At a time when we're being told we need more empathy, some experts claim that narcissism - empathy's evil twin - is on the rise. Narcissism has vaulted off the psychotherapist’s couch, sprinted away from the psychiatric ward, and is now squatting in the mainstream of popular conversation. Social media seems obsessed with "narcs", and with detecting narcissism personality disorder in people. It may or may not be a coincidence that we ended up with an apparent world-class narcissist in the White House at just the time when we seemed to be undergoing a public crisis about narcissism and narcissists. Blogs and books about narcissists are everywhere. Jolyon Jenkins talks to people who make a living from advising the public about narcissists, and a self-confessed celebrity narcissist who offers consultations to people who think they may be living with one of "his kind". The evidence that there really is more narcissism around seems thin, but that doesn't mean to say that we shouldn't take it seriously when it flips into a personality disorder.
Producer/presenter: Jolyon Jenkins
I Feel for You: Empaths and empathy
Empathy is the psycho-political buzzword of the day. President Obama said - frequently - that America's empathy deficit was more important than the Federal deficit. Bill Clinton said "I feel your pain", and Hillary urged us all "to see the world through our neighbour’s eyes, to imagine what it is like to walk in their shoes". Many people have taken up the idea of empathy with gusto, and the United Nations has poured money into virtual reality films that led us allegedly experience the world of, for example, a Syrian refugee. As we seem to be driving ourselves ever deeper into silos of mutual incomprehension, the idea of taking another person's perspective seems an obviously useful one. But what's the evidence that feeling someone else's pain, or even understanding it, actually does any good? Jolyon Jenkins speaks to one self-described intuitive empath, who says she can sense the feelings of strangers in a room or even in the street. She describes it as both a gift and a curse. For the rest of us, is there not a danger that, having felt a brief emotional engagement, we move on, our fundamental attitudes and beliefs unchanged?
Producer/presenter: Jolyon Jenkins
Behind the Scenes: Marianela Nunez at Covent Garden
As she prepares to perform two roles in a new production of the classic "White ballet", La Bayadere, the Royal Ballet's charismatic Argentinian-born principal dancer, Marianela Nunez shares her life behind the scenes. Marianela Nunez is considered one of the greatest ballerinas in the world, combining passion and flare from her Argentinian background with discipline and experience from her many years with the Royal Ballet. As she celebrates 20 years dancing with the company, she takes Radio Four's Beaty Rubens behind the scenes, sharing what it means to be a Principal Dancer today. The programme focuses on her preparations to dance the two key roles in the much-loved classic, La Bayadere - the temple dancer Nikiya and the princess Gamzatti. It reveals glimpses of her at home in her native Buenos Aires over the summer, follows her as she travels into work, attends specially - designed Pilates classes and studio rehearsals with the great Russian ballerina Natalia Makarova (who recreated Marius Petipa's 1877 Indian Classic for a contemporary audience in 1989) and culminates with her triumphant opening night, leaving her in her dressing room with her feet in a bucket of ice and surrounded by vast bouquets of pink roses. Beaty Rubens also hears from Natalia Makarova, the Royal Ballet's Kevin O'Hare and the leading Russian dancer who partners Marianela, Vadim Muntagirov. Now at the very top of her game, Marinanela Nunez is also a wonderfully charismatic individual, whose love of dance and enthusiasm for life in the Royal Ballet effervesces in this lively depiction of a true artist.
Producer: Beaty Rubens ,
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward - Episode One
From H.P. Lovecraft: The investigation into a mysterious disappearance.
Let's Raise the Voting Age
In 1969 Harold Wilson's Government lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. Fifty years on, with calls for votes at 16 gaining support, Professor James Tilley explores not just whether reducing it further makes sense, but if arguments could be made for raising it back to 21. As most other areas of the law restrict the rights and responsibilities of 16-year-olds, why should voting buck the trend of our rites of passage into adulthood happening increasingly late? Former Labour leader Ed Miliband offers his take on why 16-year-olds should be allowed to vote, and there's some voting mythbusting from Professor Phil Cowley, who honestly answers the question as to whether 16-year-olds really dislike him. LSE Professor of Social Policy and Sociology, Lucinda Platt offers insights into the changes in the age at which key milestones of life happen now compared to in the late 60s, and Dr Jan Eichhorn of the University of Edinburgh explains the picture in Scotland where 16-year-olds can vote. And Maisie and Lottie, campaigners from York's Youth Council, put forward their views as to why they should be allowed to vote.
Presented by Professor James Tilley
Produced by Kev Core