Tuesday, April 5, 2011

We are Rock n Roll Narcissists!!!

Everyone’s a winner.  Everyone gets a trophy. Everyone have a Facebook page.  Everyone has a cell phone.  Everyone gets a turn.  Everyone gets an A.  Every one of us is so into ourselves, we collectively fiddle while the world falls away.  We are a nation of narcissists.

From the on-line DSM-IV:

The symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder revolve around a pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and sense of entitlement. Often individuals feel overly important and will exaggerate achievements and will accept, and often demand, praise and admiration despite worthy achievements.  They may be overwhelmed with fantasies involving unlimited success, power, love, or beauty and feel that they can only be understood by others who are, like them, superior in some aspect of life.

There is a sense of entitlement, of being more deserving than others based solely on their superiority.  These symptoms, however, are a result of an underlying sense of inferiority and are often seen as overcompensation.  Because of this, they are often envious and even angry of others who have more, receive more respect or attention, or otherwise steal away the spotlight.

Of course, narcissism is a boon for late stage capitalism.   After 9-11 the official imperative was to buy.  After Katrina, buy.  After, the tsunami, buy. And what does buying do?  Of course it keeps capital flowing, but it also help us escape from reality—the reality of the “airborne toxic event,” which, as much as it is environmental, is the collapse of our economy.  We may not want to face it, but it looms or more to the point—it has happened.  Could this collapse have been prevented?  Not given our current economic order.  But maybe an alternative way of looking at the world, a different way of creating economic relations may have.  But, our economic age is based upon me getting mine!  Greed is good!  But look at what our greed has gotten us.

And as further proof that we live in a Golden Age of Narcissism, a recent study has shown that the content of our favorite pop music has become over the past 28 years more focused “first-person singular pronouns.”

So as our economy was moving toward deregulation, oligarchic business practices, and unlimited corporate giving in election campaigns—all of which privilege the myth of the individual—our cultural production began to reflect this with songs of me, me, me, me. 

The DSM-IV also states that “Treatment for this disorder is very rarely sought.”  Of course, not!  Our economic system is based upon this pathogenic individualism called narcissism!  It makes me feel special!!!  I’m a winner.  I get a trophy for fiddling.  I’m on Facebook. 

The question is will you friend me?


  1. It seems like Thoreau's rugged individualism has been perverted by the capitalist system. I would bet that this change was somewhat affected by advertisements which we are constantly barraged with daily. There are so many forms of media for advertising to plug. We are constantly told what we are supposed to want, and maybe we are all just starting to believe the advertisements.

  2. I have no doubt that is a big part of the problem--after all, advertisements are designed to get "me" to buy something. The advertisers have defined "me" in a standardized way to creat more standardized me-s.

  3. it really is a frightening thought that advertisements and the media in general, is developing more and more ways to create a standardized profile of "me". However, nothing says we have to give into the standardized "me" that they are trying to create. People can decide they aren't going to let a computer dictate what websites they see, or what shoes they buy. Unfortunately, that is the more difficult road, it is much easier to look at the side bar on your facebook page and see what things you should like, and often they are accurate depictions of your interests. Occasionally, it may spark your interest in a subject matter. But I agree that advertisements and the media are creating a self centered, narcissistic monster, the public, and they are going to have to feed it. However, that may prove to be impossible because the advertisers themselves are not immune to the exposure to "me" messages. We are headed in a very dangerous direction, toward a selfish "first-person singular pronoun" society, where people need separate houses for their ego and they care nothing for the well-being of others. That's not right, and it needs to change.