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  • Writer's pictureTom Robinson

The self-concept and incongruence: psycho-babble or an important point?!

Updated: Jan 28, 2022

I had not intended to write so much on the topic of psychology, mental health/illness and spirituality this week, but Dr Razzaque’s book ‘Breaking Down is Waking Up’ has been so provocative and inspiring that it’s stirred up a lot of other thoughts and theories, and I know that all of this is important.

So, once again, I am gratuitously writing all of this down because I know that eventually people will want to know all of this stuff and here it will be, documented and explained for everyone else to benefit from!

Hopefully, by that point, I will be lying on a beach somewhere, having a well-deserved rest and finally moving on with my life!

Breaking Down really is Waking Up!

Reading Dr Razzaque’s amazing book has reminded me of the many concepts and principles that I learnt during my psychology degree, and it’s been good to note that I did actually absorb some of the info, even though (because of the illness), that period of my life was so enormously upsetting, unsettling, and disrupted.

If I’m completely honest, I found the subject of psychology far too broad, somehow disconnected, and with a hell of a lot of waffle, repetition, and general verbosity, interspersed, I suppose, with some quite interesting (but not fully explored) notions, beliefs, and ideas!

Some of the more interesting parts involved the issue of ‘personality’ and the ‘psychoanalytic’ theories which did interest me, and I’ve revisited some of this in Dr Razzaque’s ‘Breaking Down is Waking Up’ over the last week – it’s all started to make a lot of sense – who would have thought!

Carl Rogers – my favourite psychologist

Of all of the psychologists mentioned in the book, Carl Rogers gets the least credit, but for me personally, he’s the one who ‘gets it’ in the most practical, pragmatic (if psychology ever really can be), and applicative way.

He always worked on the ‘client centred’ approach and maintained that:

‘The client is the expert of themselves.’

This is so important and so true – treatment must be patient-led as only the individual can know how they truly feel – yet this isn’t happening in the current psychopharmacological model (that’s the one where they do nothing but feed people drugs, numb them down, disable their brains, and sedate them with antipsychotics) – something which is happening constantly!…. Oh dear!

This has all got to change for future generations - what's currently going on out there would baffle a psychiatrist - the irony in all of this never ceases to escape me!

We are unique individuals!

It is impossible, even for the best, most highly qualified, psychologist or psychiatrist, to understand someone else’s true experience of life. feeling & emotion, and how they link all of that to their perspective and understanding of the world around them.

Everyone is on their own unique journey, within their own unique mindset, having formed their own unique set of morals, principles, dreams, ambitions, interpretations, and belief systems.

This means that no two mental states or ‘conditions’ will ever be exactly the same - This is the major challenge in psychiatry and is something that both Carl Rogers and Dr Razzaque truly appreciate and recognise.

The route to recovery, remission/ ongoing mental wellness/ spiritual awakening is going to be different for everyone, therefore it’s important to exercise as much understanding, and EMPATHY, wrapped up in a more flexible and holistic approach that caters more specifically to that particular individual’s wants and needs.

It’s not easy, but it’s kind of essential!

Congruence and Incongruence

All of this ‘psychological babble’ has reminded me of some of the other take-out points that I found interesting in my degree, particularly from Rogers, who developed a great theory regarding the ‘self-concept’ and something called 'incongruence'.

When I first read about it, it resonated so strongly because there was a massive conflict or ‘incongruence’ between what I perceived as my ideal self (someone who was ambitious, funny, quick, sharp, and a high achiever), and my real self which, at the time, was someone who felt cheated by life, run-down, lacklustre, damaged by illness, misguided, on the wrong path, useless, hopeless, rejected, blah, blah, blah – you name it and if it was negative and destructive then I felt it!

So, there was basically this huge fall-out going on in my internal world, and when you combine that with the biological basis of bipolar disorder and depression, another huge and horrible storm of life-threatening and severe illness was thus created.

Another hideous chapter of my life – let’s divert immediately!

Back to the point…. Carl Rogers and incongruence (or hopefully) congruence between the ideal and real self.

Congruence is something that I am experiencing now that my ideal and real selves are more in-line with each other – it is such a relief to be able to live with oneself again without having to endure a constant falling-out and internal conflict!

Here is an explanation of this theory:

“The ideal self is the person that you would like to be; the real self is the person you actually are.”

  • Rogers focused on the idea that we need to achieve consistency between these two selves. We experience congruence when our thoughts about our real self and ideal self are very similar—in other words, when our self-concept is accurate.

  • High congruence leads to a greater sense of self-worth and a healthy, productive life.

By combining the treatment I’ve had, with bucketloads of patience, persistence, resilience, determination, self-development, self-education, self-care, reconciliation, reparation, reconciliation, and atonement I guess, between my real/ideal self, my ego, super-ego and id – I finally feel like a normal person who can actually live with themselves!

I’m not sure even a bipolar clinical psychologist would ever have, or have had to, do this much internal work on themselves, but anyway that’s what I’ve had to do in this ridiculous and prolonged journey back to life!


Having babbled this morning, I haven’t given myself time to go into The Wheel of Awakening which was my original intention with this post this morning!

Anyway, I will save that revelation for tomorrow now – this has been quite an intense week for psychoanalysis and psychology – I promise I’m going back to less mind-bending topics in the coming weeks and months!

I’m signing off with another song today. This one has resonated because (and there could be a million interpretations I’m sure), but I feel that it’s talking about bipolar disorder and the conflict between spirituality and ‘normality'.

Especially so when the lyrics ‘So HIGH… SO LOW…’ come in, and the repetition of ‘I could call and keep on calling’ is like the perpetual longing for God which only a bipolar person could ever truly understand!

Anyway, you can make of it what you will – it’s a very healing song regardless!

Thanks for reading,

Speak to you soon,


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Aug 11, 2021

Hello Tom.

Jacquie here. Thank you for providing such informative reading. Mr. Rodgers would be humbled I'm sure. Based in Glasgow, I'm trained in Person-Centred psychotherapy. These days, with such a 'results' oriented approach, the Person-Centred modality seems to becoming more buried underneath the rubble.

Good health to you Tom.

Tom Robinson
Tom Robinson
Aug 11, 2021
Replying to

Hi Jacquie, thanks for the support! There are many elements to all of this but I do believe Carl Rogers was pretty spot on with his notions and theories. He also recognised the importance of empathy - another hugely overlooked phenomena! 😊

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