Self-Control and the ‘Self’

analytical Essay
2219 words
2219 words

Nearly everyone in the modern world has heard of the term self-control, a seemingly non-important or uninteresting topic of interest. However, self-control has been related to having one of the most significant impacts on a person. Even some have gone as far to say that self-control is the “biggest predictor of a successful and satisfying life” (Pinker 1), which are bold words for a topic that many merely disregard. The idea of self-control is a concept coined in the Victorian era, and appears immensely throughout the novel, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, written by R.F. Baumeister & J. Tierney. Essentially a self-help book, ‘Willpower’ provides explanations for why humans are doing the things that they do, and why people aren’t always as virtuous as they may be expected to be. Self-control affects many facets of a person’s life, and by looking at how it is presented in psychology, and in Baumeister and Tierney’s novel, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, one will see the correlations and differences between modern research and historical perspectives on the idea of self-control, and ultimately decide if the idea of self-control is an inherent trait or a learned condition. Self-control is a topic and concept argued frequently in the psychological world. Some believe that self-control is an innate feature of human kind, while others, like Baumeister, believe it is a characteristic that can be practiced and strengthened. Baumeister’s model of willpower describes self-control as a muscle that can be depleted and replenished, just as any other muscle in the body. What is self-control exactly? Well, Freud was a psychologist who believed that personality is a biological component of ones-self,... ... middle of paper ... ...Virtue, Personality, and Social Relations: Self-Control as the Moral Muscle." Journal of Personality 67.6 (1999): 1165-194. Print. Davis, Doug. "A Glossary of Freudian Terminology." A Freud Glossary. Web. 3 Apr. 2012. . Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster. Web. 17 Apr. 2012. . Pinker, Steven. "The Sugary Secret of Self-Control." NY Times. Sept.-Oct. 2011. Web. 4 Mar. 2012. "The Science of Self-Control [Paperback]." The Science of Self-Control (9780674013575): Howard Rachlin: Books. Web. 17 Apr. 2012. . "Self Control in Society, Mind, and Brain." Alibris. Web. 17 Apr. 2012. .

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that self-control is a concept coined in the victorian era, and appears immensely throughout the novel, willpower: rediscovering the greatest human strength.
  • Explains that freud believed that personality is a biological component of one's self, and can be influenced and changed by personal needs and social demands.
  • Analyzes how webster's dictionary defines self-control, virtue, and willpower, as distinct qualities, while the others are mental states or ideals.
  • Analyzes how beaumeister's book, willpower: rediscovering the greatest human strength, depicts the life of henry morton stanley, a welch journalist and explorer known for his routes to africa.
  • Explains that sigmund freud is one of the most influential players in historical behavioral psychology.
  • Analyzes how baumeister's "willpower" describes stanley as a strong source of virtue, and european expeditions in africa had failed without him.
  • Analyzes how pavlov's study of conditioning studies the effects of willpower and self-control in individuals.
  • Analyzes how mark twain saw stanley as a man striving for not only goals but for personal happiness. pavlov's conditioning is described with regard to reward.
  • Compares stanley's self-control in willpower: rediscovering the greatest human strength with freud’s trichotomous theory of the self as a way of understanding the unconscious brain and our unconscious behaviors.
  • Analyzes stanley's quote in "willpower" as saying that self-control is more imperative than gunpowder, and that one must be empathetic towards the people that they are surrounded by.
  • Explains that baumeister, roy f., and john tierney. willpower: rediscovering the greatest human strength.
  • Describes baumeister, roy f., and julie juola exline. "virtue, personality and social relations: self-control as the moral muscle."
  • Describes davis, doug's freudian terminology glossary, available at
  • Explains pinker, steven, "the sugary secret of self-control." the ny times, sept.-oct. 2011.
  • Explains that the science of self-control by howard rachlin.
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