Anne Manne's book shows the destructive elements of narcissism at work in a culture obsessed with itself.
Far from being the work of a madman, Anders Breivik's murderous rampage in Norway was the action of an extreme narcissist. As the dead lay around him, he held up a finger asking for a Band-Aid.
Written with the pace of a psychological thriller, The Life of I is a compelling account of the rise of narcissism in individuals and society. Manne examines the Lance Armstrong doping scandal and the alarming rise of sexual assaults in sport and the military, as well as the vengeful killings of Elliot Rodger in California. She looks at narcissism in the pursuit of fame and our obsession with 'making it'. She goes beyond the usual suspects of social media and celebrity culture to the deeper root of the issue: how a new narcissistic character-type is being fuelled by a cult of the self and the pursuit of wealth in a hypercompetitive consumer society.
The Life of I also offers insights from the latest work in psychology, looking at how narcissism develops. But Manne also shows that there is an alternative: how to transcend narcissism, to be fully alive to the presence of others; how to create a world where love and care are no longer turned inward.
Read Caroline Baum's Review
Did you know that when Anders Breivik, the gunman responsible for the Norwegian island massacre was captured, he asked for a band aid for a cut on his finger? It’s a chilling detail, deployed in Anne Manne’s fascinating exploration of narcissism, a much talked about personality disorder. Part of the reason for increased interest in the condition is that we are all living in the era of me me me, as we all know from the rise of the selfie. Manne extends her research beyond psychological profiles of obvious offenders like Lance Armstrong to wider analysis of the impact of selfish values across Western society, even going as far as our attitudes towards climate change and taxation. Fascinating, thought provoking and accessible this is a real conversation starter.
About the Author
Anne Manne is a Melbourne writer. She has been a regular columnist for the Australian and the Age. More recently her essays on contemporary culture such as child abuse, pornography, gendercide and disability have all appeared in The Monthly magazine. Her essay 'Ebony: The Girl in the Room', was included in The Best Australian Essays: A Ten- Year Collection. Her book, Motherhood: How Should We Care for Our Children, was a finalist in the Walkley Award for Best Non-Fiction Book of 2006. She has written a Quarterly Essay, 'Love and Money; The Family and the Free Market', and a memoir, So This is Life: Scenes from a Country Childhood.
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I thought my husband's behaviour was because he was a spoilt only child and I was one of eight children. This book answered all the questions and filled all the gaps I hadn't been able to find answers for when researching the subject. At 75 I can die happy knowing that I wasn't the bad person and that it was right to leave him as they never change. I am now reading "Why is it Always about You?" by Sandy Hotchkiss which is also great. Truly light-bulb stuff for me.
As a reference
Number Of Pages: 240
Published: 1st July 2014
Publisher: Melbourne University Press
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.4 x 2.6
Weight (kg): 0.44