November 23, 2008

The Oprah Syndrome

"They are calling them the "smug generation". These are the children of American baby boomers who are inculcated by their parents with such faith in their own brilliance that they are shattered in later life to discover that they are not actually much good at anything.

Now, according to research by US psychologists, it is the other way round. Modern parents praise and flatter their children to such an extent that they believe they are the cat's whiskers and destined to rise effortlessly to the top of every tree. Teenagers today think they are bound to outshine their parents in all fields - as workers, spouses and as parents themselves - and so succumb to depression when it turns out that they are mediocre at everything.

The researchers found that there are no grounds for these feelings of superiority. Trawling through the results of previous surveys, they concluded that modern teenagers work less hard and are generally less competent than their parents at the same age. They are just a great deal more pleased with themselves."

The Guardian journalist (unnamed) ventures into a smattering of amateur psychology and concludes this unfortunate situations has been engendered by parents who have themselves been failures in life and attempt some personal compensation by projecting no end of wondrous gifts and qualities on their sub-optimal children.


I would have thought the contrary. Often, not always, a parent who has no sense of achievement in life will resent a child who has more or better options - simply by dint of the era into which they were born. More often though, a failed person will pass on failure to their children, a la, 'inherited' poverty or unemployment.

I blame Oprah and her ilk and their psychological hoodoo pap. A couple of decades worth of telling people that they need more and more and more and more "self esteem", as if a humongous sense of entitlement will lead to success, wealth, and happiness.

Apply ample dollops of self esteem: no personal effort, talent, persistence or sacrifice required.

It's a simple, appealing and dumb equation, certain to lead to Gen X and Gen-Whiners wondering why their brilliance, sterling characters and delightfully stimulating company isn't recognized, rewarded and cherished by the world at large.

Being and doing the best you can isn't as simple as swallowing a few assinine phrases from every new pop-schlock guru, or every Oprah and Dr Phil episode.

Life takes rather more intellectual, physical and emotional effort than chanting: "I have high self esteem, I deserve everything!".

'Little geniuses' forced to face harsh realities


  1. The Oprah mentality is a plague. I'm not one of her Koolaid drinking followers.

  2. Anonymous6:55 PM

    I went to the Oprah once and there was a fat lady who sang right at the end.

    Couldn't understand a word of it.

    So I haven't got a clue how people could get carried away with Oprah.

  3. Speaking of Koolaid, I'm still only half way through that 30th anniversary piece. It is almost unbelievable that it was so long ago, and still almost unbelievable that such a grotesque thing happened. I guess I was too young to take notice of the details at the time, so it's interesting ti me to read about it in a little more depth now.

    Doesn't the good looking man always get carried away with, or by, the fat lady Justin? I thought that was they way of all good Oprah!

  4. caz: I remember watching the horrific reports and just shaking my head in disbelief. 900+ bodies. One US Congressman shot dead and one reporter injured. The more details we heard, the more surreal the story became.

  5. I have no memory of the senator and others being shot, so it's a shock reading the article Cube.

    Must admit to agreeing with Jone's surviving son, ie, to the extent that one man didn't do this, the individuals were (initially at least) willing in their joining of a cult.

    People are so gullible (ah, there's that word, hey!), despite the long history of cults, heaps of publicity, past and present.

    I do wonder what people are looking for and what they think they have found, and why even violence and depravity doesn't give them pause for thought, until, as in this case, it's all too late.

    It's not as though people who join cults are uneducated, ignorant, or stupid.

    It's a strange thing. Can't get my head around it. (Scientology members, will, forever bamboozle me, of course!)