Narcissism in American Culture
Several studies and surveys indicate that America is an extraordinarily narcissistic culture, its youth becoming more and more so by the year. What does this mean? How might it be explained? What are the ramifications and likely consequences? The talk will be divided into four parts:
1 – An attempt at a few rudimentary definitions: a) Of the signature characteristics of the narcissistic personality; b) Of that personality in its more severe, clinical form, the narcissistic personality disorder. Describing American culture as narcissistic, this talk will examine it more as a personal, cultural and collective phenomenon than as a character disorder or pathology.
2 – A survey of some of the more flagrant examples and manifestations of this aspect of American culture.
3 – Its principal causes, which may be tied to one degree or another to neo-liberal capitalism.
4 – Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the consequences of its prevalence for interpersonal relations and for American society, politics and internal coherence.
Bill Freedman was born in Newark, NJ, took a PhD in English Literature at the University of Chicago in 1964 and taught in the City University of New York system before moving to Israel in 1969. He taught English literature at the University of Haifa until his retirement in 2004 and, since then, he has taught part-time at the Sakhnin College of Teacher Education in the Arab town of Sakhnin. Bill received an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University in 1974 and was a practicing psychotherapist until his retirement in 2010. Bill has published books and a number of essays in literary criticism and theory, an oral history of baseball fans, and four books of poetry. He and his wife have a small home in Landgrove, where they spend their summers.