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August 28, 2013

Book Review - The Mirror Effect by Dr. Drew Pinsky & S. Mark Young

We are living in an increasingly narcissistic society as teenagers and young adults are increasingly asking people to "look at me," be it on Facebook or other kinds of social media.

I reviewed Dr. Pinsky's book, The Mirror Effect, back in 2009, but I think it's even more relevant today as we slide into the oblivion of self-centered narcissism where people commit self-destructive acts because they want to be noticed or they want to be like their favourite stars. Why shouldn't they? It's not like Lindsay Lohan has lost much of her career despite the public train wreck that is (or maybe was, if current reports are true) her personal life.

In the book, Pinsky examines the almost poisonous effect that celebrity culture is having on the youth today. He has counseled many celebrities in his day, and he talks in the book about both how the culture is affecting today's youth as well as the celebrities themselves.

One of the best quotes from the book is on page 41-42:
"The interdependence between celebrities and the media is a dangerous bargain. The more a celebrity attracts the attention of the media, the more famous he or she becomes. The more dysfunctionally the celebrity behaves, the more interest he or she generates from the tabloids. The more the audience finds out, the more we want to know. And the cost of it all – to the vulnerable celebrities on one side of the mirror, and the impressionable viewers on the other – is impossible to estimate."
How often do we read the revel in the gossip that these celebrities are involved in? It's pretty normal that we build these celebrities up and put them on this pedestal and then laugh when their own self-destructive tendencies knock them off of it.

It's a matter of degree, of course. We don't want them to actually hit rock bottom and die. But how many people laughed at Amy Winehouse before she finally died from her horrible addictions?

So what is celebrity narcissism?

As I state in the review on Curled Up With a Good Book:
"One of the major points Dr. Drew wants to make is to define narcissism. It doesn't generally mean what we believe it to mean. To quote the back cover (as well as somewhere in the book): "What is narcissism? It's not what you think it is: It's not ego. It's not self-love. It's self-loathing. Envy. Insecurity. Self-destruction." Narcissistic people create images of themselves to broadcast to the world, trying desperately to have those images be loved by the general populace or by their peers. Deep down, they are insecure and don't think much of themselves. Narcissistic celebrities inflict these psychoses onto society at large, and many times it brings them to (or even over) the brink of disaster."
It's a really powerful book. I think it warrants a read even now, almost five years after publication. Celebrity gossip culture has not gone away. Many celebrities still inhabit the headlines like a Summer home that they can't leave.

I strongly recommend that you check this out.

I don't know if I've seen something that so gets this as Evanescence's "Everybody's Fool" video.

Just watching it, you see the hidden depths of despair that can hide behind the positive outward view of a celebrity.


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