What do you call someone who lives for himself? If someone lives his life solely to achieve his own life goals and not want to associate his life with others', what would you call him?

I know some of you would probably give answers such as A) hedonist, B) narcissist, but I disagree. Because:

A) A hedonist is someone who lives in pursuit of pleasure, and hedonism is a doctrine that the pursuit of pleasure is the highest good. This person in question neither lives for pleasure, nor places pleasure as an important factor.

B) A narcissist is someone who is vain, or derives erotic gratification from admiration of his or her own physical or mental attributes. The person in question is also not a narcissist because he does not admire himself; he merely lives for his own good, as mentioned in the question.

So once again, what do you call someone who devotes his life solely to achieving his own life goals? Please, he is not a hedonist, not a narcissist, and most certainly not selfish. Assume he is not.

  • 2
    Hermit comes to mind
    – mplungjan
    Aug 27, 2013 at 12:42
  • mplungjan: Thanks mate, hermit seems like a very close answer to what I wanted. @Raghuram MK: I'd say it's a close answer too, but I don't think it exists in the dictionary (correct me if I'm wrong) as I only found it in a psychology dictionary. As for the meaning of "autocentric", it seems a bit too short and unclear, and gives me the impression that an autocentric person is selfish.
    – shfqmzln
    Aug 27, 2013 at 12:57
  • 1
    @shfqmzln : If you're not looking for Autocentric, I can only think of a phrase: somebody who "minds his own business." Aug 27, 2013 at 13:16
  • Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/65472/…
    – Bravo
    Aug 27, 2013 at 14:49
  • I think if the answers to @Shyam linked question are not sufficient, then this is not a dupe. Aug 27, 2013 at 16:26

6 Answers 6


Perhaps self-absorbed

absorbed in one's own thoughts, activities, or interests

or egocentric

regarding everything only in relation to oneself; self-centered; selfish

or self-centered

concerned solely with one's own desires, needs, or interests


Also consider self-directed

(of persons) free from external control and constraint in e.g. action and judgment

Note that this term is often applied to someone who does attend to the needs of other but exerts a good deal of independence in doing so.

and autonomous

Not controlled by others or by outside forces; independent

  • "Please, he is not a hedonist, not a narcissist, and most certainly not selfish. Assume he is not" Aug 27, 2013 at 13:40
  • 1
    @NewAlexandria None of these terms necessarily mean pleasure seeking. People can be self-absorbed and self-denying. One can be self-centered and moderate in pursuing ones needs. Egocentric often suggests selfishness, but not necessarily.
    – bib
    Aug 27, 2013 at 13:47
  • It's a fine line to suggest that the common usage for these words (in the US?) is anything other than derogatory. You are otherwise correct, but given the context, answers to this question need to be more elaborate, or precise Aug 27, 2013 at 13:50
  • 1
    @NewAlexandria I agree that all of these terms are more frequently used in a negative manner than neutral or positive. However, that is not always the case. The original question, demanding no selfishness, makes it somewhat contradictory (based on common viewpoints). It sounds a little like one of Ayn Rand's heroes, whom many view as properly self-centered, but many see as disdainfully selfish.
    – bib
    Aug 27, 2013 at 13:56
  • 2
    @bib I though of self-absorbed immediately upon reading the question. Inwardly focused could be a gentler way of saying the same thing.
    – dcaswell
    Aug 27, 2013 at 18:21

First off, he certainly sounds selfish by your description. I don't know why you don't want that as an answer. In any case, a better fit would be an egoist:

1. a person who is preoccupied with his own interests; a selfish person
2. a conceited person; egotist
3. (Philosophy) Ethics a person who lives by the values of egoism

If you want to get more poetic, you could call such a person an island to contrast with the expression no man is an island. I can't guarantee that you would be understood though.

  • 1
    It is possible to be self-interested and yet not be a bastard Aug 27, 2013 at 13:46
  • @NewAlexandria I dunno, "someone lives his life solely to achieve his own life goals" sounds like a bastard to me. Self-interest is one thing, total self absorption another.
    – terdon
    Aug 27, 2013 at 14:12
  • This is the Fountainhead debate. Aug 27, 2013 at 16:24
  • I think some may be using an extremely limited definition of the word "selfish". Though not sharing is called "selfish" when children do it, that is certainly a very narrow definition, and is not even a necessary part of the full definition of the word. A person can be generous, helpful, polite, caring, and have no attachment at all to material things and still be very selfish.
    – Abraxas
    Aug 27, 2013 at 17:25
  • 1
    @Abraxas A person can be caring and generous and selfish? Not by any definition of the word I know. See, for example here: "1. devoted to or caring only for oneself; 2. characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself: selfish motives." That definition clearly excludes the generous and the caring.
    – terdon
    Aug 28, 2013 at 12:58

The word selfish has come to bear a pejorative sense, but this is not so always according to the dictionary (emphasis mine).


Chiefly or wholly concerned with one's own welfare and interests, usually when accompanied by a disregard for others (Chambers)

If you need a word for selfish that does not have the negative connotation, I'd suggest self-interested.

  • Exactly. "He selfishly gave all his money to the poor because it made him feel so happy!"
    – Abraxas
    Aug 27, 2013 at 17:33

"Solipsist" comes to mind pretty readily. That would entail a whole Weltanschauung that even questions the existence of other minds (something that can't be proved, in any case). "Megalomaniac" also, though that would seem to imply the use of power more than the meaning you seem to be seeking. The good, old, and simple "selfish" would seem to do the job, too.

I don't see any way that any person such as you describe can not be considered to be selfish since your definition is pretty close to the exact definition of what "selfish" means.

"Hikikomori" is a word I've seen quite a bit lately. In English, it implies an almost pathological withdrawal. But in Japanese, it really just means a preference for solitude, a sort of becoming a hermit, but not to get away from anyone, just to go toward the goal of being alone. (If anyone can get what I'm trying to say....)


Two considerations


It's classical, but consider that it may be what you're getting at. This person's goals are not dependent on the will and needs of others. He lived independent of those things.


This personal is not conventional, in that he does "not want to associate" to the life goals of others. The *orthodox' aims of others do not attract him, and his conscience demands that he set his own directions, which differ from those around him.

also it another term, which is less-correct technically, but is quite suitable by common use is


Hermit was a good suggestion, too, though I am not sure that it is as 'goal-driven* as needed. A Hermit is often a recluse



If your subject is not strictly anti-social but tends to prefer solitude, they may fit the profile of one who is 'self-actualized.' From that page:

Self-actualized individuals value their privacy and enjoy solitude. While they also love the company of others, taking time to themselves is essential for their personal discovery and cultivating their individual potential.

On the other hand, they might also be referred to as being:
- independant
- a loner
- withdrawn
- reclusive
- eccentric

They most likely also possess an 'internal locus of control,' believing that most of the events in their lives are a direct result of their own actions.

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