In this week's New York Times, as part of their "Age of Riches" series, they write about the "Challenges of $600-a-Session Patients," about the special ways the ultra-rich approach psychotherapy and how the new "elite" of this Gilded Age are different from the wealthy of the past.
Says one psychiatrist, “Now I see so many young people--people in their 30s and 40s-- who’ve made the money themselves... In my experience, there was a high incidence of depression in the people who were born rich. And by contrast, the people today who are making a fortune are so often narcissistic in a way that excludes depression.”
Again, we are moving from a neurotic age to the Age of Narcissism.
photo: lawrence l's gossip girl set
Not all rich people are narcissistic, but the ones in this article seem to be, and it provides illustration for my yunnie theory.
The narcissist expects the people around him or her to be available at any time. When one patient could not make a certain time, his assistant said to the psychiatrist, “He’s having dinner then. How about 10 p.m.? He’s flying out to the Hamptons, but we’ll send a car for you and you can ride with him and do therapy on the helicopter, and then we’ll send you home in the morning.”
They also devalue therapy and are highly resistant to it. Narcissistic personality disorder is ego syntonic, which means it feels like a normal part of the self, not something the person wants to change, like depression or anxiety. "Most of the therapists interviewed said the rich were also far more able than the average patient to not show up for a session or give up on therapy altogether."
photo: lawrence l's "gossip girl" set
Narcissists see people as interchangeable--one is easily dropped and exchanged for another: “Superbly well-to-do people tend to have much less of an impetus to work through things now... They have so many opportunities to seek gratification that they’re not hurting in the same way. I’m thinking of a narcissistic and unmarried patient in his late 40s who, in another time and under most circumstances, you’d have said missed the boat. He could get gratification through his wealth and move from one model to another, so that he didn’t really need to maintain a relationship.”
And bear in mind: “To generalize, it’s not the priority of people who are successful on Wall Street to be intimate... It is their priority to be aggressive. Many will not open themselves up to intimacy even in love affairs. They are slow to trust anyone — even the therapist.”
With an "extremely low tolerance for frustration," these patients often end up disappointed and disenchanted in life. “These people have to win,” but no one can win all the time. Wanting what you want, when and how you want it, in a city that is chaotic, messy, and filled with individuals with minds of their own, has got to be frustrating to the narcissist. Prioritizing aggression, he or she aims to win against this city, to beat the people and institutions who fail to gratify.
Unfortunately, money and power end up winning too often. And we see the results of that around us every day.