Friday, March 13, 2015

Is indulgent parenting responsible for narcissism, and weaker social capital?


Ruben Navarrette has an interesting op-ed today on CNN, “Narcissists aren’t born, they’re made”, and he blames bad, indulgent parenting, link hereI’m reminded of Rick Warren’s idea, “It isn’t about you”.  Or it isn’t your responsibility, until it is.
  
There are differences in some of the personality disorders subsumed:  narcissistic, schizoid, solitary. 
  
  
I could take issue with the claim that narcissists take too many chances, and leave the rest to pay for it. Some do, of course.  Look at driving habits, even road rage.  But evasion of risk – a certain form of cowardice – can come out of narcissistic intentions.  Remember the whole issue of the draft in the 1960s.  Today’s generations barely know that.
  
I think the comments about celebrity culture, and the illusion that anyone can make himself famous, or that any opinion one has ought to be expressed, are certainly interesting.  Content is only valuable when others will be impacted by that, so that implies that in some level of personality, one has to be prepared to care about others, and the impact of something on them even in a local sense, before speaking.  One needs to have skin in the game.
  
Ruben also speaks about a global sense, about concern over sustainability and about others outside the immediate family or peer group.  Yet, one can’t care about others at a distance until one cares locally first.
  
There is something toxic about excessive self-preoccupation, or its being OK.  That extends in interrelated areas:  paying one’s dues, sharing the burden of tedious or regimented work, to dealing with people “as they are”, to being open to real new relationships, sometimes, finally, to being able to sustain relationships.  It’s hard to draw boundaries among these. Yes, volunteerism does address these things, even if the bureaucracy behind it sometimes is pushy. There’s something about letting go, of accepting the fact that one’s own turn ends and a future generation must take the torch.  

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