Dialogical Self – Hubert Hermans

Hubert Hermans summarizes dialogical self  – a way of understanding the complexity of what we experience within what we call “I”…

“What happens is that the society between people can also happen within the self.”
– Hubert Hermans.

Hubert Hermans summarizes “dialogical self”

Dialogical Self –  Hubert Hermans

What is the dialogical self?

We can understand dialogical self when we realise that we are living in a space – not only an external space but also an internal space.

Internal space
In this space, we can be high and low: I feel high or I feel bad, low.

You can also feel very close to yourself and also far removed.

This happens within the skin.

Extended space

The space we are living in is not only internal, but is also an extended space, larger than that within our skin.

There are many people in the world who play a role in our minds, our mind is populated by other people.

We are thinking and we are feeling about other people, they are there also when we are alone.

In fact, we are never alone.


Society of Mind

Because there are so many people in our minds we could say we live in a society of mind. The self is a society and is at the same time part of a larger society.

In this society of mind there are two kinds of “I” positions, Internal and external.

Internal “I” positions are, for example:
I as an optimist, I as pessimist, I as ambitious, I as vulnerable.

But it can also be I as a child with my parents, I as a father, I as talking care of my parents.

External positions refer to the world, to the extended space, can be my father, my mother, my teacher, an inspiring teacher, can be my brother; can even be my opponent, my enemy because they are loaded in this effect and are existing in my mind.

The point is that in this society of mind what happens is that the society between people can also happen within the self.

For example,
People can criticize each other: I can also criticize myself.
People can have a conflict with other people: I can also have an internal conflict.
People can make an agreement with other people: I can also make an agreement with myself.
People can consult with each other: I can consult myself.

So what happens between people can also happen within the mind.

…and now it becomes very “dialogcal”

I can listen to myself:
I have an optimist in my self related to my father.
I have a pessimist in my self related to my mother.

Different positions react with each other.

But then I’m an optimist and a pessimist at the same time.

My optimist can listen to my pessimist
and my pessimist can listen to my optimist.

This can be easily understood because all of us, we know that you can respond to the situation in an emotional way but also in a reasonable way.

There is a point at which I have an impulse, I want to do something.
But I say: 
Just wait a little bit…
My reason comes in, listens to the emotion,
the emotion listens to the reason.

And in this dialogue the particular decision can be taken.






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