from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In everyday language, self-realization means realizing your own goals , desires and desires as far as possible with the overriding goal of " fully developing your own being " ( Oscar Wilde ), as well as - related to this - the most extensive possible exhaustion of the individually given possibilities and wishes Abilities (talents).

Concept history

In psychology , Abraham Maslow made the term prominent. Within a hierarchy of needs ( Maslow's hierarchy of needs ), he placed it at the top or the last position in the sequence body / security / love / recognition / self-realization. A philosopher who advocated the full and limitless self-realization of the individual (without using the term) was Max Stirner .

In 1934, the neurologist Kurt Goldstein dealt extensively with the concept of self-realization in his main work The Structure of the Organism . He states that the organism strives to maintain a certain form of confrontation with the environment in which it can most adequately realize itself, according to its nature. He later called this tendency towards the realization of his being self-realization. By “essence” Goldstein understands the peculiarities of the organism's individuality and the “maintenance of the relative constancy of the organism”.

According to Karl Marx , self-realization should happen primarily through human work . He distinguished between self-realization as a species in nature and self-realization as an individual in society .

Carl Rogers sees self-actualization as a fundamental motive for human action and uses the term actualization tendency for his specific concept.

In philosophy, religion and science there are many other views of what constitutes self-actualization, mostly without using the term explicitly. They result from the image of man that is taken as a basis or developed, and the theory or doctrine of self or self-concept developed from it . Individualism is often seen as a prerequisite for self-realization, but in the end self-realization can only succeed together with other people, insofar as the person is a social being and has a social identity that needs confirmation and recognition by others. Max Stirner stands for a conception of self-realization that does not need such recognition, as does Sartre's existentialism . According to such a view, the devotion to fellow human beings is not based on a need of the human being as a social being, but happens out of freedom ( responsibility , love , shaping the “good” life etc.) Religious teachings consider connection with a divine or absolute to be necessary for self-realization.

Significantly influenced by Maslow's ideas, the Human Potential Movement developed from the USA , in which the development of human personality and potential and the fulfillment of meaning in life are the focus. The generation of 1968 is often accused of striving for self-realization. There are also current currents within the communist movement that see the goal of a future society in the self-realization of everyone.

According to Johan Galtung , violence is defined in terms of self-realization: Violence is present when the current self-realization is less than it could be based on social resources.

Relation to the world of work

According to the German futurologist Horst Opaschowski , self-realization is a “privilege for minorities”. Through their work , around 40% of the self-employed in Germany were able to find their way into their jobs in 1999, while it was only 20% of the workers. He sees self-realization as a subjective concept. Self-realization is often shifted to the private sphere.


For its conservative critics, the term has a negative connotation of egoism and a lack of family spirit. On the other hand, in Maslow's hierarchy of needs, self-actualization is associated with altruism . Humanism , too , which can be regarded as the first philosophy of human self-realization, tends to suggest this connection.

Positive :

  • Self-realization as a goal gives life a task, a direction.
  • According to Aristotle, human nature is based on self-realization.

Negative :

  • The concept of self-realization is very vague.
  • In many cases it serves practically to justify egoism, narcissism and individualism.
  • From a religious point of view, it suggests "a theologically negligible primacy of one's own actions and a kind of self-redemption."


  • “Germany - a country of singles, of consumers and an old people's home. The first two keywords can also be summarized: a land of self-actualizers. "

See also


  • August Flammer: Development Theories . Huber-Verlag, Bern 2003.
  • Frank Goble: The Third Force. AH Maslow's Contribution to a Psychology of Mental Health. Olten 1979.
  • Jolande Jacobi : The Psychology of CG Jung. An introduction to the complete works. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1978.
  • Ina Schildbach: Poverty as injustice. On the topicality of Hegel's perspective on self-realization, poverty and the welfare state. Transcript, Bielefeld 2018, ISBN 978-3-8376-4443-2 (also dissertation University Erlangen 2017).
  • Julius Kuhl, Andreas Luckner: Free Selfhood. Authenticity and regression. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2007.
  • Erich Fromm : The image of man in Marx. With the most important parts of Karl Marx's early writings. Frankfurt am Main 1975.
  • Oscar Wilde : Socialism and the human soul . ( The Soul of Man under Socialism ) 1891.
  • Ludvik Pocivavsek: Self-Realization: An Analysis from a Psychological and Ethical Perspective. Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2002.
  • Magnus Schlette: The idea of ​​self-realization. On the grammar of modern individualism. Campus, Frankfurt am Main & New York 2013.

Web links

Wiktionary: Self-realization  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Oscar Wilde: The Portrait of Dorian Gray . Chapter 2.
  2. Kurt Goldstein: The structure of the organism. Introduction to biology with a special focus on experiences with sick people. Nijhoff, Den Haag 1934 (photomechanical reprint: Nijhoff, Den Haag 1963), p. 235.
  3. ^ Kurt Goldstein: Selected Papers / Selected Writings. Nijhoff, The Hague 1971, p. 420.
  4. Kurt Goldstein: The structure of the organism. Introduction to biology with a special focus on experiences with sick people. Nijhoff, Den Haag 1934 (photomechanical reprint: Nijhoff), Den Haag 1963, p. 220.
  5. Horst Opaschowski: Germany 2010. How we will work and live tomorrow. 2nd Edition. Edition of the BAT Freizeit-Forschungsinstitut GmbH, Hamburg 2001, page 76 f.
  6. Reinhardt Brandt: Philosophy: an introduction. Reclam, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-15-018137-2 , p. 173.
  7. Peter Lippert: Self-realization. In: Christian Schütz (Ed.): Practical Lexicon of Spirituality. Herder, Freiburg i.Br. u. a. 1992, ISBN 3-451-22614-6 , Sp. 1134 (1135).
  8. ^ Bothe: Vereinigung der Deutschen Staatsrechtslehrer 54 (1995), p. 7 (10).