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The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  2,009 ratings  ·  315 reviews
Narcissism -- a very positive and inflated view of the self -- is everywhere. It's what you have if you're a politician and you've strayed from your wife, and it's why five times as many Americans undergo plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures today than did just ten years ago. It's the value that parents teach their children with song lyrics like "I am special. Look at me," ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 21st 2009 by Atria Books
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David Rickert
It's kind of funny to write a review about this book on goodreads, since it is the type of behavior that the authors of this book would find to be a prime example if narcissism in our culture. However, goodreads is a lot less prone to moronic behavior than the prime examples of online activity that are mentioned here.

I liked the book in that it does present several good arguments for how narcissism has taken hold of American society. However, several of the arguments are made poorly.
May 03, 2009 rated it did not like it
I bought this book on a buying binge at Borders while eating a baguette. Therefore I didn't crack it open before purchase. Alas.

I was hoping for a rational, well-informed look at the growth of narcissism in american culture, with perhaps a discussion of the real psychological impacts. A scientific approach.

Instead what we get is a sermonizing, bitter yakfest about the evils of the internet age. Any counterpoints thrown in for the appearance of a balanced perspective are h
If you're looking to feel good about the direction society is moving in, don't read Jean M. Twenge.

In an unsurprising follow-up to Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--And More Miserable Than Ever Before, Twenge and her colleague now take on what they see as the rise of narcissism in America in recent decades. They begin with a discussion of narcissism -- how to define it and related myths and facts. They discuss possible causes, including parenting, cel
Sep 10, 2009 rated it did not like it
This is simply the worst, least intelligent book I have ever read. It is full of contradictions, poorly argued, and downright offensive at times, specifically to young people and women. Clearly the authors' own narcissism issues contributed to their egocentric perspective, which ignores important socio-political changes and technological changes of the last century. They fail to mention how the civil rights movement and a more democratic, socially mobile society would skew their "data" (which is ...more
Feb 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
Until the very last chapter, which provided some rather useful guidelines for keeping narcissism away from your life, what I liked best about this book was that I had borrowed it from the library.

It starts out innocently enough, as the authors discuss what they perceive as the growing narcissism in American culture, which they believe has become an ‘epidemic’ and they talk about the characteristics of narcissists, especially the malignant, ruin-your-life ones featured in psychology textbooks. T
May 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
I can't even begin to tell you how much I liked this book. Really! You know you've got a winner on your hands when you've only read about the first 10 pages and find yourself nodding you head and saying "uh huh, uh huh, yep" under your breath.

If you think the world is going down the tubes, that people are more self-centered these days, that kids just have no respect for their elders, then this is the book for you. If you were raised as I was to know the value of hard work, to not exp
Todd Martin
Jul 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: culture-politics
Is it just me or are people increasingly behaving like self-involved, entitled, preening little piss ants?

If you think that’s a rhetorical question … actually it’s not, it’s a scientific hypothesis that can be tested through an examination of the evidence. Campbell (Professor of Psychology at the University of Georgia) and Twenge (pronounced “twangy”, Professor of Psychology at the San Diego State University) have studied the topic extensively and the evidence is conclusive. Narcissism is on the rise,
Oct 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Overall, I had high expectations of this book. After all, here were some PhDs looking into some of the things about American culture that I had been ruminating over for a few years now. And overall, they touch on many of the facets that I expected: vanity, a sense of entitlement, materialism, and celebrity status. They even came up with a few that I hadn’t considered—namely easy monetary credit and the role of religion and volunteerism.

Ultimately, however, the book fell short my expe
Vagabond of Letters
Feb 12, 2019 rated it liked it
6.5/10. 8/10 when it was first published.

Dated. Needs an updated 10th anniversary edition to bring the stats (current only through 2005) and analysis up to date through: the SJW movement (which started 5 years after this was published); the accelerated breakdown of community under social media and multiculturalism (this book is old enough 'Twitter' is put in quotation marks); Generation Z and its rising rates of mental illness; the continuing, strengthened, and expanded polarization
Rodger Broome
Jul 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Twenge and Campbell cover a multitude of literature and everyday examples that provide support for believing narcissism has become and is growing as a dominant paradigm in the United States. It is amazing how many subtle aspects of narcissism are regarded as normal and acceptable in today's American culture where merely one or two decades ago the same things would be considered generally shameful.

I believe this book is a must-read for teens and parents of teens. Of course, it is neve
This is pop psychology, so don't expect a sophisticated analysis of what really does seem to be a trending problem. I like the structure of the book--diagnosis, etiology, remedies--but the ideas falling under the latter two categories are disappointing in their superficiality. The authors do a very fine job of outlining the problem, providing plenty of anecdotal and research evidence of increased and increasing narcissism. Some of their ideas about the causes of this--e.g., "you deserve it" cons ...more
Sep 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Wow. It is a little difficult for me to determine my reaction to this book. On one hand, I found it to be a bit too alarmist for my taste. I tend to be wary of the many folks who shout about the eminent downfall of our society at the hands of whatever particular vice they have decided to rally against. This book definitely had that air about it. I found some of their examples to be too anecdotal and some of their best points were overused. I was also a bit disturbed when they cited some fairly o ...more
Oct 14, 2010 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
Shelves: non-fiction
When I first saw the title of this book I thought it looked interesting. I have to admit that the authors have a good idea they are trying to present. However, they do a terrible job of presenting the topic of narcissism and are simply pushing their own agenda. You know the old saying of "Statistics are great because you can always have them show what you want". Well, that is exactly what the authors do. They use ridiculous examples that are not realistic and do not always apply to the majority ...more
Kurt Reichenbaugh
May 03, 2015 rated it liked it
I shouldn't read books like this given I live so close to Scottsdale Arizona.

This is about the kind of people we all have to deal with on a daily basis. I doubt that a true narcissist would actually recognize themselves in these pages because: 1) they wouldn't read it, 2) they don't read, and 3) they know everything already. They're winners! This they assure us of. From their earliest days as a precious little snowflake, right up to the point they've become flaming A-holes the likes
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
This is pop psychology at it's worst. The subject matter was interesting and the fact that it was written by two psychologists seemed promising but reading through it was painful. The authors had the same repetoir of about 15 examples that they used over and over and over again. They also used anecdotes and lame attempts at humour instead of studies as examples. Not all the time, but enough times to be annoying. Throughout the book, religion is hinted at (then explicitly stated) as the cure for ...more
Nicole Chardenet
Sep 12, 2011 rated it liked it
The book was as pop-psychology cheesy as I expected it to be, although it did make some valid points which I figured it would and that's why I read it. However, I think I disagree that what we see in society today is 'narcissism', I would call it old-fashioned immaturity and self-absorption. The sometimes overdramatic approach to cataloguing America's self-impressed celebrities, wannabe celebrities and Facebook/MySpace publicity whores grated on my nerves. People in rich countries - all of them, ...more
Apr 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: ALL Parents and doting relatives
Shelves: non-fiction, kindle
Narcissism and self esteem are not the same thing.

I knew that people were becoming increasingly self absorbed but had no idea the stats are as high as they are! More to the point, the statistics have been rising at an alarming rate since the 70s and are even worse now. Interestingly, the boomers were not so much so as they worked for common good rather than self good however they became parents of children with an unrealistic sense of self importance and self abilities.

The book plac
Emma Sea
This was mostly the authors inviting us to join them in yuck-yummy voyeurism re the excesses of narcissistic contemporary culture: Bridezillas, My Super Sweet Sixteen, every kid getting a trophy for participating, etc.

In terms of an antidote to narcissism as a kind of 21st century malaise there was not much suggested. Better parenting. That's about it.

More disappointly there wasn't any examination of why this intense focus on our selves is so common now. There is an interesting intersection he
May 05, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Focusing on everything from reality TV to the current financial crisis, the authors of this book make the convincing claim that our culture has become highly narcissistic on both an individual and societal level. They explore the roots of this change, the results, and attempt to predict the consequences for America and the world if we continue down this path. The authors balance a great deal of scientifically-conducted psychological and sociological research with entertaining anecdotes and a dow ...more
Ed Nevin
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I don't normally leave a review , but I do feel compelled to because of some other people's comments. This was an excellent book portraying both the negative and positive side effects of the internet/self promotion/and self esteem/admiration. The authors mention a multitude of times that there are benefits to these things, however, in extremes they can be vessels for the spread of narcissism. As a twenty something man I am far from offended and their take on my generation is spot on. (Sounds lik ...more
Jan 29, 2013 rated it did not like it
This is one of the worst books I have read that was written by two people with Ph.D.s. I don't know what they had in mind. It was trivial.

Not that I originally wrote before I started this book: "Twenge came to Endicott College a couple of years ago to discuss her book, Generation me. She and her co-author, W. Keith Campbell were in the middle of writing this book. She admitted to a group of faculty that she and Campbell were rethinking their main thesis due to the new recession and t
Matthew Klobucher
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Although a departure from my preferred fiction, this incisive, well-researched, and accessibly-written catalogue of narcissism in American culture was well worth it. I venture so far as to say it's a must-read for parents, teachers, and really anyone. The epidemic model they use to follow narcissistic components of culture and tendencies in people is convincing and more than a little appalling. Updated to include the 2008 credit crash and still depressingly relevant, The Narcissism Epidemic does more th ...more
Răzvan Molea
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
A popular poster proclaims, “The most important thing is how you see yourself,” above a picture of a small orange kitten looking in the mirror and seeing a large lion. Thus, this teaches, it is important to see yourself as much better—bigger, stronger, more capable—than you actually are. And maybe quite a bit better: “The best thing about Jesus was that he had a mom that believed he was the son of God,” says self-help author Wayne Dyer at his seminars. “Imagine how much better the world would be ...more
Jim Ainsworth
Jun 17, 2013 rated it liked it
I read this book because of the subtitle, Living in the Age of Entitlement. It seems a lot more folks feel entitled to a lot more things than they used to.

The authors go into detail about helicopter parents who raise their children to believe they are not just queens and kings for a day, but for a lifetime. They don't really examine why this phenomenon came about and how to reverse it. The book's solution: Don't tell your children they are special.I think it could have been said bett
Crystal  Belle
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book is more about the idea of a western narcissistic culture as opposed to exploring the intricacies of narcissistic personality disorder. The ideas seem hollow and under-researched. I expected more about NPD.
May Deng
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I thought the author used the appropriate metaphor for describing Narcissism. The author describes Narcissism as a pervasive disease in which infects our society and hurts the people in society. Selfishness can create chaos in relationships and environments. To solve this problematic illness, we must all work to solve it by teaching people to be caring, compassionate, empathetic, and considerate members of society. They must realize that their behavior affects the people around them. They must a ...more
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Painful reading, super judgmental writing. The subject is important but this book very poorly presents it.
Nov 04, 2009 rated it liked it
According to the authors, the exponential rise of narcissism within the US is yet one more shitty thing that’s origin, according to everything I’ve read lately, can be roughly traced to when I was four. That is, if you’re my age and especially attentive, then between day one and day 2,184 you should have noticed the beginning of the US dollar’s 75% relative devaluation, day one of our dysfunctional healthcare system, the end of “real” baseball, the last time income for the lower 90% actually ros ...more
Kathleen Sams
Dec 20, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was written in 2009 and feels dated because of all the references to MySpace, Paris Hilton, and young people using Facebook. None of the young people I know use Facebook. The authors mention Donald Trump. I wonder what they think now that he is president.

I was disappointed by this book because I wanted to read about people who have been diagnosed clinically as narcissists (NPD). In the introduction, the authors state, "We discuss some research on NPD, but primarily concentr
I am still on a quest to find a book about narcissism that is as delicious and satisfying as Martha Stout's Sociopath Next Door. This was not it.

Despite the author's promise they were unlike all the other books, they were not. They promised empirical evidence, and indeed they did include some wonderful studies. However, they do not seem to understand how methods between studies vary. Therefore they could not provide a critical evaluation of the studies. To make matters worse, they might actuall
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Dr. Twenge frequently gives talks and seminars on teaching and working with today’s young generation based on a dataset of 11 million young people. Her audiences have included college faculty and staff, high school teachers, military personnel, camp directors, and corporate executives. Her research has been covered in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, USA Today, U.S. News and World Report, and T ...more
“Narcissists like watching themselves on videotape, and report gaining self-confidence from gazing at their reflection in a mirror. The Narcissistic Personality Inventory contains items such as “I like to look at myself in the mirror,” “I get upset when people don’t notice how I look when I go out in public,” and “I like to show off my body.” Vanity seems harmless and often is, but vanity often occurs with self-centeredness, which causes so many of the negative behaviors associated with narcissism.” 3 likes
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