By Dr. Anthony Policastro

Newsweek recently had a report. A family bought a new home with a pool. The neighbors told them that the previous owners had rented out the pool to them for their private parties. The new owners did not care to do so. So the neighbors decided to shun them. 

You would wonder what gives people a sense of entitlement. We see enough of it that the name Karen was coined during the pandemic to describe a woman who thought she was entitled.

As with most human behavior entitlement can be described from a psychological standpoint. Entitlement is a personality trait. It describes a person’s belief that they deserve things. Sometimes those things take the form of privileges. Sometimes they take the form of recognition. 

In either case it is an expectation that they deserve something that they really have not earned. They expect the world to give them something in exchange for nothing.

As is often the case there are multiple reasons that people develop a sense of entitlement. For example people with narcissistic personality disorders have a big sense of entitlement. They might think that they deserve to be the president of a country and take whatever steps are necessary to take over the government.

It can also be a symptom of an antisocial personality disorder. People who are antisocial have a complete disregard for the rights of anyone else. They also have no sense of remorse for their actions.

Teaching a child good habits can avoid a senes of entitlement. Some children get everything they want. There is no expectation that they need to earn anything. When they grow up, they continue to have the same expectations. They should have whatever they want. There is no need to earn it.

This is what happened with the pool story. The neighbors came to expect things being a certain way. They thought that paying for the privilege to use the pool was their way of having a right to it. Of course, it is clear that no one considered the insurance risk in renting out a pool.

A weird reason for entitlement has to do with making up for past disappointments. For example, a child may not get picked for the all-star team. When they grow up, they become a coach. Their expectation is that they deserve to be given the best players in return for what happened to them earlier.

All of these reasons tend to be subconscious in nature. The individual does not realize that they are acting inappropriately. So like any psychological issue the first step is admitting that there is a problem. That is probably the most difficult part of getting treatment.

Once that happens, professional guidance is an important first step. Techniques include not living in the past. They include practicing treating others with respect, compassion and gratitude. They include celebrating the successes of others. It is not an easy task.

Entitlement is not normal psychologically. Making fun of individuals who have that problem will not help them realize that they have an issue. We need to understand the things that cause those issues.

COVID update- Sussex County remains in the medium risk zone. However, the number of new cases continue to drop.  In Sussex County they went from 601 two weeks ago to 488 last week to 312 this week. Nationally, they went from 834,000 two weeks ago to 769,000 last week to 683,000 this week.