Friday, December 16, 2016

The Selfishness of Others

I am listening to a friend relate an incident involving someone in our community. When she is finished she smiles, tilts her head slightly and awaits my response.

"What a narcissist," I say.

"You think everyone's a narcissist!" says my friend -- and not for the first time.

It's true. Or rather, it is increasingly the case that my community experiences are dominated by individuals whose inflated sense of self is equal to their inability to relate to a life ("feel other people's feelings") outside their own.

How do I know I am not a narcissist? I know because the problem is my problem. And when faced with a problem, I try my best to do something about it.

My problem with narcissists, then, is not the narcissistic personality disorder, per se (I refuse to blame the victim, nor could I check-off anything on Dombeck's narciphobia checklist), but the despair I feel in their company. Taken to the extreme (because these are extreme times) this despair is related to a fear, and yes, I fear the narcissistic experience as I fear global warming, polluted waters, the accumulation and concentration of capital, romantic socialists, modernist positivists, post-Soviet sociopathy... Are narcissists responsible for these conditions? Not necessarily. But they are not helping much, either.

So what to do?

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