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Gary to Elaine Self Esteem 13

Thanks for the Rogers' article.  I sent it on to David.  

I was thinking in terms of the "shame viruses" others try to infect kids with.  The vaccine of self-valuing provides you with a script that says you are not deserving of the attack and helps you determine if you need to do anything differently. Does that make any sense? I didn't think so.

It makes perfect sense.  I guess where we differ is in our "approaches" to the inquiry, and not in values to an outcome.  I can't speak for you as to your approach, but mine is what I might call a "structural" approach.  I want to have an understanding of the impediments to human freedom.  My sense is that humans, being creatures who not only live in space, live in time, both innately and invented.  Left to our own devices, we will seek freedom of movement in time.  Cognition, on the other hand (no pun intended) seeks limiting conditions for its transformative powers to function.  Cognition is closely related to the motoric, perception, symbol-making, and memory, so that what we learn in one spacetime can be transferred to other contexts.  Affect is always NOW and wherever "we" go, our affects are there ready to meet the contingencies of any environment.

My orientation is, I admit, influenced by an overriding passion for freedom of movement at all levels of my becoming since my childhood.  I had some freedom as a child, but many, many limiting conditions imposed on me.  I think that humans will go to great lengths to seek movement.  Affects are like water and will seep through the cracks of any opening even if it's temporary.

There are usually two descriptions that must be accounted for in human affairs: the description of an observer (from the outside in), and the description of a participant (from the inside out).  I am with you on your descriptions of "self-esteem" from the standpoint of an observer.  What I, and I think David, too, are attempting to come to is a description from the standpoint of a participant -- from the inside out.  From this perspective, I try to reach the actual impediments to the inner flow without a goal-image of self-esteem as defined by those such as Branden: Self-esteem has two interrelated aspects: a sense of personal efficacy and a sense of personal worth. It is the conviction that one is competent to live and worthy of living.

From the inside, self-esteem is not a state or condition but a sense of participation, accomplishment, and mastery in the processes that lead to freedom of meaning-movement.  I use the word participation since much of this "mastery" is in the form of cooperation with those aspects that are beyond voluntary control.

Tomkins wrote:

"Control rests, of course, not only on the mastery of internal neurological circuitry but on the coordination of this knowledge with an equally efficient knowledge of the nature of the external environment.  We have stressed the internal circuitry since it is the relatively constant means to the mastery of the great variety of other domains that are variable.  it is the language of achievement.  If one does not master this language, one masters nothing else.  It is paradoxical that it is the external world that is the teacher of the language of the internal world.  Again, the external world must be reproduced within this circuitry if it is to be assimilable and use to the individual so that ultimately the dichotomy between the inner and outer domain becomes a dichotomy within the inner world.  We do not embrace solipsism in this any more than does the biochemist who studies the transformations that are necessary before foodstuffs can be used by the body.  Because of the great variety of domains that can be learned, the characterization of these domains presents an endless task for analysis, whereas the principal varieties of internal transformations are more limited."

I don't think parents can "learn" to provide the conditions for self-esteem for their children for the most part.  They may be able to learn a few "techniques," but I think of it more as a "conversion" (like in a religious conversion) where they see the light of the importance of affect in their own lives, and can empathize with what their children are living.  It's a different way of life.

I see Branden's views such as: The conviction that one is competent to live means: confidence in the functioning of one's mind; confidence in one's ability to understand and judge the facts of reality (within the sphere of one's interests and needs); intellectual self-reliance. creating more confusion than clarity.  It's the old cognitive explanation of self-esteem.  In my view, the main impediment to self-esteem lies in the realm of affect in general and shame in particular.  An emotion is the product of an evaluation.  It depends what he means by "evaluation." Again, I think he is referring to cognitive evaluations, and not other non-intellectual evaluations.  And the statement that emotion coming from cognition is plain wrong in light of today's knowledge.

Self-esteem is a basic need of man, a cardinal requirement of his mental health and psychological well-being. There is no value judgment more important to man than the estimate he passes on himself. This estimate is ordinarily experienced by him, not in the form of a conscious, verbalized judgment, but in the form of a feeling, a feeling that can be hard to isolate and identify because he experiences it constantly: it is part of every other feeling. It is involved in his every emotional response.

From the viewpoint of an observer, this statement makes some sense.  But the "feeling" he is talking about is not as difficult to formulate as he says. I can't go into it now, but it involves what Polanyi calls "personal knowledge," proprioception in the "virtual" domain of minding, etc.  I agree that it's not in the form of a conscious, verbalized judgment.  Also, I don't know what self he means by  Any judgment entailing the issue, "Is this for me or against me?" entails a view of the "me" involved.  His self-evaluation is an omnipresent factor in man's psychology.


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