£9.99 Pb 224pp, ISBN 9781844746200
Reviewed by Evelyn Sharpe, a Consultant Psychiatrist
Since the 1960s, attempts to boost self-esteem have become part of our culture, but it has become evident, as Glynn Harrison says, that 'self-esteem ideology promised much but delivered small'. Dr Harrison, an Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, describes the origins of this ideology and how it came to have major influence in the worlds of teaching, public health and religion. He shows its failures very clearly but also seeks to provide a 'biblical and more psychologically secure approach to the big questions of significance and worth'.
The second half is a combination of showing the Christian view of humankind, advising how to stop judging ourselves and how to counter the status anxiety which makes us constantly aware of our seeming importance or lack of it. The style is very readable, using biblical examples, personal narratives and anecdotes to illustrate various points. A recent secular article on self-esteem advocated 'think less about you and more about others' as the way to feel good about yourself. Dr Harrison agrees that we need to shift our focus from ourselves, but that our status and significance is to be found in Christ, leading one day to a glorious 'heightened self-forgetfulness' in heaven.