Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Self, Self-Esteem, and Social Maladies

Since the 1960s, the self has been at the center. David Wells pens about a consequence of this sad state of affairs, and a significant problem:
Virtually all educators and psychologists appear to have agreed with this. Not only so, but there is now widespread public support of the myth that poor self-esteem explains bad behavior, failing academic work, acting up, antisocial attitudes, violence, divorce, racism, and the entire drug culture. All of this is rooted in a loss of self-esteem. Indeed, so pervasive is this myth, so impervious is it to the facts, that much educational policy has been confidently funded, at both the federal and state level in the United States, to address this matter. 
The problem is that study after study over the last four decades has been unable to show any correlation between low self-esteem and all the social maladies that have supposedly followed. Nevertheless, the myth is now so well established, preserved in place by so great a public desire to keep it there, by so large an industry with an interest in its preservation, that it borders on heresy to question it.
—David Wells, The Courage to Be ProtestantTruth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), 156.

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