Regarding the sense of self, Euro-Americans relate to a fragmented personality in which cognitive, affective, and behavioral dimensions are seen as separate and distinct. Regardless to whether the psychological theories are classical (i.e., Freud’s three structures of personality) or contemporary (i.e., Burne’s transactional analysis), their analysis and application include an imposition of a “difference equals deficiency” logic to particular segments of the personality structure. The African-American self begins with a holistic integration of its parts rather than fragmentation. At the core of the African self is an understanding of the fundamental nature of the self as spiritual, which permeates the cognitive, affective, and behavioral dimensions.
Regarding feelings, the Euro-American tradition values suppression of emotions in favor of rational imperatives. In the African-American tradition, emotions and feelings are intended to be expressed while serving as a check on expressions that are more rationally based.
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Difference Equals Deficiency
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The survival dimension in the Euro-American context embraces an individu- alistic and competitive relationship to people and the society at large. In contrast, the African worldview promotes a more collective orientation to people, family, and social interactions. This value of collective survival is reflected in the Asante proverb: “I am because we are; and because we are, therefore I am.” In essence, this truth explains that an individual is only important to the degree that he or she contributes to the maintenance and the well-being of the tribe or the group.