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The Minimal Self: Psychic Survival in Troubled Times Paperback – October 17, 1985
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Lasch shows us that it's much more complicated than that: that our obsession with survival, our lack of faith in language to communicate commonalities (and its exploitation not just by the media but by activists trying to counter the media's insidious influence), and our confusion about how to structure, or de-structure (destroy) our lives leads us back to Freud, back to humility, and back to separation, away from narcissistic fantasies of either merger or omnipotence.
In brilliant, thoughtful, complex prose, Lasch argues for an enlightened dependence, a reliance on the cultural sphere to give meaning to our inner drives and our recognition of the objective outside world, and thoughtfulness and sobriety in place of infantilism and fantasy. Lasch argues for mature play, and his is a convincing argument.
Maslow's thesis is far more accessible to the interested reader. Both authors address our needs for status, security and love. The message in Lash's, "The Minimal Self", is far less optimistic than the message from Maslow. Reaching our full potential is quite unlikely in a culture consumed by materialistic sources of gratification. Lash's message is that personal accountability is not synonymous with utilitarian morality. Utilitarian morality tells us that the ends justify the means, any means. It's the goal oriented style minus consideration for or of others. Implicit in Lasch's book, , is the belief that secular societies breed discontent.
Actually, Lasch''s message, put simply, is that we are becoming more and more a culture which breeds and fosters narcissistic psychopathology. However correct, as a theme, this idea is not that new. While I agree with the message, the vehicle itself is difficult to get through. I am,therefore,recommending two other books on the topic of narcissism. The firsts published in 2007, is written by Paul Smith. It is titled: "Primitive America:The Ideology of Capitalist Democracy". The second recommendation, written in 2009, is titled:"The Narcissism Epidemic:Living in an Age of Entitlement". The authors are Twenge and Campbell. The subjects of all three books, including "The Minimal Self", overlap. It might prove interesting to compare and contrast the similarities and differences of these various authors. Also consider two Frontline reports I recently watched on PBS. The first, "Consumed". The second, "Generation Like".