Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Bullshittery of Self-Esteem

The self-esteem industry Nathaniel Branden helped launch fosters unrealistic assessments of self and others.

Branden wants people to believe that reading his books is key to attaining this thing called self-esteem. It's just a byproduct of one's own nature, circumstances, and choices.

I'd rather read a book called The Psychology of Accepting Reality.  Anything inconsistent with reality and the concepts derived from it through reason is invalid philosophically and unnecessary psychologically.

The responses race equalitarians give when their views on race are challenged are plainly indicative of their emotionalist and idealist psychology. If positive claim X about race makes them feel uncomfortable or conflicts with their ideal of all races being innately equal, then positive claim X is transmuted into a normative claim in their minds so that the claim and the individual making it can be denounced via a moral rationalization that is irrelevant to the claim's objective truth or falsehood.

Psychological identity is another component of the package deal that comprises "racism" as the term is commonly used and abused. My views on race are an application of my own independent thinking on the subject. That's not the case for most people who espouse race equalitarianism, which is unfounded scientifically but reinforced socially and accorded the status of a pseudo-truth, not as a consequence of factual correctness but of political correctness. The person who succumbs to group-think in believing, without evidence, in innate equality because it feels good, is of a similar mindset as a person succumbs to group-think in believing, without evidence, in the superiority of his race because it feels good. I advocate objectivity.

Obviously, any pseudo-Objectivist would advocate in words more than foundationless feel-good emotionalism. Penn & Teller claim Branden inspired the failed "self-esteem industry" at schools. etc. I have no first-hand knowledge of the extent to which he did or approved of it. I claim he overemphasizes self-esteem and overestimates himself.

Branden planted some seeds for the institutionalized emphasis on self-esteem. How much blame he deserves for how self-esteem has been wrongly promoted to artificially inflate egos and self-importance, I do not know. At least some blame, I suspect.

Less Academics, More Narcissism
The University of California is cutting back on many things, but not useless diversity programs.

Are Educators Showing a “Positive Bias“ to Minority Students – and Keeping Them from Doing Their Best?
Are Some Teachers Hurting Students With Too Much Praise?


  1. I read some of Brandens books, and what I got from them was "stop complaining, take responsibility". It's definitely the best lesson I got in my life, and the one thing no one ever really dared tell me while growing up. Because I am trying to do this for myself, I also expect it from friends and family, and I tell them so, with positive results.
    But he does not say that there is some special thing about his books. He just tells you honestly that there is no one who is going to help you with this, you have want to do it yourself. The difficult part in writing such a book is saying it in a way that different people can actually understand it and how it applies to their life.
    And it is definitely not feel-good. He tries to wrap it in nicely of course, but doing as he recommends is hard work.

  2. Branden may have inspired a lot of shysters, but his own books explicitly discourage empty self-inflation and reality-avoidance. As I see it, his concept of self-esteem is perfectly compatible with a "constrained vision" view of humanity - make the best self/life possible with what you've got.