Saturday, June 24, 2006

Diagnosing the U.S. ‘national character’: Narcissistic Personality Disorder

I am still thinking about the Democrats' notion of having to find the right 'idea' to counter the Republican's dominance in politics, and apparent tapping into the voter's self identification with the Republican's 'idea'. The 'idea' of what it means to be American in the States itself, and who and what America is on the global scene. You can think of it yourself what that exactly means, we've had plenty of examples what their 'big idea' is and plenty of people have been paying the price for it with their lives, literally and figuratively. Those who awakened to this dream illusion have become disheartened and even stauncher opponents of the Iraq war than some of the original anti-Iraq war protesters.

I like to present another Robert Jensen article, titled "Diagnosing the U.S. ‘national character’: Narcissistic Personality Disorder". It originally was published in the Alternative Press ReviewApril 18, 2006.

Some excerpts to entice you to read the whole article;
Can a nation have a coherent character? If we take the question seriously -- investigating reality rather than merely asserting nobility -- we see in the U.S. national character signs of pathology and decay as well as health and vigor. What if, for purposes of analysis, we treated the nation as a person? Scan the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (the bible of mental-health professionals, now in its fourth edition) and one category jumps out: Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

DSM-IV describes the disorder as “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy” that can be diagnosed when any five of these nine criteria are met:

1. a grandiose sense of self-importance.

2. preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.

3. believes he or she is special and unique.

4. requires excessive admiration.

5. sense of entitlement.

6. interpersonally exploitative, taking advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.

7. lacks empathy.

8. often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.

9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

Narcissistic tendencies to self-aggrandize are not unique to the United States, of course. But given the predominance of U.S. power in the world, we should worry most about the consequences of such narcissism here.
While it’s easy to point at the narcissism of soulless and self-indulgent leaders, this diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder applies to the country as a whole. The belief that the United States is unique -- a shining “city upon a hill” -- is deeply rooted, and for many has divine origins; 48 percent of Americans believe the United States has “special protection from God,” according to a 2002 survey

Having said that..I have to say that living in the US it is easier to see the nuances in people and as much as there is this attitude or mentality that I have witnessed myself throughout American culture, I also have to stress that (thank God!) there are many many individuals who look outward and inward in self reflection in order to understand, grow and mature. There are many many organizations that do good work domestically and abroad, with no ulterior political motive(s) attached. Those who've been helped, here and abroad know and have seen the difference. So there is hope that with all of these good individuals and organizations, 'we' can counter this 'bubble frame of reference' and steer it towards one that is more inclusive, reflective not reactive. One that desires to learn and face real truths, and then has the courage to change it.


Blogger Marty said...

Linked here from "Is America Burning?". Great stuff you've got here. I'm in Houston. My daughter and her husband live in Austin. Guess that means we're neighbors.

8:47 PM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Howdy Neighbour! Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for the compliment. I am a wee bit all over the place as I have different interests plus seeing that I have people from different countries checking in at times, I try to post different topics as well. So your daughter lives here too? Well, if you're gonna have to leave Houston again this year for some hurricane..and if you'll end up in Austin, we'll have to have a coffee or something...I'll try to check out your site later..
have a nice and scorching day!!

10:19 AM  
Blogger Kel said...


That's a great article. And I know that there are many fine organisations and individuals in the US, but that article does a great job of identifying what the US looks like from overseas.

Most people make the mistake of thinking that there are many of us in Europe who are anti-American. That's hogwash.

When the power America possesses is used for the greater good it's simply a fantastic thing. That's why the world had no problem with the US when Clinton was in power. He may not have listened, I don't really know if he did, but he acted like he was listening. You have no idea how much that meant to people.

Bush treats the rest of the world with disdain, ripping up Kyoto, refusing to sign up to the international court, invading Iraq without UN resolutions etc, etc.

We don't hate America out here, we love America and want her back.

It's Republican selfish America that we can't bear.

1:52 PM  

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