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The Postmodern Life: A Psychological Perspective

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The Post-Modern Self

Social saturation has disrupted traditional ways of understanding oneself. As one is increasingly faced with new relationships and their attendant demands for new behavior, for new “ways of being,” a steadfast sense of just who one is is shaken, particularly as formerly confirming cues from face-to -face relationships increasingly give way to impersonal and relatively short lived forms of contact. Here, individuals find themselves, with much discomfort, “playing roles to achieve social gains”

The self engages in a release from the constraints of singular identity, which permit one to actually enjoy the varieties of self-experience available now. At this juncture the implied sense of discomfort and superficiality associated with these facades are abandoned in favor of an optimism affiliated with the vast possibilities now at hand. Indeed, once the compunction to discover a “true and enduring self’ is abandoned “life becomes a candy store for one’s developing appetites”

Over time, however, the accumulation of such manipulations of the self erodes the modernist confidence in an intrinsic -an essential- self, conceding psychic field to what is termed the stage of the “parody personality.” So it is that in a postmodern world, it is both possible to play all roles, and feel all emotions at the same time that one understands that all roles and all emotions are themselves in perpetual jeopardy of being annulled and that all things can be made present and presently overthrown by a change in perspective.

In this way, while all others can be made fully coincident with the self, the self itself is no longer discernible, for as it becomes all others it simply cannot be its own particular self. As the things one feels and thinks can be (re) defined as other, then so has self become other. And as a container of “otherness” the self becomes a kind of totality in which all things may be present. And, finally, if all things are present then the idea of the absent is foreclosed (the singular self is no longer perceived), and psychic space implodes. In a paradox of the postmodern, the fully present self is absent. Thus, we may say that because the self is fully saturated, the fully saturated self becomes no self at all.

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