From Contrarianism to Authenticity: Why Our Inner Selves Rebel

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From Contrarianism to Authenticity: Why Our Inner Selves Rebel

Post by Jessie » Sun Oct 28, 2018 10:37 am

We are delighted to welcome author Leon Garber, a practicing therapist who also writes on existential issues. His first piece is From Contrarianism to Authenticity: Why Our Inner Selves Rebel.

Did you relate to what he says here? How many of you struggled with a period of contrarianism as part of your experience with pursuing authenticity and your personality ideal?

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Re: From Contrarianism to Authenticity: Why Our Inner Selves Rebel

Post by Rémy » Thu Nov 01, 2018 4:15 pm

Thank you for the interesting article! :) I'm not sure my personal experience fits the description, I would have to think about it for a while. I have one question, though: To an outside observer, can positive maladjustment and contrarianism look the same? The article focused a lot on negative forms of contrarianism but can there also be forms that show similarities to positive maladjustment, at least on the outside?

I would also like to comment on the last paragraph of the article, specifically:
I often speak of death as a catalyst for life. The awareness and acceptance of our mortality is the driving force for fulfillment and satisfaction.
Now, this is a very strong statement and I think there is some truth in it. But I am wondering whether it was intended to be so strong. First of all, I find the statement a little unsatisfying from a philosophical point of view: What if, tomorrow, some benevolent race of aliens arrived and handed us the keys to immortality? (Sci-Fi fans: San Junipero, Altered Carbon, ...) Would we loose our driving force? Maybe this would happen in the long run but I find it hard to imagine that no human being has or would be able to find another driving force (the thirst for knowledge and discovery, the aspiration to become the best possible version of oneself, the service to others, ...). In fact, there are some Christians who believe that every human goes to heaven after death, regardless of their actions - what drives someone like that, to whom our stay on Earth is just a brief prelude to eternal life? I do think that our awareness and acceptance of death is not unimportant since death is a reality, but I wonder whether one shouldn't be more nuanced here.

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Re: From Contrarianism to Authenticity: Why Our Inner Selves Rebel

Post by btillier » Wed Nov 21, 2018 8:27 pm

Hi there. I just had a chance to read this article. This is not positive maladjustment. I think it would be considered a form of negative maladjustment. Here is the crux of the differentiation— the article states— Contrarianism: it’s the act of opposing popular opinions and social norms simply for the sake of opposing them. the key phrase here is simply for the sake of opposing them – – positive maladjustment would be opposing popular opinions and social norms out of a strong commitment to personal values— this is vastly different than simply opposing them for the sake of being contrary – – an example of negative maladjustment or simple antisocial behaviour. Abbie Hoffman advocated a number of different Contrarian behaviours just for the sake of causing problems, disruptions or inconvenience for social systems. For example, he advocated buying a security deposit box at a large bank putting a rotting fish in it and leaving it.

Here is a fascinating aside. I'm assuming you will Google Abbie Hoffman. He was a student in Maslow's class and became friends with Maslow, having many dinners at his house. He became friends with Maslow's daughter, Ellen and the two spent some time campaigning to sign up black voters in the South. For a time they ran a store in New York called Liberty House selling crafts to raise money for their efforts. One can hardly imagine family dinner with Maslow and Abbie Hoffman together.

The article does a good job of describing Contrarianism but does not really elaborate an alternative solution.

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