A Nation of Narcissists?

June 2002By David C. Stolinsky

David C. Stolinsky, M.D., who is of the Jewish faith, lives in Los Angeles. He is retired after 25 years of medical school teaching at the University of California at San Francisco and the University of Southern California. An earlier version of this article appeared on the website NewsMax.com, and is used with permission.

In the film American Beauty, the character played by Kevin Spacey is fired from his job. He seeks revenge by threatening to reveal embarrassing facts about his boss, who then gives him a large sum of money disguised as severance pay. The character goes on to have various adventures in an attempt to "find himself," including falling in lust with his daughter's teenage girlfriend. Unfortunate results ensue.

A frequently heard topic of conversation involves the search for "who we are" and the effort to become "comfortable" with it. It is as if "who we are" is something that detectives must uncover.

On the contrary, I believe "who we are" is what we do and how we act toward others. True, there is an inner world of repressed thoughts and hidden motivations that a skilled therapist may uncover. But therapists argue among themselves about them. Only God knows our hearts. People have to judge us by what we do -- everything else is unprovable speculation.

If I am pushed out of my job and blackmail my boss, I am a blackmailer.

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Solid article! Here might be one possible remedy for narcissism in our parishes [where everyone goes to Communion while VERY FEW go to confession, where vocations are VERY FEW, and where a 'false positive' mood prevails]: preach the truth about abortion, contraception, living together outside of marriage, in vitro fertilization, homosexual relations -- not in a judgmental fashion as if the preacher is without sin -- but with love and compassion. Sin destroys individuals and families and makes parishes morally shallow. The Holy Spirit cannot come to hearts closed to the Truth of God's commandments; the soil is infertile for sowing vocations. The current silence on these issues is killing!.... And sin is spiritual narcissism. Posted by: tomreynolds46
November 10, 2006 04:35 PM EST
The Church needs to address the extreme narcissism of our nation's people head on by preaching about the evils such a spiritual outlook produces. The classic virtues of our faith, need to promoted, the joy produced by serving something greater than one's self needs to be proclaimed. The Narcissism of our national outlook can be defeated because Narcissism does not produce happiness or satisfaction of any kind, Narcissists are invariably miserable because immersion in self produces nothing but dissatisfaction and a sense of spiritual emptyness. Posted by: kjkozma@aol.com
August 31, 2011 01:24 AM EDT
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