Tuesday, May 20, 2008

High Self-Esteem

I once read a review in the Times where Michiko Kakutani described a book as: "a tortuous journey from self-pity to self-congratulation."

It was the most concise definition of psychotherapy I had ever seen. Isn't therapy promoted as a difficulty journey from low to high self-esteem... a journey that completely obscures any obligation to act ethically, thus to become a better person.

Feeling good about yourself is not at all the same thing as becoming a good person.

When you are having problems therapy seems to want you to complain about them... to express your feelings, to share them with the world. Doesn't that imply that you should not think in terms of what you should be doing to solve the problem?

Sometimes people go to therapy specifically because they do not want to deal with the problem; they resent the notion that anyone would try to guide them toward a better way of living their lives. They are proud to make their own mistakes and will fight anyone who wants to deprive them of that right.

Self-congratulation expresses well what therapy takes to be high self-esteem. It implies that it doesn't matter whether you do the right thing, get it right or wrong, do well or do poorly, show good sportsmanship or bad manners.

When you achieve self-congratulation, you can feel good about yourself no matter how well or poorly you performed.

Then, if you are the only one congratulating yourself you can get mad at the world for not accepting you as you really are.

This therapeutic unethic does not allow you to be right or wrong; it does not allow for aspiration and ambition; it does not recognize objective standards against which you can evaluate your efforts. Thus, it deprives you of the opportunity to better yourself.

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