Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Culture Of Excess by J.R. Slosar

In The Culture Of Excess, J.R. Slosar defines how modern culture is based on the personality traits of narcissism and the loss of self-control, and how this emphasis on personal attainment is warping various segments of society.  The demand is for everything to be faster, bigger and better.  As self-control diminishes, impulsivity increases.  We have more and more and are less and less happy.

The author talks about how broad segments of our society are affected by this cultural focus.  In a chapter about education Slosar talks about how today's students are not willing to study math and science, leading to a decrease in logical thinking and bad conclusions to decisions made on emotion rather than evidence.  Another chapter is devoted to the current health care crisis and legislation.  The demeaning of science is discussed and how differing opinions on scientific questions divide the country more and more.  The future of media is another topic with a discussion on how the screaming talking heads we are all familiar with impact society.  The notable fact of helipcopter parenting and the inability of young adults to break away and find their own identity is another aspect of this trend.

J.R. Slosar is a clinical psychologist and an adjunct assistant professor at Chapman University in California.  His training and experience give him the ability to provide examples and to create a structural framework through which the issues of American society can be viewed.  His arguments would be stronger, however, if every ill affecting society wasn't laid at the doors of Republicans and conservatives.  This book is recommended for those nonfiction readers that are interested in cultural analysis.

1 comment:

Willow said...

Does the author go into the need for meaning in our lives? I'm thinking of religion, family, social activism, and giving back to society, to name a few ways that people find meaning in their lives beyond personal achievement, possessions, and immediate pleasures. To my way of thinking, it's the lack of a deeper meaning and purpose that fosters the culture of excess.