Do You Experience Excessive Self-Admiration and a Lack of Empathy? Join the (Elite) Club.

As the gap between the superrich and everyone else widens, high-end real estate prices have soared; Ivy League endowments have ballooned (Harvard is now managing more than $35 billion); and business jets have become de rigueur (not just using them — owning them).

Apparently, the same people who aren’t afraid to splurge big-time on such things — the richer-than-Croesus hedge fund manager; the Silicon Valley CEO — have neuroses that set them apart, too. It’s called narcissism, though a story in the New York Times today takes a pleasingly circuitous path around that simple conclusion.

Dr. Michael H. Stone, a psychiatrist affiliated with Columbia, said that the preponderance of patients with self-made fortunes, many made at a relatively young age, marked a striking shift. “It used to be that my patients were the children of the rich: inheritors, people who suffered from the neglect of jet-setting parents or from the fear that no matter what they did, they would never measure up to their father’s accomplishments,” he recalled. “Now I see so many young people — people in their 30s and 40s — who’ve made the money themselves… are so often narcissistic in a way that excludes depression.”

The story goes on to say that:

Most of the therapists interviewed said the rich were also far more able than the average patient to not show up for a session or give up on therapy altogether. “It starts with the way it’s so easy for them to not show up for an appointment because it means nothing to them if they’re out the $300 or $400,” said Dr. Stone…“Superbly well-to-do people tend to have much less of an impetus to work through things now. They have so many opportunities to seek gratification that they’re not hurting in the same way.”

Possessing an infantile level of personality development has never sounded so attractive.