Beyond Self-Esteem:
Narratives of Self-Knowledge
& Devotion to Others


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Beyond Self-Esteem

"An intriguing exploration that cuts through the shallows of self-theory and brings us to a deeper and more satisfying understanding of self-development. Dr. Cottle brings the theory to life with rich narratives that are crafted with the skill of a short story writer."
William K. Kilpatrick, author of Why Johnnie Can't Tell Right from Wrong


In Beyond Self Esteem, Thomas J. Cottle argues that America's preoccupation with notions of self-esteem and self-regard not only does not reflect the fundamental nature of the self, but leads to selfish behavior and an inability to devote one's self to friendships. The self, Cottle writes, is predicated on social relationships, and, more specifically, on the affirmation each of us offers to the other, as well as the degree of responsibility we find ourselves willing to take for one another. It is Cottle's contention, reinforced by his theoretical positions and by the narrative accounts of children and adults alike, that affirmation of and the assumption of responsibility for other people remain the most ethical human actions.

Excerpt from "Beyond Self-Esteem"

Marvin Lipsey characterizes himself as a man perfectly uncomfortable with all the balance he achieves between his private and public selves. "It's all too difficult to describe," he insists. Suffice it to say, he is gregarious and expansive, yet able to keep a great many of his accomplishments and dreams to himself. He loves talking, but after a couple of hours conversing with him, one learns little of the truly wondrous things he does for other people. In fact, the more I think of it, Marvin could have helped me write these words a little if only he weren't so opposed to bragging. [continue]

Table of Contents


Part I
Beyond Self-Esteem

Part II
Narratives of Children
Just a Memory
Two Big Voices
Call it Mother
The School Problem
The Same Old Me, Only Slightly Different
Sister of the Billion-Dollar Brain
Mommy, Am I Pretty?
An Extra-Wide Mommy
Going to my Mother's Wedding

Part III
The Self Affirmed

Part IV
Narratives of Adults
Booth Story
Friday Afternoon Jew
Your Basic Expatriate
A Mother, A Father, a Santa Claus, an Allen Woody
Judy Kreston and the Magnificent Seven
Mere Acquaintances
A Single Regret
Insurance Claim
Coming Face to Face with the Secret Self
The Question
Lady with the Invisible Limp
For Patriotic Reasons
Final Destination

Part V
The Devoted Self




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