The Narcissism Epidemic

by Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell | Simon & Schuster © 2009 · 352 pages

Newsflash: We're in the midst of a narcissism epidemic. Oh, wait, you probably already knew that! In this great book, Twenge and Campbell, two research psychologists, let us know what's up and how to deal with it. In this Note, we'll look at what narcissism is (think: overconfidence, vanity, materialism and entitlement), the five causes of narcissism, and touch on some Big Ideas on how we can deal with it—personally and culturally. Intense and powerful wisdom.

Five key causes of the rising narcissism in American culture: A focus on self-admiration, child-centered parenting, celebrity glorification and media encouragement, the attention seeking promoted on the Internet, and easy credit.
Jean Twenge & Keith Campbell

“Understanding the narcissism epidemic is important because its long-term consequences are destructive to society. American culture’s focus on self-admiration has caused a flight from reality to the land of grandiose fantasy. We have phony rich people (with interest-only mortgages and piles of debt), phony beauty (with plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures), phony athletes (with performance-enhancing drugs), phony celebrities (via reality TV and YouTube), phony genius students (with grade inflation), a phony national economy (with $11 trillion of government debt), phony feelings of being special among children (with parenting and education focused on self-esteem), and phony friends (with the social networking explosion). All this fantasy might feel good, but, unfortunately, reality always wins. The mortgage meltdown and the resulting financial crisis are just one demonstration of how inflated desires eventually crash to earth.”

~ Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D. & W. Keith Campbell, Ph.D. from The Narcissism Epidemic

Twenge and Campbell are two of the world’s leading researchers on the science of narcissism and this is a really powerful, eye-opening book. (Especially if you notice some narcissistic tendencies you have as you read the book… Like I might have! :)

With a super smart, direct and funny style, the authors give us an overview of the narcissism epidemic in America. The book begns with “The Diagnosis” then describes the “Root Causes of the Epidemic” and “Symptoms of Narcissism” before wrapping up with “Prognosis and Treatment.” It’s densely packed with goodness.

In this Note, we’re going to take a quick look at the attributes and causes of narcissism then focus on what we can DO about it.

This is one of those books where, even with a 60-page Note we’d barely scratch the surface of all the wisdom. So, if you’re feelin’ it and are interested in really understanding this complex issue, I HIGHLY recommend the book.

For now, let’s jump in! We’ll kick it off by quickly defining narcissism:

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About the authors


Jean Twenge

Psychologist & Expert on Generational Differences

Keith Campbell

Speaker, Professor, and Author of The Narcissism Epidemic