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The American Culture Of Narcissism

Dr. Ross Porter, licensed Clinical Psychologist, is the founder and Executive Director of Stillpoint Family Resources. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his Ph.D. (Clinical Psychology) and M.Div. (Master of Divinity) degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary, where he first became interested in the integration of psychology and spirituality. Dr. Porter writes and presents workshops and seminars on issues dealing with psychology and spirituality. He has created the The Virtue Project, a unique and practical vision of healing and hope that integrates psychological truth with theological and philosophical wisdom. The following excerpt is from Dr. Porter’s article on “Reclaiming Virtue and Wisdom”:

There was a time when reality-testing was a hallmark of good mental health. The presumption was that a psychologically well person could distinguish between what was objectively good behavior and what was inappropriate; what was natural and what was unnatural; what was creative and what was destructive. Psychologically unhealthy people, in contrast, struggled consistently with making these same kinds of fundamental discernments. Responsibilities, both to self and others, were understood and taken seriously. Duty was not a four-letter word, and giving back was not the punch line of a joke.

We need no Gallup poll to confirm current American culture is not our grandparent’s generation. The increasingly self-indulgent, secularized, nihilistic America that followed The Great Depression and World War II has left our culture both psychologically immature and morally confused about meaning and purpose. Like never before in America, subjectivity is becoming the sole source of both reality and truth. And there’s the problem, pure subjectivity does not provide a shared standard for judging reality or truth.

How does this exhibit in our culture? Americans increasingly fall prey to a phenomenon known as the “self-serving bias”, exhibiting a reliable tendency to interpret events in ways that are favorable to them, or show them in the best possible light; even when objective facts don’t justify these judgments. So all successes are attributed to me, but all failures are blamed on others. If I get the job it’s because I’m wonderful, but if I don’t it’s because I was discriminated against. If I stay with my wife it’s because I’m wonderful, but if I leave it’s because she wasn’t meeting my needs. If my son excels in school it’s because he’s my son and I’m wonderful, but if he rebels it’s because of the school. This is consistent with what Paul Vitz has called “selfism”, and what Christopher Lasch has called “the culture of narcissism.”

Read “Reclaiming Virtue and Wisdom” here. . . .

One Response

  1. I have a comment on this blog in general. It is an outstanding piece of work.

    Nudge: don’t just read The Cloud of Unknowing; rather, become the Christian mystic who penned it.

    Do as Rumi did: throw all of your books out, and seek, through meditation and right prayer, direct connection to the Divine.

    You are ready.

    Like

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