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‘If I Ruled the World, It Would Be a Better Place’

True or false?

How about: “I think I am a special person.” Yes or no?

Or: “I can live my life any way I want to.” How respond ye, dear reader?

These are but a few of the questions asked in the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) that has been administered to 16,575 college students nationwide from 1982 to 2006.

It comes as no surprise to learn that students’ NPI scores have “risen steadily,” according to an Associated Press report (Feb. 27). In 2006 two-thirds of students scored in the above-average range of narcissism, a 30-percent increase since the NPI was first administered.

According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, nine traits identify the person with the Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

·  a grandiose sense of self-importance

·  a preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

·  the belief that he is superior, special, or unique and the expectation that others will recognize him as such

·  requires excessive admiration

·  a sense of entitlement (expects to be catered to and is puzzled or furious when this does not happen)

·  a lack of sensitivity to the wants and needs of others may result in the conscious or unwitting exploitation of others

·  lack of empathy and difficulty recognizing the desires, subjective experiences, and feelings of others

·  envious of others or believes that others are envious of him

·  displays snobbish, disdainful, or patronizing attitudes

On what to blame the dramatic upsurge of narcissism? According to the Associated Press report, many trace the phenomenon back to the “self-esteem movement” in the 1980s, saying that efforts to build self-confidence have “gone too far.” Said NPI administrator W. Keith Campbell: “Permissiveness seems to be a component. A potential antidote would be more authoritative parenting. Less indulgence might be called for.”

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