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?