The Social Dynamics of Self-Esteem: Theory to Therapy

By R. A. Steffenhagen; Jeff D. Burns | Go to book overview
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6
The Nature of Conflict in the Development of Personality

Self-esteem in modern society is a result of the broader-culture, interpersonal relationships within the immediate social group and intrapsychic processes of the individual. Stability and unity in these systems are temporary, while diversity and change are normal and to be expected. The individual is constantly in conflict with his social environment. Conflict is the heart of the dialectical movement, the movement from inferiority to superiority; from aspirations to achievement. Adler's degree of activity is the behavioral manifestation of intrapsychic conflict given appropriate expression. Modern society, as we have demonstrated, exhibits a conflict of social processes, which perpetuates conflict in the intrapsychic dimension. Just as conflict of social processes provides the dialectic for historical social movement, conflict at the intrapersonal level provides the dialectic for growth and change. Intrapsychic processes are a reflection of social processes.

Chapter 5 discussed some of the important characteristics of U.S. culture that contribute to or deter the development of self-esteem. This chapter will focus on the nature and composition of social processes and their impact upon the development of self-esteem and personality and on therapeutic intervention.

Before we can adequately discuss conflict as an intrapsychic process, we need first to discuss culture, since conflict is a phenomenon found in all societies. Culture is an abstraction, a human process, and the by-product of human interaction. Each society creates its own unique culture, which is composed of the superorganic -- values, attitudes, norms, and mores that provide a standard for behavior -- as well as the organic -- material artifacts that people have created and use in their bid for survival. Early humans

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