Jean Twenge’s previous book was Generation Me, which I read as an attempt to understand the values and psyches of my younger co-workers. I found the book depressing but insightful. As a result, I decided to read her next book, The Narcissism Epidemic, even though I felt the term was heavily overused. Rarely have I had such an extreme reaction to a book. I moved between recognizing societal behaviors that I had noticed but not fully registered to being convinced that I, too, was dangerously narcissistic. Should I take the narcissism test? Would taking the test be a sign of narcissism? Is wanting to affect change a sign of narcissism? I ultimately called a close friend who reminded me that I had a similar crisis after I read The Geography of Bliss and suggested that I read some non-taxing novels for a change.
However, the worsening of the U.S. economy has made it essential that we examine our society. How did the financial crisis begin? What made financial people feel that it was acceptable to let potentially unsound loans to go through? Why did ordinary people borrow widely out of their financial means? Why did no one think that these financial abuses would be destructive? The answers, according to Twenge’s book, lie within the narcissicist values of our culture.