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Posts tagged "Self-Esteem"


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:

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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)

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The Chimera of Contingent Self-Esteem

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.” And the various descriptions of how low self-esteem feeds on itself sounds quite a bit like living under a curse. That is, the scheme itself is pretty futile, with the attempt to establish esteem leading to either despair or (short-lived periods of) self-righteousness. The ego…

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Justification, Imputation and Self-Esteem

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 distinction between internal and external styles of attribution in relation to self-esteem. The Greek verb translated ‘to justify’ really has the sense ‘to count someone as righteous’, or ‘to esteem someone as righteous’. There are two quite different ways of thinking about the idea of being…

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Overinvested Parents and Their Unhappy Kids

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 herself, Gottlieb makes a strong case for the culture of self-esteem having produced a supremely narcissistic generation that has serious trouble dealing with disappointment. It’s almost The Incredibles-argument verbatim: when everyone is special, no one is special – instead, we all become a bunch of…

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The Liking-Wanting Distinction and Self-Esteem Addiction

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 bottomless pit. To paraphrase Gerhard Forde, who was paraphrasing Martin Luther, the thirst for glory needs to be extinguished rather than sated. If only knowledge alone were enough to get us to detach… And I don’t know about you, but the very idea of narcissism…

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Rudolf Bultmann on Honesty, Grace and Self-Regard

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 this desire for recognition is repressed so that it results in a so-called inferiority complex… In fact the need for recognition for one’s value is something implanted in the very nature of man. We can only live and breathe freely in a circle where we are…

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