How would you describe the protean self?Are you more invested in things or people? Your character or your body? Broadly or narrowly? How else would you describe the patterens of your investments?...

How would you describe the protean self?

Are you more invested in things or people? Your character or your body? Broadly or narrowly? How else would you describe the patterens of your investments? Is this more of an emotional(feeling-based) map of the boundaries of the self?

Asked on by yashar806

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kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

This "protean capacity" of the self is virtually a new structure in mind, brain, and psyche, for it grants us the capacity to view ideas and systems--be they social, intellectual, political, philosophical, or spiritual--with a freedom not always accessible in the past. ... release all kinds of capabilities and potentials .... (Protean Ventures)

Psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton seems to be the person most closely related to the concept of a protean self. This is derived from the mythological figure Proteus who was a constant identity-shifter, never stable long enough as one entity to speak the truth sought of him. Lifton's idea is that in this post-postmodern world, flexibility of identity, without psychologically pathological fragmentation of personality, is a virtue, not--as formerly seen--a weakness.

The contention is that this flexibility, this ability to personify the "other" of society, of your "stable" personality, opens you to new levels of expansion and opportunity that is not otherwise available to you. So, for the protean self, the answer to all your questions would be "yes." Yes, I am invested most in people and most in things. Yes, I am most invested in character and most invested in body--yes, broadly and, yes, narrowly. Etc. Perhaps this is the 21st century transcendental meditation. If this is what you are referencing in your question, I am no reference for the "protean self." I am invested in character and invest safely, with minimized risk and, while emotional, I endeavor to base my decisions and choices on logic.

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michael-niagara's profile pic

Michael Ugulini | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

I'm more interested in people, although at times, "things" and the "stuff' of life can overwhelm, whereby I don't focus on people like I should. I'm interested in developing my character to conform to my beliefs. However, realistically, with health issues I'm also very focused on the physical health of my body. My focus is the spiritual, while also understanding that the our physical existence is important. I believe life and life experiences are a training ground and proving ground for a possible eternal future. I try to prove truth so that I can make wise decisions that are based on the proved truth and not just on my emotions.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Personally, I try to me more interestedn people. When I get more I interested in things, no good can come of it. Life is all about relationships. At an unstable point in my life now, I am especially trying to focus more on what really matters, which is really WHO really matters.

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