Das leere Selbst

Der US-amerikanische Psychiater Philip Cushman geht in seinem Aufsatz “The Empty Self” von folgender These aus:

I believe that in the post-World War II era in theUnited States, there are indications that the present configuration of the bounded, masterful self is the empty self. By this I mean that our terrain has shaped a self that experiences a significant absence of community, tradition, and shared meaning. It experiences these social absences and their consequences “interiorly” as a lack of personal conviction and worth, and it embodies the absences as a chronic, undifferentiated emotional hunger. The post-World War II self thus yearns to acquire and consume as an unconscious way of compensating for what has been lost: It is empty.

Die innere Leere zeigt sich in vielfältigen psychischen Symptomen:

Inner emptiness may be expressed in many ways, such as low self-esteem (the absence of a sense of personal worth), values confusion (the absence of a sense of personal convictions), eating disorders (the compulsion to fill the emptiness with food, or to embody the emptiness by refusing food), drug abuse (the compulsion to fill the emptiness with chemically induced emotional experiences), and chronic consumerism (the compulsion to fill the emptiness with consumer items and the experience of “receiving” something from the world).

Nicht mehr der Charakter und die moralische Integrität, sondern Menschengefälligkeit stehen im Vordergrund:

Unlike character, which is centered on personal moral integrity, advice manuals of the time taught that personality was synonymous with becoming liked by others. The self was conceived of as capable of personal change; impressing others and gaining their approval became an important aim in life, far outstripping the value of doing the morally correct act, which was dictated by one’s character. (602)

Die Psychologie zielt in ihrer Therapie – ähnlich der Werbebranche nun genau auf dieses “leere Selbst” ab und verstärkt damit die Symptome:

Psychotherapy practices have subtly attuned to the empty self of our era by unconsciously allowing or encouraging patients to incorporate the personal characteristics of the therapist, ineluding his or her mannerisms, behavioral style, and personal values. Advertising uses the life-style solution in order to sell products; psychotherapy uses it in order to initiate patients into alternative cultural practices.