Category Archives: Narcissism

Study Shows That Narcissists Often Become Leaders, But Not Always Good Ones

Barack Obama and John McCain look unusually happy during their second presidential campaign debate on October 7.

Vote for Me! I'll fix everything! I know what to do! Barack Obama and John McCain look unusually happy during their second presidential campaign debate on October 7. What kind of personality does it take to think you've got the right stuff to be the President of the United States?

If you think you’ve got what it takes to be the President of the United States, you might be a narcissist, according to a new study (See link below.)  Wall Street traders and CEOs of financial companies might also score high on the narcissist chart.  Congressional leaders, too.  If only a big ego meant competence.  But it doesn’t, as we’ve so unfortunately seen lately. 

Narcissists like to be in charge, but the new study shows that narcissists don’t outperform others in leadership roles. Narcissists are egotistical types who exaggerate their talents and abilities and lack empathy for others.   Their egos tell them that they can’t be wrong, even if they are.   They don’t like to be questioned.  They don’t tell the truth if a lie would be better.  They need followers, known as “narcissistic supply.”  Worst of all, they think it’s all about them and nothing about you! 

Can we avoid them?  It might be hard.  They seem to gravitate toward leadership roles because that’s where the power and recognition is.  Narcissists can be so charming at first.  It’s not until they get into office that we find out the bitter truth.  The best thing is to have a realistic attitude.  These people are human, after all.  Don’t expect miracles.  Expect mistakes.  Take action for your own life.  And maybe we’ll get lucky and elect a president who really does want to serve the people.

I wrote about narcissism, particularly in politics, in I’m the Center of the Universe.  Here is an article about a study of narcissism in politics and business, which focuses on political and business leaders: Narcissists Tend to Become Leaders. For an explanation of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, click here.

Two blogs with incisive posts on Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

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The Last Word

Remember!  Families have the last word.  My previous post was about narcissism.  This obituary works well with that theme. (Thanks, Henry.)  What will people remember about us?  Some people don’t care, of course.  They truly live in the now and the nobody else. 

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I’m the Center of the Universe

Spiral Galaxy M51.  It's a vast universe out there, but sometimes we think it's all about "me."

The universe is infinite, but sometimes we think it's just all about us.

When John Edwards almost seemed to excuse his marital infidelity by saying he was a narcissist, I thought his self-diagnosis would lead to a discussion in the mass media of what Narcissistic Personality Disorder really is.  But that didn’t really happen.  Many politicians are grandiose, jumping into the ring with skills and experience far below what’s needed to be president.  But are they narcissists? 

What is a narcissist?  It’s a lot more than looking in the mirror every ten minutes, getting $400 haircuts and cheating on your wife, although a narcissist may do all of these acts.  Near the end of this post, I’ve listed the nine most commonly cited criteria for NPD.

The New York Times published an article in July touching on the clinical meaning of Narcissism, since it seems to be the word du jour. 

The Times’ Narcissism story was triggered by Christie Brinkley’s divorce trial.   Brinkley’s soon-to-be-ex husband, Peter Cook, was diagnosed by his psychiatrist as a narcissist.  Here’s the link: Here’s Looking at Me, Kid  Arm chair “psychiatrists” have tagged a lot of celebrities and politicians with the narcissist label — Eliot Spitzer and Tom Cruise, to name two.

Most of us have encountered a narcissist in our everyday life, and if we’re lucky, we might enjoy his or her charming company for no more than a few minutes.  Many narcissists are extremely charming  — at first.  They seem to know just how to pull you in, focusing their attention on you with laser-like intensity.  It’s an amazing skill, considering that one of the hallmarks of narcissism is a lack of empathy. Initially, they make us feel good about ourselves, so there’s a little self-involvement in us, too.  We feel worthwhile, loved, needed. This makes it even more crushing when the narcissist inevitably reveals that we meant nothing to him or her at all.  We’re not a friend or a partner, but just another object to fill the narcissist’s vast unfillable void or a stepping stone to take the narcissist to the next level.  The damage is hugely amplified if the narcissist is in charge of our country.

Here are some commonly accepted diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder:  At least five of the following are necessary for a diagnosis:

1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance

2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love

3) believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by other special people

4) requires excessive admiration

5) strong sense of entitlement

6) takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

7) lacks empathy

8) is often envious or believes others are envious of him or her

9) arrogant behavior 

The Narcissistic Personality Disorder on-line discussion group at msn.com can be found by clicking here.

My friend Jan writes about narcissism far better than I could.  Here’s a link to her post: Close Encounter with a Narcissist

On a personal level, here’s an article about dealing with “everyday” narcissists. Self-Esteem or Narcissism?

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