The German philosopher, Hegel, believed that all of history was to be interpreted along a continuum of collective consciousness, and that there was no such thing as truth, just different forms of consciousness, each transcending the other, but none that have ever been wholly true. Looking down the corridors of time one sees numerous paradigms that emerge in various cultures. We even see this in the history of our own country. Should people really pay homage to the cultural vicissitudes that shift across time? It was Adolf Hitler who said that one should "sacrifice yourself for your culture." No doubt he was influenced by the writings of his German predecessors, Hegel and Immanuel Kant.

There was a whole culture who suppressed the freedoms of blacks and women in America. Did this mean one had to accept this as truth? After all, wrong doesn't cease to be wrong just because the majority shares in it, they are not more right, they are stronger. The majority rule can only command obedience and not belief.

The proliferation of the self-esteem movement in America can primarily be attributed to Abraham Maslow. Dr. Maslow sought to create a society that no longer depended upon church. He had hoped that the new psychology would in fact replace people's dependence upon religion. However, when he began his sojourn, he admits that he did not have empirical evidence to support that self-esteem gave people a more productive life. He believed that the evidence would come later. Much of his model was spread in the early 60s by Abbie Hoffman and Timothy Leary.

Now, over four decades later, the shadows of doubt have been cast over the self-esteem movement. Dr. Roy Baumeister has conducted extensive studies on the subject. He conducted a true experimental design that sampled two sets of college students to determine if there was a statistical difference on exam scores between the control group who received self-esteem statements prior to taking the exam and the comparison group who did not receive the treatment. What is so interesting about this data is that the research team hypothesized those who received the treatment would in fact score higher on the exam than those who did not.

The outcome showed that the comparison group scored higher than the control group. Why is this? There is really only one conclusion to be drawn from the study. The students whose self-esteem was boosted prior to the exam saw no deficiencies in themselves. They probably did not study at all or studied very little. The other group was left with self-doubt about their performance, hence, they studied more. This raises a number of questions about the whole self-esteem movement in America. What if our whole economic system is laced with high self-esteem at its foundation? Employers certainly see this as an advantage for hiring a perspective employee. It can only mean that the most talented and hardest working are getting passed over in the work force. This may explain the substandard services consumers often complain about in American industry and our educational system falling behind other countries. What would happen to a nation's economy where the producers were filled with hot air and nothing to back up the claims to "being so great and wonderful?"

Parents might want to consider raising their children differently. It seems that the generation that came before this one understood a sense of self-confidence grows out of actually doing the work and not a lot of positive self affirmations in the form of "I feel therefore I am."

Author's Bio: 

Bruce Wayne Sullivan worked as a bartender for 11 years before earning his master’s degree from the University of Memphis. He is a licensed professional counselor and a clinically-certified forensic counselor with more than a decade of experience in mental health care and treatment. Sullivan has published two books of poetry, Reflections From the Other Side: The World Through the Eyes of a Bartender and Vodka Tonics for the Soul. He currently resides in Biloxi.