While you’re over there be sure to check out her essay, Default Mode Therapeutic Psychobabble. She snips a trenchant comment by Mark Steyn and riffs on his theme.
Steyn first, examining the subtext [heh] of the British hostages’ interviews:
However, the language you deplore — “Some of the Iranian sailors were becoming deliberately aggressive and unstable”, “Throughout our ordeal we faced constant psychological pressure” — seems less a reflection on these men than yet more evidence of how therapeutic psychobabble has become the default mode of our culture — even unto the military.
Doc plays that one on her saxophone like it was 1930 and she is the world’s premier jazz performer:
One of the big pieces of the psychobabble industry is the promotion of “self esteem” at the expense of self control and personal responsibility. But contrary to popular myth self esteem is not the holy grail of psychological health. In fact, it is not necessarily even good for you, and most bullies, tyrants and other dysfunctional people fairly ooze self esteem. [my emphasis…this must be why Moe never, ever cares about Calvin’s situation as he relentlessly steals his lunch money. Stalin was just a Moe Writ Large — D]
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Most people confuse “self-esteem” with a “sense of self”. It is the latter—not the former, that is so often screwed up in the angry, violent, grandiose, and generally narcissistic people in the world. If you have a healthy “sense of self”, you are likely to have a healthy self-esteem; and a healthy self-esteem is not the same at all as a high self-esteem.
The psychological defect that leads to so many problems for people in their lives is a defective or distorted sense of … SELF. The excessive self-esteem you see in a bully comes from a distortion of reality that person develops with regard to their self. It used to be widely believed that low self-esteem was a cause of violence, but in reality, violent individuals, groups and nations happen to think very well of themselves. Do you really suppose that individuals like Ahmadinejad or the Iranian mullahs suffer from poor self-esteem? Do you think bullies like Saddam or thugs like Zawahiri had “fragile” egos as they made their way through life?
If I hear one more teacher say that stupid, self-serving behavior on the part of a child is simply “low self-esteem” I shall run to my car and grab the Uzi.
The sooner we do away with the Department of Education and all the post-graduate work in “education” imposed on those who would simply like to teach, the sooner our children will cease to suffer from the effects of the evils of bureaucracy. In fact, they might even learn to read. Or — imagine this — master critical thinking. /rant
Do go see the Doc’s whole essay. She rants far better than I, and with more learnéd pizzazz.