Tim O'Brien

Self-esteem? I’ve got no confidence in it…

The concept means nothing without context – and it is a damaging theory to present to young people, argues psychologist Tim O’Brien

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Self-esteem has reigned unchallenged in the field of psychology and mental health for more than 100 years. If you can’t be what you want to be – feel what you want to feel, think what you want to think – then it’s time to take a good hard look at your self-esteem. The likelihood is that it is low. And the self-help industry is awash with books that will tell you how to fix it.

This is all highly problematic. Because self-esteem does not exist. In assuming that it does, we are trapping people into a destructive way of thinking about who they are, what they can achieve and who they can be. In ...

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