Eg including their identity, their relationships with people, values, education, heritage, culture..etc

Their overall sense of self: I Am thinking 'human condition' is fitting

  • 1
    Linking the title to the body of your question: a person would not say "my human condition".
    – TimR
    Jun 15, 2015 at 11:59
  • 1
    It may be considered a closely related topic but I do not believe it's fit to purpose. The Human Condition lacks that sense of individuality you imply by use of the word self. It references those basic conditions which all humans face in common. Using 'my' human condition could just as easily, if not even moreso, be parsed as having the quality of being a member of the species, at least without further context.
    – Tonepoet
    Jun 15, 2015 at 15:10
  • Hopefully as little as possible.
    – Oldcat
    Jun 16, 2015 at 0:58

6 Answers 6


Metaphorically I might suggest "Self-Awareness". The basic idea is that people make introspective observations about themselves distinctly for cautious and due consideration. By the start of the beginning of the twentieth century, "Self" had also gained connotations of reflective consciousness, personal cognition although in the distant past, "Self" just meant the "Same" or "Identical".

It's a very commonly accepted phrase. I very distinctly remember it was a crucial plot element in the classic Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Measure of a Man", where they were trying to determine if Lt. Commander Data was merely Starfleet's property; to use as they please because he's just a thing or if he could be legally considered a sentient being with a right to determine his own fate; like any other person. Self-awareness was a criterion. I would suggest it is truly worth watching if you haven't seen it already.

If you truly need a more literal and traditional phrase, as I would prefer, then you may want to consider using Personal Identity. Identity is essentially how "Sameness (or similarity) (is) distinguished from similitude or diversity." I saved "Personal" for last because it has several interesting aspects of its definition. The primary definition of "Personal" is as follows:

  1. Relating to an individual; affecting individuals; peculiar or proper to him or her, or to private actions or character.

The words are conditional; if thou doest well; and so personal to Cain.

Character and success depend more on personal effort than on any external advantages.

So we speak of personal pride, personal reflections.

I believe this is a already very adjective to describe what you want but solidifying this further is the inclusion of a definition for the phrase Personal Identity itself:

Personal Identity, in metaphysics, sameness of being, of which consciousness is the evidence.

The only problem with this phrase is that the other connotations of the constituent words make it somewhat ambiguous and risks sounding soulless. However when it's interpreted properly, I personally think it's a beautifully apt combination of words. I also do prefer it because it's an older combination of words.

I wish Measure of a Man used this combination of words in retrospect...

A Brief Addendum: "Personality" also works as a single word that can be used to describe yourself or others. Merriam Webster Online notes that the -ity suffix denotes a quality, state or degree. Therefore personality directly refers to someone's personal state/condition or the qualities their person bestows, which is especially apt with the connotations of the word personal already stated above.

The first referenced instance of self as an independent, modern word is defined by Websters Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1913.

All other definitions reference Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language, (1828), except where otherwise stated.


It's worth taking a look at these psychological terms:

Id, ego and superego

The Id:

The id is the primitive and instinctive component of personality. It consists of all the inherited (i.e. biological) components of personality, including the sex (life) instinct – Eros (which contains the libido), and the aggressive (death) instinct - Thanatos.

The Ego (or I):

Initially the ego is 'that part of the id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external world' (Freud 1923).

The ego develops in order to mediate between the unrealistic id and the external real world. It is the decision making component of personality. Ideally the ego works by reason whereas the id is chaotic and totally unreasonable.

The Superego (or above I):

The superego incorporates the values and morals of society which are learned from one's parents and others. It develops around the age of 3 – 5 during the phallic stage of psychosexual development.

The superego's function is to control the id's impulses, especially those which society forbids, such as sex and aggression. It also has the function of persuading the ego to turn to moralistic goals rather than simply realistic ones and to strive for perfection.


Superego might be the term you're after.

  • Personally, I'm glad that the id-ego-superego is just a theory. Not a term I'd use outside a psychology book, except perhaps in jest.
    – anemone
    Jun 15, 2015 at 12:57

I'd suggest that the word 'identity' can cover a lot, including the things you mention such as cultural background, values etc. You may often hear people say these days that they 'identify' as such and such, which goes way beyond identity as in their name or any sort of ID number. A person's identity includes many of the things that make up their sense of self.


Mind is a suitable generic term.

From Wikipedia:

A mind is the set of cognitive faculties that enables consciousness, perception, thinking, judgement, and memory—a characteristic of humans, but which also may apply to other life forms.

(emphasis mine)


It could be referred to as a ones essence

the basic nature of a thing : the quality or qualities that make a thing what it is



I think you’re referring to one’s “being” (meaning #4): =

a. All the qualities constituting one that exists; the essence: the very being of human nature.

b. One's basic or essential nature: "[My grandfather's] face, words and gestures are a permanent part of my being" (Duane Nitatum).

Or to get even a bit deeper: “the fiber of one’s being

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