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The Culture of Excess: How America Lost Self-Control and Why We Need to Redefine Success Hardcover – October 22, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0313377686 ISBN-10: 0313377685

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 205 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (October 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0313377685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0313377686
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,909,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Clinical psychologist Slosar draws on research and 25 years of practice to analyze the impact on human development of what he calls the culture of excess. Americans live with an abundance of wealth, material things, and amusements, yet research has shown that we come up short on happiness measurements. Slosar begins by examining how the economic sector, with its emphasis on financial gain at all costs, led to the recent financial collapse and concerns about the excesses of capitalism. He goes on to explore how rampant narcissism drives risk-taking and the need for immediate gratification and how it has led to a decline in critical thinking. He offers vignettes from his practice and cites examples of the personal and societal consequences of a lack of self-control: rise in obesity and eating disorders, debt, gambling, impulsive behavior, and corporate fraud. Slosar concludes with suggestions on how parents, teachers, and policymakers can steer children and youth away from the insidious effects of excess and change the popular American emphasis on self-esteem to one of self-control. --Vanessa Bush


• Shows how the extraordinary growth of capitalism, technology, and media interact and become additive factors to the loss of self-control

• Defines the underlying cause of declining self-control as cultural narcissism, which leads to excessive risk taking

• Explains how the compromises made in adapting to intense economic competition lead to a false sense of self and reality

• Connects the rise of cultural excess to a decline in critical thinking and analysis that fosters an avoidance of data, numbers, and math

• Numerous vignettes and case studies illustrate the major themes of the book

• Dozens of research citations at the end of each chapter

• An extensive bibliography referencing 75 professional journals and 48 books

• A comprehensive index

"When The Culture of ExcesS≪/i> was first offered to me to review, my first thought was am I the right person for this book? It only took me a few minutes and pages to realize that I would be fine for this book because I found the book was so much more than what I had expected. Dr. J. R. Slosar for me, most importantly, wrote this book in a way that made it easy to follow and understand. His goal seemed, in some ways, not far off from what I had been trying to do in a classroom as a teacher for the last few years prior to my retirement, and that was to get those young people to understand that their self-indulgence was very harmful to them as well as society as a whole. . . . The Culture of ExcesS≪/i> is a thought provoking must-read for those who want a better life and society for themselves and their children and want to be part of a 'We' Society at last!"


"This book, written by a clinical psychologist offers a different perspective, which makes it stand out in this now-crowded genre of literature. Slosar provides an interesting examination of the psychological and social influences that affect us as a culture, setting up circumstances that made our clamor for money outpace our collective common sense. The prose is thoughtful, but not necessarily sanguine that we might not make the same mistakes again if given a chance."


Reference & Research Book News

"Meticulously researched…written in a marvelously readable, breezy style…I heartily recommend this excellent book, and would recommend it for chapter 5 along, but it's all a really great read!"


Health Matters

"Dr. Slosar gives us the perspective of the discipline of psychology, both as applied to individuals and as applied to our culture…Dr. Slosar shows us why addressing our cultural narcissism must be an integral part of achieving health care justice for all."


Physicians for a National Health Program




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Customer Reviews

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At the very least, this book should be required reading for every MBA candidate.
Judith E. Strauss
It is a must read for anyone who recognizes that there is something very wrong out there, but not sure just what it is or what to do about it.
Marv Abrams Ed.D.
J.R. Slosar's book, "The Culture of Excess," provides a penetrating account of the psychological state of our society at this time.
Brad Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lynda Coker on January 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
When I first started reading this book I was amazed at how many of the unacceptable traits of excess I personally display. Not a very pretty revelation, as you can well imagine. But a very powerful reason to keep reading, which I did.

The cultural narcissism that Author Jay Slosar explains in detail, with accompanying stats, is downright scary. Another exposure is how religion gets caught up in today's Market Place Mania. This is consumer manipulation on a grand scale. Disturbing!

With health-care being on everyone's minds these days, I encourage you to pay very close attention to Chapter 5, HEALTH CARE: Waste, Excess, and Brokers.

As you read The Culture of Excess by Slosar, grab a dictionary, grab a notepad, and keep a bottle of your favorite headache remedy at hand. Not because reading this work is painful, but because the information Slosar dispenses will, I guarantee, make your head hurt as you contemplate the intolerable state of our society, of which you and I are fully a part.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JFK1961 on June 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I am a 50 year old returning adult baccalaureate student. Recently, I wrote a essay
on the individual and the out of control, American phenomena of rugged individualism.
The Culture of Excess, came to my attention after exploring the 1970s, Culture of
Narcissism by Christopher Lasch

Dr. Slosar touches on so many concerns I have with society at large while presenting
his material in a strongly voiced, well researched, whip-smart style that is intellectual
without being intimidating and questions our root moral beliefs. Embedded in his scathing
psychological analysis of our institutions, technology and current communal state is a caring
heart. Most critiques just complain and point out problems, Slosar attempts to suggest how we
can change. Sorry folks, it isn't in a pill or elixir; there is work involved. I would put Dr.
Slosar's thoughts in the realm of Erik Fromm.

During the recent "Ah-nold" scandal, I could not help continual reflection on Dr. Slosar's analysis
of the former actor-turned former Governor's political rise, how some would have petitioned to change
laws to elect Arnold as our President, highly doubtful now as his self got the better of himself,
while today others try to disprove our current President's resident status.

Again, I was drawn to Slosar's text upon last week's release of a national customer service survey
disclosing that 64% of consumers polled left a store and 67% had hung up on customer service calls
feeling they were not respected, cared about or found resolution of their problem. In our service
based economy what is shown when there is no customer service?

This is a page turner that will give a clear voice for those who are indignant at the beaten path worn
into our society.

Sadly, this poignant book won't make you friend's at your next dinner party.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A common thread among those who have written about the culture of the United States is that we have built our country on hard work, the belief that anyone can succeed no matter their education or social background and that this philosophy becomes a key fabric of our beliefs in becoming successful. I for one have believed in those statements and am living proof. I came from a lower middle class economic family with 5 siblings all of which have gone on to become successful. Our work ethic was reinforced by our parents as was their desire for all of us to go on to college. This despite the fact that our dad made it to only to 7th grade and mom high school. The principles that they instilled in my brothers and sisters was based on hard work and the importance of education.
All of my siblings and myself are baby boomers. We are therefore a part of the generation that not only has driven the markets from everthing from Davy Crockett toys and Barbie dolls to HD televisions. Our generation's success in many ways was measured by material assets, to wit larger homes, expensive vacations, the latest sound and video systems. As we became parents we, as previous generations, wished to have our children experience an even higher level of economic and social gain. We created the "soccer mom and helicopter parent syndrome" by wanting to do for our children than allowing them to do for themselves. The end result in Gen X, a generation that is the best educated, best fed, best clothed, most travelled generation in the history of our country. What we also recieved in return was a generation most likely to still be living with their parents without having to acccept the responsiblity of paying their own way. Their generation tends to be the most narcissitic, self centered group in the hisory of the US.
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By Peter Clothier on May 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In The Culture of Excess, Slosar writes of a "cultural narcissism" that infects American society. "Today's sense of reality," he writes, "is characterized by immediacy, illusionary expectations, inflated self-concepts, a demand for a perfect image, and loss of privacy and access to our inner world." The drive to succeed, he suggests, brings along with it a disproportionate sense of self-entitlement and leads to the kind of disastrous arrogance we have seen recently in the financial industry. He traces the effects of its toxicity in every warp of our social fabric, from our religious practices and beliefs to our disagreements over health care and immigration policies, from our sports heros and pop idols to our education system, our self-destructive eating habits, our very identities and the way in which we construct them. Everywhere, this collective binge and worship of the self and its needs contributes to a growing ethical decay that threatens to undermine our contemporary culture and, worse, the future of our planet. Hence, as I understand Slosar's argument, the need to recover self-control and come to a healthier understanding of what we really need if we wish to be "successful" human beings.

What's needed, Slosar argues, is a transition from "Generation Me" to "Generation We"--a radical shift from traditional American thinking which has been rooted, since the origins of the country, in the supremacy of the individual.

I appreciate the author's efforts to point us toward some sanity in this world gone mad with self-adulation and self-entitlement, and to suggest ways in which this trend may be reversed. Indeed, must be.
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