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The Curse of the SelfSelf-Awareness, Egotism, and the Quality of Human Life$
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Mark R. Leary

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195172423

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195172423.001.0001

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Risking Life and Limb

Risking Life and Limb

Chapter:
(p.124) 6 Risking Life and Limb
Source:
The Curse of the Self
Author(s):

Mark R. Leary

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195172423.003.0006

Many of the risks that people take with their safety and health can be traced to the self. In particular, the desire to be perceived in particular ways by others often promotes risk-taking, leading people to do things that are dangerous to themselves or others. When people drive dangerously, show off with dangerous stunts, or succumb to peer pressure to engage in risky behaviors, they are often engaging in impression management (or self-presentation), trying to convey a particular impression of themselves to others. Similarly, when people engage in excessive suntanning, fail to practice safe sex, or drastically undereat (as in the case of anorexia), their concerns about how they appear to others may result in disease or death. Furthermore, self-reflection is often so aversive that people seek ways to escape it, engaging not only in relatively harmless escapism (such as napping, TV watching, and shopping) but in more extreme and detrimental forms of escape (including alcohol and drug use, masochism, and suicide). None of the dangerous and maladaptive behaviors examined in this chapter would be possible without the self.

Keywords:   risk-taking, impression management, self-presentation, safe sex, suntanning, drug use, anorexia, alcohol abuse, escapism, suicide

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