Others in Mind: Social Origins of Self-Consciousness

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In this book, Philippe Rochat explores self-consciousness, how it originates and how it shapes our lives, arguably the most important and revealing of all psychological problems. Why are we so prone to guilt and embarrassment? Why do we care so much about how others see us, about our reputation? What are the origins of such afflictions? Rochat argues that it is because we are members of a species that evolved the unique propensity to reflect upon themselves as an object of thoughts; an object of thoughts that is potentially evaluated by others. Based on empirical observations, this is a book of ideas, tapping into both developmental and anthropological phenomena and guided by strong existential intuitions regarding the human condition. At the core of these intuitions, there is the idea that human psychic life is predominantly determined by what we imagine others perceive of us.