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Gary David to Elaine King and David Boulton  - Self Esteem 9

Much has been said, and I will make only a few comments in green.
David Wrote: I believe what you mean by the term self-esteem is simply: human nature free
from the self-disesteeming psychological reflexes we learn to modulate our
negative-to-self, feelings and thoughts
Elaine wrote: I can't quite reconcile those two ideas. Doesn't your definition suggest that children do have self-esteem?  I see children who "are more healthily who they are" as having self-esteem. Those "self-disesteeming psychological reflexes" have not yet taught them not to trust and believe in themselves.  You said "I have never met a child who wasn't a genius (feeling wise as well as...)" --I guess I would say, "as well as close to that human nature that tells us how to learn and grow."
David: Children don't have self-esteem - children are more healthily who they are when they are not 'caught' within negative to self feelings and thoughts. As we can't prevent them from having episodes of negative-to-self feelings and thoughts the work is to help them learn how to learn through them when they are happening.
Elaine: I'm willing to debate this point, but I believe children do have self-esteem.  
David: This would be most helpful to explore. What is self-esteem? Are you saying its in our genes? Is it a psychological formation apriori learning - a virtual organ? When you make it an attribute of being, give it thingness, I think you are expressing self-esteem in a way that is precisely the problem. . . . We have a natural self-bouyancy that might be described by many of the qualities so frequently attributed to self-esteem. This natural bouyancy is not based on an internally held inventory of self-reflections - its how we are when we are transparent to who we are being and doing. I am inclined to see it inside-out - that its the weight of negative-to-self learning that leads to self-disesteeming habits.  Once we think self-esteem is a 'thing' within us that can be 'taught' or 'boosted' or .... we are on the path the critics rightfully challenge. Self-esteem is not something to learn - self-dis-esteem is what we must be careful to learn to not learn.
I understand David's point about children not "having" self-esteem. Primarily, I see the term "self-esteem" as a high order abstraction.  It's a bookmark, not the "text" itself.  It's a term that sums up many lower order processes at the affective level.  I think it's helpful to distinguish between the affective order that lends itself to the image of self-esteem, which is the explicate order.  We also need to know what kind of "self" we're dealing with.  The natural buoyancy David speaks of I see as the maximization of affect flow(or minimizing the inhibition of affect.)  Further, that buoyancy may also involve the ability to maximize positive affect (interest-excitement; enjoyment-joy) and to minimize negative affect in regard to one's "self."  Education then is the process of developing the methods that support those three factors.  Nathanson's formulation of the "empathic wall" is important to the process as well. He wrote in a message to David recently:
The empathic wall is a gravity shield that must work equally well for all affects and be capable of down-regulation whenever we wished deeper penetration into each other’s mass. Whoever experiences shame in the company of another has not been taken over by the greater mass of that other but entered a warp preventing mutualization just as if s/he and that other suddenly had become entirely the south pole of a magnet with no north available.
I see that it has to do with movement of the 'core' sense of self -- the 'core' self I see as affective-perceptive-motoric movement both physically and psycho-logically, and both implicately and explicately.  When kids can move freely within and without themselves with a minimum of inhibition, you have removed the dis-esteeming impediments.
The need for such a concept as self-esteem emerged from new conditions in evolution that arose from self-reflexive consciousness going out of coordination.  All of this could be written as the history and evolution of shame in Western culture.  Without those uncoordinating conditions, such a concept of self-esteem might never have been needed.  Self-esteem, then, is not what we're talking about.  I agree with David that it's dis-esteem that needs to be understood.  I don't think cognitive explanations (script-based) are adequate to the task as exemplified by the article on rejection.
Elaine wrote:  I believe so strongly that the child who is valued, not shamed, from day 1 for his or her every expression of affect, feeling and thought is the child who takes the "vaccination" of self-esteem with him/her into relationships with others and into situations that others may find to be "rejecting." 
This is well put, and I also must emphasize and support that with the reminder that it is not shame-affect, but the shame of shame that is involved with self-dis-esteem.  That, I think is Elaine's point above -- to not be shamed for feeling anything, and to speak and act to our children in ways that they can feel that most psychic impediments can become doorways.
Both of you are helping me see that BOTH the inside-out and the outside-in descriptions are necessary to complete the overall description.

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