Saturday, December 06, 2008

This sounds familiar

The Fragility of Self-Esteem

New research reveals people with "fragile high self-esteem" are more defensive if they feel attacked by others than those who have more stable and secure self-worth.

Well, how about new research reinforces something we already knew. Roy F. Baumeister, in Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty, noted that a lot of the evil in the world is done by people with artificially inflated self-esteem responding to people whose words or actions pop their bubbles.

The new study looked at the quality of students' self-esteem, and their level of defensiveness. Those with unrealistic self-esteem were hyper-defensive:

One student, whose responses scored high on the defensiveness scale, described not helping another student in his geometry class, saying "... I didn't feel like there was any gain for me. Even if that sounds selfish, it was really justified, because I was a better student and he was not a good student ... I felt good about not wanting to help him."

How much does this sound like a standard justification for abortion? "I didn't feel that there was any gain for me in having the baby. Even if that sounds selfish, it was really justified, because I have my plans and it's not like an embryo really is human after all. I felt good about making my choice and following through with it."

The researchers noted:

"Potential threats are in fact more threatening to people with low or fragile high self-esteem than those with secure high self-esteem," Kernis said, "and so they work harder to counteract them."


Compare that to how, say, a meat eater responds to criticism from PETA:

*shrug* "Whatever. Can somebody pass the A-1 sauce?"

Priests for Life reported on research looking at sense of self and the decision to abort:

Unplanned motherhood ... represents a threat so great to modern women that it is perceived as equivalent to a "death of self." While the woman may rationally understand this is not her own literal death, her emotional, subconscious reaction to carrying the child to term is that her life will be "over." This is because many young women of today have developed a self-identity that simply does not include being a mother. It may include going through college, getting a degree, obtaining a good job, even getting married someday; but the sudden intrusion of motherhood is perceived as a complete loss of control over their present and future selves. It shatters their sense of who they are and will become, and thereby paralyzes their ability to think more rationally or realistically.

When these women evaluate the abortion decision, therefore, they do not, as a pro-lifer might, formulate the problem with the radically distinct options of either "I must endure an embarrassing pregnancy" or "I must destroy the life of an innocent child." Instead, their perception of the choice is either "my life is over" or "the life of this new child is over." Given this perspective, the choice of abortion becomes one of self-preservation, a much more defensible position, both to the woman deciding to abort and to those supporting her decision.

Even those women who are likely to choose life rather than abortion do so not because they better understand fetology or have a greater love for children, but because they have a broader and less fragile sense of self, and they can better incorporate motherhood into their self-identity. (Emphasis mine)



Tonal Bliss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tonal Bliss said...

I love this blog entry! You write very well and make points very poignantly. Thank you so much for what you do.