Narcissism is sick or harmful self-love. It’s not just a matter of falling in love with one’s own mirror image, like Narcissus in Greek mythology, but this personality also enjoys his/her own skills, abilities, successes and products.
We’re used to thinking of it as individuals having a personality disorder. These are people who think highly of themselves and their own significance. A natural consequence of these thoughts is that they are so unique in their own eyes that only people with a similar status can understand them. The operative word is self because a narcissist is self-confident, self-absorbed, self-sufficient, self-reliant, self-loving and inevitably self-destructive. A narcissist is sort of under cover or clandestine because nothing is real.
What if an entire society has this disorder, what if society actually encourages this behavour? Some people point to most of the Americas, Russia, Japan, Germany, Britain and France as countries with strong narcissistic traits. Most countries may have a collective narcissism today, and I nominate my own country. Norway is probably high on the list.
We tend to believe that we are better and smarter than anyone else, and that we deserve special treatment. The latter is especially evident in sports where Norwegian athletes have specialised in using fuzzy rules to their advantage, and sometimes they probably cross the line to doping. Nevertheless, it’s never their fault when they are being suspected of cheating. Most Norwegians defended the skier Therese Johaug after her 13 month ban from sports, and it’s always been Norwegian policy in equivalent cases from other countries that no matter how little or how the substance entered the body, there are no excuses. The are no alternatives to the strongest condemnation possible, and many also argue that this athlete should never be allowed to compete again. The only exceptions are Norwegians. We are unique in every way.
There is a lot of collective narcissism in international politics and Norway wants to be a player in the best league. We are desperate for some praise from the more powerful countries, and every time a celebrity lands at the airport in Oslo, journalists are practically begging them for some “trophy words” about our capital and us as a people. That way we can feel good about ourselves. Norway pays just as much to the EU, if not more than members, to get the benefits of membership. It appears that my government is trying to pressure Britain because it doesn’t want our neighbour to have what we have. We are talking about a country/union with the fifth largest economy in the world and the tenth strongest military. I don’t know how Norway is ranked, but even with our oil we are most likely puny compared to the big players. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad to work with our old friend and ally instead of turning them into an adversary?
I haven’t watched a conventional TV-channel for years, and I’m particularly thankful for that during the Olympics. I know the games have started, but I’m trying to avoid news these days. The Norwegian narcissism is nauseating enough on an ordinary day, but it’s hard to live with it during the winter Olympics. I listen to music and podcasts on iTunes and Spotify a lot, as well as watch a few favourite series on Netflix. There is a wonderful absence of Norway in my entertainment now, which gives me a lot of interesting impulses.