Me, me, me! America’s ‘Narcissism Epidemic’

April 21st, 2009 by admin


In their new book, “The Narcissism Epidemic,” psychologists Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell explore the rise of narcissism in American culture and explain how this can lead to aggression, materialism and shallow values. An excerpt.

We didn’t have to look very hard to find it. It was everywhere.

On a reality TV show, a girl planning her sixteenth birthday party wants a major road blocked off so a marching band can precede her grand entrance on a red carpet. A book called “My Beautiful Mommy” explains plastic surgery to young children whose mothers are going under the knife for the trendy “Mommy Makeover.” It is now possible to hire fake paparazzi to follow you around snapping your photograph when you go out at night — you can even take home a faux celebrity magazine cover featuring the pictures.

A popular song declares, with no apparent sarcasm, “I believe that the world should revolve around me!” People buy expensive homes with loans far beyond their ability to pay — or at least they did until the mortgage market collapsed as a result. Babies wear bibs embroidered with “Supermodel” or “Chick Magnet” and suck on “Bling” pacifiers while their parents read modernized nursery rhymes from This Little Piggy Went to Prada. People strive to create a “personal brand” (also called “self-branding”), packaging themselves like a product to be sold. Ads for financial services proclaim that retirement helps you return to childhood and pursue your dreams. High school students pummel classmates and then seek attention for their violence by posting YouTube videos of the beatings.

Although these seem like a random collection of current trends, all are rooted in a single underlying shift in the American psychology: the relentless rise of narcissism in our culture. Not only are there more narcissists than ever, but non-narcissistic people are seduced by the increasing emphasis on material wealth, physical appearance, celebrity worship, and attention seeking. Standards have shifted, sucking otherwise humble people into the vortex of granite countertops, tricked-out MySpace pages, and plastic surgery. A popular dance track repeats the words “money, success, fame, glamour” over and over, declaring that all other values have “either been discredited or destroyed.”

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7 Responses

  1. Jay

    This article is so true.
    Everybody wants their 15 min even if they’ve done nothing!
    Good examples Linda Hogan, Kim Kardashcian and Paris Hilton.

  2. tim

    remember no matter how good you are!
    you’re not that special.
    there is always someone better.

  3. Chris

    MJ is the grand marshal of the Narcissism parade.


    The artical is true my wife watches all that crap on TV and I dispise it due to the fact I am a former military vet who thinks the simple life is better and as long as you have the nessesaties your in good shape.

  5. Joe

    Me Me Me Me Me!

  6. Fudge

    Am I narcissitic if I like the smell of my own farts?

  7. Lori

    We all have some level of selfishness in our being. To what extent we have allowed it to affect our lives and the people in it is what has made our society what it is today. I do not believe this is something that anyone is interested in changing which is unfortunate. It is a shame this is what our kids are exposed to and as they grow up I believe this narcissitic attitude will eventually be our demise.

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