Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Eric Hoffer: desires and self-esteem

"It is strange how the moment we have reason to be dissatisfied with ourselves we are set upon by a pack of insistent clamorous desires. Is desire somehow an expression of the centrifugal force that tears and pulls us away from an undesirable self?  A gain in self-esteem usually reduces the pull of the appetites, while a crisis in self-esteem is likely to cause of a weakening or a complete breakdown of self-discipline.

Asceticism is sometimes a deliberate effort to reverse a reaction in the chemistry of our soul: by suppressing desire we try to rebuild and bolster self-esteem."

"To believe that if we could but have this or that we would be happy is to suppress the realization that the cause of our unhappiness is in our inadequate and blemished selves.  Excessive desire is thus a means of suppressing our sense of worthlessness."

-- Eric Hoffer --
from The Passionate State of Mind

In times of a personal crisis or emotional distress, how many people turn to binge eating or shopping sprees or becoming angry with those around them? Is it to distract themselves from the real problem or perhaps a misdirected way of regaining control in some way:  I can eat or I can shop or I can strike out at others when I want. Could this also be a basis for an obsessive interest in collecting objects or idolizing film stars,  athletes,  TV series,  politicians?

Is this a way of regaining self-esteem?

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