October 1963

Self-Esteem and Adaptation

Author Affiliations

From the Institute for Psychosomatic and Psychiatric Research and Training, Michael Reese Hospital.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1963;9(4):414-418. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1963.01720160104013

Self-esteem is defined by Webster as "the holding of a good opinion of oneself." In actual usage, self-esteem refers to a fluctuating and variable set of attitudes about oneself, one's values and value systems, and the state of one's ego at any given moment. In many respects self-esteem may be likened to a final common pathway for a great variety of ego and superego functions. The literature on this topic has focused primarily on shifts in self-esteem in relation to the superego and super-ego identifications. It will be the purpose of this communication to suggest an alternate way of viewing self-esteem that focuses primarily on ego mechanisms and the goals of adaptation.

Edith Jacobson6 defines self-esteem as "the ideational, and especially the emotional, expression of self-evaluation and of the corresponding more or less neutralized libidinous and aggressive cathexis of the self-representations." She

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