My teenage son recently informed me that there is an Internet quiz to test oneself for narcissism. His friend had just taken it. “How did it turn out?” I asked. “He says he did great!” my son responded. “He got the maximum score!”
When I was a child, no one outside the mental health profession talked about narcissism. People were more concerned by inadequate self-esteem, which at the time was thought to lurk behind nearly every issue. Like so many excesses of the 1970s, the self-love cult spun out of control and is now rampaging through our culture like Godzilla through Tokyo.
A 2010 study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science found that the proportion of college students exhibiting narcissistic personality traits – based on their scores on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, a widely used diagnostic test – has increased by more than half since the early 1980s, to 30 per cent.
科学期刊《社会心理学和性格科学》刊登的一项 2010 年的研究发现，自20世纪80年代早期以来，表现出自恋性格特征的大学生比例增至 30%，增幅超过50%。该研究的基准是受访大学生在自恋性格量表中的分数(自恋性格量表是广泛使用的一项自恋症诊断性测试)。
In their book, The Narcissism Epidemic, psychology professors show that narcissism has increased as quickly as obesity has since the 1980s. Even our egos are getting fat. This is a costly problem. While full-blown narcissists often report high levels of personal satisfaction, they create havoc and misery around them. There is overwhelming evidence linking narcissism with reduced honesty and increased aggression. It’s notable for occasions like Valentine’s Day that narcissists struggle to stay committed to romantic partners, in no small part because they find themselves superior.
在著作《自恋症》中，心理学教授表示，自 20 世纪 80 年代以来，自恋症的扩散速度和肥胖症的扩散一样快。即使是我们的“自我”也变得越来越“臃肿”。这个问题会给我们的社会带来巨大损失。极度自恋者在常常表现出高度个人满足感的同时，实际上对身边的人也是灾难。有确凿证据表明，自恋症患者往往会更不讲诚信，而且更具攻击性。在情人节等时候，我们常常发现自恋症患者会在继续忠诚爱侣的问题上挣扎一番，原因很大程度上是他们觉得自己高人一等。
The full-blown narcissist might reply, “So what?” But narcissism isn’t an either-or characteristic. It’s more of a set of progressive symptoms (like alcoholism) than an identifiable state (like diabetes). Millions of Americans exhibit symptoms, but still have a conscience and a hunger for moral improvement. At the very least, they really do not want to be terrible people.
A healthy self-love that leads to true happiness builds up one’s intrinsic well-being, as opposed to feeding shallow cravings to be admired. Cultivating amour de soi requires being fully alive at this moment, as opposed to being virtually alive while wondering what others think. The soulful connection with another person, the enjoyment of a beautiful hike alone, or a prayer of thanks over your sleeping child could be considered expressions of self-love.