Synopses & Reviews
Narcissismand#8212;an inflated view of the selfand#8212;is everywhere. Public figures say itand#8217;s what makes them stray from their wives. Parents teach it by dressing children in T-shirts that say "Princess." Teenagers and young adults hone it on Facebook, and celebrity newsmakers have elevated it to an art form. And itand#8217;s whatand#8217;s making people depressed, lonely, and buried under piles of debt. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Jean Twengeand#8217;s influential first book, andlt;Iandgt;Generation Meandlt;/Iandgt;, spurred a national debate with its depiction of the challenges twenty- and thirty-somethings face in todayand#8217;s worldand#8212;and the fallout these issues create for educators and employers. Now, Dr. Twenge turns her focus to the pernicious spread of narcissism in todayand#8217;s culture, which has repercussions for every age group and class. Dr. Twenge joins forces with W. Keith Campbell, Ph.D., a nationally recognized expert on narcissism, to explore this new plague in andlt;Iandgt;The Narcissism Epidemicandlt;/Iandgt;, their eye-opening exposition of the alarming rise of narcissism and its catastrophic effects at every level of society. Even the world economy has been damaged by risky, unrealistic overconfidence. Drawing on their own extensive research as well as decades of other expertsand#8217; studies, Drs. Twenge and Campbell show us how to identify narcissism, minimize the forces that sustain and transmit it, and treat it or manage it where we find it. Filled with arresting, alarming, and even amusing stories of vanity gone off the tracks (would you like to hire your own personal paparazzi?), andlt;Iandgt;The Narcissism Epidemic andlt;/Iandgt;is at once a riveting window into the consequences of narcissism, a prescription to combat the widespread problems it causes, and a probing analysis of the culture at large.
"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
"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
"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 and Relationship Expert, author of How to Find Happiness
"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
“Engaging and thought-provoking, the seventeen essays included here do a fine job of suggesting that the therapeutic is indeed best understood as a uniquely American culture—one where institutions and individuals come together to shape values and ideals. An impressive array of topics is covered by well-known scholars who each help to explain why and how this therapeutic ideal has become embedded in American culture. Rethinking Therapeutic Culture strikes exactly the right tone to raise cogent questions about the meaning and context of therapeutics in the twenty-first century.”
“Rethinking Therapeutic Culture offers an elegant array of insightful commentary on contemporary therapeutic culture that moves beyond routine culture-bashing. With perspectives on everything from Big Pharma to blogging, its cast of important critical thinkers is clearly up to the task of examining the how that culture shapes our view of ourselves and the world.”
The author of the influential and controversial "Generation Me" and a recognized narcissism expert examine the spread of narcissism in current culture.
Social critics have long lamented Americas descent into a “culture of narcissism,” as Christopher Lasch so lastingly put it fifty years ago. From “first world problems” to political correctness, from the Oprahfication of emotional discourse to the development of Big Pharma products for every real and imagined pathology, therapeutic culture gets the blame. Ask not where the stereotype of feckless, overmedicated, half-paralyzed millennials comes from, for it comes from their parents therapists couches. Rethinking Therapeutic Culture makes a powerful case that weve got it all wrong. Editors Timothy Aubry and Trysh Travis bring us a dazzling array of contributors and perspectives to challenge the prevailing view of therapeutic culture as a destructive force that encourages narcissism, insecurity, and social isolation. The collection encourages us to examine what legitimate needs therapeutic practices have served and what unexpected political and social functions they may have performed. Offering both an extended history and a series of critical interventions organized around keywords like pain, privacy, and narcissism, this volume offers a more nuanced, empirically grounded picture of therapeutic culture than the one popularized by critics. Rethinking Therapeutic Culture is a timely book that will change the way weve been taught to see the landscape of therapy and self-help.
About the Author
Jean M. Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, is the author of more than 100 scientific publications and two books based on her research, andlt;iandgt;Generation Me andlt;/iandgt;and andlt;iandgt;The Narcissism Epidemicandlt;/iandgt;, as well as andlt;iandgt;The Impatient Womanand#8217;s Guide to Getting Pregnantandlt;/iandgt;. Her research has been covered in andlt;iandgt;Timeandlt;/iandgt;, andlt;iandgt;Newsweekandlt;/iandgt;, andlt;iandgt;The New York Timesandlt;/iandgt;, andlt;iandgt;USA TODAYandlt;/iandgt;, and andlt;iandgt;The Washington Postandlt;/iandgt;, and she has been featured on the andlt;iandgt;Todayandlt;/iandgt; show, andlt;iandgt;Good Morning Americaandlt;/iandgt;, andlt;iandgt;Fox and Friendsandlt;/iandgt;, and National Public Radio. She lives in San Diego with her husband and daughters.andlt;Bandgt;W. Keith Campbellandlt;/Bandgt;, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Georgia, is the author of more than 65 scientific journal articles and book chapters and the book, andlt;iandgt;When You Love a Man Who Loves Himself: How to Deal with a One-way Relationship andlt;/iandgt;(Sourcebooks, 2005). He has publishedandnbsp;more than 30 journal articles and chapters on narcissism, more than any other academic researcher. He is also a contributing author of the study on the rise in narcissism covered by the Associated Press. His research has appeared in andlt;iandgt;USA Today, Newsweek, andlt;/iandgt;andandlt;iandgt; The Washington Post, andlt;/iandgt;and he has been featured onandlt;iandgt; andlt;/iandgt;Fox Newsand#8217; andlt;iandgt;The Big Storyandlt;/iandgt; and made numerous radio appearances. He holds a BA from the University of California at Berkeley, an MA from San Diego State University, and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He lives in Athens, Georgia, with his wife and daughter.
Table of Contents
Tim Aubry and Trysh Travis, Introduction
What is therapeutic culture,” and why do we need to rethink” it?
1 Joseph M. Gabriel, Damage
Until the middle of the nineteenth century, Americans were inured to suffering. Maybe we have something to learn from them.
2 Kathryn Lofton, Gospel
If Christian ministers and secular therapists now sound strangely alike, its because they have been imitating each other for over a century.
3 Courtney Bender, Spirit
Spiritual gurus and critics of therapeutic culture both view the world as an inescapable cage. As a result, their visions of freedom both rely on some form of magic.
4 Gabriel Mendes, Race
An underground Harlem clinic could have radicalized the practice of therapy in the 1950sif only more people had paid attention.
5 Rebecca Jo Plant, Motherhood
As they warned women about the perils of maternal overinvolvement, midcentury psychological experts inadvertently helped to pave the way for second-wave feminism.
6 Badia Ahad, Confessions
Cautionary tales about taboo sexual behaviors offered in a black confessional magazine gave readers from outside the white middle class access to therapeutic cultureand a sense of sexual selfhood.
7 Michael Staub, Radical
Although the radical therapists of the 1960s failed to make therapy into a revolutionary tool, they did succeed at transforming their own profession.
8 Elizabeth Lunbeck, Narcissism
The narcissism that worries social critics so much bears little resemblance to the one that interests psychoanalysts. Why is that?
9 Beryl Satter, The Left
How did the discharge” of negative emotions become a substitute for structural critique?
10 David Herzberg, Pills
Psychotropic drug users are political actors too.
11 Stevan Weine, Testimony
What happensand who benefitswhen trauma victims are encouraged to tell their stories?
12 Tanya Erzen, Heart
Christian heart-change” rehabilitation is challenging punishment in the American penal system, and its therapeutic dimensions confound critics on the right and the left.
13 Elizabeth Spelman, Privacy
In order to shield their actions from public scrutiny, corporations depend upon protections of privacy that individual citizens have come to disdain.
14 Suzanne Bost, Pain
Rather than trying to eliminate pain, some modern therapeutic practices invite us to experience the bodys contingency and permeability.
15 Michael Sayeau, Blogging
Blogging is a new form of democratic, crowd-sourced therapy. But it works the way therapy always has: by bringing individuals private thoughts to the attention of strangers.
16 Philip Cushman, Practice
A therapist works throughand withthe critique of therapeutic culture.
Jackson Lears, Afterword
One of the therapeutic cultures most persuasive critics considers the historical category anew.