This is what’s wrong with America – from Philip Ryken on Narcissism – from City on a Hill: Reclaiming the Biblical Pattern for the Church page 10 (formating mine)
Narcissism is radical individualism, or infatuation with the self. In ancient Greek mythology, Narcissus was the beautiful youth who fell in love with his reflection. As he sat beside the pool, gazing longingly at his own image, he wasted away and died, and was transformed into a flower. There has always been narcissistic tendency in American culture, but we are now entering an era of radical selfishness and unbridled individualism. What is new is that being self-centered is now considered a virtue. According to Robert Schuller, “Self-love is, or should be, the basic will in human life.” When people think this way (as many people do), they feel justified in doing whatever seems to be in their self-interest, without showing much compassion or giving much consideration to their neighbors, co-workers, employees, spouses, or children. We live in a culture of takers, not givers. In his landmark study The Culture of Narcissism, sociologist Christopher Lasch discovered that ordinary Americans now display many of the same character traits that are usually associated with pathological personality disorders. Narcissism has become normal.
One sign of our self-absorption is that it is becoming increasingly difficult for our nation to do anything that requires widespread cooperation or personal sacrifice, such as combat poverty, improve education, reform our health system, or provide for the common defense. Taken together, the relativistic mind and the narcissistic heart explain a good deal about what is wrong with America today. People who do not know what is true (or who wonder if anything is true at all) are unable to do what is right and just and good. Intellectual skepticism quickly leads to moral relativism. And because people who live for themselves are unable to establish loving communities, many Americans end up feeling alienated and abandoned. In the rising generation there is a deep pessimism about the possibility of love and romance, to say nothing of marriage and family. As we reflect on America’s cultural situation in the twenty-first century, we appear to be living in the times that the apostle Paul described for Timothy when he said: “Mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.…For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine” (2 Tim. 3:1, 2a, 4b; 4:3a). What Paul said serves as an apt description of our own narcissistic and relativistic times, when people serve themselves and are skeptical of the possibility of truth.