Self-Esteem: An American History

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At the end of the last century, the idea of self-esteem became enormously influential. A staggering amount of psychological research and self-help literature was published, and before long was devoured by readers. Self-esteem initiatives permeated American schools. Self-esteem became the way of understanding ourselves, our personalities, our interactions with others. Nowadays, few people think much about the idea of self-esteem―but perhaps we should.

Self-Esteem: An American History is the first historical study exploring the emotional politics of self-esteem in modern America. Written with verve and insight, Ian Miller’s expert analysis explores the critiques of self-help which accuse it of propping up conservative agendas by encouraging us to look solely inside ourselves to resolve life’s problems. At the same time, he reveals how African American, LGBTQ+ and feminist activists endeavored to build positive collective identities based upon self-esteem, pride and self-respect.

This revelatory book will be essential reading for anyone with an interest in the history of mental health, well-being, emotions in the United States’ unique society and culture.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages280
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Feb 2024


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