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Posts tagged "Self-Esteem"

Another Week Ends: Contingent Self-Esteem, the Devil in the Mirror, the Perception Gap, Little League Brawling, Cain and Abel and Forgiveness

1. Some fascinating links for your perusal this week, first of which is this, from Vice: The Pursuit of High Self-Esteem Is Making Us Miserable, by Shayla Love. What is here defined as “self-esteem” would be more accurately rendered “contingent self-esteem.” Notably the most popular of its kind, contingent self-esteem resembles flattery or affirmation and […]

Another Week Ends: First Reformed, Millennial Gray, Self-Improvement B.S., Getting Back On the Bike (and Off Again), and World Cup Generosity

1. A new book out by Will Storr looks at the history of the self-esteem, and its rapid growth in the technological age. Storr’s book, Selfie: How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It’s Doing to Us, focuses much of its history on the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA, and places like it, which […]

Another Week Ends: Christmas Tree Frappes, Scrabble Therapy, Self-Esteem, Teenagers, Tech Angst, the Religion of Self-Hatred, and the Heroism of Tonya Harding

1. A great story coming out of Modern Love this week, from Christie Tate, who talks about her ongoing conflation of relationships with accomplishment and success. After serially dating addicts and abusers, she starts going to a therapy group, and slowly comes to grips with the really vital ingredient: vulnerability. With the help of her […]

William James’ Self-Esteem Equation

From the, er, esteemed psychologist’s Psychology, A Briefer Course:

“With no attempt there can be no failure; with no failure no humiliation. So our self-feeling in this world depends entirely on what we back ourselves to be and do. It is determined by the ratio of our actualities to our supposed potentialities; a fraction of which our pretensions are the denominator and the numerator our success: Thus:


Such a fraction may be increased as well by diminishing the denominator as by increasing the numerator. To give up pretensions is as blessed a relief as to get them gratified; and where disappointment is incessant and the struggle unending, this is what men will always do. The history of evangelical theology, with its conviction of sin, its self-despair, and its abandonment of salvation by works, is the deepest of possible examples, but we meet others in every walk of life. There is a strange lightness in the heart when one’s nothingness in a particular area is accepted in good faith… How pleasant is the day when we give up striving to be young or slender. ‘Thank God!” we say, ‘those illusions are gone.’ Everything added to the Self is a burden as well as a pride.” (pg 168)


The Chimera of Contingent Self-Esteem

A few months old, but nonetheless a remarkable article from Psychology Today, “The Boom and Bust Ego” which details some recent reversals in self-esteem research, some of which bears a resemblance to certain dynamics we trumpet on this site. In particular, it seems that “contingent self-esteem” functions as a pretty terrific euphemism for “works righteousness.” […]

Justification, Imputation and Self-Esteem

So how does the doctrine of justification by faith relate to self-esteem? The key linking concept is that of righteousness. For the Christian, it may be helpful to think of positive self-esteem as a psychological sign of having comprehended that one is counted as right with God, and thus with oneself. Earlier, we noted a […]

Overinvested Parents and Their Unhappy Kids

Holy smokes! If you haven’t read Lori Gottlieb’s article in The Atlantic, “How To Land Your Kid In Therapy,” do yourself a favor. She’s put together a remarkable overview of the pitfalls of modern parenting, focusing particularly on the relationship between parental over-involvement and the rates of anxiety/depression in their offspring. A practicing clinical psychologist […]

The Liking-Wanting Distinction and Self-Esteem Addiction

Something of a follow-up to the semi-outrageous article about Chinese Tiger Mothers, the results of a couple recent studies at Ohio State concluding, surprise surprise, that “Young Adults Are Obsessed With Self-Esteem.” As it’s wisely been pointed out, the self-esteem movement is a losing game, regardless of how it’s played – human need is a […]

Rudolf Bultmann on Honesty, Grace and Self-Regard

In honor of the 125th anniversary of much-debated Lutheran theologian Rudolf Bultmann’s birthday, the following are excepts from a sermon he preached on August 4th, 1940. “Psychology has shown us how the natural need for recognition, if suppressed, can assume morbid developments, and how a human life may be ruined and brought to disaster if […]