The new growth therapies and family therapies, on the other hand, offer a "healthy-minded" alternative to atomistic individualism. Passivity, however, created new problems of labor discipline and social control-problems of "morale," of "motivation," of the "human factor," as they were known to the industrial sociologists and industrial psychologists who began to appear in the twenties. In the nuclear age, survival has become an issue of over­ riding importance; but the attempt to awaken the public to its collective implications often tends to strengthen the iner­ tia it seeks to overcome.

People take one day at a time.

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They seldom look back, lest they succumb to a debilitating "nostalgia"; and if they look ahead, it is to see how they can insure themselves against the disasters almost everybody now ex­ pects.

Under these conditions, selfhood becomes a kind of luxury, out of place in an age of impending austerity.

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Self­ hood implies a personal history, friends, family, a sense of place. Under siege, the self contracts to a defensive core, armed against adversity.


Emotional equilibrium demands a minimal self, not the imperial self of yesteryear. Such is the thesis, in its simplest form, advanced in these pages, in which the reader will find, tri state dating john holt, no indig­ nant outcry against contemporary "hedonism," self-seeking, egoism, indifference to the general good-the traits com­ monly associated with "narcissism. People have lost confidence in the future. Faced with an escalating arms race, an increase in crime and terrorism, environmental deterio­ ration, and the prospect of long-term economic decline, they have begun to prepare for the worst, sometimes by building fallout shelters and laying in provisions, more com­ monly by executing a kind of emotional retreat from the long-term commitments that presuppose a stable, secure, and orderly world.

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Ever since the Second World War, the end of the world has loomed as a hypothetical possibility, but the sense of danger has greatly increased in the last twenty years, not only because social and economic condi­ tions have grown objectively more unstable but because the hope of a remedial politics, a self-reformation of the political system, has sharply declined.

The hope that political action will gradually humanize industrial society has given way to a determination to survive the general wreckage or, more modestly, to hold one's own life together in the face of mounting pressures.

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The danger of personal disintegration encourages a sense of selfhood neither "imperial" nor "nar­ cissistic" but simply beleaguered.

Even opposition movements-the peace movement, the environmental movement-take survival as their slogan.

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Of course they refer to the survival of humanity as a whole, not to the everyday psychic survival of individuals; but they still reflect and reinforce a survival mentality. They call for a "moral commitment to survival" as Richard Falk puts it in his ecological manifesto, This Endangered Planetoblivious to the danger that a commitment to survival, instead of leading to constructive political action, can just as easily lead to a mountain hideaway or to national policies designed to enable the country to survive a nuclear war.

The peace Preface I 1 7 movement and the environmental movement call attention to our society's criminal indifference to the needs of future generations, but they inadvertently reaffirm this attitude by dwelling, for example, on the dangers of overpopulation and the irresponsibility of bringing children into an already overcrowded world.

Too often they substitute an abstract interest in the future for the kind of palpable, emotional interest that enables people to make sacrifices on its behalf.


In the same way, emphasis on the global dimensions of the survival issue-on the need for global controls and for the development of a "global mind"-probably helps to under­ mine attachments to a particular place and thus to weaken still further the emotional basis on which any tri state dating john holt interest in the future has to rest.

Rootless men and women take no more interest in the future than they take in the past; but instead of reminding us of the need for roots, many advo­ cates of disarmament and environmental conservation, un­ derstandably eager to associate their cause with the survival of the planet as a whole, deplore the local associations and attachments that impede the development of a "planetary consciousness" but also make it possible for people to think constructively about the future instead of lapsing into cos­ mic panic and futuristic desperation.

In the nuclear age, survival has become an issue of over­ riding importance; but the attempt to awaken the public to its collective implications often tends to strengthen the iner­ tia it seeks to overcome.

By drama­ tizing the dangers ahead, opposition movements inadvert­ ently strengthen the siege mentality, but they also provide the only effective antidote against it: a determination to mount a collaborative assault on the difficulties that threaten to overwhelm us. Political action remains the dnly effective defense against disaster-political action, that is, that incor­ porates our new understanding of the dangers of unlimited economic growth, unlimited technological development, and the unlimited exploitation of nature.

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Whether tri state dating john holt tells us much about the psychological roots of the Promethean will­ to-power to call it a purely masculine obsession, which can be countered by the "feminine" qualities of cooperation and loving care, is an important question on which I hope to shed some light; but it is a good idea to remind ourselves at the outset that militarism and runaway technology have social, economic, and political roots as well as psychological roots and that political opposition to these evils, even if it often rests on shaky psychological and philosophical prem­ ises, represents an indispensable beginning in the struggle to make our world fit for human habitation.

Recent controversies about the contemporary culture of "narcissism" have revealed two quite different sources of confusion.

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The first, alluded to already and examined in some detail in the first of the following chapters, is the confusion of narcissism with tri state dating john holt and selfishness.

An analysis of the siege mentality and the strategies of psychic survival it encourages the subject of chapters 11, Ill, and IV will serve not only to identify characteristic features of our culture--our protective irony and emotional disengage­ ment, our reluctance to make long-term emotional commit­ ments, our sense of powerlessness and victimization, our fascination with extreme situations and with the possibility Preface I 19 of applying their lessons to everyday life, our perception of large-scale organizations as systems of total control-but also to distinguish narcissism from ordinary self-seeking.

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It will show how the prevailing social conditions, especially the fantastic mass-produced images that shape our percep­ tions of the world, not only encourage a defensive contrac­ tion of the self but blur the boundaries between the self and its surroundings. As the Greek legend reminds us, it is this confusion of the self and the not-self-not "egoism"-that distinguishes the plight of Narcissus.

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The minimal or narcis­ sistic self is, above all, a self uncertain of its own outlines, longing either to remake the world in its own image or to merge into its environment in blissful union. The current concern with "identity" registers some of this difficulty in defining the boundaries of selfhood.

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So does the minimalist style in contemporary art and literature, which derives much of its subject matter from popular culture, in particu­ lar from the invasion of experience by images, and thus helps us to see that minimal selfhood is not just a defensive re­ sponse to danger but arises out of a more fundamental social transformation: the replacement of a reliable world of dur­ able objects by a world of flickering images that make it harder and harder to distinguish reality from fantasy.

This brings us to the second source of confusion about narcissism: the equation of narcissism not, this time, with selfishness and egoism but precisely with the "feminine" desire for union with the world, which some see as a correc­ tive to masculine egoism.

The last three chapters in this essay attempt, among other things, to explain why the nar­ cissistic desire for union cannot be assigned a gender and why, moreover, it cannot be counted on as a remedy for the Faustian will-to-power.

tri state dating john holt

I will argue that Faustian, Prome­ thean technology itself originates-insofar as we can trace it to psychological roots-in the attempt to restore narcissis­ tic illusions of omnipotence. But I have no intention of 20 I PRE F A CE arguing against the growing influence of women in politics and in the workplace; nor should my analysis of the narcis­ sistic elements in contemporary culture be mistaken for an attack on the "feminization of American society.

tri state dating john holt

In­ deed it denies any knowledge of sexual differences, just as it denies the difference between the self and the world around it. It seeks to restore the undifferentiated content­ ment of the womb.