While we currently take the idea of self for granted, this was not always the case (Baumeister, 1997, 2010). In the Middle Ages people’s identities were linked to their social positions, occupations, and family ties, and people were not supposed to want to change these. People knew their identities since these were largely dictated by their place in society. Also, the issue of personal development did not arise in the sense in which it is a major issue for many people today. People learned their occupation. Many had their marriages arranged by their families. In Western Judeo-Christian society, most people were guided by Christian values and beliefs. They had faith in God and a belief that leading a good and sinless life would lead to salvation in the afterlife. They had faith in their monarch and a belief that if they fulfi lled their duties within society, their monarch would protect and not punish them. These constraints did not leave a great deal of scope for personal development or for a concern with individual differences in personal growth. During the early modern period (1500-1800) an interest developed in differences between people and the uniqueness of the individual. Autobiographical writing and a focus on the detailed differences between people’s life experiences began to emerge. This later gave way to a focus on the inner life and to the belief that fulfi lment might be enhanced by developing a deeper understanding of the inner life of the self through art, culture, contemplation, and poetry. This coincided with an emerging questioning of the certainties of religion, monarchies, and the values entailed by these. People began to question their faith in their gods, their kings, and their values. Democracy also began to supplant monarchies with the idea that people choose their leaders rather than them being appointed by God. At the turn of the 19th century the popularisation of the idea of the unconscious through the works of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) expanded the popular concept of the inner self and the idea that achieving self-knowledge and personal development were challenging undertakings. Life-cycle theorists such as Erik Erikson (1902-1994) later proposed the idea that at transitional points between the stages of development of the life cycle, identity crises could occur in which people questioned the way they were living their lives and entertained choices about making major changes in their lifestyles (Erikson, 1959). (Erikson’s lifecycle model is discussed in Chapter 6.) This idea of an identity crisis entailed the view that the self was separate from the social and religious contexts in which it resided. This way of thinking was facilitated by the rise in geographic, social, and occupational mobility. It was also supported by increasing wealth that gave freedom to entertain the idea of choosing different lifestyles. Wealth and mobility in turn were facilitated by huge advances in science and technology that were made following the scientifi c revolution. While the emergence of the modern conception of self has been liberating on the one hand, it has also entailed a cost. Because it has become increasingly diffi cult to have faith in the supernatural order or the social order, people are forced to look elsewhere for values. Many turn to the self or close personal relationships as a source of value. Relationships will be dealt with in Chapter 8. In the present chapter the focus will be on the self. Whereas in the past, a preoccupation with the self was termed selfi shness, a pejorative term, in modern psychology there are many positive terms for self-focused concerns, notably self-knowledge, self-esteem, self-effi cacy, self-evaluation, and self-regulation. Many of these are of concern to positive psychology.