Define Your Terms: Psychologists’ Attack On Self-Esteem


Ridiculous! There is no such thing as too much of an objective self-assessment!

The following article is rife with innuendos, contradictions, stolen concepts and package-deals, all of which survive the peer-review process because its authors—and most psychologists—refuse to define their terms. In the same manner as philosophers attack selfishness, psychologists attack its psychological corollary: self-esteem. Below are a few preliminary criticisms of the article, although many more thorough criticisms could be made.

1) Self-esteem is concomitantly the consequence of life-promoting actions, many of which proffer enjoyment, and the precondition of the genuine, unqualified enjoyment of anything. It is invalid to compare self-esteem—the fundamental belief that one is fit for existence, i.e., that one is capable and worthy of joy—to any given concrete pleasure.

2) Self-esteem entails the opposite of a sense of entitlement, or a desire for the unearned: it consists in the cultivation of character—of values, virtues, and achievements—such that one becomes worthy of what one desires. Nor can self-esteem be maintained by faking and evading facts about one’s self, as a narcissist tries to do. Rather, it consists in becoming someone you are proud, not ashamed to acknowledge; in recognizing, developing, and taking pride in your best—the consequence and corollary of which is the confidence and desire to correct your flaws in pursuit of perfection. Self-esteem entails moral ambitiousness, not cowardice; progress, not fearful preservation of an unformed identity. Only a man of low self-esteem thinks himself, and renders himself, capable and worthy of less.

3) Given the above, entitlement and narcissism should be regarded as manifestations of the absence rather than the excess of self-esteem, and cannot properly be used to model or measure it. Only the authors’ implicit, fallacious packaging of rational and irrational positive self-regard into a single concept makes possible the notion that while moderate doses of self-esteem may be harmless if not helpful, high amounts carry with them the risk of such negative side-effects as entitlement, narcissism, faking and evasion. But, operating on a rational conception of the term, self-esteem is the very essence of psychological health—and there can be no such thing as “too much” of an objective self-assessment!

4) Arbitrary, non-committal, and logically incompressible accusations by implication, such as, “It wouldn’t be correct to say that the study participants were addicted to self-esteem… But they were closer to being addicted to self-esteem than they were to being addicted to any other activity we studied” should be grounds for revocation of the title “Dr.”

5) The use of questions whose answers could result from such a diversity of thought processes and ideas as to package together intellectual, moral, and psychological opposites, such as asking whether someone identifies more with the statement, “If I ruled the world, it would be a much better place” than “The thought of ruling the world frightens the hell out of me,” should be grounds for revocation of the title “Dr.”

6) Perhaps the most interesting and important error… I will comment on later!

3 Responses to “Define Your Terms: Psychologists’ Attack On Self-Esteem”
  1. Evan says:

    They really think that “[feeling] worthy and valuable” is an activity.
    It’s ridiculous. Like: “I was thinking of going out for pizza, but I think I’ll just sit here feeling worthy and valuable instead. Maybe I’ll have my computer spit random complements out at me.”
    I guess this is their view of moral ambition–that self esteem is accumulated, not achieved.
    Psychologists must be some of the most confused individuals on the face of the planet.

  2. ashleykarenroy says:

    Exactly, Evan!

  3. Michale Hoagberg says:

    Low self-esteem is a negative evaluation of oneself. This type of evaluation usually occurs when some circumstance we encounter in our life touches on our sensitivities. We personalize the incident and experience physical, emotional, and cognitive arousal. This is so alarming and confusing that we respond by acting in a self-defeating or self-destructive manner. –

    Our web blog

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