An interesting article on inflated self-worth and its relationship to consumerism. An excerpt:
When things are going well, [for example, during] the boom market, narcissists do pretty well. When things don't go so well, narcissists crash even more spectacularly than anybody else. That's actually a really good metaphor for our economy in the last two years…Narcissism contributed to the economic crisis. Many people had narcissistic overconfidence [when they said], "Yeah, I can afford that million-dollar house," and lenders said, "Sure, I know you'll pay off that loan," and, well, fantasy collided with reality, and the consequences have been worse for the economy than anything since the Great Depression. Obviously, there were lots of causes for that, but I think an unrecognized cause is that narcissistic overconfidence.
Thanks for posting that Wendy. I have been keenly interested in understanding the "narcissistic" culture we live in. I intuitively agree that the mindless consumerism and all that comes with is what has, in great part, created this narcissitic epidemic. It is a fascinating subject. For a great historical perspective, I would suggest watching the BBC documentary The Century of the Self, which is available for free on Youtube. (Hence the reference to Edward Bernays in the subject line)
I do disagree with one conclusion made in the article:
Sure, the world is competitive, no argument there, but narcissism isn't going to help you succeed. Narcissists aren't any more successful than anybody else. Narcissism helps you succeed in the short-term—it's great for trying out on American Idol—but in most professions and in the long run, nobody likes a jerk.
I believe the empirical evidence – we only need to look at our so-called leaders in Washington and most of upper management at the investment banks, major corporations, etc. – to prove that statement incorrect. And many of us can even look closer to home and see that it is the narcissists (and often their cousins, the pychopaths) who often move to the top.
[quote=Wendy S. Delmater]
Well gee, I don't really see how this concerns me. In a couple years when I'm a billionaire I'll buy my own private island and won't have to watch & listen to the inferior masses constantly whining about nonsense like excessive narcissm, unaffordable food, disfunctional healthcare system, government destroying civil liberties, blah blah blah….
Good Article. The psychiatry committee at DSM V tried to write this diagnosis out completely-seemed like homage to TPTB but that is paranoid right??? I am still stunned that they sought to get rid of it, I would bet many on the committee make part of their living treating the elite like those guys at the top of corporations etc….
Christopher Lasch wrote a book in 1991 describing this phenomenon that is worth a read as well http://www.amazon.com/The-Culture-Narcissism-Diminishing-Expectations/dp/0393307387. In my own work I sometimes see the "child as center of the universe and king of all" syndrome with loving, good parents who give in to the pressure to conform to the expectation that they keep up with giving their kids everything the surrounding culture says they need (like a third iPhone after said child has broken 1 or 2 in tantrums, I am not making this up). Refusing to set appropriate limits is a form of child neglect but the cultural pressures on parents to give in is everywhere.
But I think there are few people sadder than a failed narcissist. With this crisis we certainly abound as inflated expectations and hopes are smashed and lead to some of the suicides, violence, substance abuse issues and other forms of self abandonment that we see. It seems the individual and cultural lack of compassion for others eventually extends to ourselves when we do not meet our own ridiculous grandiose fantasies of excess. That is a crushing defeat and the lower you are in the pecking order the harder it is to buffer.
Here is an interesting article looking at our current state of humanity and potentially that awaits us if we can all just forgive our adolesent ways and move into Adulthood.
Workman's article was pretty good and I was intrigued with the approach until that absurd rationalization of why Obama is so divisive and disliked. To propose that he is 'hated' because he sounds like an 'adult' encouraging compassion, etc. is downright silly. He is intensely disliked by many for the incredible degree of hypocracy, destructive ineptitude, and (far) leftist progressive agenda that he has brought to the office.
That he is able, with a straight face, to implore us to behave in ways that he then flaunts in personal action is the worst possible parenting style imaginable. If we wonder why narcissism is a problem, look no further than the hallowed halls of our nation's capitol. Workman file into the trash.
"It angers them to have to listen to someone exhorting them to be kind, caring and loving, to think long-term and honor their deepest core values, when what they want to do — and what our systems have conditioned them to do — is satisfy their juvenile material cravings and assuage their emotional insecurities. Obama's demonization then, is metaphorically comparable to the crucifixion of Jesus."
Barbara Killenger is a Canadian phychologist who has written what I think are some excellent books on topics closely related to what is being discussed here. And yes, she certainly does believe there is an "epidemic" of narcissim in our modern western culture. Especially in the US.
She points to the loss of a persons feeling function, as well as a lack of compassion as being the primary characteristics of the narcissistic personality. And these kinds of people are often in positions of power/wealth and/or fame. And she does mention how devastating it is for these kinds of people to fail. And then have to face up to their shortcomings and especially loss or lack of personal integrity.
And I find it very interesting that much of what she says sounds a lot like what Arthur Robey has often posted in regards to the message of Iain McGilchrist (The Master and his Emissary). This seems to be about the primary functions of the left hemishere: Power and Control.
Barbara Killenger has written, Integrity Doing The Right Thing for the Right Reason
and, Woraholics, The Respectable Addicts
And here is an excerpt from her latest book on the topic of our increasing prevelance cultural narcissim,
From her book Finding Balance in Anxious Times
Crossroads: Labor Pains of New World Order.