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A "Doh!" moment for the self-esteem crowd
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Wonder of wonders, researchers are finding that today's crop of college students are "more narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors".

And the reason?
The researchers traced the phenomenon back to what they called the "self-esteem movement" that emerged in the 1980s, asserting that the effort to build self-confidence had gone too far.

As an example, Twenge cited a song commonly sung to the tune of "Frere Jacques" in preschool: "I am special, I am special. Look at me."
The solution:
"We need to stop endlessly repeating 'You're special' and having children repeat that back," said the study's lead author, Professor Jean Twenge of San Diego State University. "Kids are self-centered enough already."
No kidding? Ah what would we do without the experts, eh? This is akin to the experts discovering a short time ago that men and women really are different.

Those of us out here in flyover country knew the false self-esteem crowd were full of beans when they trotted out their theory years ago and pushed it on society. The result? More selfish, self-centered and narcissistic children who have, in reality, a more brittle and fragile sense of self-esteem than other generations.
"Unfortunately, narcissism can also have very negative consequences for society, including the breakdown of close relationships with others," he said.

The study asserts that narcissists "are more likely to have romantic relationships that are short-lived, at risk for infidelity, lack emotional warmth, and to exhibit game-playing, dishonesty, and over-controlling and violent behaviors."
Wonderful. A generation of dishonest, over-controlling, violent, and self-centered "special persons". Just what the world needs.
The standardized inventory, known as the NPI, asks for responses to such statements as "If I ruled the world, it would be a better place," "I think I am a special person" and "I can live my life any way I want to."

The researchers describe their study as the largest ever of its type and say students' NPI scores have risen steadily since the current test was introduced in 1982. By 2006, they said, two-thirds of the students had above-average scores, 30 percent more than in 1982.
Look, everyone knows that self-esteem is an important part of a person's psyche. No one denies that. But the usual tendency of experts to recommend going to the extreme and building a sense of false self-esteem never made much sense to anyone who has a passing acquaintance with how life really works. Real self-esteem is earned through real accomplishments.

For years, the experts have been warned that this outcome was exactly what they could expect, however they clung to the notion that pretending every normal accomplishment a child did was somehow a cause for over-the-top celebration and reward.

On the other side, the tendency was to play down or abolish indicators of real accomplishment. Valedictorian? Never. It might hurt the self-esteem of those who weren't chosen. Keep score in a game? No way. Those who don't do as well (i.e. lose) might suffer a blow to their self-esteem. Nope ... instead push the false notion that everyone's effort is equal and that outcome isn't as important as feeling good about yourself.

Is it any wonder when this philosophy meets the real world (outside of childhood and school) it shatters like a cheap glass vase?

But take heart. It's official ... the experts now say "quit telling kids they're special every time they turn around." Instead, tell them they're special when they're actually special.

Wow. What a discovery. What insight. What would we do without the experts?
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Now isn’t that extra special ?
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Anyone else reminded of the move American Psycho? Ok, maybe it was because I just rented it, but still.
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
"On the other side, the tendency was to play down or abolish indicators of real accomplishment."

Yes, that is kind of weird. We are all mediocre, but special. I wonder what it does to the self-esteem of the would-be valedictorian to be told that their accomplishment is something to be ashamed of?
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
But take heart. It’s official ... the experts now say "quit telling kids they’re special every time they turn around." Instead, tell them they’re special when they’re actually special.
You mean it doesn’t take a village?
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
"I’m special,
So special.
I’ve got to have some of your attention...
Give it to me!!"
Written By: D
URL: http://
OK but if I ruled the world, it really *would* be a better place. Is that so wrong?

Kidding aside, as a parent of five I can say the self-esteem movement is unfortunately alive and well. I admit I bought into it for the first one and he has an amazingly self-centered and fragile personality. My younger ones, on the other hand, get cheers only when they do something good enough to get my attention. They demonstrate far more stick-to-it-iveness and appear to get a greater sense of satisfaction out of their accomplishments.
Written By: Gollum
Ah, the triumph of behaviorism over all other schools of psychology. "Feelings," in the long run, really don’t amount to a hill of beans. Behavior is what really matters. Somewhere in the afterlife, B.F. Skinner is rejoicing!
Written By: The Poet Omar
Hark hark! Time for the demands!
More money for the education system to teach the kids they’re not special without making them feel like they’re not special!

I saw a sample of this two weeks ago - how ironic.
My neighbors daughter told her mom she had hurt her self-esteem because mom suggested that spending $1000.00 a month on credit cards while going to college (and not working) really wasn’t going to pass muster any more!
Written By: looker
URL: http://
The proper course of education seems as though it should exclude most emotional and psychological instruction, that a contrary impulse toward teaching self-esteem and the like was tedious to me when I was young enough to be subject to it and has long seemed foolish to me. I can’t recall surely whether or not I sang that insipid, "I am special," song, but the attitude that it holds up was certainly common. In truth I had not thought that it had been to any real effect and merely wasted time, that it has promoted narcissism is quite distressing. Feelings and attitudes are surely the only thing that American schools teach worse than they teach history and the least proper of the two that they have any right to be teaching at all.
Written By: Paludicola
My wife and I have raised 4 children and we knew from almost day one that their wants exceeded their needs. Human nature being what it is, children take what they can get and want no consequences. I taught my children how to accept the word no, criticism, failure and the self control and thought process it takes to recover. Being an older parent probably helped me sort things out. My twin sons discovered the consequences of this over indulgence problem in college and reported to us what the researchers discovered. I have always believed that much of the stupid, illogical violence we see in our society is because people have never learned to accept defeat, failure or just plain being wrong. I have voiced my opinions in letters to editors, etc, so it is nice to see that the self-esteem crowd now has seen the light and has justified to me how I raised my children. I was beginning to worry.
Written By: AMR
URL: http://
I’ve been teaching college for 9 years now and even in that short time there’s been a noticeable increase in the amount of "attitude" and a decrease in the amount of respect my students have shown me. In a calculus class just a few years ago, I had a student come up and argue that he deserved full credit on a chain rule problem because he’d done it right, I was so unfair to mark him wrong, how dare I tell him that his way of doing the problem was wrong because he knew in his heart that it was right for him, etc. He called what I was trying to teach him "bullsh*t" in front of the entire class. After class I went over it with him and it was more of the same— you’re cramping my style, I do the chain rule this way, how come you’re so insistent that your way is right, etc. I had to remind the guy which of us had a degree or two in math and thus which of us was in a better position to know what the correct way to do the chain rule was and why. I usually don’t beat people over the head with my degrees, but this guy needed it badly.

Just about every semester there’s the inevitable angry email or call from the disgruntled F student who’s about to lose his scholarship. The one who is absolutely convinced that he deserves an A on personality alone and is shocked that he got an F even though he got an F on ten quizzes, three midterms, and a final. The worst ones are the ones studying to be teachers. I had a friend who was teaching the Math for Elementary School Teachers sequence and she regularly complained that the students were upset at her for giving them less than a C- when they were regularly getting 1 point out of 10 on their quizzes and similar midterm scores. They went into her office and argued that they should be passed just for keeping their chairs warm just like in their Education classes, because that’s how classes should be run, and the fact that Education classes were run like that was held up as proof of that assertion.

How many of us did this when we were in college? I know I certainly didn’t.
Written By: Wacky Hermit
Corsi restauro
Donne nude porno
Written By: yeko
URL: http://
i think you have to be honest with your kids. we all have strengths and weaknesses. that is fine. there is always a way to use both of them to be who you want to be.

once you examine what your values are you will find a way to live your life with meaning. until that time you will be cheating yourself and you will expereince unhappiness which you will probably express to the world around you.
Written By: marcia siegel

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