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A Nation of Narcissists?

"I'M ENTITLED..."

By David C. Stolinsky | June 2002
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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