"""But this is not the world that the progenitors of the self-esteem movement thought they were making. For them, positive self-regard was a state that had to be earned. “Nathaniel Branden meant something a little more honestly come by,” says Campbell, the co-author of The Narcissism Epidemic. “When people talked about self-actualization, that meant really pushing yourself to reach your full potential. Self-actualization is really hard.” The reason the empty version of self-esteem proved infectious, Campbell believes, is simple: “It feels good.”
The movement’s U.S. origins are surely no coincidence. Self-esteem fits perfectly over the top of the traditional ideal of the free and noble individual, striving to achieve the American dream. The movement’s sin was making it sound easy. It removed the part about striving, replacing it with an unearned assumption of exceptionalism. The lesson became that simply wanting it is enough. You’re special. You deserve it."""