Excerpts from the Archives of the Narcissism List Part 36
- Politicians as Narcissists
- Pathological Narcissism - Under-Diagnosed
- Interview - The Narcissist as an Author
- More about Me - Published in "Bright Ink News - Volume 1, Issue 10"
Are all politicians narcissists? The answer, surprisingly, is: not universally. The preponderance of narcissistic traits and personalities in politics is much less than in show business, for instance. Moreover, while show business is concerned essentially (and almost exclusively) with the securing of narcissistic supply - politics is a much more complex and multi-faceted activity. Rather, it is a spectrum. At the one end, we find the "actors" - politicians who regard politics as their venue and their conduit, an extended theatre with their constituency as an audience. At the other extreme, we find self-effacing and schizoid (crowd-hating) technocrats. Most politicians are in the middle: somewhat self-enamoured, opportunistic and seeking modest doses of narcissistic supply - but mostly concerned with perks, self-preservation and the exercise of power.
Most narcissists are opportunistic and ruthless operators. But not all opportunistic and ruthless operators are narcissists. I am strongly opposed to remote diagnosis. I think it is a bad habit, exercised by charlatans and dilettantes (even if their names are followed by a Psy.D.). Please do not forget that only a qualified mental health diagnostician can determine whether someone suffers from NPD and this, following lengthy tests and personal interviews.
IF the politician in question is ALSO a narcissist (=suffers from NPD), then, yes, he would do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to remain in power, or, while, in power, to secure his narcissistic supply. A common error is to think that "narcissistic supply" consists only of admiration, adulation and positive feedback. Actually, being feared, or derided is also narcissistic supply. The main element is ATTENTION. So, the narcissistic politician cultivates sources of narcissistic supply (both primary and secondary) and refrains from nothing while doing so.
Often, politicians are nothing but a loyal reflection of their milieu, their culture, their society and their times (zeitgeist and leitkultur). This is the thesis of Daniel Goldhagen in "Hitler's Willing Executioners".
Lasch characterized America as narcissistic. More here
Consider the Balkan region, for instance:
Pathological narcissism is the result of individual upbringing (see: "The Narcissist's Mother" and "Narcissists and Schizoids") and, in this sense, it is universal and cuts across time and space. Yet, the very process of socialization and education is heavily constrained by the prevailing culture and influenced by it. Thus, culture, mores, history, myths, ethos, and even government policy (such as the "one child policy" in China) do create the conditions for pathologies of the personality. Christopher Lasch, for instance, labelled the American civilization as narcissistic (see here: "Lasch - The Cultural Narcissist")
My personal view is that narcissism is under-diagnosed and under-reported and that many more people than we care to admit are tainted by it. I fully believe that pathological narcissism is under-diagnosed and mis-diagnosed. Very few narcissists actually subject themselves to treatment, even if they become aware of their problems (which they rarely do). Those who do receive treatment often deceive their therapists, charm them, or mislead them. In a narcissistic culture, narcissistic behaviour is often encouraged and taught.
Q: How did you get started?
A: While in the Israeli army, I published a few detective/mystery stories in the army's mouthpiece. The publisher of martial arts novels (an insult to the genre, I assure you) invited me to his seedy, crumpled and crowded office cum warehouse and commissioned four such masterpieces. I did my best, concocting sex, kong fu fighting and booze. But the publisher was very unhappy with my stream of consciousness technique. Thus, despite strong sales of one of my four aberrant tomes, I was fired with meagre compensation.