20 October 2014

The Age of Narcissism

"Suddenly, abused and battered wives or children, the unemployed, the depressed and mentally ill, the illiterate, the lonely, those grieving for lost loved ones, those crushed by poverty, the terminally ill, those fighting with addictions, those suffering from trauma, those trapped in menial and poorly paid jobs, those whose homes are in foreclosure or who are filing for bankruptcy because they cannot pay their medical bills, are to blame for their negativity.

The ideology justifies the cruelty of unfettered capitalism, shifting the blame from the power elite to those whom they oppress."

Chris Hedges

We will always come across such personalities.  But there are some times, in some cultures, where such character traits may become not only more accepted, but socially incented, rewarded, and even fashionable.  

I think this is an important subject, because the current fiat culture in the United States has a strong element of collective and individual narcissism, expressed in the role models it upholds, the people who rise to great power, and in general, a feeling of historical and global exceptionalism that dare not be questioned.

We may do as we wish, because of who we are. This is our century. And if others object, they either have no right to do so, or are merely acting out of fear and jealousy of our greatness.

Hallmarks of Narcissism

 A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
•Lacks empathy - is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
•Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
•Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
•Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
•Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
•Requires excessive admiration
•Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
•Believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
•Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

Frank Ochberg is one of my favorite modern psychologists. His primary area is PTSD. But his insights on a variety of topics is often insightful.