Facts that Impact Therapy

This is an addendum to Therapists’ Inadequacies.

  1. global self-esteem is not a major predictor of anything with the exception of happiness (ii), [7]
  2. low (global) self-esteem is an innate survival strategy that does not need treatment (xiv), [4, 8.1, 38]
  3. low-mood or subordinated states are often conflated with low (global) self-esteem (xv), [16, 17]
  4. targeting self-efficacy to raise self-esteem before relational value needs are met is inexplicable (vii)
  5. self-esteem has three dimensions: self-acceptance, social-acceptance, status and rank
  6. self-acceptance shows independence from other dimensions yet evaluative criteria not arbitrary (v)
  7. social acceptance, status and rank are more important to our well-being (ii) than self-acceptance [16, 31]
  8. submissiveness, i.e., a readiness to submit or ingratiate is not a learned response but involuntary [16]
  9. telling a subordinate to use boundaries and practice assertiveness is hardly a strategy [16]
  10. depression and social anxiety are situational phenomena in which some are predisposed (xi), [16]
  11. codependency as a syndrome is over-treated and often times assumed rather than diagnosed (vi), [13.1, 29]
  12. as CBT is practiced today symptoms are treated but causes are rarely entertained (vi, viii), [2, 16]
  13. CBT can undermine the role of our intuition and may have unintended consequences (vi), [2, 16]


i) intrinsic worth, that is, humans possessing value by virtue of being human is just not reflected in our day to day experiences

ii) happiness is about fulfillment and satisfaction and wellbeing is about contentment but includes physiological health aspects

iii) global self-esteem is not state or specific self-esteem as it reflects the average feelings we have towards ourselves

iv) mood states are reflected in state self-esteem not global; global is a an aggregate and state is an instantaneous measurement

v) standards used to evaluate ourselves are not private because we imagine how our attributes come across to others

The attributes on which people’s self-esteem is based are precisely the characteristics that determine the degree to which people are valued and accepted by others (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). [28]

vi) sample size of n = 12 therapists and psychiatrists; claims are only for the treatment of depression and social anxiety

vii) it is a gross error to skip the interpersonal part to self-esteem in favor of self-efficacy as relational value needs come first [13]

viii) ones’ interpersonal status is primary; assessments on temperament, personality and attachment style to fine tune treatment

ix) as much disdain as many have towards evolutionary psychology, it provides a useful framework to view interpersonal problems

x) empirical support for the hierarchical arrangement of Maslow’s pyramid exists but self-actualizing is not a fundamental need [13]

xi) personality: neuroticism; temperament: inhibitedness; traits: high sensory-processing sensitivity, rejection sensitivity [38]

xii) dependency paradox says that once we belong and feel valued only then can we venture out with confidence and explorer [29]

xiii) we make self-comparisons to validate the outcome or process regardless if intrinsically or extrinsically motivated [14]

xiv) low self-esteem is defined here as trait self-esteem in its purest form in the absence of aversive social experiences

xv) low or subordinated states include negative automatic thoughts and schemas only in the presence of depressed affect; there is much empirical support for this view, see: (Haaga, Dyck, & Ernst, 1991; Hollon, DeRubeis, & Evans, 1987; Miranda & Persons, 1988; Miranda, Persons, & Byers, 1990; Segal & Ingram, 1994; Teasdale, 1983)


[1] Ackerman, Courtney.  Self-Determination Theory of Motivation: Why Intrinsic Motivation Matters

[2] Allen, M. David M.D.  The Cognitive Behavioral Mafia.  http://davidmallenmd.blogspot.com/2011/12/cognitive-behavioral-mafia.html

[3] Anderson, Thomson Jr. Depression’s Evolutionary Roots.  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=depressions-evolutionary.

[4] Aron, Elaine.  Ranking and Linking, For Better and For Worse. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/attending-the-undervalued-self/201001/ranking-and-linking-better-and-worse

[5] Banks, Amy. Wired to Connect. Penguin Publishing Group.

[6] Baumeister, Roy.  Advanced Social Psychology. Oxford University Press.

[7] Baumeister, Roy.  Does High Self-Esteem Cause Better Performance, Interpersonal Success, Happiness, or Healthier Lifestyles?

[8] Brown, J. D., & Marshall, M. A. (2006). The three faces of self-esteem. In M. Kernis (Ed.), Self-esteem: Issues and answers (pp. 4-9). New York: Psychology Press.

[8.1] Caine, Susan.  NYT.  Shyness: Evolutionary Tactic?

[9] Caldwell, Benjamin E.. Saving Psychotherapy: How Therapists Can Bring the Talking Cure Back from the Brink.

[10] Crozier, Ray.  Shyness and Embarrassment. Perspectives from Social Psychology.  Cambridge University Press.

[11] De Ruiter, Naomi M. P.  Explaining the “How” of Self-Esteem Development: The Self-Organizing Self-Esteem Model.  Review of General Psychology.

[12] De Ruiter, Naomi M. P. Hindawi Complexity.  Self-Esteem as a Complex Dynamic System: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Microlevel Dynamics

[13] Douglas T. Kenrick, Vladas Griskevicius, Steven L. Neuberg, Mark Schaller. Renovating the Pramid of Needs: Contemporary Extensions Built Upon Ancienty Foundations. Perspect Psychol Sci.

[14] Garofalo, Giovanni. The Effects of Social Comparisons on Happiness in a Motivational Context.

[15] Gilbert, Paul. The Compassionate Mind (Compassion Focused Therapy) . Little, Brown Book Group.

[16] Gilbert, Paul. Subordination and Defeat: An Evolutionary Approach To Mood Disorders and Their Therapy.

[17] Gilbert, Paul. Genes on the Couch.

[18] George Lakoff. Philosophy In The Flesh.

[19] Griffioen, Brecht.  The Effect of EMDR and CBT on Low Self-esteem in a General Psychiatric Population: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

[20] Harris, Judith Rich. The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do.

[21] Heatherton, Todd. development and evaluation of a scale for measuring state self-esteem.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

[22] Hoyle, Rick. Selfhood. Taylor and Francis.

[23] Knopik, Valerie.  Behavioral Genetics.  Worth Publishers.

[23.1] Lancer, Darlene. Codependency vs. Interdependency.  psychcentral.com.

[24] Langer, Ellen; https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/199911/self-esteem-vs-self-respect

[25] Leahy, Robert L. Ph.D.  Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: Proven Effectiveness.  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/anxiety-files/201111/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-proven-effectiveness

[26]  Leary, Mark R. Interpersonal Rejection.

[27] Leary, Mark R. The Curse of the Self: Self-Awareness, Egotism, and the Quality of Human Life.

[28] Leary, Mark R.  Making Sense of Self-Esteem.  Current Directions in Psychological Science.

[29] Levine, Amir. Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love. Penguin Publishing Group.

[30] Lieberman, Matthew D.. Social. Crown.

[31] Marmot, Michael. The Status Syndrome . Henry Holt and Co..

[32] Mindvalley.  This Is Why Self-Respect Is Crucial For Happiness; https://blog.mindvalley.com/self-respect-crucial-for-happiness/?utm_source=google

[33] Nesse, Randolph M.. Good Reasons for Bad Feelings. Penguin Publishing Group.

[34] Pinker, Steven. The Blank Slate. Penguin Publishing Group.

[35] Pinker, Steven. How the Mind Works. W. W. Norton & Company.

[36] Quartz, Steven. Cool. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

[37] Rosenberg, Morris. Global Self-Esteem and Specific Self-Esteem: Different Concepts, Different Outcomes.  American Sociological Review.

[38] Schmidt and Schulkin. Extreme Fear, Shyness, and Social Phobia (Series in Affective Science).

[39] Simpson, Jeffrey.  Evolutionary Social Psychology.  Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Publishers.

[40] Tracy, Jessica.  The Self-Conscious Emotions. Guilford Publication.

[41] Waytz, Adam.  The Psychology of Social Status. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-psychology-of-social/

[42] Wood, Joanne V.  Positive Self-Statements. Psychological Science.

[43] Wong, Alexander E. Fractal Dynamics in Self-Evaluation Reveal Self-Concept Clarity.  Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences.

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