ARE WE raising a narcissist generation amid the Covid-19 pandemic? A very intriguing question for parents. I am neither a psychologist nor a counsellor to answer this question perfectly, but, as a teacher and worried parent, I would like to share my views and experiences on this subject to identify and control narcissism, which may help a few to prevent it from getting ingrained in the tender minds of our children.
Narcissism is a lethal element that creeps into our personality silently but its consequences are many and malignant. Narcissists are individuals who are boastful, and are over-obsessed with their personality or achievements. Their self-adoration makes them so imprudent that they lack empathy for others. The worst side of narcissists is that they are habituated to blowing their own trumpet by ridiculing others. Putting others down is a manipulative tactic adopted by the narcissist to secure an elevated position in the society.
However, what goes around comes around! Narcissists become more vulnerable to depression and other mental issues if they do not get the attention or success they crave for. Lack of acceptance and fear of failure are both loathed by a narcissist which ultimately becomes the breeding ground for most of the psychological problems.
Many mental health professionals are now fearing an emergence of this new melancholic epidemic while we are still battling another, unceasing pandemic. Although the relentless efforts and precautions taken by the government to combat the coronavirus are unequivocally commendable, we are already living with the consequences of this catastrophe, which are being felt far and wide.
Impact on mental health
Among the most important of these is the impact on our mental health, pushing us into an emotional roller-coaster ride, with many forgetting to fasten the seat belt. Narcissism has been among the most dangerous of these psychological disorders, which are getting entrenched so deeply that it’s ruining relationships, trust and above all humanity. This is the result of our forced confinement due to Covid-19, which forced us to withdraw into ourselves, reducing social and family interactions and increasing our digital interactions. Our ‘self’ started growing at the cost of our social responsibilities.
Ignorance is bliss. We often feel relieved when our families are behind closed doors and windows, supposedly miles away from the virus. But this mindset is akin to a trance, a fake relief because during these most challenging and appalling times, when both adults and children are cooped up in houses, what we are facing is a boundless stress of a lockdown, a very pernicious silence created between over-burdened parents and exuberant kids in well-sanitized homes.
The progressive learning of our innovative kids has always been fostered with the rejuvenating family vacations, the invigorating field trips in nature’s embrace, the harmonious social gatherings with friends and family and many other exhilarating stressbusters which are all gone and replaced with staring at screens by dainty eyes, glistening with ardour for knowledge.
Consequently, these children become enamoured with extremely graphic online games which not only glorify violence but also narcissism. Children derive an enormous pleasure while choosing any avatar they like and feel a sense of immense gratification whenever they become an imposter, sniper or an encroacher to defeat their opponents by illicit means for which they are rewarded with points and accolades. If parents are too busy to keep a watch on such games, then within no time, this seedling of narcissism will branch out into other psychological disorders.
Early detection and confrontation is the best way to fight the invasion of narcissism in our lives. “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” quoted my 12-year old, dolled up in a beautiful fairy gown, flaunting at a party. Though she got on my nerves, I kept my cool only to reframe that historic quote as, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, you cannot show who’s the best of all, for humbleness beautifies everyone, big or small.” She was dumbstruck as realisation dawned on her but I felt elated to see her remorseful face. The role of parents becomes extremely crucial in the identification and eradication of the causes that peddle such malicious traits.
Bane of childhood
In short, the closure of schools due to lockdown has proven to be a bane of childhood as it has brought upheavals in the peaceful and zestful life of our students. Their most cherished joys, like peer fun and frolic, outdoor games, classroom teaching and euphoria, have been confiscated by this ruthless virus. Eventually, these tiny tots are left at the mercy of the authoritative parents who either pamper them with overvaluation and appraisal or leave them shattered with criticism and defamation. Ultimately, the pestilent symptoms of narcissism begin to trigger an aggressive, haughty and sadistic behaviour in the child, which, in the long run, leads to stunted emotional growth and ruptured self-esteem.
Crisis is an inevitable part of our lives during which our blooming flowers should be nurtured with values like empathy, kindness, gratitude and humility, so that they can triumph over any psychological battle and nip weeds like narcissism in the bud.
(To subscribe to The Doha Globe, please send SMS or WhatsApp message to 33 58 0110)