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Submitted by Ethan Nichtern on Wed, 1/5/2011, 4:04pm
Recently I was sent this NPR story from All Things Considered about how the American Psychiatric Association may drop narcissism from its list of recognized disorders, mainly due, to the fact that...well...narcissism is so widespread and mainstream that it can't be considered abnormal anymore. The ability to self-obsess might even be a survival trait in today's materialistic culture. Amazing, right?
Take four minutes to listen to the above story. It's both shocking and entertaining, and it isn't just Jersey Shore characters (I never know whether to call people on reality tv 'people' or 'characters') who suffer from narcissism. It's so endemic it's normalized.
It's interesting how the middle path invariably seems to work, how in order to find the middle, you have to find the extremes and dwell in them first. Despite what the APA might say, obsessive narcissism and self-obsession is definitely an extreme worldview. At least from the point of view of awakened mind. But it's no wonder that when we get interested in mindfulness, interdependence, and the Bodhisattva ideal, we usually first swing to the other extreme too quickly and become martyrs as a coping mechanism for narcissism, forgetting to take care of ourselves and stressing out immeasurably over how we can never do enough for others.
Sanity, it seems, lies neither in martyrdom nor in narcissism, but in a middle path which is neither of these.Welcome to the 21st century, where narcissists and martyrs abound, and where true bodhisattvas are truly rare.
(many thanks to IDP member Seth Freedman for forwarding the story)
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