The meaning of authenticity

What is authenticity?

In its broadest sense, authenticity is the ability to behave and speak in a way that is consistent with an individual's belief system, their desires and their principles. Conversely, when someone or something is said to be inauthentic, it is deemed to have been compromised in some way that means it is not essentially what it purports to be. To be authentic, therefore, necessarily means being honest to some extent. However, some people can get themselves into a knot over authentic behaviour by fooling themselves in some way. Although authenticity is something that philosophers have debated for centuries, no single definition of it predominates. That said, it covers all aspects of human endeavour, from everyday work to leadership ideas, to music, architecture and literature.

What is authenticity, according to psychology? 

Psychologists tend to consider authenticity similarly to Ancient Greek ideas about the subject. The great philosopher, Socrates, claimed that it came from self-examination and the desire to ask often difficult truths of ourselves in order to understand our authentic selves. In psychology and psychotherapy, it is often the therapist who prompts such questions to try and help patients to reach a genuine idea of who they truly are. Where are psychologist thinks that a patient is being evasive, he or she will tend to probe away until they sense a deeper level of understanding has been reached at. 

Can you prove authenticity?

Because the authenticity of something is largely established according to an individual's opinion of whether it is authentic or not, there is no possibility of proving its authenticity or otherwise. Generally speaking, highly authentic things will engender widespread agreement that they are such. Few people doubt, for example, that the Mona Lisa is an authentic work of great art. However, whether one is viewing the authentic version as painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, or a copy, is an open question of debate. This is a question of provenance rather than artistic authenticity; however, sometimes, two concepts that are conflated with one another.

Why does authenticity matter?

Without authenticity, there can be an issue of how much trust we can place in each other, public institutions and ourselves. If we feel inauthentic, then – generally speaking – it is because we are being so. The nagging doubt of inauthenticity drives us to ask more profound questions which, in turn, leads to a better comprehension of the world around us. In art, what is authentic and what is not may be debated widely but, in the end, most people accept that it is the artist's genuine intention that counts most even if it is not executed in precisely the way that he or she wanted. Without it, there is no way of assessing culture.

Can you fake authenticity?

Although some actors claim they can ape authenticity, the point is that it cannot be really be faked on stage or screen. Only the appearance of it exists in a performance, which means that it is necessarily inauthentic no matter how heartfelt it might come across.

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Derived from the same root in Latin as 'acquiescence', acceptance is a related word which means being able to handle reality. Sometimes, it may be that you are faced with some personal problem which seems to be a much bigger issue than it is. By accepting it for what it truly is, it becomes possible to move on, psychologically speaking. In other words, acceptance is not merely putting up with things, or consenting to them, but managing them. As such, it can be much more proactive than you might think. Crucially, acceptance of a situation usually means dealing with a negative thought or condition without battling with it. That said, there are various forms of acceptance which come into play in different situations.
Confidence is usually defined as being assured that something is going to happen in a predictable way. For example, most people are confident – even if they could never really be entirely sure – that the sun will come up tomorrow. As such, confidence tends to be built on the experience of past events. When someone has become convinced of something, their behaviour may change accordingly. For example, a gambler may bet a larger sum if they have greater confidence in the outcome. Lack of it, alternatively, may mean wagering a lower amount or not betting at all. Being confident, therefore, can lead to greater risk-taking activities, but it may also mean being more assured in what you intend doing anyway. At a personal level, confidence means being assured of what you aim to achieve or say.
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