We are experiencing a narcissism epidemic

psychologyOur corona story, our corona shame

"Of course there are many tragic stories of loss, but even on an everyday level: maybe a teenager who won't have a high school graduation or a prom. We have to help them get over this loss. Or parents who need to comfort their younger children when they do important school trips or long-awaited vacations are omitted, or a wedding couple whose long-prepared celebration cannot take place. "

For psychologist and therapist Ramani Durvasula, we are all currently experiencing our corona story. That connects us with everyone in the world. Most of them are about loss and insecurity: Patients who mourn deceased friends and family members, who are threatened in their existence by the loss of their job or their own business, or who suffer from thoughts of suicide. But, she explains, many who are less severely affected by the pandemic also experience loss but are ashamed to talk about it.

"People are ashamed of their feelings because they seem so unimportant compared to others. I strongly advise against devaluing these feelings. Your loss is your loss, which you also experience psychologically."

(imago / stock & people / Thomas Eisenhuth) Moral exhaustion - why the corona crisis tires you
Do I wear a mask or not? Can I jog or not? Every step becomes a big topic in times of pandemic. Above all, every step is morally charged. We keep asking ourselves: is that responsible or not? That tires us, says a US psychologist.

It is very important, she describes, that everyone finds a safe space to discuss these feelings with people who are going through similar challenges or who are trained to listen compassionately. Social media are definitely the wrong place for this. Not every corona story is about loss and stress:

"Some feel guilty when they are not feeling bad. They are ashamed when they can work from home, do not have to look after someone and sometimes drink a glass of wine with friends at a distance. They feel something like corona shame, when their life is okay in spite of everything. "

Narcissists only think of themselves

Admitting the right to one's own feelings was an important lesson of this time, says psychologist Ramani Durvasula. But for them, society as a whole is also being challenged in a completely new way. Especially by people with narcissistic tendencies who believe that rules protecting others don't apply to them. This is particularly common in American society, whose philosophy of individualism and freedom seems to be in stark contrast to a sense of common good and solidarity.

"A narcissist always only thinks of his own rights and freedoms. I do what I like. I walk around without a mask because I don't want to wear one. I could also say that I already had Corona and that is why I can no longer get it I believe the fact that we are now experiencing these many little mini-epidemics in the country has to do in large part with narcissism, people who only have their own rights in mind and want to sell us that this is for the common good useful. "

Protest against exit restrictions in the US: People protest outside the Colorado State Capitol (AFP / Jason Connolly)

For example, the demand to ramp up the economy again under all circumstances and to allow major events such as church services and funerals again. Or, like a growing number of ultra-right groups in the US, to defame the quarantine regulations as a made-up game of power-hungry virologists and dark forces. Suddenly everyone declares himself a specialist. One propagates herd immunity and demands sacrifices from others for the bigger picture. For Ramani Durvasula, not everyone who refuses to wear a mask is a narcissist. The absence of compassion is the basic sign of this personality disorder.

"A lot of people never tire of claiming that there are no dead. Nobody really suffers. What are more than 65,000 dead? Many suffer. 65,000 dead, that is 65,000 families and the people who know these families."

A culture of meanness

At the beginning of the second week of May, the USA is at the top of the affected countries worldwide with over 1.3 million infected people and now almost 80,000 dead. For Dr. Ramani Durvasula has these terrifying statistics in clear connection with narcissistic tendencies propagated by an irresponsible government, by a government that has since the beginning trivialized the dangers and made fun of the fears of the citizens. The psychology even speaks of a culture of meanness.

"This atmosphere of cruelty, meanness, contempt and the complete absence of compassion intensifies our feelings of fear and concern for the future immensely. At the world level, one sees the consequences for our mental health. Under these circumstances, recommendations of the health authorities can hardly be upheld because an immediate attempt is made to challenge the credibility of these recommendations. "

For psychologist Ramani Durvasula, the only way to deal with this stress is to take the right to feel your own reality and to set hard boundaries where narcissistic tendencies emerge. Thousands of corona stories happen every day that deal with togetherness, compassion and being there for one another. We are also in the midst of a renaissance of the idea of ​​the common good, she says hopefully. We shouldn't lose sight of that.