Others in Mind: Social Origins of Self-Consciousness Review

Others in Mind: Social Origins of Self-Consciousness
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""To be ignored and rejected by others is indeed the worst punishment and the worst suffering of all. It is psychological death." Philippe Rochat's book is packed with so many wonderful, profound instances that I ended up underscoring much of the text. Although I already knew much of the area in my professional capacity, I have never read such a brilliant account, packed with insightful observations. What makes this all the more impressive is that it is written in an accessible, engaging way. More importantly, Rochat's theory about the social origins of self is utterly compelling which makes me think that "Origins in Mind," is one of the most important books on social cognition that should be compulsory reading to anyone interested in the human condition.

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Why are we so prone to guilt and embarrassment? Why do we care so much about how others see us, about our reputation? What are the origins of such afflictions? Philippe Rochat argues that it is because we are members of a species that evolved the unique propensity to reflect upon themselves as an object of thoughts; an object of thoughts that is potentially evaluated by others. But, the argument goes, this propensity comes from a basic fear: the fear of rejection, of being socially "banned" and ostracized. Others in Mind is about self-consciousness, how it originates and how it shapes our lives. Self-consciousness is arguably the most important and revealing of all psychological problems.

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