19 March 2009

Obama the Narcissist

Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm, but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are asbsorbed in the endless struggle 
to think well of themselves.

-T.S. Eliot-

Sigmund Freud introduced the concept of narcissism in his 1914 essay On Narcissism: An Introduction. Freud suggested that a basic self-love might not be as abnormal as previously thought, and was even a common component of the human psyche. He argued that it was the desire and energy that drives our instinct to survive- he called this Primary Narcissism.
But he also described the existence in some of an abnormal Secondary Narcissism- a pathological condition that occurs when the libido (the psychic and emotional energy behind human actions) withdraws from objects outside of the self. Freud said that Secondary Narcissism is an extreme, exaggerated form of the narcissism present in all of us.

To care for someone is to convert ego-libido (self love) into object-libido by sacrificing some self-love to give to the other person, which leaves less ego-libido available for primary narcissism and the protecting and nurturing of the self. When that affection is returned in kind, so is the libido... thus restoring primary narcissism and self-worth.

As the child grows and his ego develops, he is contantly giving of his self-love to people and objects, the first of which is usually his mother. That diminished self-love should then be replenished by the affection and caring returned to him. However, any failure to achieve, or disruption of, this balance causes psychological disturbances. In any such case, primary narcissism can only be restored by withdrawing object-libido to replenish self-love/ego libido.

Another form of narcissism, Acquired Situational Narcissism, develops in late adolescence or in adulthood, and is brought-on by wealth, fame, and other trappings of celebrity.
ASN differs from conventional narcissism in that it develops after childhood and is triggered and supported by the celebrity-obsessed society; fans, assistants, and the media all playing into the concept that the person really is vastly more important than other people, thereby triggering a problem that might have been only a tendency/latent, developing into a full-blown personality disorder.

So, narcissism can be defined as an eccessive, even erotic, interest in one's own self and physical appearance. It is typified by extreme selfishness, coupled to a grandiose view of one's own talents and a craving for admiration. This self-centeredness arises from a failure to distinguish the self from external objects as a feature of a mental disorder.

Those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) have at-least 5 of these symptoms:
  • a grandiose sense of self-importance (i.e. exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements... even to the point of lying)
  • preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, omnipotence, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • harbors a belief that he/she is "special" and unique, and can only be understood by other special/high-status people or institutions- also feels "immune" and/or above-the-law
  • has a sense of entitlement, i.e. unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic and full compliance with his/her expectations
  • is interpersonally exploitative- uses others to reach goals
  • devoid of empathy; is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  • is often envious of others, or believes that others are envious of him or her
  • shows arrogant, haughty, proud behaviors or attitudes
Additional signs of NPD to look for include:
  • overreacts to criticism, becoming angry or humiliated
  • utilizes denial mechanism to downplay own inadaquacies or failings
  • uses rationalization mechanism to justify self-centered behavior
  • jealousy and possessiveness
  • excessive need to feel special, adored, loved, appreciated, or admired
  • controlling behaviors
  • inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
  • blaming others for their situation or feelings
  • an attitude that "the world revolves around me" and a need for others to cater to their ideas, opinions, thoughts, and feelings
  • an unwillingness to reflect honestly on their own behavior
By almost any definition then, President Barack Obama is a pathological narcissist. He clearly displays many of the tell-tale indicators of NPD in public... we can only guess how it is manifested in his private life. His actions and words, the kind of people he surrounds himself with, towering arrogance, and inability to tolerate critics make Obama appear to be a textbook case.

The infamous Jim Jones of the People's Temple, a man who led over 900 of his followers to commit mass suicide and even murder their own children by drinking poisoned Kool-Aid was a narcissist. David Koresh, Charles Manson, Joseph Koni, Josef Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Chairman Mao, Kim Jong Il and Adolph Hitler are but a few examples of narcissistic leaders. All these men had a tremendous influence over their followers, and created a personality cult around themselves with powerful speeches that elevated their admirers... filling them with enthusiasm and a new zest for life. They promised them glory and greatness, but in the end lead them over the abyss. One never realizes the reality of the personality cult until it is too late.

Narcissists are highly self-sufficient and consider themselves peerless. Their "friends", companions, and acolytes provide them with an obsequious, unthreatening audience- with the kind of unconditional and unthinking obedience that confirms to him his omnipotence. They are sufficiently vacuous to make the narcissist look sharp and omniscient – but not so much as to be easily discernible as the sycophants that they are. They form the perfect backdrop, never likely to attain centre stage and overshadow their master... i.e. Robert Gibbs.

And one must never underestimate the manipulative genius of a pathological narcissist- they project such an imposing personality that it overwhelms those around them. Charmed by the charisma of the narcissist, people become like clay in his hands. They cheerfully do his bidding and delight to be at his service. The narcissist shapes the world around himself and reduces others in his own inverted image. He creates a cult of personality, with his admirers becoming his co-dependents.

Narcissists have no interest in things that do not help them to reach their personal objectives. They are focused on one thing alone... and that is power. All other issues are meaningless, and anything that does not help them is simply beneath them.

Obama's election as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review led to a contract and advance to write a book about race relations. The University of Chicago Law School provided him a lot longer than expected and at the end it evolved into... his own autobiography. Instead of writing a scholarly paper focusing on race relations, for which he had been paid, Obama could not resist writing about himself... and titled it Dreams from My Father. Not surprisingly, Adolph Hitler also wrote his own autobiography when he was still nobody... and so did Josef Stalin. For the narcissist, there is no subject as important as one's self. Why would he waste his precious time and genius on insignificant things when he can write about his favorite topic?

Narcissists are often callous- and even ruthless. They tend to lack empathy and/or a conscience. This is evident in Obama's lack of interest in his own half-brother who lives in poverty in Kenya, or his aunt found living in public housing in Boston. But Barack Obama, who lives in luxury, takes a private jet to vacation in Hawaii, and raised nearly half a billion dollars for his campaign has no interest in the plight of his relatives- why not be more charitable towards deprived members of his own family? This is a clearcut decision for him, because these relatives cannot be used in attaining his own ends... and therefore don't interest Obama in the slightest.

What could be more dangerous than having a man devoid of a conscience, a serial liar, one who cannot distinguish his fantasies from reality... as the leader of the free world? This case is different from the garden-variety narcissism of a Bill Clinton, too... with Obama, his appears to be mental health issue... not just a character flaw. Pathological narcissists are dangerous because they look normal and even intelligent... this social stealth makes them even more dangerous.

America is starting to wake-up to just exactly who this unvetted man they put in the White House is... and none of the surprises have been pleasant; a radical liberal agenda, apparent lack of ethics, myriad broken campaign promises, an inability to grasp basic economic issues or prioritize decisions, habitual dishonesty, and perhaps even serious psychological problems... and just two-months into this new administration. Looks like we're in for a long, rough ride with this one.