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Re: the meaning of self

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	“suddenly it was evening”

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The Development of the Self

One of the most important aspects of personal development is the way in which we see ourselves. As a 
child grows he becomes aware, through his experiences, initially within the family, and later also 
outside in his society, of who and what he is. This realty not only represents his present situation but 
also acts as a stepping-stone towards his future development. This of course includes some degree of 
self-regard, for as Horney, 1950 and Rogers, 1951 have indicated, unless an individual loves himself, he 
will feel a basic hostility towards others. Additionally it has been suggested that there are theoretical 
and empirical connections between low self-esteem and depression.  ,  
Mead (1934) believed that a child is born without a sense of self and that this gradually develops 
through experiences with parents, siblings, and others. The rôle of social interaction is central:
“The self, as that which can be an object to itself, is essentially a social structure, and it arises in social 
experience . . . it is impossible to conceive of a self arising outside social experience.” (pp., 40)
Mead introduced the idea that, over  time, the child extends his view of others to form a “generalized 
other” (i.e., others in general, society at large) and comes to view the self as seen by this  “generalized 
He stated, 
“We are more or less consciously seeing ourselves as others see us.” (pp., 272)
Mead believed that although the self acts differently in different settings, there is an underlying unified 
self. This notion is necessary if we believe in the construct of global self-esteem. 
Later considerations by Sullivan (1953), placed the emphasis on significant others rather than generalized 
others. He believed that these developments occurred long before the acquisition of language, and 

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Article-ID: 05_1997&959842
Score: 78
Subject: ACN 7-2 [12] Free-Nets and Politics of Community