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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
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
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
pitfalls to the artist. We will use theories of narcissism to reveal
how fragile self-esteem can lead to the self-destructive behaviors too
found among artists who achieve, but are unable to sustain, success.
Ultimately, an understanding of the psychology at work in this all too
scenario benefits us with solid remedies.