Jean Twenge's An Army Of One: Me: Character Analysis

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Vulnerability is a personal human flaw that people try to fix through drastic individual changes. When a person feels vulnerable, their attempts to hide their vulnerability come at the price of psychological alterations, ranging from abnormal personalities to complete lifestyle changes. Leslie Bell 's Hard to Get: Twenty Something Women and the Paradox of Sexual Freedom presents the scenario of altering one 's personal life to avoid feelings of vulnerability in relationships. This, in turn, gives the individual a false self-esteem due to attempts to mask a flaw, as demonstrated through Jean Twenge 's An Army of One: Me. These psychological alterations stem from the fundamental human desire to have positive views of personal life experiences, …show more content…
Criticism does not come from a single source, but from the living conditions in which the individual is brought up in. Bell presents the story of Claudia, who "felt some shame about her sexual desires and feared others might label her as a 'ho ' for acting on them" (25). Claudia feels that acting upon her inherent human desires, being happy with her personal choices, would constitute her being worthy of shame from members of her community. She had to maintain the image of being conservative Catholic woman, which is normal in her culture. To combat this, she builds a false self-esteem, through content with her new lifestyle, that teaches her that she does not need a relationship to be happy as it would hinder her prospective career. Because of the criticism directed towards her newfound lifestyle, which is typically frowned upon, she must build a self-esteem designed to control that criticism, which in turn has its owns personal consequences. Those consequences include never feeling fulfilled or staying true to one 's own identity. Similarly, Twenge argues that "Self-esteem is an outcome, not a cause" (502). She contends that building a self-esteem, as a cause, to control a situation is not the solution to the problem. Rather the solution itself should bring the self-esteem, which is why someone like …show more content…
A person controls their life perspective through creating false explanations intended to deceive the mind into thinking a negative experience was positive. This not only occurs on the individual basis, but also on a psychological level that affects all humans when Twenge argues “even the hint of a self-esteem deficit is enough to prompt outcry” (499). When a person experiences something undesirable, it is expected for the person to manipulate the experience to alter its effect on self-esteem. This is why someone like Jayanthi will manipulate her behavior to negate the negative emotion imparted by her parent’s strict guidelines regarding her lifestyle. The individual seeks change when something that emotionally affects them has occurred because he or she feels that their present life is not up to par with what would make them happy. That is the point where the individual feels vulnerable as they realize that he or she had succumbed to the outside influences that are making he or she unhappy. This is in relation to Gilbert’s assertion that “the mere act of explaining an unpleasant event can help defang it” (140). People use the method of explanation to help make a dreadful event a more bearable experience for memory. This is what helps determine if a person’s lifestyle is one that satisfies and fulfills the individual living

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