Poor Self Image

A person’s self-image is the mental picture, generally of a kind that is quite resistant to change, that depicts not only details that are potentially available to objective investigation by others (height, weight, hair colour, gender, I.Q. score, etc.), but also items that have been learned by that person about himself or herself, either from personal experiences or by internalizing the judgements of others. A simple definition of a person’s self-image is their answer to this question – “What do you believe people think about you?”.

Self-image may consist of three types:

  1. Self-image resulting from how the individual sees himself or herself.

  2. Self-image resulting from how others see the individual.

  3. Self-image resulting from how the individual perceives others see him or her.

These three types may or may not be an accurate representation of the person. All, some or none of them may be true.

Poor self-image may be the result of accumulated criticisms that the person collected as a child which have led to damaging their own view of themselves. Children in particular are vulnerable to accepting negative judgements from authority figures because they have yet to develop competency in evaluating such reports.

Poor self-image is not always caused by other people. The person may be often told he or she is beautiful/pretty/handsome but cannot personally see it. Poor judgement on her or himself can be disastrous if not controlled properly.

Negative self-images can arise from a variety of factors. A prominent factor, however, is personality type. Perfectionists, high achievers, and those with “type A” personalities seem to be prone to having negative self-images.[2] This is because such people constantly set the standard for success high above a reasonable, attainable level. Thus, they are constantly disappointed in this “failure.”

  1. ^ Rogers et al. 1977
  2. ^ Adler, Ronald B., Lawrence B. Rosenfeld, and Russell F. Proctor, II. Interplay: The Process of Interpersonal Communication, 25.