I listened to a BYU-Idaho devotional that seemed to offer a better explanation that I could offer Walter when I was in Rome.
President Kim B. Clark warned listeners that "we live in a society awash in the poisonous spirit of entitlement. All of us need to be aware of, prepared for, and protected against the awful effects of this deadly poison...[and] gratitude is the great antidote, the great protection against the spirit of entitlement" ("Drenches in Gratitude: Protection Against the Spirit of Entitlement," Brigham Young University-Idaho devotional, 14 September 2010, emphasis added).
Gratitude. That is the antidote.
When we feel entitled--that we "deserve" this or that--or lack appreciation for what we have, that is when the poison of pride begins to seep into our blood. If left unchecked, it will reach our heart and harden it to the point that we will stop feeling the Holy Ghost.
President Clark continues:
If you and I have the spirit of entitlement, it means we have an attitude and belief that the world owes us what we want. Like Laman and Lemuel, some who harbor the spirit of entitlement believe they have been shortchanged in life or aggrieved in some way and that they deserve more than they are getting. Often those who succumb to the spirit of entitlement feel superior to those around them, or believe certain rules should not apply to them, or that they should not be required to do what everyone else has to do. They believe they are entitled to special treatment and special privileges. They want something for nothing.So, Walter, does that answer your question? If not, read more of President Clark's devotional.
The spirit of entitlement has a history that goes back to the War in Heaven. Satan was full of pride and the spirit of entitlement when he rebelled and fought against the Father and the Son. He said to God, “I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.” Jesus, in contrast, said simply, “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.”
It is the law of heaven that “when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” But the blessing comes in God’s “own time, and in his own way.” Not only was Satan’s proposal contrary to God’s law and plan, but he demanded the blessing of God’s honor. Where Jesus was humble and submissive to the Father’s will, Satan was proud and entitled. Satan embraced the demanding spirit of entitlement in the pre-mortal realm and was “cast down.” Now he seeks to infect us with its deadly poison.
That infection often begins with small and simple feelings we might each encounter under certain circumstances; for example, a brother who was absent for several classes in the semester but claimed he should be treated differently because he was the head of a campus organization; or a sister who felt she had a right to an A in a class just because she had turned in all the assignments; or a brother who believed he had a right to park next to every classroom building.
-- "Drenches in Gratitude: Protection Against the Spirit of Entitlement," Brigham Young University-Idaho devotional, 14 September 2010 (emphasis added)