The Curse of the Self

The Curse of the Self : Self-awareness, Egotism, and the Quality of Human Life

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Human beings have the ability to be self reflective, or to think consciously about themselves, which allows them, among other things, to imagine themselves in the future, anticipate the consequences of their behaviour, plan ahead, and take steps to improve themselves. Despite these obvious advantages, self-reflection comes at a high price. Most people occasionally realize that it causes problems, such as when they cannot stop dwelling on some past failure or future worry, when their ego fuels conflicts with other people, or when their mental chatter keeps them awake at night. Yet few people realize neither how profoundly their lives are affected by their self-reflection, nor how frequently this inner chatter interferes with their success, pollutes their relationships with others, and undermines their happiness. The mental apparatus that enables us to be self-reflective is the same one responsible for most of the personal and social difficulties we face as individuals and as a species. The egocentric, egotistical self blinds people to their own shortcomings, undermines their relationships with others, and leads to social conflict.Self-reflection distorts peoples perceptions of the world, leading them to make bad decisions based on faulty information.By allowing people to ruminate about the past or imagine what might happen in the future, it also conjures up a great deal of personal suffering in the form of depression, anxiety, anger, jealousy, and other negative emotions. A great deal of unhappiness, in the form of addictions, overeating, and domestic violence, is due to peoples inability to exert control over their thoughts and behaviour. This lack of control has led visionaries throughout history to proclaim that the egoic self stymies our quest for spiritual fulfilment and leads to immoral behaviour. Is it possible to direct our self reflection in a way that will minimize the disadvantages and maximize the advantages? Is there a way to affect the egotistical self through self-reflection? In this volume Mark Leary explores the personal and social problems that are created by the capacity for self-reflection, and by drawing upon psychology and other behavioural sciences, offers insights into how these problems can be more

Product details

  • Hardback | 237 pages
  • 152.4 x 233.7 x 22.9mm | 521.64g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 1line drawing
  • 0195172426
  • 9780195172423

Review quote

"Get ready to drop your ego and step into the real world. If you ever wanted to know why everybody else always seems one step removed from reality - Beware - Leary's well researched deadly accurate book, proves once and for all that the common denominator in all your failed relationships is you! Read The Curse of the Self and unlock the door to the bizarre inner workings of the human mind." --Lisa Earle McLeod Syndicated columnist, Lifetime Radio commentator and author of Forget Perfect (Penguin/Putnam)"represents an impressive level of scholarship, presented in a pleasant and accessible way, with anecdotes and touches of humor. Leary is clearly an expert on the topic-I doubt you would find anyone better qualified to write this book." -Roy Baumeister, Professor, Department of Psychology, Florida State University"Many years ago Whitney Houston sang that the greatest love of all was love for the self. She wouldn't feel that way if she read Mark Leary's refreshing and provocative analysis of how our 'selves' cause many of our greatest disasters and disappointments. Ironically, this book generates considerable introspection, even as it provides inspiration for learning not to let our selves get in the way of healthful and meaningful living." -Todd F. Heatherton, Champion International Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College"The Curse of the Self is a thinking person's self-help book, not in the trivial, superficial sense in which the term 'self-help book' is usually used, but in the sense of being both intellectually stimulating and offering useful, practical advice and insights." -Lee Jussim, Department of Psychology, Rutgers Universityshow more

About Mark R. Leary

Mark R. Leary is Professor of Psychology at Duke University. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and former president of the International Society for Self and Identity. He was named by the Institute for Scientific Information as among the 25 most productive scholars in psychology (1986-1990).show more

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86 ratings
4.16 out of 5 stars
5 41% (35)
4 40% (34)
3 16% (14)
2 2% (2)
1 1% (1)
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