I’m still shuffling the deck.
I’ll tell you what came up next–not an ace, I’ll tell you that.
But I want to start with Cooley, so that you understand what I mean, and also with the idea that the self is something that we imagine. It doesn’t really exist. The self is a model we create in our mind that allows us to make predictions about ourselves and others, to make decisions, and to interact. It’s a very cool thing, and I’m guessing a fairly recent thing, since apparently hominids have only been able to think about the future for three million years (where that number comes from, I have no idea.)
And a self seems useful mainly for thinking about the future and what we might do in it, but maybe I’m wrong. Chimpanzees evidently have developed theory of mind, and that sort of leaves the door open.
But keep in mind that, regardless of what the ability to think about a self developed for or even whether it was three million years ago or longer, it would before modern humans appeared n the scene (and before chimps as well).
We are only 200,000 years old. But australopithecus would have been around and so would have paranthropus. Maybe they
We’re related to H. Floresiensis, but they had brains the size of chimps. They built fires though. They were probably smart enough to have a self-image.
started this trend. I don’t know, but I’m afraid I have wandered off the point.
Charles Horton Cooley says we develop our sense of self, at least in part, because we see ourselves as we imagine others see us. This is called the looking-glass self, because in this idea, the minds of others are acting like mirrors for us to see ourselves in.
We know–or can guess-how others see us, because of how people behave towards us mainly, and to a lesser extent based on what they say. (We usually believe behavior over words.) Behavior has meaning and within a culture, meanings are usually shared. (Across cultures, it often isn’t, which is why people experience culture shock. The real problem is usually self-shock: differences in meanings ascribed to behavior creates a conflict about how to see oneself.)
This process occurs outside of awareness and outside of intentional control.
When we are routinely abused by others, we develop negative views of ourselves, because the view of us being communicated in abusive behavior is that we are worthless, bad, or unworthy of consideration and regard. No one communicates care or respect by slapping someone else around or looking contemptuous. It just isn’t done.
So sometimes, when I feel like a used paper cup, I know why. It has to do with how various perpetrators saw me, and the view they communicated to me through their behavior. I think it’s a completely accurate view of what they thought about me.
Theirs wasn’t a Starbucks cup.
It’s hard to stay with that view though. It’s painful. I don’t really want to think about it or engage with it. It’s one of those things you want to put aside and move on from without considering too carefully.
But if I stay with it, I start to see a bit beyond it. I start to see how I saw myself. I don’t really know how I see my child-self now, but I think I can recall how I saw myself then. Maybe.
I was cute.
I don’t know how else to say it. I was really, really cute.
And that just makes me very sad.
It also reminds me of how I saw the men who used me, and it is like fire raining down. They were just evil. And I feel sad about that too. It also hurts my head. The horror is so terribly intense.