I recently read an article about narcissism. It talked about a new book published about this “disorder”. Apparently

Symptoms of this disorder, as defined by the DSM-IV-TR, include:

  • Expects to be recognized as superior and special, without superior accomplishments
  • Expects constant attention, admiration and positive reinforcement from others
  • Envies others and believes others envy him/her
  • Is preoccupied with thoughts and fantasies of great success, enormous attractiveness, power, intelligence
  • Lacks the ability to empathize with the feelings or desires of others
  • Is arrogant in attitudes and behavior
  • Has expectations of special treatment that are unrealistic

Sure, some people immediately sprang to mind, but the overall impression I had is that, when we are honest, there is a narcissist in each of us. We used to call those things “sin”. Or at least the tendency to sin, concupiscence…

There was ODD – oppositional defiant disorder. It used to be called disobedient. Naughty.

Sure, some of us have greater or lesser tendencies and dispositions. But to blame all our actions on syndromes and disorders may end up being a bit of a cop out.

Let’s not go back to the hell-fire-and-damnation approach, but let’s also not let the pendulum swing to the opposite extreme. I’m as interested in personality types, genetic predispositions, and cultural differences as the next person; they may explain a lot of what you and I do – but they don’t totally excuse all we do.

What do you think?


image: Narcissus by Caravaggio (1597) – illustrates the Greek myth of Narcissus who falls in love with his own reflection.

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