January 29, 2003: Notebook
Narcissism and us
Photo: Elizabeth Lunbeck (Princeton Communications)
Cultural critics have long cast late 20th-century America as a narcissistic and consumer-oriented society driven by greedy, self-involved individualists.
The roots of narcissism as a psychological disorder, however, did not grow out of the 50s culture of abundance, the sexual revolution of the 60s, or the Me Decade of the 70s, according to history professor Elizabeth Lunbeck, who has been studying the history of psychology for more than 20 years.
Lunbeck says narcissism first surfaces in post-World War I London and Vienna. It takes shape in a culture of privation, not of plentitude, says Lunbeck, whose research for a book on the disorder has led her to the letters and personal papers of Sigmund Freud, D. W. Winnicott, and other early psychoanalysts.
My argument is that the narcissist is there pretty much from the beginning of psychoanalysis and gets delineated as a clinical type in 1913 or 1914, she says. Im interested in how this character type took shape within psychoanalysis and in the fact that it took shape largely in British psychoanalysis, not in America.
She says the patient records she has come across from the 20s and 30s provide rich accounts that look very much like the narcissists later described by influential psychoanalysts such as Heinz Kohut and Otto Kernberg in the 60s and 70s and sociologists such as David Reissman, author of the 1950 bestseller The Lonely Crowd, all of whom focused their work on Americans.
Lunbeck, who joined the faculty in 1988 and is the history departments director of graduate studies, taught a graduate seminar on the history of the human sciences last semester.
As the largest taxpayer in Princeton Borough, the University paid $3.3 million in property and sewer taxes last year. The university also gave the borough $110,282 in voluntary payments, which will increase to $400,000 annually by 2006, as a result of a four-year agreement approved by the borough council in December. Last year, the university also gave $59,000 to McCarter Theatre.
But like universities that get tax-exempt status in communities around the country, Princeton still faces outstretched hands and criticism from taxpayers and elected officials, who believe their academic neighbors should do more. In Massachusetts, Harvard went through 18 months of negotiations with the community of Watertown before agreeing in September to pay $480 million in taxes and voluntary payments over 52 years to purchase a 30-acre piece of property. Watertown officials and residents, concerned about the potential loss of future tax revenue under a nonprofit owner, initially protested the acquisition and lobbied for legislation to eliminate the tax exemption for large, land-owning nonprofit organizations statewide. Town officials backed off the legislation after the agreement was reached.
In the late 1990s, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had to clarify the states tax-exempt laws to protect universities from municipal officials who were soliciting payments in lieu of taxes and threatening to revoke the tax-exempt status of universities and other nonprofit organizations that did not pay.
In Princeton, the university voluntarily keeps many properties primarily student, staff, and faculty housing on the tax rolls, even though they could be exempt under state law, according to university officials. In total, the university paid $6.5 million last year in property and sewer taxes for the 4,000 acres of commercial and academic property it owns in the borough, Princeton Township, and nearby West Windsor, Plainsboro, and South Brunswick.
In 1973, the university began making annual payments in lieu of taxes, and in 1988, that began to include payments for McCarter Theatre, which was taken off the tax rolls that year. Princeton also gives millions in donations and services to local organizations, such as the public library, the Medical Center at Princeton, and the Princeton Regional Schools, which receive free Internet service and hosting on behalf of the university.
But how much is enough?
The degree to which it is an issue is as individual as the institutions and the states theyre in, says Roland King, vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, which represents 1,000 schools. But its tough to separate out any perceived tax loss from the societal benefits an institution like Princeton brings to the area in which its located.
University officials realize that the thousands of jobs and cultural benefits their institution provides are not on taxpayers minds as property taxes rise and they read about Princetons $8.3 billion endowment. New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the nation.
When you get your tax bill you dont think, They do so much good, says Pam Hersh, the universitys director of community and state affairs. Hersh represented the university in negotiations on the recent agreement with the borough. But were lucky. We have an excellent relationship with the town in spite of the fact that everyone wants more money.
One critic is David Goldfarb, a borough councilman for the last 12 years and the only one to vote against the recent agreement. What Im looking for is a contribution that is equal to the amount it costs us to provide services to the university. The burden falls disproportionately on the borough. We provide most of the universitys police and health services, says Goldfarb, who believes the universitys voluntary payment should be between $500,000 and $1 million. The fact that they do more than they have to does not mean they should not do more.
Hersh believes the disagreement probably will get worse, considering New Jerseys fiscal problems and the dependence municipalities and school districts have on property taxes.
In Connecticut, the issue moved the state to begin a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) program that reimburses communities that host universities and colleges. Thanks to the program, New Haven receives nearly $20 million from the state on behalf of Yale on top of the what the university pays on its own, a total of $22 million in voluntary payments for fire services over the past dozen years, according to a Yale spokeswoman.
New Jersey does have a PILOT program, but it only covers towns that are home to state universities and other state institutions.
John Wilson, president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in New Jersey, calls Connecticut the envy of the rest of the country.
According to Joan Youngman, a senior fellow with the Lincoln Land Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, Massachusetts, this debate is not likely to end. Universities can marshal not only political and popular support but also data demonstrating their economic benefit to the community, she writes in a report on tax-exempt issues and town-gown relationships. At the same time, efforts by local government to conserve and expand the tax base ensure that controversies of this sort will continue, and that this seemingly simple issue will continue to be ambiguous, complex, and provocative.
Photo: Britanni Kirkpatrick 05 says a four-year plan will ease social pressure. (frank wojciechowski)
When President Woodrow Wilson 1879 initially proposed the creation of four-year residential quads at Princeton in 1907, the plan was well received. But the eventual furor raised by undergraduates and alumni who viewed the plan as a death knell for their beloved eating clubs led university trustees to shelve the plan.
Fast-forward a few generations to the universitys four-year residential plan, to begin in 2006. Since the plan was announced in September, the response has been very positive, based on discussions with faculty, students, and college staff, says President Tilghman. Everyone is excited about thinking through the implementation of the plan, and making sure we have considered all the ways in which it can be successful.
Some students long have pointed to the eating clubs as a source of segregation on campus, and view the four-year college plan as an alternative that will make the campus friendlier to minority students.
By offering upperclassmen dining options and social alternatives, the four-year residential colleges will make the campus more accepting to diverse students and interests, says Brittani Kirkpatrick 05, a member of the Committee for the Improvement of African-American Life at Princeton. The four-year residential college will give students more freedom to be themselves without the pressures of fitting into an eating club.
The impact the new system will have on the eating clubs should be minimal since it will be accompanied by an increase in student population, say administrators and Timothy Szostek 01, the Inter-Club adviser.
But although many students believe the four-year system will provide more meal and social options for students, they also wondered why it is necessary to completely overhaul the existing system.
Why not just build an upperclassman dining hall?, says Maria Ciocca 05, who lives in Mathey College and plans on joining an eating club.
Its worked for 20 years; why change it? says Patrick Taylor 05, a resident of Rockefeller College.
Other students were not keen on the plans for integrating graduate student housing into the reconfigured colleges. I dont want to hang out with T.A.s, says Molly Fay 06, a Wilson College resident.
In a recent article published on PAW Online, architect and urban planner Steve Caputo 01 questions whether the university has taken into full consideration the impact the changes will have on the social life of the campus. The report recommended an improved meal exchange program between the clubs and the university, but it otherwise neglected to envision how the four-year college system would impact and relate to Princetons prevailing sources of social life, he writes.
Read Steve Caputo 01s entire article at www.princeton.edu/paw.
Photo: Seen from the East, the design by Stan Allen *80s team, headed by Skidmore, Owens and Merrill, is one of seven submitted for review.
Until he took over as dean of the School of Architecture in September, Stan Allen *88 lived in lower Manhattan, one-and-a-half blocks from the World Trade Center. So to be an architect on one of seven teams consulting on the redesign of the site has a profound personal resonance.
I feel as if I know the parameters and problems of the issue, he says. The challenge for rebuilding the site, Allen explains, is to knit this devastated area back into the city through a mix of housing and office space, transportation hubs, and memorial.
Princetons architecture program has long taught such an urbanist approach to design, with attention on designing the fabric of a city the streets, transportation, and public spaces as well as individual buildings. Allen wants to strengthen this focus further, and the participation of seven Princeton professors and alumni among the 27 architectural firms on the design teams is likely to help.
The call for redesign submissions began last summer when, after a public viewing, six designs initially submitted for the site generally were acknowledged to be inadequate. What came out of ensuing discussions was a need to make the redesigned site more of a vital part of the city, Allen says.
Hundreds of teams submitted ideas; the second set of teams was chosen in late September. These finalists had six weeks to produce sets of designs, which were made public December 18 and can be seen at www.renewnyc.org. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the Port Authority will choose the most promising of these by the end of January and create proposals for public review.
Allen, whose team is headed by the NYC-based firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, is working with the landscape architect group Field Operations to bring a mix of visual art and landscape architecture to the project.
The team United Architects includes visiting professors Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos from U.N. Studio of Amsterdam; the firm Reiser+Umemoto, headed by assistant professor Jesse Reiser; and architects Greg Lynn *88 and Kevin Kennon *84. United Architects, considered to be the most experimental of the seven finalist teams, showcases the work of an emerging, younger generation of architects.
Visiting professor Peter Eisenman is part of a team that includes four other firms. Eisenman, the architect for the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, whose area is roughly the same size as the World Trade Center site, thinks the entire project must serve as a memorial.
I dont believe that we should put a memorial in a little square with lights and statues and then we put up a huge building, he says. The memorial and the building have to be one and the same.
Reiser believes the faculty members work on the New York project reaches students directly. Were teachers and practitioners both, says Reiser. Both realms inform each other. The content of the material that we deal with in our practice parallels our interests in research and the kinds of courses I teach at Princeton.
Peter Bell *64 and William Frist 74 will receive the universitys highest awards for alumni on Alumni Day, February 22.
Bell, who earned an M.P.A. degree, will receive the James Madison Medal, which recognizes an outstanding alumnus or alumna of the Graduate School. Bell has been president for the last seven years of CARE U.S.A., one of the largest private international relief and development organizations.
Frist, a U.S. senator from Tennessee and the Senates majority leader, will receive the Woodrow Wilson Award, given to an alumnus or alumna whose career embodies Princeton in the nations service. Frist is a former member of Princetons Board of Trustees, and the Frist Campus Center is named for his family.
Bell and Frist will deliver talks on Alumni Day.
Demetri Porphyrios *80 is headed to the Street. The architect hired to develop Whitman College also has been commissioned to design an addition to Ivy Club, the oldest eating club on Prospect Avenue.
London-based Porphyrios Associates was selected from a pool of six architectural firms that submitted proposals, says Jim Griffin 55, president of Ivys graduate board. We felt he could carry out and be consistent with the feel of a Jacobean building better than anyone else, explains Griffin, who is raising money from the clubs more than 2,000 graduate members for the project. He would not discuss the project cost or Porphyrioss fee.
Planning for the two-story addition began two years ago, when club leaders decided they needed more space to deal with a membership that doubled when the club went coed in 1991, Griffin says. The club currently has 135 undergraduate members. The new space will feature a multipurpose room upstairs and a study area downstairs.
Construction is expected to be completed in September 2006, which is also the expected completion date of Whitman College.
Griffin says the addition will use materials indistinguishable from those of Ivys late Elizabethan/Jacobean-style building, which was designed in 1897 by Cope and Stewardson, the architects of Blair and Little Halls, which are made out of brick and straw combined with cinderblocks and marble.
Porphyrios is excited to have a chance to work both on and off the campus. Since Whitman is the first four-year college, he says in a sense, it will compete with Ivy.
Two publications have expanded the periodical offerings for alumni.
The Independent, available online at www.princetonindependent.com, was created by Eric Lubell 76, a freelance writer, and Helen Cho 90, a Web designer. The first issue, posted in November, includes poetry by W. S. Merwin 48, an excerpt from Senseless, a novel by Stona Fitch 83, and an essay by Lesley Carlin 95 on cell-phone etiquette.
Its a journal about what Princeton alumni think, says Lubell, who plans several more issues by next summer. He hopes to raise enough money to publish it in print.
Troubadour, a largely student-run magazine, was founded a year ago by Daniel Hafetz 02 and Jonathan Harris 02 during their senior year after they returned from travels abroad and wanted to share their experiences. Its first two issues, available in print and online at www.troubadourmagazine.org, included poetry by professors Paul Muldoon and Yusef Komunyakaa, photographic essays of Havana and of children who live in trailer parks on Route 1 in New Jersey, and an essay by Moorhead Kennedy 52 on terrorism.
Its third issue, due out this spring, is expected to focus on the Middle East, says Hafetz. Distributed free to all Princeton undergraduates, Troubadour is trying to raise money for an endowment.
Robert Hutchings, assistant dean of the Woodrow Wilson School, will leave the university for a two-year stint as chairman of the National Intelligence Council. He will report to Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet and coordinate intelligence estimates for President Bush. The council represents the U.S. intelligence community and acts as a center for mid- and long-term strategic thinking about national security issues. Hutchings has served twice on the council, as director of its analysis group and as deputy national intelligence officer for Europe.
Laura Shackelton 03 has been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, which provides funding for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England. Shackelton, who is from Reno, Nevada, and is majoring in molecular biology, has done research in neurovirology and plans to pursue a masters degree in genetics. She is also a certificate candidate in the Woodrow Wilson School. She also won a Marshall Scholarship, but turned it down to accept the Rhodes. A two-time winner of the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence, she is a captain of Princetons varsity cross country-team and was a 2001 delegate at the Washington Institute for Health Policy. Shackelton also writes science articles for various publications. She has served as a volunteer in a hospital.