Me All the Time: The Epidemic of Narcissism
Andrew Cohen says narcissism is a culturally conditioned epidemic. How is it harmful and how can we break out of it?
What's the Big Idea?
In psychoanalysis, narcissism is regarded as a normal stage of childhood development. Freud saw narcissism as "a protection against falling ill." That is known as primary narcissism. Secondary narcissism, on the other hand, is seen as pathological. This condition is regarded as a personality disorder. Its characteristics include an exaggerated sense of one's own self-importance and a dependance upon others for the reinforcement of self-image. Narcissism is commonly identified in people with antisocial personality disorder.
Andrew Cohen defines narcissist as someone who is, metaphorically speaking, "always looking at their own image in the mirror of their own mind."
And yet, Cohen expands the defitinition of narcissism to describe it as "a cultural epidemic," which he strongly associates with the baby boom generation and the emergence of postmodernism. Cohen says that his generation is very different from other generations because "we have grown up in the age where life is really about me...I grew up in a cultural environment where narcissism, we were almost conditioned to become and be very narcissistic."
Another term for what Cohen is describing is an inflated sense of entitlement, which is one of seven common factors identified with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (the others include vanity, exhibitionism and self-sufficiency). Cohen tells Big Think:
When I was a young boy, my parents said, 'Sweetheart, you should do whatever’s going to make you happy.' And teachers at school, when we spoke about what are you going to do, it was always, well, what do you want? I was never told that maybe you have an obligation to help those who are less fortunate than you.
In other words, Cohen says narcissism is a culturally conditioned epidemic. In what ways is this harmful and how can people break out of it?
Watch the video here:
Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."
- Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
- Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
- Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
It marks a major shift in the government's battle against the opioid crisis.
- The nation's sixth-largest drug distributor is facing criminal charges related to failing to report suspicious drug orders, among other things.
- It marks the first time a drug company has faced criminal charges for distributing opioids.
- Since 1997, nearly 222,000 Americans have died from prescription opioids, partly thanks to unethical doctors who abuse the system.
An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.
- Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
- The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
- The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
The real Game of Thrones might be who best leverages the hit HBO show to shape political narratives.
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren argues that Game of Thrones is primarily about women in her review of the wildly popular HBO show.
- Warren also touches on other parallels between the show and our modern world, such as inequality, political favoritism of the elite, and the dire impact of different leadership styles on the lives of the people.
- Her review serves as another example of using Game of Thrones as a political analogy and a tool for framing political narratives.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.