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No no no I like one of them. Not for a moment. When I weigh I feel like I weigh in when you like only when really I mean it cannot be done. What do you make of that John. Not much because I don't understand Spanish. I'm afraid I can't tell you much about what was said but I certainly gained a vivid impression of the man behind all those words where minds meet. His series of explorations in human communication conducted by professors John frind and Arnold Nelson of the Department of English Western Michigan University where minds meet is produced and recorded by W. M. U.K. under a grant from the National Association of educational broadcasters. In a shrinking world where minds meet in words hard not at all man speech is his most decisive act. These discussions explore this world of speech. The topic for today is self image.
Here are professors frind and Nelson this is Jon freind and this is Arnold Nelson and the first voice you heard today was of course not of Fidel Castro. John you said you gained a vivid impression of him from his speech what did you mean. Well I saw a man haranguing a crowd. He was emotional he was being carried along by the flow of his own words he was in the spotlight and his voice showed that he liked it. Maybe the vividness of my impression is the result of hearing other voices like that in the past. Here's one of them I think I don't know I don't know. But I am whatever you want to watch it I want that be that. Well the words are German but the image is the same. I get a different visual impression of course but the real impact of Hitler's personality came through his voice so that when we hear voices like Hitler's And Castro's we get a distinct
picture of the man. Even though we don't understand a word of the language maybe the picture is actually clearer because we don't understand the words. Well here's another voice that ought to give you a clearer picture. Unless you understand Italian. Yeah he got beat a lot of. Us. Yeah I read it. Yes. OK. OK. Very clear again there seems to be no doubt that the features of a man's voice can convey the broad outline of his personality and most noticeably when we're not distracted by what he's saying. Well Arnie Isn't this something that everybody uses his speech for. We try to tell our listeners something about ourselves who we are or at least who we
think we are answering. But this is only half the story. We use our audience to find out who we are. Our audience acts as a mirror and we see our reflection in their responses to us. Yes the self image of them which is our subject for today our picture of ourselves is painted in the act of communication. We tell them who we think we are and they tell us who they think we are. Did you notice John that all three of these speakers got lively response from their audience. Yes most I mean he seemed almost to be directing his audience as if it were a choir. He would speak and then there would be a chorus of approval. How would you say this affected his self image. Oh it it strengthened it. He thought he was Caesar like a psychopath thinks he is Napoleon. But he was kidding himself and his audience was kidding him. And the same is true of Hitler. The leader of the master race. Well. Is it too early now in this year to ask you about Castro's self-image. I
don't mean how do you see Castro now but rather how does Castro see himself. Well I wish I could answer that because it is very important in dealing with a person to know how he sees himself. But I don't know and I don't think it's easy for any American to know it completely because we are contributing to it. We are his audience. We are his mirror and it's very hard for the mirror to look inside itself. Well I certainly agree that it is important in dealing with the person to know how he sees himself. The other side of the picture is equally important. He must see himself clearly if he doesn't he probably can't act effectively. And this of course applies to whole nations as well as to individuals. Hitler and Mussolini and Castro as leaders of nations build national self-images in this way the whole nation sees itself in a certain way and is capable of acting as a unit. Well our examples so far are of dictators. Their effectiveness and we must grant I suppose that dictators are effective at least while they're dictating their effectiveness as
molders of the National self-image is quite obvious but our leaders must help their people see who they are give them a unified self-image. Here's the familiar voice of a national leader who was not a dictator. Must be a big break. Democracy for us. This is an emergency as serious as war itself. It's clear that Roosevelt wanted America to see what it had to do to see itself as an Arsenal supporting Britain and the free world. This was in the period of Lend-Lease when not all Americans were united in a self-image. One other thing Roosevelt did was to send Wendell Willkie the leader of a large segment of the American people at that time to talk with Winston Churchill. This Act helped solidify our self-image. Certainly the message that Churchill sent back to America with Wilkie reinforced the American self-image. Here's what Churchill said and I shall give
you the straight men just joining us and let me finish. Well it's equally clear that Churchill was building a self image for his people. People with a job to do and the determination to carry it out. It was absolutely essential in the communication between the United States and Britain that each have a clear image of the other. And for this each had to have a clear self image. Well I like your suggestion that the clarity of the image was necessary to communication between these two nations. This seems to apply equally well to individuals. Nations tend to be divided into fragments and as groups with their own interests in the same with individuals. Now in order to act effectively the individual must gather his fragments together and he does this through the self-image. I'll admit to being a collection of fragments phrases one part of me as a father another a husband another an English professor. If I'm to act effectively as any
one of these I've got to see my part clearly right now. For example I've got to see myself as an English professor. Well in other words you've got to change your self-image to suit the occasion. It's important to distinguish between this temporary self image though and a kind that is a more permanent part of the personality whether you are a father husband or an English professor you still see yourself as well a male and an adult. Oh an American. And it goes without saying that you see yourself as a human being. Yes but it doesn't always go without saying I need that a human being sees him self as a human being. There is the famous case of Joey the mechanical boy. Now here was a young boy who saw himself as a machine. A collection of wires and motors and switches. The pictures he drew of himself even looked like pictures of machines. He would plug in invisible cords before he ate. Now it took intensive psychiatric treatment before Joey could see himself as a human being. He
developed this self image of the machine because that's the way his parents saw him. Simply another household appliance that had to be maintained. Well that's an interesting case the connection then between the way we see ourselves and the way others see us is very close. That's that was what I was trying to listen for instance to this political speech by the late secretary of the interior Harold Ickes when he was campaigning for Roosevelt against Governor do eat this speech is in the best tradition of campaign satire not only play when America could not afford to have nothing to adequately portray it Chris would separate the mystery. There's a famous line.
That I myself the son. No time for what. It's interesting to note that it comes right out and tells us what he thinks Deweese self-image is in this beat yet he's doing thinks he is God the creator of the universe. But he's attributes this self image to do it in order to drive home it gies own image of Dewey that of a little boy playing with tinker toys and having an exaggerated know it in of his own importance. That's a wonderful speech I suppose we could imagine. Examine these words to see what his own self image is. But I'd like to underline what we've said so far. We've been dealing with the most important aspect of the human personality that it is organized through our communication with others. It's shape depends upon the goal kasian and
upon the reactions of others that have some kind of shape seems necessary for the effectiveness of one's speech right. One other aspect of the personality of course is that it grows. Yes and as the personality grows the self-image must also develop. It's interesting sometimes to examine the child's personality to see how his self-image is taking shape. Here is Queen Elizabeth's voice before she was queen even though she is in her early teens. I think she has a rather clear notion of who she is and who she is to become true. Right. Oh yeah. We are trying to do we can't help but I guess I learned a lesson. There and there. And Randi if you can't remember where I could get. My hair and their fish fry picker if I might
die. And we are going to carry you. Cannot go. Thank you. OK. Good Night and Good Luck to you. Well it's the voice of a child but the self-image of a national leader. This is an unusual situation and I think the young queen to be carried it off well would show us how the personality can adjust to the situation. But let's go back to an earlier stage in the development of a growing personality. At what age would you say John does the baby or child realize that it has a self one doesn't have a self which you ask very hard questions any. I suppose the first time the baby can tell the difference between his toes and a rattle. But I believe you're interested in the age when his self-image shows in his speech. That's what I'm interested in. Well this I think we first detect when we hear him use pronouns accurately in learning to use words like I me you her and they he actually gains a clearer picture of themselves. Let's play that recording of my boy
Alaric when he was 3 years old. We were at your house trying to get your parakeet to talk and we were trying to get Alec to talk to. Bertie will you duck when you talk. Alaric would like to have you talk. Mr. Nelson would like that you got that right when you talk because if you don't we can play your voice to everybody. David will hear you talk. We will. My name's John what.
Do you want. Yes and that means all right. And your name is Socrates. It's something I've been darkie. Well he uses all three persons I knew and he and he keeps them straight too. But it's his mistakes I suppose that tell most about his development. He referred to me is that and he confused anybody with everybody. I suppose the landscape was a little blurred but he did seem to be quite clear where he stood on it. Well Alaric is six now and I played this tape for him. He's somewhat scornful of the way he talked when he was three. He recognizes himself in it but he's certainly pleased with the fact that he doesn't sound like that anymore. Well this is a part of growing up self image of a child is forced upon him and he often expresses his distraction. This is dissatisfaction with it. He says I'm not a
baby anymore. The tension is often severe in the adolescent and the teenager yes. My 16 year old daughter Chris went through an interesting experience recently when she played the part of a middle aged Swedish housekeeper in a school play. She was rehearsing it at home one night and I recorded her voice. This is what she sounded like. Let me tell you I know it as you say and I mean it you throw No I mean I think the same and I think again my view. I know nothing about me and. I think she sounds pretty good considering the difficulty a teenager I wanted to anybody for that matter has in seeing himself in such a totally different way. But what I want to know is what did she think of herself when you played the recording back to her. Well she was a little upset. I think that she heard herself rather than the role she was trying to play. This is what she actually said. A little girl is you know a little girl you know no no no you don't sound like you know.
When I found I got to anywhere would work great. Well her reaction doesn't surprise me. She said she sounded like a little girl like herself when she was in the fourth grade. As a matter of fact I could recognize Kris the little girl too. Everyone's voice pattern is quite well established by the age of 10. But she was tremendously upset by this and I think this reflects the teenager's intense desire to become an adult. Yes. And this desire continues on into college age colleges tend to set patterns of adult behavior for students and the pressure is frequently indirect but occasionally we find a crisis a crisis happened to a former student of mine recently. She had always worn her hair long. And the effect was very striking with her hair down below our shoulders. She felt some direct pressure first from her house mother. My health's mother called me to tell me that my appearance. Thanks actually feeling comfortable with your lady.
What do you know about it. Well they think that I have my hair probably because I have it and I only curled and catch more breath and call it evidently present and you feel that you were. The picture of a Western Mary. Well to be frank I had no concept of the West related to begin with. I was interested in your last remark. I think she has a concept of a Western lady that is the kind of ladylike behavior expected at Western Michigan University. This is rather stereotyped and her self-image refused to be squashed into an A girl's hair is a pretty important part of her self-image it announces her femininity just as a man's beard may announce his masculinity Castro's Castro's beard. It may not come to our idea of a Cuban gentleman but that argument isn't going to get him to shave it off.
Well this girl went at least halfway. She made an appointment with a hairstylist in Chicago and really intended to give a crap. He kept her waiting in a waiting room there so that he could observe her personality. Here's the way she described her interview with him. Well I kind I was out looking around making myself comfortable and answering a few questions here and there that he was observing me like he was going to do is get started and prove to some degree and what I had already had and that this hairstyle was exactly what with me and for my personality. When she got unexpected support then that's right. As it turned out he cut practically nothing off the hairstylist saw that she was expressing accurately her own self image by the way she wore her hair and unless she changed her self-image she shouldn't change your hair. Well this concludes the case of the girl with the unladylike image reponse on the witch. But John perhaps we should look at the growth of the self-image as it is directly related to speech. How would you describe the difference between the speech of the immature and
that of the mature person. Well that's our main point today. The child is extremely self-conscious and egocentric. He tends to divide the outside world into two parts his part and everybody else's part. Growing up means enlarging his part or merging it with everybody else's part. In adolescence this growth is so accelerated that his self-image is frequently blurred and consequently his speech is ineffective. Well there are immature adults too of course. I'm thinking of a story reported in the newspapers some time ago. A motorist in a strange town stopped a man on the street to ask for directions. The man refused to help the motorist out here's what he said. I'm a pedestrian I don't help cars. His world was small sized for walking around in on foot and his self-image was clear but the price that he paid for this sharply defined self image was well half the world. Yes that person was speaking like a child. Either it was joking or
he was a crank. But children aren't joking and they're not cranks about their self-image. For them it's a painful and serious matter. The adolescent now is not willing to cut off part of the world and his ineffective attempts to see his relationships to society with all its complexities is often expressed in awkward and hesitant speech. I have a recording of another of my students that shows all of these features I believe. I asked him in class one day to speak without any preparation on a horribly difficult topic. The role of government in labor management relations is not little time. Here's a very small segment of his speech just enough to catch his tone of voice. Government was to become involved in the dispute and the general public would feel that the government was becoming corrupt and even unlawful. If the government was the one of the Judge of all of the
dispute between labor and management and there would have to be a decision made and either the Labor or management would be. Well I me I was listening carefully but I didn't get the impression that he really said anything only that I heard a lot of false starts and there was a general uncertainty. He seemed a million miles away from the subject when I was just about what he said when I talked to him afterward he said he just didn't know where he stood in relation to that subject. Giving that speech though probably gave him a better idea where he stood I think so we simply must allow the adolescent time to find out where he stands. Time to explore some of those remote parts of the outside world. We don't expect him to master every area but simply to measure the distance he stands from that is important and it takes years. All of this implies then that the effective mature speaker is one who knows where he stands and who can speak from where he stands. But unlike the pedestrian can still relate
himself to the concerns of others. That's right and of course this last point means that no individual ever stops growing ever stops trying to relate himself further. Could we play by way of contrast to your young student. The speech of an adult. The speech of Al Smith will serve as an example. She really I am not interestingly I get when I say whether or not she should retain so-called established principles I'm international. I'm not a student of law but I'm ready to defend the proposition that there is no respect for international law at this time. Where my students voice was hesitant else miss was firm. Well Alice Smith very easily and confidently was able to admit that he was not a student of your student's self-image did not allow him to admit that he was not an authority on labor relations that's just why Al Smith was able to make his main point forcibly as he said he spoke personally for himself.
Well let's hear a few more examples of effective speech that reveals a clear self-image. Here's President Truman for example campaigning for his second term. Larry writes I got to keep my job so why should I do that. Second. My whole speech is devoted to defining his self-image. He saw himself clearly and apparently got his audience to see him in the same way. Yes and here's an entirely different example where the speaker takes pains to define his self-image in order to make his point. This is the late just of Welsh speaking at the Army McCarthy hearings. He was directing his remarks to Senator McCarthy. If it were in my power to forgive you for your reckless cruelty I would do so. I like to think I'm my dad. But you. Will laugh at it. From someone other than me. I can almost see him bringing him self into a situation that is
essentially a public matter rather than a personal one. In effect he made his self image a public matter. Yes. He could only indicate his strong feelings about the situation by first convincing us that he was a gentle man. Well well spoke with a kind of rhetorical flourish. He one of the old fashioned school which I'm sure was also a part of his self-image. This element of speech is especially noticeable in the next speaker. This is General MacArthur's famous farewell speech. Well it turned over. Let it. Go so I took the oath. On the plane at West Point. And the hopes and dreams. Of that. But I still remember as ever. One. Of the most popular right now except that. Which. Exclaimed a.
SOLDIER. Never. Fade away. Like the old soldier. I now my military career. Just. Fade away. Well that I suppose is one of the most effective speeches in our time. Yes I would agree. I think a number of our audience remember the occasion it was delivered and the applause in the speech indicates part of the effect that it yes. But it wasn't only the rhetoric and by that I mean the almost singing quality of his voice that's the thing we notice most clearly that singing quality but I would agree that there was a self-image matter is much more important.
It was the it was the compelling image with which he identified himself and the image from which he spoke. And that was the old soldier. Some speakers simply through their tone of voice or or their metaphors or their vocabulary can convey a very clear example of how they see themselves. I don't know of any better example than John L. Lewis the Labor leader here is part of the speech he made during the little steel strike. If we win we falter. And they let me. The future of the children of the race. It may be a straight out to hurt. Maybe I may become. I would say he saw himself as a patriarch. He's like an Old Testament
prophet giving a scathing denunciation to the children of Israel. Well unlike MacArthur Welsh and Truman Lewis did not in that speech actually tell us how he saw himself and this is the usual case but a speaker can hardly escape revealing his self-image in some way. Let's play one more voice than John and let our listeners form their own impression. For as we emphasized earlier the self image is partly the creation of the listener. I'm sure of one thing they will have a definite impression of this speaker's self-image. But when a play is a small segment of a high school commencement address the speaker a public official is describing a conversation he inhaled early in the space race but the general in the Pentagon. When he got done I remembered that I got back private in the rear rank governor in a company I think the great opportunity for me and I said great all I want to hear that I want any and I have not had but.
We want to get it but I think that anything that the American people give them any benefaction out of many of the American record I've ever had a very very good right here. And when you're at a beautiful during the day of your unit you were walking down the road is very handy to have around that you know that you have been listening to where minds meet the discussion of human communication by Professor John Prine and Onil Nelson.
Minds meet is produced and recorded by W-M UK under a grant from the National Association of educational broadcast radio network.
Where minds meet
Self image
Producing Organization
Western Michigan University
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
The Man in the Mirror: The Self Image
Series Description
Discussions explore world of speech, conducted by Professors John Freund and Arnold Nelson of Western Michigan University
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Social Issues
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Host: Freund, John
Host: Nelson, Arnold
Producing Organization: Western Michigan University
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 63-4-8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:20
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Chicago: “Where minds meet; Self image,” 1963-01-31, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 23, 2024,
MLA: “Where minds meet; Self image.” 1963-01-31. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 23, 2024. <>.
APA: Where minds meet; Self image. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from