Shelf Help: ‘The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism’

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A skeptical eye is cast on the entire narcissism discourse.

By Peter C. Baker

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The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism. (Photo: Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism
Kristin Dombek
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

For years now, an ever-expanding ecosystem of books, articles, and support websites has insisted that we are in the midst of a narcissism epidemic: that legions of narcissists (or “narcs”) lurk among us normal, empathetic humans, preying on our natural goodwill to temporarily slake their bottomless selfishness. In this slim but far-reaching book, cultural critic Kristin Dombek casts a skeptical eye on the entire narcissism discourse. This means much more than puncturing the comically flimsy social science meant to prove the epidemic exists. Skipping nimbly between Greek myth, psychoanalytic theory, academic philosophy, and MTV’s My Super Sweet 16, Dombek uses our “narciphobia” as a lens for examining all interpersonal relationships: why they mean so much, why they hurt, and why we should be wary of responding to hurt by labeling those who hurt us as infected by an incurable disease.

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