The Pathology of Self-Esteem

The Pathology Of Self-Esteem. Healthy Living Magazine

The Pathology Of Self-Esteem. Healthy Living Magazine

Part 2 of 2

The real me- ugh

Self-esteem is a concept that belongs to the psychology of the Real Me. The Real Me, of course, is someone who is inherently good and admirable: Man being by nature good, inside every bad man there’s a good one trying to get out, obstructed, alas, by such phenomena as low self-esteem. The Real Me may actually have no obvious connection to the Me as it acts in the world and appears to others. It is a secret and beautiful garden often accessible only by means of psychology.

Now it is perfectly true that all of us sometimes act out of character: a perfectly consistent character has probably never existed, and we might find him disconcerting if we met such a one. Thus a sweet-tempered person may lose his temper on occasion without losing his reputation for sweet-temperedness. But a man who regularly loses his temper on the slightest provocation cannot claim really to be sweet-tempered because he knows that in the secret garden of his Real Me he is patience personified.

Read: Feeding Insecurities

The doctrine of the Real Me, who has nothing to do with and no resemblance to the Phenomenal Me, that is to say the Me who eats, drinks and sleeps, is yet another admirable evasion of whoremaster man, for it allows us to do as we please without having to think badly of ourselves, to experience genuine remorse, or even to examine ourselves honestly. This is because the verdict is always decided in advance: we are always, in the innermost recesses of our being which the Real Me inhabits, innocent.

And, of course, the innermost recesses are much more real than the outer being, which is as superficial as lipstick. In my childhood I used to cross my fingers when I told a lie, which allowed me to believe that the lie was not really a lie because I knew, deeper down than what came out of my mouth, the truth. In effect, we are always in a state of inner emigration (as those opponents of Nazism who stayed in Nazi Germany called it) from our phenomenal selves.

There is nothing new in this, no doubt; there is rarely anything new where humanity, or for that matter where inhumanity, is concerned. The question is rarely whether something is new under the sun, but whether it is more, or less, prevalent than it was. And the psychology of the Real Me certainly would, in logic, encourage the evasions of whoremaster man.

Read: Don't Raise A Good Girl

Needless to say, the Real Me is wheeled out for use only in the context of bad or illegal behavior. No one claims of his good deeds that they are an exception from his bad character, that (for example) he would usually snatch an old lady’s purse rather than help her across the road. It is only bad behavior that is exceptional and in need of psychological explanation. All good behavior is perfectly consonant with the Real Me, and is therefore not at all mysterious. On the contrary, such behavior is the expression of the self, which is blocked by some pathological process or other.

Men can change; this is their glory and their burden, for it is precisely the capacity to change that renders them responsible for their actions; but what they do may be irreparable.

Read: Don't You Dare Call Me Drama Queen

The Real Me, then, shines diamond-bright, or would do so if only the dross of the Apparent Me were cleared away, the way diamonds are found in the workings of South Africa mines. The psychologist or psychiatrist is the miner, the dissatisfied or bad person (that is to say, the person who does bad things that he at least pretends he would rather not do) the mined.

Everyone has more than one facet to his character and conduct, all of them equally real. Hitler was nice to his dog and liked receiving flowers from small children. One cruel act is just as real as 100 kind ones, and vice versa; which is the more significant is an irreducibly moral judgment, which no amount of psychological enquiry can help us to make.

To continue, read Admirable Evasions. How Psychology Undermines Morality (Encounter Books 2015)
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