The Narcissism of Parking

A recent case before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal concerns a woman who claims that municipal bylaws that prevent on street parking in front of her house is a human rights violation. Apparently the lane behind her house that provides access to her garage is too narrow for her car.

While it may be puzzling to many that this trivial issue lands up before a human rights tribunal, especially to those who face real human rights violations, the case does highlight, and in comic and harmless relief, the workings of cognitive narcissism run amok in the world.

The narcissistic way of thinking that emerges in early life, around age three, makes us think that whatever happens to us is about us, and makes us unable understand events from any point if view other than our own.

While in the normal course of development our way of thinking and understanding evolves beyond this early stage, in many respects and instances our thinking can remain stuck in this more primitive form of cognitive narcissism, as is the case here.

This lady’s egocentric thinking has her believe that her desire for a convenient parking arrangement is as important to everyone else as it is to her, and not just in her neighborhood, but to the rest of mankind as well. If it matters to her, then, narcissistically speaking, it matters to everyone else. There is no difference between her thoughts and feelings and those of anyone else. That is the narcissistic perspective.

So she fails to see the situation from the point of view of the rest of her community, that presumably has particular reasons for the bylaw that prevents her and everyone else parking on the street in front of their homes. In her narcissistic mind, the rest of her community, and their interests, do not exist or matter, just as is the case of a three year old who hits another child, but because he or she does not feel any pain, cannot understand the pain felt by the assaulted child.

In the same way, this lady also fails to see her personal issue from the point of view of the millions of people around the world who suffer under the yoke of very real and life-endangering human rights violations.

While it is possible to understand the workings of cognitive egocentricity in the case of an individual in a particular situation, it is truly baffling that the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal would hear this case in the first place. Baffling as this is, we’ll have to wait for their ruling before knowing whether the limits of ridiculous and lack of perspective have been reached.

 

News article can be found: here 

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