The Narcissism Epidemic

I recently worked through Jean Twenge’s Generation Me. (Thanks to Scot McKnight for the recommendation.) To quote the subtitle, it explains “why today’s young Americans are more confident, assertive, entitled–and more miserable than ever before.” It was a great read and the information in it has a huge impact on how somebody like me goes about gathering young adults into Christian community.

Twenge has a new book entitled The Narcissism Epidemic. Here’s a quote from the ElightenNext blog.

There was a survey done last year asking college students about their academic experiences. To the question ?If you explain to your professor that you?re trying hard, should he or she increase your grade?? two-thirds of college students said yes. I?m a professor and I study narcissism, and I was still shocked by that number! The ?everybody gets a trophy? mentality basically says that you?re going to get rewarded just for showing up. First of all, that?s not how the real world works. Second, that won?t build true self-esteem; instead, it builds this empty sense of ?I?m just fantastic, not because I did anything but just because I?m here.?

Do you see this sort of thing showing up in your school, business, or church? Is the self-esteem movement backfiring in a socially disastrous way?


  1. This offends me greatly. I show up on your blog, I occasionally leave comments, and yet I never get commended for how wise and hilarious I am. And you’re telling me this is some kind of narcissism!

    I think the least you could do is appreciate the level of narcissism which I have attained.

  2. For twenty years now, all the times I have read or heard about the self-esteem movement have been criticisms of it. I don’t recall my kids being exposed to it in an overt way. Was never a topic for discussion. Like any good thing it can be overdone, I suppose. It is a favorite topic of those who are really saying that the good old days were better. I’ve had an interest in this time honored activity of youth bashing every since my group was on the receiving end in the sixties and now on the giving end.

    I’m more of an optimist when it comes to the young. And fortunately I recently came across a book review in the Nov 15, 2008 issue of the Economist that shows I’m not alone. The book is Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World by D. Tapscott. The title of the review is The Kids are Alright. I’ll quote from the article:

    “As the first global generation ever, the Net Geners are smarter, quicker and more tolerant of diversity than their predecessors,” Mr Tapscott argues. “These empowered young people are beginning to transform every institution of modern life.” They care strongly about justice, and are actively trying to improve society…

    Mr Tapscott identifies eight norms that define Net Geners,…. They love to customise and personalise. They scrutinise everything. They demand integrity and openness, including when deciding what to buy and where to work. They want entertainment and play in their work and education, as well as their social life. They love to collaborate. They expect everything to happen fast. And they expect constant innovation.”

  3. It is a very good book with great understanding of how this works in the church. How do you ask for sacrifice when someone has been told everyone bows to them?

    I look forward to reading your continued thoughts on it.

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