Classic Dalrymple: Self-esteem vs Self-respect

I met a funny English doctor in Vienna, but this isn't him. Theodore Dalrymple remains one of my favorite commentators on the human condition. For your perusal, a classic Dalrymple piece on self-esteem.

Self-esteem is, of course, a term in the modern lexicon of psychobabble, and psychobabble is itself the verbal expression of self-absorption without self-examination. The former is a pleasurable vice, the latter a painful discipline. An accomplished psychobabbler can talk for hours about himself without revealing anything.


That self-esteemists mostly know that they are about as sincere as Marie Antoinette playing shepherdess is illustrated by the following: When patients pretended to confide in me that they were suffering from low self-esteem, I used to reply that at least, then, they had got one thing right: they had valued themselves at their true worth. (Of course, I used care when addressing the patients: those with higher education were less able to bear the exposure of their deception by means of irony, because their education had equipped them with stronger and more sophisticated powers of rationalization.)

h/t The Fourth Checkraise