The Psychology of Narcissism

The Psychology of Narcissism

The consumer society restlessly tempts people to the next purchase. This addiction to “what’s next” does not allow the present moment to be appreciated. People crave wanting, needing and getting at any cost the new and improved, the latest, the biggest, and the best! “Consumerism is the national religion And television its sanctuary” – Philosopher Rick Garlikov – The picture gets muddier when we take into account the issue of narcissism, a universal epidemic. We can replace the term narcissism with vanity, self-absorption, egotism, selfishness, self- importance, and arrogance. The Tale of Narcissus comes from Greek mythology. Narcissus, a handsome Greek boy found himself so attractive that he fell in love with himself. One day while admiring the reflection of his image in the pond, he became unable to detach himself, wanting to hug his own reflection. All consumed, unable to let go Narcissus died, drowning unto himself. All that was left in the pond at the end was a yellow flower, with white petals in its center, which replaced Narcissus. Narcissists have a strong sense of self-entitlement and they may be greedy. The world owes them. They need to be unique. They project overconfidence and the need to admire themselves with ample arrogance, relentless self- promotion, self-centeredness, manipulative behaviour and lack of empathy. The Narcissistic slogan is: “Just think of number one, Yourself” In relationships, initially narcissists can be quite charming and they can fool most people around. In my opinion, it is not smart to be a narcissist; in the long run those burnt by the antics of the narcissists may abandon ship and let the narcissists drown in their own reflections. Two antidotes parents can use to prevent narcissism in their children are to teach them the value of empathy and the beauty in giving and sharing rather than manipulating others in the pursuit of taking. I like the motto: “Users Are Losers” And the narcissist is a user. Looking after ‘number one’ as well as narcissism are both promoted by the current trends in society. My mother Araxi Aznavour, a teacher by vocation for many years, has a sharp take on the way in which Ten Commandments are practiced today. She says that whereas the initial teachings were against lying and cheating, today some reality shows on television openly encourage just the opposite: “Cheat! Lie! Steal as much as you can, Think only about number one, you!!” Also, polite talk is considered outdated, so the new and improved message is: “Don’t be a softy. Swear as much as you can!” Hollywood, the trendsetter, churns out box-office profits with each movie with at least 5 car chases, 12 killings, 6 car blow-ups, rampant infidelity, cheating, Stealing, lying and all the rest you can think of. The commandments promoted to “Honour Thy Father and Thy Mother.” Well, psychiatrists, psychologists and talk show hosts took care of that one, too. The slogan in therapy became: “Blame your parents as much as you can For your imaginary problems. Poor You!” While writing this book, advice came from a friendly critic. An author and a friend alerted me that writing on such ‘heavy’ issues will make me lose readers. Then, to my delight, I realized that there are other voices out there bringing urgent attention to similar issues. Dr. Martin Seligman is an academician, researcher and past president of American Psychological Association. In his book “Authentic Happiness” (2002), he writes about his research findings pointing out that in every wealthy country on this globe there is a startling ten times increase in depression compared to 1960s. What is more disturbing is that depression is now hitting youth at a younger age. According to Dr. Seligman, wealthy nations have created shortcuts to pleasure such as television, drugs, shopping, loveless sex, self-absorption and alike. He talks about “a generation of narcissists”, and “unwarranted self-esteem”. I got a surge of energy reading “Authentic Happiness” as it reinforced my writing. I strongly recommend reading Dr. Seligman’s book. We have a parallel reasoning arrived at independently. Psychologists have a lot more to offer than simple Damage Control. Wellness Training, building human potential and strength of character, teaching optimism and resilience ought to be included among the tools as well as the goals of psychology. Meanwhile, the main focus of my book is on practical self-help for a more positive, adaptive and happier life.

Mini Audio selections are a few chapters extracted from GOODBYE STRESS – HELLO SUCCESS The AudioBook

Dr. Louise Aznavour
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