SELF-ASSESSMENT

The self is special. “What a blind person needs is not a teacher but another self,” said Helen Keller. One must trust the self and cooperate with it. Not cooperating with the self or trusting the self is a regular feature of our existence. We have an impaired sense of ourselves, both consciously and unconsciously. We are too worried what others think about us. Due to lack of self-confidence we want to look like someone else. The reaction of others, comparison with others, social roles that carry prestige or stigma, and identification are the major factors that influence self-esteem. Often there is a mismatch between how one sees oneself and what one would like to be. A difference may exist between what one wants to be and what he is. The self is what one perceives about oneself and also how others perceive about him. The self is an individual. When many individuals join, it becomes a group. The sum of many ‘I’s becomes ‘We’. ‘We’ works like a ‘super organism’ where the claims of individuals are much reduced; ‘I’ surrenders to the wishes of ‘We’, and as a result ‘I’ loses significance. It is important to say, “It’s me,” but, the issue is, as Amartya Sen reminds us, whether one could claim to be a friend of the self. While reading an article by Mridula Garg, I came across a very interesting observation. Should one write his or her own life story? Garg thinks, writing a true and honest portrayal of the self is self-defeating. Her reason: “Whether one paints oneself as a paragon or a pariah, there is bound to be exaggeration bred out of familiarity, which is another name of prejudice.” A parallel question Jeanne McCullough asked Leon Edel: “What moves one to write a biography, to spend that much time in somebody else’s life?” Edel said, it is like falling in love with a person, although, it is a one-sided love affair. During the process of writing a biography, discoveries are made, realities emerge. “The love affair, however exhilarating, has to be terminated if a useful biography is to emerge. Sometimes, there is disenchantment and even hate; the biographer feels deceived. Isn’t that the way all love affairs run?” Only the dead could be fully appraised.

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© 2017 by Dr Purnendu Ghosh