A book exploring the obsession with the self. Storr takes the reader on a journey from the shores of Ancient Greece, through the Christian Middle Ages, to the self-esteem evangelists of 1980s California, the rise of narcissism and the 'selfie' generation, and right up to the era of hyper-individualism in which we live now.
...this book is no life hack. Rather, in this fascinating psychological and social history, Storr reveals how biology and culture conspire to keep us striving for perfection, and the devastating toll that can take ... The book takes readers on a long and complicated journey through centuries of religion, literature and economics, but Storr navigates the material with remarkable clarity, frequently recapping and synthesizing. There are rare instances when the writing calls attention to itself, but overall, Storr’s portraits of individuals effectively illuminate complicated psychological concepts, and most are great fun to read.
Will Storr does not shoot fish in a barrel. He does something far more interesting. Rather than handwringing over this unedifying phenomenon, he places selfie-taking and social perfectionism exactly where they should be — in the context of the history of western individualism dating back 2,500 years ... Storr has done huge amounts of research for this book and the content is sometimes heavy, but he conveys it with a gifted lightness of touch that is wry and funny ... Selfie grows increasingly fascinating and shows why we should not be so hard on the selfie-taking generation.
Will Storr’s thoughtful and engaging book comes at the idea of the human self’s relationship with itself from many angles ... Storr is sympathetic...but it’s worth pointing out that the suggestion that an entire new generation of young people is selfish in unprecedented ways is the kind of thing that the grumpy middle-aged have been saying since time immemorial. And recently, quite a few of the young seem to have found time away from selfie-taking to vote for decidedly anti-neoliberal policies. So, although Storr’s cultural history is fascinating and often persuasive, his diagnosis of where we are now might well be too pessimistic.