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Arts and Entertainment

Book Review: 'The Mirror Effect' by Dr. Drew Pinsky

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Dr. Drew Pinsky wants you to know that narcissists are people too.

In “The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism Is Seducing America,” Dr. Drew Pinsky and Dr. S. Mark Young look at celebrity narcissism in a new way. The doctors use science.

Dr. Drew and Dr. Young surveyed the revolving door of celebrity guests on Loveline, (the radio program Dr. Drew has co-hosted for 25 years.) These stars (from film, television, and music) were given the Narcissism Personality Inventory test. The results were published in 2006 in The Journal of Research in Personality.

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Surprise, surprise. The tests showed that celebrities are significantly more narcissistic than the general population.

Dr. Drew, a longtime Pasadena resident, stresses that narcissism isn’t simply supersized ego, but supersized ego mixed with low-self esteem. This unfortunate combination often results from childhood trauma, and can lead to years of unchecked acting out (especially for privileged stars, but you knew that.) This books suggests that this understanding is the first step to viewing narcissists as human beings -- ones in need of helpful support.

Both Sides of the Coin

“The Mirror Effect” is a smooth read which expands beyond the two doctor’s initial study. It examines how our troubled world has plunged to where celebrity news regularly appears on the front-page. What makes this an important read is that it looks beyond the 24/7/365 supply of celebrity media to what motivates our culture’s rabid demand for it.

Just like celebrities, normal people are effected by trauma, leaving them with narcissistic traits (at worst is Narcissistic Personality Disorder.) These problems are only made worse by the mirror effect -- the growing mirroring of the bad behavior of these highly-visible, flawed stars.

The Future’s In The Mirror

As Service Director of the Chemical Dependency Program at Las Encinas Hospital in Pasadena, Dr. Drew Pinsky (Twitter) spends his days helping others (many of whom are stars.) In “The Mirror Effect,” he suggests that while the reader doesn’t have to professionally care for others to make a difference, there is something everyone can do. First check yourself. It might help you better relate to others.

This book shows the reader how to recognize their own narcissistic traits (some of which are normal,) and what to do about them. It stresses the importance of learning empathy, and how to pass that on to impressionable young people. "The Mirror Effect" is a how-to guide for social change that promotes individual progress.

We’re far from a tipping point for widespread societal empathy towards narcissistic celebrities, though perhaps Drs. Pinsky and Young’s new book will mark a turn. Maybe one day we'll approach those we're often quick to loathe (despite being drawn to their every move) with love. After all, celebrities are people.

Extra Link: Take the 40 question Narcissist Personality Inventory test.

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Extra Link: LAist Interview With Susan Pinsky (Dr. Drew's Wife)

Have you read "The Mirror Effect?" Comment below!