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Interview with Jay Slosar, author of The Culture of Excess

About Jay Slosar

Jay Slosar, Ph.D., is the author of a provocative new book The Culture of Excess: How Americans Lost Self-Control and Why We Need to Redefine Success (ABC-CLIO, LLC, November 2009). For the past quarter-century he has run a successful private practice as a licensed psychologist and has provided direct clinical and consulting services in a variety of diverse settings. Currently, Dr. Slosar is also an adjunct assistant professor at Chapman University in Orange County, California. He also provides forensic evaluations from court referrals, specializing in evaluating teenagers.

Dr. Slosar has worked and consulted for many companies and organizations, including: Health and Human Services Group, Young Life Enrichment Program, Family Solutions, Western Youth Services, Villa Millard Facility, and the Dawson Education Foundation. The services provided included: counseling, psychological evaluations, program design, staff training, and conflict resolution.

He also has served as the administrative clinician for a federal contract in the delivery of an employee assistance program for federal law enforcement employees and their families. Over six years, he was responsible for all clinical and administrative needs for an $8 million federal contract which included providing training/education workshops in the areas of stress management, trauma response, supervisory management, domestic violence, and workplace violence. He co-directed the critical incident response services for operational and non-operational traumas. He has completed certification in critical incident response training from the American Red Cross and the National Organization for Victim’s Assistance.

Dr. Slosar has written and published professional materials and articles, including a staff training manual for residential treatment services. He has also presented a paper at the FBI Quantico training facility on perfectionism and its relationship to suicide in law enforcement personnel.

Since 1985 he has taught in both the psychology department and the health services department at Chapman University as an adjunct assistant associate professor.

He was the president of the Orange County Psychological Association in 2004 and is a past board member of the California Coalition of Ethical Mental Health Care, a San Francisco-based group that promotes the ethics and integrity of mental health-care delivery services. Dr. Slosar was on the board of directors for the California Psychological Association in 2006 and 2007. He is also a Board Member of the California Association of Psychology Providers (CAPP).

Dr. Slosar received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, earned his Master’s Degree from Wichita State University, and received his Bachelor’s Degree from Jacksonville University. He resides in Newport Beach, California. For more information, please consult www.cultureofexcess.com.

The Interview

Q: Thank you for this interview, Jay. Can you tell us what your latest book, The Culture of Excess, is all about?

A: The Culture of Excess is a book that has a premise that culture trumps personality. The cultural factors emphasized include the speed of technology, technology coupled with media, and extreme capitalism. These factors are interactive and cumulative and result in declining self-control. The underlying psychological reason for the decline in self control is the continued growth of cultural narcissism. The end result is excess. The book ends with discussion of transitioning from Generation Me to Generation We. The book is the result of changes observed in clinical practice with patients that correlate with changes in our culture and society.

Q: Is this your first novel? If not, how has writing this novel different from writing your first?

A: Yes, a non-fiction book.

Q: How difficult was it writing your book? Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?

A: Yes. It took several years to write. At times I stopped, especially until I signed a contract with my publisher.

Q: How have your fans embraced your latest novel? Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?

A: My book is non-fiction. Colleagues and acquaintances have been very positive and responsive to the book, noting how timely it is. I share my own experiences. I note that I was raised Catholic and was an altar boy—and let the readers know that for the record I was not abused.

Q: What is your daily writing routine?

A: It is not consistent. My writing depends on how busy I am and what other required academic or professional reports I have to do. I write in spurts. But when I set an outline, I work on separate sections with deadlines/goals. Sometimes, I don’t write but spend a lot of time making notes and organizing material in order to write. Then it flows more easily and is a better draft.

Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?

A: Workout, read, listen to music, watch political news, hang with friends.

Q: What book changed your life?

A: Many books have influenced me. For my book, The Culture of Narcissism in 1979 by Christopher Lasch was very influential.

Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?

A: The Eclectic Public Professional.

Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”

A: I have a never ending quest for integrating data and observations. I crave being with people who are similar and can talk with them all through the night.

Thank you for this interview Jay. I wish you much success on your latest release, The Culture of Excess !

About Culture of Excess

Culture of Excess by Jay Slosar (click on cover to purchase)

In the wake of buckling markets, 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 dramatically impacted American life. Economically, we understand how it happened, but why it happened is more of a mystery. What psychological factors fueled the years of excess and, more important, how do we refocus ourselves for a more rational, self-controlled future?

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.

Illustrating its thesis with numerous vignettes and case studies, The Culture of Excess is the first book to assess the impact of economic and social factors on the nation’s psychological well-being. It shows how capitalism, technology, and media interact and become additive factors in the loss of self-control, and it explains how the compromises made in adapting to intense economic competition lead to a false sense of self and reality. 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.”

Here’s what reviewers have to say!

“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 an in-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 breathes new meaning into that ancient, Talmudic query about the relationship between self and others: If I am not for myself, who is for me? 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

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