The Bible states that we are to esteem others more highly than ourselves (Phil. 2:3). In 1977, this command was defied when a psychologist made the claim that instilling self-esteem in children should be of primary importance in child-rearing and education. Parents and teachers accepted this claim as Gospel truth in the hopes that ladling earned praise on children would be a bulwark against drug abuse, teen pregnancy, and poor grades. However, as with any philosophy whose central tenet contradicts Scripture, the Self-Esteem movement has proven to be a fiasco. Even the usually liberal Newsweek magazine has recently admitted as much:
A new study examined inflated self-esteem, the kind that can come not from actual achievement but from teachers and parents drumming into kids how great they are. The researchers find that this sort of unjustified self~teem can trigger hostility and aggression, and may even underlie violence like the recent school shootings. "If kids develop unrealistic opinions of themselves and those views are rejected by others," warns psychologist Brad -Bushman of Iowa State University, the kids are "potentially dangerous. "1
The bottom line in the failure of the Self-Esteem movement
is that it breeds narcissistic children, and narcissists are notoriously
sensitive to criticism. Dr. Bushman, along with Roy Baumeister of Case
Western Reserve University, reported in the Journal of personality and
Social Psychology that a study they conducted of 540 college students
demonstrated that those who had been raised in the Self-Esteem movement were "exceptionally aggressive" when they received negative criticism from their peers. According to Dr. Baumeister, this aggression stems from the fact that the Self-Esteem movement creates false hopes for narcissistic children, and when reality fails to deliver, the youngsters explode in violence and anger. Baumeister summed up the grand error of the movement: -the idea that you can solve problems simply by telling kids they're great is so seductive. No one wants to admit it doesn't do any good.~
Bushman and Baumeister are not alone in their condemnation
of the Self-Esteem movement. Martin Seligman, president of the American
Psychological Association, chastised the public school system for teaching
that self-esteem is the cause of success, rather than the result of achievement.
James Gilligan, a psychiatrist at the Harvard Medical
School and a leading violence researcher, pointed out that when teachers unjustifiably inflate a child's view of himself, the resulting letdown can lead to an explosion of violent behavior. Clinical psychologist Robert Brooks, also of Harvard, noted that the' same problem is caused by the parents, who, he states, have 'raised) a generation of kids who cannot tolerate frustration."'
The Secular Left wrings its hands in frustration over the school shootings that have plagued and horrified the nation in the past few years, not realizing that its glorification of self-esteem and simultaneous rejection of Biblical truth is the root cause of the problem. Liberals have only two options left open to them: Abandon their disproven self-esteem mythology and replace it with the truths of Scripture, or face societal disintegration. "In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves" (Phil. 2:3). than themselves" (Phil. 2:3).
-Stephen Caesar is an author specializing in topics on the
veracity of Scripture. He is currently pursing his master's degree in anthropology"
/archaeology at Harvard University.
Begley, Sharon. "you're OK, I'm Terrific: 'Self-Esteem'
Backfires." Newsweek, 13 July 1998, 69. 'Ibid.