Narcissism, Innovation, and the Free World
The American Psychological Association has removed the narcissistic personality disorder from the DSM manual. There have been commentators at New York Times claiming it to have been a mistake. In fact, that is one of the most intelligent decisions that American Psychological Association has made in decades.
The reasons are, and should be, obvious to anyone who bears any familiarity with history. America's (and the world's) most significant contributors, from Jefferson to Rockefeller to Edison to Gates to Einstein to Disney to Clinton to just about anyone in Hollywood, would all be seen as possessing this disorder. So would be the founders of - and major contributors to - psychology itself, from Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung down the line. And, lest we forget, so would the ancestors of any white, Asian, or mixed-raced person living in United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America or South Africa - all people who have done the incredibly narcissistic (or possibly even sociopathic) action of leaving their home, their family, their country, their tradition and their way of life to pursue a different way of life in the New World.
For people of these ethnic groups living on the territory of these countries, this can mean either one of two things. Either they have held true to the way of their ancestors - the ways of supposed narcissists or sociopaths - and are living according to supposedly narcissistic or sociopathic adaptations; or they have left the ways of their ancestors, in which case they are supposedly narcissists or sociopaths themselves. Either way, these disorders as defined apply to the majority of the population, and their use by members of this population is hypocrisy on a vast scale.
Besides the obvious hypocrisy of pathologizing the people whose contributions have made possible what people have now and the people to whom is owed one's ancestry, the use of the narcissistic and related disorders has had two vastly destructive real-world effects on the societies in which they have been applied. The first and most obvious has been a de facto holocaust waged against those accused of these disorders, combined with imposition of de facto totalitarianism against everyone else. To claim people criminal by virtue of their personality is to claim people criminal by virtue of how they think. And to do so is to introduce the Orwellian concept of crimethink and create a totalitarianism so absolute that people are not allowed to be free of it even within the privacy of their minds.
For those who are enough removed from democratic principles (and, being such in a democratic country, are by definition narcissistic or sociopathic enough) not to see that as a wrong, there is a problem that even they would identify as a threat, and that is as follows. In pathologizing the people whose thinking is different from that of the place and the time, has been pathologized not only freedom but also innovation and clarity. The direct result of that has been a vast loss of competitiveness in science, technology, and culture, as well as a loss of crucial perspective necessary for the decision making process in business, government, media and society. In both cases, vast violence has been done to the countries that have adopted these beliefs.
The obvious logical implications of the belief in the narcissistic and related disorders surely have not escaped the APA, and they have made the rational and rightful decision to strike this disorder along with several lesser-known disorders from the books. But it will take more than that to get rid of the rot of the destructive thinking that has found its way into the culture since these disorders became introduced into public domain. It is not any kind of pathology to think and relate differently from people around oneself, and it is from people doing just this that has come all the innovation that has made possible the world that people have now. And removing from the culture the fallacious thinking that has been fostered by the belief in this and related disorders will again vitalize the Western world's innovative capacity and make it again the world leader that it had become by practicing freedom, ingenuity and innovative thinking in the first place.