- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Atria Books; unknown edition (April 13, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1416575995
- ISBN-13: 978-1416575993
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (244 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement Paperback – April 13, 2010
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Twenge and Campbell, psychologists and authors of previous books on self-admiration, team up for a thorough look at a troubling trend that has broad cultural implications. They begin by chronicling changes in American culture that have brought us Botox, fake paparazzi, and MySpace. The authors distinguish between self-esteem and narcissism, drawing on scientific research, but focus on narcissistic personality traits “among the normal population” and cultural narcissism that goes deep into social values. The authors debunk myths about narcissism—that it is necessary in order to be competitive and that narcissists are actually overcompensating for low self-esteem. Although young girls have been hit hardest by the narcissism epidemic, with unrealistic notions of physical beauty, the scourge has affected us all—witness Wall Street greed and the mortgage crisis with its overblown sense of materialism and entitlement. The authors argue that the nation needs to recognize the epidemic and its negative consequences, and take corrective action. Individuals can start by practicing gratitude, and parents can teach their children friendship skills, with the emphasis on others rather than self. --Vanessa Bush --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"The other night, when I was reading Twenge and Campbell's excellent and timely new book, my husband was busy framing a fake "Sports Illustrated" cover, with a picture of our 7-year old over the caption, "Player of the Year." "The Narcissism Epidemic" will hew close to the bone, rouse, and provoke many readers as it shines a spotlight on an important -- and highly costly -- trend in our lives. Rooted in hard data and illuminated with revealing anecdotes, stories, and solutions, "The Narcissism Epidemic" is both a pleasure and an education. But enough about this book. Let's talk about me." -- Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., author of "The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want"
"An important and illuminating book. Drs. Twenge and Campbell expertly analyze many strands of American culture and reveal an alarming tapestry of psychocultural narcissism. They also offer sound strategies for slowing this epidemic." -- Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D., author of "Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel" and "So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids"
"Phenomenal..."The Narcissism Epidemic" clearly and succinctly identifies the dangerous disease and the catastrophic ways it threatens our society and future, and reveals urgently needed solutions at every level. The chapter on parenting alone makes this book priceless and should be compulsory reading." -- Patrick Wanis PhD, Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert, author of "How to Find Happiness"
"Filled with important, disturbing research detailing the alarming cultural spread of narcissism today -- a serious social problem to which many people are unwittingly contributing without realizing the disastrous consequences. The authors give sound advice and provide an important resource for anyone who cares about compassion, empathy, and emotional connection rather than ME, ME, ME!" -- Karyl McBride, Ph.D., author of "Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers "
""The Narcissism Epidemic" is a must read, an essential antidote to a culture spinning out of control. Filled with facts, fascinating examples, and written in a highly readable style, Twenge and Campbell's outstanding book shows how narcissism has been on the rise and has taken over almost every part of our lives and how we can rescue our culture from ourselves. An outstanding accomplishment by two people who truly care about the debacle of self-worship. It should be read by anyone interested in the future of our country" -- Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D., author of "Anxiety Free: Unravel Your Fears Before They Unravel You"
"A must-read for anyone who is a parent, a relationship partner, in the workforce, in school, or on the job market. Twenge and Campbell not only define narcissism but detail its antecedents, consequences, and underlying processes in a way that brings together so much of what one sees in modern western culture. Grounded in research and peppered with media and anecdotal stories, The Narcissism Epidemic offers practical, much-needed solutions to coping in the age of entitlement." -- Kathleen Vohs, Ph.D., University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professor, Editor of "Self and Relationships: Connecting Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Processes"
"This insightful book shows us how the epidemic of narcissism touches almost all aspects of our lives. Twenge and Campbell's astute analysis and salient anecdotes powerfully map the problem and the high price we all pay. They expertly show us the kinds of actions we can take to free ourselves of the epidemic's ruthless grip and how the future wellbeing of humane society depends on our doing so." -- Diane E. Levin, Ph.D., Professor of Education at Wheelock College and co-author of "So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids"
"The evidence Twenge and Campbell have compiled is compelling and appalling.... Twenge and Campbell marshal statistics, polls, charts, studies and anecdotes to assemble a complete picture of the epidemic's current state of contagion, brought on by the Internet, reality television, a booming economy, easy credit and other developments over the past decade. The authors dismantle the prevailing myths that have made us inclined to tolerate and even encourage narcissism: that it's a function of high self-esteem, that it's a function of low self-esteem, that a little narcissism is healthy, that narcissists are in fact superior, that you have to love yourself to be able to love someone else." -- "New York Times Style Magazine"
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Top Customer Reviews
This book explores the concept of narcissism and its growth, particularly in the United States using a disease model. The book is organized into 4 sections: the diagnosis, the root causes of the epidemic, symptoms of narcissism, and prognosis and treatment.
It appears that narcissism is, in many ways, a product of the self-esteem movement gone awry. Psychological and educational programs that have attempted to foster self-esteem have sometimes gone too far, creating an environment of pandemic specialness. One of the authors young daughters made the astute observation that "if everyone is special, then no one is really special." One of the songs sung at the school of Dr Campbell's daughter went "I am special/I am special/Look at Me." In short, narcissism is a problem rooted in a sense of one's own specialness.
I particularly appreciated section 2, which dealt with root causes of the epidemic. The authors provided example after example of frankly horrifying examples of narcissism. In parenting, there is a growing emphasis on being child-centered, often relying on children to be decision makers in the family. Parents glorify their children through buying them expensive things and calling them "princesses." Even at the college level, parents are confronting faculty members and advocating for better grades for their deserving, special children. But this is problematic. The authors commented that "thinking you're great when you actually stink is a recipe for narcissism." In addition to parenting methods that foster narcissistic traits, the celebrity focused culture (think Miley Cyrus), social media (Facebook, YouTube), and the credit crisis have all contributed to our senses of being exceptional.
In the third section, they described symptoms of narcissism, which include: vanity, materialism, uniqueness, antisocial behavior, relationship troubles, and entitlement. It felt like I was reading a list of the 7 deadly sins or something akin to it.
In the final section, they provide specific recommendations for how we as a society and as individuals may respond to this crisis. For example, helping our children to develop an accurate, rather than inflated, self-image is helpful. Encouraging them to develop social interest rather than excessive self interest is essential. I particularly liked their recommendation near the end of the book to consider a Fair Tax model of taxation. I would not have made the connection to narcissism, but I think they are right.
I had just a few concerns about the book. In a few different places, they linked narcissism to global warming and environmental destruction. This seemed like a stretch to me and that they were looking for a way to bring this issue to the table. I also disagreed with some of their parenting recommendations, but that is more closely linked to my worldview and my understanding of the psychological research than anything else.
On the whole, The Narcissism Epidemic is a very important book. Not only would it be useful for helping professionals, but frankly for anyone who's interested in at least one explanation for why society has changed in the way it has. I fear what will happen if we continue down this road and continue to criticize more traditional values like humility, love, and kindness.
The one flaw I find however, is that they never convincingly debunk the theory of narcissism as a cover for low self-esteem, as argued (more persuasively and thoroughly) in other books e.g. Masterson's "Search for the real self" or Stout's "The sociopath next door". Clearly, narcissism can have multiple causes and guises.
Overall however this book is a useful warning, alerting the public to a highly damaging and negative mentality that is getting out of hand in many developed societies.
One of the best things about the book is that the authors don't just present a problem with our culture, they offer a host of practical solutions like quit giving trophies to every kid playing sports no matter how lousy their performance.
Some of the continuous references to Paris Hilton and MySpace make parts of the book seem dated. Despite this, I would highly recommend The Narcissism Epidemic to anyone interested in modern American culture or anyone who has observed the excessive amount of self-promotion that runs rampant through our society.