Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What is a Pathological Narcissist?

Was JFK a narcissist? He was certainly adulterous and seemed to suffer from some sort of a sexual addiction, but he was capable of self-criticism, and received external criticism without reflexively
going on the attack. He didn't habitually misrepresent his earlier statements and positions, and he was prospectively pragmatic.

Joy Tiz writes in this Canada Free Press column that President Obama displays many of the telltale signs of pathological narcissism. I'm not entirely certain I agree with her diagnosis of the president's mental state, but she has given us some things to watch for.

The malignant narcissist carries a messianic vision of himself and is prone to magical thinking
Never Laugh at a Narcissist

By Joy Tiz
In 2008, America elected her first celebrity president. So pronounced was Barack Obama’s status as a pop culture celebrity that former rival John McCain ran ads comparing Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, two pop icons famous for their fame rather than their accomplishments.
A less qualified presidential candidate would have been hard to find. Yet Obama was not only a serious candidate and ultimate victor, but during his campaign, he pranced around, acting as if he already was president and the election was merely a ceremony to formalize his taking of the crown.

Narcissism is a personality disorder, meaning a cluster of traits that endure over time and, literally, are part of the individual’s personality. These traits go to the very core of the person’s identity; they are not transient or situational. The term “narcissism” is being mentioned in the media quite a lot recently, not only due in no small part to the election of Obama, but also because many experts believe that our culture, particularly youth culture, is becoming increasingly narcissistic.

Dr. Sam Vaknin describes the “malignant narcissist” as having pathological narcissism. The pathological narcissist will subtly misrepresent facts, or what we call in the political context, a flip-flop. Lacking a solid core of principles makes it easy to switch positions as required.
The malignant narcissist carries a messianic vision of himself and is prone to magical thinking; that is, he ignores data that conflicts with his fantasy.

Narcissists are high-maintenance creatures with little hope of changing. The personality disorder is baked into them. Barack Obama shows the thin-skinned nature of the narcissist in his responses to criticism. Narcissists also have no intestinal fortitude for ridicule. Not only does Barack Obama lash out at critics, he is entirely devoid of the kind of self-deprecating humor that can be so endearing in people in power.

Obama’s mentor, Saul Alinsky understood the use of ridicule as a weapon: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule.” (Rules for Radicals, Pg. 128).

Early in his presidency, Obama chose Rush Limbaugh as his target of choice. The mission is to get the enemy to react, which gives the revolutionary a measure of power and control over the prey. Alinsky doesn’t address this directly, but it would seem prudent to avoid selecting targets that are smarter than you are. Limbaugh deftly and entirely predictably turned Obama’s provocation into a ratings bonanza.

“The narcissist, though, rarely engages in self-directed, self-deprecating humour. If he does, he expects to be contradicted, rebuked and rebuffed by his listeners (Come on, you are actually quite handsome!), or to be commended or admired for his courage or for his wit and intellectual acerbity (I envy your ability to laugh at yourself!). As everything else in a narcissist’s life, his sense of humour is deployed in the interminable pursuit of Narcissistic Supply.”

For all of the narcissist’s grandiosity, he is driven by a relentless need to pursue and maintain a source of narcissistic supply.

“Yet, to obtain Narcissistic Supply, one must be taken seriously and to be taken seriously one must be the first to take oneself seriously. Hence the gravity with which the narcissist contemplates himself. This lack of levity and of perspective and proportion characterise the narcissist and set him apart.”

Narcissists are a volatile bunch, and people who live with them eventually find themselves on the receiving end of narcissistic rage when His Specialness feels a threat to his supply.

“Narcissists can be imperturbable, resilient to stress, and sangfroid. Narcissistic rage is not a reaction to stress – it is a reaction to a perceived slight, insult, criticism, or disagreement (in other words, to narcissistic injury). It is intense and disproportional to the ‘offence’.” Not unlike going on a rampage against Fox News or the banks.

“On the narcissist’s cosmic scale, the daily vagaries of life, the mundane, the routine are not important, even damagingly distracting. This is the source of his feeling of exceptional entitlement. Surely, engaged as he is in benefiting humanity through the exercise of his unique faculties - the narcissist deserves special treatment!”

“This is the source of his violent swings between opposite behaviour patterns and between devaluation and idealisation of others. To the narcissist, every minor development is nothing less than a portentous omen, every adversity is a conspiracy to upset his progress, every setback an apocalyptic calamity, every irritation the cause for outlandish outbursts of rage.”

“The narcissist will tell you it’s good to be able to laugh at oneself, 
But they never do. They laugh at other people.”

Joy Tiz, Joytiz.com, born in Chicago, recalls when many democrats were actually normal people who were just wrong about everything. She has a law degree and an M.Sc. in psychology. Joy has written extensively about current events and politics. She writes for Canada Free Press. Joy’s latest book, Obamanutz: A Cult Leader Takes the White House provides an unblinking look at who Barack Obama is and what forces propelled him into the White House.
Email: joy@joytiz.com
Twitter at: Joytiz