Cover image for A sense of self : the work of affirmation
A sense of self : the work of affirmation
Cottle, Thomas J.
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Publication Information:
Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
x, 209 pages ; 24 cm
1. The act of affirmation -- 2. The relational aspect of affirmation -- 3. The gaze of affirmation -- 4. The miraculous stranger -- 5. The construction of affirmation -- 6. Average, expectable environments -- 7. The affirmation curriculum.
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BF697 .C68 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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An exploration of the crucial role of affirmation in human development; A clinical psychologist as well as a sociologist, Thomas J. Cottle is the author of more than twenty-five books. At the heart of his work is a concern with the problems confronted by ordinary people in their everyday lives, the kinds of issues that shape who we are and how we interact with the world around us. In this book, his focus is on affirmation, that mysterious process by which the self comes to know itself in relation to others and forges an identity. What is it that we experience when we are affirmed, Cottle asks, and what are the ramifications of affirmation, or the lack of it, in how we lead our lives? In pursuing his investigation, Cottle draws on a remarkably broad range of social scientific and philosophical literature, from Piaget and Kohut to Nietzsche and Levinas. Looking closely at the relationship between the individual, the family, and society, he explores issues of intimacy, morality, ethics, aesthetics, and socialization. He pays particular attention to the role of devotion, showing how the act of taking responsibility for another is the essence of affirmation, which in turn is the fundame

Author Notes

Thomas J. Cottle is professor of education at Boston University.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Cottle (education, Boston Univ.) analyzes the role that affirmation and disaffirmation play in the development of self, quality of relationships, and quality of life. Extremely well grounded in literature and theory, the book is still accessible to a wide audience. Although no direct connection is made, the study has implications for those attempting to understand hatred, abuse of others, and self-defeating behaviors. This reviewer was particularly impressed with the chapter titled "Miraculous Stranger," in which Cottle writes, "The significant message is neither 'Say as I say' nor 'Do as I do.' Rather, it is to be as you must be. As I am what I am, so must you be what you must be." (If every human being would adopt this philosophy, the world would have far fewer problems.) Valuable reading in a first course on the self, this study will also be valuable in a therapeutic environment and to parents assisting their child in becoming his/her own person. ^BSumming Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers. R. E. Osborne Texas State University-San Marcos

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Part I
1 The Act of Affirmationp. 3
2 The Relational Aspect of Affirmationp. 24
Part II
3 The Gaze of Affirmationp. 45
4 The Miraculous Strangerp. 60
5 The Construction of Affirmationp. 95
Part III
6 Average, Expectable Environmentsp. 125
7 The Affirmation Curriculump. 153
Notesp. 169
Referencesp. 193