Monday, June 20, 2011

Narcissism and the Cute Movement

Lou Brooks

I've speculated before about the psychology of the young people who, in various public demonstrations, seem determined to show everyone else how cute and clever they are. I call it the Cute Movement---Critical Mass, the annual pillow fight downtown, the Parking Day demos, Bay to Breakers, etc. 

An article in the current Atlantic Monthly explores the psychology of a generation raised by their parents on self-esteem principles, which is creating "a burgeoning generational narcissism that's hurting our kids":

A few months ago, I called up Jean Twenge, a co-author of The Narcissism Epidemic and professor of psychology at San Diego State University, who has written extensively about narcissism and self-esteem. She told me she wasn’t surprised that some of my patients reported having very happy childhoods but felt dissatisfied and lost as adults. When ego-boosting parents exclaim “Great job!” not just the first time a young child puts on his shoes but every single morning he does this, the child learns to feel that everything he does is special. 

Likewise, if the kid participates in activities where he gets stickers for “good tries,” he never gets negative feedback on his performance. (All failures are reframed as “good tries.”) According to Twenge, indicators of self-esteem have risen consistently since the 1980s among middle-school, high-school, and college students. But, she says, what starts off as healthy self-esteem can quickly morph into an inflated view of oneself—a self-absorption and sense of entitlement that looks a lot like narcissism. In fact, rates of narcissism among college students have increased right along with self-esteem...

“Narcissists are happy when they’re younger, because they’re the center of the universe,” Twenge explains. “Their parents act like their servants, shuttling them to any activity they choose and catering to their every desire. Parents are constantly telling their children how special and talented they are. This gives them an inflated view of their specialness compared to other human beings. Instead of feeling good about themselves, they feel better than everyone else.”

Sound familiar?


"Consensus" pension reform doesn't serve city taxpayers

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

From a Bay City story: "But at this point, with two competing pension-reform measures headed for the November ballot, no one’s interests are served by continued warfare."

Except for the interests of the city's taxpayers.

The story continues:

Imagine, for a moment, if firefighters could accept Adachi’s professed sympathy. Maybe then the firefighters’ union, which despite its hostility to Adachi, is actually relatively open to financial concessions, could agree to hear Adachi out. And then maybe Mayor Edwin Lee could work with the Board of Supervisors to modify the “consensus” proposal enough to satisfy Adachi and persuade him to drop his more aggressive measure.

Maybe. The firefighters are "open to financial concessions"? If true that's a recent development. They should make concessions, since yesterday the Chronicle reported this: "The average pension for a retiree from the Fire Department is $108,552. From the Police Department? $95,016. And everybody else? $41,136."