The Culture of Excess

How America Lost Self-Control and Why We Need to Redefine Success

by J.R. Slosar


With the market buckling, the banks knocked to their knees, and massive amounts of presumed wealth revealed as the product of self-deception and breathtaking criminality, an age of indulgence has, hopefully, ended. Economically, we understand how it happened, but why did it happen? What psychological factors fueled the years of excess and how do we refocus ourselves for a more rational, self-controlled future?

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October 2009


Pages 205
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Psychology/Social
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In the wake of the 2008-2009 economic recession, this revealing work offers a psychological explanation of how we as a nation grapple with self-control and how we can develop a new and healthier generation.

As J.R. Slosar shows in this urgent, sometimes startling volume, the nation’s fast-and-loose approach to money was in fact a symptom of a more widespread pattern of excessive behavior. In The Culture of Excess: How America Lost Self-Control and Why We Need to Redefine Success, Slosar portrays an America where the drive to succeed and the fear of missing out manifested itself not only in self-entitled corporate fraud, but in everything from sharp rises in obesity and cosmetic medical procedures to equally troubling increases in eating disorders, panic attacks, and outbreaks of uncontrollable rage.

The Culture of Excess is the first book to assess the impact of economic and social factors on the nation’s psychological well-being. Narcissism, productive narcissism, psychopathy, rigidity and self destruction, perfectionism, the illusion of success, and identity achievement all come into play as Slosar diagnoses the psychological drivers behind this indulgent age, offering his prescription for helping “Generation Me” become “Generation We.”


  • Numerous vignettes and case studies illustrate the major themes of the book
  • Dozens of research citations at the end of each chapter
  • An extensive bibliography referencing 75 professional journals and 48 books
  • A comprehensive index


  • Shows how the extraordinary growth of capitalism, technology, and media interact and become additive factors to the loss of self-control
  • Defines the underlying cause of declining self-control as cultural narcissism, which leads to excessive risk taking
  • Explains how the compromises made in adapting to intense economic competition lead to a false sense of self and reality
  • Connects the rise of cultural excess to a decline in critical thinking and analysis that fosters an avoidance of data, numbers, and math
Author Info

J.R. Slosar is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Irvine, CA, and an adjunct assistant professor at Chapman University, Orange, CA. In the past 25 years he has provided direct clinical and consulting services in a variety of diverse settings. He has taught classes at several colleges and universities throughout his career. Read more here:



"When The Culture of Excess was first offered to me to review, my first thought was am I the right person for this book? It only took me a few minutes and pages to realize that I would be fine for this book because I found the book was so much more than what I had expected. Dr. J. R. Slosar for me, most importantly, wrote this book in a way that made it easy to follow and understand. His goal seemed, in some ways, not far off from what I had been trying to do in a classroom as a teacher for the last few years prior to my retirement, and that was to get those young people to understand that their self-indulgence was very harmful to them as well as society as a whole. . . . The Culture of Excess is a thought provoking must-read for those who want a better life and society for themselves and their children and want to be part of a 'We' Society at last!"—

"This book, written by a clinical psychologist offers a different perspective, which makes it stand out in this now-crowded genre of literature. Slosar provides an interesting examination of the psychological and social influences that affect us as a culture, setting up circumstances that made our clamor for money outpace our collective common sense. The prose is thoughtful, but not necessarily sanguine that we might not make the same mistakes again if given a chance."—Reference & Research Book News

"Meticulously researched...written in a marvelously readable, breezy style...I heartily recommend this excellent book, and would recommend it for chapter 5 along, but it's all a really great read!"—Health Matters


"Dr. Slosar gives us the perspective of the discipline of psychology, both as applied to individuals and as applied to our culture...Dr. Slosar shows us why addressing our cultural narcissism must be an integral part of achieving health care justice for all."—Physicians for a National Health Program


"Jay Slosar gives us the benefit of his years of clinical and teaching experiences with people who reveal just how firmly we live in an age of excess. Wonderfully written, the Culture of Excess not only discusses how we got to this point, but offers insights on how to change course. Individuals, parents, decision-makers and others will come to see how we might turn 'Generation Me' into 'Generation We,' and create a better world in the process. This is an important book."—Elizabeth Loftus, PhD, Distinguished Professor, University of California, Irvine
Past President, Association for Psychological Science

"Dr. Slosar offers a depth-psychological analysis and understanding of the forces shaping our popular culture. He reaches the troubling conclusion that we are in an age that applauds excessive self absorption and devalues a community spirit. His insight into the psychosocial conflicts that are unfolding in the 21st century breathe new meaning into those ancient, Talmudic queries about the relationship between self and others: If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? This work is timely and wise."—Richard Lettieri, PhD, Clinical and Forensic Psychologist, Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst, Newport Psychoanalytic Institute, Faculty, New Center for Psychoanalysis

"This is a fast-paced yet penetrating account that integrates psychological insights into the many paradoxes of our recent social, cultural, political and economic transformations. The actualities of our collective experiences are set within a framework of understanding that both provokes and illuminates. You will want to argue with the author, wish to extend his reasoning, and ask him how we can alter our personal trajectories to achieve a life that is more balanced and authentic. At the end, you'll thank Slosar for putting it all out there for you to grapple with."—Myron Orleans, Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, California State University, Fullerton

"Unless Americans begin to appreciate the psychological forces driving our national behavior we will be unable to tame the destructive tendencies that have caused today's economic avalanche. Dr. Slosar gives us a wonderful opportunity to understand the real forces that have been driving America's culture of excess. There is great insight in this book for decision makers and parents."—Bryant Welch, JD, PhD, Psychologist/Attorney and Author of State of Confusion: Political Manipulation and the Assault on the American Mind

"As a clinician, the book inspired me to look at my practice differently. I repeat the book title to my patients, and Dr. Slosar's insightful analysis assists the dialog between my patients and me to recognize destructive environmental influences upon their challenges with self control, desire, and dashed expectations. The book is an eye opener and a must read for mental health providers, searching for a new listening perspective to assist others with the fight against the hope for easy solutions to one's problems. The book is an easy, but necessary read for the public, alerting us toward our culture's drift toward the illusion of quick rewards without the hard work. . . . His book significantly demands of the readers to re-think our paths to success which is just one of a number of thoughtful observations offered in The Culture of Excess."—Andrew N. Schwartz, PhD, clinical psychologist, past President of the Orange Country Psychological Association

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