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Real Self, False Self: 
What's The Difference?

Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A.

Number 72

Adult Children of dysfunctional families often have difficulty letting their "real self" show. Instead, they mask their dysfunctionality and anxiety behind the facade of a "false self." The chart below, based on Charles Whitfield's, Healing The Child Within (Health Communications, 1987), contrast the two selves.

Real Self False Self
Authentic Masked
Genuine Ingenuine facade
Spontaneous Plans according to rigid schedules
Expansive, loving Contracting, fearful
Giving, Withholding
Communicative Withdraws From Communication
Accepting and encouraging of self and others Envious, critical, judgmental, self-righteous
Assertive Rigidly assertive and/or extremely passive
Ability to be a child Always a responsible parent
Needs play and humor Runs life from "Adult" scripts
Vulnerable Pretense of Invulnerability
Trusting Overly Trusting and/or Distrusting
Enjoys giving and receiving nurture Avoids nurture
Accepting of people at "face" value Suspicious "What do they want from me?"
Open to the unconscious Denial of unconscious material
Desires freedom and growth Desires isolation and shelter
Can learn, adapt and change Repeats toxic, painful patterns
Thomas F. Fischer

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