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Everyone starts life as narcissists

ESSAY / A reaction to the deconstruction of the subject is today a new subjective wave where everyone is to rediscover themselves. Should some publishers protect such authors from themselves?


new day begins: You get up, go to the bathroom and look in the mirror. Checks
that you are presentable. Self-absorbed and narcissistic? Yes. But that's perfectly normal.
And you actually pay attention to others – do not give the bluff in how you appear.
Self-obsession is social.

If you look too damn good, you're ashamed. The difference between ideal and conceptual reality becomes too great. Some then give up, isolate themselves and become social acts. Some suppress their own shortcomings and pretend everything is in order.

The tendency to overestimate the offspring is especially prevalent among narcissistic parents.

resorting to make-up, Botox and plastic surgery to bring reality closer
himself the ideal. Then the private also becomes political, but not just because
the cosmetics industry uses toxins and plastic in its products. When
beauty capitalism speculates on the difference between ideal and reality,
it also exploits our idealism.

Harmful with praise

Sigmund Freud's narcissism essay from 1914, now published in Norwegian (For introduction to narcissism), explains why everyone is equipped with an I-ideal. When the distance to the ideal becomes unbearable, one can try to unite ideals and reality in a self-deceiving way. Freud believed that everyone had this tendency, at both collective and individual levels. He gave a simple explanation of the ideal: It is a substitute for the child's imagined omnipotence to give up as it grows older. Since we are basically helpless, an ideal is formed. All children want to grow up, so they can do everything the adults are allowed to do.

yearning to return to a lost paradise, yet must learn to fend for ourselves. I
unlike many other mammals, humans are born prematurely. It does
not on its own after birth, but is completely helpless

A Dutch study finds that parents who praise their children too much, create narcissists. A team around the psychologist Eddie Brummelman in the Netherlands showed that children with poor self-esteem receive more praise. It's understandable – kids are famous for their person and not for what they do. But excessive praise works against its purpose: it does not distinguish between achievement and person. This creates a vicious circle, Brummelman believes. The tendency to overestimate the offspring is especially prevalent among narcissistic parents. The children who are overestimated are no more intelligent or clever than others.

These leaders cannot resist being contradicted, and are tapping companies for soaring salaries.

I For introduction to narcissism wrote Freud: “When one observes the attitude of caring parents
towards one's children, one must understand it as a revival and reproduction
of their own long-abandoned narcissism. […] The child should be better off than
its parents, it should not be submitted to the necessities that have been recognized
rule in life. Illness, death, renunciation of pleasure, limitation of one's will shall
not apply to the child.”

The 2009
Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell startled us by announcing one
narcissism "epidemic". Good self-esteem had tipped over into narcissism on one
self-destructive way. On the question of whether they were an important person, it was
in the 1950s only 12 percent answered yes. In the late 1980s, this increased
80 percent. Twenge and Campbell believed American parents had gone too far
in spoiling their children by telling them they are "special".

Narcissistic leaders

An important prerequisite for democracy is that more heads think better than one. In many cases it is the other way around: The more cooks, the more mess. Decision-making, intrigue and power politics suppress knowledge-based long-term thinking. You look no further than your nose reaches. Then comes the longing for strong men who sort out.

The leadership figure
can cancel the difference between fantasy and reality. IN Mass psychology and I analysis (1921) Freud described the leader as a mirror for the crowd. He became it
individual's ego-ideal. The followers experience happiness when the distinction between ideal and
reality is canceled. No wonder we are blinded by ideological illusions.

Everyone starts life as narcissists

There is a dictator in all of us: Freud talked about "the majesty his baby". Leaders who show extreme self-confidence, dominance and authority are endorsed – at least initially. In the worst case, the leader lives in a fantasy world about the company's financial strength. If the narcissistic leader fails to achieve his goal, the risk of unethical or illegal activity is high. Large-scale investigations show a positive correlation between narcissism and fraud. Narcissists of this type believe that they have a kind of right to privilege, even if it is not in proportion to the work done. They therefore behave like a new type of nobility or kings.

the managers cannot bear to be contradicted, and drain the companies of sky-high salaries.
Like all narcissists, they live in a bubble, ignore criticism and suffer
excessive self-confidence. This has been a topic long before Trump became president.
In 2002, the German psychologist Hans-Jürgen Wirth wrote a book with the title Narcissism and power with
many examples from German politics.

Me and me

French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan distinguished between subject (je) and I (soft). When jeg to be meg in the mirror, I am an object. The object is idealized, that is some of the point of different forms of mirroring. The look can be manipulated in countless ways to meet the world with a facade: the subject is not identical to its "image". In our image-driven culture we meet each other through masks and play roles. But that does not mean that "I" is not "me" at all, that "I am another" (Rimbaud). Nor is the facade of the self a "fiction". Over 30 years ago, for example, the French philosophers Luc Ferry and Alain Renaut warned in The thought 68 ("The 68th Thinking") against an anti-humanism that only perceived the subject as a random construct, dissolved in the "discourse", the language system, and historically changeable paradigms.

And postmodernism exaggerated

The authentic was rejected because it was historically contingent ("contingent"). But most of what is us is both authentic and historically random. Being able to cycle or swim is a learned skill. Once we have practiced these historically random skills, they are automatically exercised. They are not "inauthentic" or "fictitious" for that reason. And such competence, which makes up most of the subject's action repertoire, cannot be constructed through image-building in the mirror.

reaction to postmodernism's deconstruction of the subject, we have got a new one
subjective wave where everyone must rediscover themselves. Men
self-production is not necessarily of general interest. When you look into
the mirror, the world often becomes smaller.
The self-surrender
nor does it guarantee authenticity, because the mirror lies. When narcissism overturns
over fiction and non-fiction, the publishing editors should in part
cases the writers protected against themselves.

The rice behind the mirror will punish those who have crossed too many borders.

Tjønneland has translated and written the afterword for the book Introduction to Narcissism (Vidarforlaget). This is an independent text in this regard.

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Eivind Tjønneland
Historian of ideas and author.

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