Takeaway: Narcissism is a serious and real issue in the modern world. May be even more important spiritually.
First admission, I got bored with this book. I started it in January and read about the first third in a day. But then I started something else as I often do and I just had a hard time reading more than a little bit at a time.
The first section, which talked about the definition, myths and some of the benefits of Narcissism was very interesting. I sped through that and spent a lot of time talking about it to anyone that would listen.
The next section talks about why there is an epidemic. The chapter on parenting I thought was incredible. I was convinced that there really is a big problem with the way that the US thinks about parenting. Then the book started talking about the rise of celebrity culture, digital natives and web culture and school and I was less impressed. It is not that I do not think that Narcissism is not a big deal and it is not that I do not think that celebrity, the web and ‘everyone wins’ is not a problem.
However, when it talks about web culture (which I have some experience in and have thought a good deal about) I think the book was picking and choosing its examples in a way that really undercut its overall message. When a book comes out in April 2009 and spends most of its time citing MySpace, the book is flawed. There is just a difference in the culture of MySpace, Twitter and Facebook. People use them differently, the culture around them is quite different and the communities that use them are very different. So you cannot use MySpace as a universal example.
There are other good thoughts, like how Narcissism helps lead to the Debt Crisis and was a significant part of the economic downturn. But after that I gave up. It was just too repetitive and wasn’t going any where.
My main takeaway from this book is that spiritually, Narcissism is as dangerous, if not more dangerous in our modern culture than any other sin. The love of money may be the root of evil, but the love of self and the entitlement that comes with that, is just as detrimental to the dependence on God that is the root of faith. Like how Jesus said that it is harder for a rich man to get into heaven than a camel to get through the eye of an needle, it is equally hard for someone that thinks most about themselves and rarely about others. We can be encouraged that Jesus immediately followed up, “with God all things are possible“. But many people will have a lot of spiritual growing to do to overcome years of Narcissism.