Real vs. Ideal Self: A Journey of Self-Discovery

Counseling psychologists who deal with persons suffering from some psychological problems and maladjustment, endeavor to bridge the gap between the individual's real self and ideal self. If means that maladjustment is taken to be scheme between the individual's real self and the ideal self. In real self and ideal self example essay this topic will be discussed. 

Personality psychologists have given a very comprehensive concept of adjustment. Some of them have defined adjustment on the basis of self-concept of the individual which should be in accord with reality. He may define self-concept as the total psychological view that the individual has of himself in relation to the environment or it is an organisation of self-meaning or ways of seeing oneself. Maladjustment takes place when individual's psychological view regarding himself is in discord with reality. A well adjusted person has essentially positive attitude towards self and others and he has feelings of dignity and integrity, worth and self-actualization.

Another group of psychologists such as Asher et al. have explained adjustment from a different angle and defined it in terms of separate responses or acts, large units of behavior in which several separate acts or responses are joined or integrated and called it adjustment.

To continue real self and ideal self essay, from the above discussion it is evident that the adjustment process is multidimensional due to which behavioral scientists differ with one another in emphasizing the important components of adjustment. Reviewing the literature on the concept of adjustment the researcher concludes that the one aspect of adjustment on which most psychologists agree to a large extent is that adjustment can be defined in terms of achieving a balance between internal demands and the requirements of the environment or between internal psychological forces and external conditions of the individual and that adjustment is a continuing process and not a condition. Obviously the process of adjustment can be described on the basis of two factors (a) the individual and his characteristics including needs, motives, competencies and skills and (b) the demands of the external environment in which the persons live. There is always a conflict between the forces cementing from those two factors which call for adjudicative process. That set of behavior can be considered adjudicative behavior which makes a stable balance between the forces originating from these two factors and help the individual in attaining a harmonious, stable and satisfying state.

According to Kisker, 1985, if the conflicts are solved to satisfy the individual needs within the tenets approved by the society the individual is considered adjusted. ‘Besides, this adjustment also requires a harmonious interrelationship within the individual of his various behavioral tendencies. Coleman, states “the process by which an organism attempts to meet the demands placed upon it by its own nature and by its environment is called “adjustment”.

Smith, goes one step further and suggests that good adjustment leads to general satisfaction of the persons as a whole rather than the satisfaction of an intense drive at the expense of others.

Thus we find here that: 

  1. Adjustment is a process, 
  2. By this process the individual tries to bring a harmonious, stable and satisfying relationship with his environment, i.e., by this process the individual alters his impulses and responses to fit the demands of his environment, 
  3. By this process the individuals tries to satisfy his needs and desires in accordance with environmental demands on the one hand, and his abilities and limitations on the other, 
  4. A good adjustment always aims at long-term satisfaction instead of satisfying an immediate intense needs”. 


The researcher will like to point out that adjustment is a continuous process and so it is difficult to draw a demarcation line between adjustment and maladjustment, good adjustment and bad adjustment. The reason is that the adjudicative behaviour may very, with culture, situation, time, place and individuals characteristics.

A comprehensive description of a healthy normal functioning and well adjusted individual is provided in a list of criteria published by Masslow & Mittellmann, namely:

  1. Adequate feeling of security, 
  2. Reasonable degree of self-evaluation (insight), 
  3. Realistic life goals, 
  4. Effective contact with reality,
  5. Integration and consistency of personality, 
  6. Ability to learn from experience, (vii) Adequate spontaneity, 
  7. Appropriate emotionality, 
  8. Ability to satisfy the requirements of group coupled with some degree of emancipation from the group (as expressed in individuality),
  9. Adequate but exaggerated bodily desires with the ability to gratify them in an approved fashion. 

On the basis of the above criteria it can be said that adjustment is the outcome of the individual's efforts to deal with and meet his or her needs. Further, it is the behaviour by which the individual attempts to deal with stress and meet his or her needs, including efforts to maintain harmonious relationship with environment.

Sound and Poor Adjustment: Another important issue is that of describing who are well adjusted and who are poorly adjusted persons ; or, when does a person make healthy adjustment? It will not be a simple matter of classifying individual as adjusted and maladjusted. Adjustment is considered to involve a continuous variable, so the evaluation of individual's in terms of this variable cannot be limited to two extremes. Moreover ,psychologists, or for that matter even other persons, fail to prove scientific and objective criteria of healthy adjustment, or, contrarily, unhealthy adjustments. The reason for this has been enumerated. We know that standards of adjudicative behavior may vary with time, place, culture, circumstances and the characteristics of the individual. There is no single life style which is best for all people ; there are many life styles of varying forms.

An individual may be called adjusted at one time but he may be maladjusted at another time in the same social complex. He may be adjusted to one aspect of life and not to another, for example, he may be emotionally adjusted but socially maladjusted. Criteria against which adjustment is evaluated either as good or bad are provided by a particular cultural context, based on its value systems. And this value system naturally differs from one culture to another, or from one generation to another. Some of the indices of good adjustment at present might become a sign of maladjustment in the future, as for example, in a few societies psychotic-hallucinations were identified as supernatural and God-gifted, whereas number of other societies considered psychotic persons as possessed by the devil and wanted to destroy them. Even today psychotic are considered to be extremely maladjusted persons.

The difficulty is enhanced when it is observed that adjustment is relative in character and it should be judged in terms of how well an individual changes to cope with the demands that he encounters, and naturally this capacity varies with the developmental levels of human personality. Thus, it is better to judge adjustment in terms of a person's ability to meet problems appropriate to his level of development. It is of common observation that even a well adjusted person finds it difficult on some occasions to handle a situation which is beyond the scope of his adjust ability.

To sum up, it is difficult to have a yardstick or norm against which adjustment can be evaluated mainly because of the following reasons:

  • The value system of one's culture differs from another.
  • Even in the same culture value systems change from time to time.
  • Adjustment is to be evaluated considering an individual's developmental level.
  • Adjustment involves a continuous variable.


In view of the above discussion it seems rather difficult to evaluate adjustment as being good or bad. Nevertheless, we can take into consideration the overall characteristics of a well adjusted person and derive some general criteria constituting the basic core of adjustment. These criteria may be summarized as follows:

  • A well adjusted person establishes a harmonious, stable and satisfying relationship with the environment. He meets his needs and fulfils his desires with the resources available in the environment form the view point of his own welfare and that of others. He has realistic self-perception, and appraises his own abilities as well as limitations realistically.
  • He has control on impulses, thoughts, habits, emotions and behavior in terms of self-imposed principles or of demands made by the society. He enjoys a mental life, which is free from depressions, intense fears, acute anxiety, hostility, sense of guilt, insecurity and disruption of thought etc., to a great extent.


In short, to sum up essay example of ideal self and real self and the role of adjustment, it can be said that his behavior is not disturbing to himself and to the people around him. A maladjusted person behaves in a way which is severely disturbing to him and/or to the other members of the society.

10 October 2022
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