In Politics, Beware the Clinical Narcissist

A family friend who is a psychiatric nurse recently shared with me a publication by Daniel J. Fox Ph.D., who is the staff psychologist at the Federal Detention Center in Houston, Texas. He was a recent guest speaker at a medical conference in Seattle, Washington she had attended. A most fascinating chapter of Dr. Fox’s publication is one describing the DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a type of mental illness described by Dr. Fox as, “A pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy”.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is clinically recognized by the following symptoms:

  1. A grandiose sense of self- importance.
  2. Preoccupation with unlimited success, power, and brilliance.
  3. A belief that one’s self is special and unique.
  4. Requiring excessive admiration.
  5. Unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with one’s own expectations.
  6. Being interpersonally exploitive.
  7. Having little regard for the feelings of others.
  8. Believing others to be envious of one’s self.
  9. Showing haughty or arrogant behavior or attitudes.

Some people think all psychologists are nuts. Some people think that all politicians are nuts. It is probably safe to say that in some cases some or both may.

At the very least, Dr. Fox’s perspective  on the subject could allow voters take pause and have a second look  at the slate of persons who desire “to be the most powerful person on the planet”? It goes without saying that anyone who runs for President needs a large ego. That said, it is arguable that a personality disorder is a step or two above merely being self-confident. A Presidential race is the ultimate human drama in America, but then car crashes are also very dramatic. May we have the wisdom to know the difference.

Jim Maxson

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