In a column for ChristianPost.com, Michael Craven writes: “Christopher Lasch points out in his important book, The Culture of Narcissism, ‘The contemporary climate is therapeutic not religious. People today hunger not for personal salvation, but for the feeling, the momentary illusion, of personal well-being, health and psychic security.’ Following the eclipse of the Christian worldview that once shaped American life and culture, the therapeutic revolution of the 60s emerged to convince us that personal happiness was the ultimate goal of human life. This idea has only further encouraged the individual self to elevate his or her needs and interests above everyone else’s.
“By replacing the former religious culture with today’s therapeutic culture we have unwittingly created the most narcissistic generation in American history. ‘For a multi-university study released this year, 16,475 college students took the standardized narcissistic personality inventory…Students’ scores have risen steadily since the test was first offered in 1982. The average college student in 2006 was 30 percent more narcissistic than the average student in 1982.’ (WSJ)
“What precisely is this narcissism I speak of, and how does the therapeutic sensibility contribute to its formation? In short, the advent of Freudian psychotherapy sought to liberate men from what it saw as outdated modes of thinking about such things as love, duty, self-sacrifice and submission to higher authority. Under the Freudian premise, mental health, which becomes the highest human goal, was defined as the overthrow of inhibitions and the immediate gratification of every impulse. Each person’s own desires and wants were given primacy over and above everything and everyone else, including God. Doing so, we were told, would make us happy and nearly every aspect of contemporary American culture has combined to reinforce this message.
“By contrast, the Bible defines love as subordinating your needs to those of others; that we have a God-given duty to serve and assist others, that self-sacrifice is the ultimate demonstration of this love, and that we are to submit to authority in the same way we submit to God. Furthermore, happiness is NOT the central aim of human existence—knowing and glorifying God is, and from this flows something much deeper than temporal happiness: joy, which endures beyond circumstances, producing true contentment.”
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