“Self-worth is at the core of the psychology that surrounds the issue of identity” (p. 214). “The caring about reputation is just part of the human struggle for recognition. We care about what others think of us simply because we need their approval to exist.” (p. 223).
(Both quotes come from Rochat, P., 2009. Others in Mind: Social Origins of Self-Consciousness. New York: Cambridge University Press, p. 157).
Children between three and five years develop an understanding that they are potentially liable and that they are building a history of transactions with others. Needless to say, parents and educators foster this development in all cultures, but this fostering is essentially the enforcement of the basic rules of reciprocity, the constitutive elements of human exchanges. Children are channeled to adapt to these rules they depend on to maintain proximity with others. From this, they begin to build a moral space in relation to others, a moral space that is essentially based on the basic rules of reciprocity.
Again: Rochat, P., 2009. Others in Mind: Social Origins of Self-Consciousness. New York: Cambridge University Press, p. 180.
The possessive word mine, typically uttered over and over again from the end of the second year, means that it is not yours. It marks the emergence of a new affirmation of the self in relation to others.
In: Rochat, P., 2009. Others in Mind: Social Origins of Self-Consciousness. New York: Cambridge University Press, p. 157.
When I aquire a thing (I buy it, build it, receive it as a present, etc.), it becomes a part of my embodied self. (See: Rochat, 2009: Others in Mind: Social Origins of Self-Consciousness. New York: Cambridge University Press, p. 147.) Also: “the claim of ownership is an emotionally based appropriation of things that are assimilated to the self. It delimits and defines the self in relation to others (ibid., p. 158).
So writes my friend Philippe Rochat (2009):
I would argue that much of the possession game is to seduce others, or at least gain recognition from those we select to maintain social closeness with, gaining reputation and social ascendance over them. Possessions, the ways we possess and how we display or carry them, are instrumental in our constant attempt at controlling what people see of us. We incorporate all of our possessions as part of “Me,” in William Jame’s sense, “Me” as a conceptual and constructed notion of self that is projected into the public eye for evaluation.
Another way to say the same: we arrange our possessions with rhetorical sagacity and with an audience in mind.
See: Rochat, P. (2009). Others in Mind: Social Origins of Self-Consciousness. New York: Cambridge University Press, p. 147.