Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations Paperback – May 17, 1991
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
“His vigorous appraisal of contemporary American life is to be admired as much for the perspicacity of his observations as for the contancy of this argument and the scope of his supporting references. . . . Few write with his penetration, intelligence, and historical expertise.”
- Kirkus Reviews
“Formidable intellectual grasp and the kind of moral conviction rarely found in contemporary, value-neutral history and sociology. . . . Lasch is on to something quite real.”
“Cultural history at its best. . . . Provokes, startles, and keeps the reader arguing with himself as well as with the writer. . . . A book of fundamental importance.”
- Bruce Mazlish, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“Christopher Lasch has gone to the heart of our culture. The insights into personality and its social context are stunning. This is a courageous, important book.”
- Michael Rogin, University of California, Berkeley
About the Author
Christopher Lasch (1932–1994) was also the author of The True and Only Heaven, The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy, and other books.
Top customer reviews
Not so. The book grew out of an earlier study of the family (Haven in a Heartless World) and is concerned with far larger cultural patterns than the transient decade-by-decade changes of the late 20th century. Lasch is concerned with the bureaucratization of both business and life, the surrendering of parental authority to `professionals' who are anxious to justify their existence and reap the benefits of a general cultural and personal dependency. We emerge from the womb too early, our primal feelings being those of loss (of our previous blissful state) and the painful realization of our utter dependency. This leads to both systems of thought and political/cultural programs designed to capitalize on those psychological realities. Rather than come to terms with our limitations and constraints we strive to regain our bliss by indulging our dependency and many stand by to help us with that doomed quest.
From that point, Lasch explores multiple aspects of our society, from higher education to sport to paternalism in its many forms, to sex, politics and popular culture. The result is a masterpiece of cultural history and analysis. In the course of the book Lasch is forced to struggle with multiple difficulties. First, cultural history is endlessly complicated and does not yield answers easily. We know that something has happened (SAT scores have gone down despite increased investments in education; western history is no longer required in colleges and universities; sexual hookups are more common, committed relationships more difficult, etc.) but to find precise causes for these realities (if and when they can be identified as realities) is very difficult. Second, human behavior results from human psychology, but `human psychology' is something very much in dispute. Lasch's primary allegiance is to Freud and to many Freud is no longer a psychiatrist but rather a philosopher or poet. Finally, human cultural history subsumes all history. Those who would explicate it must do so with an awareness of human history, science, behavior, art, economics and so on. This is not a task for the weak of heart.
The bottom line is that Lasch comes as close as anyone to facing these difficulties and still succeeding in the writing of a significant, persuasive book. Indeed, The Culture of Narcissism is one of the monuments of 20th century social science/cultural history. The book is so rich as to defy easy summary. Two things stand out in particular from the perspective of 2011: a) so much of what he says applies today with equal or greater force; and b) it would be fascinating to see the book rewritten in light of the insights of evolutionary psychology. The humanities have been notably resistant to the neo-Darwinism that marks so much of contemporary social science, a neo-Darwinism that works hand in hand with studies of the human brain enhanced by contemporary instrumentation. My own view is that this work would markedly reinforce Lasch's argument, the resistance to that work indicating the ideology of the vested interests which encourage narcissism as the source of their livelihood.
Bottom line: this is a monument in the social sciences. The original publication date--1979--should not deter contemporary readers, who will find its erudition, insight and wisdom a healthy antidote to a culture of therapy that ultimately fails to cure what ails us.
Most recent customer reviews
Can I give this six stars?Read more