To end this week's series of posts on narcissism, I wanted to talk prevalence. The findings of a survey of nearly 35,000 adults living in the US indicate narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) occurs in nearly 6.2% of the general population. WHOA. More men than women have the disorder (7.7 vs. 4.8%). NPD was found to be "significantly more prevalent" in black men and women, Hispanic women, and young adults. Dr. Jean Twenge, the author of the book The Narcissism Epidemic, claims that the prevalence among young adults might be as high as 10% (!!!).
I was ... shocked by that. And also--when the prevalence of any mental health disorder is that high, it makes me question how it's defined and assessed. Apparently I'm not the only one, because the developers of the DSM V, the anticipated revision to the diagnostic manual of mental disorders, are making some major changes to the definition of narcissistic personality disorder. There was some indication that the disorder might be eliminated altogether, but at this time I think it's still in there, just with significant revisions to the criteria--INCLUDING a change that takes norms within cultures and subcultures into account.
Regardless of the precise definition of the disorder, however, Dr. Twenge's argument is this: narcissism is part of our culture right now. She points to the frequency of cosmetic surgery as an example, and the first thing to come to my mind is reality television. I don't know, you might not agree, but ...
[hang on a minute. I'm still giggling]
[thanks for your patience. I've almost got it under control]
[deep breaths ...]
Ahem. I solemnly swear I will never ever again post a Jersey Shore video on this blog.
OK. What do you think? Is this an epidemic--particularly among young people? With the emphasis on appearance, material goods, and status in our culture, are teens being raised in an age of narcissism? For YA authors and readers--is this reflected in YA these days?