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Journal of the
Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association
Volume 10, Number 1 (2010)

Coping with Narcissism: Causes, Effects, and Solutions for the Artist Manager

Paul S. Linden
University of Southern Mississippi

    There is a morbid fascination with the spectacular crash of celebrity in our culture. Examples abound of television documentaries and motion pictures that share a common plot regarding artists in the entertainment industry: the lean years of sacrifice provide an opportunity for success which then gives way to entitlement, hubris, alcohol and drug use all followed by a spectacular crash—and in some cases a reckoning and comeback. Are unwitting artists doomed to follow this pre-written script? Or is this a ready-made plot on which scriptwriters fall back like some crutch? This article looks at artistic development as a negotiation between an innate sense of self and a more commercial one. We will give special attention to live performance as an area of activity that presents psychological pitfalls to the artist. We will use theories of narcissism to reveal how fragile self-esteem can lead to the self-destructive behaviors too commonly found among artists who achieve, but are unable to sustain, success. Ultimately, an understanding of the psychology at work in this all too familiar scenario benefits us with solid remedies.

Click here to download pdf of the full article (20 pgs, 737 kb).