Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Young Urban Narcissists

(This post has been updated)

"Yunnie" stands for Young Urban Narcissist. An obvious play on the outmoded "yuppie," this neologism was my earlier attempt to grasp a mass cultural shift currently generating and feeding on tremendous change in New York City--and much of the country.

While "yuppie" was aimed at professionals, describing people of a certain socioeconomic bracket, "yunnie" described a characterological type.

I originally introduced the yunnie in August of 2007. Since then, my ideas about the narcissistic personality and its effect on New York City have evolved. It's no longer a term I use, but you'll still find it scattered among old posts.

I've since become interested in the connection between wealth, greed, and materialism and malignant narcissism or sociopathy--the absence of empathy--illustrated in the work of Paul Piff and many other researchers. What I called the yunnie seems to be a psychopathic personality type that has emerged in the age of neoliberalism--for more on this, see psychoanalyst Paul Verhaeghe's writing on the topic.

A few old links:

As of 3/09, the idea of An Age of Narcissism has caught fire in the media. This Slate article provides an excellent overview.

A 6/12 cover story in New York magazine outlines research into the ways that having money, pursuing money, even thinking about money reduces one's empathy and makes you more, basically, narcissistic.

In 1/13, Consumer Affairs asked, "Are today's young people deluded narcissists?"

May 2013 TIME cover: "Here's the cold, hard data: The incidence of narcissistic personality disorder is nearly three times as high for people in their 20s as for the generation that's now 65 or older..."

A few NY Times articles:
Narcissism on the rise?
Everyone's a narcissist (and misunderstand the term)
Situational narcissism


Charity NC West said...

This was a fantastic post. Not a native New Yorker, but I completely agree. "Yunnies" are destroying the entire culture in which we live. Let's face it, thanks to shows like NYC Prep, they are the culture.

thegaycurmudgeon said...

Yes, yes, yes! There's finally a word for those people I hear screaming outside my apartment every weekend.

hi said...

Autists are not "narcissists", please don't use words you don't understand as pejoratives.

esquared™ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
esquared™ said...

wrong link...

correct one --

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Reading this post is like having an oracle. Jeremiah--it's fantastically well said and accurate. I grew up in the Village and points in Soho, and in horror, have been trying to describe the cultural and atmopspheric changes that have been happening in these areas since the mid 80's--their acquisitiveness has a hungry termite quality.

Thank you.

laura said...

the whole world is caught up in shopping & what ever. you wouldnt believe india.

Anonymous said...

I think your observations are accurate, but I think the problem isn't just with New York. I've seen the same type of behaviour in places like Ottawa and Toronto in Canada. So I think the problem is endemic and can be found pretty much in any urban situation worldwide.

I know someone in Toronto who is a super MBA type HR administrator.

Just read this BS. It's yuppie speak. They have their own superfluous superficial language and unless you speak that language you're not part of the club. You have to write this crap on resumes nowadays if you don't your resume to get tossed in the recycling bin.

She and my brother came to visit us and all she did while she was complain about this and that. She was complaining that our housekeeping standards were low. She has the benefit of a minimum wage maid from Central America to clean her toilet bowl to a sparkling shine so they can see the reflection of their deluded perfect narcissistic selves in the water.

When I had enough of her BS, I gave the both of them the coldest icy murderous killer Tony Soprano stare and still they never got the hint to leave. Furthermore, they invited themselves over again until I had to use brutal honesty and told them they had an inflated sense of themselves and their capabilities and that if they came I would stand an 1/8 of inch from their face and give a West Point style dressing down in order to teach them some respect.

Can you imagine if you still had the military draft in the U.S.? Could you picture these people pinned down by gunfire on some mountainside in Afghanistan? You would lose the war and the taliban would be marching down Broadway in no time.