Ever heard of NPD? Probably not. It’s “Narcissistic Personality Disorder.” That’s right! There’s actually a psychological condition describing many American’s fascination with themselves. By the way, it’s a problem which isn’t just growing, it’s exploding! According to Jean Twenge, the psychologist who wrote The Narcissism Epidemic, one out of every ten Americans in their twenties have suffered some symptoms of NPD. Want some examples?
• On a reality TV show, a girl planning her sixteenth birthday party wants a major road blocked off so a marching band can precede her grand entrance on a red carpet.
• A book called “My Beautiful Mommy” explains plastic surgery to young children whose mothers are going under the knife for the trendy “Mommy Makeover.”
• It is now possible to hire fake paparazzi to follow you around snapping your photograph when you go out at night — you can even take home a faux celebrity magazine cover featuring the pictures.
• A popular song declares, with no apparent sarcasm, "I believe that the world should revolve around me!"
• People buy expensive homes with loans far beyond their ability to pay — or at least they did until the mortgage market collapsed as a result.
• Babies wear bibs embroidered with "Supermodel" or "Chick Magnet" and suck on "Bling" pacifiers while theirparents read modernized nursery rhymes from This Little Piggy Went to Prada. People strive to create a "personal brand" (also called "self-branding"), packaging themselves like a product to be sold.
Although these seem like a random collection of current trends, all are rooted in a single underlying shift in the American psychology: the relentless rise of narcissism in our culture. Not only are there more narcissists than ever, but non-narcissistic people are seduced by the increasing emphasis on material wealth, physical appearance, celebrity worship, and attention seeking. Standards have shifted, sucking otherwise humble people into the vortex of granite countertops, tricked-out MySpace pages, and plastic surgery. A popular dance track repeats the words "money, success, fame, glamour" over and over, declaring that all other values have "either been discredited or destroyed."
The tragedy is that this trend has worked its way into the church. When Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ, the Italian author Riccardo Zucconi opted to skip the movie with its gory crucifixion and show his children The Gospel According to Matthew instead. His choice, however, was not as interesting as his reason. He reportedly said, “The Gospel of Matthew is very deep and (listen) you don’t see a drop of blood.”