is the drive to maintain and enhance favorable views of oneself, and generally features an inflated opinion of one’s personal features and importance. It often includes intellectual, physical, social and other overestimations.
The egotist has an overwhelming sense of the centrality of the ‘Me’, that is to say of their personal qualities. Egotism means placing oneself at the core of one’s world with no concern for others, including those “loved” or considered as “close,” in any other terms except those subjectively set by the egotist.
Egotism is closely related to “loving one’s self” or narcissism – indeed some would say “by egotism we may envisage a kind of socialized narcissism”. Egotists have a strong tendency to talk about themselves in a self-promoting fashion, and they may well be arrogant and boastful with a grandiose sense of their own importance.Their inability to recognise the accomplishments of others leaves them profoundly self-promoting; while sensitivity to criticism may lead on the egotist’s part to narcissistic rage at a sense of insult.
Egotism differs from both altruism – or acting to gain fewer values than are being given– and from egoism, the unremitting pursuit of one’s own self-interest. Various forms of “empirical egoism” can be consistent with egotism, but do not necessitate having an inflated sense of self.
In developmental terms, two rather different trajectories can be distinguished with respect to egotism – the one individual, the other cultural.
With respect to the developing individual, a movement takes place from egocentricity to sociality during the process of growing up. It is normal for an infant to have an inflated – almost a majestic – sense of egotism. The over-evaluation of one’s own ego regularly appears in childish forms of love – in large part because the baby is to himself everything, omnipotent to the best of their own knowledge.
Optimal development allows a gradual reconciliation to a more realistic view of one’s own place in the world – a lessening of the egotistical swollen head. Less adequate adjustment may later lead to what has been called defensive egotism, serving to overcompensate for the fragility of the underlying concept of self. Robin Skynner however considered that in the main growing up leads to a state where “your ego is still there, but it’s taking its proper limited place among all the other egos”.
However, alongside such a positive trajectory of diminishing individual egotism, a rather different arc of development can be noted in cultural terms, linked to what has been seen as the increasing infantilism of (post)modern society. Whereas in the nineteenth century egotism was still widely regarded as a traditional vice – for Nathaniel Hawthorne egotism was a sort of diseased self-contemplation – Romanticism had already set in motion a countervailing current, what Richard Eldridgedescribed as a kind of “cultural egotism, substituting the individual imagination for vanishing social tradition”. The romantic idea of the self-creating individual – of a self-authorizing, artistic egotism – then took on broader social dimensions in the following century. Keats might still attack Wordsworth for the regressive nature of his retreat into the egotistical sublime; but by the close of the twentieth century egotism had been naturalized much more widely by the Me generation into the Culture of Narcissism.
In the 21st century, romantic egotism has been seen as feeding into techno-capitalism in two complementary ways: on the one hand, through the self-centred consumer, focused on their own self-fashioning through brand ‘identity’; on the other through the equally egotistical voices of ‘authentic’ protest, as they rage against the machine, only to produce new commodity forms that serve to fuel the system for further consumption.
There is a question mark over the relationship between sex and egotism. The claim has been made that love can transform the egotist, giving him or her a new sense of humility in relation to others.
But at the same time, it is very apparent that egotism can readily show itself in sexual ways, and indeed arguably one’s whole sexuality may function in the service of egotistical needs.
The term egotism is derived from the Greek (“εγώ”) and subsequently its Latinised ego (ego), meaning “self” or “I,” and -ism, used to denote a system of belief. As such, the term is etymologically similar to egoism.
- A. A. Milne has been praised for his clear-eyed vision of the ruthless, open, unashamed egotism of the young child.
a portmanteau of affluence and influenza, is a term used by critics of consumerism. It is thought to have been first used in 1954 but it gained legs as a concept with a 1997 PBS documentary of the same name and the subsequent book, Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic (2001, revised in 2005, 2014). These works define affluenza as “a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.” The term “affluenza” has also been used to refer to an inability to understand the consequences of one’s actions because of financial privilege, notably in the case of Ethan Couch
In 2007, British psychologist Oliver James asserted that there was a correlation between the increasing nature of affluenza and the resulting increase in material inequality: the more unequal a society, the greater the unhappiness of its citizens. Referring to Vance Packard‘s thesis The Hidden Persuaders on the manipulativemethods used by the advertising industry, James related the stimulation of artificial needs to the rise in affluenza. To highlight the spread of affluenza in societies with varied levels of inequality, James interviewed people in several cities including Sydney, Singapore, Auckland, Moscow, Shanghai, Copenhagen and New York.
In 2008 James wrote that higher rates of mental disorders were the consequence of excessive wealth-seeking in consumerist nations. In a graph created from multiple data sources, James plotted “Prevalence of any emotional distress” and “Income inequality,” attempting to show that English-speaking nations have nearly twice as much emotional distress as mainland Europe and Japan: 21.6 percent vs 11.5 percent. James defined affluenza as “placing a high value on money, possessions, appearances (physical and social) and fame”, which was the rationale behind the increasing mental illness in English-speaking societies. He explained the greater incidence of affluenza as the result of ‘selfish capitalism’, the market liberal political governance found in English-speaking nations as compared to the less selfish capitalism pursued in mainland Europe. James asserted that societies can remove the negative consumerist effects by pursuing real needs over perceived wants, and by defining themselves as having value independent of their material possessions.
Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss‘s book, Affluenza: When Too Much is Never Enough, poses the question: “If the economy has been doing so well, why are we not becoming happier?” They argue that affluenza causes overconsumption, “luxury fever,” consumer debt, overwork, waste, and harm to the environment. These pressures lead to “psychological disorders, alienation and distress,” causing people to “self-medicate with mood-altering drugs and excessive alcohol consumption.”
They note that a number of Australians have reacted by “downshifting” — they decided to “reduce their incomes and place family, friends and contentment above money in determining their life goals.” Their critique leads them to identify the need for an “alternative political philosophy,” and the book concludes with a “political manifesto for wellbeing.”
In December 2013, State District Judge Jean Boyd sentenced a North Texas teenager, Ethan Couch, to 10 years’ probation for driving under the influence and killing four pedestrians and injuring 11 after his attorneys successfully argued that the teen suffered from affluenza and needed rehabilitation, and not prison. The lawyers had argued that Couch was unable to understand the consequences of his actions because of his financial privilege. The defendant had been witnessed on surveillance video stealing beer from a store, driving with seven passengers in a Ford F-350 stolen from his father, and speeding (70 miles per hour (110 km/h) in a 40 miles per hour (64 km/h) zone). Couch was also driving while under the influence of alcohol (with a blood alcohol content of 0.24%, three times the legal limit for an adult in Texas) and the tranquilizer Valium. At a February 5, 2014, hearing, Eric Boyles — whose wife and daughter were killed in the crash — said, “Had he not had money to have the defense there, to also have the experts testify, and also offer to pay for the treatment, I think the results would have been different.”