Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Narcissism run amuck can kill

Young adults feel so entitled and we ought to blame it on Mr. Rogers according to some online discussions and the Wall Street Journal.
Signs of narcissism among college students have been rising for 25 years, according to a recent study led by a San Diego State University psychologist. Obviously, Mr. Rogers alone can't be blamed for this. But as Prof. Chance sees it, "he's representative of a culture of excessive doting."

This same researcher quoted elsewhere is concerned because these narcissistic kids “are more likely to have romantic relationships that are short-lived, at risk for infidelity, lack emotional warmth, and exhibit game-playing, dishonesty, and over-controlling and violent behaviors.”

We see the fallout. A young man dies by suicide, at least contributed to by his ingrained thought that he would make $80,000 right after graduation. Relationships without the thought of the work involved leads to self-medication and other problems contributing to deaths (accidents, suicides and homicides).
How do we pull this generation back? How do we prevent the next from falling into the same pit?

I like the part of the Alternet article about the need for “kung fu” (spiritual discipline and cultivation of the self). Equally important is the concept that “the self is best defined in relationship to others, a person among persons”. I know that parents must act like parents. I know that kids need to realize that they are kids and a lot of growing up requires hard work. That life is not fair sometimes. That just plain life requires hard work and a lot of stuff in it requires even harder work. Reality, what a concept. Those are the goals, but how do we get there?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The allegations in that WSJ article are completely lacking in evidence (and, I would argue, humanity).

A lot of things affecting children have changed in the last 25 years. Why does Mr. Rogers get the blame? Besides, his show ran more than 25 years ago. By the time my kids, now in their twenties, were old enough to watch it, it was all reruns.

The only way to assert that over-nurturing leads to narcissism is to compare over-nurtured and normo-nurtured populations ~ whatever that would mean!?!?

But let's for example reflect on a population known to have no nurturing: the spate of infants in Romanian orphanages after Romania banned abortion. Those children had high and excessive prevalence of severe autism.

Maybe fast food with its ubiquitous immediate gratification quotient is a better link to narcissism. But spare me the judgmentalism and just curtail the junk food for its own sake. And recognize that mental illness (including suicide) is a whole different ballgame, not a matter of (or incompatible with) character.

Children crave limits (even if they kick and scream about them at the time) and thrive when given responsibility and then they do acquire self-discipline. But that's hardly incompatible with nurturing.