Saturday, September 15, 2007

Fall of Public Man

by Richard Sennett

ISBN: 0393308790

Excerpt from the book:

"Narcissistic character disorders are the most common sources of the forms of psychic distress therapists now see. The hysterical symptoms which were the dominant complaints of Freud's erotic and repressive society have largely disappeared. This character disorder has arisen because a new kind of society encourages the growth of its psychic components and erases a sense of meaningful social encounter outside its terms, outside the boundaries of the single self, in public. We must be careful to specify the kind of distress it is, in order not to falsify the milieu it has acquired as a social form. This character disorder does not lead inevitably to psychosis, nor do people under its sway live in an acute state of crisis all the time. The withdrawal of commitment, the continual search for a definition from within of "who I am," produces pain but no cataclysmic malaise. Narcissism, in other words, does not create the conditions which might promote its own destruction.

In the realm of sexuality, narcissism withdraws physical love from any kind of commitment, personal or social. The sheer fact of commitment on a person's part seems to him or her to limit the opportunities for "enough" experience to know who he or she is and to find the "right" person to complement who he or she is. Every sexual relationship under the sway of narcissism becomes less fulfilling the longer the partners are together."