Friday, March 02, 2018

Our Young Narcissists

Wall mural in Columbus, Ohio

"But I need to get a good grade in this class!" pleaded Student X after I graded her an 'F' on the first exam of my Philosophy of Religion course. "I know this material," she said.

Student X had not studied for the exam. Yet she was angry because I failed her. X thought she could slide through the class without studying, just like she did in high school. She felt she "deserved" a good grade. She had a sense of entitlement. I had seen this many times. 

In "Seeing Narcissists Everywhere" Dr. Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University, has "concluded, over and over again, that younger generations are increasingly entitled, self-obsessed and unprepared for the realities of adult life. And the blame, she says, falls squarely on America’s culture of self-esteem, in which parents praise every child as “special,” and feelings of self-worth are considered a prerequisite to success, rather than a result of it."

“There’s a common perception that self-esteem is key to success, but it turns out it isn’t,” Twenge says. Nonetheless, “young people are just completely convinced that in order to succeed they have to believe in themselves or go all the way to being narcissistic.”
"Narcissism" - an inflated view of self. Student X was out of touch with the reality of her. "study [Twenge] published last month in Social Psychological and Personality Science... found that the number of students who consider themselves above average continued to increase during the recession, even as the focus on materialism has ebbed."
Not all millenials are selfish. But Twenge thinks narcissism is on the rise, a view I see verified in my college classes. 

A narcissist looks at the world and sees only their own self. For a narcissist, entitlement precludes understanding. A narcissist will judge first, and not have the needed humility to understand others before judging them.
For more see Twenge and Campbell, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement.

Linda and I are vacationing in Cancun this week. I brought Twenge's recent book iGen with me.

My first two books are...

Praying: Reflection on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God (May 2016)

Leading the Presence-Driven Church (January 2018)

I am now writing...

Technology and Spiritual Formation

How God Changes the Human Heart: A Phenomenology of Spiritual Transformation)