The modern person is in the grip of a new psychological consciousness – one that is extremely pre-occupied with the self. We have become a culture of Narcissism.
So says Andrew Fellows in his paper “The Culture of Narcissism“, which can be downloaded from the L’Abri website. He also has a series of four lectures on the subject available to download as free mp3s from Bethinking.org. Go and have a read and a listen – they’re really intelligent and insightful.
What is the culture of narcissism?
As a psychological personality disorder the diagnosis of ‘Narcissist’ is extremely rare. However, the condition provides a model for understanding our own culture. there are factors at work that have produced a new character that is narcissistic. This is the age of self in a unique way. Where humans have universally been selfish (since the Fall) Narcissism is something unique. It is not a metaphor of the human condition; rather, it provides a way of understanding the psychological impact of recent social and ideological changes in our culture.
It is also important to distinguish Narcissism from modern individualism. Where individualism is a description of the ‘economic’ self, Narcissism is a description of the ‘psychological self’. Individualism describes the pursuit of wealth and material comfort. Narcissism describes the pursuit of identity and personal well being. This is why I believe that the Narcissistic model describes a new state of human consciousness – one that redefines the nature of the real. It may literally be the fulfilment of the apostle Paul’s description of the human in its last phase. 2 Tim 3:1-2 – “in the last days men will be lovers of self” – literally they will fall in love with themselves.
I’m planning on doing a series on how the modern narcissistic consciousness affects various aspects of our culture and our lives, analysing them in light of Fellows’ ideas. I believe it will help bring together many aspects of many of the things that have interested me on this blog. Here’s some of the things I hope to cover:
- Narcissism and Art
- Narcissism and Entertainment
- Narcissism and Doctor Who (which provides an interesting case study for the above!)
- Narcissism and Consumerism
- Narcissism and Self-Image
- Narcissism and Relationships
- Narcissism and Knowledge
- Narcissism and Religion