Current Psychology

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 1–15 | Cite as

A Subself Theory of Personality

  • David LesterEmail author


Previous theories of personality have introduced the concepts of ego states, complexes, subsystems, subpersonalities, and subselves. A series of postulates and corollaries are proposed in the present paper that form the skeleton of a formal theory of personality based on the concept of subselves. Structural, developmental, psychopathological, and psychotherapeutic implications are discussed.


Personality Subself Subpersonality 



I should like to note my indebtedness to my teachers, Abraham Maslow and George Kelly, and to Andras Angyal of whom Abraham Maslow spoke highly but whom I never met.


  1. Angyal, A. (1965). Neurosis and treatment. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  2. Baumeister, R. F. (1998). The self. In D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology, Volume 1 (pp. 680–740). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  3. Bearhs, J. O. (1983). Co-consciousness. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 26, 100–113.Google Scholar
  4. Berne, E. (1961). Transactional analysis in psychotherapy. New York: Grove.Google Scholar
  5. Boulding, K. E. (1968). The organizational revolution. Chicago, IL: Quadrangle.Google Scholar
  6. Cox, M. J., & Paley, B. (1997). Families as systems. Annual Review of Psychology, 48, 243–267.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Deaux, K. (1991). Social identities. In R. C. Curtis (Ed.), The relational self (pp. 77–93). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  8. Erikson, E. (1968). Identity: Youth and crisis. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  9. Ewing, K. P. (1990). The illusion of wholeness. Ethos, 18(34), 251–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Firestone, R. W. (1997). Combating destructive thought processes. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  11. Frick, W. B. (1993). Subpersonalities. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 33, 122–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Geertz, C. (1984). From the native’s point of view. In R. A. Shweder & R. A. LeVine (Eds.), Culture theory (pp. 123–126). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Gergen, K. J. (1971). The concept of self. New York: Holt.Google Scholar
  14. Goffman, E. (1961). Encounters. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill.Google Scholar
  15. Goulding, M. M., & Goulding, R. L. (1979). Changing lives through redecision therapy. New York: Brunner/Mazel.Google Scholar
  16. Hermans, H. J. M. (2002). The dialogic self. In Y. Kashima, M. Foddy, & M. J. Platow (Eds.), Self and identity (pp. 71–99). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  17. Hilgard, E. R. (1986). Divided consciousness. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  18. Horowitz, M. (1988). Formulation of states of mind in psychotherapy. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 42, 514–520.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Kelly, G. A. (1955). The psychology of personal constructs. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  20. Laing, R. D. (1969). The divided self. New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  21. Lester, D. (1992). The disunity of the self. Personality and Individual Differences, 13, 947–948.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lester, D. (1993–1994). On the disunity of the self. Current Psychology, 12, 312–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lester, D. (1995). Theories of personality. Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  24. Lester, D. (1997). Multiple selves and self-monitoring. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 84, 938.Google Scholar
  25. Lester, D. (1998). Phenomenological description of subselves using George Kelly’s repertory grid. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 86, 537–538.Google Scholar
  26. Lester, D. (2003) Comment on “The self as a problem.” Journal of Socio-Economics, 32, 499–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lester, D. (2004). Subself theory and reincarnation/possession. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 99, 1336–1338.Google Scholar
  28. Mair, J. M. M. (1977). The community of self. In D. Bannister (Ed.), New perspectives in personal construct theory (pp. 125–149). New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  29. Markus, H., & Wurf, E. (1987). The dynamic self-concept. Annual Review of Psychology, 38, 299–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Maslow, A. H. (1970). Motivation and personality. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  31. Merton, R. K. (1968). Social theory and social structure. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  32. Minuchin, S. (1974). Families and family therapy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Mischel, W. (1968). Personality and assessment. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  34. Moldoveanu, M., & Stevenson, H. (2001). The self as a problem. Journal of Socio-Economics, 30, 295–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ogilvy, J. (1977). Many dimensional man. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Orton, J. D. (1974). A transactional approach to suicide prevention. Clinical Social Work Journal, 2, 57–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Perls, F. S., Hefferline, R. F., & Goodman, P. (1951). Gestalt therapy. New York: Julian.Google Scholar
  38. Progoff, I. (1973). Jung’s psychology and its social meaning. Garden City, NY: Anchor.Google Scholar
  39. Raskin, J. D. (2005). Constructivism in psychology. American Communication Journal, 5(3).Google Scholar
  40. Richards, D. G. (1990). Dissociation and transformation. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 30(3), 54–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ring, K. (1992). The Omega project. New York: William Morrow.Google Scholar
  42. Rogers, C. R. (1959). A theory of therapy, personality, and interpersonal relationships as developed in the client-centered framework. In S. Koch (Ed.), Psychology: A study of a science, Volume 3 (pp. 1–59). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  43. Rowan, J. (1990). Subpersonalities. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  44. Schelling, T. C. (1980). The intimate contest for self-control. Public Interest, 60, 94–118.Google Scholar
  45. Schwartz, R. C. (1995). Internal family systems therapy. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  46. Shapiro, S., & Elliott, J. (1976). The selves within you. Berkeley, CA: Explorations Institute.Google Scholar
  47. Turner, R. (1978). The role and the person. American Journal of Sociology, 84, 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Vargiu, J. (1974). Subpersonalities. Synthesis, 1(1), WB9–WB47.Google Scholar
  49. Wagner, E. (1971). Structural analysis. Journal of Personality Assessment, 35, 422–435.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Wapner, S. (1964). Some aspects of a research program based on an organismic developmental approach to cognition. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 3, 193–230.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Yost, J. H., Strube, M. J., & Bailey, J. R. (1992). The construction of the self. Current Psychology, 11, 110–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for the Study of SuicideBlackwoodUSA

Personalised recommendations