Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Love in the Time of Contagion

There are certain buzz words of any particular time. "Bipolarity" is so widely applied that it's become meaningless. "Narcissism" runs a close second with the dilution of the word's meaning being one of the most prevalent symptoms of the malady. "Self-involved" is another candidate for the Meaninglessness Hall of Fame. In
 Love in the Time of Contagion: A Diagnosis Laura Kipnis aptly compares the N word to herpes, since by definition narcissists point the finger at each other. It’s the pot calling the kettle black. A sub-category of self-involved people similarly criticizes each other for self-involvement. In a time when social distancing has replaced 6 degrees of separation, there's naturally the danger of drowning in one’s own image—depending on what degree of solitude one's forced to bear. Who else to be involved with than yours truly if the rest of the world has their metaphoric “gone fishing” signs prominently displayed. In prehistoric times, "narcissism" was a useful word. Psychoanalysts talked about “narcissistic grandiosity” to explain outlier behaviors that eschewed consequence and presumed and unearned invulnerability. Dilution is a problem accompanying many terms used to describe mental states. If you grew up in the 50s and 60s when lobotomies were still performed, you heard about friends of your parents who’d had "nervous breakdowns." These unfortunates whose fate was whispered about in hush tones were epitomized by the Olivia De Havilland character in Snake Pit (1948). They ended up being committed to notorious asylums like The Hudson Valley Psychiatric Institution or Wingdale—whose old red brick buildings now house crafts galleries.  The DSM-5 is the most recent edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Jargonistas, who are narcissistically invested in their professional identities (and perhaps analytic neutrality) use it like Escoffier when hosting  terminology parties.

read "Zeno's Conscience" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Love On a Two Way Street" by The Moments

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