I wrote a paper once for one of my psychology classes. I attended a Christian college and the class was on the theories of personality. The paper was on self-esteem. It was a project done as a group. (Oh how I loathe group projects but that's a post for another time.) We were a group of three people so we divided our work into three distinct areas. One member wrote about about the benefits of having positive self-esteem. The other member wrote about how to recognize the differences between poor to positive self-esteem. I wrote my section of the paper arguing that self-esteem was neither biblical nor beneficial. I was not the favorite student in the class.
My research took me on a journey through studies on the penal system where it seems that the most violent offenders often had what seemed to be the highest self-esteem. It's logical if you think about it. If you love yourself more than others, it's much easier to hurt them or steal from them to satisfy your needs. If it's all about me why should I give a rip if I hurt you to get what I want?
Thankfully, I was also studying theology at the same time as I was getting my psychology degree. One of my favorite professors taught New Testament classes and one day he said that flattery was the worst type of abuse and cruelty because we all want to be told we are wonderful so we readily believe those who would flatter us for sinister reasons.
I read a great article about flattery and American Idol. I believe the author, Winston Smith, has definitively answered for me how it is that those people with terrible singing voices stand before music professionals and argue the merits of their abilities. If only I could have played some of the American Idol worst singer clips during my presentation on self-esteem being harmful, I am certain no one would have argued against my position. Read the article, click the button and see if you agree.