Being Someone: The Integrated Self as a Neuropsychological System

J. Kuhl, M. Quirin, S.L. Koole

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Fully functioning persons are characterized by a unity in thought, emotion, and action that amounts to "being someone" or having "an integrated self." Psychologists have typically treated the integrated self as merely a descriptive term that summarizes significant behavioral achievements. In the present article, the authors seek to place the integrated self on firmer theoretical grounds by relating the integrated self to a neurobiological system with distinct processing characteristics. Building on personality systems interactions theory (Kuhl, ), the authors suggest that the integrated self is supported by parallel-distributed processing in the right anterior cortex and can be distinguished from simpler self-related states of mind. From this neuropsychological model, the authors derive seven functions of the integrated self: emotional connectedness, broad vigilance, utilization of felt feedback, unconscious processing, integration of negative experiences, extended resilience, and extended trust. The authors discuss the seven functions and their mutual relations along with relevant behavioral and neurobiological evidence. Finally, the authors highlight the importance of positive relationships for optimal development of the integrated self and discuss how the integrated self might be further cultivated to improve self-regulation and health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-132
JournalSocial and Personality Psychology Compass
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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