The alter ego of a person is what is in psychology in simple words


  1. Definition of an alter ego
  2. What depends on our alter ego
  3. Types of alternative personality
  4. Feminine
  5. Male
  6. Teenage
  7. Advantages and disadvantages
  8. How to create an alternate image
  9. How to get rid of
  10. Real life examples
  11. Alter Ego Videos

The expression "alter ego", which came from classical psychology, became widely known thanks to literature and cinema. The article discusses the meaning of this concept, its varieties and influence on the human personality.

Definition of an alter ego

A person's alter ego is his second, alternative, personality. Literally translated from the Latin language, the concept means "another self". It can refer to both a real person and an image created by the imagination.

The expression is used in the following cases.

  • To denote a fictional person, deliberately created by the imagination and differing in psychological characteristics from the person who invented it.
  • For a literary character that the author identifies with himself. He is the second personality of the writer, but at the same time he has a completely different set of qualities and characteristics, differs in behavior.
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  • To refer to real people who have been trusted to act on behalf of someone else.
  • This technique is used by artists, musicians or other people of art to create a stage image that is radically different from the personality that only relatives and friends know.
  • This definition can mean a certain ideal, a real person or a fictional image with which one wants to be identified.
  • This is the designation of a complex of psychological characteristics of a person, which he hides from other people. The so-called "dark side" of the personality.The alter ego of a person is what is in psychology in simple words
  • In psychological science, the term denotes a set of different types of behavior manifested by one person in different life situations.
  • In psychiatry, the term is sometimes used to describe the symptoms of certain dissociative personality disorders. In common parlance, this phenomenon is called a split personality.

The concept of "Alter ego" is used in psychology, medicine, culture, art and everyday life.

What depends on our alter ego

A person's alter ego is an opportunity to be in someone else's shoes, to try on an unusual, but desired psychological or social role.

The most obvious functions of the second self are:

  • protection;
  • device;
  • manipulation;
  • Search;
  • the game.

The alter ego can act as a "protector", replacing the main personality when needed. For example, a person may behave defiantly and cheekily to hide their natural shyness. In this way, he tries to protect himself from possible harassment from others.

Approximately the same goal is served by the desire to adapt to the environment, as if to hide behind a screen with the image of another person.

The activity of the alter ego can also depend on the receipt of any psychological benefits, so it can manifest itself as a tool of manipulation. In this case, the hidden aspects of the personality are turned on when a person needs to get a certain response from someone or get a beneficial psychological result from communication.

The second (third, and so on) I is the result of a search for oneself. A person, as it were, tries on different types of personality, characters. To some extent, this may even be an attempt to feel like a person of a different gender, age, social status.

Finally, they resort to alter egos just for fun, when everyday life gets bored and you want something unusual.

Psychologist Eric Berne, known for developing the transactional analysis model, considers 3 main psychological roles within its framework:

  • child;
  • parent;
  • adult.

These states are inherent in every personality and are "included" in certain situations as a "hypertrophied ego" (as defined by E. Bern).

The role of "Child" is typical of impulsive creative people.

She is characterized by:

  • immediacy;
  • impressionability;
  • unpredictability;
  • creativity.

The "Parent" condition is often found in people whose lifestyle or professional activity is associated with increased responsibility - leaders, military men, politicians.

A hypertrophied ego of this type is distinguished by such qualities as:

  • conservatism;
  • authoritarianism;
  • patronage;
  • dominance.The alter ego of a person is what is in psychology in simple words

“Adult” is considered the most harmonious role that only spiritually mature individuals who are constantly working on themselves can “play”. Balance, responsibility and awareness are inherent in this ego.

Types of alternative personality

More often than not, people feel the need for a second self when they want to go beyond the patterns associated with gender or age. Society imposes stereotypes of behavior through stereotyped phrases: "Be a man", "You're a girl", "Not mature enough yet." Therefore, the most common types of alter ego are female, male and adolescent.


A typical male image created by society includes such characteristics as will, firmness, toughness, emotional restraint, and business activity. But in reality, a man may have a different set of psychological qualities.

A person under constant pressure from public opinion does not dare to openly show sensitivity, gentleness, and compliance. To meet the expectations of society, he tries to hide these and other "feminine" traits, resorting to the help of the second self.

Such a man can show diametrically opposite qualities in different social environments and demonstrate different patterns of behavior depending on the environment. For example, in front of colleagues, he is always in the image of an imperious and authoritarian leader, and households know him as a good-natured bummer who never raises his voice.

The extreme manifestation of the alter ego can be expressed in the complete recreation of the female personality, down to clothing, gait, name, biography. Moreover, this phenomenon has nothing to do with homosexual inclinations. A man is clearly aware of his "main" I and never completely dissolves in a woman's image.

Reincarnation into a woman can be caused by the desire to overcome any complexes, to be liberated. Suffice it to recall the well-known pop image of Verka Serduchka. Artist Andrei Danilko in various interviews called himself a modest person, prone to solitude. The singer came up with the image of a broken Verka in order to cope with his natural shyness and constraint on stage.


By analogy, women have a male alter ego. Just like in men, it appears when it becomes uncomfortable to show any psychological qualities in a woman's guise. To avoid or at least smooth out the negative reaction of others, the owner of the second person begins to act on behalf of “that guy”.

Different masculine selves can exhibit positive or negative qualities. In some cases, the second person shows determination, activity, will to win, helping to solve problems in difficult life situations.

In others, the male alter ego serves for psychological relaxation, release of accumulated emotional stress and going beyond the ordinary. This can be expressed in shocking behavior, deliberate swagger, rudeness and aggressiveness.The alter ego of a person is what is in psychology in simple words

So, once the American singer Lady Gaga appeared on stage in the form of Joe Calderone, who, during a concert performance, drank beer, smoked and performed wild antics. Subsequently, the artist said that the image of a cheeky guy was experimental.


The first alter egos appear in a child long before adolescence. Every little boy imagined himself to be some kind of superhero: a knight, a brave tracker, a brave general. Any girl in childhood "was" a beautiful princess, fairy or a brilliant movie star.

In adolescence, priorities change, but the desire to try on a different life intensifies. Growing up and becoming a personality is accompanied by an active search for oneself, as well as the appearance of doubts and complexes. Therefore, in a transitional age, a person can have many alter egos, replacing each other.

In this way, a teenager seeks to solve several problems:

  • find yourself, answer the question: "Who am I?";
  • cope with insecurity and age complexes;
  • gain credibility with peers;
  • find and occupy your social niche.

A maturing personality is characterized by demonstrative behavior with the aim of self-affirmation and attracting the attention of others. So, an excellent student can pretend to be a relaxed seductress with a defiant make-up, and an inconspicuous outsider boy can pretend to be a cool champion or a rock star.

Advantages and disadvantages

A person's alter ego is a second personality that can help to see the main self as if from the outside and give an impetus to development. At the same time, an alternative personality can completely take over consciousness and cause serious damage to the psyche.

It is important to keep it under control and understand what effect it has on a person. The table shows the most obvious pros and cons of alter ego exposure.

Positive alter ego action Negative action of the alter ego
The ideal self becomes a guideline for personal growth. There is a risk of loss of identity.
The "mask" can help you achieve success in life. In order to get into any closed community or climb the social ladder, a person uses the person who is better at coping with the goal. Striving for an unattainable ideal leads to disappointment, constant internal dissatisfaction, depression and serious nervous and mental disorders.
Switching to another self helps to liberate and relieve internal tension. The emergence of an alter ego can be the result of self-rejection.
A negative alter ego helps to reveal hidden fears, vices, and dark sides. "Dark" I pushes a person to unseemly actions.

It is important to understand that the presence of another I acquires a positive or negative meaning, depending on how much the person is aware of and controls it. The difference between people with alter ego and dissociative identity disorder is that the former are aware of the presence of the other person, while the latter are not.

How to create an alternate image

The cases in which the alter ego is created consciously was discussed above. If a person resorts to an artificial self-image as a stage or any other image, this does not contradict the mental norm and is not considered a deviation.

The alter ego of a person is what is in psychology in simple words

To create a second personality, you need to take the following steps:

  1. A person should have a clear understanding of what he needed an alter ego for, so first you need to define a goal. A set of further actions depends on it. For example, for a literary pseudonym, it will be enough to come up with a name and, possibly, a few strokes of a biography. The stage image will require careful visualization of all details - from clothes and hairstyles to facial expressions and intonations.
  2. You need to start creating a character with his personality. Everything else depends on his character traits, temperament, set of psychological qualities: appearance, clothes, habits, various small details.
  3. Simultaneously with the psychological characteristics, you need to think about the main external features: gender, age, race.
  4. The created personality must have a biography. The way of life, its main events, environment, occupations leave an imprint on the character and appearance of any person, even a fictional one. It is not necessary to create an entire biography from scratch. You can partially "share" your own life with the character.
  5. Next, the second self needs to come up with a name. Depending on the specific circumstances, a person can be endowed with a full name with or without a surname, a nickname, a rank, and so on.
  6. When the core of the personality is created and the name is given, the turn of the external appearance begins. You need to think over in detail the clothes, hairstyle, characteristic accessories.
  7. After the character's image is formed, it remains to "revive" him. To do this, a new personality must be endowed with characteristic intonations of the voice, favorite phrases, facial expressions, and gestures.
  8. If you want or need, you can add some more small details.

Sometimes they draw it to visualize the future image. To see the personality being created from the outside, you can experiment in front of a mirror.

How to get rid of

Getting rid of the second self can be difficult. If it was created deliberately for a specific purpose, you can try to make contact with it, as with a real person. To do this, you need to imagine him (or her) sitting opposite and thank for the help provided.

Then you should choose one of two options. In the first of them, you need to tell your second personality that her help is no longer needed and ask to leave. In the second case, if you cannot get rid of it, you can try to negotiate so that it manifests itself only in strictly specified cases.

A person's alter ego is a thin line between reality and fiction, so it can be difficult to control. First of all, this concerns the "dark" manifestations: anger, aggression, the desire to harm other people. Such games with their own psyche are dangerous and can result in irreversible personality changes.

When the alter ego starts to spiral out of control, only a qualified therapist can help. If a person is not aware of the negative influence of another I, this indicates serious mental disorders. In such cases, external intervention and medical psychiatric care are required.

Real life examples

Many famous foreign and Russian actors and musicians have a stage alter ego.

The name of the singer Beyoncé is widely known, but only fans of her work know about Sasha Firs. This is the name of the artist's alter ego, to whom she even dedicated one of her music albums. Beyonce admitted in an interview that she created an alternative personality specifically for stage performances. In her own words, Sasha Firs allows her to behave in a way she would not dare in everyday life. The alter ego of a person is what is in psychology in simple words

Grisha Urgant is the alter ego of the popular TV presenter Ivan Urgant. Grisha is a talented but little-known rock musician. This personality has its own biography, completely different from the biography of Ivan.

The iconic British singer David Bowie created the androgynous alien Ziggy Stardust. Under this name, the musician released two albums, and then "buried" his alter ego. Often, under the guise of literary characters, authors describe their second self. So, it is believed that in the books about Harry Potter, the image of Hermione Granger is the writer J.K. Rowling herself.

The human psyche is an extremely complex and, at the same time, vulnerable system. Various experiments on it can lead to irreversible consequences. Therefore, people who decide to create an alter ego need to be careful and keep the second self under constant control.

Author: Veronika Reutova

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