General assessment – 3

Subpersonalities – with an exercise

The concept of subpersonality is one of the distinctive tools used to work on the inner multiplicity. Subpersonalities are defined as images of ourselves, equipped of emotions, impulses, thoughts, and related behaviours: they are actual and real inner “characters” with which we identify ourselves, which we “impersonate” and use, according to different existential situations. This explains why we behave as if we were different people in diverse moments and situations (Alberti, 2017, p. 130).

In the psychosynthetic field, a large number of techniques and exercises have been developed in relation to subpersonality work. This work can be broken down in three distinct stages (De Paolis, 2022):

  • observation and study of subpersonalities (know yourself);
  • forming of a core or of a self which will regulate them (master yourself);
  • evolution and transformation of subpersonalities (transform yourself).

The first aim of this work is encouraging the individual to observe the subdivision of their personality’s different sides, which are often contradictory and conflicting. Therefore, right from the start, whenever the examination of the origin of a client’s psychological traits is carried out – of their conscious complex, polarities, ambivalence, and their conflicts – the concept of subpersonality is also discussed and explained to them.

Initially, it might seem difficult making individuals understand and accept the concept of subpersonality, especially to the patient/client who doesn’t have a psychological training. But in practice, it has been noted that such concept is easily welcomed if presented in a simple way, for example asking: “Have you noticed that you behave differently in your office, at home, in social interplay, in solitude, at church, or as a member of a political party?” (Assagioli, 1965, p. 74). In this way, the individual is easily prompted to recognise differences and even contradictions in their own behaviour.


This questionnaire introduces individuals to the subject of identity within multiplicity (subpersonality) and invites them to reflect on the diversity of roles, behaviours and ‘masks’ that are used throughout life and even during the day.

  • Questionnaire: subpersonalities (Guggisberg Nocelli, 2000)
  1. Does it ever happen to you to feel, simultaneously, conflicting emotions, thoughts, and longings, as if two or more different people were coexisting inside of you?
  2. Does it ever happen to you to notice having different attitudes, behaviours, languages,longings and thoughts, according to the environment or the people with which you are dealing with?
  3. Can you remember the first time you have consciously used a “mask”, played a role, a part, a “character”?
  4. Are there today, recurrent situations in which you disguise yourself, or play a specific role, a part, a “character”? Which ones and why?
  5. Have you ever played a role because of fear?
  6. Have you ever played a role for convenience?
  7. Have you ever played a role for pleasure, for fun?
  8. Did ever happen to find yourself in a situation in which you wanted to be able to play a specific role, pretending to be a particular character, but you did not manage to do so?
  9. Did it ever happen to you to find yourself in a situation in which you could have played a particular role, pretending to be a particular character, but you decided that it would be better not to do it?
  10. Are there some roles, some “masks” that you cannot stop wearing? Which ones and in which situations?
  11. Are there some roles, some “masks” that you would like to quit for good? Which ones and why?
  12. Are there some roles, some “masks” that you like and that you play happily? Which ones and why?
  13. Are there some roles that others expect you to play? Which ones and who is expecting it?
  14. Have you ever been in a situation where others were expecting you to play a particular role but you did not do it, or you did not want to do it? If yes, tell the story. What did you feel in that moment?

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