Original post: 8/8/07
"Yunnie" stands for Young Urban Narcissist. An obvious play on the outmoded "yuppie," this neologism is my attempt, using applied psychoanalytic theory, 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" describes a characterological type. Malignant narcissists exist across all socioeconomic strata, but may be more prevalent among the upwardly mobile.
I originally introduced the yunnie idea in this post in August of 2007. Since then, my ideas about the narcissistic personality and its effect on New York City have evolved. One benefit of a blog is that it's rewritable. Using some of that original post combined with new material, I'll be revising the description of "yunnie" here, filling in the blanks and fleshing it out in better detail, and adding links from outside sources.
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..."
My following posts pretty much sum up my ideas on the topic:
From the original post:
New York City is being destroyed, block by block, building by building. Who are the people responsible for this? What do they want and what do they fear?
They are terrified of the unfamiliar and cling to the known. When in unfamiliar settings, separated from their soothing cellular phones and forced to stand in line with nothing to do but think, they become extremely anxious. This anxiety, an irrational fear of annihilation, sends them into a primitive, infantile rage.
These people are Young Urban Narcissists, or Yunnies. A narcissistic personality is essentially created by inconsistent, frustrating parents. It makes sense that Yunnies would be attracted to the consistent and the gratifying. Chain stores like Starbucks and Walgreens promise both--the Yunnies always know what to expect and are rarely disappointed. The giant condo complexes they live in offer round-the-clock services and gratify their infantile needs.
Yunnies are the perfect neighborhood destruction machines due to their lack of empathy, sense of entitlement, and contempt for those "beneath" them. Their rage against mom-&-pop shops, I believe, comes in part from the very name "mom & pop," which arouses their envy, reminding them of the "bad object" parents of their infancy. The fallible humanity of these shops inevitably disappoints and frustrates the Yunnies. "What do you mean you're out of skim milk?" they tantrum, and "I can take my dog wherever I want!"
Watch out. Arm yourself with the facts about Yunnies:
- They feel cut off from real human connection so they create constant pseudo-connections via cell phones or Blackberries.
- They feel empty and express their aggression through oral rage, shopping compulsively and consuming aggressively.
- They are grandiose and believe the world revolves around them.
- They demand constant attention--shouting into cell phones and making dramatic scenes is a favorite way to draw attention to themselves.
- Their hidden, deep belief in their own worthlessness makes them strive for high-status jobs and condo lifestyles, where a false sense of power temporarily lifts them up.
- At the extreme end, Yunnies are sociopathic, without conscience and without remorse--these are the most dangerous and, I believe, the fastest growing subgroup.
Note 1/2/10: Maybe the ultimate end of this solipsistic personality type is autism, a narcissism so extreme, it becomes locked in. Maybe it's in the brain. From The Smart Set: "Our contemporary culture, with its loneliness and its materialism and disjointed nature, is typical of left brain dominance. As such, we have autism, which is an almost total dysfunction of the right brain: an inability to read facial expressions, a lack of empathy, failure to recognize metaphor or irony."
A few NY Times articles:
Narcissism on the rise?
Everyone's a narcissist (and misunderstand the term)