Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The self-esteem myth

Read this article.

The educational, psychological, and philosophical assault on self-esteem
by Edwin A Locke

This is an interesting article on self esteem.It critiques the attitude that says ‘you must feel good about yourself, you need to love yourself’, and says that government programmes to foster positive self-worth (such as those in California) have failed to achieve the desired outcomes.

"What went wrong? Leaving aside the fact that the government has no business creating programs to promote self-esteem, the essential problem was that the task force, in company with most people, had wrong ideas about the nature and causes of self-esteem. These wrong views have been spread most directly by educators and their psychologist mentors. In this article, I will identify the false and damaging views of self-esteem held by those in the educational establishment and by the psychologists who influence them, show how these views undermine both academic achievement and the acquisition of real self-esteem, present the correct view of self-esteem, and reveal the ultimate destroyer of self-esteem: modern philosophy.

Self-esteem is recognized at some level, even by those who fail to understand its actual nature, as a critical psychological need. It is generally viewed as feeling good about yourself. This is superficially true: Self-esteem is a positive subconscious estimate of oneself. More accurately, however, self-esteem is the conviction that one is fundamentally worthy of success and capable of dealing with life’s challenges. Self-esteem is not a causeless feeling or appraisal. It has to be earned by means of specific actions, especially mental actions, but most people have never been taught what these actions consist of."

So essentially for a healthy self-concept needs some foundation. We all have people we admire – people who are leaders or achievers in some field. They are admired because they ARE leaders or achievers. So why should SELF-esteem be any different? While I agree that all human beings have value on the basis of our humanity, a positive self-concept needs to be based on something bigger than that – our achievements and leadership.


Oswald Bastable said...

Working in the prison system, I saw too may examples of excessive (and totally unwarranted) self esteem...

Caroline said...

The prison system is just one of many politically correct systems that foster the self-esteem myth. Other myths are there as well, including one that says something like 'don't demand accountability. They're not offenders, they're just victims of bad childhoods'. Rot.