Others, like myself who choose to see themselves beneath their clothing, are risking so much with the acts of disrobing and being naked. Are we really being ourselves? It is as if we have set aside the filters that have been coded into our lives as we grew up into adulthood. Many are in search of self. How often do we hear grown adults state that they need time to find themselves? Typically, that search for self is a journey that only leads further and further from the intended destination of self-discovery. As well, we often find ourselves on the outs with the larger society for what we discover about ourselves.
Over the years, as I have studied and worked with human psychology, I have come to realise that most people really don’t want to do the work of self-discovery, regardless of their claims otherwise. Most people simply want to be fixed so that they fit better with the social world around them. They want to think, feel, want, and do only those things that will allow them to be more accepted, perhaps even loved. Yet, every so often, that isn’t enough. For these people in the minority, and they are a minority, the imperative “Know Thyself!” becomes a quest. That journey begins with self-disclosure. becoming transparent to the self and to others.
“Through my self-disclosure, I let others know my soul. They can know it, really know it, only as I make it known. In fact, I am beginning to suspect that I can’t even know my own soul except as I disclose it. I suspect that I will know myself “for real” at the exact moment that I have succeeded in making it known through my disclosure to another person.”Sidney M. Jourard, The Transparent Self, p. 10
Jourard talks about self-disclosure from a psychological perspective. That psychological journey is also a social journey if it is to be authentic. At the present time, in the midst of a global pandemic which has so many of us sticking within the confines of our individual lodgings, the opportunity to let others see/know/feel the truth of our individual souls is problematic. Thankfully, there is a cyber world where we can virtually be present with others. That cyber world allows for us to be seen and heard. What we disclose in this cyber world doesn’t allow for full disclosure as the conveyance of feeling is very, very weak.
When one removes one’s clothing and risks being seen as imperfect beings, there is an honesty that words can never match for words can easy become masks behind which we hide, just as we hide behind our clothing, or the roles we live in the world. However, images are only as honest as we allow them to be. For example, How does one disclose an underlying fear or emotion or belief that we don’t want revealed? In my case, in the face-to-face world, I smile. I adopt an equanimous state that masks self-doubt. In the case of Robin Williams, a mask of laughter hid a deep sadness that eventually resulted in his self-destruction.
It is only with the passage of time, that one gets to know another well enough to risk disclosing more of oneself. And it is only with this passage of time and taking these risks that one discovers more and more about oneself. It’s a catch 22 situation which few people hesitate to enter into. Getting naked in front of others is easier than risking authentic self-disclosure. And so here, I find myself wondering about nude images of self as authentic self-disclosure versus nude images of self as yet another mask behind which the true self remains hidden. And, I now invite you to share your thoughts about the naked self and self-disclosure.