Sunday, December 06, 2015

Our self-esteemed guest

In a recent podcast, Tom Woods interviewed Michael Edelstein on the negative consequences resulting from an ongoing societal effort to ubiquitously foster high levels of self-esteem in everyone. Woods asked when it all began. Edelstein guessed the sixties, but expressed uncertainty in his answer.

If it's a question of when some trend indicative of the rot Western civilization is experiencing began, the sixties is as good an initial working assumption as there is. The percentage of books published in the US containing the phrase "self-esteem" over time:

Usage has more than quadrupled since 1960.


Inductivist said...

The seminal, widely cited Society and the Adolescent Self-Image by Morris Rosenberg was published in 1965

CapitalistRoader said...

I just happened to read a biography of Ayn Rand which mentioned that her sidekick was the "father of the self-esteem movement." Apparently the father did not approve of that title. From Wikipedia:
* Living consciously: the practice of being aware of what one is doing while one is doing it, i.e., the practice of mindfulness.
* Self-acceptance: the practice of owning truths regarding one's thoughts, emotions, and behaviors; of being kind toward oneself with respect to them; and of being "for" oneself in a basic sense.
* Self-responsibility: the practice of owning one's authorship of one's actions and of owning one's capacity to be the cause of the effects one desires.
* Self-assertiveness: the practice of treating one's needs and interests with respect and of expressing them in appropriate ways.
* Living purposefully: the practice of formulating goals and of formulating and implementing action plans to achieve them.
* Personal integrity: the practice of maintaining alignment between one’s behaviors and convictions.

[Nathaniel] Branden distinguished his approach to self-esteem from that of many others by his inclusion of both confidence and worth in his definition of self-esteem, and by his emphasis on the importance of internally generated practices for the improvement and maintenance of self-esteem. For this reason, he at times expressed lack of enthusiasm about the teachings of the "self-esteem movement", which he is sometimes credited with having spawned (he was sometimes referred to as “the father of the self-esteem movement”).

Audacious Epigone said...


That certainly meshes with what the graph shows.


Those bullet points closely resemble the ethical precepts of Stoicism, specifically Roman Stoicism, which, as the Wikipedia article illustrates, is significantly different from the contemporary self-esteem movement. It is focused primarily on emotional safeguarding.