Dr. Marilyn Sorensen
Dr. Sorensen considers her most important professional contributions to be not only her work on understanding the inner experience of those with low self-esteem, but also the incorporation of those insights into the development of a highly effective recovery program for low self-esteem. Often a pioneer, she currently works by phone and Skype with people across the states and around the world, teaching them her recovery program called F T H therapy.
Questions and Answers about Low Self-Esteem (LSE)
1. What is Low Self-Esteem?
Low self-esteem is actually a thinking disorder in which an individual views (thinks of) himself as inadequate, unacceptable, unworthy, unlovable, and/or incompetent—thinking that permeates every aspect of a person’s life.
a. LSE is an irrational and distorted view of self that affects the person’s assumptions, interpretations, perceptions, conclusions & beliefs about himself or herself as well as others. This can result in a person being very critical of self and others and/or using poor judgment in decision-making.
b. Once thinking is formed, emotions and feelings follow that are also irrational and distorted, causing the person to have difficulty knowing who and when to trust, inciting fear and trepidation in new situations in which a person may not know what is expected of him or where a woman remains in a job she hates or in a relationship that is destructive because she doubts her ability to do better.
c. Fearful of looking like a fool, the person may become tentative and avoid new activities or experiences altogether, thereby impeding growth and development that comes from trying and learning new skills.
d. As a result of that fear and anxiety that accompanies LSE, those with low self-esteem will have bouts of anxiety and panic that are actually self-esteem attacks, brought on by thinking that he or she has done or said something inappropriate that no one else would have said or done.
e. When those with LSE believe that they are inadequate, unacceptable to others, unworthy, unlovable, and or incompetent, the they may withdraw from opportunities, settle for less than is deserved, give up dreams, forfeit goals, engage in unhealthy and chaotic relationships, and behave in other ways that are self-defeating—throughout life.
f. Those with LSE think that others see their inadequacies and other negative aspects and are therefore as critical of them as they are themselves. If a woman with LSE thinks her hair is a mess, she things everyone else thinks similarly. If a man thinks he is not very attractive, he assumes that others are thinking that when they are around him.
2. How and when does low self-esteem develop?
Low Self-Esteem ALWAYS forms in childhood when the individual is developing an initial view of how he or she, as a person, fits into the world. This process begins at birth and may continue to be cemented up to age 8 or 10.
a. LSE forms as a result of the child’s early experiences. If a child feels loved, is given direction in a loving way, is supported, encouraged, gets positive attention, is taught skills, is given appropriate freedom to make choices, senses that those in his environment think he has value, is listened to by parents and others in his environment, he is likely to form healthy self-esteem. If on the other hand, the child is mistreated, harshly disciplined, overly criticized, put down, embarrassed and or humiliated, unsupported, kept isolated, left alone for long periods of time, she will likely feel that she is of little value.
b. Other factors in the development of low self-esteem are parents who are not home enough to interact with their children or to even know what is going on in their school, in their activities, or who their friends are. Such parental indifference programs a child to have no boundaries, to make poor decisions and to look for love and a sense of belonging outside the home. It is the parent’s responsibility instead, to set an example, to show the child she is loved, to guide their children through respect and time spent with them.
c. Of course, the obvious is that low self-esteem will likely develop if verbal, sexual, emotional, and/or physical abuse is present, plus illness of the child or a parent’s illness that causes the other parent to also be unavailable, can contribute.
d. To recover from this devastating issue, it is necessary to understand where and how one has developed low self-esteem. For this reason, in 2002, Dr. Sorensen wrote The Personal Workbook for Breaking the Chain of Low Self-Esteem. Few who’ve gone through her first two books have remained unable to identify how they developed low self-esteem. Those still in question recognize it when they enter into therapy with Dr. Sorensen.
3. Why do therapists have so little understanding of what low self-esteem is or how to treat low self-esteem?
Unfortunately, therapists are not taught to be open to other ideas or conclusions. They have spent years and thousands of dollars in school learning one way of doing things and the suggestion they change to something that is completely new is very discouraging and too heavy to encourage change. Secondly, the Diagnostic Manual is primarily written by psychiatrists and by people who would be greatly negatively affected, it this were to be established. So, they are unwilling to consider that low self-esteem may well be the primary foundation of a great many diagnosis in the manual. Not all psychiatrists agree with the manual, however and this must be remembered. The consequences of changing the manual would be that thousands or even millions of people would not be on medication, but could work with someone familiar with my Recovery Program and could fully recover.
a. Low self-esteem should be included in the diagnostic manual as a stand-alone disorder (utilized by all therapists to determine diagnose for proper care and for insurance purposes). However, written primarily by psychiatrists, most of whom do very little therapy, but mainly prescribe meds, the diagnostic manual may never change.
b. Dr. Sorensen, realized early on that this was a problem, leaving her to figure out for herself and for others therapists, the how and when LSE forms and then utilizing this understanding to develop her Recovery Program. This personal process took her many years until she became confident that she fully understood Low Self-Esteem and was ready to write her first book, (1998), then others, and finally to develop her Recovery Program. Since then, the book has become popular worldwide, resulting in Dr. Sorensen being nominated and honored to be included in the Bristol (England) Who’s Who in Professionals & Business for her work worldwide on self-esteem.
c. Her 3rd book, Low Self-Esteem Misunderstood & Misdiagnosed was written to hopefully open up new thought about this issue and on her speaking tours in 60 major cities, therapists where beginning to agree that low self-esteem was and is a stand-alone problem and should be recognized as such in our diagnostic manual, rather than being considered merely a symptom.
d. Thus while low self-esteem doesn’t require medication to overcome it, most of my clients have been in therapy for multiple years, wasting money, using medication and never getting the help they have needed to overcome their self-esteem issues. The man in the video on this website, was one of those who saw a counselor, social worker, and a psychiatrist, put on meds and his depression worsened, his wish to stay alive lessened. On my program in just 4 months, he felt more healthy and in a better space than he said he had ever felt in his life.
4. Can one recover from this issue? Even, if he or she is older? What is the process and how long does it take?
Most definitely!! Anyone motivated to get over this problem can do so, if the person is determined, persevering, and has patience. Dr. Sorensen has developed the Sorensen Self-Esteem Recovery Program that has proven to be high effective in altering the thinking and ultimately the lives of those who suffer from LSE. Those who work with Dr. Sorensen are amazed at the progress they make and how quickly it goes. After the first session, most are able to recognize the possibilities of the path they are on with her program.
a. Dr. Sorensen guides you to be able to recognize and then replace the distorted and irrational thinking that accompanies low self-esteem and then reconstruct those thoughts which are based only on fact, truth, and history.
b. She considers her work with each a client a journey that they take together in understanding and then correcting those destructive thoughts and emotions that lead to depression and discouragement which result in poor choices, decisions, and other self-sabotaging behavior.
c. If you cannot afford to work with her directly, her program is spelled out in Breaking the Chain of Low Self-Esteem, The Personal Workbook for Breaking the Chain of Low self-Esteem, and Low Self-Esteem Misunderstood and Misdiagnosed enabling you to work her program on your own or with occasional help from her.
5. How would I know if I have low self-esteem?
Take the Sorensen (Interactive) Self-Esteem Test on this page and other pages on this website. No one can see your answers.
- Ask yourself if you have a pattern of self-defeating behavior? If you have a tendency to trust the wrong people or to make poor choices?
- Ask yourself if you are dissatisfied with your relationships and interactions with other people.
- Ask yourself if you are or have been told that you are overly sensitive.
- Ask yourself if you are unhappy, depressed, and discouraged and have been most of your life?
- Ask yourself if you are often anxious in new situations.
- Ask yourself if you are often fearful that you will be asked a question you don’t know how to respond to, or will be asked to do something that you don’t know how to do?
- Ask yourself if you feel that you lack confidence and the skills to do things that most other people seem to know how to do.
- Ask yourself if you feel inadequate or unacceptable around others.
- Ask yourself if you are reluctant to share your ideas and opinions when in groups (other then your best friends or even there).
- Ask yourself if you feel “needy”.
- Ask yourself if you often compare yourself to others to evaluate your progress or sense of self-worth.
- Ask yourself if you often feel insecure.
These are but some of the symptoms of low self-esteem.
6. Who suffers from low self-esteem?
Low self-esteem is a serious disorder that affects millions of people, destroying relationships, paralyzing people with fear and creating lives that will never reach their full potential, and leaving them off balance, needy, and unfilled.
- Both men and women suffer from low self-esteem. Though low self-esteem has often been considered a women’s issue, it is not so. As many men as women suffer from low self-esteem but feel more hesitant to admit it.
- People of ages, people from all cultures and ethnicities, people from all occupations, people from all economic levels, people of all religions, people from all political backgrounds, people who are educated and those who are not.
- Likely the majority of people on this earth suffer from low self-esteem.
- Most go untreated.
7. Can a person tell if others have low self-esteem?
You can not necessarily tell that a person has low self-esteem because many who have low self esteem become experts at hiding their feelings and maintaining the appearance of control, even though this is not what they feel on the inside. In fact, many very successful people in high level careers actually suffer from low self-esteem, though only those close to them are aware of they have low self esteem.
Dr. Sorensen believes the following about low self-esteem:
1. Low self-esteem is actually a thinking disorder in which an individual views himself as inadequate, unworthy, unlovable, and/or incompetent. Once formed, this negative view of self permeates every thought, producing faulty assumptions and ongoing self-defeating behavior.
2. Low self-esteem should be included in the diagnostic manual (that is utilized by all therapists to determine diagnoses). Instead, it is frequently mentioned as a symptom of many other disorders, which is backwards: low self-esteem is the disorder, not merely the symptom.
3. Low self-esteem always forms in childhood, when an individual is developing his initial view of himself and his attributes. Once formed, low self esteem cannot be overcome without going through a recovery process.
4. A person cannot merely “raise” one’s low self-esteem and transform it into healthy self-esteem. Instead a person has to learn to alter his basic view of self and transform his thinking and attitudes, which is not a simple process or a quick fix.
5. Low self-esteem is a serious disorder that affects millions of people–both men and women–destroying their relationships, paralyzing them with fear, and creating lives that will never reach their full potential, leaving them off balance, needy, and unfulfilled.
6. Unfortunately, like the general public, most therapists are misinformed about low self-esteem and it’s consequences and therefore, don’t know how to treat it. Many people go to therapy for this issue and leave feeling hopeless about their lives and disillusioned about therapy.