The festival of psychodrivel prompted by Brendan Nelson’s remarks about “narcissistic personality disorder” continues, with Miranda Devine in the SMH, weighing in on the “narcissism epidemic” as documented by, surprisingly, social psychologists.

You would think that a religious conservative would have more respect for deeper categories — the human being, the soul, etc. — than to engage in the gimcrack classificationing in which people simply become a set of walking symptoms … but of course that would be to attribute Devine’s exalted position to her game, rather than her surname.

However, Mims has a higher purpose in diagnosing a narcissism epidemic: to blame parents.

Yep that’s right, millions of parents magically got worse at parenting over the course of a generation.

The alternative explanation — that a free-market, consumer-addicted, image-obsessed society created by a certain stage of capitalism creates a society where a narcissistic style is the norm rather than the exception — could not be considered. Why? Because it would suggest that free market liberalism and cultural conservatism are in total contradiction — and since their fusion is the core fantasy on which the contemporary right is founded, such thoughts must be screened out.

We call this magical thinking. It is a characteristic of, erm, narcissists.

Peter Fray

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