Self-esteem is essential, self-regard is healthy. But like anything, taken to an extreme, it can be ugly. We expect politicians and rock stars to get self-absorbed, but narcissism, clinical narcissism, debilitates even schoolteachers and steelworkers, and psychologists say these days in America, it’s on the upswing.
Freud looked to mythology and coined the term, calling the condition all but incurable. Now, some observers say that the enhancement of self-esteem in schools and elsewhere encourages this tendency towards self-obsession. And as more and more people make the move from self-love to self-loathing, therapists are trying to figure out what’s to be done. Mending the egomaniac.
Sandy Hotchkiss, social worker, psychotherapist, and author of “Why Is It Always About You?”
Wynn Schwartz, professor of Psychology at the Harvard Extension School, and psychotherapist.