The Life of I (Updated Edition)
The New Culture of Narcissism
Melbourne University Publishing
Far from being the work of a madman, Anders Breivik’s murderous rampage in Norway was the action of an extreme narcissist. As the dead lay around him, he held up a finger asking for a Band-Aid.
Written with the pace of a psychological thriller, The Life of I is a compelling account of the rise of narcissism in individuals and society. Manne examines the Lance Armstrong doping scandal and the alarming rise of sexual assaults in sport and the military, as well as the vengeful killings of Elliot Rodger in California. She looks at narcissism in the pursuit of fame and our obsession with ‘making it’. She goes beyond the usual suspects of social media and celebrity culture to the deeper root of the issue: how a new narcissistic character-type is being fuelled by a cult of the self and the pursuit of wealth in a hypercompetitive consumer society.
The Life of I also offers insights from the latest work in psychology, looking at how narcissism develops. But Manne also shows that there is an alternative: how to transcend narcissism, to be fully alive to the presence of others; how to create a world where love and care are no longer turned inward.
Anne Manne is a Melbourne writer. She has been a regular columnist for the Australian and the Age. More recently her essays on contemporary culture such as child abuse, pornography, gendercide and disability have all appeared in The Monthly magazine. Her essay ‘Ebony: The Girl in the Room’, was included in The Best Australian Essays: A Ten-Year Collection. He book, Motherhood: How Should We Care for Our Children?, was a finalist in the Walkley Award for Best Non-Fiction Book of 2006. She has written a Quarterly Essay, ‘Love and Money; the Family and the Free Market’, and a memoir, So This Is Life: Scenes from a Country Childhood.
This is a very interesting and easy to read and absorbing discussion on narcissism and the narcissistic personality that involves contemporary high profile examples to demonstrate the actual ways (and potential for) narcissists to interact with the world and society.
I am sure we have all come across some of the behaviours on the lower end of the scale – the bully at work (yes I have met a few), cases of domestic violence (there are plenty of examples here), the precocious, the self-centred, those with imagined slights ; angry and vengeful. Are there more of these type personalities about or in this age of social media conscious, are we just more aware?
I was fascinated by the examples in this book – Anders Breivik, Lance Armstrong…and then as I was reading another high school shooting massacre in the USA appears on my news feed, such sadness fills my heart.
This is a book we should all be reading.