attributed motto " Know thyself " adorned the entrance to the ancient temple of Apollo at Delphi. The demand for self-knowledge is one of the oldest and still the most important demands of philosophy at the individual time (see Gnothi seauton ).

Epistemologically based the philosophical structure of self-knowledge to a reversion of the cognitive process to the discerning person himself (see hermeneutics ). Incentive for this recognition is to overcome the "subject - object split ." According to Karl Jaspers is self-reflection " within the global relationship of the conscious and unconscious". Subject- object dichotomy exists so far in ourselves, just inside opposition of conscious and unconscious, not only in our always imperfect relationship to the outside world.


Self- referred to the psychoanalytical sense the ideas of a self and its relations to the environment. Self-knowledge in this context is the acquisition of knowledge about one's own psychic abilities, possibilities and realities. It is a requirement of self-realization. In psychoanalysis as a treatment method is the ability to self-knowledge and self-reflection prerequisite for the success of the treatment. Even if a person has the ability to self-knowledge, this is complicated by internal resistors who want to oppose the recognition of unpleasant details of self or the environment.


Self-knowledge can also be viewed as a result of the experience of timelessness in the sense of mysticism. For Plotinus the state of timelessness is characterized by complete self-knowledge, presence and letting go of expectations and visions of the future. Similar statements are found in many writings of theologians, mystics and the Philosophia perennis again. To realize the " birth of God in the soul ," said Meister Eckhart teaches, you have to remove the concept of time from everyday life. The experience of timelessness requires the task of identification with sensations, and in a sense also with the mind and knowledge, and therefore the basics of everyday experience and Sciences.

Theoretical models

There are many theoretical models are available that deal in large part with self-knowledge. These include the MBTI and the Enneagram.