In the comments to A Few Words On Stereotype Threat, tulio asks in response to Ken Hoop who said he was worried more about low self-esteem among Whites than among minorities:
How does low white self-esteem manifest itself in society? I’m curious.
Well, what you see a lot of in White society are these kind of shy, nice guy types, often overweight, or dorky, nerdy guys. A lot of times you get the feeling that they do not have a lot of confidence. It’s clear that they don’t have a real high opinion of themselves. With middle aged men, especially lower income, overweight, losing their looks, a lot of the time, they look downcast like they are not enjoying things. You don’t get the impression that this guy thinks he is King of the Hill anymore, if he ever did.
Basically it’s associated with neuroticism, niceness, caution, lack of risk taking behavior, stuff like that. Probably lower rates of drug and alcohol abuse too. Low self-esteem is not great, but it’s not the end of the world. Low self-esteem people tend to be nice. As self-esteem rises, people are not so nice anymore. Criminals have very high self-esteem. In White women, low self-esteem is associated with overweight or promiscuous sexual behavior, sluttiness, etc.
Not sure why that is. Prostitutes and porn stars, etc. have notoriously low self-esteem. A lot of these White women cutting themselves and whatnot, or with Borderline Personality Disorder, don’t have good self-esteem at all. Depression is obviously associated with low self esteem, and so is anxiety to some extent. About drug and alcohol abuse, I am not so sure.
High self-esteem is a way worse problem than low self-esteem.
One can argue that people only have so much love to give. The love can go to the self, to others, or to both. As self-esteem rises, a lot of love goes to the self and in many cases, there is less left for others. Further, there is a tendency to see oneself as superior. As self-esteem decreases, self-love is pretty low, but humans all have a great love potential. The love has to go somewhere. As it’s not going to the self too much, it will tend to go outwards. Furthermore, the low self-esteem person doesn’t feel very superior to others.
Alternatively, low self-esteem people send their anger inwards at the self, whereas with high self-esteem, there’s a tendency to project it out at others as a defense. I suppose one can argue once again that the psyche has a reservoir of anger or rage and it has to go somewhere, either inward at the ego or outwards at objects in the world.
That’s why people with low self-esteem are often very nice, and cocky bastards are often complete pricks.
Obviously, it’s ideal to love yourself and others well, but life’s not always so ideal.