The Social Dynamics of Self-Esteem: Theory to Therapy

By R. A. Steffenhagen; Jeff D. Burns | Go to book overview

group support. Research by Lieberman, Yalom, and Miles ( 1973) suggests that encounter groups are beneficial for some and not for others. Sociologists have long been aware of the socializing function of the group. In AA and Synanon the drug-dependent person is socialized to remain drugfree only with the support system of the group. It is our contention that both of these groups offer group support to the individual but that they do little to help him develop his own self-esteem. Therefore, when individuals leave the group and no longer have the group to fall back on, they return to old self-esteem-safeguarding mechanisms, drugs. They remain rehabilitated as long as they have the group support, but since their self-esteem has not been increased, they are not cured.

The self-esteem theory, born from individual psychology, can not only explain but predict maladjustment or adjustment, as well as why given therapeutic models are or are not successful.


NOTES
1.
The authors have progressed from a phenomenological perspective, with research proceeding from the phenomenological reduction, a method that is free from the assumptions of psychology and in keeping with the requirements of a presuppositionless investigation. The reduction is preparatory to the goal of a new constitution. It is after the reduction that the aim of phenomenology -- the reconstruction of meaning and structures -- becomes apparent. Husserl, the founding father of phenomenology, conceives of the field as a kind of rational psychology. The phenomenological attitude requires that we suspend all previous judgment and apperception. Phenomenology is not interested in the conditions of the material world, conceived of by the scientist as real, but in the subjectively conceived world of the mind. In its pure form this leads to a science of transcendental consciousness. Language itself is a subjective expression of objective phenomena. That is, words that stand for things -- tree, object -- are not the things themselves, but are mental constructs designed to give meaning to the objective world through symbolism. Phenomenology is interested in perceptions, emotions, attitudes, judgments, all in their a priori nature, or in their true essence, where essence is regarded as what is directly and presently experiential. It is only in the phenomenological reductionist method that we can truly explain self-esteem, as self-esteem is a subjective construct. Self-esteem on the material/situational level is only a component of the true essence of people, their phenomenological selves.
2.
The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) is a pencil-andpaper personality-assessment instrument, using classic measures of pathology, depression, schizophrenia, and so forth. It is used in research to compare and differentiate population groups as a way of identifying personality constellations associated with deviance (be it drug use or cancer), compared with the normal. The authors contend that the pathology itself is the symptom and not the cause; thus, depression and psychopathology do not identify alcoholism, but rather, the real cause is low self-esteem; then heavy tolerance is identified by the MMPI as scale 2 + 4 for alcoholism.

-92-

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The Social Dynamics of Self-Esteem: Theory to Therapy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Tables and Figures ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • 1 - Self-Esteem Psychology 1
  • 2 - Toward a Definition of Self-Esteem 19
  • Notes 51
  • 3 - The Self-Esteem Theory of Deviance 53
  • Notes 92
  • 4 - The Compensatory Mechanism 95
  • 5 - Self-Esteem in Modern Society 119
  • Notes 155
  • 6 - The Nature of Conflict in the Development of Personality 157
  • Notes 181
  • 7 - The Conflict Theory of Personality 183
  • Appendix A - Self-Esteem Inventory 215
  • Appendix B - Mapping Strategies for the Inventory 221
  • Appendix C - Reliability of SEI 223
  • Bibliography 227
  • Index 235
  • About the Authors 244
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