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Narcissism and Modernity

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posted on Jun, 27 2014 @ 09:20 PM
These two words go together so well that you might as well call them synonyms.

So much is wrong with our modern world yet few are willing to look where it all matters. The decisions made in this world seemingly never take regard of the larger picture - of the effects my actions will have on others, and deducing from there a profundity in seemingly mundane everyday actions.

But people struggle so deeply within themselves to take awareness of this fact. Its as if a hypnotist stands in front of them waving the watch back and forth every time they enter a situation where the decision they make matters.

What situation? Social situations. It's in social situations and the general flow of group psychology that people discover - or rather, become unwitting victims - of what on their own, or at another time, they would would instead think. The reason this happens, the reason people fail to be what they would otherwise want to be, is because of how our brains are wired. Essentially our deepest self owes its reality to the gap between two people. Its in neither person that the self emerges. Its a confluence of two unconsciouses structured to self organize according to the immediate split signals it sees in the other.

Let me slow this down for you. When you talk to someone, often if times, the way you approach and experience yourself in the moment is not so much up to you as it is up to the automatic unconscious schemas you have that are associated with just these situations.

So lets say person A meets person B. Person A is a self conscious, "insecurely-attached" personality who upon entering into a new social situation invariably experiences self consciousness and a subtle anxiety. This "self state" - we can call it this, in effect determines the self state of person B. Upon recognizing the self state assumed by person A, person B dissociates. By dissociate, I mean he flees from the experience of his physical body because the sight of person A's anxiety makes his physical experience uncomfortable i.e he experiences a "mirroring" discomfort by observing person A self consciousness.

In the moment, neither party may be fully cognitive aware as to what is happening, but never mind what consciousness thinks: person B and person A are programmed by this response not to "get one another".

This situation may seem severe. But situations like this orient and change how the conscious mind experiences itself when there isn't a self aware consciousness overriding embodied cognitions.

The main response people have to the experiences of insecurity, anxiety, and above all, SHAME, is to non-consciously assume with a single-minded intensity an awareness of self that doesn't "take in" external facts of experience. The external facts of experience are many. Someone telling you to "# off", or "you're a loser, no on likes you", or a menacing stare, or an awkward stare - the situations are infinite and highly varied; the general experience would be described as "negative". The end effect is mostly the same: adaptation.

Evolution has used the human to do some tremendously strange things. While we experience our minds as "integrated", the fact is, soooo soooo much happens beneath our conscious awareness. But that doesn't matter to evolution. For evolution, all that matters is that there is an integrated mind that effectively uses the environment for survival. And this is what we are: an integrated mind that is led this way and that way by the social-emotional dynamics embedded in human relations. The self, although it gives personal contingency, paradoxically weakens society if there isnt a "shared wisdom" that can hold the social collective as together as the individual self.

A society stuck in anomie will INEVITABLY produce narcissism in the majority of its particulars. And this is what we see. People are so instinctively terrified by the experiences of shame that their minds are wired and organized to field all sorts of conscious self states to AVOID RECOGNIZING TRUTHS THAT MAY LEAD TO NEGATIVE SELF EXPERIENCES. Yes. This is what were always seeing. Why does Kathy ignore Jen? Because Kathy is jealous of Jen. Why is Phil annoyed with Tom? Because Tom enjoys the experience of himself belittling another person - it brings pleasure to him.

We can all fall prey to the urge to think narcissistically. The problem isn't self esteem. We all should feel good about ourselves. The problem is connecting self esteem to a larger social prerogative: and feeling the gravity and significance of the prerogative - not just doing it "because everyone else does", but understanding that because of human nature, if we do n't live this way, if we don't reign in and mentally control our lower emotions, it'll inevitably lead to a chaotic society which doesn't know how to relate properly with one another.

Emotions are POWERS. They arrange our minds if we aren't mindfully governing them so as to have them work FOR US, instead of the other way around.

Todays world is a narcissistic world. And its a narcissistic world that is cocooned by a narcissistic media. The songs on the radio, almost every one of them, sings the glories of unbridled self experiences. Kathy Griffins and other comedians like her will SAY ANYTHING, if it means people will like them. So, in essence, we allow this type of pollution because they mistakenly believe that self acceptance comes from saying "anything" to be funny and enjoy themselves with other people.

The motives within our society - and within each and every mind - needs to be elevated to a level where "thought" acts maturely, takes into account, and accepts responsibility, for consequences. When the self understands and accepts this, it can then go about living and enjoying, and flowing with the world, without letting experiences degrade into causes that produce noxious effects.

On a final note, if the problems of the future - global warming, war, etc - are to be avoided, it'll be due to a collective change in psyche where each individual possesses the mental clarity and acuity to act responsibly, not for any sense of honour - although honour will definitely accrue - but because it is so blatantly apparent and obvious that an unconstrained human mind is a VERY DANGEROUS thing. Not only to itself and to others of it's species, to all the other species on this planet, and to the ecosystem at large.

To understand the significance of human ability is to submit before what needs to be done to prevent it from ruining the world around it. Human prowess is made manifest by this fact. We can be Angels, or Demons. It's our pick.

posted on Jun, 27 2014 @ 11:21 PM
I think this post deserves a lot of consideration. I think my understanding of this is the difference between of response and reaction. Reaction comes easily, fight or flight for whatever reasons our age old dna demands. Response, unlike 'reaction', demands a conscious thought. Should this conscious thought arise,it may have, or be able to develop an ability to choose between fight or flight. This 'plausable' consciousness might also consider other options.

posted on Jun, 27 2014 @ 11:22 PM
a reply to: Astrocyte

Your interpretation of the psychology of social interaction is persuasive, but I'm not sure why you associate the problem with modernity, or the modern world. This is not new; this kind of interaction has gone on for as long as there have been people.

You do mention that 'today's world is a narcissistic world' but you don't tell us how or why it got that way. Why is society 'stuck in anomie' — if, indeed, it is? When, how and why did its ethics and its legal prescriptions fail?

Do you think the decline of faith has anything to do with it? A lot of people would say so, but I am not so sure. Faith may have declined in many Western societies, but it seems alive and well in America, the country with, arguably, the most narcissistic society of all. Faith also thrives in the fractured, failing states of the Muslim world, and in my own country, where the state has been hijacked by various self-interested parties and where Buddhist mobs are killing Muslims and smashing up Christian churches while the police turn a blind eye and arrest moderate Buddhist monks instead.

Any ideas?

posted on Jun, 28 2014 @ 01:08 AM
a reply to: Astyanax

Your interpretation of the psychology of social interaction is persuasive, but I'm not sure why you associate the problem with modernity, or the modern world. This is not new; this kind of interaction has gone on for as long as there have been people.

I concede your point. In general, this has been the modus operandi, I guess, for as long as humans developed civilization (or, depending on your view, during hunter/gatherer days) has been around. But it's reached such a tremendous escalation that I feel it deserves to be pointed out that todays world isn't as spick and span as media often presents itself to be.

It's reach truly ludicrous proportions when you turn on the TV or look at magazines or tabloids. It's everywhere. Narcissism seems to be the bedrock of modernity. Some would say that unbridled capitalism is to blame for this: so long as there is a market for junk, the lowest and most easily stimulated part in human beings -the part that responds to the allure of sex, power, money - will respond to it. And so long as this continues, the system will sustain itself in this way until it consumes in it's ravenousness everything that the system depends upon for its inefficient survival.

While you make a point about how narcissism is inherent to the (unmentalized) interactions between human beings, modernity has been so thoroughly permeated by narcissism - see hollywood, porn industry, etc, for ample evidence of this - that at least metaphorically it could be appropriate to consider modernity as representing a narcissistic dilemma.

Do you think the decline of faith has anything to do with it?

Hell no. While a moral christian is preferable (in my eyes) to a narcissistic club-hopper, I do not hope for a return to the pre-science days, nor do I consider myself very patient towards the way people of fundamentalist positions - Christian, Muslim, or Jew - think.

This applies to any and all ideologies that thinks it knows more and possesses some "inherent truth. Any position that claims revelation as it's source - and that a-priori discounts other views because they fall outside that frigid epistemology - really deserves to be exposed and dismantled for what it is: a nuisance that prevents REAL solutions to the problems faced by mankind.

And real solutions should be scientifically tested. Science is an awesome way to work. Both in terms of how we think about situations - within our own lives - and everything else: how we arrange society so as to increase wellbeing and happiness for a larger number of people, energy consumption, etc. The point should be "lets make life easier for one another".

When I look at Iraq and Syria right now, it astonishes me that one part of mankind could be so mired in delusion and so dissociated from the real - scientifically validated facts which should be dealt with - and I get angry. The way they think, their beliefs - its childish nonsense. No. It's murderous, childish nonsense. And they derail us from whats important and prevent growth.

Truly, the religions of the past need to be revised. The world they grew from represented an entirely different social context. In todays world, given what we know - it should be extremely obvious to any person that 3 religions claiming the same thing - Judaism/Christianity/Islam cannot all be right, an in fact, in all probability, given human nature, they are probably all wrong in their historological convictions and eschatological fancies.

My solution, of course, is education. We can't change things unless we change how children are taught. Many things need to change and this is one of my deepest interests: what do we need to do to change things? First off, and I'm sure you'll agree, evolution needs to be taught in school because to deny it is wholly unreasonable. In addition, so much in evolutionary teaches us the wisdom within nature. Evolution, as a scientific explanation, enriches the mind and so enraptures the heart. Nothing in biblical creationism can do the same - it is taken on belief alone. There is no scaffolding holding the position firmly in place. Only institutional rigidity and the sores that come with it.

I don't want to get into those other issues you mentioned. I more or less agree that religion - taken as a fundamentalist creed - will create problems rather than solve any. On the other hand, religion can be sanitized, which has happened with Christianity, Islam and Judaism, within it's different "reform" branches. However, its not a fast process and it's not an easy process. To the orthodox, the reformers are devil-worshipping heretics bent on preparing the way for the antichrist, or Romulus (Judaism) or whatever crap Islam believes in.

Future society should have evolution as an important concept - it connects us physiologically, but also emotionally and spiritually, with the world around us. Tribal ideals, as well, in terms of the environment of evolution adaptedness appropriate for human thriving should also be integrated into curriculums. But most of all, mindfulness, emotion regulation skills, and the ability to experience a stronger representation of the minds of others - all of which comes from learned experiences - can be taught as a regular part of the school day. Before or After school. It would be good because it'll help counteract problems like bullying etc, but more importantly, it'll equip young minds with a way of being that considers moral behavior not merely from the perspective of "thou shall not", but from their own mental experience of knowing that something isn't right.

I find it strange that depending on experiences, people can be either ruthless with one another, or become caring and affectionate advocates for one another. It just depends on what you've been exposed to. For many kids, this can't be controlled - because the source of the trauma comes from their own parents. But if they at least have a stable and coherent atmosphere with teachers and peers who express care - and this physical/emotional experience of care is given emphasis through meditation periods - I'm sure that over-time society will move away from the rigidity of fundamentalist religion and the chaos of cultural anomie.

As with everything, it's all about balance. But you need a mind thats well organized to find that balance. So we need to strengthen our schools.

posted on Jun, 28 2014 @ 12:29 PM
a reply to: Astrocyte

It's reach truly ludicrous proportions when you turn on the TV or look at magazines or tabloids. It's everywhere. Narcissism seems to be the bedrock of modernity.

Agreed. But how bad is it in real life — the part of your life you experience directly, unmediated?

hollywood, porn industry, etc

Hmm. Magazines, tabloids, Hollywood, porn — are we starting to notice a pattern here?

When I look at Iraq and Syria right now...

Are you in Iraq or Syria right now?

Please consider this post seriously. I am not aiming to offend, or being a smartass.

edit on 28/6/14 by Astyanax because: of the inevitable irruption of crud.

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