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Saturday, April 11, 2009

I'm just saying

S pointed out to me psychologist John Rosemond's parenting column in the paper this morning. I usually try not to read him, unless I need either a good laugh or a dose of "Oh my God, what's with this guy?" But today's column begs for someone to comment.

The gist of his column was that helping children develop self esteem is doing them a serious disservice. To prove it he cites unnamed evidence that people with high self-regard tend to anti-social behavior. In fact, our maximum security prisons are filled with people with very high self-regard. Well that may be true, but self-esteem and self-regard do not mean the same thing. Here's what Webster's has to say:

Self-esteem: a confidence and satisfaction in oneself; self-respect
Self-regard: regard for or consideration of oneself or one's own interests

Hardly the same. What Mr. Rosemond did was...well here's a quote from Mr. Rosemond's column:

The supposed merits of high self-esteem were sold on the basis of rhetoric.

Well if that's true (?) then I guess it's fair for Mr. Rosmond to discredit self-esteem with rhetoric. What Mr. Rosemond did was employ a rhetorical trope known as dysphemism. A dysphemism is the substitution of one term with a harsher, more offensive, or more disagreeable meaning for another term. Self-esteem and self-regard are not synonyms. And erroneously equating them does not prove Mr. Rosemond's argument that people with self esteem can't be humble or caring toward others.

But the question arises, who exactly put the focus on self-esteem in the first place? Well Mr. Rosemond does provide an answer to that one:

In the 1960s, American parents stopped going to their elders for advice and began going instead to mental health professionals--people like me. To create a devoted client base, we had to come up with something new. So we cut from whole cloth a nouveau philosophy...

In the next paragraph he says, "Mind you, we made this up."

People like me (?)...we had to come up with something new(?)...so we cut from whole cloth(?)...we made this up.

Okay. This is the man who wants us to believe what he's telling us now? I'm just saying....


  1. (its me put your red pen up I'm from mississippi-remember)

    stupid is what stupid does... sounds like he doesn't need to be on the air...cuz he is full of wind ;-)

  2. Hi, Darsden.

    I never use red ink on any of my friends. ;0)

    I like thyat full of wind. That's good.

  3. I couldn't agree with you and darsden more! This guy is full of hot air and he doesn't need to on any air!

  4. Sounds like the man has an extremely high self regard for his opinions and thoughts. And like Darsden says, stupid is what stupid does :)

  5. Thank you for taking the time to take this self regarding A-hole DOWN!

    "A dysphemism is the substitution of one term with a harsher, more offensive, or more disagreeable meaning for another term."

    How could I have NOT learned that term before?! Thank you, G-pa for firing me up and giving me new rhetorical weapons.

    Now how about a few tips for breaking into freelancing? I'm just saying.....Happy Aloha Easter, Passover & SPRINGtime!!

  6. Hey, Sylvia. I think theguy is on something though I'd rather not say what it is.

    Amen, Braja.

    JCN, the thing that makes me wonder is that the guy has such a public platform.

    Aloha, Cloudia. I've not forgotten. Just been extremely busy trying to wrap up what's been coming to an end and setting up what comes next. I'll answer soon.

  7. Guess he doesn't know how to define self-regard because he doesn't know he has it. Ha.

    I know I'm good at things, and that's self-esteem, but I don't rub it in someone's face, compete, or make myself heard when no one notices. That's the difference I think.

  8. I hit this phrase and stopped to raise my hand as guilty:
    "A dysphemism is the substitution of one term with a harsher, more offensive, or more disagreeable meaning for another term."
    I do this ALL.THE.TIME. When I reference anyone with an affiliation to the Missouri Tigers, I dysphemisically?? call them "the idiots down the highway". I will try and refrain from pulling a Rosemond. :) (I am blog hopping today, from commenter to commenter. Happy Wednesday!)

  9. I couldn't agree mofre, souporsoprano.

    Hey, Tooj, thanks for coming by. I have to admit, being a good Buckeye, I do the same thing for Michigan fans. Only I think my terms might be just a litle bit harsher than what you say you use.

  10. Everyone needs a little self-esteem. Self-regard? Not so much.

  11. Not so much. You're absolutely right, UtI

  12. Personally, I'd prefer to give Rosemond the benefit of the doubt. Yes, he deserves criticism, but he CAN make good points.

    That is, regardless of what it says in the dictionary, the fact is that people on average don't think of modesty when they hear the term "self-esteem." Whereas they just might when they they hear "self-respect." So maybe Rosemond was simply caving in to popular usage in order to make his point.

    Quotes from another Rosemond column:

    .....But this does not mean that low self-esteem is good, either.

    "Not at all," I answered. "Low self-esteem is associated with drug and alcohol abuse, depression, suicide, chronic unemployment, homelessness, and other personal and social ills."
    "So, if both high and low self esteem are bad," she asked, "what's good?".......

    Some well-meaning folks suggest that there are two types of high self-esteem: a "false" self-esteem that is a function of people patting you on the back and telling you how wonderful you are, and a "genuine" self-esteem that is the result of significant accomplishment. In the words of a colleague and good friend, "Genuine self-esteem comes from achievement, such as studying hard and making good grades, or practicing hard and excelling in a sport."

    So where, I ask, does that leave the child who studies hard and still makes no better than C's? Or the child who is a klutz? Or the disabled child who has neither the mental nor physical ability to succeed at doing much more than everyday self-help tasks? No, accomplishment-based self-esteem is no better than affirmation-based self-esteem. The former is highly prejudicial, the latter is sinful-a form of self-idolatry. And make no mistake about, if you have high regard for yourself because of your accomplishments, then you are likely to have less than high regard for those who's accomplishments are not as "worthy" as your own. In which case we are again talking about self-idolatry......

    "So, John," the impatient reader asks. "Answer the question: What's good?"

    What's good is self-respect. Because it is not a function of significant accomplishment, anyone can acquire self-respect, even the C-student, the klutz, and the disabled child. Self-respect, furthermore, is not idolatrous. It is acquired not because parents praise you (although they should-conservatively), but because they love you unconditionally.....

    Are self-confidence and self-respect interchangeable terms? Again, no. Self-confidence is specific to certain situations. For example, I feel very confident speaking to large groups of people, but I feel a distinct loss of confidence when I'm in deep water with sharks (I know, because I've been there, done that!). In fact, having confidence in a situation where you should not, where you should be on guard and charged with adrenaline, is foolhardy. But where self-confidence has, and should have, its ups and downs, self-respect is a constant......