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The nation’s afflictions: sentimentality, infantilisation and narcissism

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THIS week Bryony Gordon began her new column in the Daily Telegraph with a huge promise: ‘I’ve helped myself, now it’s time to focus on you.’  So, the High Priestess of Cant’s new column is to be about mental health issues. It won’t be. It will be like all Bryony Gordon’s columns, about Bryony Gordon.

Certainly, there are plenty of mental health issues around, but these are not what all the health supplements and the agony aunt columns reckon them to be. For example, most people don’t lack self-esteem. In fact, there is too much of it. The last thing I should esteem is myself.

Well, I have been trawling the national newspapers and with their help I have been able to identify what the nation’s mental health issues actually are. Indeed, these are the diseases which afflict the Western world throughout.

These diseases are sentimentality, infantilisation and narcissism. And they are not really distinct diseases, but together they form a syndrome.

We might give it the name Me-ism. Or Bryony Gordon-ism.

Let me give you some examples. Remember, these are not scavenged from those magazines so puerile that they give triviality a bad name. Here are the preoccupations of our national newspapers over the span of a few days.

Of course I can be needy: aren’t we all? 

10 cosy and glamorous buys that will get you through January in style 

How lip balm went from humble to haute 

Help me find a blazer that will make me look sophisticated 

Getting a dog was supposed to cure my anxiety – instead it made it worse 

Potato milk and dream therapy – the health trends to watch in 2022 

I swapped Spanx for self-esteem 

21 things every woman must have  

How to face your fears – and improve your health, wealth and happiness

I know – sickening, isn’t it? But cheer up, there is a cure for me-ism. Dry your eyes, stop all this navel-gazing, think about something else. And grow up!

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Peter Mullen
Peter Mullen
Peter Mullen is a Church of England clergyman, writer and broadcaster

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