The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement by Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell, Free Press/Simon & Schuster, NY, 2009; 368 pages, ISBN 1416575995, paperback $12.95.
In this interesting new book, cultural psychologists comment on the increasing trend amongst young people to complete self-centeredness or Narcissism. Drawing on scientific research, the authors distinguish between self-esteem and narcissism, but focus on narcissistic personality traits “among the normal population” and cultural narcissism that goes deep into social values. The scourge of widespread selfish behavior has affected us all – witnesses the Global Financial Crisis with its overblown sense of materialism and entitlement. The authors argue that the Western world needs to recognize this social "epidemic" amongst young people 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. Theosophy encourages us to live outside of our selfish concerns and teaches that family life is an incredibly important responsibility. Katherine Tingley, Leader of the Theosophical Society in the first third of the 20th century, particularly emphasized the family aspect of theosophy in her books and warned of the dire social consequences of ignoring the spiritual aspects of parenting, consequences which are now documented in this new book. – Andrew Rooke