Identity and self-image

Questions like ”Who am I” and ”who am I for real?” have occupied the human psyche throughout history.

At certain points in life we see ourselves in new ways and may even be surprised of our own actions/feelings and thoughts to things that occur to us.

So who are you really? Are you other people’s expectations on you or are you your personality? Without applying deep psychological theories on to this subject (CG Jung ie.) it is still obvious that we can take as many shapes and forms as there are people in the world. Or any creatures and figures that your imagination can possibly come up with for that matter…

*Take many shapes and forms* could be an expression that at first sight seem threatening if your identity is too much related to your personality and to family roles and profession. However, to anyone familiar with drama and theatre it is clear that we in some ways have everything inside of us. This also means there are many possibilities for how we can present ourselves to the world.

Nothing is static anyway in life and sometimes we really need to integrate unknown aspects of ourselves. Or getting more aware of what signals we send out.

Some psychology on these matters anyhow would be to mention DW Winnicott, the British psychoanalyst who was especially influential in the field of object relations theory. He said that the child moves from the safe base (often the parents) to the investigation of the environment. And back to the safe base again. This can be applied to grown-ups while expanding and exploring identity too. We need to have a safe base, ie being mirrored by people we know or meet in daily life. (This can even be just people in the local shop who recognize us.) Yet we expand when meeting and relating to new people and contexts or environments.

So life gives us chances to expand and differentiate the self-image and identity. Yet we will surely benefit from doing it in more aware forms, ie. how they present themselves. Drama courses in general and mask play in particular can help with this. Furthermore it can be a way to find ourselves and the inner core so we can move easily from one role to another, yet staying in our center. A certain freedom is being created when not identifying just with the usual set of roles and qualitites we usually show.


Helande drama 083Using masks can be a way of discovering new sides of ourselves, as in how we peresent ourselves to the world. Self-image and other people's view can match better from a greater awareness on these matters.

Petra Skogsberg

Written by : Petra Skogsberg