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The Connection between the Self-esteem Movement and a coming Dark Age


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): HawkeyeAssociates.Ca

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2021/06/04

Dr. Lloyd Hawkeye Robertson is a Registered Doctoral Psychologist with expertise in Counselling Psychology, Educational Psychology, and Human Resource Development. He earned qualifications in Social Work too. Duly note, he has five postsecondary degrees, of which 3 are undergraduate level. His research interests include memes as applied to self-knowledge, the evolution of religion and spirituality, the aboriginal self’s structure, residential school syndrome, prior learning recognition and assessment, and the treatment of attention deficit disorder and suicide ideation. In addition, he works in anxiety and trauma, addictions, and psycho-educational assessment, and relationship, family, and group counselling.

Here we talk about self-esteem, psychology, old articles, and socio-psychological phenomena.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: We have commented briefly on “The Age of Psychology,” “Epidemic of Low Self-Esteem,” “Crazy Making in Our Communities,” “schizophrenia,” “From Lloydminster to Lenningrad,” and religious fundamentalism. It has been a small bit since the commentary. What are some developments on the views there for you?

Dr. Lloyd Hawkeye Robertson: You certainly delved into my personal ancient history for this question, Scott. “The Age of Psychology” was the first column I wrote prior to the millennium for the now defunct newspaper The Northerner. My intent was to show how pervasive applied psychology is in our lives, for both good and ill. I do not think that has fundamentally changed in the intervening decades. You have actually linked six articles I wrote from that era, and I am guessing that you see them connected in some way. I think they all relate to how we interpret the world, creating and maintaining our worldviews.

My views on the “epidemic” of self-esteem have become more nuanced since I wrote that article. While low self-esteem continues to be an issue often confronted by counselling psychologists, and I continue to recommend that parents find the good and positive in their children, the “epidemic” label has led people to become afraid of giving balanced and constructive feedback. This has resulted in a disconnect between subjective and objective reality. For example, U.S. students typically score higher on measures of mathematical self-concept as compared to Chinese students but the Chinese students score higher on measures of mathematical achievement. The result is that many U.S. Americans do not know what they do not know, but they think they are doing just fine – not cognisant that they are being outclassed by the Chinese.

In North America we have witnessed grade inflation to maintain student self-esteem. In an example of this, I case-conferenced with a teacher to discuss reading problems with his adult upgrading class in a northern community college. “But they all have marks in language arts above 80%,” I said. “I know,” he replied, “I helped them get good marks by reading the questions to them and by helping them with their answers”

The teacher said that about a third of his students were functionally illiterate, and he wanted to know what he could do to help them. I suggested he could begin by giving honest feedback. Students need to know their strengths and weaknesses so that they can dedicate their efforts to overcoming those weaknesses. This unfortunate teacher sensed that for these students it was already too late – that they did not have the skills to handle such constructive feedback.

The flip-side of the over-zealous application of the self-esteem movement is mental fragility. Students have been taught that they can be whatever they want to be, but the self that is then created is fragile. Sooner or later reality impinges on illusions. We now have the word “micro-aggression” to describe and defend against that experience. When someone, usually inadvertently, says or does something to challenge a fragile worldview, the fragile self at the core is taught to feel the experience as a micro-aggression. Lashing out with defensive anger and hatred, they demand apologies, community censorship, even firings. If these demands are met they feel vindicated with their fragile selves affirmed.

The other four articles you referenced, Scott, all have to do with how people create and enforce dysfunctional realities. “Crazy making” describes a woman who, after being convinced by an abusive family and community that she was crazy, began displaying symptoms of schizophrenia. “Schizophrenia” describes a common reverse process – people who actually suffer from the disease refusing to take their medication because they believe that they no longer have the condition. “Lloydminster to Leningrad” describes the ways two racists, separated by distance and time, held on to their anti-Semitic beliefs in the face of evidence. “Fundamentalism” describes how a religious congregation attempted to shut down La Ronge’s only bookstore for carrying the wrong kind of books.

As a society we made considerable progress in combating racism, supporting people with mental health problems, and in promoting free speech and the diversity of ideas. I fear a new dark age where society is being re-racialized through identity politics, gaslighting is occurring at a societal scale to challenge our ability to think objectively, and authors and academics are being “de-platformed” so their ideas cannot be heard.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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