NARCISSISM. Is it so common it is considered "normal" and not a "disorder"? I think it is becoming more common, but I don't think it should be accepted as "normal" or desirable.
I have a lot of ideas bouncing around my head on this subject. I was just reading a very sentimental birthday message that one of my 15 year old daughter's friends posted on her FB wall. Got some wheels turning in my head.
I think this "self-centeredness" among such a quickly growing number of our population starts in infancy. Many years ago, women did their work at home to care for the family. Families lived close together and children grew up with a lot of stability...they saw the same faces and made strong bonds to those who cared for them day to day. Now so many women are in the work force, some people look down upon women who stay at home almost as if they see them as "deadbeats". Of course some mothers who stay at home ARE "deadbeats", but I'm not referring to them.
Sometimes (not always), when infants are put in child care centers from as early as 6 weeks, it might be that they are unable to form close emotional bonds. In child care centers, it is not common for a caregiver to follow a child as they grow. Typically, turnover in child care centers is high. But it is also typical for there to be a caregiver to stay with a particular age group, rather than a particular group of children. I believe that this shuffling around every few months or every year, and being handed off from the parents to the care of a "stranger" for the bulk of the day can hinder a child's emotional development. Children need to feel secure. They need stability. I think getting shuffled around makes it difficult or impossible for some children to form close attachments.
I think the attachment is what builds trust and respect for parents. That is when a parent "has the child's heart" and the child will hear the parent's voice and seek to do the parent's will and avoid displeasing the parent.
Without these strong bonds, I believe some children learn to be self-sufficient and independent. I think, still, children want this bond with their parents and the thought occurred to me that maybe the reason some children behave so well and wipe their own bottoms, wash their own hands, etc. at day care are unable to do such things at home.
Children want and need to be dependent upon their parents at an early age, and when they are only physically with their parents for a small part of the day or week, it only makes sense to me that they would desire as much parental involvement as they can get. Kids are smart and creative in their efforts to get what they want and need.
My daughter is blessed to go to a private all-girls school and she is pretty much with the same girls and can socialize with the same friends all throughout her middle and high school years. My son had the same class and teacher for 5th and 6th grade, which I think was great.But most schools, except perhaps in very small communities, mix up the groups of kids from year to year. Again, this discourages connection and encourages children to be independent. It is hard for some people to share their problems or thoughts with someone they don't have a close connection with. It is only with someone you have a close bond with and you trust and who you know loves you unconditionally and won't judge you harshly and truly wants to listen, sympathize, advise, and share with you in your joys and sorrows. If these bonds are not formed at an early age, I believe children develop alternate and inferior coping mechanisms.
I believe the decline in the marriage rate and the high rate of divorce is directly tied to this "independence" rather than the "inter-dependence" that God created humans to enjoy. God created men and women to be "inter-dependent" and he created women to have children spaced out and inter-dependent with their parents and their siblings and extended families. God could have chosen to have women give birth to "litters" and send them all away, off on their own at the same time. But that isn't what He, in his infinite wisdom, chose to do.
Many people are afraid of committing to marriage because they have learned to be self-sufficient and independent and to not trust that they can count on someone to meet their needs, and they don't want to be involved with a person who seems "needy". Interdependence goes both ways. All people need to learn to give and also to receive. I often think that is why Jesus said we will always have the poor. We need the poor to teach us to give of our means to help another. We need the sick or infirm to give us the opportunity to serve. We need the sad to give us the opportunity to comfort. We need the ignorant so we can share what wisdom or knowledge we have. We need the trying, so we can learn to be long suffering. We all need to have times of want, or sadness, or sickness. But we need friends and family to care enough and who we care enough for to make sure we are all meeting each other's needs.
We all have needs and we are all able to meet needs of others in some way. It isn't a sign of weakness to need something or somebody. But the greatest need any of us has is the need to have a relationship with our Creator. He gives us everything and we can give him nothing but our love and adoration and appreciation.
I believe that as God has become less important in our society, we have become more self-centered. We look for more satisfaction in "things" or in status than we do in relationships. We are always looking for "upgrades" not only in houses, cars, computers, but also in spouses. I think only a small number of divorces are truly unavoidable. People just are investing in the wrong things. We need to invest more time in our relationships to keep them healthy. We need to learn more contentment. And we need to learn to care more for others than ourselves. That is a huge challenge, but it we continue, as a society, to become more narcissistic, we won't have much of a society left in the end.