Adam C. Layer
Feb. 25, 2013
Self Esteem: Friend or Foe
Lauren Slater, in her article “The Trouble with Self-Esteem” starts out by stating that self-esteem is generally regarded as a positive thing. A person of high self-esteem is a successful well-respected member of society, with the opposite being true for a person of low self-esteem. She explains that in the social science and psychological world this notion has been rarely challenged until recently. She shares examples of many papers and essays whose premise is to contradict these well-accepted ideas. She goes on to cite that we as Americans focus on self-esteem, creating associations and task forces to aid in the development of self-esteem.
Slater quotes researchers and studies that share these ideas which question the validity of what we generally think about self-esteem. They state that self-esteem might not be beneficial and could even be a hindrance in the lives of Americans. She explains the history of self-esteem in America, citing the ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson and other significant people in history.
Slater introduces the idea that Baumeister and Emler are improperly assuming self-esteem to be bad, possibly confusing it with pride and egotism. She also shares a personal experience she had with a murderer. She found that supposed high self-esteem can actually be hiding low self-worth. She then proposes that concealed low self-esteem can be what causes violence and complex interpersonal problems whereas demonstrative low esteem is not dangerous.
One of Slater’s ideas is that the more we think of ourselves, the easier we can be offended by what others think of us. With this new insight, she hypothesizes that it may be beneficial to us to be brought down a notch instead of building ourselves up to be more than we are. She declares that this notion is contradictory to the psychiatric and psychological fields, stating that it would be hard to have patients pay to be beaten...
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