Sunday, March 06, 2011

Hymonwitz's snowflakes.

Much to the disgust of some of the men in the manosphere, I have lent some support to Hymnowitz's assertion that some men are stuck in permanent adolescence. I suppose where I and Hymnowitz differ is that I also assert that the the standards of women have also fallen and that many of them are stuck in a permanent adolescence as well.

Psychologically, adult maturity can be thought of the completion of a process starting in childhood, when the individual is solely focused on his self and finishing in late adolescence when the the just mature adult is able to engage in society as a socially conscious member. The narcissist can then be thought of as someone who is stuck in adolescence, someone who has not matured.

Apparently my town is hosting a conference on Personality Disorders.  One of the main speakers will be Dr Jean Twenge, a psychologist with an interest in Narcissism. According to Dr Twenge Narcissism is on the increase and compared to generations before, much more prevalent now. Some people might assume that this is simply the old just whining away as the old are prone to do, but Dr Twenge has studies which go back to the 30's which show a definite change in the prevalence of this anti social vice. The changes are objective. To quote Dr Twenge.
If we assume that the NPI still has a normal distribution, this shift in the mean score means that there are now more college students at the top end of the original distribution. For example, 24% of 2006 college students score 1 SD above the 1979–1985 narcissism mean, compared to 15% during that original data collection. (One SD above the 1979–1985 is a score of 22, representing someone who answers the clear majority of items—22 out of 40—in a narcissistic direction.) It is also interesting to note how recent means compare to data collected on a sample of celebrities such as movie stars,
reality TV winners, and famous musicians (Young & Pinsky, 2006). This celebrity sample had a mean NPI score of 17.84, not much higher than the 2006 regression equation mean of 17.29. Thus, recent college students approach celebrities in their levels of narcissism.
(Egos Inflating Over Time: A Cross-Temporal Meta-Analysis of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory )

The Narcissist is self absorbed and frequently overrates their own self worth and achievements. Being so focused on themselves ,they lack empathy towards others, especially when their actions hurt them. It's a profoundly solipsistic vice, turning the individual in on themselves to the exclusion others. When a Narcissist loves, it's the love of percieved benefits from the other, not the love of the other.

What Dr Twenge has also noted that combined with an increase in narcissism has also been loss of sense of control, the modern narcissist loves themselves and their achievements but feels not in control of their lives. In other words, when something bad happens to them its someone else's fault.

To quote Twenge,
Two meta-analyses found that young Americans increasingly believe their lives are controlled by outside forces rather than their own efforts. Locus of control scores became substantially more external (about .80 standard deviations) in college student and child samples between 1960 and 2002. The average college student in 2002 had a more external locus of control than 80% of college students in the early 1960s. Birth cohort/time period explains 14% of the variance in locus of control scores. The data included 97 samples of college students (n = 18,310) and 41 samples of children ages 9 to 14 (n = 6,554) gathered from dissertation research. The results are consistent with an alienation model positing increases in cynicism, individualism, and the self-serving bias. The implications are almost uniformly negative, as externality is correlated with poor school achievement, helplessness, ineffective stress management, decreased self-control, and depression.
and,

The results clearly support the alienation model outlined in the introduction. As individualism has increased, locus of control has become more external. These data cannot determine the exact origins of the increase in externality; however, several trends seem relevant. Greater cynicism and alienation leads people to believe that their personal actions mean little. Blaming others for negative events has also become more popular, and people are less likely to believe that anyone can be a success despite obstacles in the way. Rather than leading to independence, the increasing individualism of American culture has led people to believe that there is little they can do to change the larger world.

These data also suggest that the outside environment has a strong effect on children. This is contrary to the usual view of children as isolated within their homes and influenced primarily by their families. Children as young as age 9 demonstrate change over time in locus of control, probably because of changes  n the larger social environment. Of course, the effect of the larger environment might be mediated by the  children’s parents; if parents become more external over time, they may pass these attitudes along to their  children. The cynical cultural lesson that one’s fate is determined by outside forces apparently reaches children at an early age


(It’s Beyond My Control: A Cross-Temporal Meta-Analysis of Increasing Externality in Locus of Control, 1960–2002)
Twenge has noted that the level of narcissism has risen for both sexes but to quote Twenge again,
We also analyzed single-sex means when they were reported. Because not all studies reported means broken down by gender and some unpublished single-sex means were obtained directly from authors, these analyses represent a subsample of the data that may
not be representative. Thus, these analyses should be interpreted with caution. College men’s NPI scores are not significantly correlated with year (b5.16, ns; k544, d50.12), but college women’s scores are (b5.46, po.002, k544, d50.28). The sex difference in
NPI scores has also declined, b5 .46, po.001; k543 (we conducted this analysis by computing the effect size d for sex differences and weighting the regression by w, the standard weight for d). In 1992 (the first year for which sex difference data were available), men scored 0.45 standard deviation higher than women on the NPI, but
by 2006, men scored just 0.15 SD higher. Thus the sex difference in narcissism has declined from half a standard deviation (a medium effect size) to one-seventh of a SD (a small effect size)


and 

The most recent college students score about the same on the NPI as a sample of celebrities (Young & Pinsky, 2006). The change is linear and steady, with the correlation significant when the analysis is limited to certain years only. It also appears that women are driving the increase in narcissism, consistent with the finding that the generational
increase in agentic traits and assertiveness was stronger for women
(Egos Inflating Over Time: A Cross-Temporal Meta-Analysis of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory )


In the space of two generations women, Hymnowitz's "mature women"  have become as narcissistic as men. 

Twenge, in her papers, goes on to speculate about what has caused this rise in narcissism. She is more nuanced than most and recognises that it is multifactoral but puts a good deal of blame on modern psychology, with its emphasis on self-esteem, especially the unearned variety. Twenge also notes that narcissism seems to vary amongst races and cultures. With Blacks having the highest rates, followed by whites and then Asians. Interestingly she blames a lot of the current financial troubles, not just on the banks, but on a narcissistic society that feels it was owed more than it made and is unable to see its own complicity in its misfortune, preferring to blame the "Bankers" for everything. Once again the avoidance of responsibility.

Personally, I think the Modern Anglo culture of individualism(which is malignantly creeping throughout most of the West) is probably to blame a lot for this phenomena. The endless emphasis on personal rights instead of community obligations tends to reinforce the idea of being a "special snowflake"  to whom everyone owes a living.  Not having a community also enforces the ideal, multiculturalism, creating societies devoid of a common identity,  tends to reinforce the notion of everyman for himself.

What really interests me is the rapid female "advancement" in narcissism to which feminism must be given its rightful due. It's continual emphasis on right's without responsibilities I think, is the prime accelerent in this case.  Mark Richardson recently put up a post which illustrated this quite nicely, it's also why the Modern U.S/Canada/UK/Australian girl is such a risky bet. Hymnowitz's female maturity seems elusive.


The political implications of this rise in narcissism are troubling and I really don't want to go into them further now, but just how considered is a vote by man who refuses to acknowledge that he is responsible for anything and yet is "owed something". The future is going to be ugly.

27 comments:

forcho130 said...

"Two meta-analyses found that young Americans increasingly believe their lives are controlled by outside forces rather than their own efforts."

This is not surprising since, at least in the US, social mobility has been decreasing for decades. When one finds it increasingly difficult to progress up the social ladder despite all the hard work and effort being put in the culprits are usually outside forces.

http://understandingsociety.blogspot.com/2009/08/social-mobility.html

Anonymous said...

Does modern life select for narcissists?

Are narcissists more likely to come from smaller families?

Are narcissists more likely to have been raised by single mothers?

Now that more lower functioning students are in college than 30 years ago, is narcissism disproportionally more prevalent among the weaker "college" students?

Anonymous said...

"This is not surprising since, at least in the US, social mobility has been decreasing for decades."


Decreasing by how much?

I don't think it is even decreasing.

Epoetker said...

Narcissism is increasing because narcissism is the only respectable response to a loss of control.

This assertion reminds me far too much of that semi-arty site www.thelastpsychiatrist.com

He's been harping on societal narcissism in all possible forms and permutations for years, now. But whenever its brought up that maybe narcissism is partly due to the fact that the average man has been societally disempowered by outside forces...that are readily identifiable and trackable, he chooses to shame and shame again without offering solutions.

Blaming 'societal narcissism' is simply blaming the symptom when you either can't or won't do anything about the disease.

And when you blame 'narcissism' for the lack of YOUR professional success in treating patients, it becomes perilously close to projection.

Simon Grey said...

What you're describing here reminds me of two books: The Case Against Adolescence by Robert Epstein and Life at the Bottom by Theodore Dalrymple (my review here). Parental apathy and malevolent social forces have combined to encourage narcissism and immaturity, usually through the promotion of unadulterated hedonism, with little concern for the devastating consequences therof.

JMSmith said...

There is a song that seems always to be playing over the public address system when I'm in a supermarket nowadays. I've just looked it up, and find that it's called "Beautiful" and is sung by a woman called Alex Parks. Those of you not sequestered in a monastery no doubt know it. The refrain is: "I am beautiful in every single way, words can't bring me down," which seem to me narcissism in a nutshell.

I'm not speaking just about the absurd pretense of being beautiful in every single way, but of the narcissist's fear that if he is not beautiful in every single way he will not be beautiful in any way at all. This is one thing I remember from Christopher Lasch's book, Culture of Narcissism. The narcissistic personality is fragile because limited criticism is always taken as comprehensive condemnation. The truth is that, for the narcissist, "words CAN bring me down." That's why the soliloquist in "Beautiful" refuses to listen to them.

The narcissist can only be utterly lovely or utterly unlovable; there's nothing in between. I see this in my university students, many of whom cannot learn because they cannot take criticism. Add that to the sense of unearned entitlement and the prospect is discouraging.

Ulysses said...

Beat me to the punch, Slumlord, though from a different angle.

I too can't help but wonder why these women, whose ultimate goals are to go to concerts and shows, spend all their money on clothes and shoes, and otherwise try to continue the college life in perpetuity, expect the men who find them attractive to be any different. If you're not an adult, but a 30-something with the mind and wants of a teenager, don't be shocked when other teens are all you find in your orbit. A job that offers a decent paycheck does not an adult make.

Anonymous said...

Is narcissism related at all to suicide attempts? It's always struck me as a narcissistic act, and I can see how some narcissists might become suicidal if their illusions about themselves are threatened.

Anonymous said...

"Parental apathy and malevolent social forces have combined to encourage narcissism and immaturity, usually through the promotion of unadulterated hedonism, with little concern for the devastating consequences therof."


Why should parents care anyway? The state is going to tax the collective to pay them their Social Security benefits anyway. If their own kids don't "grow up" they can live off other people's kids. Now when everyone plans to cheat the system, uh, oops, it doesn't work anymore.

RobertT said...

Perhaps this is an example. A young man dating my daughter complained to me he didn't think i respected him. Here was a guy who came into my life and expected instant respect. I told him if he wanted my respect to do something respectable. He wasn't very happy.

forcho130 said...

@Anon 12:43 AM

Please look at this report:

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.68.9642&rep=rep1&type=pdf

then look on page 62 (Figure 6B). You'll find a chart showing how social mobility in the US has been decreasing since the 1940s. People born rich or poor are more likely to stay that way more so now than 70 years ago and it's been on a downward trend ever since.

Country Lawyer said...

When a society rewards vice and punishes virtue you are going to get this behavior.

I don't disagree with you that men are becoming more adolescent in general. I just see it as a rational response on men's part.

You want responsible men, then they have to have skin in the game.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Epoetker said...

Narcissism is increasing because narcissism is the only respectable response to a loss of control.

Despair, migration, rebellion are other legitimate forms of response.

The thing is, Twenge et al have studies going back to the 30's which show that objectively narcissism is on the rise. The average adult has more control over their live's (free from social inhibition) than any other generation before. Even the legal punishments for transgressions of the law are very mild.

The loss of control issue may not be real but rather percieved and an individual perception of loss of control may be in direct relation to his degree of narcissism. Furthermore, the perception of loss of control legitimises irresponsibility; it's never their fault.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Simon

Dalyrmple was the one that inspired me to blog. I wanted to lend a supportive voice to what he said. I've seen it all. It's not only depressing. It's horrifying.

Parental apathy and malevolent social forces have combined to encourage narcissism and immaturity, usually through the promotion of unadulterated hedonism, with little concern for the devastating consequences therof.

A lot of bad parenting is well intentioned and comes with the blessing of the "therapeutic profession". A lot of parents have been shamed into being bad parents. Spock is up there as one the the great destroyers of Western Civilisation.

The Social Pathologist said...

@JMSmith

The narcissist can only be utterly lovely or utterly unlovable;

One of the interesting things that I'm seeing at work now, is late adolescents not being able to cope with little setbacks. The Amy Chua model of child rearing does tend to produce children(in most instances) that can take life's misfortunes on the chin. Whilst the special snowflake kids crumble. I honestly think that having a few bad experiences as a child (under the protective care of the parents) helps in dealing with life's vicissitudes later on in life.

The Social Pathologist said...

Ulysses

A job that offers a decent paycheck does not an adult make.

Women, being more socially influenced by men, adopt the the superficial appearances of maturity which leads many an uncritical thinker to assume that they are mature. This is what I think was Hymnowitz's main problem;
not recognizing that the SATC girl is really the female equivalent of mum's basement man.

The Social Pathologist said...

Anon

@Is narcissism related at all to suicide attempts?

In my experience No. Though I wouldn't bet the house on it. I my experience, the narcissist never hates himself enough to kill himself, except if they do decide to kill themslves they want to take as "many of their oppressors" with them as well as a final "act of justice".

The Social Pathologist said...

@Country Lawyer

When a society rewards vice and punishes virtue you are going to get this behavior.

Yep. It's not one single thing but a multitude of factors converging which ensure the above. For example economically destroying your middle class takes away the incentive to study as the the rewards at the end of it are risky. Sleeping with Bad Boys means that the good boys either opt out or adopt the manners of the bad boys. Not punishing crime makes crime pay and so on.

The great trend of social policy in the West has been to divorce action from consequence and punish virtue.

Epoetker said...

"Despair, migration, rebellion are other legitimate forms of response."

Legitimate, yes, respectable, no. Narcissism is the only response that serves as a socially acceptable coping mechanism for someone who isn't ready to migrate or rebel, and has no philosophical underpinnings for proper despair. The philosophical superstructure which makes those things you mention legitimate is absent from the society of the narcissist.

"The thing is, Twenge et al have studies going back to the 30's which show that objectively narcissism is on the rise. The average adult has more control over their live's (free from social inhibition) than any other generation before. Even the legal punishments for transgressions of the law are very mild."

It is not the [b]law[/b] that is feared. It is the lawlessness and arbitrariness of having to rely on social judgments and public opinion for one's own livelihood and social peace. If narcissism proves to be the best way to navigate them, narcissism it is.

"The loss of control issue may not be real but rather percieved and an individual perception of loss of control may be in direct relation to his degree of narcissism. Furthermore, the perception of loss of control legitimises irresponsibility; it's never their fault."

Would you demand morality of slaves? Would you demand responsibility from the untrained? Do you demand common sense from uncommon experience? And does society truly provide an accessible "out" to those who seek it?

"I told him if he wanted my respect to do something respectable. He wasn't very happy."

Probably because you aren't defining your terms of respect. Society has not provided ready-made lions to spear for manhood tests, and until you come up with one yourself, his sullenness is quite justified.

Dan in Philly said...

Remove God, and there ain't a whole lotta choices left. You can win, which takes skill, luck, and a huge amount of sacrifice, or you can lose, which most will. Once you are a loser, where do you turn? Denial, nacissism, hedonism, and other social vices are pretty reasonable if you have no chance of winning, and there's nothing worth living for.

Bottom line, you can give us all the stats, charts, and logic you want to, but it only proves what we already know, there's no life without God.

Elizabeth Smith said...

TheSocialPathologist - What are the rates of narcissism for libertarians or neoconservatives (right-liberals) who tend to emphasize liberty/freedom, individualism, rights and democracy (sometimes anarchy)? Are they better or worse than left-liberals who tend to follow social liberalism (autonomy, equality, etc) but at the same time try to impose it on everybody else through state power? Is it almost similar to the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath?

NYCer said...

I have felt for a long time that the extreme consumer-based stage of capitalism is having a negative effect on our (US) culture.

While I am generally in favor of free markets, the constant catering to individual desires, especially through relentless and pervasive advertising has to have an effect on individual psyches.

Now more than ever companies are creating problems more than solutions (e.g. teeth whitening or restless leg syndrome*) and people are more media saturated than ever. We are conditioned to have our needs met without effort and positive emotional states "sold" to us via consumer goods (listen critically to the contents of a TV ad, the way they link emotions to the products).

In the US we are cultivating selfishness and narcissism because it is profitable.

*maybe this is real but it sounds like people just need some exercise.

The Social Pathologist said...

@NYCer

In the US we are cultivating selfishness and narcissism because it is profitable.

The thing about free market capitalism is that it caters to public demand. It's more a reflection of society than an absolute shaper of it.

I think a lot of people confuse Marketing(propaganda) with capitalism. I will admit that cultural norms are shaped just as much by advertising as by media exposure.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Elizabeth Smith

What are the rates of narcissism for libertarians or neoconservatives (right-liberals) who tend to emphasize liberty/freedom, individualism, rights and democracy (sometimes anarchy)?

I don't have any figures on that but one of Twenge's papers shows the narcissism is to a degree culture dependent; with higher rates in more individualistic societies.

The Anglosphere's particular emphasis on individual rights has both its benefits and it's disadvantages. On one hand the individual rights are respected in practice while on the other hand, far more deviant and unpleasant behaviour is therefore expressed in such a society simply by virtue of the fact that unpleasant individuals have a greater sphere of freedom.

I imagine that there are also degrees of libertarianism. The more extreme ones being indistinguishable from institutionalised narcissism. Most libertarians are linear thinkers, in that less restriction and conformity lead to more liberty, wheras in reality, liberty is maximised somewhere between conformity and anarchy. The pendulum has swung far to close to the anarchy side of the equation.

David said...

Surely narcissism is increased by the extended adolescence that goes along with more & more years of schooling.

The obsessive focus on educational credentials also has reached to point where it is now inhibiting rather encouraging social mobility.

Dex said...

On my shelf next to Dalyrmple's "Life at the Bottom" is an older book by Kay Hymowitz called "Ready or Not: What Happens When We Treat Children as Small Adults". She gives a long history of child rearing and discusses what we're doing differently that is producing these anticultural "postmodern" narcissicists. It's worth reading.

Basically she contends that today's parents are, by and large, failing to pass on their cultural values and heritage to their kids and are leaving it up to the leftists and progressives in the school systems.

The Social Pathologist said...

@David and Dex

Basically she contends that today's parents are, by and large, failing to pass on their cultural values and heritage to their kids and are leaving it up to the leftists and progressives in the school systems.

It's true that a lot of the narcissism is both a product of parental failure and school indoctrination. With the the near universal extended amounts of education, compared to the previous generations, the youth get exposed to long periods of leftist indoctrination.

Too many parents, at the urging of psychologists, try to be their kids "hip" friends instead of being their parents. In many instances it ends up as the parents craving acceptance from their kids. The natural authority structure becomes inverted.