"All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts..."
- ( is the phrase that begins a monologue from William Shakespeare's As You Like It, spoken by the melancholy Jaques in Act II Scene VII)
True self and false self are terms introduced into psychoanalysis by D. W. Winnicott in 1960.
Winnicott used the term "True Self" to describe a sense of self based on spontaneous authentic experience, a sense of "all-out personal aliveness" or "feeling real".
The "False Self" was, for Winnicott, a defense designed to protect the True Self by hiding it. He thought that in health, a False Self was what allowed a person to present a "polite and mannered attitude" in public. But he saw more serious emotional problems in patients who seemed unable to feel spontaneous, alive or real to themselves in any part of their lives, yet managed to put on a successful "show of being real". Such patients suffered inwardly from a sense of being empty, dead or "phoney".
True self is sometimes referred to as the "real self".
( D. W. Winnicott, "Ego distortion in terms of true and false self," in The Maturational Process and the Facilitating Environment: Studies in the Theory of Emotional Development)
“No one man can, for any considerable time, wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which is the true one.” Nathaniel Hawthorne