By Elizabeth A. Throop (auth.)
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Additional resources for Psychotherapy, American Culture, and Social Policy: Immoral Individualism
We must have high self-esteem before we can do anything worth esteeming. This is of course utter nonsense. As will be shown later in the chapter, there is no credible evidence that self-esteem is a prerequisite to brilliance or even hard work. It could be argued that high selfesteem mitigates against effort—why bother striving if you’re fine as you are? More generally, the notion that emotional experience and expression makes for a good person or even interesting conversation is highly questionable.
Ultimately, of course, they are being cheated by all of us. How can they even aspire to the middle class when schooling is so devalued? We seem to want the poor to act in middle-class ways, though, despite the fact that the path is blocked. ” She’s resistant to middle-class values of child-rearing or the work ethic? Give her parenting classes and therapy; don’t examine whether middle-class child-rearing is producing good results. She can’t read? Get her a tutor; don’t look at why the resources of American schools, even those that are well funded, are graduating very poorly educated young people (who nonetheless have good self-esteem, though it appears that they have done little of which to be proud).
In essence, for Epstein, the social policy we want is the one we get. I am not so sure. Epstein gives rather too much power to the American people, I think. By arguing that the psychotherapeutic solution is one more or less freely chosen by the electorate, he ignores the massive influence of the various media on American thought and decision making. While certainly a case can be made for a strong strain toward individualism in American culture and history (and psychotherapy, as shown in chapter 1, is a logical if unfortunate result), that cultural precept is rarely challenged by the directors of popular culture.