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A fashionable mantra: "This is who I am".


Published in

Diario Montañés, Diario de Navarra

Gerardo Castillo

Lecturer at School of Education and Psychology. University of Navarra

Morality relies on psychology, since the latter appeals to the deepest part of the human soul, the desire for good and happiness. Psychology tells a person what he is like; morality tells him what he should be and how to behave. The existing harmony between psychology and morality at the theoretical level is not always present in the internship, since some psychologists and moralists rival each other in the audacious pretension of clarifying exclusively human behavior.

The error of exclusionary moralism of previous historical epochs is succeeded today by the error of self-sufficient psychologism. Gustave Thibon explains it this way: "To a moralism that ignored and rejected psychology, we see that it is succeeded by a psychologism that ignores and rejects morality. Whether it is a question of any aberrant or antisocial behavior, one always finds a psychologist who explains everything and justifies everything. In this perspective, the notions of good and evil are erased and the analysis of motives ends up acting as an absolution, if not as an encouragement".

Under the influence of self-sufficient psychologism, many people attribute to themselves an unrealistic and convenient self-concept; with this they try to avoid duties and normalize inadequate or dishonest behaviors. It is often expressed with the mantra: "This is who I am". This expression is being used to self-justify behaviors that are annoying to others, such as disrespecting them. If the offended person complains, he/she may receive a response from this subject: "I am like this, take it or leave it".

 It should be clear that personality is not immovable; it is not a fixed concept, but an evolutionary development process in interaction with the environment. Moreover, we can modify it at will in some aspects with the passage of time. A person who is, for example, individualistic, is not condemned to be so for life.

Under an apparent façade of authenticity, "this is who I am" is a recurrent excuse to free oneself from the effort required to be better. It is also a defensive attitude in the face of criticism and timely corrections that, out of pride, are not accepted. In some cases it denotes a lack of self-knowledge. In the temple of Delphi, dedicated to the god Apollo, there was the registration: "Know thyself". It was intended to encourage visitors to recognize the limits of their own nature and not to aspire to what is proper to the gods. Socrates used this teaching to discover and spread the recognition of our limits and our ignorance.

The knowledge is followed by acceptance and coherence. The goal is to be yourself. "Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, don't go out looking for a successful personality and duplicate it" (Bruce Lee). Whoever gets used to mediocre behaviors acquires a chronic conformism that ends up being integrated into his personality in the form of an egomaniacal identity. Logically, this state does not financial aid in true friendship and love.

Can there be true friendship between two egomaniacal people? A self-sufficient personality is incompatible with the values of friendship. Friendship is disinterested affection, reciprocal benevolence, mutual desire for the good. Each friend loves his friend not as something useful or pleasurable, but for himself. In the relationship of friendship there is an unwritten moral code and reciprocal duties, among them to be sincere, loyal and generous.

In the same way: is it possible to expect a true conjugal love on the same status? It is not possible, due to immaturity. One is immature for conjugal life who suffers from basic deficiencies for this state of life, among others the following: incapacity for a committed love, conceiving it as something provisional; not being aware that each one owes the other; subordinating the submission to the moods of each moment; expecting the other to assume exclusively responsibilities that are common, for example, the Education of the children. That subject of love does not resist the usual difficulties of the conjugal coexistence.