Posts Tagged ‘Objectivism’

The Narcissim Epidemic

May 4, 2020

The title of this post is identical to the title of a book by psychologists Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D. & Keith Campbell. The subtitle is Living in an Age of Entitlement. This is the first post in a series of posts on this topic. It has become apparent to HM that there is a narcissism epidemic of which he was unaware. It accounts for the large homes being developed in his neighborhood and the election of Donald Trump. As readers should be aware HM has been completely stumped as to how someone as ill-suited for the office of the President of the United States could be elected, by the Electoral College, not by the popular vote. Due to this epidemic of narcissists, Trump’s election was virtually pre-ordained.

Psychologists usually assess narcissistic personality traits in individuals using the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, which was developed in the 1980s by Robert Raskin and Howard Terry at the institute of Personality Assessment and Research at the University of California at Berkeley.

The authors make a distinction between the personality trait of narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). The authors state: Being highly narcissistic or a narcissist is not the same as having a diagnosed disorder or a pathological level of narcissism. To be diagnosed with NPD, someone has to meet at least five of nine specific criteria describing a long-term behavior involving grandiosity, a lack of empathy, and a need to be admired. It is likely that there are psychiatrists who would make this diagnosis. There is a previous healthy memory post based on a book titled, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President”. That book presents a protocol for assessing the mental health of both the president and the vice-president. It is a tad ironic that physical exams are mandatory, but mental examinations are not. It would seem like the latter is more important that the former.

Although the authors have done an exemplary job, HM has some quibbles with their work. He regards their tracing of the history of narcissism to be incomplete. Although they do cite Nathaniel Brandon’s first book “The Psychology of Self-Esteem,” they fail to mention Brandon’s relationship to Ayn Rand and her philosophy of objectivism. Their relationship was more than intellectual; they were also romantically involved. During the sixties, when HM was in high school, Ayn Rand made appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. HM watched these appearances and read a couple of her novels. Understand that objectivism is an extreme right-wing philosophy. Her ideas, although not adopted by HM, were carefully considered. But when HM’s face cleared up, so did his mind and he categorically rejected the philosophy of objectivism.

Unfortunately, currently there are politicians who have not rejected this philosophy, and this is highly disturbing. Remember Kahneman’s distinction between Type 1 and Type 2 processing. Type 1 processing is fast and efficient and has much in common with default mode processing. Type 2 processing is what we call critical thinking and requires cognitive effort. A common theme in this blog is that system 2 processing requires mental effort and is key to the thwarting of Alzheimer’s and dementia. It is also key to a healthy memory and an effective democracy. HM finds the thinking of politicians who have adopted Rand’s philosophy defective. Were critical, effortful thinking pursued, the flaws in objectivism would be obvious, but it requires less mental effort to avoid criticizing and instead adding to and supporting current beliefs.

So in addition to the many problems and evils to be discussed regarding narcissism, it is also central to fostering an unhealthy memory and cognitive decline.

© Douglas Griffith and, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Mindful Politician

June 12, 2013

This blog post is inspired by an article in the June 1913 issue of Mindful magazine. The title of the article is “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Mindfulness.” The article is about Congressman Tim Ryan from Ohio. He is not to be confused with Congressman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin. The two are polar opposites. More will be written about Paul Ryan later in this post. Congressman Tim Ryan has recently published a book, A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Increase Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit, published by Hay House.
A Mindful Politician practices meditation. The mindful politician is open to new ideas. New ideas will not be rejected out of hand due to pre-existing ideology. This does not imply that the politician does not have pre-existing ideas, but when new information indicates that certain ideas need to be modified or rejected, he will change his mind. The politician is willing to consider the ideas of others and to try to arrive at a compromise, one that benefits from different modes of thought.

A useful way to view political gridlock is to view it as an absence of mindfulness. The enemy of mindfulness is political ideology. Worse yet, is a political ideology that is unbending. Even when provided strong empirical evidence to the contrary, the ideologue will not change his mind.

It is somewhat ironic that the perhaps the best politician exhibiting this ideological trait is Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan has indicated that what motivated him to get into politics was the author Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand was a novelist who formulated the philosophy of Objectivism. It is disturbing that there has been a resurgence of interest in this philosophy as recent events have clearly shown that it is both wrong and outdated. In short, Paul Ryan is an ideologue, and an ideologue is antithetical to an effective democracy.

Ideologies can be seductive. They provide a solution to practically all problems neatly wrapped up by the ideology. I know a colleague who is always happy. He is an ideologue who will offer a solution to practically any problem you might give him, never mind that there is ample empirical evidence to show that his solution is wrong.

Personally, I think the purpose of life is to learn, to adapt, to interact with others, and to solve problems both personally and socially. Apart from a general set of ethical guidelines, we need to continue learning, interacting, and solving problems. It is not unusual for the solution to a problem to be non-intuitive. Nevertheless, we should go where the empirical evidence leads us, not to some ideological solution.

In short, the answer to political gridlock is mindful politicians; politicians who not only say they are mindful, but who actually practice mindfulness.

© Douglas Griffith and, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.