32 Comments to
Have We Become a Nation of Narcissists?

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  1. This article has a whiff of moralizing superiority – the work of a narcissist, perhaps? Of course, saying so makes it impossible for me to defend this comment either.

    I think the roots go back to the post-WW2 generation getting everything they wanted. Nature will catch up with us eventually and it’s going to be a rude shock that will balance out the narcissism of previous generations.

    • Hi Rachel-

      Late reply to your comment.. but anyway I have developed a belief that WW2 was actually a key moment in time which either ‘triggered’ (pardon the pun) or greatly worsened pre-existing Codependency (and related conditions),
      caused by society’s lack of support provided to soldiers post-war, and the stereotypical views around men not showing emotions.

      These soldiers returned from war having experienced horrific things with no ability to cope or heal from the impact of what they went through- for whatever reason they were effectively ignored and emotionally abandoned by society. And as the trauma that occurred as a result (what we now refer to as PTSD) was never healed or addressed there was no real socially acceptable way of coping: therefore resulting in issues such as alcoholism and domestic violence.

      This then had a ripple effect that affected the whole family, then the family of the soldier’s children and so on: which I believe is the reason for the pervasive, widespread Intergenerational Codependency that seems to affect the vast majority of families today in post-war countries like Australia and the US.

  2. Humans are inherently self-centered. That is why we dominate the ecosystem. The best get to be famous and get attention, and that is the only difference between those that get attention and those that don’t.

  3. I have recently ended a 7 year relationship with a man who exhibits all the symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (see the book, “Malignant Self-Love” for a careful and thorough analysis of this disorder). This person has 2 selves. One he thinks he is and projects when he wants something: loving, fun, sweet, self-effacing. Then there is the true self, selfish, mean, cruel, hurtful, full of blame for others, critical of everyone else, harsh, selfish (his idea of a gift is passing on some clothes he no longer want), abusive. You can never do enough for him. None of this is a momentary lapse, the strategies are extremely consistent and well developed. The more harm done, the greater the feeling of success and control. Escaping this person was extremely difficult because they never recognize you as an individual independently of what you can do for them and what you do for them is feed their narcissism, admire them, encourage them, cook and clean for them, help advance their career, sacrifice your family and friends to their demand to be the only person in your life. This man will live his entire life this way, seriously harming anyone unlucky enough to get close to him.

  4. I disagree about “moralizing superiority,” Rachel. If you want to be an American politician, you need to behave within the guidelines given to be one. And if you want to be a sportswoman, you need to behave with good sportsmanship — and honestly, what on earth is a sport but a game with rules?
    Wilson and Williams knew those rules up front and agreed to abide by them. When they didn’t, they don’t get to stamp their little feet and say they don’t like the rules and get to behave any which way they want, and no one gets to say anything because they’re special.

  5. The issues of growing incivility has another dimension not addressed in this article. I’ve taught classes examining “Intolerance in America.” It’s far more than incivility or narcissim that worries me. The underlying issue is a growing trend of denigrating or demonizing those who do no agree with our beliefs — seeing the world in black and white absolutes. Of course, the prime example is the deepening partisan divide in our political system. But we tend to repeatedly divide mankind throughout or history in ways that cause rancor and disrespect of those who are different from us. It is quite possible that intolerance (we vs. them) stems from our survival, reptilian brain insticts. Those instincts, which often separate us into separate social “tribes”, are alive and well in tthe 21st Century. I simply refer to it as “the intolerance instict” that resides in our primal brain and is easily awakened when we are insecure and fear of “the other.”

  6. Interesting thoughts, Dr. Pies. And while I enjoyed your thoughts on stoicism, time constraints this morning will keep my reply on narcissism.

    When a complex takes over, oh the behavior. But to have one’s worst expression of narcissism be seen again and again in the public media, I cannot imagine the embarrassment. Does a public humiliation really change one’s behavior if they have the disorder? I cannot say for certain except to express that I don’t believe too many true narcissists will commit to the demands of depth psychotherapy to examine their behavior. And we remember in the tale of Narcissus, he fell in obsession with his own reflection and died of unrequited self-love http://www.paleothea.com/myths/echo.html

    When I was a very young clinician I met the esteemed Jungian analyst Dr. Mario Jacoby who lectured one evening in Philadelphia, PA on Individuation and Narcissism. Back then I knew relatively little about narcissism so I asked this kind and scholarly gentleman what engaged him in this topic. What could be the depth of his interest to delve so deeply into the subject of narcissism?

    His eyes twinkled; his smile broadened as he responded, “Well, my dear, my own narcissism, of course!” Then he laughed unselfconsciously and patted my hand. I smiled at him realizing in that moment the choice that each of us has to pick our own spots for the expression of that self-centered six year old behavior whether it is an inner or an outer experience!

    Thank you, Dr. Pies, for an enlightening discussion.

    Mary Jane Hurley Brant, M.S., CGP
    Hope and Grief Specialist
    Author of When Every Day Matters
    Simple Abundance Press, Oct. 1, 2008

  7. Incivility, denigration, disrespect, bashing, narcissim all seem to have a deep root in our society now as I believe reality TV shows glamorize such behavior. These pieces of work encourage the contestants/stars/players to engage in such behavior in order to win. And so many tune in regularly to revel in this sort of stuff. Why should we, as a society, be surprised at all when our children and celebraties behave in such a manner?

  8. wonderful article on an important topic. Well done, Ron! t

  9. I would like to add another element to the narcissism equation being debated here: not so much antisocial per the DSM 4 criteria, but what I can best call it as pseudo-social disorder/syndrome/dysfunction, per the increasing reliance/dependence on this medium of the internet. Sort of goes to my ongoing debate with Dr Grohol about the validity of internet addiction/dependence as a disorder. I meet people nearly daily, both patients and those in social/community circles that seem to have less innate abilities to handle regular interpersonal interactions because what they mostly know in interpersonal contact is what is experienced through the screen. And that is not always a narcissistic feature, per the DSM 4 especially, but this lack of social abilities that has an air of self centeredness if not just plain cluelessness how to engage and interact. And that bothers me with this ever growing dependence on quick fix expectations.

    In the end, this society is growing more out of touch with the realities of being one of many species that inhabits this planet. And that will not just be our downfall as this country of the USA, but have a domino effect on other countries/cultures/habitats that we take for granted, or moreso just plain ignore.

    And there are no pills to fix this, sorry to have to say it to those who I truly believe would ask for it in their moment of candor and demand!

    Ps to Dr Pies: I found the beginning to Dr Gabbard’s article in the Sept 09 Psych Times to be more than disturbing but disgusting as well. Psychiatric groups expecting 10 minute med checks and 30 min evals? That behavior should be ostracized by any MD with a conscience! It is time for Psychiatry to rise as a sizeable collective and reject all managed care/health care insurers who continue to demand levels of care that dumb down and degrade our profession. And you being in the age group I consider the most egregious in practicing this way should be a leader in denouncing this and being bold in intiatives through the literature you are editor in providing to colleagues!

    Just my opinion, harsh but needed said!

  10. I appreciated the article, Dr. Pies, and agreed with it for the most part.

    I’ve just recently started to appreciate stoicism and other Hellenistic philosophies myself. I’ve also learned something about how stoicism can apply to the modern world by reading William Irvine’s “A Guide To The Good Life”. I didn’t know about your book, however. I look forward to reading it!

  11. Very good article, Dr. Pies!

    I personally like strong opinions, and I don’t think there is anything the least bit wrong with a sense of ‘applying judgement’. But reading some of the comments, and I am reminded how having an opinion, or judgement in the USA is practically ‘illegal’?

    Nobody is ‘above’, right? But we would sob without the rich, powerful, and famous. We love them, and we hate them, and we want to be them?

    My problem has been a lot that I attract narcissists, but i am improving.

    The worst experience I had both as victim and witness was in the company of a ‘malignant narcissist’. It’s hard to explain just how destructive and horrible they are.



  12. Good article – thank you for the painstaking thought that clearly went into it.

    On the subject of vulnerable narcissism, that sounds a lot like what Donald Dutton called “fragile narcissism” in his book “The Batterer”, with the distinction being that self-assured narcissists don’t get upset when others don’t think highly of them, but that fragile narcissists often react with violent rage because the scorn of others (or even lack of adoration) is intolerably threatening.

    Our culture is often noted as being possibly the most individualistic in the world – sometimes this is seen as a good thing, other times as a criticism; I wouldn’t advocate a change to the extremes of collectivism and conformity we see in some other cultures, but some balance would be healthy. As you noted, civility is based partly in a sense of obligation to put something higher than one’s own gratification, i.e. a sense of duty. So I lay the current prevalence of boorish selfishness at the feet of that cult of individualism – and more damaging than public tantrums, it also manifests in the form of the “just don’t get caught” amorality we’ve seen more and more of from leaders in all parts of society from finance to politics to sports.

    I also believe that the marketing industry has consciously cultivated the culture of entitlement as a way to sell more of everything. A particularly grating example of this, at least to my ears, has been the rapidly growing increase in commercials framing their sales pitches in terms of what the targeted buyer “deserves.” Since when do any of us DESERVE luxury cars, McMansions, the latest electronic toys, or whatever else they’re hawking?

    Finally, two parts of the dumbing-down of American culture over several decades that play into this have been, first, the mistaken idea that because each of us has equal rights as a human being, our opinions have equal worth, regardless of how much we know about a subject; and second, the increase in simple-minded dualistic thinking, in which every debate has clear all-and-nothing right and wrong sides, good guys and bad guys, and since we are obviously the good guys, anyone who disagrees with us is a bad guy, an evildoer, and is lying.

    We need to teach our children that there are more important things that what one individual wants, by our words and by our examples; we need to teach them critical thinking skills; and we need to teach them comfort with ambiguity and complexity, as well as some humility. It’s telling that in our society it’s usually taken as an insult to call someone “ordinary.” Actually, most people are pretty impressive, although it may not show until they’re in a crisis – most people are brave, resilient, resourceful, and generous. After a couple of decades in this field, I’ve long since decided that if it means being like most of the people I’ve known, being called “ordinary” is high praise.

  13. I grew up in post WW2 Germany, and the way we were welcomed into, and treated in the world, was rather different than here.

    We were clearly not appreciated at all, and reminded by our teachers and often also our parents, that we had no right to exist, and that we were spoiled and worthless.

    We never had the rules like here about prejudice and discrimination, and it never even occurred to us to do so, because that has to be taught. The only one we had to discriminate against was ourselves. We had to apologize for being alive.

    My sisters and I were a rare exception in that we as children travelled to the US, as my father was American, and often during the summer vacations we went to a camp in Vermont.

    We stood there in a circle around the flag with all the others every morning, reciting the ‘pledge of allegiance’, or whatever it is called.

    We sisters had to make a more important pledge during those times,though, and that was to avoid eye contact at all cost, because otherwise we would start laughing hysterically at the words about how great we Americans are, and the whole scene.

    After all we were told to hate ourselves and Germany, but also drilled about our responsibilities and which had to do with making absolutely sure that what happened would never happen again.

    And in that regard, we were even told that we had to police the police, and which was a good concept to learn.

    We could have burned all the german flags we wanted and nobody would have cared, or even noticed for that matter.

  14. In this otherwise excellent article, there appears to be some confusion on a very crucial point regarding how “narcissism” is to be understood.

    It’s about the question of whether narcissism should be understood, fundamentally, as excessive self-regard or as compensatory defense against feelings of worthlessness.

    One paragraph in the article begins thus: “Twenge and Campbell take pains to knock down the myth that all narcissists are basically insecure folks with very low self-esteem. Their research suggests otherwise — most narcissists seem to have a heaping helping of self-esteem! But Twenge and Campbell focus mainly on individuals they call the “socially savvy narcissists who have the most influence on the culture.”

    The use of the word “myth” seems to say that Dr. Pies is here agreeing with Twenge and Campbell that this notion is false.

    But then in the next paragraph, Dr. Pies goes on to say:

    “These celebrity narcissists are not, for the most part, the kind of individuals I have treated in my own psychiatric practice. My patients tended to fall into the group Twenge and Campbell call “vulnerable narcissists.” These unfortunate souls seem to cloak themselves in a mantle of gold, while feeling that, on the inside, they are nothing but rags.”

    So which is it, Dr. Pies, in your opinion? Are you saying that Twenge and Campbell’s “celebrity narcissists” are representative of the general truth about narcissism? Isn’t it more likely that your patients, who feel inside that “they are nothing but rags,” more likely to be indicative of the main truth about narcissism?

    By the way, I write as someone who investigated narcissism with some seriousness in the writing of my book OUT OF WEAKNESS: HEALING THE WOUNDS THAT DRIVE US TO WAR (Bantam, 1988). And though I admit I do not know what Campbell and Twenge adduce as evidence that their “celebrity narcissists” think themselves hot stuff deep down, and not just on the surface, I am skeptical.

    My bet is that at the core, the narcissistic behavior of those “celebrity narcissists,” too, are compensatory for the “narcissistic injuries” that, absorbed in the course of an individual’s original emotional development, get internalized as messages of one’s basic lack of worth.

  15. Please permit me to thank all who have written in response to my article–I very much appreciate your astute comments and criticisms. I promise a full response shortly to some of the substantive questions that have been raised(particularly Andrew Bard Schmookler’s very pertinent question, above)in short order. Cheers! –Ron Pies

    On Doctors and Narcissism:

    Smith had just passed away and found himself with St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. Smith looks around and sees an elderly gentleman with a long, white beard and flowing robes, walking around wearing a stethoscope. “Who’s that?” Smith asks St. Peter.
    “Oh, don’t mind Him,” St. Peter replies. “That’s just God, playing doctor.”

  16. Monodb Bart at 9:29 am on September 16th, 2009

    ‘Humans are inherently self-centered. That is why we dominate the ecosystem. The best get to be famous and get attention, and that is the only difference between those that get attention and those that don’t.’

    No, that is not the case, that the best get to be famous and get attention, and your conclusion the way I understand it, that those who are less good get less attention. In fact, it seems to me that the most disgusting, obnoxious, unthinking and even unintelligent of people, and the work they do, and create, and broadcast, get the most attention these days.

    An example. I have submitted written work to a rather good political website that was not acceptable and wanted even when it was good.
    The other day I submitted a poll that I never thought would even get reviewed, not to mention published. It was a ‘sloppy job’, and in no way even good. I spent about five minutes on it.

    A couple days later it not only got published but promoted to the headlines.
    It made me feel both good, but more not good, as well as embarrassed.

    Quality is not that popular these days, and neither is really good research, and coming from people who really care more about the truth than about looking good.

    Look at Bush!! The best at what I may ask? Even worse was out judgement about him. Not one single European exists who didn’t immediately know he was a total jerk, and they were literally ‘dumbfounded’ when we elected him again. So, it’s not only about narcissists, it’s about bad taste and judgement.

    When you see two stands with people selling stuff, and one has a line of 500 people behind it, and the other maybe three, you can guess pretty accurately that the seller of the booth with the most customers is the Devil, while the real ‘God’ is a horrible salesperson.

    miracles are much more about the Devil than about God.

  17. I just want to point out here that it is simply not true that “humans are inherently self-centered.” The vast majority of anthropological and archaeological evidence suggests that humans lived cooperatively for the vast majority (perhaps 99%) of human history. Existing hunter-gatherer groups that have or had been studied by ethnographers exhibit little of the “selfishness” we see in stratified societies. Hunter-gatherer cultures are marked by resource sharing and a LACK of selfishness or self-aggrandizement. It appears that our “nature” is not necessarily the problem, but placing us into an unnatural stratified environment certainly is. One psychologist, Chellis Glendinning, wrote a great book on this – My Name is Chellis and I’m in Recovery From Western Civilization. It describes how we as humans are essentially living outside of what became our natural environment – hunter-gatherer band societies living in the natural world. As such, we are psychologically damaged. I personally believe that this is the absolute root of the rampant narcissism we are seeing in our culture. And I think it is manifesting most visibly now because we have taken individualistic capitalism to its logical end – the commodification or elimination of everything that previously gave life meaning – religion, art, local community. So you’ve got at least one whole generation of people who have been taught to exist to consume, and that they have no value outside of what they can get (regardless of the harm it does to third world peoples or the environment). No surprise that the result is a psychologically distressed, narcissistic population.

  18. This waiting is really frustrating, after you, Dr.Pies, said you would write back. I am also worried something happened! Katrin

  19. Once again, thanks to everyone who has contributed to this (refreshingly civil!) conversation–and, my apologies for not responding in detail to each of you, given time constraints.

    First, at the risk of causing many eyes to glaze over with details beloved only to mental health professionals, I’d like to offer a few important distinctions (a number of which readers have already noted).

    “Narcissism” as a quality of mind and behavior clearly exists on a continuum, and is not necessarily “bad” or maladaptive. A certain amount of “healthy” narcissism–self-regard or self-love, if you will–is necessary for optimal psychological functioning.(By the way–and this will shock some readers!–physicians, scholars, and academics occasionally have a tad more narcissism than the average butcher, baker, or candlestick maker, in my experience).

    Indeed, a degree of narcissism may even be beneficial to society.

    So, if Cyrus T. Bigwig wants to contribute 13 million dollars to have Sloan-Kettering Hospital set up the Cyrus T. Bigwig Unit for kids with cancer, I say, “Great! More power to you, Cyrus!” And, the desire to see his name on a brass plate does not make Mr. Bigwig a “malignant narcissist” or one who has DSM-IV “Narcissistic Personality Disorder.” Nor am I convinced–to begin addressing Dr. Schmookler’s question–that someone like Cyrus (all other things being equal) is necessarily expressing “weakness” or lack of self-worth, borne of early “narcissistic injuries” (though, of course, that might be the case).

    Those of us who see patients/clients in therapy are exposed, after all, to a small sub-set of individuals with narcissistic traits; namely, the sub-set that isn’t doing very well; feels subjectively disturbed or dissatisfied; or has been pushed into therapy by frustrated family or friends. It is hazardous to generalize from this population, and reach sweeping conclusions regarding the ultimate “truth” about narcissism.

    That said, I fully agree with Dr. Schmookler that the more disturbed and aggressive the narcissistic individual, the more likely he or she is to have suffered humiliation, abuse, or neglect in the early childhood years. In such cases, the narcissism is indeed “compensatory”.

    When early traumas are extreme, we begin to see a subtle shift from narcissistic personality disorder into so-called “Borderline” personality structures, often mixed with anti-social traits. These issues are taken up in the classic paper by Dr. Gerald Adler, on “The borderline-narcissistic personality disorder continuum”(Am J Psychiatry 1981; 138:46-50). The same general thesis was also set forward in Michael Balint’s book, “The Basic Fault”, for those who want to delve. Many insights on cultural aspects of compensatory narcissism are also found in Dr. Schmookler’s book, “Out of Weakness: Healing the Wounds That Drive Us to War.”

    I would also add that not all narcissists are rude and disruptive, nor are all rude and disruptive people narcissists! But when you mix inherent personality traits of entitlement, self-absorption and grandiosity with a culture that richly rewards outlandish and extreme behaviors–witness the “blogosphere”, TV reality shows, etc.–you have the conditions for a “perfect storm”.

    Sometimes, looking at our troubled culture, I am put in mind of the famous lines from W.B. Yeats’s poem, “The Second Coming”:

    TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    And yet I fully agree with a number of you who pointed out that, notwithstanding our inherent narcissism, humans are also capable of close cooperation, shared goals, and even great compassion (literally, to “suffer with” someone).

    To close on a hopeful note, I will cite our great New England sage, Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his essay on the French writer, Michel de Montaigne:

    “Things seem to tend downward, to justify despondency, to promote rogues, to defeat the just…But the world spirit is a good swimmer, and storms and waves cannot drown him.”

    Best regards, Ron Pies MD

  20. Sorry, Dr. Pies, for my mean comment. I have had a rough time these past two days from the side effects of a ‘medication from hell’, and although I stopped, some of the personality changes it caused are still lingering.

  21. Not to worry, Katrin–thanks for your contributions, and I hope you feel better soon. Also, a special note of thanks to Jim, Gregg, Therese, and Mary Jane for their kind comments and interesting observations. –RP

  22. Thanks for writing this. I wonder in this day and age if a new parent should teach their children manners and ward away NP? Since our society is sooo selfish and awards narcissism why is it that we should even teach our children manners? Don’t you think that this will alienate them from their peers? It is important to fit in with the group. Those who fit in will learn to fit in as adults. Those who fit in with the crowd of adults will be good with business and fit the mold. Being different is bad.
    See…as adults those children whom have been schooled in N will not be walked on. Giving shmiving has no place in today’s world unless you are going to get stuff in return. In my line of work those who are loud obnoxious, bully, and throw tantrums get what they want every time. Take it from me who was brought up watching little house and thought that is how the world really is! Wow was I SHOCKED! Now I am a mal-adj. adult who has issues with the work place. what do you think of that?

  23. Sorry for taking on this question, Lisa, before Dr. Pies has a chance to get to it. i think you have a very good point, and just last night I told my 13 year old son that he was manipulative, and a swindler as well, besides being a great businessman if not altogether honest. Then I continued by saying that he will do very well in this world. (Please not, that we have a way of talking that is not as mean as it sounds and more teasing) There is no question mark anywhere about how much he loves me and I him.

    But this is what I wanted to say about myself. For me all those more honorable traits Dr. Pies talks about that are in contrast to narcissism, they are not a sacrifice I commit but totally self serving as well. I would feel absolutely horrible if I was prevented from being kind and good, and when I do I feel lousy. I need to practice those higher values for my own health and well-being and there is no greater pleasure for me than to make a difference in the lives of others. And the smallest things are the most important.

  24. Can’t fault this article, will look into your book, I find the experience of “harmony with nature” humbling but more wonderful than anything, certainly the experience of narcissism.

    One other cause may be marketing.

    It seems businesses that give people exactly what they want(or think they want) when they want it, do better than ones that boringly offer what people need. Products based on impulse e.g., junk food do better than vegetable seeds for instance. I’d say the internet’s success is 90% about this( except for my use of it of course).

    Realising the market does not have any inherent wisdom (eg thinking everything must be great if there is high spending) may be needed. Perhaps the economy should serve our values not shape them.

  25. I follow articles on narcissism with a lot of interest. Earlier this year, I was asked to do a presentation for a “lunch and learn” for MH professionals. I chose the topic of narcissism simply because I seemed to keep running across it in my practice. I was either having sessions that involved a defensive spouse who seemed to feel entitled to behave however they wanted without regard for anyone else, or was talking with the frustrated spouse of such a person who would say, “How can they act like that? How is it they’re never wrong? Why does the world have to revolve around them all the time? Why aren’t my feelings important?” I learned a lot in my research on this topic and continue to be fascinated with it.

    I do believe narcissism is on the rise and that it is celebrated in our culture. It can be annoying at best and dangerous at worst. Most narcissists don’t seek treatment because they don’t believe they’re the problem. They seem to avoid insight and accountability and feel that their only problem is the other people who won’t cater to their wishes. Some do have abuse or neglect histories while others were indulged. Other personality disorders and MH conditions often exist alongside narcissism. They can come on so charming and like the life of the party but then become controlling, insecure, and so obviously of the belief that they should be able to have whatever they want. I believe that, to a narcissist, no one else’s feelings exist. Other people are for their use and amusement. They can be very poor parents, spouses, and employees or they can be high achievers who bask in the respect and acclaim they receive from others. They can be whiney and manipulative or domineering and manipulative. One thing’s for sure, they are about their own interests.

    A little is healthy but a little goes a long way.

    Carmella Broome EdS LPC LMFT/I
    Crossroads Counseling Center, Lexington SC
    Author of Carmella’s Quest: Taking On College Sight Unseen (Red Letter Press 2009)

  26. Thanks to Lisa, Artie, Katrin & Carmella for the comments above. To Carmella, I’ll just say that your description of the narcissistic personality type (not necessarily narcissistic personality disorder, which requires a certain level of dysfunction) is right on the mark! And I agree that some with these traits have been neglected/abused, whereas some (probably the higher functioning ones) have been over-indulged. I recall an illustrious and very successful colleague once noting, with a trace of wistfulness, “I was raised to be a prince!” Fortunately, his awareness of this allowed him to temper his narcissism and “channel” it into some socially constructive purposes. –Best, Ron

  27. Destructive narcissism is the phenomina applied to someone who constantly exhibits numerous and intense characteristics usually associated with the pathological narcissist but having fewer characteristics than pathological narcissism.

  28. A comment late to this post, but, with the actions and behaviors of the current leadership in Washington, I think the question I pose below is fair to offer:

    Do our current leaders in Washington, especially in order-Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid, meet the diagnostic features of not only Narcissitic Disorder, but I even offer that for Antisocial Disorder?

    You read and decide on the latter per the Mnemonic criteria as listed by David Robinson in his book “The Personality Disorders Explained” second edition of 2003: called CALLOUS MAN

    ‘C’onduct History–behaviors under age 18 that fit the disorder features that almost always lead to the Antisocial Dx over 18
    Antisocial ‘A’ctivites–commits acts that are grounds for ‘A’rrest (note not all antisocials end up in the correctional system, like not all alcoholics are on skid row)
    ‘L’ies frequently
    ‘L’acunae–lacks a superego, boundaries as set by the culture one resides in
    ‘O’bligations are not honored, like financial, occupational, etc
    ‘U’nstable–can’t plan ahead
    ‘S’afety of self and others is ignored

    ‘M’oney–spouse and children, responsible financial obligations to others not supported
    ‘A’ggressive or ‘A’ssaultive
    ‘N’ot occurring during schizophrenia or mania, as Axis 1 diagnostic features supercede axis 2 until the mood/thought disorders are stabilized and baseline character is restored

    So, you the objective reader, decide if these politicians meet this criteria. Remember, one does not have to have all to end up fitting the diagnosis, so don’t split hairs if 2 or 3 do not fit.

    I know this comment can be read as outrageous and provocative.

    So was their health care deform legislation!

  29. “socially savvy narcissists who have the most influence on the culture.”

    Ron: You probably won’t see this, but it seems that the danger as the quote from your article above indicates, these folks want and get power. Then they do real damage.

  30. Thanks for the observation, Vic, with which I agree. There may well be a kind of “adaptive narcissism” that helps these individuals make it to the top, and then–as their narcissism expands– leads to disastrous consequences in many cases. Or, in a more biblical context, “Pride goeth before the fall.”* –Best, Ron

    *”Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:8 KJV)

  31. My favorite part of this article on narcisissm was, “In my book….”

  32. A very,very late correction! The philosopher Seneca, quoted above, lived from
    4 BCE-65 CE (i.e., 4 BC – 65 AD). I must have been nodding off at the computer!

    Best regards,
    Ron Pies MD



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