CONSCIOUS AND UNCONSCIOUS ASPECTS OF SELF-ESTEEM
The current project addressed itself to four major areas of interest regarding self-esteem. First, it provided a broad-based review of contemporary theories of self-esteem and their historical antecedents. Although psychoanalytic theories received the most attention, cognitive, social, and phenomenological theories were also considered. The project also presented a consensual theory of self-esteem; it delineated a core of common concern among self-esteem theorists and clarified which issues are broadly acknowledged to be relevant and which issues remain controversial. A third goal was to use the insights gained in the extensive theoretical review to critique current self-esteem research; in particular, the failure of the vast majority of self-esteem studies to adequately account for unconscious aspects and determinants of self-esteem was addressed. Finally, suggestions were made regarding the types of instruments and methodologies most likely to further the empirical understanding of self-esteem; to this end, suggestions were also made towards the development of an instrument designed to measure unconscious self-esteem.^ Since this was a strictly historical-theoretical dissertation, no quantitative results were reported. However, the major findings of the theoretical review are worth noting. Historically, theorists have implied, but failed to adequately distinguish between, two discrete aspects or levels of self-esteem, one conscious and one unconscious; similarly, there are two self-esteem motives, each corresponding to a given level. Self-esteem is intimately related to one's ideals, whether these be conceived of as psychic structures or as a state of self-actualization. The antithesis of self-actualization or optimal self-esteem is the establishment of enduring and dominant false self organizations. Though there are heuristic advantages to speaking of a person's various selves, the self is ultimately a single, holistic entity. The most crucial precondition for healthy self-esteem is the experience of participating in at least one good object relationship. This can occur at any point in the life cycle and, therefore, level of self-esteem is never fixedly determined. Finally, intrapsychic and sociocultural determinants of self-esteem are complementary principles of equal importance.^
ANDREW OTTO MORREL,
"CONSCIOUS AND UNCONSCIOUS ASPECTS OF SELF-ESTEEM"
(January 1, 1983).
ETD Collection for Fordham University.