The Malta Independent 25 May 2024, Saturday
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The man who was a narcissist

Rachel Borg Saturday, 11 February 2017, 09:28 Last update: about 8 years ago

This story is about a man who is a narcissist with what would probably be professionally diagnosed as Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD.   He is a politician and he has recently been the subject of another story that exposed his behaviour to the public.  Now, in true style, he does what he always does and puts his self-image above all else, regardless of public opinion.

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The abnormality of this man’s personality is abundantly clear now to all normal and healthy people.  Although his latest action has produced a reaction of shock and horror on an unprecedented level, the man will still not see what he has done as wrong.  Others too may struggle to comprehend the rationale behind the actions of the man but instinct and a good sense of moral behaviour will strike a level of alarm and concern, even panic, as the reality of the gravity of the man’s behaviour and its consequences, sinks in.   This is not the case with the man himself, who remains convinced of his superiority and justifiable injury. 

The essay written by Leon F. Seltzer PhD. – Evolution of the Self, in (Psychology Today posted 21 Dec, 2011) entitled:  Narcissism:  Why It’s So Rampant in Politics – is all about this kind of man.  This is what he has to say about the Narcissistic Politician:

“Notorious for being empathy-challenged (though they may be extremely adept at masking this deficit), narcissist-politicians are frequently tone deaf as regards how some of their private, "entitled" actions can affect public opinion. Compartmentalizing their lives, they suffer from a peculiar moral myopia and lack of imagination, unable to anticipate how their sexual infidelities, or barefaced bribe-taking, might be held against them. In this sense, their exaggerated sense of privilege frequently undermines their better judgment. As cold-hearted and calculating as they can be—for they see others as essentially objects to manipulate for personal gain—they're strangely naive (or even unconscious) about how their unprincipled acts could be negatively interpreted by others, who don't necessarily assume such behaviours as "entitled" at all.

“Closely linked to their amoral or illegal actions is the dominance their office bestows on them. It's this power—or the "corruptibleness" inherent in this power—that can create in them a reckless sense of invisibility. How else explain the foolhardy risks some of them take?—heedless, hazardous behaviours of such magnitude that the layperson can be left nonplussed, mystified, or downright appalled. "Is this the person I voted for?" they must ask themselves. No wonder that news headlines about their dalliances, debaucheries, and assorted depravities have become commonplace.

“Eventually coming to believe their own falsehoods, they're fiercely defensive, and even attacking, when their illogical, inconsistent, or even contradictory, positions are questioned. Expert at lying to themselves, as well as to others, their inability to experience much guilt when they're found out is easy enough to comprehend. And tied to this distorted sense of entitlement (or "personal exceptionalism"), they can't really feel genuine sorrow for what they've done to betray the public trust.

“Frankly incapable of emotionally identifying with others' distress, the wrong they may have done them remains forever out of their focus. What is in focus for them is the deeply felt assault to their self-image that comes from being charged with wrongdoing. And, so threatened, their push-back reactions are self-righteously contrived to reclaim both their personal and ideological superiority over their attacker. Flagrantly falsifying facts and details beyond reason, they vehemently proclaim the moral high ground.

“But most tragically, as they "successfully" rise to prominence and power, the whole diseased condition of their lives infects us as well. For in devoting their lives almost exclusively to selfish, ill-conceived goals, the needs of the larger community surrounding them either get ignored or abandoned. Inevitably, we all suffer from the fraud that so thoroughly envelops them.”

There is a film, called The Train to Busan set in China, about zombies taking over the country.  One bite from them and you immediately become a zombie and are compelled to do the same to someone else.  That way the whole city got infected.  In the film, one zombie on the train was enough to leave just one pregnant woman and one child as survivors.  The rest of the passengers all became zombied or got killed.  In the case of the pregnant woman, her husband gave his life for her and the father did the same for his child. 

Narcissism is not an easy affliction.  Not for the person who is a narcissist and especially not for those who encounter one – very likely - in the course of their life.  The internet is flooded with professional videos, articles and dedicated sites on how to recover from a narcissistic episode in your life, if you have recognised it and can identify the problem.

Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin are both suspected narcissists, as was Saddam Hussein.

Narcissistic leaders are intensely aware of which people are “with” them unconditionally and which ones are not. They know whom they can use and they don’t think twice about being callously manipulative. That explains why narcissists are often unlikable despite their charm, charisma and personal magnetism. They tend to provoke opposition, and often people are only willing to tolerate a narcissist as a leader at times of turmoil.

Recently, psychologists Rob Kaiser and Robert Hogan suggest that the way to deal with narcissistic and potentially destructive leaders, at least in the business world – and that is quite a predominant characteristic of our present government - is through selection - identifying these individuals early on, and not allowing them to get into positions of power and authority.

The story of this man has given us a clear picture of what he is capable of.  Maybe it was even harder to see the fault in this man because, we, as a nation, may be a nation of narcissists, having grandiose ideas of who we are and what we are entitled to. 

By doing what he did, however, this man brought people to an unexpected place from where they are made fully aware of the difference between normal and abnormal, of what is totally weird and freaky to what is reasonable and justified. 

He has simply gone further in his rage than the others around him though it is easy to see how others have been manipulating their way and will now be needing to go further themselves so as not to be outshined by this man. 

Get ready for worse, expect no shame or regret.  Next time, you will know better that some people are definitely not be trusted in politics or anywhere else.  Until then, stop agreeing with them in any way, see the lies and the attacks on the foundation of our being and what we take for granted, such as freedom of speech, don’t get confused and don’t fall for deceit tactics and devious manipulation.

In the story of the man, we know where he was, even if he says otherwise.  Don’t forget that.

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