Individuality vs. Individualism

Photo by Alice Achterhof on Unsplash

I am currently reading a book by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté named Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. The following passage about the difference between Individuality and Individualism, from page 124, struck me as worth sharing:

Individuality is the fruit of the process of becoming a psychologically separate being that culminates in the full flowering of one’s uniqueness. Psychologists call this process differentiation or individuation. To be an individual is to have one’s own meanings, one’s own ideas and boundaries. It is to value one’s own preferences, principles, intentions, perspectives, and goals. It is to stand in a place occupied by no other. Individualism is the philosophy that puts the rights and interests of a person ahead of the rights and interests of the community. Individuality, on the other hand, is the foundation of true community because only authentically mature individuals can fully cooperate in a way that respects and celebrates the uniqueness of others. Ironically, peer orientation may fuel individualism even as it undermines true individuality.”

We would all benefit from more individuality in the world as a prerequisite for respecting each other’s differences, for celebrating them. It would help us live diversity in the best sense of these words.