Egomania The Invisible Pandemic
An unrecognized, invisible killer is stalking the world. The insidious aspect of egomania is its ability to take over the mind and soul of its victims, so that instead of seeing egomania as a disease, we are made to see it as the height of human reason (pursuing our self-interest) and the purpose of human existence (getting ahead). Even when we see its worst aspects---its most hideous visages--we are blind to its destructive lethality.
To succumb to egomania means that we become:
- limited in outlook or concern to our own activities or needs; blind to the larger reality
- concerned with self-gratification rather than the common good; focusing on greed instead of fellow-feeling
- obsessed with an exaggerated sense of self-importance; full of conceit instead of regard for others
- controlled by any one who flatters us or appears to consider our needs; followers of whatever cult leader appears to recognize our importance
Christopher Lasch's book The Culture of Narcissism, deals with the ideology "of competitive individualism, which in its decadence has carried the logic of individualism to the extreme of a war of all against all, the pursuit of happiness to the dead end of a narcissistic preoccupation with the self."
Egomania, narcissism, is the natural condition of the infant; the world exists merely as gratification or denial of personal desires. The caretaker--parent, nurse, teacher, religious authority--tells the infant what reality is and how he or she must behave in response to this defined reality.
It's at this stage of egomania and narcissism where most personalities stop developing; they remain in an infantile state even though they have matured physically. Ego-satisfaction is the only concern, avoiding punishment by authority figures and achieving one's individual goals is the life-game, and understanding or awareness is totally unnecessary and boring. The authority figures will tell us what is real and what we're supposed to do, so we have absolutely no need to think for ourselves. Since personal satisfaction is primary, however we achieve our goals is okay. There are no moral values beyond feeling good about ourselves and making others fear and respect us. Any consideration for the good of others is weakness and stupidity.
So we have high school and college students who want nothing more out of their educational experience than credits; they have no interest whatsoever in understanding the subjects they study. They're not even interested in developing skills; if they can get other students to do their assignments and tests for them, that's great. The majority of people in our culture merely want to get along, avoid trouble with authority figures, succeed in their careers, and cram as much personal pleasure into their lives as possible. In short, most persons in our society are grown infants. Showing off, having "attitudes," talking endlessly about oneself, swaggering through life, taking pride in ignorance and violence--these have become the norms.
Egomania is not just an arrested stage of development, not merely a slight malady or a minor social aberration; it is a blindness to reality which leads to death: death of oneself and others. The obsession with self and the grudging obedience to authority becomes so pervasive and consuming that we lose touch with reality and begin to live in solipsistic fantasy worlds. The infantile personality responds only to gross symbols, ideas, and commands: TV images of 200% patriotism, slogans ("dead or alive), bluster ("we'll rid the world of terrorism"); norms ("don't think about what American leaders did which led to the terrorist attacks; vote more money for an incompetent intelligence industry; forget about the workers laid off, give tax breaks to corporate executives").
American immaturity is clear from the unthinking, knee-jerk increase in the approval rating for a president who stole the presidency and can barely read his speeches from his cue cards.
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