Given the recent scandal revolving around has-been John Edwards, ABC News delved into what makes politicians tick. Sometimes it’s their own narcissism:
The North Carolina native, who just last week admitted to cheating on his wife with documentary filmmaker Rielle Hunter, told ABC News that his time in the political limelight fed into his self-adoration so much so that his personal life eventually became the latest high-profile sex scandal.
“[My experiences] fed a self-focus, an egotism, a narcissism that leads you to believe you can do whatever you want,” said Edwards, admitting that he cheated on his wife, Elizabeth, with Hunter to ABC News’ Bob Woodruff. “You’re invincible. And there will be no consequences.”
“And nothing, nothing could be further from the truth,” added Edwards in a press statement he released later that day, reiterating that his time on the campaign trail made him become “increasingly egocentric and narcissistic.”
Our own Dr. Sam was quoted for the article:
Miami-based psychotherapist Samuel Lopez De Victoria describes narcissists as people who get a high from getting attention and who often are unaware of the chance that they might get caught misbehaving.
“There is a euphoria attached to the relentless feeding of the ego,” he said. “The grandiosity in their own mind tends to make them so vain that an illusion of invincibility is created.”
In turn, De Victoria said, not only does a narcissist become unable to consider the effect his actions could have on his own career or personal life, but it also inhibits him from considering the feelings of those around him.
“[Narcissism] creates an over-amplification of who someone thinks they are, and it creates self-deception,” he said.
“They are insensitive to the reality of events and relationships around them until they fall off the skyscraper and find that the law of gravity applies to them, too,” De Victoria said.
It seems like a never-ending loop of self-reinforcement and aggrandizing. I’m not sure how a popular politician can keep grounded and letting these things go to their head. Most, I think, find some way of balancing out all of the feelings of invincibility and that everyone loves you with the reality that you’re just another human being make his or her way in this world.
The last word on the subject in the article — that politicians seek to put a label on their behavior to escape responsibility for it — is silly. I don’t think Edwards or any other politician believes they got away with anything just because they’re labeling their behavior. Labels don’t help us evade responsibility, but they can help a person learn how to change.
Interesting insights and ideas about politicians’ problems with narcissism.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 12 Aug 2008
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Grohol, J. (2008). Politicans Are Their Own Worst Enemies. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 28, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2008/08/12/politicans-are-their-own-worst-enemies/