The Narcissistic Civilization...

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The Narcissistic Civilization...

Postby Dan74 » Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:40 am

A quote from the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder (courtesy wiki):

Symptoms of this disorder include[1]:

Reacting to criticism with anger, shame, or humiliation
Taking advantage of others to reach their own goals
Exaggerating their own importance, achievements, and talents
Imagining unrealistic fantasies of success, beauty, power, intelligence, or romance
Requiring constant attention and positive reinforcement from others
Becoming jealous easily
Lacking empathy and disregarding the feelings of others
Being obsessed with oneself
Pursuing mainly selfish goals
Trouble keeping healthy relationships
Becoming easily hurt and rejected
Setting goals that are unrealistic
Wanting "the best" of everything
Appearing unemotional

1. Symington, Neville (1993). Narcissism: A New Theory. H. Karnac Ltd.. pp. 6–7


Does this sound familiar, anyone? Social media and modern upbringing seem to make this more of a norm than a "disorder". The online culture of validation, the modern upbringing when kids are overpraised and made out to be little princes and princesses (among the middle classes) who get what they want as long as they whine enough about it, of deluge of games and toys that stimulate but require no long-term persistence and effort, short attention spans and minds addicted to stimulation... I could go on, as you can see...

With kids growing up in this culture, I often wonder about "anti-dotes". Yesterday we went skiing - had to lug skis and boots through trains and buses and then teaching the kids to ski (their first time) - that felt really wholesome. Getting them involved in housework, cleaning etc is getting increasingly hard. I worry when majority of the time, they spend consuming entertainment and treats...

Another aspect is spiritual cultivation itself. From Spiritual Materialism to various self-help fads, so many issues we face as a society seem to stem from this narcissism that has come to replace genuine involvement.

Any reflections (not necessarily to do with children) are really welcome.
_/|\_
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Re: The Narcissistic Civilization...

Postby Ben » Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:54 am

Hi Dan,
Selfless service without expecting anything in return is a good exercise in countering narcissism.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: The Narcissistic Civilization...

Postby barcsimalsi » Fri Dec 21, 2012 12:01 pm

Symptoms of this disorder include[1]:

Reacting to criticism with anger, shame, or humiliation
Taking advantage of others to reach their own goals
Exaggerating their own importance, achievements, and talents
Imagining unrealistic fantasies of success, beauty, power, intelligence, or romance
Requiring constant attention and positive reinforcement from others
Becoming jealous easily
Lacking empathy and disregarding the feelings of others
Being obsessed with oneself
Pursuing mainly selfish goals
Trouble keeping healthy relationships
Becoming easily hurt and rejected
Setting goals that are unrealistic
Wanting "the best" of everything
Appearing unemotional

1. Symington, Neville (1993). Narcissism: A New Theory. H. Karnac Ltd.. pp. 6–7

It looks like a default setting of human nature.


Dan74 wrote:Any reflections (not necessarily to do with children) are really welcome.

I think having those fortunate sons exposed to the first noble truth more often will make a good tuning point.
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Re: The Narcissistic Civilization...

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Fri Dec 21, 2012 12:54 pm

Dan,

I was just thinking something similar to this yesterday. Here in NYC where life is already ridiculously fast-paced and everyone immediately has to have the newest gadget as soon as it's released I often wonder how we can continue to keep the forces of our monolithic consumer society at bay. We spend a lot of time talking about the Buddha and the Dhamma because we read Jataka tales and adaptations of the stories in the sutta (i.e., Anathapindika, Angulimala, Devadatta) and I think that provides my son with a good grounding for confronting the narcissism that runs rampant today. Still, he is only five and as he gets older I can imagine having a harder time with this. Thank you for bringing this up and I'm interested to hear if anyone else has any thoughts on this. Mettaya.
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Re: The Narcissistic Civilization...

Postby ancientbuddhism » Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:12 pm

Ben wrote:Hi Dan,
Selfless service without expecting anything in return is a good exercise in countering narcissism.


Ajahn Ñāṇadhammo would advise us to do service for others without them ever knowing about it. At WPN this could be as simple as sweeping the caṅkama path outside anothers kuti.
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another. – Townes Van Zandt ‘Lungs’

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: The Narcissistic Civilization...

Postby danieLion » Sat Dec 22, 2012 6:17 am

Dan74,
I think it's brilliant that you took something with no scientific validity (personality disorders) and applied it to something with credibility (civilizational behavior). It really makes the causes-and-conditions/cultural-conditioning aspects salient.
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Re: The Narcissistic Civilization...

Postby Dan74 » Sat Dec 22, 2012 10:17 am

Ben, this is a very good point. We go help clean around the station with the kids once a month and they sometimes help my wife with her voluntary projects but that's not enough. I do some Dhamma related voluntary work but the kids are not part of it. They are perhaps a bit young for some things but even helping the neighbours water the garden might be an idea. Certainly something to keep in mind.

Barci, can you elaborate?

Khalil, I tell my kids lots of Buddhist and Dhamma related stories. Specifically two teachings, that actions have consequences and one thing leads to another (kamma) and it is up to us how we react and deal with things (mind is the forerunner) bear repeating again and again, I found. I try to make fun stories up so that the kids enjoy them rather than boring them with tedious moralizing. Most importantly I don't want them to feel that they have to be Buddhist or to get annoyed and jaded with Buddhism.

Ancient, very good point - simple helping without an expectation of reward, without even a thought of being a do-gooder or getting the good kamma is best.

Daniel,I am not sure I get your point. Were you being sarcastic? If so,this is more of a personal discussion, not a thesis.
I wasn't expecting to be held up to any scientific or sociological standards! :)
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Re: The Narcissistic Civilization...

Postby barcsimalsi » Sat Dec 22, 2012 11:53 am

I was suggesting that let them understand life is hard and unsecured to reshape their attitude as i believe good deed begins from willingness, it is much different from directing people to do charity or goodness without their willingness. But since you already taught your kids so much about the Dhamma and anyway they are still young, it all takes time.
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Re: The Narcissistic Civilization...

Postby Jaidyn » Sat Dec 22, 2012 12:41 pm

Ben wrote:Hi Dan,
Selfless service without expecting anything in return is a good exercise in countering narcissism.
kind regards,

Ben


This is a good idea, as long as you are not in the company of a real narcissist.

Maybe you suggest this is a good exercise for oneself to counter the own "normal" narcissism within.
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Re: The Narcissistic Civilization...

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Dec 22, 2012 5:34 pm

Dan74 wrote:Does this sound familiar, anyone? Social media and modern upbringing seem to make this more of a norm than a "disorder".


Good points. People complain about narcissistic people, yet society itself encourages narcissism in almost every facet of life. If you are applying for a job or a promotion, you don't list your faults, you list your accomplishments, your strong points, your skills, etc. If you write a research proposal or a paper or a book, you must list your qualifications and then more often than not, someone will complain about your bragging or narcissism. If you don't mention your traits and skills you don't get the job, don't get published, don't sell your business products, don't get the promotion, etc., etc. Even in a socialistic society, there are managers and leaders and those positions will go to those who have the skills and sell themselves well.

If you are looking for a spouse or partner, you don't mention your shortcomings on your first date. The examples could go on and on.

"Be narcissistic just enough to get out of the way of a bus barreling down the road right at you." (author unknown)

In Buddhism, we seek to shed the ego and realize anatta (no-self). Even in Buddhism, there is spiritual materialism of the different levels of enlightenment and attainments. And then there can be the opportunity for passive humility (pretending to be humble and thus, advanced), which is just another spiritual materialism.

Even an anagami (non-returner) has some level of conceit that is not relinquished until full enlightenment as an arahant. Therefore, I try not to accuse anyone of narcissism since even an anagami can have some degree of it and some level of it is needed just to survive in society. For progress on the path, it can be limited to only what is needed and try to not let it get out of hand. And another reason I don't like to accuse anyone of being narcissistic comes in the saying:

"don't throw stones if you live in glass houses." :tongue:

The Buddha wrote:‘Ananda, soon after the Bodhisatta was born, he stood firmly on his feet, and while a white parasol was held over him, took seven steps to the north, surveyed all four directions and uttered these majestic words: “ I’m the highest in this world, the best and the foremost. This is my last birth, I will not be born again.’ Venerable sir, this too I hold as something wonderful and marvelous about the Blessed One.
MN 123


I can imagine some psychologists and others might say the Buddha was narcissistic with statements such as the above. But he is teaching from a specific culture and announcing for the benefit so that others will listen and accept his qualifications.
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Re: The Narcissistic Civilization...

Postby danieLion » Sat Dec 22, 2012 11:22 pm

Dan74 wrote:Daniel,I am not sure I get your point. Were you being sarcastic? If so,this is more of a personal discussion, not a thesis.
I wasn't expecting to be held up to any scientific or sociological standards! :)

Sorry. No sarcasm. I really think "personality disorders" make much more sense when applied to cultures, and much easier to measure than "personality disorders" in people by way of the DSM and other non-scientific psychological indices. Maybe I misunderstood you? You weren't doing that?
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Re: The Narcissistic Civilization...

Postby ground » Sun Dec 23, 2012 5:09 am

Hmh ... narcississts may experience the slightest frustration and disagreeable feeling as "suffering" and thus be a clientele for buddhism. Or ... to even amplify it ... isn't the wish to get rid of of an alleged "suffering" when being saturated with everything that is necessary for the support of life a kind of narcissism? :juggling:
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Re: The Narcissistic Civilization...

Postby danieLion » Sun Dec 23, 2012 7:51 am

The Myth of Narcissus was intended as a moral on the dangers of self fixation in everyman, not as the basis of psychological typologies. As a tendency in all human hearts, narcissism does stand for any one personality or person.
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Re: The Narcissistic Civilization...

Postby Dan74 » Sun Dec 23, 2012 1:31 pm

danieLion wrote:
Dan74 wrote:Daniel,I am not sure I get your point. Were you being sarcastic? If so,this is more of a personal discussion, not a thesis.
I wasn't expecting to be held up to any scientific or sociological standards! :)

Sorry. No sarcasm. I really think "personality disorders" make much more sense when applied to cultures, and much easier to measure than "personality disorders" in people by way of the DSM and other non-scientific psychological indices. Maybe I misunderstood you? You weren't doing that?


Thanks, Daniel, I think we are on the same page here.
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Re: The Narcissistic Civilization...

Postby Jaidyn » Sun Dec 23, 2012 8:00 pm

It would be interesting to see how buddhism could help a person with the personality disorder narcissism, as there is nothing we know of that helps, other then time. They become more "mature" as they become older, if I got the facts right.

danieLion wrote:The Myth of Narcissus was intended as a moral on the dangers of self fixation in everyman, not as the basis of psychological typologies. As a tendency in all human hearts, narcissism does stand for any one personality or person.


But The Myth of Narcissus it is not used as a basis for psychological typologies. Clinical observations are the basis for the psychological typologies. The Myth of Narcissus is borrowed to give the type a name. While we all have tendencies of narcissism, i would also pay respect to the personality disorder narcissism.
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Re: The Narcissistic Civilization...

Postby danieLion » Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:00 am

Jaidyn wrote:While we all have tendencies of narcissism, i would also pay respect to the personality disorder narcissism.
How do you tell the difference?
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Re: The Narcissistic Civilization...

Postby Jaidyn » Thu Dec 27, 2012 12:56 pm

danieLion wrote:
Jaidyn wrote:While we all have tendencies of narcissism, i would also pay respect to the personality disorder narcissism.
How do you tell the difference?

Do you really mean to ask how I tell the difference, or do you mean to ask how people in general tell the difference, or do you intend to ask how the psychiatrists tell the difference?
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Re: The Narcissistic Civilization...

Postby danieLion » Fri Dec 28, 2012 2:27 am

Jaidyn wrote:
danieLion wrote:
Jaidyn wrote:While we all have tendencies of narcissism, i would also pay respect to the personality disorder narcissism.
How do you tell the difference?

Do you really mean to ask how I tell the difference, or do you mean to ask how people in general tell the difference, or do you intend to ask how the psychiatrists tell the difference?

If it's a valid distinction it's true in all (or most) cases. We have tendencies, not "personalities". Becoming less narcissistic is not overcoming a "disorder". It's growing up.
Why would anyone accept a non-scientific label to be applied them? That makes no sense.
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Re: The Narcissistic Civilization...

Postby Jaidyn » Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:45 am

You quoted me, but you did not directly answer or discuss my question. I asked the question to know how to answer you.
I guess your question “How do you tell the difference?” Is somehow related to this of yours:

danieLion wrote:If it's a valid distinction it's true in all (or most) cases. We have tendencies, not "personalities". Becoming less narcissistic is not overcoming a "disorder". It's growing up.
Why would anyone accept a non-scientific label to be applied them? That makes no sense.


You did not give me what I needed to answer and you did not discuss my question, so this quote is more of an independent statement of yours. I acknowledge that you now have expressed your view, and I add no thought of my own as you do not address me. I write this to let you know if you actually want to discuss with me.
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Re: The Narcissistic Civilization...

Postby danieLion » Sat Dec 29, 2012 12:22 am

Jaidyn wrote:...this quote is more of an independent statement of yours...

How exactly is it "independent"?
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