Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Amanda Knox: A Question of Culture?

When Christopher Lasch wrote his work,  The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations,  he   -  along with many others in books and essays,  including Alan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind    -  spoke of increasing narcissism and the pathology of selfishness:  giving rise to increased  promiscuity,  divorce,  triviality, bisexuality and pornography,  titillation,  and rising violence and alienation.

How much,  one wonders,  has this culture produced an Amanda Knox?  It is worth exploring,  as too often psychology individualises pathology,  rather than looking to culture as the nexus from whence the individual arises,  and by which he is formed.  Lasch believed that narcissim was a compensatory stance:  The individual,  lost in a world of trendiness and lacking any truly biniding ties or civic spirit,  becomes narcissistic by default,  and this defensive strategy is not true self respect,  but its opposite.  How clearly Amanda herself would appear to have become defensive and predatory.  Lasch linked these states;  again,  how telling!    Can Amanda,  after all,  be judged wholly apart from the culture which formed her,  and of which in Perugia,  she has become a reluctant and hostile representative?

Freud stated that before transitioning into healthy womanhood,  "the little girl is a little man".  Did Amanda remain " a little man"?  Was her development thwarted and hindered by the effects of divorce,  a too-young stepfather,  and a ravaged culture,  complete with a hypersexualized and thrill-seeking media?  Might this be the explanation for her desire to take part in a macho predatory sexual attack on a another young girl (whom she should have felt protective of)?  In the end,  Amanda poses a puzzle not only for the psychologist,  but for the sociologist as well. . .

1 comment:

CDM said...

"...too often psychology individualizes pathology, rather than looking to culture as the nexus from whence the individual arises, and by which he is formed. Lasch believed that narcissism was a compensatory stance: The individual, lost in a world of trendiness and lacking any truly binding ties or civic spirit, becomes narcissistic by default, and this defensive strategy is not true self respect, but its opposite."

SM: Very insightful ...

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