What, exactly, is Narcissism?

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Narcissism vs. Altruism- Are Millennials prepared to positively impact our society? Faith Shotts-Flikkema Cornerstone University Forest Hills Northern High School

What, exactly, is Narcissism?

  • Merriam-Webster:
  • Egoism, Egocentrism
  • Dictionary.com: inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity.
  • Psychoanalysis: erotic gratification derived from admiration of one's own physical or mental attributes.

Some Current Narcissistic Examples….

Narcissism is not limited to men…

What impact does Hollywood have on the Millennial generation?

  • “Then the question becomes, why are we preoccupied with this population? (Hollywood) This points toward the mirror. We, too, have become increasingly narcissistic.”
  • -Drew Pinsky (Dr. Drew)

Introducing Jean Twenge, Ph.D….

Is Narcissism an “epidemic?”

  • In her new book, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, psychologist Jean Twenge of San Diego State University and co-author W. Keith Campbell of the University of Georgia say “research shows more young people today have ‘narcissistic traits’ than in previous generations. Such traits, Twenge says, include a very positive and inflated sense of self, which is illustrated by a preoccupation with MySpace, Facebook and YouTube.”

Twenge’s argument…

  • “On a reality TV show, a girl planning her Sweet Sixteen wants a major road blocked off so a marching band can precede her grand entrance on a red carpet. Five times as many Americans undergo plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures as ten years ago, and ordinary people hire fake paparazzi to follow them around to make them look famous. High school students physically attack classmates and post YouTube videos of the beatings to get attention. And for the past several years, Americans have been buying McMansions and expensive cars on credit they can't afford. ”

Has Narcissism become a societal problem?

  • Wikipedia: Narcissism applied to a social group is defined as elitism or indifference to the plight of others.

Is there a correlation between narcissism and apathy?

Is there a correlation between narcissism and apathy?

Current Example

  • Connecticut- “Hit and Run”- 78 yr. old man
  • is ran over while bystanders watch and/or
  • leave…
  • http://youtube/kJCSuwREH_4

If Narcissism is a societal problem, then is it our responsibility to change it? What are some solutions?

The advent of Altruism…

  • Merriam-Webster:
  • Unselfish interest in the welfare of others
  • Dictionary.com:
  • The principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others (opposed to egoism.)

Some Current Altruistic Role Models…

We can prepare “Generation Me” to positively impact their world!

Some Practical Suggestions…

The “FUN” Theory…

Positive Reinforcement 

The “Parental Effect”

  • According to Brehm & Kassin, positive role models, such as parents, can effect a young person’s development into an altruistic adult.
  • (Example from
  • Social Psychology)

Unveiling Positive Role Models…

Discussion Questions

  • Is Narcissism a big concern in our society? In education?
  • Is it the responsibility of educators to address social issues, such as this?
  • How can schools and universities promote altruism amongst students and faculty?
  • How can young adults turn the tide from self- focus to empathy and altruism?


  • Brehm, S. S., & Kassin, S. M. (2005). Chapter 7- Helping & Altruism. In Social Psychology (5th ed.). N.p.: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Choate-Nielsen, A., & Israelsen-Hartley, S. (2011, August 29). The age of entitlement: Selfishness is Rampant. In Deseret News. Retrieved February 13, 2012,
  • from http://www.deseretnews.com/article/ptin/700174443/The age of entitlement-Selfishness/.
  • Jayson, S. (n.d.). Celebrity Narcissism: A bad reflection for kids. In USA Today. Retrieved February 16, 2009, from http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-3-16-pinsky-narcissism
  • Jayson, S. (2009, March 16). Take the Narcissistic Personality Inventory. In USA Today. Retrieved February 21, 2012, from http://www.usatoday.com/health/2009-03-16-pinsky-quiz_N.htm?.
  • Jayson, S. (2009, April 20). Is Narcissism on the upswing in the young?. In USA Today. Retrieved February 21, 2012, from http://www.usatoday.com/health/2009-4-20-narcissism-youth_N.htm
  • Laitman, M. (2011). Self-Interest vs. Altruism in the Global Age. Brooklyn, NY: Laitman
  • Kabbalah Publishers.
  • Twenge, T. M. (2008). Generation Me (pp. 17-143). New York, NY: Free Press.

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